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AOPA ePilot Custom ContentAOPA ePilot Custom Content

The following stories from the March 14, 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 - Piston Multiengine ~
Avidyne and Southern Star Avionics of Mobile, Ala., have received FAA approval to install the Envision integrated flight deck aboard Cessna 400-series piston twins. Aircraft approved under the supplemental type certificate (STC) include the Cessna 401A/B, 402A/B/C, 414A, and 421A/B/C. As installed on the 414A used to obtain the STC, Envision includes a single EXP5000 primary flight display, an EX5000 multifunction display, and an S-Tec 55X autopilot. Options include the TAS600 traffic advisory system, MLB700 broadcast datalink weather, and the TWX670 lightning detection system. The Envision system is also STC-approved for the Beech King Air 90 and 200 and the Cessna 441 Conquest II.

~ My ePilot - Turbine Interest ~
Can't decide between a new sports car and a new airplane? Airport Journals and Porsche appreciate this happy dilemma and have teamed up to sponsor the Business Aircraft & Jet Preview series to make the decision easier and more enjoyable. The latest show took place March 6 in Phoenix and showcased Porsche automobiles, 29 of the latest aircraft, speedboats, and more. Read more on AOPA Online.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips

When you call for a preflight weather briefing, information about the height of cloud bases and the extent of cloud cover helps you make your go/no-go decision, as discussed in the Feb. 29 Training Tip "What's the ceiling."

What about cloud tops? Flying above cloud layers is not routine for student pilots-and the federal aviation regulations prohibit it "when the flight cannot be made with visual reference to the surface." Yet many pilots hoping for a complete weather picture ask how to find information about cloud tops.

"But that's precisely the problem. There's alarmingly little information on the altitudes of the tops of cloud layers," Thomas A. Horne wrote in the December 2000 AOPA Pilot column "Wx Watch: Tops Troubles." "For all the meteorological advances in recent decades, apparently very little effort has been put into technologies that could help us in this regard. So for the near future, anyway, we're left to rely on just a few sources of information about tops," including area forecasts, radar summary charts, satellite imagery, atmospheric soundings, and pilot reports (pireps).

An area forecast (FA) is the most familiar of these resources. Cloud top information found in the fourth section of an FA is general. That's because the FA "gives a picture of clouds, general weather conditions, and visual meteorological conditions (VMC) expected over a large area encompassing several states," explains Chapter 10 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.

Pireps help, but Horne offered this reminder: "Pireps promise the most accuracy, but please check the dates and times of any pireps. It's not unusual for pireps to be a day old, yet still be posted. The problem with pireps is that most pilots never make them, so we are deprived of good cloud-top information by some of the best weather observers in the world."

Why is flying VFR above clouds discouraged for the inexperienced pilot? One risk is becoming trapped above a scattered or broken cloud cover that unexpectedly closes up to solid overcast. But even when breaks remain, pilots have encountered spatial disorientation and lost control during descent, as documented in this accident analysis. Steering well clear of all clouds remains the best bet.

My ePilot - Training Product
ZD Publishing recently released a new pilot manual for the Garmin G1000W glass cockpit system. The manual covers all functions of the integrated electronic flight information system, including the autopilot, navigation information, datalink, and systems pages. The manual sells for $54.95 and can be ordered online or by calling 888/310-3134.

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: What is the minimum altitude I must fly when I'm flying locally?

Answer: The minimum altitude anywhere is an altitude allowing you to make an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface if a power unit fails. A minimum distance of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle and 2,000 feet horizontally is required over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement or over any open-air gathering of people. Over other-than-congested areas, you must remain a minimum of 500 feet above the surface, unless over open water or sparsely populated areas. In that case, the aircraft must be operated no less than 500 feet from any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.

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.

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.

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