Aviation Safety - Page 10 Aviation Articles

You Know You're A Minnesota Pilot When...

Being a huge fan of Minnesota (born and raised, ya sure, you betcha) I’m pretty sure that Minnesota pilots are a special breed.  As summer is just around the corner, I’ll be highlighting some Minnesota-type flying activities that you’re sure to find those Minnesota-inclined pilots heading too when the days get longer and warmer.

Your Saturdays Consist of Coffee, Donuts, & Safety

Let’s face it:  safety should be our #1 focus in aviation.  While we may not all practice what we preach, there’s a long-time tradition of mixing coffee, donuts, and safety all into a fun Saturday tradition in the Twin Cities area.

 

Several years ago, my old boss from Inflight Pilot Training, LLC, started weekly safety seminars at Flying Cloud Municipal Airport (KFCM) located in Eden Prairie, MN.  What started out as a handful of seasoned pilots based on the field with donuts and coffee, this event blossomed into nearly 100 pilots every week attending seminars featuring various safety topics such as weather, medical issues, maintenance, new technology, and much more.  Now, AirTrekNorth, a flight schovol started in Lakeville, MN, carries on the tradition in their KFCM location.

While you may have thousands of hours, or you’re just starting to fly, the FAA Safety Team (FAAST) has turned to a creative way to approach many safety topics affecting pilots today.  They also have the WINGS program which allows you to get credit for the training you complete online with organizations such as AOPA and the FAA through training, such as the Saturday seminars.

After the seminar, you will find pilots milling about for hours talking flying (if the weather is bad), or they inevitably go to their own hangars and get their aircraft ready for a spin in the beautiful Minnesota weather.

You Fly to the North Shore

While Minnesota doesn’t have the ocean to boast of when referring to great scenic flights, we do have the North Shore – a.k.a., the shores of Lake Superior which is one of the largest, freshwater lakes in the country. 

Flying to the North Shore in the summer can be a great way to beat the heat.  Some great destinations include Duluth International Airport. Sky Harbor Airport (near downtown Duluth), Two Harbors, and many more.  Many of these small, North Shore towns boast spectacular views of the lake including great restaurants to grab a bite to eat before heading back to the Twin Cities. 

 

If you’re considering making a weekend out of it with family or friends, head to Duluth International Airport and find a rental car or courtesy car from the local Fixed Base Operator (FBO).  There are several great hotels in downtown Duluth on the shore or further into the city.  There’s an aquarium, museum, and much more to do in town.

Flying north of the Twin Cities to the North Shore gives you a great flight to experience Minnesota and is a great way to get your Minnesota flying friends together for a day – besides, building cross-country time is always a bonus. 

You Go to the WOTN Air Expo Every Single Year

Another great aspect of Minnesota flying is the Wings of the North (WOTN) Air Expo held every year at KFCM.  What started as a non-profit organization in the late ‘90s, designed to preserve and present aviation history, it has blossomed into a Twin Cities aviation fixture.

Their museum is located at KFCM and WOTN hosts the Air Expo every July featuring many aviation organizations in the community with sponsors from Sun Country Airlines, Minnesota Flyer magazine, UTC Aerospace Systems and more.  WOTN also brings in many static displays from public and private collectors from all eras of aviation including World War I (WWI), WWII, and more. 

This great family event is a fun way to connect with those in the community and meet other pilots from the area as they all come flocking to this annual event.   It’s also a great way to support a local non-profit whose mission is to preserve aviation history. 

Overall, Minnesota is really a great place to be a pilot.  With all of the seminars, fly-ins, local airshows, cookouts, and destinations, it can be hard to find the time to actually get it all done!  As a pilot, we’re always looking for new places to go, so start your wish list now for Minnesota and start checking those boxes off.

Remember, you only have so much summer to get it done!  Happy flying!

