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3 Ways to Dust Off Your Logbook

by Lydia Wiff 31. March 2017 07:00
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Spring is here!  It’s hard to believe I was just writing about winter weather flying and now spring has officially sprung (as of nine days ago).  For many of you, you might be tied to the weather during the winter when it comes to flying.  This could be due to the ratings you hold, the airport you hanger at, or even the equipment your aircraft is equipped with.  Whatever your reason may be, the arrival of spring means the return of better flying days!  So, today I will share a few ways to dust off your logbook.

#3: Get Current

I know, it’s probably the old standby for when we want to fly, but have no idea where to fly to.  Spring is the perfect time to sneak in an early morning flight to get day current.  So, that means that every 90 days, you need to get out there and do three take-offs and landings, full-stop, to carry passengers.  This could easily take up an hour of flying and it gets you back into the pattern at your home airport, or maybe a nearby airport.

Likewise, you should get night current while you are at it.  Although, darkness comes a lot later these days, so plan accordingly.  Another great way to get current, as an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) rated pilot, is to get instrument current.  Every six calendar months, you will need to log at least six instrument approaches, holding procedures, including intercepting and tracking courses using a navigation system.

While you probably should not wait every 90 days to practice landings, or every six months to do instrument work, it does happen.  If it has been awhile, be sure to take up a current pilot with you as a safety pilot, or better yet: find an instructor!  Getting current is a great way to ease back into fair-weather flying.

#2: Do Your Flight Review

What once used to be called the Biennial Flight Review, now is just shortened to Flight Review (FR).  This requires a pilot holding any certificate to go through a review flight with a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) every 24 calendar months.

I would describe the FR as an abbreviated check ride.  You go through many of the same topics in a checkride, but it is much shorter.  You might remember reading about my interview with Woody Minar, a seasoned Designated Pilot Examiner.  In that interview, he gives some good tips in preparing for your upcoming FR.  If you want some additional tips from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), check out this link to their FR guide.

Lastly, did you know that safety seminars through the FAA Safety Team (FAAST) can give you credit towards an FR?  Through attending seminars in various topics around or at your home airport and a little extra flying with an instructor, you can get credit for an FR.  I’ve done this once before and made it through the Basic Level – you get to learn a lot, fly a little, and get a cool pin to wear.  Furthermore, the goal of working through all the levels is a good way to push yourself to keep up with your weekend flying (or whenever you can work it in).

#1: Fly for Fun!

I realize that all of us can’t afford to rent an aircraft all the time.  Sometimes the harsh reality of the bank account is enough to keep even the most passionate pilot from flying on a sunny spring day.  For this reason, I encourage all you pilots to find a flying buddy.

Finding a fellow pilot to fly with is great for several reasons: you have someone to talk to, you can both brush up on your skills, and (most importantly) you can split the costs!  Not only do you need to find a fellow pilot to fly with, but you need to find somewhere fun to fly to – this could be a lake place, a golf course, a friend’s private airport, a museum, and more.  The possibilities are endless and they give you a purpose for flying. 

Enroute to fun destinations is a great time to practice slow flight, stalls, Commercial maneuvers, landings at other airports, dead reckoning, instrument approaches, going under the hood, or simply building cross-country time.  You really can’t go wrong when your fun flying has a learning purpose.

Happy Flying!

Hopefully you have some ideas now on how to take advantage of the better weather and dust off your logbook.  I’m hoping to get some flying in myself in a few weeks when I get back home for Easter – by the way, did you realize that is just around the corner too???

Happy Spring Flying!

Images courtesy of Google.com

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Aircraft instruments, IFR, IMC, safety | Flying | GlobalAir.com | Lydia Wiff | UND

Get In on ADS-B Out!

by GlobalAir.com 26. February 2016 15:00
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By Conrad Theisen – Director of Avionics Sales
Elliott Aviation

ADS-B, or Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast, is an upcoming mandate put in place by the FAA to make the skies safer for everyone. Using GPS technology, which is far more reliable than radar, ADS-B will allow air traffic control to safely reduce separation minimums. By January 1, 2020, all aircraft will be required to transmit ADS-B to ground stations.

