Ask the Aviation Guru

Question:

How popular is the PP/IA check ride combo? Is it on the rise? I've seen more applicants combine their Private Pilot and Instrument Airplane check rides.

Answer:

That combination has been allowed since 2011 and the latest published U.S. Civil Airmen Statistics end with 2012. Although it seems to be gaining popularity, we simply do not have enough data to conclude anything about the trend.

-Adam Williams, AOPA

Question:

What are the factors affecting BMC?

Answer:

There are several factors that affect VMC (I’m assuming that that’s what you meant) on a multiengine aircraft.

  • Power- increasing power on operating engine will increase Vmc because more rudder is needed to counteract the yaw
  • Density Altitude- Affects performance (power), if density altitude increases, temperature increases, pressure decreases and/or humidity increases Vmc will decrease. This is because all those factors will decrease performance which will decrease yaw.
  • Center of Gravity- the further forward the CG is the longer the arm on the rudder, the longer the arm the more effective the rudder is, less input is needed, Vmc goes down. There is another drawback to an aft CG, because of the performance increase from decrease in drag on the tail.
  • Gear- this depends on how the gear moves when it extends or retracts with respect to changing CG. There is also an argument that having the gear down helps stabilize the aircraft like the keel on a boat, but the drag severely effects performance.
  • Propeller- windmilling vs. feathered. A feathered prop has significantly less drag than windmilling one, a windmilling props drag creates yaw into the inoperative engine increasing Vmc.
  • Flaps- Flaps should usually be retracted because the drag caused by their use will outweigh the benefits to directional control.
  • Bank- The heavier the aircraft, the bigger it’s horizontal component of lift. This horizontal component of lift created by banking into the operative engine helps with directional control, the opposite would be true for bank into the inoperative engine.
  • Critical Engine- If the critical engine is failed then yaw and roll are greater than if the non-critical engine is failed (assuming a conventional twin not counter rotating props).
  • Ground Effect- Performance increases in ground effect, which increases Vmc

Question:

Tayler

If while I'm flying as a private pilot and some of the pictures I take turn out really cool...can I sell them if people want copies?

Answer:

Tayler – As cool as those photos may be, the FAA views aerial photography as a business and any revenue received from the sale of photographs as receiving compensation for the operation. Receiving compensation is a limitation on the Private Pilot Certificate and not permitted. You are still allowed to take photos while flying for personal use or enjoyment, just be sure it doesn’t interfere with safety of flight.

Here is a link to the Letter of Interpretation from the FAA prohibiting the business of aerial photography for Private Pilots.

-Sarah Staudt, AOPA

Question:

Eric Wilkins

I recently finished army flight training and I have my private pilot ASEL, and a commercial helicopter certificate with instrument rating. What are the times necessary to take that commercial rotary wing and do my commercial multi transition? I have around 150 hours fixed wing time, around 10 hours complex and high performance, and 6 hours of multi-engine instruction

Answer:

Hi Eric,

Thanks for your question. The issue really comes down to how much of your previous flying and training time can be applied towards applying for a commercial AMEL certificate. Referencing FAR 61.129, you would satisfy the majority of the requirements except for the multiengine airplane training time: FAR 61.129 requires 20 hours of training on the areas of operation listed in §61.127(b)(2) of this part . This line item in the regulations refers specifically to multiengine training time. The only other thing to note would be that you do not need to take a commercial written since you already hold a commercial pilot certificate, as per FAR 61.63(b). You would, however, have to take a full AMEL practical test.  

-Adam O’Hara, AOPA

Question:

Moses Frisby

How hard is it to become a professional aerobatic pilot once you have the experience? And how do you gain such experience after your instructional courses?

Answer:

To fly at airshows a pilot must have a Commercial Pilot Certificate. For low-level aerobatics, they must also get a FAA “waiver” administered by the International Council of Airshows (ICAS). Getting a waiver involves the pilot performing his or her aerobatic routine and being judged by an ACEs or “aerobatic competency evaluator”.

Pilots new to airshows are typically assigned an authorized minimum altitude of 800 feet agl(above ground level). As they gain experience, that floor can be lowered to 500 feet, 250 feet, and finally “unrestricted.” Getting to the unrestricted or surface level typically takes years of airshow flying and dozens of performances.

For example, moving from 800 feet to 500 feet requires performing in at least eight airshows at five different sites. Dropping from 500 feet to 250 requires a dozen performances at a minimum of six locations, and getting an unrestricted waiver means flying at least 16 performances at eight different places.

An airshow performer, who violates minimum altitudes, flies too close to spectators, or is deemed unsafe, can be grounded at any time.

There are 62 ACEs (Aerobatic Competency Evaluators) in the United States for sport aerobatics, 29 covering jet warbirds, and 10 for wing walkers. The 80-page ACE manual is available on the Web (www.airshows.aero) and covers the entire evaluation process.

