AOPA Fly In at Bremerton Awesome!

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    Aviation enthusiasts set an AOPA regional fly-in record by flying 690 aircraft and driving 1,064 automobiles to Bremerton National Airport for the AOPA Fly-In at Bremerton, Washington, Aug. 20. Photo by David Tulis.

“I thought it was awesome,” said Fred Salisbury, the airport director. “That back runway probably hasn’t seen aircraft for fifty years and it was packed with parked airplanes all the way down.” The airport’s second runway had long since been converted into a drag strip until it hosted overflow aircraft arriving for the event.

Read more about the AOPA Regional fly in!

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and please write us a comment if you see a problem or want to contribute an article. We always need more input on aviation excellence or flight safety. There are many highly qualified SAFE members out there! If you are not yet a member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile fun!

The Instructor’s Purpose (RSVP!)

By: Rich Stowell, Master Instructor, SAFE Charter and Life Member, 2006 National Flight Instructor of the Year, aka “The Spin Doctor”

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my purpose as a flight instructor. While I have verbalized pieces of this over the years, this is the first attempt to articulate purpose in a more formal way. The result seemed applicable not only to my approach to instructing, but also to the way I’ve seen many excellent instructors ply their trade. Hence, the leap from “Rich’s Purpose” to “The Instructor’s Purpose.”

The Instructor’s Purpose is not about detailing the specific roles and responsibilities of instructors. It is not about instructor professionalism or codes of conduct either, though purpose certainly dovetails with discussions about professionalism and ethics. For more information about instructor roles and responsibilities, professionalism, and ethics, see the Aviation Instructor’s Handbook, Aviators Model Codes of Conduct, and Society of Aviation and Flight Educators.

Please share your thoughts and provide suggestions for improving The Instructor’s Purpose.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 10.27.31 PMThe Instructor’s Purpose

• Promote a Learner’s Mindset. Learning something new is often a messy process. A certain amount of failure is normal and should not be feared. Promote a learner’s mindset by appealing to the motivations many of your students have for flying: mastery, autonomy, and purpose.
• Escape the “Cult of the Average.” Go beyond merely teaching to the test. Help your students move toward the correlation level of learning by identifying, and teaching within the context of, overarching principles. Raise the bar by helping your students reach higher levels of knowledge and skill than you possessed at similar points in your flying career.
• Encourage Peak Performance. Give your students the tools they need for peak performance. Teach them how to critique their performance. Challenge them to strive for peak performance on every flight.

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and please write us a comment if you see a problem or want to contribute an article. We always need more input on aviation excellence or flight safety. There are many highly qualified SAFE members out there! If you are not yet a member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile fun!

Transitioning From a Mooney to Arrow

Parvez Dara, ATP, MCFI, SAFE Director

The other day, wanting to get some flying time, I decided to get checked out in a Piper Arrow. Aside from the similarities of the complex aircraft of a fuel injected engine, and retractable gear the two beasts are quite different.
Lets us take them apart one by one and compare the results. This is by no means a put down or build up of either one. It is merely a note on transition thoughts in the left seat effects on the pilot. There is definitely a need for a difference between the mind and the mental state.

ParvezMooney

Engine:

The “big” Mooney engines are Lycoming TIO540 derated down to 270hp (Mooney Bravo a true turbocharged aircraft or TIO-550-G Mooney Acclaim-a turbo normalized version). The latter has twin Turbocharger and Innercooler built in front of the firewall, they also exact a hefty price in weight. The Mooney climbs at a nice clip reaching a comfortable 1200 feet per minute in the right circumstance. The Manifold is set at 36 inches and the RPM near redline around 2550rpm. It guzzles around 26 gallons in the climb. You can feel it getting light on its wheels wanting to break the surely bonds, as it transitions easily and with very little effort into the cruise climb mode. Retracting the gear is easy and the transition to “wheels up” takes 4-5 seconds. Trimmed, it is an easy-peasy state of affairs as the earth is left behind quickly. Decreasing the MP to 34/2400 in a cruise climb, the boost pump light flickers off. Cruise power setting is mostly at 30MP and 2400RPM with about 16 gallons per hour. Average speeds at max cruise setting is around 185-190 knots at 8000feet. The boost pump is linked to the throttle to the wall and easing it back shuts the boost pump allowing the mechanical fuel pump to take over.
The Piper Arrow is obviously slower because it is powered by a Lycoming IO360 at 200hp and not turbocharged. The instructor calls for a 25MP and 2500RPM as a cruising power setting and the engine sips around 10.5-11 gallons. It wants to run its wheels a little bit more on the ground and one has to gently heave it off the tarmac. It too feels light when the needle goes past the 60-65 knots of airspeed. The climb, as expected is a bit anemic and the climb rate factors in between 500-600 feet per minute. But climb, it does and remains steady till about 3000 feet or so, when the climb rate diminishes slightly. The max cruise speed at 8000 feet is around 138-140 knots. The Fuel Boost pump has to be manually switched on and off in both take offs and landing modes as well in changing fuel tanks.

