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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 5, Issue 44AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 5, Issue 44

The following stories from the October 31, 2003, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information customized to their areas of interest by updating their member record file online.

My ePilot - Jet Interest
The FAA this week issued its final rule on implementing domestic reduced vertical separation minima (DRVSM), opting for a timeline that AOPA and others in the aviation industry consider unrealistic. Using extremely accurate altimeters and autopilots, DRVSM allows air traffic controllers to reduce the vertical separation between aircraft from 2,000 feet to 1,000 feet at upper altitudes. This week's final rule establishes full implementation, from Flight Level 290 to FL410, by January 20, 2005. AOPA believes that's too soon. See AOPA Online.

My ePilot - Piston Multiengine Interest
All pilots receive training on what to do during an engine fire, as well as a landing gear malfunction, but what do you do when both occur? It is impossible for flight training to cover every single scenario; it is at this point that one must make a judgment call, and make the right one. See what happened to an instructor and a student while they were flying a Beechcraft Duchess in a special report prepared by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, exclusively for ePilot readers.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
It is the day of your flight test. The examiner is quizzing you on the basic weather minimums under visual flight rules, as explained in Federal Aviation Regulation 91.155. She has just asked whether it would be legal for a new private pilot to fly in clear air above a deck of clouds. Yes, you reply. The examiner asks whether it would be legal for you, "a student pilot," to solo above a solid layer of clouds. A trick question? No. But one with a different answer, found in the conditions for solo flight in FAR 61.89, which prohibits a student from acting as a pilot in command of an aircraft "when the flight cannot be made with visual reference to the surface." VFR weather minimums are the subject of Kathy Yodice's September 1999 "Legal Briefing" column in AOPA Flight Training.

But don't take that fine distinction as an invitation to lower your safety standards once you have earned your private pilot certificate. Flying above a considerable mass of clouds can be dicey. Conditions could close up in a hurry. "If I were a noninstrument-rated private pilot flying VFR over the top of a broken cloud layer (that can cover up to 70 percent of the sky), I'd only feel comfortable if I positively knew there was a place where I could descend to an airport in VFR conditions that was within range of the airplane," counsels Rod Machado in the November 2003 AOPA Flight Training. Read his complete response to cloud scenarios proposed by a reader under the heading "Is Flight Above Clouds Legal VFR?".

Some pilots learn this the hard way. "We were down to our minimum fuel reserve, and guess what? There was nothing but beautiful puffy clouds for as far as the eye could see in any direction," relates one who opted to follow a companion above clouds. See how it turned out by reading the "Never Again" column in the September 1998 AOPA Pilot. The possibility of blundering into such a situation is why student pilots learn emergency flight by reference to instruments, as discussed in the February 8, 2002 "Training Tips" in this newsletter. A pilot armed with these skills, sound judgment based on Machado's wisdom, and Yodice's grasp of the rules, will fly safely into the future.

My ePilot - Training Products
Aviation Supplies and Academics (ASA) has taken its Prepware ground school software and packaged it for flight schools. Prepware School features all nine FAA knowledge test databases along with the information included in the "Prepware" series. It can be used on multiple computer terminals, and it lets CFIs track their students' performance while students can save their history to a disk or the system's hard drive. Each set is made to order and includes customized disks and packaging. Also available is the 2004 version of Prepware, combining all of the information included in ASA's Test Prep and Fast-Track Test Guides series. All aircraft categories are included. Visit ASA's Web site for specific prices and information.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: When flying with my instructor, I've heard the air traffic controller tell another pilot that he was cleared for the option. What does this phrase mean?

Answer: Being cleared for the option allows a pilot the option of making a touch and go, low approach, missed approach, stop and go, or full-stop landing. Because this clearance allows much flexibility in the airport environment when training or testing, flight instructors and examiners often request it to evaluate student performance under changing circumstances. You'll find more discussion of the term in the June 2001 AOPA Flight Training magazine.

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