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Are You Fit For Duty?

by Greg Reigel 25. May 2017 13:21
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If you are a flightcrew member for an air carrier operating under 14 C.F.R. Part 121 you know that 14 C.F.R. Part 117 contains flight, duty, and rest regulations that apply to all Part 121 passenger operations. One specific regulation, Section 117.5(d), requires a flightcrew member to “affirmatively state that he or she is fit for duty prior to commencing flight.” Section 117.3 defines “fit for duty” as “physiologically and mentally prepared and capable of performing assigned duties at the highest degree of safety.” What does that mean?

Unfortunately, no objective science-based standard currently exists for measuring fatigue levels. As a result, Section 117.5 doesn’t say just how fatigued a flightcrew member must be in order for him or her to be “unfit for duty.” Rather, the regulation simply states that an individual flightcrew member is “fit for duty” if he or she is capable of safely performing his or her assigned duties. According to the FAA, this determination must be made by each individual flightcrew member based upon a variety of factors, such as the length and difficulty of the flight duty assignment, time of day, and the flightcrew member's self-knowledge of how he or she deals with different levels of fatigue.

Which means flightcrew members’ fit for duty determinations are subjective. But, according to the FAA, this subjectivity “is mitigated by the fact that flightcrew members will undergo fatigue education and awareness training, which will increase each flightcrew member's ability to self-assess his or her fatigue levels.”

So, how does this apply in specific situations? For example, what if the flightcrew member is slightly fatigued at the end of a flight duty period (“FDP”)? Does that mean the flightcrew member should not have accepted the flight assignment? The FAA says “no.” Given the various individual factors that go into a fitness for duty determination, the FAA will not categorically say that a slight amount of fatigue that appears at the end of an FDP would always render a flightcrew member unfit for duty. As long as the flightcrew member is able to affirmatively state at the beginning of the FDP that he or she is fit for duty, then the flightcrew member may accept the assigned flight duty.

What about when the flightcrew member has been awake for 16, 18 or even 24 continuous hours prior to accepting the assigned flight duty? If the flightcrew member certifies that he or she is fit for duty in that situation is that a violation of the regulation? Here again, the FAA says “not necessarily.” Although it is significantly more likely that a person who has been awake for such an extended period of time will not be fit for duty, the regulations do not necessarily preclude the flightcrew member from accepting an assigned flight duty under those circumstances. The flightcrew member must still make an individualized determination and consider, as one factor along with others, the amount of time that the flightcrew member has been continuously awake.

Another common situation arises when an FDP involves more than one flight segment. If the flightcrew member is fit for duty at the beginning of the first flight segment but later determines he or she is not fit for duty before starting a subsequent flight segment during that FDP, then what? Since Section 117.5(d) requires a flightcrew member to reassess whether he or she is fit for duty prior to each flight segment, in that situation the flightcrew member would not be permitted to fly the subsequent flight segment. Similarly, if a flightcrew member reports for an FDP and is fit for duty at that time but that FDP is later extended, the flightcrew member must then reassess whether he or she can continue to serve on the extended FDP.

Thus, in order to be “fit for duty”, flightcrew members must decide, both at the beginning of an FDP and during that FDP that they are mentally and physically prepared and capable of safely performing their assigned duties and then take any necessary steps to comply with the rule. Flightcrew members should use their best judgment to make that determination and then act accordingly.

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Greg Reigel

The End...Maybe

by Lydia Wiff 15. May 2017 09:00
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Spring is here to stay and that means that already the academic year has ended!  You would be surprised how fast nine months really is – especially when you are on the cusp of graduation.  Of course, congratulations to all of the graduates this spring! You should be proud of yourselves and what you have achieved.  This spring marks a momentous occasion for me as I was among those that graduated.

It is hard to believe that in August of 2011 I was starting my higher education journey at a community college in Minnesota only to find myself transferring to the plains of North Dakota.  I certainly did not count on graduating with an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Education, a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Airport Management, a specialization in Business Aviation, and earning my Certified Member (C.M.) initials through the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).  Looking back now, it does seem like a lot of schooling.  Let’s not forget my favorite certification which was that of my Private Pilot’s License!

