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3 Ways to Counteract Your Fear of Stalls

We've all likely been there before. You're working on stalls with either an instructor as a student, testing out a new plane's stall characteristics, or maybe you are the instructor. You set up for it and work to initiate the buffet and look down to realize you have a death grip on the controls and are HIGHLY uncomfortable. 

Have no fear, you are definitely not the first nor will you be the last pilot to go through this. 

Critical AOA by AOPA
  1. The first step to counteract this fear is go up with someone you trust/is trustworthy. Go up with someone who feels comfortable with these like another instructor or a test pilot. In fact, I struggled with this during CFI training (the thought of letting another student do these) so I went up with my instructor who also flies aerobatics. He was able to show me how hard it can actually be to put a Cessna in a spin and taught me how to do a falling leaf stall which helped TONS. BoldMethod.com describes this stall in good detail of what that is and how to execute it. Like I said, go up with someone who can help with this and fly them MULTIPLE times. Ensure you get to a point where it is consistently JUST you at the controls without them having to do anything. 
    Gleim Fear of Stalls
  2. Stay relaxed and don't panic. As you're setting up for it look down and make sure you have a loose grip on the controls and ensure your breathing is controlled. If you start off in panic mode how can you overcome your fear? Know that you are in control the whole time, not the plane. 
  3. Something that helped me overcome my fear as well is watching the instruments. I kept my eyes 75% inside and 25% outside. The reason I did this is to ensure I was coordinated by watching the turn coordinator, wings level until there was a need to initiate a turn, and at a good pitch up (especially on a power-on stall) to bring on the buffet (by good pitch up this means something aggressive enough yet not overly aggressive). What makes most people nervous is looking outside and seeing the nose above the horizon (aka not straight and level), so keep your eyes moving from the instruments back to outside. 

The best tip overall though is the good old "practice makes perfect." So back to the first point, go practice them multiple times until you feel comfortable. Stalls are NOT a natural maneuver so it's normal to not like them. They can be dangerous if not executed correctly though so just ensure to always take safe measures before going up.

Have any tips to add? Comment below!

In the meantime, our scholarship window is back open for the 2020 year! Need some help paying for flight training? Check out https://www.globalair.com/scholarships/ and apply! 

Happy Landings,

-Addi

ADS-B Compliance: The Potential Consequences Of Violating Rule Airspace

As most aircraft operators know, or should know, aircraft must now be equipped with ADS-B Out in order to fly in most airspace within the U.S.  Although it is possible to take advantage of limited waivers or exceptions, generally speaking ADS-B Out is required for operations in "Rule Airspace."

In connection with this requirement, the FAA recently updated Order 2150.3C - FAA's Compliance and Enforcement Program to explain potential sanctions for aircraft operations that do not comply with the ADS-B Out mandate.  Specifically, Chapter 9 of the Order now identifies the FAA's sanction policy/guidance for ADS-B related violations.

It is important to understand that the FAA will be taking these violations seriously. For example, if the FAA believes an airman is transmitting inaccurate ADS-B Out or transponder information with the intent to deceive, or is operating an aircraft without an activated transponder or ADS-B Out transmission (except as provided in 14 C.F.R. §91.225(f)) for purposes of evading detection, it will revoke that airman's certificates.

The sanction for other violations are not as severe, but are nonetheless significant.  The FAA characterizes the severity of the violation based upon levels of 1, 2 or 3, with Severity Level 3 being the most serious. And depending upon whether the FAA views the violation as careless or reckless/intentional, the sanction range could vary from low to maximum.

The FAA evaluates violations based upon impact on safety.  "Technical Noncompliance" involves violations where serious injury, death, or severe damage could not realistically occur as a result of the violation conduct, even if theoretically possible. A violation with a "Potential Effect on Safety"  occurs in a situation where serious injury, death, or severe damage could realistically result, but under the facts and circumstances would not often occur. Finally, a violation falls into the "Likely Effect on Safety" category where serious injury, death, or severe damage may occur more often as a result of the violation conduct.