ParvezArrow

Airfoil (Wings):

Mooneys have the laminar Airfoil that love to fly. The Arrow has the trademark Hershey Bar wings, bulbous and not as relative wind friendly. But they are stable and do provide a better buffer against the potential ice formation. As both wings develops lift against the Relative Wing and Newton pushes from below and Bernoulli pulls from above, both airfoils seem fairly happy flying. But kill the engine in the air and the differences become quite stark. The Mooney wing continues to soars along wasting between 350-400 feet/minute of altitude as it transitions at Glide Speed down to the earth. The Arrow however loses 1400-1500 feet per minute at Glide Speed and looks for a landing strip close by. While Mooney gives ample time to think about the Insurance company, the Arrow demands immediate attention for safety.

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Panels:

The newer model Arrows are equally equipped with the “Glass Cockpits” like the newer Mooneys. The difference lies in the positions of the knobs. This understanding of knobology is what takes time. Pilots transitioning from one aircraft to another, no matter the age of the aluminum, need to develop a firm handle on where the various knobs are. This education in “knobology” is better served on the ground then in the air. A small but critical example; Mooneys have their Gear handle up on top of the panel space with a single green light indicating gear down state, while the Arrow I flew had the Gear handle under the yoke in the lowest part of the panel space with the “three green light” symbology determining the gear locked in place based on stimuli received from the limit switches within the wheel wells. Interestingly the “three green” are individual bulbs and in case of one not lighting up can easily be tested by substitution. Whereas the Gear System in the Arrow is the electromechanical version relying both on electric and hydraulics to move the pieces up and down, the Mooneys have electrical worm drive that retracts and extends. Both aircraft have limits of extension and retraction air speed limitations. The Arrow has a feature; which can be disabled when air work is being performed, the automatic gear extension when the airspeed declines below 105 knots.

Flaps:

Now here is another stark difference between the two aircraft I flew; the Mooney has a small lever placed in the middle lower quadrant of the panel with an indicator to show the flap status between Approach and Landing flap configuration. Oscillating between Flaps Up and Down is dependent on a flip of a switch. In the Arrow there is a handle-bar on the floor that is purely muscle mechanics and goes from 10 degrees to 40 degrees (barn doors category). Both mechanisms function perfectly. In the Mooney, a popped circuit breaker can render the Flap switch functionless (there is a mechanical feature for gear extension). The Arrow however is resilient. No need for electricity to apply, since brute strength is the modus operandi.

Flight:

I enjoyed the flights in both the aircraft equally. Knowing the difference in characteristics and what to expect makes one adept at understanding what the airfoil, the engine and a plethora of electro-mechanical gizmos can do. It took me a half hour to close my eyes and sit in the cockpit imagining the location of various switches, circuit breakers and other locations of the Garmin 430, Transponder (GTX 327), and the second radio a KX150. The Mooneys I have flown have been with the Garmin 1000 Glass and also those with steam gauges. The locations of the “Six Pack” (non glass) are firmly placed in front of the eyeballs in both aircraft (standard).

The transition between the two aircraft was relatively easy, enjoyable and in both cases brought breathtaking views to behold-as it always without fail, does!