It is also hard to think of how much I managed to fit in since then.  Working at a library, a Fixed Based Operator (FBO), a student magazine, a commercial Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) park, a student magazine, financial aid, and more.  Besides just putting myself through school, I still managed to find time to be involved with the University of North Dakota (UND) AAAE Student Chapter as well as the Women’s Air Race Classic Team.  Of course, writing this blog for the past two years has been a big part of my higher education experience as I have been able to chronicle my studies as well as my experiences.

As graduation has so quickly come and just as quickly left, it means that this is my last post for the academic year (maybe).  When I first took on this position writing for not only myself, but www.Globalair.com, I never thought it would last as long as two years or that I could possibly have that much to write about.  I also never thought I would have so many opportunities to write about so many different topics or interview so many truly inspiring people from the aerospace industry.  While this may be my last post for a little while, be sure to keep checking back, especially my Facebook page (Blue Skies & Tailwinds) where I share photos and links to articles about the aerospace industry.

As for the next step, I’m heading west!  I have accepted a job offer to work for the City of Klamath Falls in Klamath Falls, OR at the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport.  I will work as an Airport Operations Specialist II and do a little of everything including airport inspections, wildlife management, maintenance, and much more.  I’m very excited to a) have a job, and b) work with an airport in a beautiful part of the country.  I know I will learn much and I’m hoping to share a little of my experiences with you all at some point.  However, I’m ready for a little break here!

 

So, thank you all for following me and be sure to check back soon for the next phase of my aerospace story.  Until then, may you always have blue skies and tailwinds!

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Lydia Wiff | UND

High-Wing Vs. Low-Wing Aircraft

by Tori Williams 3. May 2017 17:28
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One of the first things an aspiring pilot learns is that not all aircraft are created equal. At least, not in the eyes of other pilots. It doesn’t take very many conversations with a pilot to find out exactly what type of aircraft they love and hate. Some pilots have good reasons for preferring one type over another, while others just have a soft spot for a certain type they trained in or became infatuated with.

The disagreements cover a variety of aircraft types. Tailwheel verses nose gear, retractable versus fixed gear, G1000 versus the historic six-pack. Each of these has been debated between pilots for years and I’m sure they will continue to be debated. Another popular category is high-wing verses low-wing aircraft. I personally have a preference for high-wing, as the vast majority of my flight time has been in Cessna 172s and a Stinson 10A.

I was curious what the general consensus was on where the best location for the wings is, so I took to the Internet and… Found no clear answer. It seems that there are pros and cons to both configurations, and it almost always boiled down to preference over hard facts. I have compiled a few major things to consider if you are in the scenario where you must choose between a high-wing or low-wing aircraft.

Visibility

Visibility was one of the first things pilots commented on when debating between the two. High-wing aircraft simply give pilot and passengers a better view of the sky around them and ground below them. They are ideal for an introduction flight, cruising around for fun, or flying on missions that require a clear view of the ground. Low-wing aircraft offer outstanding views of the world above the cockpit, but the wings can block anything below.

Accessibility

When fueling on the ground, it is usually much easier to access the tanks on a low-wing aircraft. Most high-wing fuel tanks require standing on a ladder to reach. However, the flip side of this is that it is more difficult to reach the fuel drains and visually inspect the underside of the wing on a low-wing aircraft.

Ground Clearance

Pilots of low-wing aircraft have to be more conscientious of any obstacles on the ground. This includes taxiway lights, tie-downs, and airport signage. The high-wing pilot still has to watch out, but has the ease of knowing their wings are not in such close proximity.

Safety

In the event of an emergency landing, low-wing aircraft have the advantage of being able to absorb some of the crash impact in the wings instead of the fuselage. They also help in the event of a water landing, having the potential to float above the water for a short period of time.

