Aviation Safety Aviation Articles

How CG Location Can Affect Airplane Performance

Hey everyone! I hope you all have had a good start to 2020, stuck to your resolutions, and greased all your landings so far. I heard a pretty good joke the other day that I wanted to share at the start of this post before we dig into some CG topics.

So we all know about Murphy's law right? It's very prevalent in aviation: anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Well, here's how to get your friends on a good joke. 

"So you've heard of Murphy's law right?"

"Yes"

"Well have you heard of Cole's Law?"

"No what's that?"

"Oh it's just sliced cabbage with some dressing."

Love it! So cheesy but it's funny.

Ok now let's dig into some topics of the center of gravity.

First off: What is it? Well according to the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge it is "the point at which an airplane would balance if it were possible to suspend it at that point."

Think about when you would get bored in elementary school and try to balance a pencil on your finger. Remember when you'd finally get it balanced, but it had to be a specific spot on the pencil or it'd fall back off? That's exactly what CG is on a plane. It's where most of the weight is concentrated, so once we load up the plane if it's within the CG then it flies the most stable and safe. It's also important to note that a CG is not just a fixed a point but it can move depending on the distribution of weight throughout the plane. 

But let's say we loaded the plane with too much weight or we didn't distribute it well and now we're out of CG limits. We can either be forward or aft (behind) that area. 

Forward Characteristics:

-Nose heavy

-Difficult to impossible to lift nose for takeoff

-Better stall recovery

-Total lift required by the wing is increased

-Wing flies at higher angle of attack, resulting in higher drag and higher indicated stall speed

Aft Characteristics:

-Tail heavy

-Difficult to impossible to recover from a stall

-Violent stall characteristics

-Light control forces that make it easy to overstress the plane

-Wing flies at lower angle of attack, resulting in lower drag and higher cruise speed

It's also always important to ensure to not take off past the max takeoff weight, and if you do it's brought down quickly/easily due to fuel burn. The effects of being overweight are dangerous. It includes:

-Higher takeoff speed

-Longer ground roll on takeoff and landing

-Higher stalling speed

-Reduced climb rate

-Excessive weight on the landing gear that can cause a collapse

-Accelerating metal fatigue over time

These characteristics run for all planes too, whether you're flying a Cirrus SR-22 or a King Air A100 you never want to be overweight or out of CG.

When it comes to weight and balance there is also several important terms to know that we use in order to help us calculate properly. These include:

Arm: horizontal distance from the datum line to the CG of an item (measured in inches)

Datum: an imaginary line from which all horizontal distances are measured in order to balance the aircraft. This is picked by the manufacturer and is usually somewhere like in front of the engine firewall or the leading edge of the wing. 

Basic Empty Weight: the standard empty weight of the plane and any optional equipment installed

Standard Empty Weight: the weight of the airframe, engines, permanently installed items in the airplane, unusable fuel, full operating fluids and oil.

Moment: this is the product of weight x arm and is considered to be the force that causes an object to rotate.

If you're ever trying to remember these and study some more check out chapter 10 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge and your own operating handbook for whichever plane you're flying. There's always so much to talk about with weight and balance but if you remember anything know this: don't ever land overweight and never accept an aft CG! That's the two most dangerous scenarios. 

Anything else to add about weight and balance? Drop it below!

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

Understanding Spins and How to Properly Recover From Them

So, as promised, I did spin training within the last 2 weeks and got my endorsement. October 3rd to be precise, and it was an absolute blast.

Pictured above is my instructor and I in the Decathlon (excuse my chipmunk cheeks, courtesy of my DC headset pushing on them).

I learned a lot more once I actually went through the ground and flight training with him than I had thought I would. So, let's talk about some concepts that can be overlooked but are still important:

1) In the last post about spin training I wrote about PARE; 

Power idle

Ailerons neutral

Rudder full opposite the direction of the turn

Elevator briskly down

That's pretty much the general knowledge that everyone knows, not much else. Well, what about after the spin is broken? Do you just keep holding in those controls? No.

After applying rudder, you hold it in the opposite direction of the turn. This is what breaks the spin itself. Taking away power and ailerons is only to stay away from aggravating the spin, but those steps won't break it. After breaking the spin, meaning you've stop the turn in that direction, neutralize the rudder. If you don't you'll start a spin in the other direction. Because remember, you're still stalled

As you see the plane breaking out of the spin, then apply your elevator down. Most people think you do all 4 steps at once, but there's a precise time to do each one. Applying the elevator down will then break the stall (if you remember basic stall characteristics, this is reducing the angle of attack). Now smoothly apply your power back in to gain altitude (as you lose it very quickly in a spin) and smoothly bring the nose back up just above to horizon to start climbing.