When the operator fails to comply with ADS-B Out performance or broadcast requirements due to technical noncompliance, the violation is considered Severity Level 1. If the failure to comply with ADS-B Out performance or broadcast requirements has a possible effect on safety then the violation is Severity Level 2. And, not surprisingly, when the failure to comply with ADS-B Out performance or broadcast requirements has a likely effect on safety then it is a Severity Level 3 violation.

The specific sanction will also depend upon the type of violator.  If the violation is by an individual certificate holder, the airman will likely be facing suspension of his or her certificates.  An individual acting as an airman or a business entity will face a monetary civil penalty. In the case of a business, the amount will vary depending upon the size and revenue of the entity.

So, depending upon the circumstances, an individual certificate holder could face a suspension of his or her certificates for 20 -60 days, 60 -120 days, 90 -150 days, or 150 -270 days, depending upon whether the violation is in the low, medium, high, or maximum range, respectively. Other individuals and businesses could face civil penalties ranging from $100 to $34,174 per violation, depending upon the nature of the violator and how the FAA categorizes the violation.

In the event of multiple violations arising from the same act or omission, the FAA may give special consideration if the violation was careless, as opposed to reckless/intentional violations which receive no special consideration.  For an individual certificate holder the suspension could be anywhere from 30 -90 days, 90 -150 days, or 120 -180 days, depending upon whether the violation is Severity Level 1, 2 or 3, respectively. And an individual acting as an airman could be assessed a civil penalty in the amount of $5,000 -$10,000, $7,500 -$15,000, or $10,000 -$20,000, again depending upon whether the violation is Severity Level 1, 2, or 3, respectively.

For other individuals, the civil penalty could range anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000.  And business violators could be assessed civil penalties ranging from $50,000 to $600,000 depending upon the nature and size of the business, as well as the Severity Level of the violation.

Conclusion

Order 2150.3C provides the FAA inspectors and attorneys with a checklist for determining sanction in any given case involving an ADS-B violation.  Unfortunately, when a case gets to the point where the FAA is determining sanction, the actual calculations and method for arriving at the final assessed civil penalty is usually withheld.

However, it is important to understand that the facts and circumstances involved in any given case have an impact on both how the sanction is calculated as well as the amount of the civil penalty assessed.  If you find yourself defending against an alleged violation of Rule Airspace, knowing this information can help you defend yourself and, hopefully, successfully resolve the matter.

Counteracting a Bad Landing

How to counteract and prevent a rough landing:

Go around. That's it. That's the whole post.

Just kidding! Somewhat....

Okay we've all had those days where we landed the plane so rough that we just taxied back in silence and thoroughly inspected the landing gear afterwards. In fact, my student and I had one yesterday so bad that we ended up popping the left main gear tire. It happens! You live and you learn. So let's talk about it.

First things first: set up for a good approach by having a good traffic pattern. Get your 'before landing' checklist done BEFORE getting established in the pattern. That's part of staying ahead of the plane. The less you're having to rush and scramble to make sure everything is complete, the better your odds are of being ready and stable.

Bad Landings

                                       KEFD 2/28/2020

In the picture above we're getting ready to land on 35L at Ellington, so we're entering at a 45 degree right downwind. By this point, all the 'before landing' items were done and our passenger briefing was complete so we could focus on the actual landing.

The second thing is to fly the actual traffic pattern. By this I mean take it back to your rectangular course maneuver: if there are winds, then establish the proper crabbing correction to actually hold your downwind, base, etc. If you're fighting winds the whole time and getting too close or too far from the runway, then by the time you turn final, you won't be lined up with centerline. 

Now, when you actually turn final, work to maintain centerline the WHOLE TIME (not just as you're coming into flare) and fight for the right glide slope. What if you're too high? Don't accept it and chop some power out. If you're too low, add power in. If there is a PAPI or VASI lighting system then make yourself hold the red and white colors. The main thing about being on final is not to accept anything that isn't "perfect" and fight to get the airplane where you want it to be. 

You keep descending on final and now it's getting time to flare: the key part. Don't start the flare too low and especially not too early because you have the danger of stalling too high. Know your plane and know when to flare it. Obviously, something like a C-130 won't flare at the same time as a C172. For the sake of this post and discussing flight training, we'll pretend we're flying a typical GA plane like the C172.