This mandate affects 30,000 turbine powered aircraft and 140,000 piston aircraft. Less than 10 percent of turbine aircraft have currently been modified, which is likely to lead to a highly congested rush the closer we get to the 2020 deadline. Make sure when you are looking to meet the ADS-B Out mandate that you consider taking advantage of ADS-B In.

For many airframes, there are either current solutions or solutions in work that will allow you to not only meet the mandate, but give you all of the benefits of ADS-B In. This will give you graphical traffic and weather through a Bluetooth connected mobile device.

We are currently working on standalone Garmin ADS-B solutions to include ADS-B In for Hawker, Premier and Beechjet 400A/Hawker 400XP. Remember, airframes and avionics can vary widely, so check with your service center to see what options are available for your aircraft.

Conrad Theisen has been with Elliott Aviation since 1996. He started his career as an Avionics Installer and was promoted to Avionics Manager in 2001. In 2009, he led the Customer Service and Project Management teams for all in-house aircraft. He joined the Avionics Sales team in 2012.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).

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Aircraft instruments, IFR, IMC, safety | Aviation Safety | News

The 400E Program

by GlobalAir.com 29. October 2015 15:15
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By Meghan Welch – Interior Sales and Design Manager
Elliott Aviation

The 400E program is the next generation Beechjet 400A/Hawker 400XP upgrade. The program is a full Beechjet 400A/Hawker 400XP refurbishment including Garmin G5000 avionics with Lumatech LED master warning panel, Gogo WiFi with Gogo Vision (On-Demand-Movies), innovative exterior full paint design and a completely redesigned weight saving interior.

The Idea

As an Authorized Service Center with many Beechjet/Hawker 400XP customers, we have heard from various operators asking for an affordable update to their aircraft that also increases useful load. They also were in need of more headroom for their passengers along with entertainment options. Lastly, operators needed an avionics update to fulfill the 2020 ADS-B mandates. After much research, the 400E provides Beechjet/Hawker 400XP operators exactly what they were looking for.

Weight Saving Interior and Improved Functionality

The 400E program offers a completely redesigned interior that includes USB charging ports, redesigned cabinetry and variable color LED upwash and downwash cabin lighting all controlled through a mobile app. The newly designed shell kit is complete with a recessed headliner. The new shell kit creates a welcoming and more-open feel in the cabin with more headroom. The 400E program includes a redesigned arm ledge with LED accent lighting in the PSU’s, drink holders, window reveals, and toe-kick lighting. The electric window shades create the ease of light and comfort into the cabin. The variable LED lights add a multitude of atmospheres the user can create from a relaxing environment, to a cabin conference center, to a place to enjoy.

Other interior features include Gogo WiFi with Gogo Vision (On-Demand-Movies), allowing passengers the comfort of knowing they can have the option to continue their work while in flight or to kick back, relax and watch a movie or surf the web.

The Elliott team looked extensively into the weight savings options. By redesigning the forward baggage cabinet, we were able to use what was once unusable space. The redesign now allows useful storage and amenities while gaining a prep/serving area. With newly fabricated cabinetry, the team was able to lighten the front end.

Garmin G5000 Avionics

The Garmin G5000 avionics system is the latest system upgrade for Beechjet 400A and Hawker 400XP. With the new Garmin G5000 avionics system, there will not be a need for CASP or high yearly avionics maintenance cost. The system meets all ADS-B 2020 mandates and includes WAAS/LPV. Not only will it cut maintenance cost, but the system comes with touchscreen controls, synthetic vision, new LED displays, autopilot and XM weather. Lastly, the G5000 will cut weight of the aircraft as well.

The 400E program will allow Beechjet 400A and Hawker 400XP operators an affordable way to upgrade and will allow an increased usable payload, increased aircraft value, and increased comfort and interactive experience for passengers. After Elliott Aviation did the research, we are able to give Beechjet/Hawker 400XP operators what they asked for.

