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Volume 25, Number 23a
June 4, 2018
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Updated Airman Rules June 11
Russ Niles

The FAA has updated airman certification standards to reflect recent changes in its operation and new rules that have been adopted and they go into effect on June 11. AOPA says the changes were developed by the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee Airman Certification System working group and are mostly designed to accommodate recent changes, such as the adoption of BasicMed. One relatively major change is giving the evaluator the option to ask a pilot on checkride to do a full aerodynamic stall.

“The integrated standards incorporate all the knowledge, risk management, and skill elements needed for a certificate or rating—clearly defining what an applicant is expected to know, consider, and do in order to pass and to also be a safe pilot,” said David Oord, AOPA’s senior director of regulatory affairs and chair of the Airman Certification System working group. The FAA will host a webinar on the changes June 6.

Electric Airplane Owner Experience
Russ Niles

How electric airplanes fit into GA is an open question but as the first few get delivered in the real world, some insights are emerging. Pipistrel Alpha Electro owner James Douma, of Pitt Meadows, B.C., in Canada says the aircraft, which is Transport Canada approved under its advanced ultralight category, fits his lifestyle, ethics and budget pretty well.

Guest Blog: CFI's Remorse
Jeff Parnau

Let’s call him Peter. I was his fifth flight instructor since he started learning to fly nine months earlier.  He was attempting to obtain his private license within the 365-day period allowed for registered aliens living in the U.S. When we met, my first question was, “How did you go through so many instructors?” Some of his explanations made sense. One got a right-seat job with a small airline, another quit so he could take care of a relative, and so on. The bottom line was, he was in a hurry, and wanted to fly more often than most instructors could handle.

I mentioned that I could not guarantee he’d pass his checkride within three months, and he was aware that if he didn’t, he’d have to reapply for TSA approval to continue his training. I took the challenge.

“Born pilots” are a rare breed. This guy was an excellent stick in spite of his limited hours.  His handling of the Cessna 172 was easily as good as mine for takeoffs, landings and pattern work. His VFR navigation was excellent. What he mostly needed was three hours of cross-country, three hours of night flying per the regs, two more hours of instrument time and consistency in the private pilot flight maneuvers.

I talked a friend into helping out with the night flying--I am not a fan of single-engine cross country at night)--and I’d try to get him up to speed on the rest. The only problem I kept running into was a bit of overconfidence on his part. He felt he’d be ready for the checkride as soon as we flew the required hours. As any instructor knows, the student is ready only when they can consistently perform to the Airplane Airman Certification Standards (AACS).

He continued to assume that because he had performed all of the maneuvers properly a few times, we could proceed to the checkout line. I finally said we’d do a “fake” flight test, where I’d be the examiner and he’d be the candidate. We did that, and he “fake flunked.” His newfound humility led to more practice and, finally, a recommendation from me.

The examiner was using the techniques of the AACS, which are scenario-based. It began with a conversation about a hypothetical cross country flight. My student was nervous, and stumbled with some very basic concepts. Thankfully, the examiner recognized that he knew his stuff, but thought these were trick questions, and hesitated to offer the obvious answers. That being resolved, the oral exam went on for an hour. And off they went.

I walked to get lunch and returned shortly before they landed. The examiner took me aside and said he passed, but wanted to confirm whether I had instructed him to do a few things he considered odd, but not illegal. He also said that his piloting skills were exceptional.

The new private pilot began showing up at local airports, looking for aviation work hoping to catch a ride in anything that flew. He’d regularly phone me, offering to tag along on any cross-country flights I might be taking and I brought him along when it was practical.

Less than a year after getting his private license, he’d gotten his instrument rating and was working on his multi-engine rating. He lived to fly. His most recent flight was as a passenger with a Pitts S-2A. That flight ended in a fatal crash, killing both aboard.

I have flown with many pilots in a variety of aerobatic airplanes. I’ve seen (close up) equipment failures, botched maneuvers, precision flight, near-misses. I’ve been to lots of pilot funerals. I believe I am aware of the risks involved in normal flight; in aerobatic flight; in unfamiliar airplanes. In some cases, I was aware that if the pilot became incapacitated, he would likely not successfully put the airplane down safely.

When I learned of this accident, I had a wave of survivor guilt, coupled with a sense that I had failed in some way. I knew this kid was desperate to be in any airplane, at any time, with any pilot. I have occasionally declined to ride along with pilots who I considered were in over their heads, or whose airplanes struck me as questionably maintained. I was deeply saddened to see this excited, talented, future career aviator vanish as he hunted for and devoured all things aerodynamic.