Don't flare until you're about 10 feet about the runway. This is when you transition your eyes from your landing point to the end of the runway and start working the nose up and power out. Remember, the goal is to have the nose wheel touchdown as late as possible. I've found the most common mistakes are that people don't pull the yoke/stick back far enough and the nose wheel hits first, and they jerk the controls rather than smoothly pull it back. Part of a smooth landing is always being smooth with your controls. SMOOTHLY work that nose up and keep pulling until the plane touches down. For the most part, your yoke/stick should be pulled almost all the way back. After the side wheels touch down, just hold the controls and easily start relaxing them to let the nose wheel come down on its own. 

Let's say you do this and still balloon or bounce. What do you do?

That's easy: GO AROUND. Every single time you should execute a go-around because you don't know how hard your second touchdown will be. 

Stepping away from my CFI role and preaching about go-arounds, we all know we'll have those days where we still try and stick with the landing. If it's a small and very minor balloon, hold the controls where they are and then as the plane comes back down go back to pulling back SMOOTHLY again and you should have a nice touchdown (again this is for a balloon that's small and under about 8 feet). 

If you bounce 9/10 times, it's because you hit all 3 wheels at once rather than the nose wheel last so keep pulling back until your nose is up more. Again, this is only for a minor bounce under a few feet. If the plane bounces back up really high, throw in the power and GO AROUND. 

I can't preach go-arounds enough. They not only give you another chance at trying to grease the landing, but they can also save the plane from being damaged. 

The last and most important thing aside from pitch attitude in the flare is airspeed. Watch your airspeed and know your Vref. Let's say Vref is 70kts and you look down, having not even flared yet you're at 60kts. You know what will happen? An early stall and a rough touchdown. Now, let's say the airspeed is at 80kts rather than 70kts. This time you'll float and have the danger of running out of runway before being able to touchdown and bring the plane to a stop. 

Landing is a game of airspeed and altitude. Once you get these down, then get the pitch attitude where it needs to be in the flare. Whenever you get a really smooth and soft landing, look up and take a mental picture of where your nose is in relation to the horizon. THAT'S what you want to work for every single time. 

There's a lot to talk about with landings so you can expect more blog posts on them in the future, but I covered all the basic things that'll keep you safe and smooth. 

Have any tips to add? Feel free to contribute below!

Until next time, Happy Landings!

Transitioning Between Low and High Wing Planes in Primary Flight Training

As a flight instructor at a school with both low and high wing planes, I've found that students ranging from pre-solo private to commercial have issues with swapping between planes. It's not that they have issues in flying the planes, but it's trying to get them to learn to fly in both rather than just one type.

To go more in-depth, for example, most people prefer either the Grumman Cheetahs or Tigers or the Cessna 172s. If they've flown in one type but not the other, it's almost a battle to get them to jump in the other type. I've found this is due to a confidence issue. While they don't admit it, it's because they know how to fly one type of plane and don't think they will be successful in another so they don't even want to try. 

So, let's talk about some of the main differences between the planes starting from preflight to landing.

Believe it or not, most general aviation planes almost all fly the same. Going back to the example of a Grumman verse a Cessna, these planes fly almost exactly the same even when it comes to landing. They are not two completely different worlds, and in fact, I tell my students the more planes you can fly, the better off you are for a check ride and the better skills you develop for real-world flying! It makes you a better pilot. 

On a typical Cessna, you lower the flaps on preflight all the way down and then bring them up after engine start. In-flight you bring the flaps down in 10-degree increments and can bring the first notch down outside of the white arc (Vfe) range on the airspeed indicator. 

On a Grumman, you usually bring the flaps down then back up on a run-up/before takeoff check. Still in increments, however, it's a switch by your leg rather than by the yoke and you HAVE to be within the Vfe range in-flight to even lower the first 10 degrees. 

The next "big" difference between low and high wing planes is the visual sight picture when you look outside: the wings are in different places!

Whether you're doing ground reference maneuvers or entering the pattern to land, you use the same area on the plane to look outside and measure the distance. On a high wing, you place your marker about 3/4th the way up the wing strut. On the low wing planes, just use the wingtip (because after all, it's not like you can see below the wing this time). This sounds like it may be a huge factor, but give it 2 minutes and you're used to the change in the new plane. Trust me on this. 

