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November 21, 2014, AOPA ePilot: Flight Training EditionNovember 21, 2014, AOPA ePilot: Flight Training Edition

ePilot Flight Training Edition

November 21, 2014 - VOL 14, ISSUE 47

Training Tips

Fleshing out FICONs

A cold front that pushed through overnight has left the airport under a thin blanket of new snow, but the sun is shining and cleanup operations are well underway. There should be no problem heading out on today's dual cross-country, you inform your instructor by phone.

He's glad to hear it, but has a question: "Any FICONS of interest this morning?"

Any what?

Especially in northern regions, 'tis the season when FICONs—a notam contraction that translates to "field conditions"—should become a routine item to check during preflight briefings.

This FICON notam was briefly in effect at St. Cloud Regional Airport in Minnesota after an early November storm barreled through the upper Midwest: "TWY ALL FICON PATCHY COMPACTED SN BA FAIR OBSERVED AT 1411120300. 12 NOV 03:06 2014 UNTIL 12 NOV 23:00 2014. CREATED: 12 NOV 03:08 2014."

This notam was one of several recently in effect in Gulkana, Alaska: "RWY 15/33 FICON ICE AND THIN SN OBSERVED AT 1411070025. 07 NOV 00:25 2014 UNTIL 13 NOV 09:00 2014 ESTIMATED. CREATED: 07 NOV 00:44 2014."

Notice that the St. Cloud notam described snow as patchy and compacted, and the notam ended with "BA fair"—a report of fair braking action.

"When tower controllers have received runway braking action reports which include the terms 'fair,' 'poor,' or 'nil,' or whenever weather conditions are conducive to deteriorating or rapidly changing runway braking conditions, the tower will include on the ATIS broadcast the statement, 'Braking action advisories are in effect,'" explains the Pilot/Controller Glossary section of the Aeronautical Information Manual.

Note the abbreviation TWY that precedes the notam in St. Cloud, and RWY, preceding the Gulkana notam. The abbreviations, for taxiway and runway, respectively, are notam D keywords that appear in the AIM's table 5-1-1. A keyword must appear as the first part of the notam's text after the location identifier (in these cases, the airport identifiers).

The format of notams about field conditions was revised in 2013 so that "during periods when field conditions are not being reported, a FICON notam may be originated for a pilot-reported condition, with the words 'pilot reported' preceding FICON. The notam’s expiration time must not exceed 12 hours."

The AIM also advises pilots to be prepared to give controllers "a descriptive runway condition report" after landing, when braking advisories are active.

Flight Training News


Zulu Flight Training opens in Switzerland

Continental Motors' Zulu Flight Training opened its first international training center on Nov. 6 in Geneva, Switzerland. The company's training model employs Redbird full-motion simulators in a retail setting away from the airport, and it claims a greater than 90 percent student retention rate thanks to a specifically tailored curriculum that is available in a convenient setting. Read more...  



New president, upgraded facilities for Vaughn College

Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology recently celebrated the completion of a nearly $40 million renovation and sound abatement project and installed the college's first female president. Read more...  



Celebrating longevity

Gene Leak is something of a local celebrity to local news outlets eager to cover the flight marking his 102nd birthday. Read more...  


Fly like a fighter

'You can't bust me'

An Air Force student gets a surprise when his solo flight is deemed unsatisfactory for safety of flight. You might not be graded on every flight, but a "You can't bust me" attitude is dangerous. "If we are all to become better pilots, we owe it to ourselves to evaluate our performance on every sortie," writes retired Air Force pilot Larry Brown. Read more...  

Training Resources

Login required

'Ask ATC' about activating Plan B

Having a Plan B to deviate around weather is great. But how would you implement it while on an ATC-assigned heading? Learn what an air traffic controller has to say in this "Ask ATC: Weather Deviating" video. Watch the video...  

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 8 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.


AOPA Live This Week

Baker on Capitol Hill, centenarian takes flight

AOPA President Mark Baker told members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that regulatory and certification processes created decades ago "simply cannot keep pace with today's rapid changes." Barry Schiff gets an inside look at a presidential Boeing, and a 102-year-old celebrates his birthday in a Citabria. AOPA Live This Week®, Nov. 20...  

Career Pilot

Chinese manufacturers announce new orders

Commercial Aviation Corp. of China, known as Comac, announced at the recent Airshow China a deal to build 30 C919 170-passenger jets for the leasing arm of the state-owned China Merchants Bank, according to The New York Times. Comac, also state owned, displayed its ARJ21 regional jet and C919 jetliner at the show, according to the newspaper. Forbes reported another announcement from the show, the order of 20 Y-12 19-seat turboprops. California-based Coptervision ordered the aircraft, which is produced by Aviation Industry Corp. of China, also an investor in Comac.


Trans States to operate 36 jets for United

Trans States Airlines announced Nov. 10 that it will operate 36 Embraer E145 aircraft provided by United Airlines. The airline, which has been providing regional service for United Airlines under the United Express brand since 2003, plans to begin taking delivery and starting scheduled service with the new aircraft under that brand in February 2015. Deliveries are expected to continue through the first quarter of 2016.

