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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 6, Issue 3AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 6, Issue 3

The following stories from the January 16, 2004, 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 - Turboprop Interest
The FAA has proposed an airworthiness directive (AD) for Pilatus PC-12 and PC-12/45 airplanes. The AD would require owners to determine whether certain main landing gear shock absorber attachment bolts have been replaced and repair if necessary with new parts. The FAA received information from Switzerland's airworthiness authority and is trying to prevent failure of the main landing gear. The comment deadline on the proposed AD is February 19.

My ePilot - Experimental Interest
Looks like the Sport Class at the Reno National Championship Air Races this year will be a close one. Two superfast homebuilts battled it out at a recent race at Mesquite, Nevada. Lee Behel in his Lancair Legacy posted an average speed of 306.02 mph over the 120-mile course. Mike Jones was right behind with an average speed of 305.35 mph in his Glasair III. Things get under way at Reno on September 16 and run through September 19. For more on the Sport Class, see the Web site.

My ePilot - Other Interest
Schweizer Aircraft's Model 333 helicopter has gotten a boost. The company received FAA approval for an increased takeoff horsepower rating, raising the maximum 5-minute takeoff power limit from 252 shaft horsepower to 280 shp. This increases the 333's hover performance capability and rate-of-climb performance. The takeoff power boost is available as an option on new 333 helicopters. Schweizer is also developing modification kits for helicopters that are already in service.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
Some airports sit in isolation, far from the nearest town. Others exist in a dynamic setting, and a pilot landing there may find that much has changed since the last visit. In either case, a pilot is responsible for knowing what is afoot at today's destination airport-and it may take careful checking to get the full picture.

A good place to start is AOPA's Airport Directory Online . It contains the same database as the printed directory mailed to AOPA members, but it is updated every business day, and the online version enables you to print a kneeboard-sized page containing important airport data, as described in the August 2003 AOPA Flight Training. The online directory also offers links to airport diagrams and instrument approach charts. Here's a trick if you're having trouble finding a diagram for your destination airport-check the instrument approach charts, which normally include one.

Notices to airmen-read more about notams in Section 5-1-3 of the Aeronautical Information Manual-offered during your weather briefing advise of temporary obstructions such as construction cranes near the airport, intermittent runway closures for snow removal, and limitations such as ski-equipped aircraft only allowed on unplowed runways. You might see such common wintertime notams as this: "AP CLSD EXC 15 MIN PPR 123.0." Translated: "Airport closed except 15 minutes prior permission required on frequency 123.0 MHz." Permanently closed airports may have a large X painted on the end of each runway, or they may be depicted on aeronautical charts with an X over the airport symbol. Such fields remain valuable as checkpoints and possible emergency landing sites; see "Abandoned Airports" in the December 1999 AOPA Flight Training.

Now that the briefer at your automated flight service station, or your briefing using AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner-described in "TFR Not Recommended" in the January 2004 AOPA Pilot-has given you notams for your flight, there is one more source of notam data to be checked. The AIM explains that "an integral part of the notam system is the Notices to Airmen Publication (NTAP) published every four weeks." Note this important feature of NTAP: "Once published, the information is not provided during pilot weather briefings unless specifically requested by the pilot." Information published is expected to remain in effect for at least seven days after the publication date.

Sure is a lot of information out there. Even a friendly call to the fixed-base operator at your destination can pay dividends and provide an extra sense of welcome (ask about parking; at some busy airports, a parking reservation may be necessary). Before you fly, get the full picture, and then enjoy the ride!

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
The modern helicopter merges a surprising number of technologies, and, according to the publisher of Art of the Helicopter, that blend of disciplines renders a complete understanding difficult. Author John Watkinson seeks to illuminate the subject with clear and simple diagrams that aid verbal explanations of how helicopters are made, how they fly, and how to fly them. A helicopter pilot and technical writer, Watkinson defines technical terms and acronyms and also seeks to dispel old wives' tales-"for which there are plenty surrounding helicopters," according to publisher Elsevier. The book, priced at $99.95, will be available in February at bookstores or may be ordered online.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: Is there a plain-language translation for METARs in your new Real-Time Flight Planner program?

Answer: Yes. Within the Real-Time Flight Planner, click on the Weather tab, and request plain language for the METARs and TAFs. Ask for a Standard WX: Route or Area report, and check the box for the translation. The resulting weather report displays the coded METARs first; so you'll need to scroll about halfway down the report, past the notams, to find the plain-language translations.

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