All posts tagged 'AOPA'

Do You Know Your Runway Markings?

Runway Markings

Flight training magazine and AOPA discussed runway markings recently because after your private, and maybe a few times in instrument training, it's not really discussed in depth again. Sometimes if you didn't get the best luck of the draw with your instructor it may not be discussed well at all.

Whatever the case is, let's talk about runway markings!

Displaced Threshold

I think this one is most often missed in training. The basic information taught about a displaced is "you can taxi and takeoff there but don't land." BUT WHY?!?! 

The short unprofessional answer for this is because you'll hit something. The better answer is it's there to protect you. If you aim for it as a landing spot, your glide path will become too low and again...you'll hit something. This could be power lines, trees, hills, etc. depending on the airport environment so it is designed specifically to avoid the dangers. Don't aim to touchdown until the threshold to be safe.

Threshold

As previously mentioned, the threshold now marks the beginning of available landing distance on the runway. Thresholds also have a coding system to tell you how wide the runway is. I think the coding system for the threshold is pretty neat. Here's a picture as it's described in the AIM of how the width is depicted:

Threshold Stripes

When it comes to instrument flying, the threshold can also tell you what type of approach the runway has: visual, precision, or nonprecision. On a visual runway with no approaches, it will just start at the beginning of the paved area, but for approaches, you'll see long, bold white stripes between the start of the runway and the edge of the numbers called your threshold markings. 

Designation Markings

Believe it or not, this is the official term used for runway numbers. They indicate the approximate magnetic orientation of that runway. Over time as the earth's magnetic fields change, however, the number has to be changed. A runway might be 17 for 10 years and then have to be changed to say 18 (this blew my mind as a private student!).

Side note: make a good habit as early as you can of saying "runway verified" or "I see 17 (insert correct runway number)" whenever you enter a runway and see the designation markings. It'll save you on that one leg in the middle of the night where you're exhausted and accidentally enter the wrong runway. You never know!

Touchdown Zone 

500 feet down the first stripe of runways with a precision approach is what is known as the touchdown zone. This is the line where football players must reach to score a goal against their opponent.

Just checking to see if you're still reading! These stripes are most useful in helping you know how much runway you've already eaten up in case you're pushing landing distance factors. 

Aiming Point

You might recognize these as they're most commonly called: the 1000 foot markers or captains bars! Similar to the purpose of the touchdown zone, these also help to show how much runway you've used. And if you're a commercial student, these are much better to use to aim for on power off 180's than the numbers!

Side-stripe Markings

These are the solid continuous white stripes that signify the edge of the runway to help provide a visual contrast from the terrain off the side of the pavement. Something similar to this is the yellow runway shoulder marking, cueing a non-taxi area. 

Centerline

Lastly demonstrated on the picture is centerline, perhaps one of the most important! One of its functions is keeping you on the center of the runway, protecting the wings from hazards off the side of the runway like windsocks, terrain, and worst of all aviation YouTubers.

The stripes also help mark the distance you've used. According to the AIM, each stripe is 120 feet long with 80 feet in between each of them. The stripes can be between one and three feet wide depending on the size of the runway. 

Hopefully this was a good refresher for runway markings for you! Remember to work for centerline and don't forget to flare!

Questions or comments? Let us know below!

Dealing with Frustration in the Cockpit

We've all been there:

In the cockpit, workload gets kind of high or we don't complete a task to our own personal standards, frustration starts setting in...next thing you know you realize you (or the person you're flying with) has become frustrated. Let's talk about the different signs this is occurring and how to combat it to not only have a safe but enjoyable flight. 

Pictured above is a Citation II

I want to make this an important topic because frustration is a real thing when flying, and it's not considered a hazardous attitude by the FAA yet most definitely exists. 

Whether I'm acting as an SIC for the corporate work I do or instructing in a C172, I see the same signs setting in every time. First, the grip on the controls starts getting tighter. The throttle(s) are held tighter and the controls are gripped more strongly.

