Flying - Page 5 Aviation Articles

Avoiding Cognitive Biases in Aviation

The human brain is an immensely complicated and fascinating system. It has information processing capabilities far beyond that of any computer. It is impossible to understand every single process that the brain is constantly doing on a daily basis. However, there are parts of the brain process that are terribly flawed. In being so quick at information processing, some major mistakes are also constantly being made without notice.

Recently in my Crew Resource Management class we have been talking about cognition and cognitive biases. Cognitive biases are psychological tendencies that cause the human brain to draw incorrect conclusions. There is a really good video on Youtube that goes into more detail called "Cognition: How Your Mind can Amazing and Betray You." Basically, your brain is so good at processing information that sometimes it processes the wrong information and causes terrible misunderstandings that you may never realize you have had.

The reason we have been discussing this in my Crew Resource Management class is that this can have a huge effect on pilots. They often have to make split-second decisions completely based on the information immediately available to them. It could be extremely dangerous if they are subconsciously making poor choices because of a bias.

I have compiled a few examples of cognitive biases that would have a negative effect on flight operations. It is important for pilots to understand how these work so that if the time comes that they are in a situation where a cognitive bias is clouding their judgment, they will be able to see through it and make the best choice.

Attention Bias

Humans have a tendency to pay more attention to things that have an emotional aspect to them. If a pilot has a traumatic experience during training, they will likely be more concerned about that issue rather than other issues. A good example of this is a pilot who fixates on avoiding bad weather without paying attention to the rapidly diminishing fuel supply. They likely had a bad experience during training where the weather crept up on them, but they can end up with total fuel starvation without even noticing it.

Confirmation Bias

A person will ignore facts or information that does not conform to their perceived mental model, and will only acknowledge information that agrees with their perception of the situation. This can be particularly hazardous when dealing with emergency situations in an aircraft. Perhaps a light is on that should not be, or an alarm is sounding that you have never heard before. It is easy to ignore other warning signs when you have an idea in your mind of what the issue may be.

Gambler’s Fallacy

This is the tendency to think that future probabilities are altered by past events, when in reality they are unchanged. Some pilots are very superstitious, and this could go to two extremes. A pilot could believe that because they have had thousands of accident-free hours then they will never have any type of accident. On the other hand, a pilot could get in an accident and assume that they are bad luck, or they will never be able to fly safely again.

Never take a dangerous gamble when you are unsure, especially in the world of aviation!

Clustering Illusion

This is the tendency to see patterns where actually none exist. When a pilot is attempting an instrument approach late at night into an airport with extremely low visibility, they are making some of the most vital decisions possible. A pilot suffering from clustering illusion may believe that they see a pattern in the approach plate and follow that when really there is none.

As stated eelier, it is extremely important for pilots to be aware of any subconscious biases that may be affecting their decision-making skills. I believe that every pilot should research cognitive biases and figure out which ones they personally experience the most. Our latest homework assignment in class was to write a paper about which biases we are most prone to and what we can do to overcome them. This is a valuable activity and one that even the most seasoned pilot could benefit from trying.

Stay safe out there, and never let your judgment be clouded by a false perception!

Saudia Albayraq - Launch New FBO to FBO Business Jet Service

Co-author & photographer Michael Kelly.


Will other operators team up with FBOs?
Is this a new FBO business model?

Saudia Private Aviation Jeddah FBO

A new exclusive scheduled domestic all business class service is to be launched in March by Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) owned subsidiary Saudia Albayraq. Saudia Albayraq will fly between King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah/OEJN and King Khaled International Airport, Riyadh/OERK and will use the privacy and convenience of the Saudia Private Aviation (SPA) Fixed Base Operator (FBO) VIP terminals at each airport. The SPA is an FBO (with 28 stations across the kingdom), aircraft management and private aircraft charter specialist and their FBO facilities offer world class private lounges and fast track security screening.

Saudia Albayraq will employ three Airbus 319-112 aircraft on the route in an all business class configuration of 48 seats aimed to rival even the comfort of private jet aircraft.

The new operator, using two of the aircraft will offer six daily scheduled flights between Riyadh and Jeddah each way, starting at 6am until 9 pm, providing a flight every 3 hours to each city. The third aircraft will be rotated into the schedule as the maintenance program requires. Every flight will have a corporate chef onboard to provide a unique dining experience.

The FBO involvement means the business or VIP passenger gets the full “corporate jet experience” while the onboard chef offers something very new for in-flight catering!

Fares are expected to be higher than business class on Saudia flights but come with the premium onboard service and the comfort, efficiency and privacy of the SPA VIP facilities and a dedicated Saudia Albayraq client support centre.

SPA Jeddah reception

Saudia Private Aviation was founded in Jeddah in 2009 by Saudia Arabian Airlines and became a separate entity in 2012. Future developments at SPA include a planned new MRO facility in the next five to seven years.

