All posts tagged 'aviation safety'

Obtaining an SIC Type Rating

Happy November everyone!

If you're like me lately, life has been super busy yet fun. And part of that busy-ness includes obtaining an SIC type rating for the first time. What needs to happen? What do you have to have? How does it differ from a regular add-on rating to your certificate?

Let's talk about it.

First things first, there is no check ride for an SIC type rating (and what a beautiful thing that is). It's a matter of meeting the training requirements and having an extra 20 minutes one day to meet with the FSDO/a DPE to do paperwork

1. Training Requirements

According to FAR Part 61.55 you have to have:

-At least a private pilot certificate with the appropriate category and class rating

-An instrument rating or privilege that applies to the aircraft being flown if the flight is under IFR

-At least a pilot type rating for the aircraft being flown unless the flight will be conducted as domestic flight operations within US airspace.

-No person may serve as a SIC of an aircraft type certificated for more than one required pilot flight crewmember or in operations requiring a second-in-command unless that person has within the previous 12 calendar months:

"Become familiar with the following information for the specific type aircraft for which second-in-command privileges are requested -

(i) Operational procedures applicable to the powerplant, equipment, and systems.

(ii) Performance specifications and limitations.

(iii) Normal, abnormal, and emergency operating procedures.

(iv) Flight manual.

(v) Placards and markings.

(2) Except as provided in paragraph (g) of this section, performed and logged pilot time in the type of aircraft or in a flight simulator that represents the type of aircraft for which second-in-command privileges are requested, which includes -

(i) Three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop as the sole manipulator of the flight controls;

(ii) Engine-out procedures and maneuvering with an engine out while executing the duties of pilot-in-command; and

(iii) Crew resource management training."

That sounds like a lot, but it can be done pretty quickly.

I recently had to go through this for a CE-525 rating so I could start doing some contract flights. 99% of my flights lately have been in a CJ3 like this one listed on GlobalAir.com.

After going through this training over the course of about 2 months/4 flights, I called my local FSDO to set up an appointment to have the paperwork done.

They directed me from there to contact a DPE, whom I met with days later and had my SIC rating in hand within 20 minutes. No fee, no headache, and NO CHECK RIDE. 

Did I mention there was no check ride?!?! Best. feeling. ever.

There's also some more requirements that have to be met for the type rating, such as who can conduct the SIC training, listed in Part 61.55 as well. Make sure to read and understand them all before going up for a flight in order to avoid any issues.

2. Use of an SIC Type Rating

Before going through the training process, especially if you're paying for that flight time, ensure that the type rating will be put to use. For what purpose do you want to log SIC time? Just to build time? Meeting the requirements of a company you're flying for?

I'm sure the answer is straightforward, but it's always best to ask yourself these types of questions before jumping into something.

Other than this, SIC type ratings are pretty simple. Make sure when going through training you pay attention to the above listed items that you need to know, the more you know the safer you are!

Have any other tips for an SIC type rating you'd like to add? Feel free to comment below.

Happy Landings,

-Addi

How to Give Passengers a Proper Safety Brief

So here you are, a pilot rated to carry passengers, and it's time to start taxiing the aircraft. Your passengers are excited to go fly, maybe a little nervous-so it makes you nervous. You're ready to get off the ground and up in the air for the fun to begin. But wait, you can't go up just yet! You need to give the passengers a quick safety briefing for, of course, their safety. So here's a good method to help you develop a good flow for one:

Use the acronym SAFETY to make sure you cover each item you need to as outlined in 14 CFR 91.519

is for seatbelts (including shoulder harnesses) and smoking. Show them how to buckle and unbuckle their seatbelts, and ensure if there are shoulder harnesses that they're being worn and tightened properly.

As for smoking, discuss as to when, where, and under what conditions smoking is not allowed. 

After all, this isn't the "Golden Age of Travel" anymore so regulations are more strict!

is for air vents/oxygen. Especially if you're in something like a small Cessna 172 then you want to show where the air vents are for fresh air and how to adjust them. This is more for comfort but can also help if they feel sick or uneasy. If you're on a high altitude plane, like a citation, then show where the oxygen equipment is and how to use it in an emergency. The regulation here simply states "normal and emergency use of oxygen equipment installed on the airplane."

