Sunday, June 21, 2009

Departure Procedures (DP) and Obstacle Departure Procedures (ODP's)

DP's (Departure Procedures)
- Are preplanned instrument Flight rule departure procedures. There are two types of departure procedures

ODP (Obstacle Departure Procedures)
  • will be noted on an approach chart by (obstacle) in the title.
  • An ODP designed specifically for obstacle avoidance will be indicated by a "T" on the chart.
  • Must be complied with if accepted in a clearance.
  • ATC is to be notified if you do not have DP available by noting it in flight plan "no DP" or by advising ATC.
  • The pilot must have at least a text description or of DP.
Standard Instrument Departures (SID) - Are designed for system enhancement (traffic flow) and to reduce pilot and controller work loads.
  • Must be complied with if accepted in a clearance.
  • ATC is to be notified if you do not have DP available by noting it in flight plan "no DP" or by advising ATC.
  • The pilot must have at least a text description or of DP.
Note: Instrument Flying Handbook states: ODP’s are recommended for obstruction clearance and may be flown without ATC clearance unless an alternated departure procedure (SID or radar vectors) has been specifically assigned by ATC. Under FAR 91 the pilot accepts Obstacle clearance responsibility when the pilot chooses to climb in visual conditions in lieu of flying a DP and/or depart under higher takeoff minimums rather than fly the climb gradient. Under FAR 91.175 those operating under FAR 121,125, 129, 135 it is mandatory that the pilot fly the ODP in actual instrument conditions or meet the visual requirements fot the ODP.

ATC accepts responsibility for obstacle avoidance if you recieve radar vectors on departure. It would be very wise to always fly the ODP procedure when operating under FAR 91 or you basically have no protection unless assigned an alternate departure clearance or radar vectors. Remember if you are cleared from a navigation aid that may be on the airport direct to another navigation aid and a ODP exist on the airport you should fly the ODP. Many accidents have occured in navigating in such a manner where terrain is present.

Robbie Johnson
Chief Pilot
Aviation Training Us LLC

Monday, June 15, 2009

IFR Safety Pilot - Can I be the safety pilot and log PIC or SIC?

IFR Safety Pilot - Can I be the safety pilot and log PIC or SIC?

This is a simple yet very complex Question. First lets cover some definitions:

Pilot in Command FAR 1.1

  • Has final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight.
  • Has been designated as pilot in command before or during the flight
  • Holds the appropriate category, class, and type rating, to conduct the flight
Pilot Logbooks FAR 61.51

Logging PIC Flight Time - A Private or Commercial pilot may log pilot in command time only for that flight time during which that person
  • Is sole manipulator of the controls for which pilot is rated or has privileges.
  • Is the sole occupant of the aircraft.
  • Is acting as pilot in command on which more than one pilot is required under type certification or the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is conducted.
Note: An ATP may log as pilot in command time all of the flight time while acting as pilot in command of an operation requiring an ATP certificate. An authorized instructor may log as pilot in command time all flight time while acting as an authorized instructor.

Logging SIC Flight Time - A person may log second in command time only for that flight time during which that person:

  • Is qualified in accordance with the SIC requirements of FAR 61.55 and occupies a crew member station in an aircraft that requires more than one pilot by the aircraft's type certificate.
  • Holds an appropriate category, class, and instrument rating (if an instrument rating is required for the flight) for an aircraft being flown, and more than one pilot is required under the type certification of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is being conducted.
Logging of Instrument Flight Time -

  • A person may log instrument time only for that time when the person operates the aircraft solely by reference to instruments under actual or simulated instrument flight conditions.
  • An authorized instructor may log instrument time when conducting instrument flight instruction in actual instrument flight conditions.
  • For the purpose of logging instrument time to meet the recent instrument experience requirements of FAR 61.57c of this part, the following information must be recorded in the person's logbook- location and type of each instrument approach and the name of the safety pilot if required.
  • A flight simulator or approved flight training device may be used by a person to log instrument flight time, provided an authorized instructor is present during the simulated flight.
FAR 61.55 Second In Command Qualifications:

  • Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, no person may serve as a second in command of an aircraft type certificated for more than one required pilot flight crew member or in command of an aircraft type certificated for more than one required pilot flight crew member or in operations requiring a second in command unless that person holds:
  1. At least a current private pilot certificate with the appropriate category and class rating; and
  2. An instrument rating that applies to the aircraft being flown if the flight is under IFR.
Note: Okay lets stop their and note the except for paragraph 61.55 (d) and specifically section (4). It states that this section does not apply to a person who is: Designated as a safety pilot for the purposes required by 91.109 (b) of this chapter.

