Getting radar traffic advisories from air traffic control is a big help when you fly in busy airspace. Radar can provide that second pair of eyes that pilots talk about. The service does not relieve you of your responsibility to see and avoid other aircraft, but it's still a reassuring presence as you fly the route.
After a few flights with traffic advisories, the terminology becomes familiar and you learn the distinctions between the various phrases ATC uses. For example, if you haven't spotted an aircraft reported as nearby or on a converging course, it's a relief to hear the controller follow up and advise you that the traffic is no factor. However, if ATC reports that the traffic is no longer observed, the other aircraft may still be nearby—perhaps descending—so it's important for you to continue scanning for it.
Two-way communication is the key to making traffic advisories work, so what should you do if you lose track of an aircraft that you had previously reported in sight?
In that case, be sure to notify the radar controller if you lose visual contact. This is important for two reasons. First, it will alert the controller that he or she should resume advising you of the aircraft's position relative to yours. Second, if you had been instructed to follow the aircraft to the airport, ATC will have to come up with a new plan for sequencing your arrival. If the other traffic is a large aircraft, you will have to be sure to avoid encountering its wake turbulence.
Too often, pilots drop the ball by failing to inform ATC that they have lost sight of previously reported traffic, with safety suffering. A near-midair-collision that occurred while a Beech Bonanza was descending to a Pennsylvania airport followed the pilot's losing sight of traffic, according to the report the pilot submitted to the Aviation Safety Reporting System. The pilot was unsure whether the conflicting traffic, a Cessna, was the same aircraft or another airplane. Spotting it may also have been hindered by its being concealed in the Bonanza's blind spot.
With all the demands on a pilot's attention, losing visual contact with another aircraft is always possible. Be safe, and get that second pair of eyes helping you out again!
Flight Training News
In a speech delivered Jan. 26 on AOPA Live®, AOPA President Craig Fuller unveiled a new initiative designed to encourage best practices and recognize flight training providers who put those practices to work every day. The AOPA Flight Training Excellence Awards, brought to you by Flight Training magazine, will be given annually to flight schools and individual flight training professionals. They are based on AOPA's flight training student retention research. Read More >>
EAA to expand Young Eagles program
The Experimental Aircraft Association shared more details on its plans to expand its enormously popular Young Eagles program in 2012. At the 2012 Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, EAA President Rod Hightower said the program's newest outgrowth, an orientation program for adults called Eagle Flights, will be launched in conjunction with expansion of EAA chapters and a newly forged partnership with Boy Scouts of America. Read more >>
If you're a student pilot, should you let ATC know?
Many student pilots hesitate to admit that they are students when they contact air traffic control. Is it unnecessary information, or do controllers appreciate when pilots mention this? In this segment of Ask ATC, a tower controller explains how ATC handles a request when a pilot announces that he or she is a student. Watch the Air Safety Institute's latest Ask ATC video >>
Join 'Flight Training' editors for February chat
Join Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly and Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman for a live Facebook chat on Thursday, Feb. 2. The editors will take questions from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern time. Twombly and Tallman are ready to talk about the February issue of Flight Training or any other training topics you'd like to discuss. To participate or view transcripts of previous chats, simply log in to Facebook and go to the Flight Training page.
Tecnam offers discount program
Seeking a greater share of the market—particularly the flight training market—Tecnam announced a new program Jan. 20 in which it will make up to 500 light sport aircraft available at 20 percent off the base price. Those who take Tecnam up on the offer must make their aircraft available for limited demonstration within their state, and must agree to hold on to the aircraft for at least two years. Read more >>
'Flying Wild Alaska' pilot to appear at Maryland event
Flying Wild Alaska's Sarah Fraher will appear at the March 10 Women Fly It Forward event at Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick, Md. The event is one of numerous activities that will take place at airports around the world March 5 through 11 in celebration of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week. Read more >>
Even as a student, you need to start thinking like the pilot in command you'll one day be. Here's an example: It's a beautiful day and you're dying to exercise your new private pilot certificate, so you and a couple of friends decide to venture out for the proverbial $100 hamburger. You've got a briefing through the FAA DUAT System, an Internet-generated route, a sectional chart, a GPS, and a reliable aircraft—what else could you possibly need? Find out what you might be forgetting with the Air Safety Institute's safety quiz on VFR cross-country planning.
