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Checking your ELT
Sometimes while flying you may hear air traffic control ask a pilot to check for an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal in the area. Perhaps the ELT went off after a hard landing or was triggered by some other accidental cause. Or it could be the beginning of a real search-and-rescue operation.
How do pilots help ATC check for an ELT signal? By tuning their communications radio to the emergency frequency 121.5 MHz and listening for the telltale beeping tone. Many airliners and military aircraft tune a spare radio to the “guard” frequency. It’s also monitored at ATC facilities.
Where is your trainer’s ELT installed? What are its maintenance requirements? ELTs only function properly if the battery is sufficiently charged. The federal aviation regulations address this requirement. This sample question from the private pilot knowledge test checks your knowledge of it:
When must the battery in an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) be replaced (or recharged if the battery is rechargeable)?
Ask your aviation mechanic to show you the ELT and explain how to turn it off after accidental activation. Being better informed on ELTs would have helped one pilot quiet his unit promptly, as he shared in the March 2007 Flight Training feature “ Unwanted beeping.” Make it a habit to check 121.5 MHz before you shut down your engine to ensure that your ELT was not activated by that less-than-perfect landing.
You may have read that ELTs transmitting on 121.5 MHz might soon disappear from the scene. That is no longer the case, as AOPA reported on Jan. 13.
The answer to the sample test question is found on page 8-9 of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge :
“Batteries used in the ELTs must be replaced (or recharged, if the batteries are rechargeable): When the transmitter has been in use for more than 1 cumulative hour. When 50 percent of the battery useful life (or, for rechargeable batteries, 50 percent of useful life of the charge) has expired. An expiration date for replacing (or recharging) the battery must be legibly marked on the outside of the transmitter and entered in the aircraft maintenance record.”
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Many parts of the country are being socked with various forms of bad weather that are bound to keep student pilots on the ground. If you’re not able to get up in the air, keep your head in the game by studying the FAR/AIM, completing Air Safety Institute quizzes or online courses, reviewing checklists and pilot’s operating handbooks, and engaging in good old-fashioned chair flying. The good news is, home study is free!
Did you know that student pilots who join AOPA are three times more likely to complete their flight training? Membership includes unlimited access to aviation information by phone (800/USA-AOPA, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time) or from Flight Training Online or AOPA Online. If you're not already a member, join today and get the pilot’s edge. Login information is available online.
Citing differences in business philosophies with the Czech manufacturer of the PiperSport, Piper said Jan. 12 that it will no longer sell the light sport aircraft. In the meantime, a network of PiperSport dealers has formed an association that will continue to support sales and maintenance of the LSA, which may be imported and sold under the name SportCruiser. Read more >>
You’ve been asked by flight service to provide a pilot report (pirep) but are anxious about proper format and terminology. Worry no longer: With the Air Safety Institute’s SkySpotter: Pireps Made Easy , you will learn the reporting sequence, and how to estimate and report weather conditions. Don’t worry about memorizing everything—download the handy pirep form before your next flight. This course qualifies for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program. Become a sky spotter and help fill in the gaps between forecasts and ground-based weather observations.
President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that expands educational funding opportunities for active-duty servicemen and -women, for the first time including flight training in eligible programs, on Jan. 4. Both houses of Congress passed the “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010” during the busy lame duck session of the 111th Congress. Read more >>
Looking for change in the gadgets
When your flight instructor urges you to scan the gauges, what are you really looking for? It’s not so much oil temperature in degrees or manifold pressure in pounds, but changes to those instruments and the underlying reasons for those changes, according to longtime flight instructor and aviation writer Ralph Hood. Read more >>
An easier way to learn your ‘ABCs’
Does Class C airspace require an ATC clearance—or is that Class B? What’s a TRSA, and where would you find one? If the answers don’t immediately pop into your head, you might want to check out the Air Safety Institute’s free airspace flash cards. The front of each card features a chart excerpt highlighting a particular type of airspace, while the flip side has a summary of all the facts you need to know for the checkride. Download the cards >>
Think you can’t afford a vacation this year?
