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ePilot Personalized ContentePilot Personalized Content

The following stories from the November 2, 2007, 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 - Helicopter Interest ~
Bell Helicopter on Oct. 26 announced the final exterior profile design of its Bell 429 helicopter currently in development flight testing. The Bell 429 is the company's new advanced-technology light twin-engine helicopter. "This is one of the most significant events in the development of an aircraft," said Robert Fitzpatrick, senior vice president for Bell Helicopter marketing and sales. "This means our design meets the aesthetic and in-flight handling specifications we set long ago." Two prototypes have built more than 400 hours of flight testing, including high-altitude and high-temperature testing. The first helicopter is scheduled for delivery at the end of 2008.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
Snow-covered ramps and icy winter winds may be weeks away, but atmospheric ice and changing winds-aloft trends should be on the minds of pilots flying in fall and winter.

This is when that familiar weather-textbook phrase, "the temperature is below the dew point and the dew point is below freezing," comes to life on chilly mornings. The result: You may come out to fly and find your aircraft covered with a sugary layer of frost. All pilots learn that visible frost must be removed because of the aerodynamic hazards it creates. [See the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Safety Brief Cold Facts: Wing Contamination .]

Also, a December 2004 safety letter issued by the National Transportation Safety Board refocused pilots' understanding of frost hazard: "For years most pilots have understood that visible ice contamination on a wing can cause severe aerodynamic and control penalties; however, it has become apparent that many pilots do not recognize that minute amounts of ice adhering to a wing can result in similar penalties. Research results have shown that fine particles of frost or ice, the size of a grain of table salt and distributed as sparsely as one per square centimeter over an airplane wing's upper surface, can destroy enough lift to prevent that airplane from taking off."

Another fall icing concern is the altitude of the freezing level. Learn how to find it in weather forecasts and pireps, and how to use the information in arriving at a go/no-go decision in this "Instructor Report" article on AOPA Online. Maintain awareness of the freezing level by continually monitoring your outside air temperature gauge during flight.

You should also be aware of seasonal changes in the behavior of the jet stream. "What starts the ball rolling is the increased contrast in air temperatures as northern latitudes begin to cool down," explained the Sept. 12, 2003, Training Tips, which provides links to review material on jet streams and their ability to manufacture weather.

Fortunately, fall flying means fewer thunderstorms and better aircraft performance in the cooler, denser autumn air. But risk always accompanies reward; staying wary of seasonal realities will keep you safe.

My ePilot - Training Product
Powerful Learning Inc. has introduced a new software program for student pilots. The Private Pilot Study System includes testing and review software for the FAA private pilot knowledge test, plus 12 additional tests, including study aids designed to help you learn METAR and terminal area forecast codes. There's also a comprehensive aviation reference library. The components are fully integrated; from any test or review question, the Powerful Learning software will find the resource relevant to the question and highlight the answer. You can order the software as a CD to run on a personal computer for $85, or download the program for $75. A free demo is also available. See the Web site or call 800/975-1257.

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 am a little confused about the difference between the terms "crewmember" and "flight crewmember." Can you clarify?

Answer: Good question. It can be difficult sometimes to differentiate between the two, and it's important to know the difference before starting a flight. A crewmember is a person assigned a nonairman duty or responsibility while on board an aircraft. Examples would be an airline flight attendant, someone taking photographs for an aerial survey operation, a wildlife survey statistician, or search-and-rescue personnel. On the other hand, a flight crewmember is an appropriately certificated and rated airman (a pilot, flight engineer, or flight navigator, for example) performing official cockpit flight duties while an aircraft is in flight, dependent upon the approved FAA aircraft type-certificate data sheet flight crew requirement and/or the FAA's operational regulations.

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