Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stupid pilot tricks

One of the things I get sick of hearing about are GA crashes resulting from pilots doing things they shouldn't be doing, either because it doesn't suit the type of airplane they are flying (eg aerobatics in a Baron), it is illegal (buzzing your buddy's house), or simply beyond their abilities (use your imagination).

I love this quote from Aviation Safety Foundation chief Bruce Bruce Landsberg; his litmus test if something you are about to do is a good idea or not:

"Try this on your passengers the next time you take to the sky: 'OK, gang, I'm about to try a maneuver that I haven't practiced and have had no training in. The aircraft is prohibited from this type of maneuver, and it's never been tested by the manufacturer." (Depending on the type of maneuver, you can add, "We're going to fly really close to the ground and well below legal limits.") Then say, "There's also a good chance that we could all die if I mess this up, but if I pull it off it will be way cool! So, are you in?'"

or as I've heard Jeb Burnside from Aviation Safety Magazine say (paraphrased):
"Before you decide on a certain action that may jeopardize the safety of the flight, think about how you will explain your actions and thought process to the NTSB investigator (if you survive to do that)"

this is what I'm talking about. Obviously, it goes without saying that I do not know all of the circumstances, but here is a news story regarding a crash of a Cirrus, where before take off the pilot states to the briefer in his abbreviated briefing that he was, "hoping to slide underneath it then climb out."

Some of the NTSB reports findings: It was nighttime, wind gusts to 22 kts, he was going fast, and flying at 100' AGL. As well, AIRMETs for IFR conditions and turbulence were in effect at the time of the accident. The NTSB's summary?

"Spatial disorientation experienced by the pilot, due to a lack of visual references, and a failure to maintain altitude. Contributing factors were the pilot's improper decision to attempt flight into marginal VFR conditions, his inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions, the low lighting condition (night) and the trees."

I'd have to say that would seem to me to be 100% pilot error, not the fault at all of the manufacturer or school. Of course it had NOTHING to do with the fact he should not have been flying that day, and EVERYTHING to do with the manufacturer not holding his hand. It is this seeming belief in the U.S. that no one should be held accountable for their own actions that boils my blood. Now this lawsuit will result in adding to the yet ever spiraling liability costs of flying, all due to someone trying to take advantage of an opportunity, and, for some reason I can not figure out, why here in America, it is so hard for someone to say, "Yeah, I screwed up and it is my fault".

Here are the NTSB reports in their entirety:

Bruce Landsberg from the Air Safety Foundation commented on this as well:

On this day in aviation history

This person had guts if nothing else...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stories that fly

This is a VERY cool website, from Kent State University in Ohio. The School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the College of Technology’s Aeronautics Program have joined together to build the website, "Stories that Fly". It is designed as a web-based magazine that "promises to take journalism to new heights, while telling the story of aviation and the legions of people involved in its pursuit".

see it at

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Too funny not to post

Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

Heard on descent, about 100 miles north of Sacramento, California:

Cessna 12345:
"Oakland Center, Cessna Four Five Six. Am I still getting flight following? I was looking at my chart and might have missed a call."

Oakland Center:
"Cessna Four Five Six, you're still on my radar and receiving flight following."

Cessna 12345:
"Thank you, ma'am. I just hadn't had a call for a while."

Oakland Center:
"Flight following is like a marriage. The less I talk to you, the better off we are."

Norm Champ
via e-mail

Say you're sorry

Many of you probably know about NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System. Some pilots call it a "get out of jail free card". Here's what NASA has to say:

"The ASRS is a small but important facet of the continuing effort by government, industry, and individuals to maintain and improve aviation safety. The ASRS collects voluntarily submitted aviation safety incident/situation reports from pilots, controllers, and others"

The important language in AC 00-46D:

5. Prohibition Against the Use of Reports for Enforcement Purposes
  • Section 91.25 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) (14 CFR 91.25) prohibits the use of any reports submitted to NASA under the ASRS (or information derived therefrom) in any disciplinary action, except information concerning criminal offenses or accidents which are covered under paragraphs 7a(1) and 7a(2).
  • When violation of the FAR comes to the attention of the FAA from a source other than a report filed with NASA under the ASRS, appropriate action will be taken. See paragraph 9.
  • The NASA ASRS security system is designed and operated by NASA to ensure confidentiality and anonymity of the reporter and all other parties involved in a reported occurrence or incident. The FAA will not seek, and NASA will not release or make available to the FAA, any report filed with NASA under the ASRS or any other information that might reveal the identity of any party involved in an occurrence or incident reported under the ASRS. There has been no breach of confidentiality in more than 30 years of the ASRS under NASA management.
and FAR 91.2:

Prohibition Against Use of Report for Enforcement Purposes

The Administrator of the FAA will not use reports submitted to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under the Aviation Safety Reporting Program (or information derived therefrom) in any enforcement action, except information concerning accidents or criminal offenses which are wholly excluded from the program.

the other cool feature is that it can be totally paperless:

Monday, May 18, 2009

AOPA does it again

AOPA, once again doing great things for pilots, particularly on the technology side, follows up their amazing Internet Flight Planner, with a new iPhone/iPod touch application to mobilize AOPA awesome online airport facilities directory. If you have an iPhone or iPod touch, just search for "AOPA" in the app store and you will find it. Organization is well done, and there are quite a few airports across the nation that are covered. It is possible to add airports to a "Favorites" section as well as keeps track of the recent airports looked at for easy access. In addition, they are providing updates as they come out of NACO. The product was developed in conjuction with ForeFlight. I could see this as being a valuable addition to the flight bag, in-flight and on the ground. Kudos AOPA!

eAPIS - Electronic Advance Passenger Information System

Just got this email from our local FAA guy, passing it on in case it is helpful and since it goes into effect tomorrow. Sweet acronym!

"Attention Private Flyers: The Advance Information on Private Aircraft Arriving and Departing the United States Final Rule requires that pilots of private aircraft (or their designees) transmit notices of arrival and/or departure and traveler manifest information to CBP electronically a minimum of 60 minutes prior to departure through eAPIS or another CBP-approved electronic data interchange system.

The new regulations are in effect with a voluntary compliance period
ending on May 18, 2009. On this date, electronic transmissions become

Have fun out there.

if you are an AOPA member (which every pilot should be), you can take this helpful flash course on eAPIS:

one more edit:
great summary of steps to take for flying to Canada (for AOPA members only, and if you're not, what in the world are you waiting for!)

and Bruce Landsberg talks about a recent international trip

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

GA makes Wired magazine

A sign that the plight of GA may have jumped the shark? regardless, it's a reasonably balanced article: My concern is less to do with whether a CEO gets to fly in a cushy jet, but more with respect to what happens to all of the GA centric airports that start to receive less traffic. Repurchasing a corporate jet is much easier than reviving an airport, which, as AOPA would attest to, is nearly impossible once a community decides to close theirs down.

this just in, we're saved, Oprah says it's "great" to own a private aircraft!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Passed the IFR written

I was hoping to achieve the same level of proficiency as the last time, but this will suffice to reach the end goal.