Next, the scan of the cockpit and outside the windshield (if VFR) slows. The gaze starts to become fixated on certain things, and sometimes things that don't really matter. And of course, the mindset becomes fixated too. You're not thinking as logically and clearly like you usually do, it's almost as if you're in a haze and your ability to fly is decreasing.

Being in this state of mind may not necessarily kill you, but it will put you behind the plane every time. You might now forget to get ATIS and load the arrival in for your descent, enter the traffic pattern incorrectly, or forget to bring your gear up after takeoff...there's a lot of things that can happen that will slip out of your grip. 

The best way to combat this? Recognize it as soon as it's happening and correct it.

Just like all 5 hazardous attitudes have an antitdote, I've came up for one on this too. First off, admit that you're frustrated to yourself.  Look down and notice your tightened grip then look inside the rest of the cockpit and make sure everything looks as it should. Are your engine instruments indicating normal? What's your altitude? Why are you at that altitude? Did you mean to be at that altitude?

Ask yourself these kinds of questions! I call it intentional flying: everything you're currently doing you are doing it with a purpose and not letting the aircraft fly itself. This previous frustration is now going to lead to you getting flustered when you realize you're doing something wrong and now must correct it. BUT DON'T LET YOURSELF GET FLUSTERED EITHER. Fix the problem. Make yourself take a step back and take in everything, breathe, relax that death grip on the controls, and diagnose what is going on and how best to handle it. 

The second you panic, get mad, give up, or act without thinking is the second that now you might be in REAL trouble. So don't let yourself get that far! So again...remember to RELAX and then just fly how you were taught to. 

Thanks for reading. Any questions or comments? Leave them below!

4 Tips for Safer Summer Flying

There's no doubt about it, summertime is hot and it feels like it gets hotter every year this time around. 

You walk out to go preflight and just feel the heat wave take over you. As a CFI in Texas I feel this all too often this summer, so I wanted to share some tips on how to overcome it and make sure you don't put yourself in a dangerous scenario.

Pictured above is a photo I took flying above the Houston coastline the other day, and then edited it to make it look like I'm flying somewhere like Hawaii instead.

You have to know how to finesse the system my friends.

The relevance of this photo is that I took it on one of my last flights of the day and this was actually around sunset. All day I had been drinking a ton of water and before going up for this flight ran out and didn't have any left at the flight school. I decided "oh, it's okay I'll be fine. The temperature is starting to cool off now anyways."

Well, I was fine. But on this flight I did land close to exceeding my personal minimums. Preflight was hot enough to do without having a sip of water here and there, coupled with the fact that as a CFI our job is basically to talk the entire flight. I remember taking this photo while in the middle of a ground reference maneuver and realizing how much I was still sweating and how quickly I really wished I had water with me. So tip #1:

Bring. Enough. Water.

-Not just A bottle of water, but enough to last throughout the entire flight. I also remember being on a cross country last summer and running out of water in the middle of the flight. It was about 35 degrees Celsius outside and about an hour into being out of water I started to feel slightly dizzy and have a blur in vision. It was a very very faint dizziness and change in vision, but I knew it wouldn't be long before it got worse. Luckily I was near my home airport and landed shortly after, but what if I wasn't? what if I had 200 miles left to go? This could have easily turned into an emergency had the problem persisted. Don't let the Macho attitude take over and make you feel like you can overcome anything. Bring water, bring food, make sure you're well rested...all those aeromedical factors need to be addressed before EVERY flight and taken seriously. 

Pack Windshield Cleaner

-Summertime is when all the bugs like to come back out. Love bugs, mosquitoes, lightning bugs, you name it. They hit the windshield and leave guts everywhere. Make sure the windshield is clean before you fly, and if for some reason it builds up too much during flight then land at a nearby airport and clean it off. Bug spots seem so minuscule but they're important in looking for traffic and can easily be a risk factor. A good tip is if you have trouble getting spots off, don't scrub the windshield harder. Let the cleaner sit on the problem area for a minute or two and then it will wipe right off. 