A few words of Advice:
So if you intend to transition to a different aircraft, either old or new, spend a few moments:
It is important as is in all aircraft to follow the Checklist for Preflight, since there are quite a few differences between any two aircraft.
Get comfortable in the cockpit.
Close your eyes and accurately place the various panel placed equipment.
Know the Lift characteristics of the Wings.
Know the engine function
Keep the Standard Checklist nearby and use it for Preflight, Take-Offs, Approach to Landing, Landing, Taxi and Shutdowns…Follow the checklist to the “T.”
Keep the Emergency Checklist nearby for Engine outs, Fires, Gear malfunction etc.
Get comfortable with the flight characteristics of the aircraft with an Instructor before going solo…there is always more than meets the eye.
Transitioning from a faster to a slower aircraft requires equal diligence as one from a slow aircraft to a faster one. The anticipatory times are different in flying the “other” one.

Please Fly With Understanding…Fly SAFE!

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and please write us a comment if you see a problem or want to contribute an article. We always need more input on aviation excellence or flight safety. There are many highly qualified SAFE members out there! If you are not yet a member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile fun (How about $58 off your annual ForeFlight subscription…membership pays you back $13!)

Professional Tools For CFIs!

The reason we provide our mobile app, SAFE CFI Toolkit free to everyone, is to make your job as a working CFI easier and more efficient. This app contains all the up-to-the minute FAA and industry resources for a CFI in the field. Our mission at SAFE is providing resources (and industry advocacy) to raise the level of professionalism in our aviation educators. This helps all of aviation become safer. Please download the mobile toolkit, it’s free and your job is easier with this resource in your pocket!

As a DPE I get to see the really great and disappointingly bad results of aviation instruction. When I sit down with an applicant and we try to “qualify” them for an evaluation by finding the correct endorsements and experience (provided by the CFI), we need to have the legal minimum per AC 61.65F or we cannot proceed. Without the legal data we are “dead in the water,” wasting time and providing a very disappointing experience for our future aviator. All the necessary endorsements and experience requirements are on the app, along with great mobile weather, flight tracking, N# lookup, etc. We basically put everything in the SAFE CFI Tookit that you would use as a working CFI, and it’s immediately and continuously available on your phone. Please let me know if your favorite resource is *not* there and we will add it (the last tab on the app goes straight to my phone). This app is available FREE on both Android and Apple marketplaces. This link will open an emulator where you can test drive most of the functionality before downloading (it displays best on your mobile device).

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and please write us a comment if you see a problem or want to contribute an article. We always need more input on aviation excellence or flight safety. There are many highly qualified SAFE members out there! If you are not yet a member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile fun (How about $58 off your annual ForeFlight subscription…membership pays you back $13!)

The New FAA ACS in Action!

I attended the SAFE Pilot Training Reform Symposium in Atlanta  (with FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt and all the “aviation heavies”) in 2011 and supported the need for change in our system of training and testing pilots. This reform was initially aimed mostly at removing the outdated (and frankly irrelevant) knowledge test questions (e.g. height of blowing sand and non-movable card ADF) from the computer testing bank. The FAA Manuals were evolving  to focus on scenario-based training and higher order thinking skills but the question banks contained lots of the same questions I took with a pencil on bubble sheets in 1970!

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 10.49.59 AMThe pedagogically suspect process of memorizing and regurgitating a pre-studied series of rote questions also needed to change. This test was embarrassing for any true educator and was more a “right of passage” than a true educational experience. Once this change process was put into motion, the Airman Certification System Working Group (composed of industry professionals from every alphabet group) also realized they needed to coordinate the knowledge tasks (and guidance from the newer FAA manuals) with the PTS test format, and so the new ACS was born.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 1.20.34 PMWhen the new ACS was finally introduced, I was intensely curious to see what the committee had created and how this would work in the field (we try to achieve “results” but we often get “consequences”). Frankly, it looked a little scary (and complicated) to me. I have been an FAA DPE and 141 Chief Instructor since 1994 and given over 2,000 FAA evaluations. Imagine if you had used the same script for 20 years and suddenly you were “performing” with a whole new set of expectations…this was unsettling. I fully understand the objections and discomfort I have heard in the press and online probably more than most of you. Remember, this is a document that controls everything I do everyday!

