The following stories from the July 6, 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
A student pilot who dedicates long hours to studying federal aviation regulations, cross-country planning, and aircraft performance may wonder how any pilot could encounter "fuel exhaustion." The truth is that running out of fuel is a continuing, avoidable piloting problem.
Under visual flight rules, a pilot must comply with this minimum standard from the federal aviation regulations: "No person may begin a flight in an airplane under VFR conditions unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing and, assuming normal cruising speed—
Note that flight planning is a factor in this computation. The pilot must be aware of expected groundspeeds and the rate of fuel consumption associated with the selected cruise power setting. He or she must also know, not guess, how much fuel was in the aircraft at departure. See the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Safety Advisor, Fuel Awareness , to learn about fuel management.
Making good in-flight decisions is the next protective measure, as flight instructor Philip Moskal noted in the June 29, 2007, Training Tips. Click here to see his advice.
Building margins of error into your planning is a great insurance policy against fuel exhaustion. True, performance charts in your pilot's operating handbook gave you the values to plan. "But footnotes to the charts warned that the information was conditional. On loading. On outside air temperature being 'standard.' On using something called the 'recommended lean mixture for cruise.' And common sense told you that an old training aircraft with dings on its wings and an engine almost due for overhaul wouldn't slip through the ether exactly as it did when those charts were drawn up decades ago. The real lesson was that one way or another you, as a pilot, would have to stay on the good side of all these choices, considerations, and concerns," advised the June 2004 AOPA Flight Training feature " How not to run out of gas."
How common is fuel exhaustion? Two of the eight accidents on this date last year—a Cessna 210TC and Cessna 182—in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Online Accident Database were caused by fuel exhaustion and "improper flight planning." Know the risks, and avoid the problem.
My ePilot – Training Product
'TEACHING CONFIDENCE IN THE CLOUDS'
In a field awash with training products aimed at student pilots of all levels, along comes a product from Aviation Supplies and Academics, Inc., designed not for the student, but for the teacher—specifically, flight instructors who teach instrument flying. Teaching Confidence in the Clouds, by Tom Gilmore, is described as an instructor's guide to using desktop flight simulators. The book was written to offer real-life applications of computer desktop flight simulators and flight training devices as they relate to current methods of instrument training. It includes scenario-based training concepts, assignments, and instructor tips. It sells for $19.95 and can be ordered online from 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: While I'm comfortable in the cockpit performing the various piloting tasks my instructor has taught me, I would like more information on decision making and how to recognize changes in flight that could impact safety if not addressed early on.
Answer: The FAA's DECIDE model can help you evaluate each situation and determine the best course of action, as well as to ascertain how that decision might affect other phases of the flight. As the flight progresses, you can continue to evaluate the outcome of the decision. The "decide model" consists of several steps: Detect the fact that a change has occurred; Estimate the need to counter or react to the change; Choose a desirable outcome for the success of the flight; Identify actions that could successfully control the change; Do the necessary action to adapt to the change; and Evaluate the effect of the action. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Safety Advisor, Do The Right Thing—Decision Making For Pilots , discusses more on this important pilot skill.