Technique

High energy approaches: student edition

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Recently, a video of a Cessna 172 crash into a hangar after landing in Canada went viral. The student pilot got out of it with minor injuries, but the fact that he was just another one saved by Cessna’s generous engineers underscores a critical point in training that might have been overlooked. It is a systemic issue across the industry, and it has to be mitigated, like any threat.

What’s different about flying jets

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Pilots of piston airplanes wonder what it’s like to fly a jet. Do I need different pilot skills? What are the sensations? Just what is it that makes jet flying different from piston powered airplanes? Here are some answers.

The clean wing—not just a concern in winter

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The vast majority of GA pilots will no doubt have a firm understanding of the clean wing policy when it comes to winter operations. The question we have to ask ourselves though, is do we realise that the same aerodynamic risk exists all year round?

A young pilot’s plan to eliminate get-there-itis

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Most of us have a Plan B in mind but it might not be developed into a concrete plan and often is not executed in time to put it into action. This is where Dylan’s plan works beautifully and has been very successful for both him and the company. One of the key elements of the plan is that it be implemented 24 hours before the scheduled departure.

Recovery from spirals with the LVL button

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In a flight in a Cirrus SR22, it was mentioned in passing that the LVL function on the Garmin autopilot is not taught for unusual attitude recovery. A flight in the RV-9A, equipped with a Garmin G3X Touch system, was then made to evaluate the LVL function for spiral recovery. These flight tests clearly indicate that the FAA technique is not always required for all airplanes.

The route to a special issuance medical

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One day, I’m enjoying retirement, flying when and where I want, and life is good. The next day, my cardiologist calls. That routine stress echocardiogram two days ago showed “a problem” with a coronary artery. Now what?

The 180-degree turn: a life-saving maneuver for all pilots (even test pilots)

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Under certain circumstances, a 180-degree turn is the greatest life-saving maneuver that can be performed in an aircraft. I can personally attest to this fact, as it is highly likely that I’m here writing this thanks to a certain 180-degree turn that I made many years ago. That also applies to my three passengers at the time, hopefully still happy and healthy, wherever they may be.

Threat and Error Management for the GA Pilot

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“Threat and Error Management” has become synonymous with the airline industry and particularly within the major carriers who, due to the sheer scale of operations, require structured solutions to risk. This does not mean we are risk adverse as an industry; it can’t by the very nature of what we do. But it does mean we have to manage risk in a way that always keeps us in the middle of the envelope.

Automated flight—are you ready?

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Only a few years ago, a fully integrated automatic flight control system (AFCS) with an autothrottle was the sole domain of the air transport aircraft and heavy iron business jets. However, today’s AFCS with autothrottle (AT) are becoming common on single engine turboprops. Are you ready?

What to practice with limited flying time

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No matter what you fly or why, you’re certainly doing less flying now as the country tries to survive the Covid-19 virus. So how can we get the most effective practice and proficiency retention out of the limited flying we can do? Practicing landing is important, for sure, but I think there are some other maneuvers that can test and refine your skills more effectively in less flying time.

Dealing with distractions

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The desire to fix what had been broken ceased upon my nerves and now my multiple thousand hours melted away and I felt I was back in training. A certain drift of scent that emanates from failure hit me square in my nostrils and I realized that the glide path indicator had drifted down to the lower end, in accordance with a required missed approach. Damn!

Flight simulators, safety, and the power of AI

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We are now at the cusp where combining capable simulators with high-powered compute environments can enhance safety in aviation. Consider this—can flight simulator data tell us more about yet to be known opportunities that can improve airspace safety; or tell us more about how to prevent loss of control incidents; prevent communication lapses from turning into serious issues?

Fighter pilot skills every aviator needs to fly safe

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Fighter pilots are some of the most skilled aviators in the world. But just because you’re not a fighter pilot doesn’t mean you can’t borrow from their tool set. Whether you’re a 100-hour general aviation private pilot or a 10,000-hour commercial pilot, it behooves you to think and perform like a fighter pilot in some key areas.

ICAO – more than just a flight plan format

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Older pilots may wonder why they used to be able to refer to “decision height” on an approach chart rather than “decision altitude.” Or why they now have to refer to their home airport, as I do, as “KFDK” (Frederick, Maryland), rather than the old “FDK.” What my pilot friends are dealing with is the work of a fairly obscure international agency, created under the auspices of the United Nations.

Say your airspeed—which one?

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Say your airspeed. Seems like a simple question. And it’s one controllers often ask when separating in trail airplanes in busy airspace. But there’s nothing simple about airspeed. There are at least four kinds of airspeed—indicated airspeed (IAS), calibrated airspeed (CAS), true airspeed (TAS) and Mach. Each value has significance to pilots.

The promise of proficiency

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Proficiency is a story of safety through constant practice, of acquiring experiences and then putting these experiences to hatch their possibilities. These experiences however must be taught to the “habit monster” within us to have the element of precision baked into them. All other non-precise experiences are side shows.

When to disengage the autopilot

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A real hardware/software failure of an autopilot could lead to a dangerous situation, but so can pilot mismanagement of a fully functioning autopilot. The results are essentially the same in either situation—the pilot in command is not fully in control of the airplane.

No stall, no spin: why angle of attack is essential

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Pilots often only associate stalls with the slow airspeed regime of the energy envelope. That’s why it can be misleading when instructors caution students to, “watch your speed or you’ll stall” because an airplane can be stalled at any airspeed, in any attitude.