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 11.12.16 AMAs you are probably aware, every FAA Pilot Examiner is required to conduct their FAA evaluation from a written script called a “plan of action”. An examiner creates their own POA for each test, reviewed by their Principle Operations Inspector (FSDO handler), to organize their evaluation into a smooth and efficient experience. So the first task for any DPE with the ACS is sitting down and combing through the new “guidance” and determining the “rules of engagement” for conducting a valid “FAA-Approved” evaluation. Examiners are required also to attend annual training at FSDO and go to FAA OKC training every other year. All this is to insure the examiner evaluation follows the FAA guidance carefully, achieves consistency and does not deteriorate into some personal version of the test. We all understand that focus may vary depending on the examiner but content must be valid and accurate and carefully follow the current standard.

Anyway, none of the maneuvers or completion criteria have changed in the ACS (except for that slow flight debacle). What I discovered is the ACS codifies what examiners have already been using in their plans of action over the last 10 years. Increasingly we have been instructed by the FAA not to fire off rote-based questions; “How much fuel? What is Vx?” but instead guide an applicant through a realistic, scenario-based experience or “thought experiment.” The intention of each evaluation is to discover how our future pilot will think, decide, judge and perform in a myriad of realistic situations we could not safely or efficiently create in an aircraft. Instead of “what and how?” applicants should “describe and explain” if their test is going well and maintaining a correlative level. I think the ACS does a very good job of codifying these required pilot tasks and elements into usable, discrete, higher-level experiences. In my experience so far, the “new” ACS oral runs the same length as the PTS but more accurately embodies what a good examiner should already be utilizing; scenario-based, experience simulation to test real higher order pilot knowledge and judgment skills. The ACS is right on track and accurate to the intentions of the FAA manuals and guidance.

PrivateTestRobBgThere will, of course, be some friction in the testing process since most current pilot applicants were trained with the older PTS guidance. And there may be some longer tests initially as examiners attempt to accurately assess the PTS-trained applicant’s knowledge and judgment. Remember, every good examiner wants an applicant to succeed. Less than two hours to discover everything a pilot knows to be a pilot (for the rest of their lives) is surprisingly minimal. Current applicants’ flight training may not have specifically focused on and developed the higher order performance standard found in the ACS and newer FAA Manuals. As this increasingly becomes the training as well as testing standard, I personally sense the ACS will make stronger, safer pilots.

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and please write us a comment if you see a problem or want to contribute an article. We always need more input on aviation excellence or flight safety. There are many highly qualified SAFE members out there! If you are not yet a member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile fun (How about $58 off your annual ForeFlight subscription…membership pays you back $13!)

Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)

The FAA has finally created new sUAS (aka “drone”) regulations and the result is greater freedom and access for aspiring unmanned aviators. The peril will be more activity in the airspace and undetectable traffic threats for larger aircraft. For this to work we all have to “play nice” in the airspace and follow the rules carefully. To understand who these new regulations affect, we need to define some basic operations.

First, a “sUAS” (drone) must weigh less than 55lbs and all these new regulations pertain only to the non-recreational (commercial) use of these aircraft. If you are flying for recreation (not being paid or reimbursed in any way) you can continue to have fun just remember to register your sUAS with the FAA. If you want to get paid for your services, these regulations pertain to your operations. The operating permit is now called a “remote pilot certificate” and there are several ways to obtain (and maintain) this privilege.

DJI-PhantomDrone

The new regulations were published here in the Federal Register on June 21st. and they will go into affect 60 days after that publication date. This is why people rushing the doors will not find the tests and applications quite yet. The new Advisory Circular is very well written and covers a lot of the details. Click here for a short headline summary.