A completed Elliott Jets owned 400E will be available for viewing at the indoor static location of the annual NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition November 17th-19th in Las Vegas, NV.

Meghan Welch joined Elliott Aviation in 1998 as an Aircraft Sales Assistant and later helped build the paint and interior sales and design department in 2003. In 2007, she helped create the Design Center and was promoted to Interior Sales and Design Manager in 2015. Meghan has been successful in building a solid relationship with worldwide customers to personalize the interior of their aircraft to meet the customer’s functionality and style. Meghan has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration with a focus on Marketing and Finance from Augustana College.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).

The Importance of Checklists: 4 Accidents That Checklist Use Could Have Prevented

by Sarina Houston 17. September 2015 06:11
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Photo 1981 by J-E Nystrom, Helsinki, Finland/CC 3.0

It’s human nature to be complacent. We’re all lazy, right? But aviation isn’t an industry that welcomes complacency, and even the slightest oversight on behalf of a pilot in command can mean the difference between a successful flight and an unsuccessful one.

My flight students get tired of me reminding them about checklists. Before we even get into the airplane, I can often be heard saying: “That preflight checklist is there for a reason.” And on downwind, every single time: “Before Landing Checklist.” Some people understand the tedious nature of checklists and accept it; others defy it.

Why don’t pilots use checklists? Probably because they don’t expect anything bad to happen when they don’t. After all, they’ve skipped a checklist- er, many checklists - before and nothing bad happened. Maybe they remember all of the items, after all. Or maybe it’s true that 999 out of 1,000 times, a forgotten checklist item still results in a successful flight, which reinforces the pilot’s belief that it isn’t complacency, but skill, that gets him back on the ground safely. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be more wrong.

We’d all like to think that we’d never end up crashing because of a forgotten checklist item. But here are a few examples of average pilots who failed to accomplish checklist items or otherwise got into trouble for a checklist-related item. We’re not any different. We’re not immune. At the very least, it’s embarrassing to end up like one of these pilots; at the worst, fatal. If using a checklist can potentially prevent you from embarrassment or death, shouldn’t we just use it?

Here are four accidents where proper checklist use would probably have prevented the accident entirely:
Gear Down and Locked
As seen on YouTube, the pilot of this Piper Aerostar twin-engine airplane landed without gear at Aero Acres Air Park in Port St. Lucie, Florida. And then, to everyone’s surprise, he took off again. You can see from this video that the airplane is coming in too fast and unstable, and the pilot decides to go around only after touching down. Unfortunately, the pilot not only forgot the gear, but he forgot his go-around procedures. The pilot claims that he intended to go around, retracted the gear and all of the flaps prematurely and sank to the runway. Once airborne, the pilot is said to have flown the aircraft all the way back to his home in Ft. Lauderdale- about 100 miles.

This is only one report of many, many gear-up landing situations. Pilots: Don’t forget your GUMPS checklist!

Flight Controls Free & Correct

Earlier this month, the NTSB released an animation highlighting the crash of a Gulfstream IV in Bedford, Massachusetts last year. The aircraft skidded off the runway after a failed rejected takeoff, killing seven people on board - two pilots, a flight attendant and four passengers. The reason for the crash? Failure to check that the flight controls were free and correct before takeoff, and subsequently failing to expedite a rejected takeoff once they determined the problem.

The NTSB report states: “A review of the flight crew’s previous 175 flights revealed that the pilots had performed complete preflight control checks on only two of them. The flight crew’s habitual noncompliance with checklists was a contributing factor to the accident.” Sadly, seven lives were lost because basic checklist procedures were not followed.

Water Contamination
There are several ASRS reports from pilots who have lived through off-airport landings due to engine failure. Many of these emergency situations are due to engine failure from fuel starvation. In many of those cases, water contamination was the culprit. In this ASRS report, a man describes his lackadaisical preflight habits after his Grumman Tiger engine quits due to water in the fuel tanks:

“Although I did not discover the water prior to takeoff, I have learned a valuable lesson. I feel that I had gotten complacent in my approach to the pre-flight in that I never found condensed water in my tanks before due to keeping them full at all times.” He admits to failing to sump the fuel carefully to check for water.