F is fire, where a fire extinguisher is located on board as well as other survival equipment. This includes if you're flying over water where the flotation equipment is and how to exit in an emergency, bringing you to the next item on the list. 

is exiting during emergencies. You've showed them how to fasten and unfasten seatbelts, now demonstrate how to exit the plane if you're unable to help them in an emergency (ex. you're unconscious). 

T=Traffic. This one is more commonly used in small planes, like back to the Cessna 172. Simply tell the passengers that if you see traffic (another aircraft) nearby and you don't think the pilot has eyes on it yet, to point out where it is using clock terms like 12 or 1 o'clock. 

Y is "your questions." Ask the passengers if they have any questions pertaining to the flight. Maybe they didn't fully understand how to open the door/canopy in an emergency. This is their chance to ask and will make both them and you feel more comfortable. After all, flying is supposed to be fun, but it can't be done if someone feels uneasy the entire time. 

Remember, safety is always the goal of every flight! Brief your passengers, stick to the checklists, and go have some fun in the air. For any other help in making sure your flight is safe and well-planned be sure to head over to Globalair.com and check out the airport resources & aviation directory. 

Have any tips to add for a proper safety briefing? Be sure to comment below and stay tuned for more blog posts!

Mastering the Go-Around


Every pilot knows that a good landing always begins with a good approach. But how does a pilot know when an approach is unstable? And what happens when the approach is unstable, but the pilot thinks he can salvage it? We all preach that a go-around is the simplest way to prevent a landing accident, but when was the last time you performed a go-around? Are you confident that you’ll respond the right way after a long flight, when you just want to go home, when you’re low on fuel, or when you just botch the landing?

A stable approach is one in which the aircraft is on glide path, on the desired approach airspeed, and configured appropriately for landing at a descent rate that will allow for a normal transition to land. Sounds easy enough, right? So why do so many pilots continue an approach to a landing, even after all of the warning signs of an unstable approach? And why are there still so many loss-of-control accidents during the approach and go-around procedures?

The stable approach is so important that most commercial operators require a go-around in the event of an unstable approach. For most airlines and commercial operations, if the approach is not stabilized by a certain height above the ground (sometimes 1,000 feet and sometimes 500 feet, and sometimes there are requirements for each), the pilot must execute a go-around. Stable approaches are a big deal, and one that the professional aviation world does not want to tangle with. In general aviation, however, we often don’t have these standard operating procedures written out for us by a company. Most of the time, we’re on our own. If we’re IFR, we can and should use the FAA’s guidelines, which state we should "…depart the FAF configured for landing and on the proper approach speed, power setting, and flightpath before descending below the minimum, stabilized approach height; e.g., 1,000 feet above the airport elevation and at a rate of descent no greater than 1,000 feet per minute (fpm), unless specifically briefed." For light aircraft pilots, the FAA basically tells us to maintain a proper glidepath visually. But we should still note that an unstable approach means one that is too high, too fast, or not in a normal position to land (i.e., excessive maneuvering is needed to land) and if any of those conditions exist, we should execute an immediate go-around.

We all want to make the first landing work. We don’t want to go around, maybe because it wastes time, wasted fuel, or just because we have too much pride and want to be able to land in any condition. But perhaps part of the problem is that we just don’t practice go-arounds very often, and not often enough. We don’t get familiar with them. We’d rather sacrifice the aircraft, sometimes even our own life, to get the airplane on the ground rather than waste a few more minutes to try again, or risk a go-around, which seems like a hazardous maneuver to those who have not mastered it.

Going around isn’t always the best option, but most of the time it won’t hurt. And when it’s the better option, you should absolutely be ready to accomplish one.

Commonly a student or a certificated pilot doing a flight review will blow off the go-around as if it’s an easy maneuver not worth practicing. Be careful about this; I’ve found that many pilots will bust a check ride or flight review for bad go-around procedures. To simplify this maneuver, I teach the 5 Cs, which work well for many types of general aviation aircraft (but check your aircraft POH for proper procedures!)

