Safety Gifts From Technology!

If you have been flying for more than a few years, you were trained with the “see and avoid” technique of traffic avoidance. And if you are like me, you have also come to realize the limitations of this separation method. The new ADS-B capability to view traffic conflicts miles away enhances mere “Mark One Eyeballs” and has been a true technological blessing for safety. Training and testing in busy airspace is almost unthinkable without this new technology (and it has literally saved my life twice since its inception).

Of course, every improvement comes with weird complications. Now we constantly her friends conversing while airborne (and clogging up Unicom). Seeing a friend’s ADS-B target aloft seems to require conversation; “Hey Bobby, is that you over the reservoir?” Unfortunately, the same pilot often will not self-announce at a non-towered field. And it’s also easy to forget there are many aircraft still not participating and operating blind (my Champ). Check the accuracy of your unit (and the latency in the system) HERE.

Another amazing development I discovered this summer was the new Lightspeed “Delta Zulu” headsets with their enhanced audio quality and continuous monoxide monitoring. It is easy to forget that every piston plane has the potential to kill you in a very silent and stealthy way with a deadly monoxide leak. The very first time I tried these headsets on they detected a very bad leak in a plane I was teaching in. As a CFI and DPE, I had no past history with this plane and there was no odor. Ironically, many planes are equipped to the hilt with all kinds of expensive avionics designed to maximize safety only have a (useless) plastic CO detector. My headsets again went critical yesterday in a well-maintained Mooney I was teaching in. Get a pair of “Delta Zulus.” They are durable (and beautiful) and will save your life!

A nicely equipped legacy Mooney quietly poisoning its occupants!

Cloud Ahoy is an amazing innovator in the flight training world. Their clever tracking and grading system provides immediate feedback for every flight training experience. The first time I saw anything like this was at Flight Safety years ago. The learning advantage of a “playback and grading” system was immediately obvious but also exotic and expensive at the time. Now every CFI can have this immediately available on their iPad (and SAFE membership gets you 1/3 off the subscription 🙏). Cloud Ahoy also just released a FOQA software for flight departments to monitor the safety and stability of their operations. These systems have been standard in the 121/135 world for years but now they are available to every pilot to grade and improve their flight.

And of course, the leader in aviation technology is ForeFlight. Their continuously improving technology enhances flight planning and flying in more ways than I can mention. If you are not using ForeFlight (or a budget substitute) you really are not leveraging your in-flight safety. But mastering the basics of “packing” and “briefing” in any app. is a required skill necessary to enjoy the real safety advantages. Like every technology tool, there is a level of familiarity necessary to achieve comfort and fluid operation. See the ForeFlight library of training videos to bring your knowledge up to speed. It is a mistake to assume every youngster automatically uses this app wisely (not!). Every CFI should search through this archive for training videos to recommend.  If they use an EFB on a check-ride, an applicant needs a fluid working level of competence. Fly safely out there (and often)!

Enjoy the new courses available to members on the new safe website. And please download and use the (free) SAFE Toolkit App. This contains all the references a working CFI needs plus provides continuously new safety content.

See you at Sun ‘N Fun 2023 at “Charlie Hangar” Booths #19/20. SAFE spnsors and members please join us at Sunset Cafe for a free SAFE breakfast Thursday (March 30th), 8am. (Get your free ticket here)

SAFE developed an insurance program just for CFIs! When you are an independent CFI, you are a business (and have legal exposure). This program is the most reasonable but also comprehensive insurance plan you can have (and every agent is a pilot!)

Author: David St. George

SAFE Director, Master CFI (12X), FAA DPE, ATP (ME/SE) Currently jet charter captain.

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