Do Your Performance Calculations

-Remember that the hotter it is outside, the worse your airplane will perform. It causes your density altitude to increase, and factors such as fuel burn, takeoff, and landing distances will increase. If you're pushing fuel minimums, have a short runway, or especially an obstacle to clear after takeoff these numbers are extremely important. 

Prepare for More Air Traffic

-Even though our planes perform better in the wintertime, people just don't like to fly as much when it's cold. Summertime is when not only airlines are at their peak travel season (outside of corona times) but also general aviation. One thing to talk about here is the new requirement of ADS-B Out this year as of January. While there is the requirement of ADS-B Out there is NOT the requirement of ADS-B In, meaning you don't have to be able to receive the signal of other planes to display on your map screen (ex through syncing an iPad with ForeFlight and seeing it there).   

the busier the skies are, the safer it is to start using ADS-B In. If you can't see them physically then at least you can see them on a screen (like a redneck version of TCAS is what I jokingly say) to avoid them. If you'll be flying this summer, take all the precautions you can to help see and avoid traffic. While midair collisions are rare, they are possible. 

In conclusion, summertime flying is fun and should definitely be enjoyed but with good caution. Never just go out and fly the plane without doing a thorough flight plan and risk assessment. 

Have any tips to add for summertime flying? The more we have the safer we are! Feel free to comment below. 

 

GARA: the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994

The General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, or simply GARA, is a federal act that was implemented to amend the Federal Aviation Act (FAA) of 1958.

With a few exceptions to the law, it gave general aviation aircraft manufacturers much stronger protection from prosecution for accidents which were previously said to have been caused by manufacturer fault. Manufacturers embraced this amendment as it put an 18 year time-frame on how long they could be held responsible for a design defect. However, prior to the enactment of GARA, it was a different story altogether for many manufacturers of single and twin engine piston aircraft.

The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of General Aviation Aircraft Manufacturing

The late 1960's and early 1970's were said to have been the golden years for the aircraft manufacturing industry involved in building single and twin engine piston airplanes. However, towards the end of the 70s, during the period from 1978 to 1988, industry-wide employment fell by a devastating 65 percent. Aircraft manufacturing overall saw a massive decrease in new aircraft shipments, falling 95 percent, and over 100,000 people lost jobs in fields directly related to aircraft manufacturing in the United States.

Cessna Aircraft Company, Piper Aircraft and Beech Aircraft (now Beechcraft), the three leading general aviation aircraft manufacturers who accounted for over half the production of general aviation aircraft in the US, were among the hardest hit.

Cessna, who had been producing general aviation aircraft since its founding in 1927, posted the company's first annual loss in 1983. Virtually handicapped by previous liability exposure, Cessna was forced to halt production on all its single engine aircraft by 1986.

Piper Aircraft Company went in an out of bankruptcy, and was forced to suspend production on some of its most popular models, such as the Super Cub and PA-32 Cherokee Six / Saratoga.

Beech Aircraft shifted its emphasis away from piston / propeller aircraft, keeping the Beech Bonanza and Beech Baron in production and discontinuing all other piston / propeller aircraft models.

The cause for such a drastic drop in both jobs and the manufacturing of single and twin engine piston aircraft were the frequent lawsuits against the manufacturers. Manufacturers were able to be sued for manufacturing defects regardless of the number of years since the actual aircraft design had been developed, or used by customers. This was especially hard on aircraft manufacturers, as general aviation aircraft remained in use several decades after being manufactured, much longer than cars, or even most commercial airliners. These lawsuits became so prevalent in the 1980s that many attorneys began successfully specializing in targeting general aviation aircraft manufacturers and insurers with often frivolous lawsuits.