FAR 91.109 (b) Flight Instruction: Simulated Instrument Flight and Certain Flight Test

(b) No person may operate a civil aircraft in simulated instrument flight unless -

  1. The other control seat is occupied by a safety pilot who possesses at least a private pilot certificate with category and class ratings appropriate to the aircraft being flown.
  2. The safety pilot has adequate vision forward and to each side of the aircraft, or a competent observer in the aircraft adequately supplements the vision of the safety pilot.
  3. Except for lighter than air aircraft, that aircraft is equipped with fully functioning dual controls. However, simulated instrument flight may be conducted in a single engine airplane, equipped with a single, functioning, throw over control wheel, in place of fixed, dual controls of the elevator and ailerons, when-
  • The safety pilot has determined that the flight can be conducted safely; and
  • The person manipulating the controls has at least a private pilot certificate with appropriate category and class rating.

Note: This section sets up some of the qualifications for the safety pilot. The Safety pilot if required is a required crew member. The safety pilot must have appropriate category (Airplane, Helicopter etc..) and class (single-engine or multi-engine either land or sea). The safety pilot must conclude the flight can be performed safely. No where in this section does it state the safety pilot must have endorsements to qualify as the safety pilot like (tail wheel, high performance or complex endorsements). Note also it does not state that the person manipulating the controls is required to have any such endorsements it simply states the same as the safety pilot category, class and type rating if required.

FAR 61.23 (a) 3 Operations requiring a medical certificate a person - must hold at least a third class medical certificate.

FAR 61.23 (b) 5 exceptions to FAR 61.23 (a) A person is not required to hold a valid medical certificate - When exercising the privileges of a flight instructor certificate if the person is not acting as pilot in command or serving as a required pilot flight crew member.

Example of what FAR 61.23 means: I am a flight instructor who does not have a current medical certificate and have a student who wants to do a flight review. The instructor may fly with the student provided the student is still current for his review, takeoff and landing current, etc.. the flight instructor will not have to act as PIC. If the student is not within currency of his flight review than the flight instructor would have to hold at least a third class medical to act as Pilot In Command of the flight.

Okay we have pretty much covered the maze of regulations to consider for this question with a few exceptions that we will cover at the end.

Scenario 1 - Private Pilot Jim & Safety Pilot Tom

  • Private Pilot Jim is a Private Pilot single engine land and has a Cessna 182 RG (Complex and High Performance aircraft)
  • Holds a current third class medical and flight review current.
  • Has an endorsement for high performance and complex aircraft.
  • Takeoff and Landing current night and day and is working on instrument rating.

  • Safety Pilot Tom is a private pilot Airplane single engine land, flight review current, third class medical and 75 hours in a cessna 172 and holds no other flight instructor endorsements.

Question can Tom act as my safety pilot on a VFR flight flying practice approaches?

  1. FAR 61.23 medical certificate compliant for both pilots.
  2. FAR 109 (b) Tom holds a private pilot rating in category and class, has adequate vision and believes the flight can be conducted safely. The person manipulating the controls Jim holds a Private pilot certificate in category and class.

So far we are okay for this flight.

Now the big question is who the acting as PIC? So we go to FAR 61.51, FAR 1.1 and some FAA written opinions to get the answer to this question. Can two pilots act as the PIC? The FAA's opinion is no two pilots may act as PIC at the same time. only one pilot can act as the pilot in command of a flight. The important comment here is the word act. Two pilots may log PIC time but only one of the pilot may act as PIC. There is a difference in serving as a PIC and logging PIC. Refer to FAR 1.1 notes above in the article. The pilot serving as PIC is responsible for the flight in general. FAR 61.51 only deals with the logging of flight time and notes that a Private or Commercial pilot may only log that flight time that the pilot is the sole manipulator of the controls, sole occupant of aircraft rated, or (the important statement) acts as PIC of an aircraft that more than one pilot is required under the type certificate of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is conducted.

