The following stories from the October 26, 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 - Student Interest, Training Tips
Training airplanes are hard-working aircraft; their individual quirks and bugs become well known to the students and flight instructors who fly them. Sometimes a preflight inspection or before-takeoff check turns up a problem that gets reported on a "squawk sheet" that goes to the aircraft's mechanics for remedial action. Once the maintenance discrepancy is discovered, must the flight be canceled?
This is a matter of safety and an issue that could come up on your practical test. In the Private Pilot Practical Test Standards Area of Operations covering preflight operations, Task B requires you to explain the procedures and limitations for determining airworthiness of the airplane with inoperative instruments and equipment. Review the references cited in the task, examine the regulation covering instruments and equipment required for day and night VFR flight, then check your pilot's operating handbook for any type-specific requirements. If maintenance was deferred, was the proper method followed? See Chapter 7 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge . Also be prepared to describe a minimum equipment list, explained in the AOPA Online Pilot Information Center and find out whether one has been issued for your trainer.
It's a good idea to get acquainted with your trainer's history. "Ask the instructors who regularly fly the airplane about some of its characteristics, check out the squawk sheet, and talk to the mechanics and pilot who just finished flying it," suggested the Sept. 2, 2005, ePilot article titled "Become one with the aircraft you rent." Follow the links to other informative articles describing how good pilots learn about the health and maintenance of the aircraft they fly.
Another step: Ask your aircraft's mechanics to explain how they addressed recent maintenance squawks and have them show you how they recorded the actions in the aircraft's maintenance records, satisfying FAR 91.213. This is good practice for a day when you might have to show a designated examiner or an FAA inspector how regulatory compliance was achieved concerning a maintenance discrepancy. Even if that event never occurs, becoming familiar with your trainer's health-care program is part of becoming a complete, thorough pilot.
My ePilot - Training Product
CHARTGEEK CHARTS PUT SECTIONALS IN GOOGLE EARTH
Some pilots are born with an eagle's eye; they can pick out an airport 20 miles away. Others fly in circles hunting for the airport against the clutter of the surrounding landscape. ChartGEEK Charts for Google Earth could be of help. ChartGEEK's sectional and terminal area charts are digitally manipulated and then can be applied to the surface of the Earth and displayed in Google Earth. This allows you to "find" the airport before you actually fly there, as well as "preland" by using Google Earth's tilt and turn features once you locate the airport. Student pilots can purchase a complete set of U.S. charts on one DVD for $29.95 ($99.95 for others) or buy charts as needed for 99 cents each. See the Web site for a demo or to order.
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: My flight school has been notified by the airport manager that traffic pattern operations for student pilots are restricted day or night when scheduled airline flights are in operation at the airport. This is a very active airport with a lot of flight training; what right do they have to do this?
Answer: The FAA's Airport Compliance Handbook allows an airport owner to prohibit or limit any given type, kind, or class of aeronautical use of the airport if such action is necessary for the safe operation of the airport. The owner may restrict or deny use of the airport for student training or other purposes deemed incompatible with safety under the local conditions peculiar to that airport. In cases where complaints are filed with the FAA, it may be appropriate to initiate an FAA airspace study through the local flight standards district office to determine the efficiency and utility of the airport when considering the proposed restriction. Additional information on this subject is covered in "Restrictions on certain aeronautical uses of an airport."