The following stories from the April 11, 2008, 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 - Student Interest, Training Tips
When general aviation pilots think about congested airspace, large tower-controlled airports and their surrounding terminal areas are what usually come to mind. But a glance at most sectional charts shows that even remote areas are crisscrossed by military training routes (MTRs) that can place your aircraft close to low-altitude, high-speed military traffic. Before you head out on a cross-country on a nice spring day, know whether MTRs along the route are "hot."
Any active-MTR operations will be flown at very high speeds. "In most cases, the FAA restricts civil aircraft to fewer than 250 knots indicated airspeed below 10,000 feet msl. But this isn't the case with military aircraft on MTRs. In fact, count on aircraft flying along these routes to be sailing well in excess of 250 knots," Ian Twombly said in the March 2006 AOPA Pilot "Answers for Pilots" column.
Are GA aircraft restricted from MTRs? "Nonparticipating aircraft are not prohibited from flying within an MTR; however, extreme vigilance should be exercised when conducting flight through or near these routes. Pilots should contact FSSs within 100 nautical miles of a particular MTR to obtain current information or route usage in their vicinity. Information available includes times of scheduled activity, altitudes in use on each route segment, and actual route width," explains Chapter 3 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). Note the meaning of MTR route numbers and designations: Routes designated IR contain operations flown under instrument flight rules; VR routes are flown under visual flight rules.
The AIM passage notes that an MTR's "actual route width" should be checked. Charted appearance is deceptive. Routes may be 20 miles wide-and width may vary along an MTR. Cross an MTR as close to a perpendicular heading as possible to minimize your exposure, as recommended in the Air Safety Foundation's Collision Avoidance Safety Advisor. Also see the foundation's Mission: Possible online course for tips on navigating this special-use airspace.
This remains see-and-avoid flying, so don't count on Uncle Sam's pilots to spot you first. Indeed, not all military aircraft using MTRs are radar equipped. "A busted radar is not a go/no-go decision for many missions," wrote Tim Wright, who rode along on a training mission, then described it in the January 2005 AOPA Pilot feature "How Low Do They Go?"
Do your part to stay safe-with information, alertness, and caution.
My ePilot - Training Product
SPORTY'S GLASS COCKPIT INOP STICKERS
Student pilots training in steam-gauge airplanes know it's just a matter of time before their instructors cover up instruments, whether to remind them to look outside while flying or to understand the impact of equipment failure. If you're training in an aircraft equipped with glass-panel avionics, how do you "fail" a primary function display? Sporty's offers one method. Opaque static-cling covers will hide the attitude indicator, heading indicator, airspeed, and vertical speed, or you can custom-design your own using a whole-screen sheet. The covers are designed for use with the Garmin G1000 system. Each set includes one set of "inop" covers plus two blank sheets and sells for $29.95. Call 800/SPORTY's or 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.
My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: When is a 100-hour inspection required?
Answer: Federal Aviation Regulation 91.409 is often confusing for both new and seasoned pilots. A common misconception is that all aircraft used "for hire" require a 100-hour inspection every 100-hour block of time. However, a CFI can instruct in an aircraft supplied by the student and get paid for it, without a 100-hour inspection; only a current annual is required. The 100-hour inspection is needed if the aircraft and the instructor are provided from the same entity. This encompasses most flight school scenarios. FAR 91.409 also allows the aircraft to be flown up to 110 hours when flying to the airport at which the inspection will take place. See AOPA's subject report on inspections for a more detailed explanation.
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail to [email protected] or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don't forget the online archive of "Final Exam" questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.