We’re taught that individuals are unique and it’s up to us to shape our training to each student’s needs. This kid was so in love with aviation that, offered a ride, safety was probably not at the top of his list. Alone, or as PIC, he was exceptionally meticulous. On the day he died, he was a passenger. Could I have sensed that he needed advice on when to say no to a tempting flight? Would that have changed anything? Sadly, those questions will remain unanswered.

Seat STC Expands BasicMed Fleet
Russ Niles

The FAA has issued a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) that will allow pilots to fly two larger Piper aircraft under BasicMed medical certificates. Under BasicMed, pilots are restricted to aircraft certified to carry six or fewer people. Senecas and most Cherokee Six aircraft and their derivatives are certified as seven-seat aircraft although few actually have seven seats. The STC, which was issued to Aeronautix, requires the removal of the seventh seat in aircraft that have them and restricts them to six seats.

“By installing the Aeronautix BasicMed 6 Place Occupancy Restriction STC your seven place aircraft becomes a six place aircraft and meets the requirements of BasicMed (14 CFR §61.113(i)),” said company spokesman Jonathan Adams. The development of the STC arose when Seneca, Six, Lance and Saratoga Owners petitioned the FAA to allow them to fly their aircraft under BasicMed. The FAA responded by saying the seating capacity could be altered through an STC so Aeronautix got the paperwork started. The STC was issued June 1.

Paraplegic Show Pilot Dies After Crash
Russ Niles

Dan Buchanan, a paraplegic hang glider pilot who performed at airshows all over the world for almost 30 years, died in a crash at an Idaho show on Saturday. Buchanan was doing his routine, which usually included aerobatics and pyrotechnics, at the Gunfighter Skies airshow at Mountain Home Air Force Base. Witnesses said Buchanan had just finished a routine involving another aircraft when the accident occurred about 1:30 p.m. local time. First responders were at the scene in moments and he was taken to the hospital, where he died.

Buchanan lost the use of his legs in a hang gliding accident in 1981 but was back flying six months later. He also earned a sailplane license and had more than 3,000 hours of powerless flight. He became a licensed pyrotechnician and designed routines using various types of fireworks in day and night shows. He won numerous airshow awards including the Art Scholl Award for Showmanship, the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship and ICAS Special Achievement Award.

Video Captures Damage-Free Road Landing
Russ Niles

A young pilot who some sources say is a student ducked power lines, dodged cars, buildings and pedestrians and put her Cessna 172 down without a scratch on a busy Huntington Beach, California, street on Friday. Dash cam and surveillance video showed the unidentified woman maneuvering the aircraft in gusty conditions to avoid obstacles (the high wing may have helped) before setting it down firmly and bringing it to a stop just before a set of traffic lights on a major road. She apparently reported engine trouble with the aircraft before heading for the off-airport landing just before 5 p.m. during the height of the Friday afternoon rush hour. Video shot immediately after the landing showed the engine running as police approached the stationary aircraft.

The flight originated at John Wayne Airport and the pilot apparently reported the engine was running roughly. The undamaged plane was pushed to a cul-de-sac where investigators were to have a look at it. It’s not clear how it was to be taken back to the airport. The aircraft is a 2014 S model and is registered to JC Capital Holdings LLC in Los Angeles.


ATC Applicants Get New Day In Court In FAA Discrimination Suit
Kate O'Connor

A district court has restored the demand for the full reinstatement of ATC applicants who claimed they were denied employment because of discriminatory hiring practices by the FAA. The group of would-be applicants filed a class-action suit in 2015 after their job applications were thrown out by the FAA, according to the group’s lawyers.

The restoration of a demand is not a final ruling. It does, however, mean that reinstatement is back on the table for affected parties if the court does rule against the FAA. The lead plaintiff in the suit is Andrew Brigida, a graduate of Arizona State University’s FAA-approved Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) programs. It was filed by Michael Pearson of Curry, Pearson & Wooten PLC and co-counsel Mountain States Legal Foundation.

As we reported in 2016, the allegations of discrimination stem from the FAA’s change in ATC hiring practices in 2013. Before that time, preference was given to CTI graduates, veterans and those with high rankings on the Air Traffic Selection and Training exam (AT-SAT). The AT-SAT was revised in 2013, a separate personality-based Biographical Assessment—that many said was nonsensical—was added as a requirement and preferential hiring for CTI grads was removed. According to the FAA, the purpose of the assessment was, in part, to increase diversity in its workforce.

The FAA eventually reinstated preference for CTI graduates and veterans and withdrew the assessment requirement for those groups after complaints from Congress. Applicants who were passed over were urged to reapply in a general statement but were not automatically reconsidered. According to the Mountain States Legal Foundation, Brigida, who had scored 100 percent on the AT-SAT and applied for an ATC job in late 2013, and between 1,500 and 3,500 similarly qualified ATC applicants were told by the FAA in early 2014 that due to the new hiring procedures, their applications and AT-SAT scores were invalid and would need to be redone.