Some pilots love having shade under their wings on a hot summer day. Other pilots prefer being able to set maps or logbooks on the wing during preflight. Some pilots hate having to walk on the wing to get into the aircraft.

At the end of the day, there is no clear winner. It seems that it mostly comes down to personal preference and familiarity with the type of aircraft. Do you prefer high-wing or low-wing? What do you think makes one better than the other? Let me know in the comments below!

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Aircraft Sales | Aviation Safety | Flying | Tori Williams

Five Tips for Aircraft Financing/Leasing

by David Wyndham 3. May 2017 14:39
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There is money available today if you are interested in financing or leasing a business aircraft. Interest rates are still low. Here are five rules for getting financing or leasing.

Rule #1. Dance with the one you brought.

Relationships matter. Financial institutions are looking for long-term relationships. If you have done significant business with one institution over the years, they are the first ones to approach for any aircraft financing or leasing. One private banker told me "If you have $300 million in assets with (my bank) there is no way we won't do an aircraft deal with you." Part of this is the significant investment the financial institution has made in keeping you, and your cash, in the bank. The other is that in cultivation and supporting your business, they have a very good idea as to your character.

Rule #2. Character counts.

The Four C's of financing are Character, Credit, Collateral, and Cash Flow. Do you have the credit available for the deal in mind? Aircraft deals can be far more complex than other assets. Any financial institution needs to manage and measure their financial risk and it starts with your credit. Another part in managing the risk is what other assets do you have to guarantee the aircraft deal? Standalone, the financial institution may not want to do interest-only financing, but if you have cash, stocks, and other investments well in excess of the aircraft value, then the risk is lessened. Can you keep the aircraft flying? For $2 million you can buy a 15-year old turboprop or a 22-year old large cabin jet. However, the annual operating budgets are going to be vastly different. Can you afford the $3 million engine overhaul on the jet? Character, whether are you a person of your word, counts more than all the above.

Character ties into rule number one above. The financial institution wants to know, not only from a balance sheet perspective, but from who you our your company is, will you stand by the deal? Given enough money for lawyers, it seems like most contracts can be broken or amended. The financial institution is looking for a trustworthy account.

Our company founder and dear friend, Al Conklin, told me that he measured every sale by the value of the person's handshake. If he didn't trust the person, no amount of legal contracts and forms would make him feel good about the deal.

Rule #3. Get what you need, don't overbuy. 

Aircraft are wonderful business tools. They get you to many places far faster than any other mode of transportation. They enable you to make the out of every minute and do so in a safe and secure environment. Given the availability of pre-owned aircraft you can easily step up in size nod capability for not a lot more money. Get the aircraft that does the majority of your flying in a cost effective manner. Need or want the big cabin plane? Then charter one when necessary. 

I had one client who would not consider a plane in which he could not stand up in the use the lavatory! The smaller cabin jet was less costly to own and operate, but he wanted and was willing to pay to stand. He ended up not buying and continuing to charter. If you do decide to upsize, make sure you understand the ramifications of the budget and are willing to pay.

Rule #4. Communication is key. 

For the lessor, lender, or insurance broker to make sure you get the best service, make sure they understand how you plan to use the aircraft. Will you be doing charter? Will it stay in North America or spend a lot of time in other locations? Are their management agreements? If so, is the financial institution protected adequately in terms of a loss or lien?

Rule #5. Plan.

While a cash-only transaction can be done in the time it takes for a wire transfer to occur, even the aircraft registration process will take more time than that. A US-only financed deal can take three to four weeks at the absolute fastest. Better plan on a month or more. If there are two countries involved, if the Ex-Im Bank is involved in the financing, plan on three to four months minimum for the deal and the importation of the aircraft. 

Financing or leasing a business aircraft is complicated and involves significant finances. You should have qualified aviation legal and tax advice. 