With great rates on airfare, hotels, and cruises through AOPA Online Travel you may find that you don’t have to sacrifice your vacation this year. You can even save on your car rental from Alamo, Avis, and Hertz with special AOPA discounts and members-only coupons for free rental days, dollars off, and free upgrades. A portion of all revenue generated is returned to AOPA and reinvested to fund the association’s efforts to maintain the freedom, safety, and affordability of general aviation. Book your trip today >>
‘You Can Be a Pilot!’ by Chris Findley
Are you thinking of learning to fly, or do you know someone who’s been curious about it? Take a look at this softcover book, subtitled Answers to 25 Popular Questions about Learning to Fly. Author Chris Findley, a CFI and a frequent contributor to AOPA’s Let’s Go Flying! blog, has created a comprehensive breakdown of flight training requirements in a conveniently sized volume. It sells for $12.99 from the author’s website.
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.
Question: Can I legally fly an aircraft that has known inoperative equipment?
Answer: Unless the flight is conducted under FAR 91.213, the regulations require that all equipment installed on an aircraft in compliance with the operating rules or the airworthiness standards be in operable condition. FAR 91.213 provides some acceptable methods in which an aircraft can be operated with certain nonfunctioning instruments or equipment that are not essential for safe flight. One is the use of a minimum equipment list (MEL), authorized under FAR 91.213(a), and the other is operating without an MEL under FAR 91.213(d). Be cautious, however, because it is sometimes easy to violate the regulation inadvertently. For more on the topic, read the AOPA subject report, Minimum Equipment List and Inoperable Instruments.
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail [email protected] or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don’t forget the online archive of “Final Exam” questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.
What's New Online
If you rent an airplane, you can still fly it like you own it—and if you do, you’ll reap some surprising benefits, Jill W. Tallman says in the latest Flight Training blog.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a vice president of new product development and interactive marketing, business analyst, financial analyst, IT project architect, program specialist—communications, and aviation education program developer. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
Pilots love to take photos, and they love to share them with other pilots. Now you can upload your flying photos to our online gallery, “Air Mail.” Share your special aviation images, or view and rate more than 7,500 photos (and growing). Photos are put into rotation on the AOPA home page!
AVIATION EVENTS & WEATHER
Want something to do this weekend? Planning an aviation getaway? See your personalized online calendar of events . We’ve enhanced our calendar so that with one click you can see all of the events listed in the regions you selected when personalizing ePilot . Now you can browse events in your region to make planning easier. You can also bookmark the personalized calendar page to check it as often as you want. Before you take off on an adventure, make sure you check our current aviation weather provided by Jeppesen.
Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics
The next Air Safety Institute Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in San Jose, Calif., Sevierville, Tenn., and Bellevue, Wash., Jan. 29 and 30; Sacramento, Calif., Louisville, Ky., New Orleans, La., and Fairfax, Va., Feb. 12 and 13; Melbourne, Fla., Nashua, N.H., and Las Vegas, Nev., Feb. 19 and 20; Oklahoma City, Okla., and Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 26 and 27. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
Can’t make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.
Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars
Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars are scheduled in San Diego, Calif., and Fort Worth, Texas, Jan. 24; Costa Mesa, Calif., and Houston, Texas, Jan. 25; Ontario, Calif., and San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 26; Austin, Texas, Jan. 27; Little Rock, Ark., Jan. 31; Springfield, Mo., Feb. 1; Bethany, Okla., Feb. 2; Wichita, Kan., Feb. 3; Frederick, Md., Feb. 5; Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Feb. 7; Tampa, Fla., Feb. 8; Ocala, Fla., Feb. 9; Melbourne, Fla., Feb. 10. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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Editorial Team: ePilot Flight Training Editor : Jill W. Tallman | ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown | Contributor: Alton K. Marsh