October 2, 2009
The following stories from the October 2, 2009, 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.
On Oct. 26 more than 2,000 air medical transport professionals from across the globe will gather in San Jose, Calif., for this years Air Medical Transport Conference (AMTC). During the three-day conference, topics will include opportunities for improving medical helicopter safety and a look at regulatory issues affecting helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS). Read more >>
You performed a weight-and-balance calculation for your trainer’s next flight, pleased that weight was below max and the center of gravity (CG) within limits. Good work—but don’t consider the matter closed yet. Did you think about the loading arrangement you chose in terms of the aircraft handling to expect? That’s especially important if you’ll be practicing maneuvers involving flight at high angles of attack (slow flight, stalls) or high load factors (steep turns).
Heading out with an unusually aft CG could produce aircraft behavior that you have never seen from the trainer whose predictable handling you have come to trust. What could yield an unusually aft CG position? A rear-seat observer, extra weight in the baggage compartment, or a lower-than-usual fuel supply, to name a few possibilities.
"Because the CG’s location determines in part how an aircraft flies, manufacturers set forward and aft CG limits that ensure safe, predictable flying qualities. It’s every pilot’s responsibility to ensure the CG falls within these limits. Ignoring this responsibility can be disastrous. Even when the CG is within limits, handling characteristics can vary depending on the location of the CG," Ed Kolano explains in the April 1997 AOPA Flight Training " Form and Function: Center of gravity."
Handling differences may not become apparent until maneuvering practice commences. "Some pilots are genuinely startled when performing stalls in an adversely loaded airplane. A few have confessed that they were shocked at how unexpectedly their airplanes behaved," Barry Schiff writes in the January 2007 AOPA Pilot column " Proficient Pilot: CG at the aft limit."
So, what happened? "The recovery from a stall in any aircraft becomes progressively more difficult as its CG moves aft. This is particularly important in spin recovery, as there is a point in rearward loading of any aircraft at which a ‘flat’ spin develops," according to Chapter 4 of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge .
Convinced? Then be sure to positively position your CG appropriately before flight. Don’t just check the chart and take what you get. Then tackle the questions on weight and balance, and aircraft stability, on the Private Pilot Knowledge Test with new appreciation for this critical aerodynamic topic.
Looking to make the leap from analog cockpits to an aircraft equipped with a Garmin G1000 panel? You can now get your transition training online with Sporty’s Garmin G1000 checkout course. The course features nearly two hours of streaming video, a detailed flight training syllabus, a flight instructor syllabus, a digital G1000 cockpit poster, and a free download of G1000 simulator software. The course costs $89.95; order online.
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.
Question: I am interested in performing an owner-assisted annual to help save some money and learn more about my aircraft. Does AOPA have any resources to assist me in this process?
Answer: An owner-assisted annual is a great way to save a little money and learn more about your aircraft. While only an airframe and powerplant mechanic with inspection authorization (IA) privileges may perform the inspection, the owner can help with maintenance functions and provide general assistance. To learn more about the owner-assisted annual inspection, watch this AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safetycast. You can also review this article from AOPA Flight Training magazine.
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