What is very exciting for eager new pilots are the new piloting privileges. Previously you needed to be a Part 61 certificated pilot (with a medical and current flight review) to legally pilot a commercially operated sUAS. You also needed to obtain a 333 exemption, which was a long and complicated process. The new regulation still allows part 61 certificated pilots to fly sUASs by passing an on-line administered test (on FAA Safety.gov.) but the regs. also open the door for people who have never flown to earn a “remote pilot certificate”. To become an “ab initio sUAS pilot“, you must be at least 16 years of age, complete a knowledge test at an FAA Approved Testing Center and then apply for certification with an FAA Pilot Examiner (similar to applying for a student pilot certificate). There is a new Airman Certification Standard for Unmanned Aircraft Systems that provides guidance for the knowledge test. There is no “fight test” just the application for certificate with the same TSA vetting process that all pilots now undergo to get a certificate.

The flight privileges and limitations of the new CFR Part 107 (Federal Regulation) are similar to the rules currently in force. The maximum altitude (without a waiver) is now 400 feet agl. the maximum allowable speed is 87 KIAS. Operations are limited to daylight hours (and civil twilight) and line of sight operations. Flight over non-participating individuals is prohibited, so don’t be sailing around the stadium over the crowd’s heads! Remember, these sUAS can be as heavy as a full box of stationary and usually have many spinning blades like a blender! If an airport is ATC controlled you must have prior approval to operate within 5 miles of the facility but at non-towered airports there are now no proximity restrictions. sUSAs must avoid the flow of piloted planes and also yield the right-of way to other A/C.

As with all piloting regulations, these new rules only function through compliance. There are not enough inspectors to actively police these increasingly popular activities and if continuous violations occur (and especially if public safety is endangered) I am sure these privileges will be curtailed or eliminated. Already, the FAA has done at least 23 enforcement actions against drone operators. An absolutely super source for more information is lawyer (and commercial pilot) Jonathan Rupprecht’s Blog. He is very current and comprehensive on these new regulations.

Please “follow” our blog to receive notification of new articles and please write us a comment if you see a problem or want to contribute. We need more articles on aviation excellence or flight safety. There are many highly qualified SAFE members out there! If you are not yet a member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile fun (How about $66 off your annual ForeFlight subscription?)

Partner with AOPA in Promoting Aviation Excellence!

Determining Excellence in Aviation Education: Please Take This Annual Poll.

Our primary mission at SAFE is “Promoting Excellence in Aviation Education.” This includes our mentoring and educational programs, developing scholarship programs, promoting STEM education and providing CFI tools like our free “SAFE Toolkit App” to help all flight educators. By raising educators to a more professional level, all of aviation benefits and safety is enhanced. A disproportionate number of SAFE educators continue further to achieve and maintain Master Instructor Certification, far exceeding the FAA required level of currency and professionalism.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 2.40.51 PMThe AOPA Flight Training Poll dovetails perfectly with our mission at SAFE. Their carefully constructed online survey recognizes and promotes the high-performers in our aviation industry. This is much more than a simple popularity contest. (I was guilty of making this accusation) The team at AOPA has gone to great lengths to scientifically calibrate the survey and weigh the results to defeat attempts to “game” the system. They have gathered real data on what makes CFIs and flight schools the top performers. Their analysis behind this survey reveals impressive and useful information for all serious aviation providers. Read through “The Flight Training Experience” and discover what students in aviation are *really* seeking. What is the #1 cause of students dropping out? I guarantee the results are not what you would guess. A lack of care, concern and professionalism in the flight training staff is often the primary reason for students leaving! The number one driver of a positive flight training experience and a professional, effective CFI! (another reason to join SAFE if you haven’t)

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 2.58.59 PMIf you want to turbo-charge your flight operation, read what inspires and motivates flight students and converts them into lively promoters of your brand. The AOPA has also published a series of field guides (available free online), based on this data to help the student, the instructor and the flight schools better optimize their performance and work toward aviation excellence.

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Please login and take the 2016  Flight Training Poll. This carefully calibrated data allows all of us to do a better job as schools and instructors providing excellence in aviation education. You do not need to be a student pilot to participate. If you have taken any dual recently (and I hope you have) your input would be greatly appreciated and helpful…thanks!

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 3.19.00 PMPlease “follow” our blog to receive notification of new articles and please write us a comment if you see a problem or want to contribute. We need more articles on aviation excellence or flight safety. There are many highly qualified SAFE members out there! If you are not yet a member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile fun (How about $66 off your annual ForeFlight subscription?)