  • C- CRAM:Full/climb power, props forward, carb heat off
  • C- CLIMBSet the Vx or Vy climb pitch attitude and CLIMB! So many of us get distracted during a go-around procedure and we fail to climb! And keep in mind that if you have the aircraft trimmed for a slow-airspeed descent, adding full power will cause the nose to pitch up. Be ready to add forward pressure on the controls to counteract this pitch-up moment and prevent an elevator trim tab stall.
  • C- CLEAN Retract gear and flaps as necessary. In some aircraft, you’ll want to retract the first 30-40 degrees of flaps right away. For many common training aircraft, you’ll wait until you get to a safe altitude and airspeed, after the climb has been established, and retract flaps in increments, stabilizing the aircraft in the climb each time. Many people get excited and want to retract the flaps either all at once or just too early in the game. Cram, climb, and thenclean it up.
  • C- COOLOpen the cowl flaps and lean the mixture, if necessary.
  • C- CALL You’ll probably need to make a radio call, whether it’s to notify other traffic in the pattern at a nontowered field, or to announce your missed approach with the towet or with approach, but radio communication should only come after flying the airplane to a safe altitude at a safe airspeed and navigating to where you need to go.

Often, I witness students or certificated pilots botch not just a landing, but the resulting go-around procedure, as well. Practice this maneuver to proficiency – a bad landing isn’t something worth salvaging, but you’ll need to keep flying the airplane and properly execute the go-around if you want to be successful the second time around.

Aviation's New Challenge: Software Glitches and Hackers?


Photo: FAA

The next generation of flying has arrived: From paperless boarding passes to paperless cockpits, we are moving to a completely computerized aviation future. It's almost like something out of a futuristic cartoon like The Jetsons with our tablet computers, internet-ready modernized passenger seats and synthetic vision glass cockpits.

Today's flights are planned on computers and sent to pilot's iPads, replacing the pounds of manuals, charts and checklists that pilots used to lug around. Outdated navigation systems are being replaced with a single, incredibly accurate, satellite based system called ADS-B. Inflight Wi-Fi service for passengers has not only become popular, but it's now almost expected from frequent airline travelers. And our nation's airspace system is getting a complete overhaul with NextGen, which includes programs like ERAM, Datacomm and many other communications systems.

This is all good news… until something crashes (or gets hacked). And we were recently reminded that sometimes computers do crash, when a few dozen American Airlines crews were left without proper charts after their iPads suddenly crashed on them while flying. The software glitch left dozens of flights and many passengers delayed.

Computers are clearly the efficient way to modernize aviation, and it's a welcome and inevitable progression toward a more effective airspace system. But there are a few things that haven't fully kept up with the fast-moving aviation industry, like software management and cyber security.

Are airplane computers secure?
Experts have warned that our industry's efforts to keep iPads, ADS-B and other onboard communication devices secure aren't comprehensive enough. An April 2015 GAO report evaluated the cyber security strength of the FAA's six major NextGen programs: Surveillance and Broadcast Services Subsystem (SBSS), Data Communications (Data Comm), NAS Voice Switch, Collaborative Air Traffic Management (CATM), Common Support Service-Weather (CSSWx), and System Wide Information Management (SWIM), which will all use an IP-based network to communicate with each other, as well as with thousands of aircraft flight deck technologies.

You can imagine that an entire system based on a computer network might be susceptible to hackers. Passengers are connected through in flight Wi-Fi. Pilots are sometimes connected to Wi-Fi via their company iPads, and will also be vulnerable to the hacking of onboard equipment through an IP network. And ATC is going to be on the ground, potentially connected to the same network. While the FAA has taken some measures to secure the networks, information in the GAO report demonstrates that the system is still susceptible to hackers.

"According to FAA and experts we interviewed, modern communications technologies, including IP connectivity, are increasingly used in aircraft systems, creating the possibility that unauthorized individuals might access and compromise aircraft avionics systems, " the GAO report states. In the past, on board systems have been insolated, but IP networking included in the many new NextGen technologies could leave not just one aircraft's systems vulnerable, but any other computer on the network.

How can operators avoid software glitches?
Besides choosing a reliable third-party developer and a company with a sound history in computer application design, there's not much an airline or an operator can do to avoid an occasional software glitch except to prepare for and expect the occasional software glitch. So far, the airlines have been lucky. American Airlines had a few delays, yes, but the problem was one that was easily fixed by handing paper charts to pilots or getting them to a place where they could re-boot, upload new charts and move on. At no time were they actually in any danger.

But what happens when a seemingly trivial software glitch isn't so trivial anymore? This is a question that was relevant yesterday, remains relevant today and will be relevant still in the future. Computers are already in use at most ATC facilities and in most aircraft. A software glitch in an aircraft is a problem, but not necessarily a dangerous one. Airplanes have backup navigation systems, backup electrical systems and backup instruments that are powered by something other than a computer.) A pilot can fly safely if their onboard computer crashes. It would test their skills, for sure, but that's what pilots train for.

