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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 6, Issue 49AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 6, Issue 49

The following stories from the December 3, 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 tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online.

My ePilot - Turboprop Interest
Descent planning is one of the biggest obstacles for pilots to overcome when transitioning from single-engine piston, fixed-gear aircraft to turboprops. "What appeared a simple matter from 5,000 feet-how to arrive in the airport traffic pattern at the proper altitude and location-can seem to require advanced calculus from FL290," writes Vincent Czaplyski in the May 1995 Flight Training article, "Descending From on High: Gettin' Down in a Turbine." But pilots can use a simple rule as a guide for descent planning. The "three to one" rule is based on "a ratio of three miles across the ground for each thousand feet of desired altitude loss," he explains. This conservative gauge gives pilots room to work with if the descent needs to change.

My ePilot - Other Interest
Chelton Flight Systems' FlightLogic synthetic vision system received FAA supplemental type certification (STC) on November 19 to be installed in various models of the Eurocopter AS 350 and AS 355. FlightLogic is approved for the AS 350 C, D, D1, B, B1, B2, B3, and BA, and the AS 355 E, F, F1, F2, and N. The company expects to receive STC approval in the Bell 407 as well before the end of the year. For more information, visit the Web site.

My ePilot - Renter Interest
Every pilot knows the routine of getting a checkout at an FBO before being able to rent an aircraft for the first time. But when preparing to rent, the pilot isn't the only one who needs a checkout-so does the FBO. Before settling on one FBO, shop around to compare prices, aircraft, and the quality of service. Once the options are narrowed to a few, walk each FBO's flight line to see how the aircraft are maintained, and talk to other renters about maintenance and scheduling, suggests Amy Laboda in her September 1995 Flight Training column, "Out of the Pattern: Rental Ins and Outs." A thorough checkout can help to ensure the rental experience will be pleasant.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
The November 19, 2004, "Training Tips" discussed fixation, a state of mind in which a pilot devotes so much attention to one task (such as holding a heading) that other responsibilities are overlooked. The opposite problem is chronically paying too little attention to a task, perhaps because of distraction or poor scanning of instruments or outside references. You set off on a cross-country flight, level off at your chosen altitude, and establish your aircraft on your heading of, say, 200 degrees. You fly along, picking up checkpoints, working radios, keeping watch over engine instruments, fuel, altitude. A glance at the heading indicator (directional gyro) produces a shock: Your heading has wandered around to 170 degrees. How long have you been meandering off course?

You could have avoided the problem by "bugging" your heading before setting out. Bugging the heading means creating a way to stay aware of the heading you should be flying. Airplanes with autopilots usually have a "heading bug" installed on their heading indicators. By rotating a small dial at the instrument's edge, you set the bug to the desired heading, then engage the autopilot.

OK, but suppose this is a training flight and you are not using the autopilot. Use the heading bug anyway. Develop the habit of always bugging a new heading before turning to it. No automation on board? Some low-budget aircraft panels are equipped with bugs, as described in the December 1997 AOPA Pilot article "Choosing a VFR Panel." Not yours? There are other methods. If there is a spare VOR or ADF receiver on the panel, turn the omni heading selector of the VOR, or rotate the fixed compass card of the ADF, to bring your heading to the 12-o'clock position. Or simply write your heading on a sticky note and attach it to your panel. The reminders will help.

Remember: Gyro-driven heading indicators are prone to errors such as precession ( download Chapter Six of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge). Check them often against your aircraft's magnetic compass (see the May 23, 2003, "Training Tips"). For bugging other flight conditions such as altitude and airspeed, commercial products that attach directly to flight instruments may be purchased.

Before turning onto your next heading, bug it!

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
Have you picked up a copy of the 2005 Federal Aviation Regulations/Aeronautical Information Manual? Not yet, you say? Be advised that there are new regulations pertaining to the sport pilot certificate and light-sport aircraft category and new security requirements for general aviation pilots. While several publishers have 2005 editions ready to ship, here are two to consider. Aviation Supplies & Academics' volume includes full-color AIM graphics plus a stand-alone guide to the new sport pilot rules available on its Web site. The book can be ordered online for $15.95. McGraw-Hill says its volume, edited by Charles Spence, is more closely targeted to the general aviation reader. Order it online for $19.95.

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: I'm working on my instrument rating and learning how to do precision approaches. My instructor and I have been discussing the localizer and the glideslope needles and how to interpret the information they give. What are the technical names for the needles?

Answer: The needle that swings left and right is called a course deviation indicator (CDI). It receives signals from a localizer antenna, VOR, and can often be linked to a GPS. The localizer provides your lateral guidance to the runway. The needle that shows your vertical profile (glideslope) is the vertical deviation indicator (VDI). It receives information from a glideslope transmitter (ground-based equipment), and it will give you adequate clearance over the threshold and any objects or terrain on the approach.

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