Got ATIS?
In the early days of flight training, it might not be apparently obvious why a student’s flight instructor emphasizes the importance of getting a current altimeter setting. If the flight is conducted in VFR, the altimeter can be off by 100 feet and it might not matter much. It’s not until a pilot flies an approach to minimums that he realizes the value of setting the altimeter correctly. Being 100 feet lower than you intend when you’re descending on an approach can mean crashing into the runway or just short of it.

Knowing how an altimeter works and accounting for altimeter error will only keep you out of trouble if you set it correctly. We’ve all heard stories of pilots being to low or too high during an approach into IMC. This compilation of NASA ASRS reports tells how altimeter errors can lead to altitude deviations, traffic separation violations and landing accidents.

The NASA report states, for example, that, “A helicopter accident resulting in four fatalities was attributed at least in part to an incorrectly set altimeter during a period of known low barometric pressure. The report from the Canadian Aviation Safety Board states: ‘The helicopter was being used to transport personnel to work sites across a large frozen lake. An approaching low pressure area with snow and high winds...reduced visibility to near zero in some areas. The pilot most certainly encountered adverse conditions and altered course to circumvent the worst areas. The aircraft was later found...wreckage was widely scattered. The altimeter showed a setting on impact of 30.05; the correct setting would be about 29.22, causing the altimeter to read about 800-850 feet high. The altimeter had obviously been set two days previously [apparently during a time of high barometric pressure-Ed.].’”

Incorrect altimeter settings can be fatal. Checklist procedures should always include getting the current altimeter setting occasionally during flight and always before landing.

The Hidden Costs of Maintaining Outdated Avionics

by GlobalAir.com 3. September 2015 16:18
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By Mark Wilken – Vice President of Avionics Programs and Operational Logistics
www.elliottaviation.com

King Air C90B

With many companies currently budgeting for 2016, it’s important to consider some of the hidden costs of maintaining outdated avionics, specifically old CRT (tube) EFIS displays. CRT display manufacturing is becoming obsolete and will inevitably become non-existent. This means that the pricing for these units is going to increase substantially and the availability is going to continually decrease. Let’s take King Airs as an example.

Avionics Maintenance Costs

By current market pricing, typical yearly costs just to maintain a Collins Pro Line 2 equipped King Air is about $20,000 per year. If you plan on keeping the aircraft for another five years under current market conditions and a traditional ADS-B mandate solution for about $75,000, you would be paying about $175,000 just to continue to maintain your current avionics package.

Traditional Upgrade

If you want to make additions to a Pro Line 2 avionics system, a WAAS/LPV upgrade would cost about $95,000 and RVSM would cost another $83,000. Combined with maintaining current avionics and ADS-B compliance, the total cost for five years of ownership with traditional upgrades is going to cost around $353,000. Not only are these costs high but these upgrades do not add value to your aircraft.

G1000 Upgrade

While an average base install of a Garmin G1000 in a King Air costs around $325,000, it adds an average value increase to your aircraft of around $275,000. In addition, it includes all of your upgrades like WAAS/LPV, ADS-B, RVSM and is safer, lighter, more reliable and can be completed in just 15 days.

Upgrade or Maintain

While some operators may choose to maintain their current avionics system, older avionics are becoming obsolete and will continue to increase in price and be less reliable. Your avionics system is critical to the operation and safety of your aircraft. An upgraded avionics system will ensure you are getting the most out of your aircraft.

Mark Wilken joined Elliott Aviation in 1989 as an Avionics Bench Technician. He was promoted to Avionics Manager in 1996 and joined the sales team in 2003. Mark has led many highly successful avionics programs such as the King Air Garmin G1000 avionics retrofit program. He recently led efforts for Wi-Fi solutions in Hawkers, King Airs and Phenom 300’s. Mark holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Aviation Management from Southern Illinois University and is a licensed Pilot.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).



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