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The following stories from the August 21, 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.

- My ePilot -- Turbine Interest -

Fifth Phenom 300 takes flight

Brazilian manufacturer Embraer reports that the fifth Phenom 300 has had its first flights. This airplane has a completed interior, unlike the previous prototypes. After going on display at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition held Aug. 15 through 17, the airplane is set to enter function and reliability tests. The first Phenom 300 was used for flight quality and performance evaluations; the second did water spray and engine fire detection tests, plus expansion of the speed envelope, noise, autopilot, fuel system, and other tests. The third prototype did flight control tests, and the fourth completed high intensity radiated field (HIRF), lightning, cold-soak, and external noise tests. Embraer says the airplane is on its way to meeting its goals of cruising at 450 knots and flying 1,800 nm with six occupants. Certification is expected in the last quarter of 2009. First deliveries should happen by year-end.

- My ePilot -- Helicopter Interest -

Lake County sheriff’s department receives new EC120 helicopter

American Eurocopter delivered the first EC120 to the Lake County Sheriff’s Department Aviation Unit. This helicopter will join the unit’s fleet that started service in Indiana in 1979. The aviation unit is responsible for airborne law enforcement support missions throughout Lake County, Ind., and surrounding areas. The unit utilizes a variety of aircraft including military surplus models. Read more >>

FlightSafety’s Astar FTD qualified to Level 7

FlightSafety International announces that its new American Eurocopter AS 350 B2 Flight Training Device has been qualified to Level 7 by the FAA. This advanced technology training device is located at FlightSafety’s Learning Center in Tucson, Ariz. Read more >>


‘Embedded’ weather

The air mass thunderstorms that may be hidden in the haze ahead (see the Aug. 14 “Training Tip: Concealed Convectives”) aren’t the only kinds of storms that can take you by surprise in flight. Also elusive, but a completely different variety of thunderstorm, are those that develop as embedded features of larger cloud masses.


It may seem unlikely that a weather phenomenon as imposing as a cumulonimbus buildup could remain concealed from view under conditions of good visibility, but don’t ignore the possibility that embedded thunderstorms are part of the weather package you face—especially in the vicinity of a front. Chapter 10 of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge explains, "These extensive vertical clouds can be obscured by other cloud formations and are not always visible from the ground or while in flight. When this happens, these clouds are said to be embedded, hence the term, embedded thunderstorms." Frontal conditions under which embedded thunderstorms may develop also imply other hazards such as freezing drizzle or rain (see the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Safety Advisor on aircraft icing).


The front is still a hundred miles away? Regardless, it’s important to evaluate whether it could affect flying along your route—especially if it is a fast-moving cold front. As Jack Williams discussed in the "Storming the Front" installment of his " The Weather Never Sleeps" column in AOPA Flight Training, "Cold fronts have steeper slopes and tend to push warm air up more violently than warm fronts. This helps create thunderstorms and showers ahead of and along the front. Pre-frontal squall lines are lines of strong thunderstorms that can be 100 or more miles ahead of cold fronts."


Suppose your weather briefer mentions that the front is "occluding." (Occlusions were the subject of the Sept. 26, 2003, Training Tip.) The specialist’s use of that term should get your attention. Williams wrote, "For pilots, the key consideration is that occluded fronts can bring the bad weather associated with cold and warm fronts—thunderstorms can be embedded in widespread areas of clouds."


Embedded thunderstorms, like air mass thunderstorms, are serious hazards that may appear with little warning. Stay alert, stay aware!


Inadvertent IMC training for helicopter pilots

FlightSafety International has expanded the number of locations that offer its "Surviving Inadvertent IMC" training program for helicopter pilots. The training is available at FlightSafety’s Learning Centers in Fort Worth, Texas; Tucson, Ariz.; Lafayette, La.; and West Palm Beach, Fla. The course is designed to help helicopter pilots avoid, prepare for, or recover from inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions. It is non-aircraft specific and includes ground and simulator sessions. For more information, see the Web site.


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 recently completed my private pilot training and all my time so far has been in a Cessna 172. I would like to rent a Piper Warrior at my flight school. My CFI says to plan on at least a two-hour checkout flight. What is the minimum amount of time the FAA requires for a checkout flight?


Answer: Believe it or not, the FAA does not require any rental checkout flight. It is certainly a good idea to become familiar with a new airplane, however, and AOPA recommends all pilots get a checkout from a competent flight instructor when transitioning to a new airplane. Most likely, your flight school’s insurance policy requires the school to perform a rental checkout flight. A pilot writes about the challenges he faced during a rental checkout in an aircraft he was familiar with—but at an airport far from home with a CFI he’d never met—and offers tips to smooth the checkout experience in this article from AOPA Flight Training .


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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