Now as you fly back toward the airport, the pattern is full of aircraft coming and going from the field, along with those in closed traffic, so you will have to wait for a chance to broadcast your impending arrival on the common traffic advisory frequency.
Or did you?
“Research has shown that the average person has a reaction time of 12.5 seconds,” notes FAA Advisory Circular AC 90-48D, Pilots’ Role in Collision Avoidance. An updated edition of the advisory circular was released in April, replacing a 1983 issue.
If that seems like a long collision avoidance reaction time, study the chart on page 2. It breaks the identification-and-reaction process down to six steps, with one step, the pilot becoming aware of the collision course, costing five seconds.
According to the advisory circular, there were 42 midair collisions in the United States from January 2009 to December 2013, and 461 near-midairs. That’s why your instructor (and your designated pilot examiner) emphasize collision-avoidance awareness—and they don’t want to see you defaulting that piloting responsibility to any on-board technology.
“Traffic information equipment does not relieve a pilot’s responsibility to see and avoid other aircraft,” it says. “Managing distractions caused by the use of technology in the cockpit is critical to the safety of the flight. While new aircraft systems can provide pilots with a wealth of information, they can also cause fixation on the displays and draw a pilot’s attention inside the cockpit and away from the outside environment. Any newly installed technology and its limitations should be thoroughly learned and understood on the ground first as much as possible. For all pilots using advanced technologies in the cockpit, extra vigilance is required to avoid excessive heads-down time.”