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.
Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen
Red Tails, a film inspired by the exploits of the nation's first military program for African-American pilots, opened in theaters nationwide on Jan. 20. Have you seen the film? AOPA President Craig Fuller sat down to talk with one of its stars, Academy-Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr., at AOPA Aviation Summit 2011. Gooding explained how he became involved in the production; how he prepared for the role; and how the participation of surviving Tuskegee Airmen helped to shape the film. Watch AOPA Live >>
American Eagle replaces turboprops at DFW
American Eagle Airlines, the regional affiliate of American Airlines, is replacing all of its ATR turboprop aircraft operating from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Fourteen markets throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas will have all-jet service beginning Jan. 31; they will be served by a combination of 37-, 44-, and 50-seat jets. American Eagle also announced that it would launch daily nonstop jet service between Dallas/Fort Worth and Garden City, Kan., beginning April 9. The carrier operates more than 1,500 daily flights to more than 170 cities on behalf of American Airlines.
Southwest announces new Atlanta-Los Angeles route
Southwest Airlines on Jan. 11 announced plans for one new daily nonstop flight between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport beginning June 10; it will be in addition to the three daily flights operated by AirTran, Southwest's wholly owned subsidiary. Southwest will begin service to the Atlanta market on Feb. 12 with 15 daily nonstop flights to five destinations; two additional destinations will be added in March.
Did you learn to fly in a high- or low-wing airplane? The pros and the cons of each basic design are debated endlessly—and usually, sportingly—by their respective devotees. If you see a twin-engine airplane on the ramp that doesn't seem to fit into either category, but looks like a speed demon, you may be in the presence of a mid-winged Piper Aerostar. Also known as a shoulder-wing design, this pressurized piston-powered airplane grosses about 6,000 pounds, and can cruise at more than 250 knots at altitudes in the mid-20,000s.
Portable cart for BrightLine Bag
BrightLine Bags has introduced a portable folding cart for use with its premier offering, the Brightline Bag. The cart is meant to be used when the bag is filled up and heavy. It weighs three pounds and sells for $25. To order, see the website or call 415/721-7825.
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.
AOPA gets member his medical back in minutes
When prostate cancer grounded Jim Anderson, the impact was great. He is an aerial photographer, so not only did he lose his privilege to fly, but he also lost the way he earns his living. Once his tests were clean and it was time to get his medical back, he contacted AOPA as a member of the Medical Services Plan. Read more >>
New, improved AD&D insurance plan offers 24/7 coverage
AOPA members who enroll in the AOPA Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance plan will now benefit from new expanded offerings and 24/7 coverage, even when not flying, all available at no additional cost. A favorite among pilots looking for coverage while flying, the AOPA Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance plan has undergone some exciting changes, making it more beneficial than ever before for members to enroll. Read more >>
Your first flight with a passenger
The March issue of Flight Training features a story of a pilot's first passengers with a bit of a different twist. In the latest Flight Training blog, Flight Training Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman invites you to share the story of the first time you carried a passenger. Was it everything you imagined it would be?
First breakfast flight!
AOPA Communications Coordinator Kristen Seaman is sharing her experiences as a brand-new student pilot in the Let's Go Flying blog. Do you recall fighting the urge to steer the airplane on the ground with the yoke, or feeling a sense of wonder at that very first entry in your logbook? Read about her first lesson.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a chief flight instructor, manager of flight training programs, AOPA Live producer/videojournalist, and associate editor–Web/ ePilot. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
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