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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 6, Issue 40AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 6, Issue 40

The following stories from the October 1, 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 - Instrument Interest
New practical test standards for the instrument rating become effective today, October 1. For the most part, the changes were made to address modern cockpits that feature electronic flight instrument displays and IFR-certified GPS receivers. The AOPA Pilot Information Center has gone through the PTS and provided color-coded highlights and summaries of the changes. Copies of these enhanced documents will also be distributed to all CFIs attending AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics starting in October. Download the PTS.

The FAA has updated instrument approach charts, high and low altitude en route charts, some sectional and world aeronautical charts, and Airport/Facility Directories. Make sure you have current charts before you fly. AOPA's Airport Directory Online provides the current approach charts. See AOPA Online to view the U.S. terminal procedures.

Jet Interest
The FAA and its counterpart agencies in Canada and Mexico this week agreed to proceed as planned with the joint implementation of reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM) beginning January 20. That means owners will have to get their aircraft certified for RVSM to fly at Flight Level 290 and above. "In addition to the aircraft RVSM equipment requirements, operators also need a letter of authorization (LOA) from their local FAA flight standards district office (FSDO)," said Luis Gutierrez, AOPA director of certification policy. "Waiting until the last minute isn't a good idea. Procrastinators can expect delays." RVSM changes the vertical separation between aircraft from 2,000 to 1,000 feet at high altitudes to increase airspace capacity. See AOPA Online.

My ePilot - Own/May Own Interest
Pilots wanting to own a light-sport aircraft without the hefty up-front cost of purchasing one have another option., based in Idaho, announced its cooperative light-sport aircraft ownership program. Pilots will be able to fly-to-own, in which up to half of each flight hour is credited toward ownership, or purchase a one-quarter share in the aircraft. Both require an initial investment of $900. Those who buy a quarter share will pay an additional $193 per month. Cost per flight hour varies by airplane but runs about $28 wet. Initially, the company will offer a Zephyr and the Zodiac CH 601 and CH 701. One Zephyr already is available at the Idaho flight center for demonstration flights. has more than 60 centers across the United States. For more information, visit the Web site.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
When does a runway have different lengths for takeoff and landing? When the runway has a displaced threshold. "A displaced threshold is a threshold located at a point on the runway other than the designated beginning of the runway. Displacement of a threshold reduces the length of runway available for landings. The portion of runway behind a displaced threshold is available for takeoffs in either direction and landings from the opposite direction. A 10-foot-wide white threshold bar is located across the width of the runway at the displaced threshold. White arrows are located along the centerline in the area between the beginning of the runway and the displaced threshold. White arrowheads are located across the width of the runway just prior to the threshold bar," as illustrated in this excerpt from Chapter 2 of the Aeronautical Information Manual. Note the differences between a displaced threshold and a "relocated" threshold. A relocated threshold also shortens the available length of the "opposite direction" runway.

Information on any displaced thresholds can be found in AOPA's Airport Directory Online and the FAA's Airport/Facility Directory entry for the airport. See the symbol near the arrival end of Runway 27 in Hagerstown, Maryland. Click on "Terminal Procedures," then on "Airport Diagram," to find the available length of the runway. How much of Runway 27 is available for landing?

Some airports have multiple displaced thresholds, as this diagram of the Orange, Massachusetts, airport shows. The usual reason is because of obstructions near the runway's approach end. But there can be others, such as cracked pavement, as noted in the directory's information for this airport's Runway 14-32.

Runway markings won't be visible at night. What then? "If a runway has a displaced threshold, a row of green lights on both sides of the runway mark the location where the landing portion of the runway begins," writes Robert N. Rossier in the February 1999 AOPA Flight Training feature "Light Up Your Night: A Guide to Airport Lighting Systems."

A runway isn't always as long as it seems. Check for a displaced threshold-and the reason for it-to make a safe, sure arrival at your next destination.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
Preflights can be a symphony of dropped pens, rolling fuel testers, and fly-away checklists as you maneuver around the airplane; darkness only adds to the fun of chasing dropped objects. The Preflight Pal from Noral Enterprises holds night preflight essentials (flashlight, fuel tester, pen/pencil, screwdriver) in a Cordura pouch that hangs from your belt on a Velcro strap. It comes in seven colors and sells for $15.60 from, which also sells a Night Preflight Pal Combo-the pouch, plus an Aviation Supplies and Academics flight light, red filter, and fuel tester-for $43.30. To order, 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.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: Why shouldn't I laminate my student pilot certificate? The FAA says it's OK to laminate a pilot certificate as long as it's signed. But my flight instructor says I shouldn't. Why?

Answer: You are correct that the FAA has given approval to laminate pilot certificates. But take a good look at the back of your student pilot certificate. There are places for numerous flight instructor endorsements such as those for solo or cross-country flights. If you laminate the certificate, it would be almost impossible for your flight instructor to supply future endorsements. So, it may be better to hold off. After you pass your private pilot checkride, the FAA will issue you a pilot certificate made of plastic, similar to a credit card.

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