So, to recap:

After inducing a spin you-

Power idle

Ailerons neutral

Rudder full opposite and hold it until the spin breaks

Elevator down as the spin breaks to then break the stall

Neutralize rudder after breaking spin to stop turn in other direction

Smoothly apply power and bring the nose back up to just above the horizon and start a gentle climb.

Remember that in a real situation to stay calm and remember these procedures, don't panic and try to turn the ailerons or yank the nose up. Follow these steps then be smooth in your recovery so you don't stress out the plane too much. Flying with structural damage would be a whole different ballgame. 

2) Entry into a spin. I feel like that needs to be talked about more! What are the signs you're about to enter a spin? Does it immediately start spiraling to the ground?

To help show what it looks like here's the video I took: https://www.instagram.com/p/B3LQjLpgazG/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 

I hate to include a link to Instagram but it's the easiest way to share a video!

If you watch it, you'll notice it actually takes some work to induce a spin. First, both wings of the plane have to be stalled. In most spin training flights instructors us a cross-control stall to induce this because it's an easy way to bring it the lack of coordination.

So, you bring the nose up and exceed the critical angle of attack. In a demonstration, you're keeping this coordinated until you're about to induce the actual stall. Then you step on rudder in either direction (the direction you want to spin in) and keep it uncoordinated (ball out of center on your turn coordinator) until the plane buffets and a wing drops. Now, after the wing drops the plane does not immediately enter a crazy death-defying spin to the ground. It's actually a somewhat slow process.

Here, you still have time to react. There are 4 phases of a spin: entry, incipient, developed and recovery. Right here you're in the incipient phase. You've already induced a stall and applied too little/too much rudder. Now as the wing falls it has to have 2-3 turns before it's a fully developed spin. These are somewhat slow turns, when you're in the plane these feel slower than the ones when the plane is in stabilized autorotation. This can also be noted in the video.

These are all some concepts that should be noted for spin training and spin avoidance/recovery. Even if you're not going for a CFI certificate, I recommend to everyone taking at least one spin training course. We, as pilots, make errors. We're not perfect, but we can learn how to counteract our mistakes. 

Not to mention, it's super fun. 

While you may not go do spin training this weekend, you should go do something fun. Check out our calendar and see if there's any fun events going on near you, as I know this weekend we'll be having Wings Over Houston with us at Ellington! 

Happy Landings from all of us at Globalair.com,

-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!

Transitioning from Day to Sunset Flights

Have you ever flown during the daytime and watched the sky transition into sunset, then nighttime? 

If you haven't, add it to your to-do list. It's a fun and beautiful experience. 

I did several sunset flights during my commercial training and loved it every time. Below is my favorite photo from my best sunset flight experience:

While it's not the best photo, the sunset was transitioning into nighttime. The clouds were also overcast, so we were IMC coming back into our home airport.

So, what's the best way to prepare for sunset flights? Here's some tips:

1) Bring a flashlight

In fact, I bring two in case the battery on one dies. Specifically, your flashlight needs to have a red light. To prepare your eyes for night flying you should avoid bright white lights 30 minutes before, which if you're flying it includes that time you're flying in the sunset while the sky slowly darkens.

2) Unless your route of flight is forecasted to be "sky clear" or you've done some thorough weather planning using the Globalair.com Weather Tool then prepare for any possible IFR scenarios.

After I finished commercial, I continued to fly with another student on instrument flights so we could both gain IFR experience. We learned that weather changes quickly, and although we planned several times for VFR flight it ended up being best to file IFR in-flight. Flying in the clouds can be a lot of fun, but especially during nighttime it can be dangerous. Be careful, and make sure you're comfortable with the flight. 

3) This one isn't necessarily a safety tip, but bring your phone or a good camera to take pictures!

You'll thank me later.

Above is another favorite flight of mine, and as you can see from the background we were in and out of the clouds during sunset. I'm sure if we had taken more time, some beautiful pictures would have came out of it.

Especially if you don't have the opportunity to do sunset flights often, make each one worthwhile and take pictures! It gives you something to look back on, and maybe even a new profile picture for Facebook ;)

4) Back to safety, because sunset/night flights are at the end of the day you need to ensure you're hydrated and well-fed before jumping in the air. Being hungry or dehydrated can have a real impact on your flying whether or not you realize it. I learned this the hard way by not drinking water before a day flight (in summer in Texas if I may add) and started to feel dizzy, so I made the best decision and cut the flight short. Don't wait until it's too late, because your decisions now can impact you later. Things like reaction time, decision making, and ability to fly the plane will start to deteriorate.

Use the PAVE and IM SAFE checklist from the Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge before each flight, it's there to keep you safe. 

Remember that in aviation, safety should ALWAYS be the number one priority. Nothing else. 

Aside from sunset flying, Globalair.com got a makeover so head to our main page to check it out! We still offer all of the same resources and services, but with a new and more efficient look.

Have any tips or fun stories from sunset flights? Share them with us! We'd love to hear from you.

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