A computer failure or software glitch at an ATC facility can cause major delays, possibly even for days. Remember that fire at the Chicago ARTCC facility? It not only knocked out both the primary and secondary communications networks, but it knocked out the whole region's ATC capabilities. Everyone survived, albeit painfully.

If we can glean anything from recent events, it's that in order for our industry to move forward in the world, we are going to have to rely on computers, and computers are not perfect. We have to do what's necessary to mitigate and control any associated risks, like those from hackers and software issues. And as we learn to protect our computer systems we'll likely have a few problems along the way similar to American Airline's software glitch, but the overall outcome will be an impressive, capable air traffic system that allows us to fly even more efficiently and safely than ever before.

What are your thoughts?

Is Your Co-Pilot Depressed?


Photo: NIMH

In light of the Germanwings Flight 9525 crash in which one of the pilots locked the other out of the cockpit and then intentionally flew an Airbus A320 into a mountain in the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board, the issue of mental health in pilots has resurfaced.

After the captain of the aircraft got up to use the restroom mid-flight, 27-year-old co-pilot Andrews Lubitz locked him out and refused to allow him back in. Then he reportedly programmed the autopilot to descend from an altitude of 38,000 feet down to 100 feet with the intention of crashing into the side of a mountain along the way.

Investigators reportedly found an anti-depressant medication in the apartment of Lubitz, along with other evidence that suggested the Germanwings first offficer was seeing a doctor for depression.

Lubitz had not informed the airline of this most recent bout with depression, but people who knew him have come forward to say that he was suicidal at one point. And, according to an ex-girlfriend, he had a temper. But how could anyone have known that this person could commit such a heinous act?

CNN reported that Lubitz passed an aviation medical exam in 2014, which a Lufthansa official said didn't test mental health. But even if the exam did covered mental health issues in depth, what pilot would admit to depression or mood disorders knowing that he'd lose his job? For many pilots, flying is a life-long dream - a career that they've worked hard for - and to know that depression, suicidal thoughts or a more severe mood disorder would essentially disable them from flying professionally and perhaps even as a hobby, would be a tough pill to swallow. Because they'd lose their jobs, careers, and for many, their livelihood, most pilots who have experienced depression or other symptoms of a mood disorder or mental health issue, will, sadly, fail to report them.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that mental illness is common in the United States. In 2012, according to the NIMH website, about 18.6 percent of adults in the United States had some form of mental illness (not including those related to substance abuse.) Luckily for the traveling public, most of them are not suicidal.

We can probably assume that this statistic carries over to the pilot career profession, although statistics pertaining to pilots with a mental illness won't reflect this same trend due to the nature of the job. We rely on self-reporting procedures, and when a pilot's career is on the line, chances are good that he or she just won't report it.

Eighteen percent of adults in the United States have some sort of diagnosed mental illness. This could be anything from minor depression or social anxiety to bipolar disorder or suicidal behavior. To be more specific, the NIMH says that a Serious Mental Illness (SMI) occurs in about four percent of all adults. A serious mental illness is defined as one that interferes with normal life activities and results in "serious functional impairment."

So, according to these numbers, somewhere between four and 18 percent of people in general have some sort of mental illness. This means that if you're a pilot, up to one out of six pilots you fly with could be suffering from some sort of mental illness. Luckily, very few of these people are also suicidal, and flights continue to operate safely every day.

Germanwings Flight 9525 was, perhaps, a case that could have been prevented. But what's the fix for depression in pilots and the failure to self-report? Better mental health screening for pilots? Better working conditions? A mandate for two pilots in the cockpit at all times? (Most or all U.S. airlines already employ a strategy of this kind, by the way.) Take the human element out of the cockpit altogether?

While we need to do all we can to prevent another tragedy like this from occurring, how far will we go, or how far should we go, to save ourselves from… ourselves? "Better" mental health screening could lead to even less reporting by pilots. Two pilots in the cockpit will help, unless the second physically overtakes the first one. And can we really take the human element out of the equation altogether? Even RPAs - remotely piloted airplanes - are flown by humans on the ground. If one of these pilots were to be suicidal, they could still fly the airplane into a mountain.

Is there a solution to making certain that a suicide mission like Germanwings 9525 doesn't happen again? Or is there a certain element of risk - a low probability/high consequence risk like an aircraft suicide mission- that we must accept as human beings functioning in a world with other human beings? Or is there a happy medium? What are your thoughts?

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