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AOPA ePilot Custom ContentAOPA ePilot Custom Content

The following stories from the November 23, 2007, 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 ~
Garmin International recently announced supplementary type certificate (STC) approval to install the G1000 avionics suite in Beech King Air C90A series airplanes. The installation includes two 10.4-inch primary flight displays, a 15-inch multifunction display, and a number of advanced features as standard. These include WAAS GPS capability—which enables vertical guidance on certain GPS approaches—Class B terrain awareness and warning system, Garmin's GFC 700 autopilot and flight control system, XM satellite weather, and Garmin's SafeTaxi and FliteCharts. The installed price of the G1000 upgrade is $350,000. Garmin says that G1000 STCs for the King Air 200 and B200 series are next. An upcoming article in AOPA Pilot will review this system.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
The Nov. 16, 2007, Training Tips took up some of the hot topics pilots debate about how to fly traffic patterns at nontowered airports. For many, the most daunting task is how to enter a traffic pattern when arriving from the side of the airport opposite to that on which the pattern is flown.

The most common method is to fly beyond the airport, descend to traffic pattern altitude (TPA) when safely clear-approximately two miles out-then make a 45-degree entry to the downwind leg. When inbound traffic flows or other considerations merit, there is another way. "An alternate method is to enter on a midfield crosswind at pattern altitude, then turn downwind. Give way to aircraft on the preferred 45-degree entry and to aircraft already established on downwind," explains the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Safety Advisor, Operations at Nontowered Airports . See Figure 10 in the Safety Advisor for an illustration of the midfield crosswind entry.

Any time you are in a nontowered airport traffic pattern, good communications, using the aircraft's landing light, and being established at the correct speed when you join the flow all enhance safety. Improvised procedures and nonstandard arrivals spell trouble, as the August 2003 AOPA Flight Training "Accident Analysis" column makes clear. Stay alert and situationally aware. This is no time to get sloppy about altitude-especially on the low side. Consider that an aircraft taking off from that same runway and climbing 1,000 feet per minute could reach TPA before clearing the departure end-especially if its groundspeed [see the Dec. 12, 2003, Training Tips article "Grasping Groundspeed"] is low because of a strong headwind. Know the wind and never take vertical separation for granted.

The more you study traffic pattern procedures at nontowered airports, the more you realize that with freedom to make choices comes responsibility to choose well and fly your best.

My ePilot - Training Product
The new year is just around the corner, but it's never too soon to begin studying for the knowledge test in your future. Aviation Supplies & Academics has released the 2008 edition of its Prepware knowledge test software for the private pilot and recreational pilot certificates. The course covers all aircraft categories (airplane, rotorcraft, glider, lighter-than-air, powered parachute, and weight-shift control). You tell the software which test you're studying for, and it will generate study sessions and practice tests accordingly. ASA offers electronic updates via a free e-mail subscription service that notifies you when they're available. The course runs on both Macintosh and PC platforms and sells for $49.95. Order it 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: Where do the numbers for a transponder squawk code come from? Does each air traffic facility have different numbers to use for various services?

Answer: The transponder may appear to be an innocuous black box, but the information it provides to controllers is critical to operating safely in today's complex airspace and high-density traffic. Air traffic control (ATC) facilities are assigned banks of two-digit codes that have specific meaning within the system. Each facility has specific codes for VFR arrivals landing at the primary airport, for aircraft passing through the airspace and receiving radar advisories, and for high- and low-level departures headed in various directions. When ATC receives a hand-off from another sector or ATC facility, the first two digits of the squawk code give the receiving controller an idea where the aircraft is going and what it's doing. More information on the transponder and squawk codes is discussed in "Know the Code: Understanding and using transponders" and "What's all the squawking about?"

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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