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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 16AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 16

The following stories from the April 22, 2005, 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 - Instrument Interest
Cirrus Design Corporation is delivering a primary flight display equipped with a flight director. The flying W design used on past Cirrus attitude indicators on the primary flight display will now have a flying wedge, and command bars will appear when in flight-director mode. It aids in more precise flight when the aircraft is flown by hand. Information on retrofits to older Cirrus aircraft will be announced at a later date, Cirrus officials said.

My ePilot - Multiengine Interest
Multiengine students spend much of their training learning how to fly the aircraft on one engine in the event of an engine out. Being able to handle a single-engine situation is a skill all multi-rated pilots must keep fresh. "It's vital to practice single-engine climbs and engine-out procedures for those times when an engine conks out at the most dangerous phase of flight-climbing out just after takeoff," warns AOPA Pilot Editor-at-Large Thomas A. Horne in "Ounce of Prevention: Suddenly Single," in the August 2001 issue. Horne takes a look at VMC, explains conditions when actual VMC can be higher or lower than what is marked on the airspeed indicator, provides safety strategies for coping with an engine failure, and lists examples of common accident scenarios.

My ePilot - Professional Pilot Interest
National airlines once again hired more pilots in March than any other facet of the industry, according to hiring figures compiled by Air, Inc. The nationals hired 235 pilots in March, a less than 1-percent increase over February hiring totals. The major airlines hired 191 pilots, and jet operators added 128 pilots to their flight decks-more than double the amount hired the previous month. Meanwhile, non-jet operators hired 116, fractionals hired 65, and helicopter operators took on 15 pilots. For more information, see the Web site.

After six months of tests the FAA has awarded Chelton Flight Systems its highest quality designation-Level A-for the Chelton primary flight display software. Level A is required for electronic flight information systems (EFISs) used on commercial aircraft and helicopters operated in instrument flight conditions. All future software upgrades will be tested to this level. "It is a very significant milestone in the development of our product," said Chelton's Dean Boston. An informational DVD is available from Chelton.

My ePilot - Piston Single-engine Interest
Aviat Aircraft has introduced several upgrades to its Husky two-place conventional-gear aircraft. A redesign of the aileron allows for faster roll rates and lighter stick forces, while also permitting the installation of larger flaps for better visibility on landing and improved slow-speed handling. A choice of two new propeller installations-an 80-inch all-metal Hartzell or an 82-inch composite MT propeller-leads to an increase in climb performance and elimination of a harmonic range with certain prop rpm settings. The new prop and option package can be retrofitted on existing Huskies as well.

My ePilot - Jet Interest
Eclipse Aviation says it's on track for FAA certification in early 2006 with the maiden flight last week of its second conforming flight test aircraft. The uneventful flight lasted an hour and 30 minutes in a designated testing area south of Albuquerque. Also last week, Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn himself flew the original Eclipse 500 conforming aircraft. The jet has so far reached 30,000 feet and accumulated more than 41 hours of flight time.

My ePilot - Light-Sport Aircraft Interest
Cub Crafters Inc. is anticipating the first flight of its Sport Cub light-sport aircraft in early May. The company is not releasing specific details about the aircraft at this time, but it is expected to be approved as a ready-to-fly light-sport aircraft and come equipped with standard instruments for day VFR flight. Cub Crafters plans to offer options for flaps and radios. The company also plans to have the aircraft on display at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, this summer.

Flight instructors who have toyed with the idea of sport pilot instruction now have a place to turn for guidance. The FAA's Light Sport Aviation Branch has posted two documents in the "Sport Pilot Documents" section of its Web site for flight instructors who want to provide sport pilot training and proficiency checks: "Sport Pilot Flight Instructor Duties and Responsibilities" and "Proficiency Check Procedures for Obtaining Additional Category/Class Sport Pilot Privileges." Flight instructors should follow the procedures outlined to ensure that the proper paperwork is accurate and completed in a timely manner. Martin Weaver, manager of the FAA's Light Sport Aviation Branch, pointed out that "under the provisions of 14 CFR 61.413(i) and 61.423(b), flight instructors assume a greater responsibility in FAA certification."

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
In some places, thunderstorm season lasts 12 months a year. In most others, it has now returned. Regardless of where you fly, it is impossible to exaggerate the importance to pilots of understanding why thunderstorms rank among the most serious aviation hazards. Pilots must know how to identify conditions that could spawn thunderstorms along a proposed route of flight, and spot the indications during weather briefings and in-flight weather updates.

What are the hazards? "Thunderstorms can contain severe turbulence, strong updrafts and downdrafts, heavy rain, lightning, severe icing conditions, and hail. A thunderstorm's turbulence is extremely dangerous, as it can impose damaging G loads on an airframe and lead to loss of control of the aircraft, causing structural failure," explains AOPA's Handbook For Pilots , which offers two excellent checklists for thunderstorm avoidance during your preflight and in flight.

Why is seasonality a factor in the likelihood of thunderstorms? It has to do with one of the key concepts associated with thunderstorms: unstable air. Given instability and sufficient humidity, all that is needed to complete the T-storm recipe is some mechanism to start the unstable air rising. And, "In general, the atmosphere is more unstable in the spring than during other seasons because as the days grow longer and the sun moves higher into the sky, the ground warms up and heats the air close to it," writes meteorologist Jack Williams in "The Weather Never Sleeps: Making Sense of Stability" in the March 2005 AOPA Flight Training.

One of the most effective mechanisms for lifting unstable air is the movement of fronts. The forecast approach of any front is a caution-but be especially wary of fast-moving cold fronts. "Remember that as a cold front's advancing air plows beneath the warmer air ahead of it, tremendous lifting forces go to work on the humid, unstable warmer air mass being displaced. It's a perfect recipe for thunderstorms," wrote Thomas A. Horne in "Storm Season Insights" in the May 2004 AOPA Pilot.

Weather and its hazards comprise a vast but crucial study area for pilots. A great guide to tackling the subject, thereby becoming a "meteorologically savvy pilot," is found in Ralph Butcher's "Insights" column in the April 2004 AOPA Flight Training. Take the time, make the effort, and be rewarded with superior decision-making skills and confident, safe flying.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
James Spudich has published Piloting with Confidence, an instructional book for students and pilots with an interest in developing a more in-depth checklist protocol for their airplanes, as well as a greater understanding of procedures in general. It features a good, thorough process for creating your own checklist and explains in great detail why you do some of the things you do in the airplane. There are also some solid tips on flying with the Garmin GNS 430 and 530 and the Garmin GPSMap 196 handheld GPS receiver. The price is $24.95. For more information, 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: I recently started flight training for my private pilot certificate at a busy towered airport. There are a lot of airport signs and markings on and near the taxiways and runways, and I'm uncertain what some of them mean. Can AOPA help me?

Answer: The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has runway marking and signage flashcards that can be downloaded for free online. These allow pilots at all levels to better understand airport markings and signs. The Operations at Towered Airports Safety Advisor presents detailed, helpful information. Both documents are available in the AOPA Online Safety Center. In addition, the Aeronautical Information Manual, Chapter 2, Section 3 provides descriptions and definitions of most airport marking aids and signs, including those for taxiways and runways.

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