For more aviation career news, see the Flight Training website.

Plane Spotter

Sport import

They're coming. As trainers and privately owned aircraft, the numbers are increasing of a "double-seated," low-wing, canopied light sport aircraft identifiable by its distinctive wing tips and three-bladed propeller. Spotters will recognize the aircraft as a SportCruiser from Czech Sport Aircraft; if a spotter refers to it as a PiperSport, that's a dated reference to Piper's brief project to market the aircraft as its own branded LSA. Czech Sport Aircraft estimates that there are more than 200 SportCruisers operating in the United States, and recently announced that more are on the way.

Training Products

Pilot magazine article

Gifts for the vintage pilot

At a time when tablet computers, smartphones, apps, and glass cockpits play an ever-expanding role in general aviation, some of us may wonder where that leaves the romance of flying. These retro pilot accessories can evoke a feeling of an earlier time when pilots jumped into their airplanes and went flying with the wind blowing in their faces, cold biting their noses. Read more...  

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.

Member Benefits

Members only

More tips for the student pilot: Seeking your first medical

Young student pilots are increasingly coming to their first FAA flight physical unaware that a common condition for which they are being treated is disqualifying. Warren Silberman, former manager of FAA Aerospace Medical Certification, offers advice for student pilots seeking their first medical certificate. Read more...  


Member benefits

Member transitions from renter's to owner's insurance

James Vest got close to his checkride before work and college got in the way. He returned to flying 23 years later, and soon after earning his private pilot certificate was shopping for an airplane. Read more...  


Let's use drone technology to expand business aviation

While part of the joy of flying is mastering a challenging task, using a general aviation aircraft for routine business or pleasure transportation is not easy—certainly not as easy as driving a car. Could technologies from unmanned aircraft systems make flying easier and help business aviation flourish? Opinion Leaders blogger Jack Olcott makes the case. Read more...  

Instrument Tip

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Fly the boardwalk approach

Flying to Ocean City for a relaxing weekend on the New Jersey shoreline, you're cleared for the VOR approach. But a faulty AWOS, inoperative approach lights, and a failed vacuum pump challenge your IFR skills on the approach. Test your savvy with this latest Air Safety Institute quiz...



BATLE station

The DME has been acting up on today's flight. Now it's doing it again. You'll have to pinpoint fixes along the approach course using the ADF. Ready for the challenge?  

Final Exam


What is the difference between deice and anti-ice systems?


Deicing equipment is designed to remove ice after it has already accumulated on the aircraft. Pneumatic boots are an example of deicing equipment. Anti-icing equipment prevents ice from forming on the aircraft. A common example of this is pitot heat. (Source: Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, Chapter 6.)

Got a question for our technical services staff? Contact AOPA.

Career Opportunities

AOPA Aviation Job Board

Hire the right people for your team this year

Hiring the right people for your team means knowing where to find the best qualified candidates. Start with the AOPA Aviation Job Board, which features hundreds of aviation-related jobs and candidate résumés. Post a job, search open positions, upload or view a résumé—everything you need in one convenient place. Check out the AOPA Aviation Job Board today...


AOPA career opportunities

Join the AOPA team

Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We're looking for a coordinator for pilot community development, program manager for flight training initiatives, senior advertising sales account executive, senior financial analyst, digital marketing manager, major gift officer, senior ambassador, ambassador for Southern California, .Net applications developer, social media evangelist, legal services plan program manager, and account manager II. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.

Education and Seminars

Flight Instructor Refresher Courses

Dec 6-7 - Orlando, Florida; Northbrook, Illinois; and Denver, Colorado

Jan 3-4 - Charlotte, North Carolina; Portland, Oregon; and Ypsilanti, Michigan

Jan 10-11 - San Antonio, Texas; Long Beach, California; Knoxville, Tennesee; and Bellevue, Washington

Jan 17-18 - Santa Clara, California; Ridgeland, Mississippi; and Baltimore, Maryland

For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online. Can't make it in person? Sign up for the Air Safety Institute's Online eFIRC.

Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars

Jan 5 - Mesa, Arizona; and Reno, Nevada

Jan 6 - Sacramento, California; and Tucson, Arizona

Jan 7 - El Paso, Texas; and Milpitas, California

Jan 8 - Santa Rosa, California; and Albuquerque, New Mexico

Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

Rusty Pilot Seminars

Jan 8 - Carlsbad, California

Jan 10 - Farmingdale, New York

Jan 17 - Keene, New Hampshire

For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

Aviation Calendar

Want something to do this weekend? Planning an aviation getaway? See AOPA's enhanced calendar of events. Now you can filter events by date range, airport ID, state, or region. Before you take off on an adventure, make sure you check our current aviation weather provided by Jeppesen.

To include an event or to search all events in the calendar, visit AOPA Online. For airport details, including FBO fuel prices, see AOPA Airports.

ePilot Flight Training Editors:

Sarah Deener
Alyssa Miller
Jim Moore

Production Assistant:

Melissa Whitehouse


Jill W. Tallman
Warren Morningstar
Alton K. Marsh
Dave Hirschman
Tom Horne
Ian J. Twombly
Dan Namowitz

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