Lycoming 'When can an engine give you 200 extra flying hours?'
Picture of the Week, May 31, 2018
Lenticular clouds on a flight in a Robin DR40 through the Bernina mountains in Switzerland. Camera: iPhone SE Photo by Paul Hopff.

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Top Letters and Comments, June 1, 2018
AVweb Staff

Duo Bails Out Of TBM Avenger

I wanted to clarify some apparent misinformation on what I have heard and read:

(1) The .50 caliber machine guns in the wings are FORWARD facing. One in each wing. They were simulated, not real. The gun receivers with ammunition feedways, barrels and barrel jackets were modeled from the real specs, but the internal parts were designed with a complex computerized oxygen and propane mixing firing system. No rounds, no bullets. Only air pressure and noise.

The gun firing to the rear is of the same type, but is mounted in a revolving turret located in the aft position behind the middle seat.

(2) In the news interview, I had indicated that I was “on the instruments.”  My reference was to my focus was on the “power indication dials,” mainly special attention being paid to the oil temperature, oil and fuel pressures, and cylinder head temperature gauges.  When in more vulnerable positions, most pilots pay double attention to those instruments in order to get as early a warning as possible if there might be any trouble developing. The instruments were all in the green when the engine malfunctioned.

(3) This airplane was re-registered and re-certified in the “LIMITED” category after we took possession in the United States. One of the limitations was no night flights and no IFR, whether the pilot was rated or not. I am a instrument pilot with heavy practical experience in extreme conditions from my expeditions to the high Arctic and other remote places.

Lastly, it was devastating to lose this aircraft. Of course, now after this event, I have gone over and over and over in my mind if there was anything else I could have done to save this ship. This was sudden and catastrophic, and we had immediately lost most of our thrust, even before pulling the throttle back to try to bring down the smoke and fire.

It would’ve been suicide to try to land in the trees. Most are 100- to 150-foot-high Ponderosa Pines closely spaced on rugged these mountain slopes.  I did consider a right base to final to a possible landing spot in a wet marsh / swamp. With my DeHavilland Beaver, I may not have given it a second thought, with those high wings and large floats under me. I had practiced extensively and had actually successfully executed it once for the wet tundra of the high arctic before. But with heavy increasing smoke coming into the cockpit, and knowing that these wings are low, gear up, there was a good chance of a cartwheel. I had done my “what if’s” already, way ahead of time before taking my first flight in this airplane. I had played it out -- where I would land -- and -- where I would NOT land, if I ever had a problem. So I had already preemptively ruled this out.

Putting that all aside, if I had decided to try it in this particular marsh, if I came in short, or came in long, it would be over immediately. There would have been no room for error. And if I may have risked it myself, there was no way that I was not going to risk the life of my friend and crewmate.

That said, the loss of this airplane is devastating not only for myself, but for the world. We had put so much work and passion into her. There was and is a huge connection. She was a flying museum, a marvel to look at.  A privilege to fly. I always felt like it was all a privilege, so this is especially tough.

But now reflecting back on what is really important -- I am alive. My friend is alive.  -We are not maimed. We still now both get to see our kids finish growing up, getting married, and all the other great things we all hope for. I'm glad I didn't gamble that away.

-        Ron Carlson

No Help For EU Pilot Shortage

Airlines, corporations with active flight departments will have to invest in the training market to ensure a steady flow of trained pilots. The trucking industry has learned that lesson well. The most successful trucking companies subsidize or pay for in its entirety, training new drivers in exchange for a contractual, mutual agreement which the driver guarantees several years of service with said company. Pay, benefit packages, sign on bonuses, etc., are mutually worked out so the prospective driver knows what he will be paid during training, knows his pay scale once hired and has a paid experienced mentor who rides with the new driver integrating them into the company's system. The companies who do not want to make that investment are revolving doors of employment with very little, if any, driver retention. The professional pilot world will have to make the same or similar commitment staring with an applicant as a student pilot, not waiting to pick off the next 1500-hour newly minted ATP from Brand X flying school saddled up with $50K-65K in debt. The problem for all of this is the financially precarious positions the airlines operate in with just a hiccup of fuel prices, and said airline is BK or being absorbed by someone else who is only a few steps from bankruptcy themselves. To get and retain properly trained professional pilots will require an airline to invest themselves in the training market from solo to ATP. It will take a Vashon Ranger to a King Air in Delta livery as an example of training from student to ATP ... with the sponsoring airline taking on the responsibility of training and retaining enough qualified piloting help.