In fact, between 1983 - 86, Beech Aircraft defended itself against 203 lawsuits, each case costing them an average $530,000 to defend. Interestingly, while researching these cases, the NTSB found that none of the accidents could be attributed to manufacturing and design defects. Most were simply pilot error or another indirect fault.

The effect was widespread. In 1978, 18,000 general aviation aircraft were built, compared to only 928 aircraft in 1994, the year GARA was finally passed. The general aviation industry was suffering from a lack of new aircraft, particularly in the area of training, rental and charter use. The three most popular trainer aircraft, the Cessna 152, Piper Tomahawk and Beech Skipper had all been removed from the market by the mid 1980s, never to return. Russell Meyer, the CEO of Cessna at the time, cited product liability concerns as the sole reason for the halting production of single and twin engine general aviation aircraft.

The Birth of GARA

During the 80s and 90s, guided by Cessna CEO Russell Meyer and Ed Stimpson, the President of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the general aviation industry began applying pressure to congress. Their main request was for Congress to enact limits on product liability for aircraft manufacturers, and Meyer promised that if such legislation was enacted, he would bring single engine general aviation aircraft back into production at Cessna. Adding their voices to this cause were the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the largest US organization of private pilots and general aviation aircraft owners; the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union (IAM/IAMAW), representing workers at several general aviation aircraft factories; and a group of Kansas politicians, led by Senator Nancy Kassebaum. This proposed legislation became known as the "General Aviation Revitalization Act," or GARA.

GAMA, as one of the biggest advocates for the enactment of GARA, pointed out the fact that the money being put towards defending aircraft manufacturers against lawsuits could be better spent on improvements in overall aircraft safety and helping to develop new technologies for the good of the industry overall.

GARA is Signed into Law, and Aviation History

Finally, in 1994, GARA was passed by the Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton on August 17th, 1994. In its final form, GARA was a mere three pages long. Those three pages, however, provided manufacturers of general aviation aircraft (defined as aircraft containing less than 20 passenger seats, and not being operated in scheduled commercial service) with an exemption from liability for any of their products that were 18 years old or older from the date of an accident. There were some exceptions detailed, and this was a "rolling" statute, meaning that the 18 year time period was reset whenever modified or replacement parts were installed on an aircraft. In effect, a 25 year old aircraft could still be the object of a successful suit against a manufacturer if it contained manufacturer modifications or parts installed within the last 18 years.

GARA was immediately hailed by Cessna CEO Russell Meyers as a landmark step towards saving the general aviation industry.

"By placing a practical limit on product liability exposure, Congress has literally brought the light aircraft industry back to life."

Resuscitating a Dying Industry

Within five years of GARA coming into effect, the industry produced over 25,000 new aerospace manufacturing jobs. In addition, he U.S. Department of Labor estimated that there were also three extra support jobs created for every new manufacturing job. And the aircraft manufacturers begin to show signs of life, including the big three.

True to his word, Cessna CEO Russell Meyer brought back single engine aircraft manufacturing to Cessna, though in a much more limited manner. They resumed manufacturing their three most popular, and statistically safest single engine models. They began with the Cessna 172 and 182 in 1996, and added the 206 (developed from the popular retractable gear Cessna 210 model) back into the mix in 1998.

Piper Aircraft continued to experience financial troubles, but did continue producing the models that survived the 1980s, and even managed to restore some models to production that had been previously cut. This included the PA-32 Cherokee Six / Saratoga, and the twin engine Seminole and Seneca models. Eventually, Piper did emerge from bankruptcy, and some credit GARA for helping them survive that process.

Beech Aircraft continued producing the two piston-egine aircraft models that had survived the pre- GARA depression, the single engine Bonanza, and the twin-engine Baron, but never resumed production on any of the models it had cut during the 80s.

In addition to the increase in jobs, in the first five years following the passage of GARA, overall production of general aviation aircraft doubled. However, this was still far below the high point of the 1970s. And though production has continued to increase over time, it still hasn't returned to those levels.