Using Your Skills to Overcome New Challenges

By Greg Feuerbach – Jet Service Crew Chief
Elliott Aviation

A quality maintenance team has experienced and reliable technicians who have the knowledge to understand the basics of aircraft maintenance. The challenge comes when you transfer these fundamental skills to a new airframe. Just like basic car components are similar in all makes and models, the way a manufacturer assembles them and the types of parts they use and tools required could be dramatically different. The same idea applies to airframes. As a good car mechanic can learn a new make and model, with proper training, a quality technician can understand the fundamentals while applying his skillset to a new or different aircraft.

We recently completed our first Challenger 300 96-month major inspection and delivered it squawk free. A major reason we were able to do so is because we have a solid base of good mechanics, but have key team leads that have substantial experience with the airframe. For instance, as team lead for the project, I have extensive knowledge of the airframe, spending 15 years at a Bombardier Challenger Service Center. In addition, one of our Customer Support Representatives, Andrew Nicewanner spent 18 years with both the 300 and the 600 series. This allowed us to prepare our technicians who had never touched a Challenger. In preparation, we sent many technicians to be factory trained before the inspection.

To help technicians who did not have Challenger experience, we set clear and precise instructions with illustrations for the tasks assigned each technician, along with time for review and periodic checks of their progress. In addition, we also held a five-day onsite training with Global Jet Services before the aircraft arrived.

A quality maintenance team can learn the many differences in a new airframe. Having key members with experience on that airframe, preparation before any inspections with added training, schooling, and constant communication was key in a successful inspection.

Greg Feuerbach, Elliott Aviation’s Jet Service Center Crew Chief has 38 years of maintenance experience with 21 years in the Air Force working on F-4E Phantoms, F-16 A,B,C,&D Fighting Falcons, and the A/OA-10A Warthog. Prior to joining Elliott Aviation, he worked for 15 years at the Bombardier Challenger Service Center in Tucson, Arizona on all models of the Challenger 600 and 300 series aircraft. Thirteen of those years were as Lead Technician. In addition, he is also qualified to perform engine operations and taxi all models of Challenger aircraft.

Get In on ADS-B Out!

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).

That Frigid FICON NOTAM


I don’t know about you, but we’ve had a few snow and ice storms this winter in our neck of the woods. As a flight instructor, bad weather offers the opportunity to teach students about runway condition and braking action, among other things, and it’s a good time to reinforce the importance of checking NOTAMs before heading to the airport.

During a recent winter storm, we were snowed in for three days. We were all getting antsy, wanting to get out of the house and fly. So after the clouds cleared, a student and I scheduled a flight for the first VFR day after the snowstorm. The weather looked fantastic - clear below 12,000, light winds and sunshine. Everything looked great… except for just this one thing:

!TTA 01/015 TTA RWY 03/21 FICON ICE BA POOR OBSERVED AT 1601241330. 1602241405-1602241900.

What does all that mean? In short, it means that there was still ice on the runway, and braking action was poor. This is a NOTAM(D) for runway condition, and yet another good reason to always check NOTAMs! While the weather outside was great VFR flying weather, we were still stuck on the ground. Here’s a breakdown of this NOTAM:



A NOTAM for field condition - what we call FICON - can be issued for any of the following runway conditions:

  • Snow
  • Ice
  • Snow and Ice
  • Slush
  • Water
  • Drifting or drifted snow
  • Plowed/Swept
  • Sanded/De-iced
  • Snow banks
  • Mud
  • Frost
  • Frost Heave
  • Cracks, Ruts, Soft Edges

Here are two more examples:

!MIV MIV RWY 10/28 FICON 1/4 IN LSR WEF 1112201200

NOTAM for Millville Municipal Airport (MIV), runway 10/28 is covered in ¼ inch loose snow, observed December 20, 2011 at 1200 UTC.

!ENA 5HO RWY 16/34 FICON THN PSR WEF 1109131520

NOTAM issued by Kenai for Hope Airport (5HO), thin layer of packed snow on runway 16/34, observed at 1520 UTC on September 13, 2011.

But what does that really mean? Can you - or should you - land under these conditions? For pilots, there are a few things to consider when taking off or landing on runways with any type of contamination. FICON NOTAMs will often include braking action reports, given as GOOD, FAIR, POOR or NIL, like in the example above. These values are often reported by pilots as they land.