If Jim acts as the Pilot in command he must be fully rated in the aircraft category, class and type if required and qualified with currency ( flight review, takeoff and landings) and endorsements required to fly the aircraft (high performance and Complex). Tom the safety pilot would be able to log PIC time and SIC time since under the regulations more than one pilot is required only while Jim is under the hood.

If Tom the safety pilot acts as the Pilot in command he must be fully rated in the aircraft category, class and type if required and qualified with currency ( flight review, takeoff and landings) and endorsements required to fly the aircraft ( high performance and complex). In the senerio given Tom is not qualified to do this. If Tom was qualified then Jim could fly the aircraft as sole manipulator of the controls log PIC and SIC flight time but only while under the hood and can not log any of the other flight time visually. Jim would not be required to have a high performance and complex endorsement.

One further comment that once a pilot has been designated as the acting PIC and say he could get up and go to the bathroom the pilot still remains the acting PIC and the SIC does not become the acting PIC but the SIC can log PIC flight time while manipulating the controls.

Question can Tom act as my safety pilot on a IFR flight plan flying practice approaches in actual and VFR conditions?

If Tom is designated as the acting PIC the answer is no. Tom must have an instrument rating in order to file and act as PIC.

If Jim is designated as the acting PIC and is instrument rated and current. Then Tom would only be a required crew member when the aircraft is not in actual IFR conditions. So Tom the safety pilot could log PIC and SIC flight time when Jim is using a hood or Tom manipulates the controls.

Now some extra points:

  1. Insurance: Don't expect just because I or someone else has concluded that you can fly with a safety pilot just because it appears to be legal. Insurance policies need to be read and you should get a written confirmation that it is okay with the insurance company to fly under these conditions.
  2. Special airworthiness regulation like the Robinson 22 Helicopter. Some of the newer aircraft are going to have special type rating requirements coming in the future do to the advanced technology. For example the Robinson 22 helicopter states to act as PIC of the aircraft you must meet the requirements of the SFAR regulation. Again note if it states act as PIC the other pilot can log PIC and not be acting as the PIC.
  3. Requesting verbal answers from FAA inspectors is not the best way to answer questions like this. The information is good but if you want to find out if the FAA inspector is willing to put his job on the line ask for a written signed response to your question or better yet a written ruling.
  4. The FAA is currently considering reviewing the subject of a safety pilot, so maybe we will finally get a clear cut ruling to use.
  5. A second in command logging PIC as the sole manipulator of the controls may lot that time as PIC under FAR 91.51 and use that flight time as experience to meet the requirements for a certificate or rating or even recency of experience. For those of you who fly FAR 135 this time is not allowed for the 100 hours PIC experience for lower landing minimums. You must be the designated acting PIC of the flight to build the 100 hours of flight time.
  6. A non instrument rated student while receiving flight instruction in actual conditions may log PIC flight time while manipulating the controls but may not act as the PIC (CFII would act as PIC) since the student is not qualified for flight in IFR conditions .

My personal opinion is that the safety pilot should be as qualified as the pilot acting as a PIC (category, class, and type rating if required along with any necessary endorsements) with the exception of an instrument rating. This is my personal opinion and by following this advise it would be very difficult to have any kind of problem.

None of the information given should be considered a legal opinion but my person opinion based on all the facts available.

Robbie Johnson

Chief Pilot

Aviation Training Us LLC

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hold the Humor just plane stupid!

A student pilot once told me some things that went on in a flight school. You will be amazed how stupid some pilots can be. A small group of flight instructors while teaching pilots would take Cessna 152's up and do loops in the aircraft. They would climb up and then dive the aircraft to pick up speed and then doing a loop.

Here is the story of one of those loops as told by a student. During the loop as the aircraft was reaching the top of the loop the aircraft went into a flat spin upside down! The instructor tried repeatedly to apply rudder and yoke correction with nothing happening. Note: The problem here was they had an aft center of gravity and lost airspeed and stalled at the top of the loop. The amazing thing was the aircraft spun about eight thousand feet and slowly the nose started to recover downward. The student claims the aircraft recovered only hundreds of feet above the tree tops. They were very lucky!