-        Jim Holdeman

New Trainers: Less Likely Than Ever To Be Cessnas

I've said it here many times, that the future of single engine GA aircraft does not lie with Cessna/Textron. The 172 and probably the 182 will meet a similar inglorious end as the TTX in the not too distant future, leaving only the commercial haulers like the 206 and Caravan in production. Textron is only interested in turbine-based equipment because the profit margins are more to their liking. The future of GA lies with smaller companies that are working to innovate designs and engines that will fit an evolving market. AVweb's recent highlighting of the Vashon Ranger seems to make more sense now than ever, except for the engine choice. Convincing the FAA to update the rules for the LSA category is also more important than ever if America plans to remain relevant in small aircraft design. Europe may be in love with electrics and hybrid designs, but the distances involved in North America make those options doubtful until better battery technologies emerge. A 145-HP Rotax engine could easily support an 1800-pound LSA with the added benefit of not needing the EPA's unleaded avgas which may or may not ever appear.

-        John McNamee

Perception vs. Reality

I think that minority-focused organizations are probably necessary until the minority population reaches a certain critical mass. Maybe 25% of the whole group. Having been to a number of aviation-focused events (Oshkosh, Sun 'n Fun) and working in the industry, I can tell you that I still observe that about 80% (or more) of pilots are white men. I think non-white males have an edge over female pilots in terms of becoming more common. It's worse out in the maintenance hangar. The rate of female A&P technicians hovers around the 1% mark. Definitely plenty of room for growth there. A support group for those brave individuals is (in my opinion) entirely appropriate. I think a clever name for the group helps. Something like "The 99s," which doesn't toss the minority name or designator into the title.

-        David Bunin

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Psychology of Pilot Responses
Ted Spitzmiller

As pilots, each time we read an accident review we often evaluate the pilot’s response relative to the developing chain of events. If the chain is slow in evolving, there is a tendency for the pilot to either not recognize the link or to downplay or ignore it. Knowing the end result, and then replaying the events, we can often see the chain emerging and wonder why the pilot didn’t recognize and respond to each link to defuse the problem. Yes, it is often easy to criticize or pass judgment from a position of hindsight.

When a serious event suddenly occurs that had not been foreshadowed, such as an engine failure, the mind does a rapid search for immediate remedies (typically those for which training has been received and internalized). This recall is often referred to as Primacy or Recency Effect—recalling tasks that are first learned or at the beginning of a check list, or those for which you most recently experienced or received training. Over the past few issues of IFR Refresher we have used the expression Startle Effect to categorize this type of event.

When Time Is A Critical Factor

If the event occurs at altitude where time is available to allow a mental search for remedies or to use the checklist, the pilot may work themselves out of a critical situation. If the malady happens at a perilous junction, such as an engine failure after takeoff, then there are immediate and perhaps fatal consequences to inaction or incorrect action—and, more than likely, the pilot realizes this.

When an event produces a Startle Effect, if the first remedy applied does not produce an immediate and positive response to the situation, the mind may shut down and inaction follows. The pilot has become a passenger and is no longer an active participant. Panic, the “sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, of-ten causing unthinking behavior,” may occur. It is interesting that the new FAA Instrument ACS deleted IR.VII.B.R1 1. 321B Startle response during unexpected events.

The Mental Response Stream

There is also an interesting analogy between the reaction to the Startle Effect and the grieving process. When a critical event occurs for which the pilot has no immediate response, they may move through the following five emotional stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

How long the pilot spends in each stage is dependent on the individual’s emotional makeup. Thus, it may be a few seconds of denial, a moment of anger, perhaps some bargaining with a higher power for help, a period of depression, and then either acceptance of a fateful outcome, or the realization that only their own action will bring about a resolution—and they apply their knowledge and experience. Interviews with those few who have experienced this sequence of emotions (and survived), along with some cockpit voice recordings, have confirmed this basic premise.

While the actual occurrence of such a catastrophic event is statistically small, most pilots have contemplated the thought process and wondered about their own reactions. For airline or corporate pilots, periodic and intensive training is critical to keeping the edge on a wide variety of situations, which must be handled rapidly and without error. For those for whom piloting is a periodic endeavor, flying simpler air-craft allows the mind to cope with-out a myriad of complexities to work through when problems occur.

We should be able to identify the critical events that could overtake us in the cockpit for the aircraft we fly, and to be prepared, by training and periodic review, for rote responses to the Startle Effect.

Ted Spitzmiller is the editor of IFR Refresher, and a CFII.

This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of IFR Refresher magazine.

For more great content like this, subscribe to IFR Refresher!

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