The last change: landings.

Again, either put your wing tip or top of the wing strut on the runway as you enter downwind and there's your sight picture! Bring your flaps and power back as set by the POH and keep your descent coming along with the proper speeds (also set by the POH). If you can get a stabilized approach, most GA planes will land the same here: main wheels touch down first and nosewheel last. Pitch attitude will be similar, again especially with the Grummans and Cessnas, and by the time you touchdown airspeed will have bled off appropriately and your yoke will be almost all the way back. 

If you're reading this because you're in flight training and needing to swap between model planes due to maintenance/availability issues, don't be upset. It's going to develop better skills for you in flying and the planes will likely fly almost identical so don't sweat it! 

Have any more tips to add to help someone in flight training who's having to swap between the two types? Comment below!

Happy Landings,

-Addi

Aircraft Mechanic Refresher: 9 Points To Remember

Aircraft mechanics, like other aviation certificate holders, are subject to many regulatory requirements - both with respect to obtaining their certification as well as how they exercise the privileges of their certificates. And although mechanics may be familiar with these obligations, sometimes it helps to be reminded of some of the specific requirements with which they must comply.

To that end, here is a short list of some of the regulatory requirements relating to mechanics and performance of aircraft maintenance.

  1. An aircraft mechanic may perform maintenance, preventative maintenance or alteration of an aircraft part/appliance for which he or she is rated, BUT the mechanic must have previously  performed the work. The mechanic may also supervise that work provided that he or she has previously performed that work. 14 C.F.R. § 65.81.
  2. An aircraft mechanic may not exercise the privileges of his or her certificate/rating unless the mechanic has satisfied the recency of experience requirements of 14 C.F.R. § 65.83 within the preceding 24 months.
  3. An aircraft mechanic may approve and return to service an airframe or engine (including related parts/appliances) or perform a 100 hour inspection on either, but ONLY IF he or she holds the appropriate rating, i.e. Airframe and/or Powerplant. 14 C.F.R. §§ 65.85 and 65.87.
  4. The holder of a mechanic certificate must keep the certificate within the immediate area where he or she normally exercises the privileges of that certificate and must present it for inspection upon the request of the FAA or NTSB. 14 C.F.R. § 65.89.
  5. An aircraft mechanic who holds inspection authorization ("IA") may only exercise IA privileges while also holding a currently effective mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings.  And, the mechanic must have a fixed base of operation with appropriate equipment, facilities and inspection data. It is important to remember that this is FSDO specific. If the IA holder wants to exercise IA privileges within the service area of another FSDO, he or she must notify the new FSDO. 14 C.F.R. §§ 65.92 and 65.95.
  6. The IA is renewable for a 2-year period on March of each odd-numbered year.  The renewal requirements include the performance of certain maintenance activities or attendance at a refresher course acceptable to the FAA – all to confirm that the IA holder is "actively engaged." 14 C.F.R. § 65.93.
  7. An aircraft mechanic's IA must be available for inspection by (1) an aircraft owner, (2) another mechanic seeking certain approvals, and (3) upon request of the FAA, NTSB, or any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer. 14 C.F.R. § 65.95.
  8. An aircraft mechanic who approves or disapproves for return to service an aircraft, airframe, engine, etc. after inspection must, among other requirements, make an entry in the maintenance record containing the type and description of the inspection, the date of the inspection and aircraft total time in service, and the mechanic must provide a signature and certificate number. 14 C.F.R. § 43.11.
  9. If a mechanic performing a required inspection finds an aircraft unairworthy or not in compliance with the type certificate data, AD’s, or other approved data, that person must give the aircraft owner or lessee a signed and dated list of discrepancies and applicable equipment within the aircraft must be placarded “inoperative” as appropriate. 14 C.F.R. § 43.11.

This list is by no means all-inclusive.  An aircraft mechanic is subject to many more regulatory requirements.  However, this list highlights some of the requirements most pertinent to an aircraft mechanic's exercise of his or her privileges. And even though an aircraft mechanic may deal with these issues on a frequent basis, a quick refresher never hurts.

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