Flight evaluations for pilots seeking to perform in state-of-the-art aerobatic airplanes (such as an Extra, Edge, Pitts, or Sukhoi) include such maneuvers such as: a pair of 180-degree inverted turns, a 3-turn inverted spin, vertical rolls, and gyroscopic maneuvers. Pilots seeking to perform in less capable airplanes (such as a stock Stearman biplane or a clipped-wing Piper Cub) must perform ailerons rolls, point rolls, loops, and hammerheads.

Airshow pilots must renew their waivers annually.

--Dave Hirshman, AOPA

Question:

Chris West

How low can one legally fly?

Answer:

Chris, that depends on several factors. For the purpose of this question, we will assume we are discussing airplanes.  FAR 91.119 specifies minimum safe altitudes. Generally, it breaks it down into three categories; anywhere, over congested areas and over other than congested areas.

Anywhere: An altitude, that if you had a power failure, an emergency landing could be made without undue hazard to people or property.

Over congested areas: 1000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2000 feet of the airplane.

Over other than congested areas: An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure.

--Pete Arnold, AOPA

Question:

Andrew Martinez Diaz

What have you learned since your first flying lesson?

Answer:

Hi Andrew, I soloed on September 6, 1963 at the ripe old age of 16. I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be a pilot. Since that first solo I have accumulated nearly 15,000 hours and have 5 type ratings on an Airline Transport Pilot certificate. My type ratings are in both transport category turboprops and jets. I flew both airline and corporate.

Aviation is a very fluid industry. It is constantly changing and evolving. This is true of all areas of the industry. The aircraft are becoming more and more complex. The avionics are becoming more capable and thus more complex. The airspace system is also becoming more restrictive and complex. All of this complexity means that there is always something new to learn.  The most important lesson I have learned in my career, is that you had better not ever stop learning.

--Pete Arnold, AOPA

Question:

Billy Walsh

How hard is it to be hired by an airline once you have enough hours?

Answer:

Billy – This can be a challenging question to answer.  Many factors play into how, when, and how many pilots the airlines hire.  The biggest factor is the economy.  In a strong economy where people have more money to spend going on vacation or traveling for business, flying is in higher demand, so airlines need pilots and hiring increases.  When the economy is slow, people spend less money on vacation, and the airlines hire fewer people and demand higher qualifications.  Other big factors include FAA policy and corporate finances.  A few years ago the FAA extended the age pilots were forced to retire at, allowing pilots to stay on the job longer, which resulted in the airlines hiring fewer pilots.  The hiring process has caught up to that rule change, but the rules are always subject to change.  The financial health of an airline plays a big role as well.  An airline having a hard time earning a profit isn’t likely to hire more pilots.  In summary, how  hard it is to get hired by an airline depends on how well you are prepared/experienced/educated and a combination of these other factors.

-Sarah Staudt, AOPA

Question:

Marcus Bean

I just want to spend time flying, lots and lots of time. Is it possible to work at my local airport and get paid in flying time, not money?

Answer:

Marcus,

It certainly doesn’t hurt to ask! Working for flight time is about as old as aviation itself. I would recommend that you ask your flight school about doing this, as they are the ones renting the airplane to you, and the ones you will pay for that rental. See if they need help on line service, fueling, front desk, or in the maintenance shop. If they can do it, it would likely be in some form of credit on your flying account, equal to your pay otherwise, and you could then fly each time your account has enough for a typical one hour rental or training flight, for example. Good luck, and enjoy your training.

-Craig Brown, AOPA

Question:

Luke McCurdy

What's flying corporate like, and is it a good career field to go into? Also what ratings are good to have before applying for a job?

Answer:

Luke McCurdy; Corporate flying is wonderful career. You will fly some of the finest equipment in the air. Your trips will be to cities served by both major airlines as well as smaller general aviation airports not served by the airlines. The constant challenge of going into different airports keeps you sharp.

Corporate pilots must be very flexible. Their schedules are very fluid and subject to change on a moments notice. To be a corporate pilot you need to be somewhat of a jack of all trades. In smaller corporations, you will be responsible for all aspects of the trip. From planning the flight, booking ground transportation, onboard catering, overnight accommodation for the crew and in some cases passengers. Coordinating maintenance when necessary.

In larger corporations, everything but the flight planning and actually flying the trip is done by other members of the flight department. Those situations are more akin to airline flying. 

-Pete Arnold, AOPA

Question:

Andrew Taylor

How much experience is needed to be an airline manager?

 Answer:

Andrew Taylor: That really depends on what area of management you want to go into. Most airline management positions require a college education. After you have received the requisite education, you can expect to spend 3 to 5 years before your first promotion to a true management position. To reach senior level management can take between 10 and 30 years depending upon your ability, education, drive, desire and the airlines needs.

-Pete Arnold, AOPA

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