AVmail: March 31, 2003

Reader mail this week about hijack panic buttons, GPS degradation during the war and more.


Hijack Transponder Rule Panned

So, instead of labelling the proposed new transponder’s “panic” buttons in the normal way, perhaps they should label them the “Please shoot me down” button. Only a suicidal pilot these days would deliberately squawk a “hijack” code, right? George Horn

US Military May Degrade GPS Signal

This article indicates that the U.S. military may degrade the GPS system during war with Iraq. This could be potentially fatal for U.S. pilots who use GPS in their planes, especially those who use it for IFR flight. It’s one thing to be 900 feet off to the side; it’s a bit more of a problem to be off 900 feet in altitude.David Freed

AVweb responds …

Our understanding is that any time a GPS system is used for vertical navigation (and only some are so approved), you must somehow input a barametric pressure reading; and an IFR-approved GPS unit will give a RAIM warning if the system accuracy is too low to use for an approach. The only pilots who could conceivably be at risk would be those either illegally using a VFR GPS as their sole IFR navigation system, or using an IFR GPS but ignoring the warning flags. And my portable VFR GPS still shows an accuracy reading of less than 25 feet, so perhaps they didn’t degrade it after all. Nonetheless, if they did suddenly degrade it, we GPS users had better be prepared with an alternate navigation system.

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features and AVmail Editor

Brainteaser #66: Just How Current Are You?

I would like to see the regulations that say:1) The CFI certificate is not a pilot certificate; and2) A CFI cannot give a BFR in a tailwheel aircraft if he is not tailwheel qualified, but is not acting as PIC.You quoted regulations that supported all your other answers, but not these. Chris Campbell

AVweb responds …

We said that passing an initial CFI checkride does not automatically count as a BFR (under 61.56 d) because the candidate is issued an “instructor’s certificate” and not a “pilot certificate” as per 61.5. FAR 61.56 (d) says that anyone passing a checkride that results in a new pilot certificate or new rating can use the checkride as a BFR (which, of course is really called a “flight review”). I’m paraphrasing wildly here….

So, most DEPs would say, “I’ve also evaluated your pilot skills on this flight instructor’s checkride, so I’m making a separate endorsement for BFR …

Point: Get the separate endorsement.

The question arose from many readers: “Doesn’t the rating that’s added to the flight instructor’s certificate(e.g., “airplane …”) count as a new rating and therefore satisfy 61.56 (d)?”

Answer according to my local FSDO and verified by the Airman Certification Branch, AFS-600, Regulatory Support Division at Oklahoma City, OK: “No.” The rating is to the flight instructor certificate and not to the pilot certificate and therefore does not satisfy 61.56 (d).

This the FAAs response from OKC: “The examiner conducting the CFI test would have to evaluate pilot performance which is not part of the CFI test to count as the BFR. If they do this it would then be a good idea to also enter it in the logbook.”

So, get the separate BFR endorsement after an initial CFI checkride.

We took your question about the tailwheel BFR to the local FSDO, who shot it up to the FAA Headquarters, who just came out with this official stance:

Question: The situation is a flight instructor has asked the question whether he can give a flight review in a tailwheel airplane and yet he has not previously met the additional training requirements for operating a tailwheel airplane [i.e., 61.31(i)].

Answer: Ref. 61.1(b)(2); 61.56(c)(1); No, a flight instructor cannot give a flight review in a tailwheel airplane unless he has complied with 61.31(i). Per 61.56(c)(1), it states, in pertinent part, “. . . by an authorized instructor . . . .” Per 61.1(b)(2)(ii), it states, in pertinent part, “. . . in accordance with the privileges and limitations of his or her flight instructor certificate . . . .” The flight instructor would not be considered an “authorized instructor” for giving a flight review in a tailwheel airplane.

Paul Berge
Brainteaser #66 Author
Editor, IFR Magazine


In Monday’s story, “And Sometimes, Dreams Come True,” we stated that Delta State University was located in Jackson, Miss. It is, in fact, in Cleveland, Miss., and for that mistake we apologize to all DSU Fighting Okra.

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features and AVmail Editor