In Conclusion

There is still ongoing debate about the overall effect, and effectiveness, of GARA. Opponents say that it had little effect, and mostly served to encourage attorneys to shift liability and lawsuits for accidents to new and different targets. Proponents, however, say that though the production rate has continued to climb, the general aviation accident rate has declined, pointing to safer manufacturing and advanced technology in the area of engines, avionics and navigation equipment. Glass cockpits now come standard in most new general aviation aircraft. National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen had this to say:

"GARA is a tiny, three-page bill that has generated research, investment and jobs. It is an unqualified success."

Others share this optimistic view of GARA, such as former Piper Aircraft President and CEO Chuck Suma, former AOPA president Phil Boyer, and Cirrus Designs co-founder Alan Klapmeier. And though this debate on the overall effect of GARA is likely to continue well into the future, this simple, three page document played a key role in helping shape the future of the general aviation industry.

Sources:

GARA: The General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994..." 2003. 30 Sep. 2015: https://www.avweb.com/news/news/184254-1.html

Kovarik, KV. "A Good Idea Stretched Too Far - Seattle University School of Law..." 2008: https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1843&context=sulr

"General Aviation Revitalization Act | GAMA - General ..." 2009. 30 Sep. 2015

https://www.gama.aero/advocacy/issues/product-liability/general-aviation-revitalization-act

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Aviation_Revitalization_Act

Big News from the Flying Musicians

Flying Musicians Assn

The Flying Musicians Association is again the proud recipient of a 2015 Wolf Aviation Fund grant to assist in strengthening the bonds between aviation and music in the FMA's programs that enhance outreach and education.

"We have re-focused our efforts of sharing our passions (aviation & music) with others through our outreach to inspire, educate, encourage and now assist youth (& adults) in growing through aviation and music." Says FMA President/CEO John Zapp.

Since 1992 the Wolf Aviation Fund has awarded special grants for efforts supporting and promoting general aviation. For example, among the more than 350 previous recipients is Sandra Campbell, in flying helmet and goggles, performing for students "Follow Your Dreams," a stage recreation of the exciting story of Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to win her wings as an aviator. Another small seed grant to School Superintendent Gordon Schimmel eventually resulted in a million dollar project creating and distributing a wonderful "Inventing Flight" Wright Brothers curriculum with videos and teachers guides to school systems across the United States. Other grants supported community outreach, technological development, airfield preservation, effective networking, organizational development, and inspiring the next generation.

Additionally, the Flying Musicians Association has announced that once again members will be on the ramp at each AOPA Fly-In across the country. FMA encourages all pilot / musicians and friends to participate. "This is about outreach!" says John Zapp, CEO FMA. "We want all who have a love of music to join us as we liven up the ramp while inspiring, encouraging, educating and now assisting folks to grow through aviation and music. Just as a pilot certificate is a certificate to learn, being a musician requires constant learning, practicing and performing. The AOPA Fly-Ins are a wonderful way for members to reunite across the country."

AOPA Fly-Ins will have something for everyone. Spend a Saturday with AOPA participating in aviation activities, exploring exhibits and seminars, enjoying a couple of meals, music and building relationships.

Look for FMA members set up on the ramp at the following locations:

  • 6/6 Frederick, MD (KFDK),
  • 8/22 Minneapolis, MN (KANE)
  • 9/26 Colorado Springs, CO (KCOS)
  • 10/10 Tullahoma, TN (KTHA)

Visit the FMA website for more information and to contact the FMA coordinator to participate.

About the Flying Musicians Association, Inc:

The Flying Musicians Association (FMA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization of pilots who are musicians, spanning the globe, proficiency levels and genres. The goal is to share our passions in order to inspire, educate, encourage and assist others by creating enthusiasm and promoting personal growth in aviation and music. "Pilot Musicians sharing their passion while encouraging and educating youth (& adults) in the science and art of aeronautics and music."

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