Holiday Weekends = Flying = Higher Than Average Accident Rates: Don’t Be that Pilot

Every major holiday weekend in the summer, starting with Memorial Day, including the Fourth of July, and ending with Labor Day weekends results in higher than normal General Aviation accident rates.

It happens every year. Without fault.

Folks I know in the FAA and the NTSB get put on call for the inevitable weekend warrior pushed it too far into IMC, or strong crosswinds, in a plane they haven’t flown in months, or even years, because they “just had to get to the cottage,” or “Uncle Jimmy’s fireworks extravaganza,” or whatever excuse and major pressure they felt to fly.

Wanting to “get there” should never be a pressure to make us fly when we aren’t proficient, haven’t flow regularly, or are going to need to push our aircraft or weather allowances to limits that are of greater risk. But it happens regularly.

None of us want to hurt ourselves, our friends, or our family. So we have to think critically before we head off on our holiday weekend plans in our aircraft.

If you are in any doubt at all, mitigate the risks. Get some currency training before the weekend. Adjust your flight plans to avoid weather, crosswinds, or airports that demand greater skills such as short grass runways.

Another option, and one that won’t kill you, is to just not fly if the conditions or your recent experience make it questionable whether you should. It’s ok to say no. Pride aside, dead is always worse than making the decision to drive, or just not go. This may sound blunt or crass, but it sadly happens every year around the country.

So, with this season’s first major holiday weekend approaching quickly, make yourself a promise not to be the pilot that the FAA or NTSB folks on call need to come out to interview, or worse, send off to the coroner.

CFI/Pilot Training Pro-Tip -Turn On The Lights

Imagine its an IFR day, not terrible down to the minimums IFR, but certainly IFR enough that you need to establish on the approach, transition beyond the final approach fix, and expect to break out somewhere along the approach to a visual landing.

You may be flying an ILS or LPV with a glide slope that keeps you descending along a path. But when you break out, do you continue flying that, or do you transition to a visual glide path?

If you are like most of us, you transition largely to a visual completion of the approach, while at the same time trying to generally fly the glide path and laterally course.It’s natural to want to use your own eyes to finish the approach once the runway is in sight.

As long as you can keep the runway in sight, this is a good plan. However, there is one thing that during daylight approach many pilots forget to do.

Turn on the runway lights! Continue reading

FAA 20 Year Forecast Notes Effects on Regional Airlines and ATP Certification – Training Capacity Not A Factor Included

Releasing its 20 Year Aerospace Forecast, the FAA has again highlighted important considerations for the aerospace industry. Noting growth in the U.S. domestic passenger carriage sector over the next 20 years, the FAA credited positive economic indicators and lower overall oil costs that airlines experience. Coupled with this is an expected continued growth in regional jets, which we all know will continue to need pilots to keep them flying. While many factors were noted and considered in the report, a couple directly relate to the training industry.

The full report highlights the fact that mainline airlines are credited with greater numbers of enplanements (they fly aircraft that carry more people) they also typically have a higher “revenue per mile” than the “regional” airlines. To some degree this has been corollary with the efforts of regional airlines to fly aircraft with greater seat loads while at the same time the FAA notes that “the regionals have less leverage with the mainline carriers than they have had in the past as the mainline carriers have negotiated contacts that are more favorable for their operational and financial bottom lines.” It goes on to note that, “Furthermore, the regional airlines are facing some pilot shortages. Their labor costs are increasing as they raise wages to combat the pilot shortage while their capital costs have increased in the short term…” Continue reading

RTS with an April Fools Day Annual – Charlie Flies into 2019….

RTS – Returned to Service Charlie.

Well, winter is long in Michigan, and there is no rush to get an annual done when you drop the plane off to your mechanic at the end of January and it is just going to snow another month. So…we finally got it all done with an April 1 sign off for this flying season. The weather, my free time, and a relenting from the cold I have been fighting finally cooperated and let me go bring Charlie home for this season’s flying efforts.

Nothing too major was wrong, a couple of new cylinder studs, a new set of spark plugs all around just for good measure, a fuel selector seal replacement, a modification to remove one more reoccurring AD to name a few minor tweaks to go with a GLASS panel (kind of) upgrade. You can see it down in the bottom left of the panel.

A new Dynon D3 digital attitude and heading indicator serves as a replacement for the formerly inoperative heading indicator that I had and I also chose to remove the gyro attitude indicator. Both of these were venturi driven instruments and not completely reliable, so, for this VFR only airplane the Dynon box offers a digital option that would also have a backup battery option in the event of an electrical failure. Continue reading