I once watched an FAA demonstration video of a test pilot in a Cessna 172 do repeated stalls with the aircraft weighted so that it had a center of gravity 1/2 inch aft of the allowable limits. On the pilots first three stalls he made a recovery with very little difficulty. On the fourth stall the aircraft went into a flat spin. The aircraft was set up with a video camera in the aircraft which taped the whole event. After repeated tries to recover the test pilot left the aircraft and parachuted to safety. The video camera continued to tape the aircraft spinning until it crashed in the desert.

So a lesson to learn is if you are going to do acrobatics, do it in an aircraft designed for acrobatics wear a parachute and make sure the weight and center of gravity are within limits.

Robbie Johnson
Aviation Training Us LLC

Humor Time - Crazy things from the past.

Story One:

Working for a commuter airline in Texas during the 1980's. An old Braniff Airlines Captain for those of you who remember Braniff was employed as a commuter captain of a 19 seat aircraft. He was know for being kind of out their, if you know what I mean. During one fateful trip to an airport in Texas, he was making a VFR approach into the airport and about to configure to land and several miles out from the runway. The Tower comes on and tells the comuter pilot flight ABC to go around!

The X Braniff Captain gets on the radio not wanting to go around and proceeds to tell the tower the following. " I am going to fast to go around" and proceeds to land anyway! After landing you can imagine the tower was a little upset with his actions. His next radio call from the tower was you are cleared to parking and the captain is cleared to visit the tower immediately!

The Side-Step Manuever

When would a Side Step Maneuver be used?

This is not one of the more commonly used procedures. This maneuver is used at airports with parallel runways seperated by 1,200 feet or less. (example DFW airport in Dallas Texas) The reason for use could be a variety of reasons. The runway you will side step to has no approach, inoperative approach components, runway work going on, an aircraft needs to use the runway you are approaching for departure due to length.

So how does this procedure work?

  • ATC must assign a Side-Step Maneuver or the pilot could make a request.
  • The approach minimums will be higher than the straight in minimums.
  • The approach plate will note side step minimums that are slightly lower than a circling approach.
  • The pilot must begin to Side-Step as soon as possible after the runway environment is in site.

What does a Side-Step clearance sound like?

  • "Cleared ILS Runway 18 Right approach, Side-Step runway 18 left".

At the top of the page is an example of an approach with a Side-Step Maneuver circled in red and noted in the minimums section of the NOS Chart.

Robbie Johnson
Chief Pilot
Aviation Training Us LLC

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Air France Crash June 2009

Untitled Document

Yesterday an Air France Airbus A330 crashed on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris France. Basic details of the accident can be heard on the news cast on the following site and the following article

The Airbus is manufactured in France and has been in operation for over 15 years. Something unique about the Airbus A330 is that the pilot controls inputs to the control surfaces by wire. Each pilot has a control stick that is moved to put electrical inputs into the computers which in turn make the input changes in the aircraft control surfaces. The writer of this article is familiar with some of the basics of an Airbus but not the actual systems. From what the writer knows the Airbus A330 is controlled by either 5 or 7 computers. Obviously the computers are very important and they would have backup electrical power systems. However Airbus has had some issues with computers in past models with several computers failing at one time.

Assumptions by the writer:

Turbulence: This could be a factor causing possibly a computer failure from severe turbulence or engine failure. Some aircraft have had compressor stalls in the engine with severe sudden turbulence. This area of the world is known for very large storms that can have tops in excess of 60,000 feet. It is also possible that the aircraft may have had structural damage from severe turbulence that could lead to the breakup of the aircraft in flight.

Lightning Strike: Aircraft are designed to handle this kind of occurrence and many times an aircraft may be struck by lighting and the flight crew will not even know it. Discovery would likely be a small chard area on the fuselage of the aircraft. It is remotely possible that a lighting strike or multiple lightning strikes may have caused a computer failure or some other structural problems. Want to see some lightning images click here.

Mechanical Failure: It is also possible that the aircraft had a mechanical problem. Mechanical causes of aircraft accidents are rather rare and account for less than 10 % of all aircraft accidents.

An investigator would also not want to rule out terrorist activity, bombings and other external factor that could also be a factor in any airliner crash. What will make this crash difficult to discover the cause is the depth of water the crash occurred, the large area to search for the crash and the black box will only ping so long after the crash until the battery goes dead. The fact the aircraft was flying in the oceanic system without radar tracking and making position reports at least every 60 minutes will also leave a large search area.

