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The following stories from the August 28, 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 -- Helicopter Interest -

CBP receives UH-60M helicopter

Representatives from the Utility Helicopter Project Office and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) marked the delivery of the first of four UH-60M aircraft that will enter service by July 2010. With an improved airframe, avionics, and propulsion system, the UH-60M helicopter is the latest in a series of Black Hawk helicopter variants, built by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. These helicopters will allow CBP to better achieve its mission by modernizing its rotary-wing fleet from the UH-60A aircraft it now uses to protect the nation's borders. Read more >>


Filing and receiving pireps

The Aug. 21 Training Tip discussed the hazards of meteorological phenomena that lurk unseen in larger weather systems, and the importance to pilots of tapping information sources that could reveal dangers ahead, such as embedded thunderstorms.


One good source—and the only true real-time alert—is a pilot report (pirep). Some weather conditions warrant an urgent pirep (see the Sept. 12, 2008, " Training Tip: Special Weather”).


The limitation of pireps is that there may be only stale information available, or none at all. Also, regard the accuracy of pireps critically. According to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation in this AOPA Flight Training article, “… new pilots may inaccurately report light turbulence as severe. If they really were in severe turbulence, they would be working so hard to keep the aircraft flying in one piece that giving a pirep would be impossible.”


Start participating in the process. “Filing a pirep is very easy. When you observe something aloft that you feel deviates from the forecast, or you'd just like to report the cloud tops or bases, give the report to either the air traffic control frequency you are with at the time or the local flight service station or flight watch,” urged Ian Twombly in the February 2006 AOPA Pilot “ Answers For Pilots.” “The controller (depending on workload) or specialist can talk you through the report. Expect to relate all pertinent information, including your location relative to a VOR, your altitude, your type aircraft, sky cover, visibility, precipitation, temperature, wind, turbulence, and icing.”


Jack Williams added a meteorologist’s perspective on pireps in “ The Weather Briefing,” available on AOPA Flight Training Online. “The FAA, the National Weather Service, and aviation organizations such as the AOPA Air Safety Foundation are encouraging pilots to file pireps because they help both other pilots and weather forecasters,” he said. When evaluating a pirep, “Be sure to check the date and time the report was made—pireps can be hours old.”


Who regularly files pireps? Pilots who got just the information they needed, when they needed it, are sure to return the favor. Join them on your next flight.


Sporty’s Flight Gear accessories

Sporty’s Pilot Shop has introduced several accessories designed to match its line of Flight Gear bags and cases. They include a sunglasses case and holders for your ID, water bottle, cell phone, and transceiver. The accessories attach in a number of different ways and can be used with other types of luggage. Prices range from $9.95 to $14.95. Order online or call 800/SPORTYS.


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 was wondering if there is a correct way to report turbulence. Is there some type of scale or guidance available?


Answer: The FAA classifies turbulence into four categories based on the aircraft’s reaction. Light turbulence causes momentary, slight, and/or erratic changes in altitude or attitude and is further divided into occasional, intermittent, or continuous based on the duration. Moderate turbulence is similar to light, but of greater intensity. Changes in altitude and/or attitude occur but the aircraft remains in positive control at all times. Severe turbulence causes large, abrupt changes in altitude and/or attitude. It usually causes large variations in indicated airspeed. Aircraft may be momentarily out of control. Turbulence in which the aircraft is violently tossed about and is practically impossible to control is classified as extreme. It may cause structural damage. For additional insight into the topic of turbulence, see 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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