A real eye catcher at Saudia Private Aviations’ FBOs is their use of Porsche 911 Pininfarinas or other high performance cars for ramp transfers where required! At Jeddah, SPA has their own airside hotel at the FBO for engineering crews who may arrive with no visa to work on AOG aircraft. SPA handles all flights for the Saudi Arabian Royal Flight.

The company owns a fleet of ten aircraft, four Dassault 7X and six Hawker 400XP. SPA has an experienced OCC team of flight dispatchers located in Jeddah in support of client and their own operations.

Saudia Albayraqs’ format is an interesting evolution of existing services provided by British Airways (London City – New York with A319 aircraft), KLM (Amsterdam – Houston operated by PrivatAir, B738) & Lufthansa (Frankfurt – Dammam, also operated by PrivatAir, B738).

Scheduled FBO to FBO service

The real stand out differences offered by Saudia Albayraq being the use of an FBO facility at each airport and it is pushing its culinary limits, bringing in onboard chefs to create a high-flying in-flight dining experience. The in-flight chefs will create and plate meals to the standards of a fine-dining experience. With a chef on board, passengers will also enjoy greater flexibility in terms of their meal preference and service. All the in-flight chefs are fully qualified and have a minimum of five years of experience in noted restaurants and hotels from around the world.

And it is with PrivatAir Saudia the Saudia Albayraq have chosen to work closely with in launching the new service.

PrivatAir SA is a leading international business aviation group with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and operating bases in Frankfurt (PrivatAir GmbH) Germany), Geneva (Switzerland) and Brazzaville (Congo). From its beginnings as the corporate aviation division of global conglomerate The Latsis Group, PrivatAir has matured today into an independent, world-renowned, full service commercial operator, with a track record of growth and safety spanning 36 years.

PrivatAir is a comprehensive aviation group with three divisions delivering service excellence both in the air and on the ground: Scheduled Services, Business Aviation (Aircraft Management, Aircraft Charter, Aircraft Sales, PrivatJetFuel / Fuel Management, Ground Services) and PrivatTraining.

The company’s wide range of clients includes royalty, heads of state, public officials, celebrities from the arts, sports and entertainment industries, captains of industry and private aircraft owners.

PrivatAir aims to take the best practices of the commercial airline industry and to add the flexibility of business aviation, as well as its exceptional standards of service.

The company has experience in operating the full range of business jet types from the Cessna Citation, Bombardier Learjets, Gulfstream and Dassault Falcon jets, to bizliners like the Airbus A319 and Boeings BBJ, BBJ2 , 757 and 767.

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.

What You Should Know About the New Student Pilot Certificate

New changes to FAA student pilot certificates are coming our way, and although there was an initial display of panic from some members of the flight training community, the new student pilot certificate rule might just be a good thing. Here’s what you need to know about the new rule, which begins April 1st, 2016:

The Details
First, don’t panic. Although students could have a delay in getting their student pilot certificates, it’s not all bad news. Here’s the scoop:

  • Students won’t have to go to the FSDO to get a student pilot certificate. FAA certified flight instructors, designated pilot examiners, Part 141 programs, and the FSDO will be all able to accept and submit applications for student pilot certificates. The student pilot applicant will have to show up in person and bring a photo ID to verify identity.
  • The new student pilot certificate will not expire, which brings it in line with the other certifications.
  • Instructors will no longer have to endorse both the student’s logbook and the student pilot certificate. Only one endorsement will be necessary from now on, which simplifies the process.
  • The student pilot applications will go through some kind of TSA approval process, which, whether we like it or not, should add a layer of security to flight training that we don’t currently have.
  • Student pilots who already have a paper student pilot certificate may continue to use it until it expires, or may choose to obtain a new plastic student pilot certificate from the FAA.

What could possibly go wrong?
Okay, so we know that it won’t be a perfect process, and as with any new process, there are sure to be frustrations involved. The biggest frustration that people foresee is that there will be a delay in the processing of student pilot applications. The FAA says it will process the applications as quickly as possible, but that it could take weeks or even months before the student receives the new plastic pilot certificate in the mail.

This delay in processing will potentially make it impossible for student pilots to solo right when they’re ready to. Some students, especially those in fast-paced flight training programs, will get to the potential solo flight in a matter of days or weeks, and will be left waiting on a student pilot certificate to arrive in the mail. This can be a source of frustration, to be sure.

Finally, should a student pilot applicant be denied a student pilot certificate based on information gleaned from the TSA check, the student will be faced with an appeals process that, as we all know, could take an extended amount of time. This, perhaps, will be the greatest source of frustration for those who may be "flagged" in the system for some reason, but who are otherwise eligible for a student pilot certificate. And perhaps, sadly, we’ll lose a few potential student pilots to yet another lengthy appeals process.

What do you think about the new student pilot application rules? A good thing or bad?