Aircraft Statistics can be found at the National Transportation Safety Board web site.

Manufacturer information about the aircraft can be found at Airbus web site.

What can an instrument rated pilot in general learn from this crash. Flight into an area of weather should be performed with great caution. We as pilot become complacent in the fact that many times over a career of flying we may have flown into areas of weather and have used radar to fly around or even threw cells within a thunderstorms. What we cannot predict is what the weather is really like in a storm until we are in the weather. Let me point out in my career of over 25 years of flying I have only once flown into an area of unknown severe turbulence that lasted for approximately 15 seconds. It seemed like a several minutes and when you put an input to turn left and the aircraft goes right this is not a good thing! I would describe the turbulence event as Severe to Extreme Turbulence. Lets review the Airman Information Manual definition of Turbulence:

Light Turbulence: Turbulence that momentarily causes slight, erratic changes in altitude and / or attitude

Moderate Turbulence: Turbulence that is similar to light turbulence but greater intensity. Changes in altitude and / or attitude occur but the aircraft remain in the positive control at all times. It usually causes variations in indicated airspeed.

Moderate Chop: Turbulence that is similar to Light Chop but greater intensity. It causes rapid bumps or jolts without appreciable changes in aircraft altitude or attitude.

Severe Turbulence: Turbulence that causes large, abrupt changes in altitude and / or altitude. It usually causes large variations in indicated airspeed. Aircraft may momentarily be out of control.

Extreme Turbulence: Turbulence in which the aircraft is violently tossed about and is practically impossible to control. It may cause structural damage.

Here is a video described as Severe Turbulence which by definition should only be Moderate Chop Turbulence.

In this video the runway stay relatively in the same position with small corrections to the aircraft going on during the approach. Not to down play that the flying conditions are not the best in this video but the fact someone could even video tape the event would make it moderate turbulence. Now imagine momentarily loosing control of the aircraft this close to the ground with abrupt changes in the altitude and the attitude! A pilot would not be able to fly and land an aircraft in sever turbulence without significant risk of severe damage to an aircraft on landing. I have flown approaches in turbulent weather with up to + 30 knot wind shifts in remote areas of the world and bank rolling up to 15 degrees. I would not recommend it, it takes skill, above all staying well ahead of the aircraft, a two man crew with one calling airspeed while the other concentrates on flying the aircraft on the approach and above all maintain power spooled up ready to go around. I personally would not even consider taking the chance of flying a visual approach to landing in severe turbulence.

Robbie Johnson

Chief Pilot

Aviation Training Us LLC

Friday, May 29, 2009

Circling Approach - How should a missed approach be flown?

So you have been cleard for an approach from the final approach fix. Lets say it is a VOR/DME 18 approach and in your clearance you have been told to circle to runway 36. Lets also say the Missed Approach Point is the end of runway 18 and is determined by a DME distance. It could also be determined by time if this were a VOR 18 approach.

You fly the VOR/DME approach to the minimum descent altitude and break out into the clear and begin your circling approach for a left downwind for runway 36. Just prior to the aircraft reaching the abeam point of runway 36 you enter the clouds and loose site of the runway enviroment. Now what should you do? Your missed approach clearance is to perform a climbing right turn to 220 degree and 4,000" MSL.
Slide A - Follows the missed approach clearance exactly as stated
Slide B - The pilot elects to turn left towards to airport and make a 320 degree left turn to a heading of 220 degrees.
Which is correct: Slide "B" is correct.
You are likely saying why. The reason is that the missed approach point (the begining of runway 18) is the point that obstacle clearance is determined from and the point the aircraft starts the missed approach. In this case you have circled and are likely 2 to 2 1/2 miles south of the missed approach point. In order to stay in the protected airspace you are to turn towards the airport runway and begin a climbing left turn until reaching a heading of 220 degrees and then continue with the clearance.
Slide "A" is incorrect because you will begin your missed approach, climbing turn into unprotected airspace initially. This would be a big mistake in areas of moutainous terrain or even higher close in obstacles.
Robbie Johnson
Chief Pilot

Chief Flight Instructor

CFIIME (Gold Seal) G-IV, G-1159, G-159, SD-3, BA-3100