The following stories from the June 29, 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 - Turbine Interest
SINO SWEARINGEN LOOKS FOR MONEY TO GO INTO FULL PRODUCTION
The latest story from a Taiwan newspaper, that all investor prospects have dried up and $20 billion has been sunk into Sino Swearingen, is "extremely exaggerated," company officials say. It is true that an investor the company had counted on since January is now gone. The company says it has three or four more prospects for the reportedly $100 million to $200 million still needed to start up mass production of the SJ30-2 seven-passenger business jet. And a number more like $600 million has been put into the company by investors and the Taiwanese government, not $20 billion, company officials said. Ching Kuo, chairman and CEO of Sino Swearingen, said he thinks the $20 billion rumor got started from confusion over the monetary exchange rate between the United States and Taiwan. He said that since the first aircraft was delivered to company investor Douglas Jaffe (the "J" in SJ30), the aircraft has flown between 250 and 300 hours with only one delay of flight. It has crossed the Atlantic Ocean and has flown to London from San Antonio, Texas, with only one stop. For now, wings and fuselages are still in progress at the manufacturing plant in Martinsburg, West Virginia, and four completed aircraft are at company headquarters in San Antonio.
My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
Judgment calls are a big part of flying. Good judgment can be taught, to a point, but the student needs to be inclined to avoid risks and have the ability to recognize his limits in the face of doubts. It's one thing to consider making "a competent decision" in theory (the subject of the June 9, 2006, Training Tips concerning weather forecasts). But you need to know how to apply the skill to particular scenarios. Known as aeronautical decision making (ADM), this is a special emphasis area on the private pilot practical test. Your flight examiner will be as much concerned with how you evaluate information when making decisions as with the result. For example, did you know that making good decisions is easier at some stages of a flight than others? Richard Hiner explains why in his December 2001 AOPA Flight Training "Instructor Report" column about teaching ADM.
There are certain foolproof things that you can do to hedge your uncertainty: Erring on the safe side when it comes to questions about fuel, weather, and wind are a few. Consider this advice flight instructor Philip Moskal gives to his students in the form of a proverb, as he related in a recent e-mail to AOPA: "The answer to the question lies within the question! Should I stop and refuel? YES. Should I try to beat the front that is coming in? NO. Should I land with a tailwind? NO. This approach isn't going well, should I call a missed approach? YES. Instilling this philosophy can possibly eliminate the potential for a complicated, hazardous decision. Let go of your ego and avoid a bad decision-making process."
Good advice! Some practice in approaching preflight or in-flight decision making that way will be excellent preparation for your practical test. "Scenario questions remain an examiner's most trustworthy tool, and the bane of applicants and flight instructors who pray for easy tests. Opposite of this level of testing are those direct questions that measure only the rote level and don't size up one's judgment at all. On your upcoming checkride, expect scenario questions," wrote Dave Wilkerson in his July 2005 AOPA Flight Training column "Checkride: Judgment day."
Be ready for scenario questions. They're something you can practice every day.
My ePilot - Training Product
TRI-LITE FLASHLIGHT OFFERS HANDS-FREE OPERATION
The newest entry in the flashlight category, the Tri-Lite flashlight from Aviation Supplies and Academics, is equipped with red, green, and white light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which means you can use it to maintain night vision as well as to read charts and check fuel and oil. It's hands-free; the unit has three Velcro-like mounting strips so that you can attach it to a headset, a kneeboard, or another flat surface, and you can remove it and reattach it as needed. The Tri-Lite is rated for 50,000 hours of use and uses standard AAA batteries. It sells for $19.95 and may be ordered online.
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 instructor was demonstrating some ground reference maneuvers tied together with emergency engine-out procedures. Each of the tasks was started at a reasonable altitude, but I felt we were finishing the maneuvers too low to the ground. Can you tell me what is considered a safe altitude?
Answer: The practical test standards state that slow flight and stalls must be completed no lower than 1,500 feet above ground level. Although ground reference maneuvers may need to be practiced a little lower, FAA Part 91 regulations mandate that you stay at least 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft, if you are flying over a congested area (a city, town, settlement, or open-air assembly of persons, for example). For flights over non-congested areas, do not fly closer than 500 feet above the surface. Read more about maneuvering in flight in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Safety Advisor, Maneuvering Flight .