Nine Great Aviation Events you Don't Want to Miss

There are hundreds of exciting annual aviation events for seasoned pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike to visit this year. These events will bring a lot of new networking opportunities, as well as chances to just have fun. With the pilot shortage quickly approaching, there is no better time than now to get your foot in the door with the company you’ve always dreamed of being with. Networking with them at an upcoming aviation event could be your chance to shine.

Even if you are not looking to get into a job in the industry, visiting air shows and conventions can be the highlight of your year. Many companies unveil new products and aircraft at these events, so I encourage everyone to attend as many as possible and enjoy the unique culture and friendliness in the world of aviation.

I have personally visited or know of someone who has gone to each of these events, so I can vouch for their outstanding quality. I included one for almost every month, as to give a good overview of when these major events are happening. I hope that you are able to attend at least one of these events this year, and that you have a great time!

Soaring Society of America Convention
February 18-20
Greenville, South Carolina
This three-day conference is the perfect getaway for those of us who prefer to take the to skies without an engine. The Soaring Society of America was formed in 1932 and currently has upwards of 12,000 members. According to their website, SAA members and soaring fans from all over the United States and Canada gather to learn the latest soaring technology developments, attend lectures, and meet with friends.


photo by Andrew Zaback—Attendees of the 2014 WAI Conference hear Eileen Collins speak at the Luncheon on Friday before being dismissed to enjoy seminars and interact with exhibitors.

Women in Aviation International Conference
March 10-12
Nashville, Tennessee
I was lucky enough to attend the 2014 Women in Aviation International conference at Walt Disney World in Florida. I was truly blown away by how much thought and preparation was put into every aspect of the weekend. This year should be no different, as the lineup of workshops and speakers listed online look incredibly interesting. They also have a variety of companies that come and conduct face-to-face interviews with job seekers that attend the conference. Participating companies include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, NetJets, FedEx, and several more.

Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-in Expo
April 5th-10th
Lakeland, Florida
There is no better way to kick off your year of fly-ins and air shows by paying a visit to the beautiful Lakeland, Florida for Sun ‘n Fun Something that is unique about Sun ‘n Fun is how the majority of its profits sponsor the Aerospace Center for Excellence that helps shape the future of aviation by providing educational programs for youth interested in aviation. Who knew having so much fun could have such a great impact!

AOPA Fly-In
May 20-21
Beaufort, North Carolina
There are several AOPA Fly-Ins around America during the year, and this event in May is the perfect weekend trip for pilots with all levels of experience. All attendees are invited to the Barnstorming Party on Friday and encouraged to enjoy the fly-in sights and sounds on Saturday. AOPA offers several educational seminars during the weekend, including the Rusty Pilot seminar to help get you back on track if you have taken a few years off flying.

Ladies Love Taildraggers Fly-in
June 3-5
Sulphur Springs, Texas
Tragically, last year’s LLT Fly-in was canceled four days before the event due to a tornado hitting the airport. This year the ladies are as excited as ever to host taildragger enthusiasts from all over as they rebound from last year. Attendees are welcome to camp by their aircraft, or spend the night at the Sulphur Springs Best Western. During the weekend they have a poker run to benefit their scholarship fund, amongst other fun activities.

 

Photo showing around 10% of the attractions at Oshkosh.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
July 25-31
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
I have been lucky enough to attend AirVenture the last three years, actually flying in with my fiancé the last two. I am uncertain if I will be able to make it this year as our wedding is the very next weekend, but AirVenture has been the best week of my summer every year I’ve gone. The sheer size of the event alone is worth visiting just to see. There is never a dull moment at Oshkosh, and I encourage every pilot who has never gotten the chance to experience it to do their best to stop by this year!

Lee Bottom Fly-in
September 16-18
Madison, Indiana
This privately owned grass strip in Indiana holds a special place in my heart, as during one of my first ever flight lessons my instructor took me to their beautiful field on the Ohio river and we did our first exhilarating grass landing. I have flown up and attended their annual fly-in twice before, and the relaxed atmosphere with incredibly friendly hosts makes this a must-do for any pilot.

Finale of the Red Bull Air Race
October 15-16
Las Vegas, Nevada
Few things mix the world of extreme sports and aviation better than the Red Bull Air Races. Even watching the event on television gets my heart pumping, and I will hopefully be attending their previous stop in Indianapolis. This is a big year for the air race because they have their first ever female competitor, Melanie Astles.

NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention
November 1-2
Orlando, Florida
This event is truly the holy grail of business aviation. All different aspects of the business aviation world are represented at this conference, and most are there to get deals made. If you want to network with other business professionals then this is the one event that you cannot miss. It also gives you a pretty good idea of what the next biggest trends in aviation will be.

I hope that this gives you at least an idea of the variety of events that are offered this year! To view more events, or to list your own, please visit our GlobalAir.com Aviation Events Calendar!

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