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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 8, Issue 46AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 8, Issue 46

The following stories from the November 17, 2006, 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 -Professional Pilot Interest
Aviation disasters are rare, but you should always be prepared to handle them. The Communications Workshop claims that its Coping With Crisis 101-Managing an Aviation Disaster education course can help you develop a crisis management plan for your company. The course will start a 16-city tour across the United States next year. For more information, download the course brochure.

My ePilot -Own/May Own Interest
Imagine this: You take your aircraft into the shop to get the avionics worked on, but weeks turn into months of down time as the shop keeps delaying its completion date. Finally, you ask what you can do to help complete the process. Once it's done, the shop crew waves goodbye, and you fly away. You're happy-you have your airplane back. Next thing you know, the FAA and NTSB have teamed up to punish you, suspending your license for more than two months. Find out what happened to an aircraft owner in this situation and how to keep it from happening to you in John S. Yodice's September 2006 AOPA Pilot column "Pilot Counsel: Maintenance sign-offs and the owner/pilot."

My ePilot -Piston Multiengine Interest
What a difference a word makes. The FAA this week updated its definition of complex aircraft to add full authority digital engine control (FADEC). Aircraft with flaps, retractable landing gear, and manually or automatically controlled controllable pitch propellers are considered complex. This change makes the Diamond DA42 Twin Star qualify as a complex aircraft, so anyone working on the commercial pilot multiengine rating can now use it to satisfy the 10-hour requirement, under FAR 61.129(b)(3)(ii) for complex multiengine training. Previously, the Diamond was not considered complex because the pilot did not manually control the propellers-the FADEC did it automatically.

My ePilot -Turbine Interest
If you're in the market for a new Twin Otter Series 400, it'll cost you $3.2 million (based on 2006 U.S. dollars). The new Twin Otter's design will be much the same as the last aircraft off the de Havilland Canada line, but it will have a different engine: Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 engines flat rated to 620 horsepower. Viking has not yet started producing the aircraft. According to Viking President and CEO Dave Curtis, the company first must have "sufficient deposits-down orders for new aircraft...." The company also must have federal government development participation through Technology Partnerships Canada and Viking Board approval before starting production. Viking provides spare parts for the entire de Havilland Canada line and earlier this year acquired the type certificates for the Chipmunk, Beaver, Otter, Caribou, Buffalo, Twin Otter, and Dash 7 from Bombardier.

My ePilot - Other Interest
For most pilots, the arrival of winter signals the end of the flying days until spring. If the bitter-cold temperatures don't keep you away, the snowy, icy runways probably do. Skiplane flying can solve that problem. Read about the adventures of skiplane pilots in Minnesota and learn how you can get started in Lane Wallace's article "Winter Wonderland" in the February 1995 AOPA Pilot. Also, see Thomas B. Haines' "Feather-bed Landing" story from 2003.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
Your training aircraft has been down for maintenance. Now it is out of the shop and boasting new features. An avionics upgrade and cabin refinements top the list. Exciting.

But the alterations probably mean that the aircraft's "useful load" has changed. What's the useful load? Chapter 8 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge defines "useful load" as "the weight of the pilot, copilot, passengers, baggage, usable fuel, and drainable oil. It is the basic empty weight subtracted from the maximum allowable gross weight. This term applies to general aviation aircraft only."

Look at the aircraft's weight and balance information-it's the "W" in the ARROW acronym that reminds you what documents must be on board-and record the new numbers. Use them in all future loading calculations. If useful load has been reduced, it means that the new comforts come at the price of less loading capacity being available for other items. The work should be accompanied by updated on-board weight and balance documents. "On older aircraft especially, there may be many pages pertaining to weight and balance because with each modification of the airframe and avionics, a new weight and balance entry must be recorded. Make sure the latest such record is aboard, not only to satisfy legal requirements but also to compute an accurate weight and balance for the flight," Mark Twombly wrote in the December 2004 AOPA Flight Training column, "What It Looks Like: ARROW." For instance, if your aircraft were subject to an FAA ramp inspection, or if a flight-test examiner asked you to demonstrate if it complies with its weight and balance documents, you would have to produce the documents.

Never use generic weight-and-balance figures published in an off-the-shelf pilot's operating handbook for your make and model aircraft when calculating loading and center of gravity-these numbers are for demonstration purposes only. The importance of accurate loading calculations and the risks of failing to compute them are discussed in the December 26, 2003, Training Tips article, "A Reasonable Balance."

Enjoy your aircraft's new features. Usually the additional pilot comfort and aircraft capability make up for the small reduction in useful load.

My ePilot - Training Product
Many of today's new pilots start their aerial adventures via the virtual skyways of personal-computer simulation games such as Microsoft Flight Simulator, and many pilots say that these programs help them to hone skills or remain proficient. Former Microsoft Games executive Bruce Williams has written a book on that very subject. Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid: A Guide for Pilots, Instructors, and Virtual Aviators was recently released by Aviation Supplies and Academics. The book, which details for pilots of all skill levels how to exploit the benefits of Microsoft Flight Simulator for training and proficiency purposes, is available for $29.95 through ASA.

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: What causes drag?

Answer: There are primarily two types of drag, "induced" and "parasite," which create a combined total impact on airplane performance. Induced drag is a byproduct of lift, which results in wingtip vortices that increase the downwash behind the airplane's wings. The use of flaps, change of angle of attack, and deflection of the control surfaces all increase induced drag. Parasite drag, which is normally made up of form, interference, and skin friction drag, is created by the disturbance of the airflow around the airframe by items such as its skin, antennas, landing gear, and air gaps located between control surfaces and airframe. Induced drag will decrease and parasite drag will increase as speed increases. For more information, review Thomas A. Horne's article, "Flying Forces," on AOPA Online.

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