AVmail: March 6, 2003

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Reader mail this week about the Cirrus safety study, wake turbulence, the FBI plane mistaken for terrorists and more.


Cirrus Launches Safety Study

I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that the results of the upcomming Cirrus study will be inconclusive.

Having said that, I'll make the same bet again by stating that the real cause of most if not all of those accidents, is over-confidence caused by color moving map displays and other modern electronic visual displays. Additionally, the extra-safe feeling of having a plane with a parachute also serves to sucker guys in to situations beyond their limits, (and their aircraft's limits).

The single reason I say this, "Bin there, dun that." Not bragging, and not proud of it either, but it's the truth. Damn color moving map dispays just sucker you into situation you would never ever get into if you were navigating with the old traditional method of map reading, VOR/ADF only.

There will be guys yelling "Bull****!" to my reasoning, but that's my story and I'm a stickin' to it!

Bob James

I don't wish to take any glory away from Mr. Morrison flying his Cirrus. But in 1964 I had an incident with the left aileron on a Cessna 120 where the inboard end of the aileron came detached and dropped down about a foot. There were no adverse control problems, and I made a normal approach and landing.

Hardy Irby

AVweb responds ...

I firmly believe that the proposed study is extremely valuable and timely, given the proliferation of moving map displays. I've certainly seen how easy it is to get lulled into a false sense of security when the map doesn't display everything you need to know. That said, one reason avionics companies are making them (and many pilots are buying them) is precisely because pilots have been getting into bad situations with the old, traditional methods of map reading and VOR/ADF navigating.

As to the aileron problem, Mr. Morrison may have been able to get down safely without the parachute, but he had the option, and he chose it. In 1964, if you didn't know whether you'd be able to land safely and you had the parachute option, would you have chosen it?

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features and AVmail Editor


Wake Turbulence -- An Invisible Enemy

Linda Pendleton's article on wake turbulence was excellent. One point that needs to be emphasized: In a crowded metropolitan area like the Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley basin area, where there is jet traffic of all sorts arriving and departing from airports that are in close proximity, you may encounter a wake from an aircraft inbound or outbound from a different airport than the one you are flying into or out of. A review of this accident report is instructive.

Karin Cozzolino

AVweb responds ...

Excellent point, Karin. It needs to be emphasized that wake turbulence is where you find it, and certainly the air in the Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley area gets churned up on a regular basis! It's far more difficult, however, to guard against this type of wake. The saving feature is that, when you do encounter this type, it is usually at an angle to your flight path, and you're at a higher altitude, which makes recovery more likely. You are more likely to encounter an upset from an aircraft you are following. Vigilance is the key.

Linda Pendleton


FBI Plane Mistaken For Terrorists

The airplane was over Bloomington, Ind. (BMG), not Bloomington, Ill. (BMI). However, we probably shouldn't hold you accountable for the error. Various airlines routinely send passengers to BMI when they want to go to BMG and sell tickets to people in BMG on an airplane that is departing from BMI. You could say, well that's probably an easy mistake to make. Those of us here in BMG would concur except for one small factor. There is no airline service to or from BMG and the two cities are about 200 miles apart.

Our fixed base operation, BMG Aviation, serviced the airplane when it landed for fuel on numerous occasions. We knew who was operating the airplane, but did not disclose this information even though we received dozens of phone calls from concerned citizens

Willis Ziese


PT6-A-28 Turboprop

I recently had a problem with one of my engines on our King Air during shutdown. The line guy said that the engine was making a grinding noise and then the prop just stopped. After further inspection, the prop was stiff and you could hear somthing rubbing inside the turbine. We thought the worst, but it turned out be a build up of some sort, and after the engine cooled down it has worked fine ever since. The mechanic at Standard Aero said he had seen it a hundred times; most everyone that I have talked to have never heard of it before. I just thought that maybe it would make an interesting article and might save someone a lot of trouble someday.

Ryan Heckert, CJ Systems

AVweb responds ...

We will certainly consider it for a future article. Any other AVweb readers have this experience?

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features and AVmail Editor


Traffic Pattern Entry

In response to Roger Newcomb's AVmail, in my opinion he is stepping on a lot of toes with his "safe" way to do the pattern. First, there are legitimate ways of coming straight-in: The pilot may be practicing instrument approaches (with a safety pilot, of course), or he/she feels that the straight-in doesn't interfere with the other aircraft in the pattern.

Second, Mr. Newcomb seems to be relying too much on his radio to spot other traffic. See-and-avoid first, communicate next. Pilots without radios are not "yahoos" -- chances are they have been flying for decades -- and they are more worried about you relying on your radio and not looking out the window than you are about not seeing them.

Third, imagine 123.00 Mhz on a VFR Saturday morning at a field with a restaurant. You can hardly get a word in, especially if you share the frequency with other airports nearby! I heard a Skyhawk the other day make 10 radio calls in 2 minutes! Pilots who use too many radio calls take airtime from other pilots, making some radio calls impossible without causing that horrifying radio-squeal.

And finally, remember that there is more than one correct, safe, and legal way to do your traffic pattern, and to use or not use your radios. Such dilligence will make flying more safe and enjoyable for us all, including a "yahoo" such as myself.

David R. Bernard, CFII MEI