Sometimes, braking action is reported as a MU value. MU is the mathematical term for the coefficient of friction, and its value is determined by a friction measuring device at airports. A value of 40 or above would mean braking action is good. A value of below 40 MU can mean a significant reduction in braking action.

Landing on any runway with less than GOOD braking action can be hazardous. It’s always best to avoid landing on runways covered in snow and ice. Even water can decrease braking action significantly. If you must land on an icy or snowy runway, use extreme caution, make a normal, stabilized approach use aerodynamic braking as much as possible before touching down. Try to keep the nose wheel straight during the landing rollout to prevent skidding. And remember that the taxiways are often in worse condition than the runways - even if the runway has been cleared, there’s a good chance the parking area hasn’t been.

General Aviation Around the World

During my trip to Munich, Germany for the International Ninety-Nines Conference over the summer I was able to meet female pilots from all over the world. I met women from Russia, New Zealand, Canada, China, and Jordan to name a few. All of these accomplished women had similar goals and dreams in the world of general and commercial aviation.

One of the excursions available during the tip was to fly around the Alps in Bavaria. The day that it was offered I ended up being on a tour of Neuschswanstein Castle, but I found it fascinating that in Germany you have the ability to hop in a small airplane and go flying, just like America. This led me to an interest in how the process of earning your license differs between countries. The FAA doesn’t control air traffic outside of America, so who is in charge in other parts of the world? Is it more difficult to become licensed there? I did some research into the regulations of 5 countries and will share what I found here.

1. The United States

To earn your private pilot license in America you have to obtain a student pilot certificate and third class medical, which are often the same document. An informal pre-solo written exam, which you cover with your instructor, is all that is additionally required to solo. You must then pass an FAA written exam that consists of 60 questions, and earn a minimum of 40 flight hours in accordance to the requirements in 14 CFR 61.109(a) for different types of aeronautical experience. After all this training you must take a "check-ride" with an FAA-certified examiner based on a document called the Practical Test Standards. Student pilots in America can solo at age 16 and earn their full license at age 17.

2. Canada

Canada has similar requirements for private pilots. However, in order to earn your student pilot certificate to solo you must sit and pass a PSTAR examination. This is a multiple-choice test with 50 questions covering most areas in the FAA written exam, with the exception of it being over the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

3. Germany

Pilots seeking their private license in Germany have a few more hoops to jump through than other countries. Candidates must have a certificate of having taken a first aid course of immediate life saving measures, as well as a Radio Telephony Certificate. The "check-ride" process appears to be similar to the U.S, with a multiple-choice test and practical flight with a designated examiner. More information can be found here.

4. Japan

Based on what information I could find online, Japan is one of the most expensive places to earn your pilot license. With rates estimated around $500 an hour, most aspiring pilots will travel abroad to a less expensive country for their training. They also have a ranked medical certificate process, and a "B" Aviation Medical Certificate is required to a private license. Most airports have a strict curfew, so pilots in Japan have to be especially careful to not fly into these airports after-hours.

5. New Zealand

Famous for its beautiful scenery and the Lord of the Rings movies, New Zealand is one of the most popular countries for pilots from other parts of the world to visit and fly at. The rolling hills and striking landscapes make for an extremely general aviation flight. As far as I can tell, the licensing process is very similar to the U.S. The major difference is that you have six examinations over subjects relating to New Zealand aviation. These subjects are radio, human factors, meteorology, air technical knowledge, navigation and law. These exams are mainly multiple choice and require a 70% pass rate.

English is the universal language of aviation, and I was surprised to find that the regulations regarding earning your first license are pretty standard around the world. Despite a few small changes, the typical process has most of the same steps. The most dramatic difference is the availability of aircraft to rent.

In the future I would like to research more heavily into the history and current climate of general aviation in different countries. It is an interesting topic, especially when contrasting it with our rules in America. We really have it easy when compared to other countries as far as aircraft availability and the sheer amount of airports we have across the country.

Looking for an international flight school? We have a list of them available on our GlobalAir.com Aviation Directory.

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