 

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Aircraft Sales | David Wyndham | Aircraft For Sale

University Life 101

by Lydia Wiff 1. May 2017 09:00
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As we are only 13 days away from graduation, I thought it would be fun to pass on some university life knowledge that might be helpful for our readers, or students that they know.  As I am about to finish my second degree and, hopefully, add another certification to my resume, I guess one could say I have picked up a few tips in academia.  So, here are my three tips for keeping your cool in school (pun intended).

#3: Never Underestimate the Power of Sleep

For all of you more experienced readers, I am sure you are shaking your head because I am suggesting getting more sleep and skipping class – yes and no.  While I am a morning person, and a firm believer in not wasting the day, I have also learned the hard way that not getting enough sleep or rest is physically damaging and can only be maintained for so long.

We have all heard that a solid eight hours is recommended especially the younger you are.  I have learned on several occasions that I need at least seven hours, if not eight.  However, anything less than seven is really pushing it – especially if I maintain that for several days.  It is important to figure out your threshold for sleep early on in college, because things only get busier after Freshman year.  Also, when you are scheduling your classes, flight labs, or work hours, be aware of when you do your best work.  For instance, I know that I am a morning person, so I would rather be at work at 0730 than going into an eight hour shift at 2pm.  The great thing is you have a lot of control over your schedule in college, so use that to your advantage, because after graduation you are there when the boss says, regardless of how little you slept.

#2:  Schedule Time for Fun

I learned in college that people had very definite ideas of what “fun” was and it was not the same for each person.  Do not worry if your idea of fun is a book versus your roommate’s plans to have a party in your dorm room.  If you want to spend your free time introverting, or working out, that is OK.

You will find that there will be pressure to do this and that in during your free time (in fact, that is when the fun things seem to always happen).  If you are an extrovert, go hang out with your friends – play basketball, see a movie, etc.  If you are an introvert, it is OK to sit in your room to unwind.  I am an introvert and sometimes it is difficult to explain to others that after being around people all day, I do not want to be around people.

However, do not just introvert your life away.  If you can get out for a movie, or dinner, or coffee, do that!  It is important to rest and recharge and sometimes all it takes is a few hours away from your room or apartment or house (or roommates).

#1:  Build Good Habits Now

This a fairly open-ended tip, so I will just cover a few good habits to have that will benefit you for years post-graduation. 

Learning to write well is a good habit I have carried with me since high school.  I remember my parents urging me to write about one of my experiences when volunteering with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and 10 years later, it is one of the most important habits I have.  It is also shocking to learn from Seniors that expecting them to write like Seniors in a Senior-level class is an “unrealistic” expectation – if you want to argue with me on this one, I can argue every way until Monday that learning to write well is one of the most important skills and habits a young adult should have.

Learning to schedule your time wisely is something you will take with you for a lifetime.  I cannot count how many times people have been surprised and astonished when they see the calendar in my binder, or my day planner.  Truth be told, I have about four different calendars, which may be overload, but it helps me remember everything.  You do not have to be that organized by any means, but just having a place to put down every activity and knowing when that activity will occur will help you make good use of your time.

Put in the effort now, so you can enjoy your free time later.  My parents always stress doing a job well and putting in the effort to produce excellence.  I cannot tell you how many students comment that “Cs get degrees” or that no employer will ever look at your Grade Point Average (GPA).  Wrong!  Your first few jobs after graduation you won’t have quite enough experience to take your GPA off your resume and it is a good indicator of how hard you worked in college.  Building the habit of putting in the effort to learn and do well translates into life after college in more ways than one.  Hard work is how people get promoted, get job offers, and get the jobs they really want.   

The End?

Now, if you are thinking that I have just handed you the comprehensive checklist to university success, think again!  Just take all I say with a grain of salt and realize what works for me will not always work for you.  However, I think these tips are generic and easily scalable to your daily lives.

My last piece of advice for this week is to develop these good habits and to find your student/work/life balance – honestly, that might take a lifetime to achieve.

Images courtesy of Google.com.

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GlobalAir.com | Lydia Wiff | UND



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