AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 9, Issue 20

November 11, 2009

The following stories from the May 18, 2007, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online.

My ePilot – Turbine Interest
Sandel Avionics announced this week that it had received technical standard order (TSO) approval on its SA4550 primary attitude display. The SA4550 has a third-generation backlighting system that utilizes a proprietary LED-lit internal device; backups within the device mean that the lighting system itself has a mean time between failures (MTBF) of more than 10,000 hours (the MTBF of the entire SA4550). Owners of Cessna Citations and other turboprops and jets with legacy Sperry electromechanical primary attitude indicators can make use of the SA4550 as a "plug and play" unit with the first version of the production units, using Sandel's approved model list; certain Collins-equipped aircraft (such as Beechcraft King Airs) can undergo a plug-and-play swap with the second version of the SA4550, to be released soon. Other aircraft can install the SA4550 but will need to go through an individual supplemental type certificate (STC) process for now. The SA4550 is fully compatible with Sandel's 4-inch horizontal situation indicator (HSI), the SN4500 primary navigation display, and retails for the same price—$20,500.

My ePilot – Student Interest, Training Tips
A pilot's attitude about safety shows in many details while performing cockpit duties. When you take your private pilot flight test, your examiner will watch for clues about your attention to safety. All of the flight-test tasks associated with the 12 areas of operation in the Practical Test Standards reveal your safety awareness. But one way to make a solid impression on your examiner is to pay close attention to the language in Area of Operation II: Preflight Procedures, Task F: Before Takeoff Check, Objective 7. It states that the pilot "avoids runway incursions and/or ensures no conflict with traffic prior to taxiing into takeoff position."

Ensuring no conflict means positioning your aircraft advantageously during your pretakeoff checks to allow you to scan the traffic pattern. It includes keeping track of other aircraft transmissions on the common traffic advisory frequency. And once you're on the runway, use it! Don't just sit there and fiddle. It's time to go.

If you are operating at a towered airport, show the examiner you know that ensuring no conflict is a pilot concern there too. Consider your clearances carefully and maintain situational awareness. "At airports with control towers, controllers make liberal use of the ability to tell an aircraft to taxi into position and hold. The controllers are required to advise the departing aircraft of traffic on final, and each airport has its own comfort level for following the rule for how close the landing traffic can be when they allow the position-and-hold procedure to be used," wrote Chip Wright in the August 2005 AOPA Pilot feature "Runway Manners." If you train in a high-wing aircraft, heed his caution about the blind spot that particular design creates when you scan for landing traffic. One of the common causes of a pilot's first real-world go-around—as distinguished from practice go-arounds commanded by your flight instructor during training—is when an aircraft taxis onto the runway while another aircraft is on final approach.

Stay sharp and aware. Make use of resources like the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's online course Runway Safety , and show your examiner that ensuring no conflict is your top priority.

My ePilot – Training Product
German-based Beyerdynamic has produced high-end audio systems and equipment since 1924, and it's just recently set its sights on the aviation market with what promises to be a full line of pilot headsets. The first offerings, the HS 600 DANR (digital adaptive noise reduction) and the HS 300 Individual (passive) headsets, can be customized to suit your likes. Chose among a variety of colors for the ear cups, ear pads, headband, and aluminum design parts. But that's not all. You can pick velour or leatherette coverings for the ear pads and have text engraved into the headset holding clip. Both models feature audio boxes integrated into the headset cable, which provides a cell-phone or MP3-player connection. Automatic volume control reduces the volume of the phone or player when a transmission is carried over the intercom to the headset. To design and order your customized headsets, visit the company's Web site. The headsets will be shipped right to your door.

Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.

My ePilot – Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: I recently started learning to fly and started thinking about insurance protection similar to what I have for my automobile. Am I covered through the flight school's aircraft rental agreement/policy, or should I have my own insurance policy?

Answer: In most cases you'll want to obtain your own insurance because the insurance policies covering flight school businesses do not afford coverage beyond its policyholder. This means you, the non-owned/renter pilot, would not be covered if you damaged the rental aircraft or other property and/or hurt someone. Some pilots who rent think they are appropriately covered when accepting to be responsible for paying the deductible if something were to happen; however, this is a big misconception. If no coverage is offered, and you were to damage the aircraft and the flight school files a claim with their insurance company, the claim will be settled with the flight school, and then the insurance company could subrogate the claim against you. This means you would be held responsible for the costs the insurance company paid to the flight school. A non-owned renter's insurance policy can provide you with liability coverage as well as additional aircraft hull insurance to protect you in these situations. Be sure to check with the FBO or flight school where you rent to find out what kind of coverage is provided. For additional insight, review the Pilot's Guide to Aircraft Insurance and contact the AOPA Insurance Agency.