Top Letters And Comments, December 10, 2021

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Guest Blog: The Wrong Way To Teach Forced Landings

EXCELLENT article! In training, we too often concentrate on whether or not we “made the field”–rather than “what’s wrong?” The author does an excellent job of emphasizing the preflight and flying the airplane–this is as it should be–concentrate on PREVENTING the scenario, rather than “did you make the field?”

Another good point–asking pilots “where do the engine gauges normally sit?” When riding or instructing in a strange airplane, I keep a watch on them–it’s surprising that renter pilots and owners don’t monitor them closer.

As flight instructors, we often “teach as we were taught” without exploring better ways to teach and prepare pilots. Examples like this one should be cause for us to alter our teaching procedure, as well as our own flying.

Jim Hanson

The standard, “Your engine failed” type of training does have its place in aviation. There are plenty of examples of catastrophic failures occurring on takeoff, cruise and approaches. It is important to train for the no time, no notice failures. The failures I have had in my 25+ years of flying have all been sudden no notice mechanical failures. Engines are very likely to fail on the high power takeoff or the first power change. This means low and without notice and requiring immediate action without thought to initiate a corrective action to get the flight safely to the ground.

I do agree that we need to train better in the prevention and monitoring of aircraft performance. Further we need to teach to deal with these problems as emergencies and to include others to support us, such as ATC when we have these events.

Lastly, the process of training in the conventional manner has the effect of desensitizing new pilots to events that could be quite scary. This serves a purpose in reducing the stress of pilots to continue dealing with an emergency in flight. In the airline world we have almost the other problem. We train worst case so much that we have desensitized pilots so much that we treat emergencies as normal events. In most cases when you listen to an airline crew dealing with an engine failure like the catastrophic failure on the UAL 777 or Aloha Cargo 737, you will hear an almost monotone voice on the radio with little to no concern that their engine has just exploded. In the case of 777 they landed safely, in the case of the 737 they ended up in the ocean off Hawaii.

We can’t swing too hard to either side of the spectrum.

John J.

Good article, and also good advice about thorough pre-flight inspections. I have had two engine failures in my flying life, both caused by sudden internal engine damage that could not have been detected on pre-flight. However, one could have been significantly mitigated through a good preflight.

For several prior flights, when I energized the boost pump to start the engine (low wing carbureted engine), the pump would sometimes fail to run. A couple cycles of the power switch would usually get it working, so I wrote it up to a switch that probably needed replacing at the next annual. After all, the boost pump was just needed to start the engine, right?

On the night flight in question, cruising at 6500 feet heading home, the engine suddenly just stopped. I went through the restart procedures – carb heat, switch fuel tanks, boost pump, etc. The engine briefly restarted, then quit again. Fortunately I was able to glide to a nearby lighted airport and landed without any damage other than soiled underwear. A post-incident inspection revealed that an internal part of the engine-driven fuel pump had broken, rendering it completely useless. And, as it turned out, the problem with the backup (boost) pump was corroded contacts within the pump, not a bad switch. It ran for a few seconds, causing the brief engine restart, before the contacts failed and it too became inoperable.

Had I taken the time to investigate the boost pump problem when it first occurred, I probably could have restarted the engine. I would have still landed at the same airport, but at least under power. The message has stuck with me ever sense. When something doesn’t look or seem right during all of the pre-flight process, no matter how minor it seems, stop and investigate. It might just save you and your plane.

John Mc.

Personal Minimums?

The PP ACS actually does explicitly mention personal minimums (task I H, skill 2) “Perform self-assessment, including fitness for flight and personal minimums, for actual flight or a scenario given by the evaluator”. I provide the applicant an overall scenario, add details such as “On the day of the flight, you forget to ________; how does that affect your go/no go decision?” and that way see whether the prospective pilot applies the risk mitigation element that I’ve selected for that task (risk 2, hazardous attitudes, for example). Another example is “You are approaching destination and ATIS reports windshear; is that a problem? what are your options?”

The point is that by adhering to the ACS, examiners are tasked with continuously probing the applicant for chinks in their stated personal minimums armor, whether they’re just numbers or something more subtle. This means, therefore, that CFIs should do the same in order to properly prepare their students for a test.

David Abrahamson

My considerations weigh compounding factors and data quality…is the ceiling cleanly defined with unlimited visibility below or is there a “few or scattered” layer of fuzzballs below, or scuz hanging out the bottom or visibility impeded by fog/rain/mist? Do I have one divert in range in a sea of red on the chart or are there plenty of easy VMC diverts along the route? Dewpoint spread/trend/daylight waxing/waning? Number of weather observations along the route? Is that water I’m flying over bathwater or ice water? How dark a night? How bumpy, gusty, shearing? Need those readers to see the plate? Sitting next to a CFII or empty/unqualified seat? Known good airplane or not recently flown or rental hack? Fuzzy edges to the metrics make a difference too.

Rich R.

Poll: What Do You Think Of NOTAMs Now Being Called Notices To Air Missions?

  • A perfect example of government doing something completely irrelevant where real improvement needs to be made!
  • They’re fixing a problem that didn’t exist.
  • A meaningful and more precise update to the term reflecting broadening air operations and capacities.
  • Why is it that the FAA is so worried about gender equality, but can’t seem to do anything about actually fixing the problems with the NOTAM system? So much for doing their primary job of enhancing safety.
  • Although factually inaccurate, (a concept such as “mission” cannot be notified) it’s really immaterial. It’s offensive to those of us who love the language, but that will never carry any effective power so – oh well.
  • Does not affect the information being give, so who cares.
  • “Airmen” was already non gender.
  • Couldn’t care less what the acronym means. Just make them easy to use.
  • Stupid, but effectively inconsequential.
  • Another waste of energy for “mankind.” Don’t they have more important things to do like processing a registration in a timely manner?
  • Why not notices to pilots or pilots/crews? After all it’s the pilot/crew that needs to understand the NOTAMS!
  • At first I felt perhaps we took things too literally regarding gender neutrality in aviation. But this action by the FAA and others reminded me we need to assure all potential and current aviators that this industry is diverse, equal and inclusive. If that means changing terms, I’m all in!
  • Same acronym, same info. Who cares what it stands for?
  • Give me a break… of all the messes – really?!?
  • A waste of time and resources.
  • Ridiculous and unnecessary.
  • Complete useless pandering BS with no benefit from an agency that can’t turn simple medical requests around in 6 months.
  • A reasonable, small change, now time to move on to cleaning up NOTAMs. As with many simple, small changes much of the reaction has been out of proportion to the magnitude of the change. Who knew reactionists were the real snowflakes?
  • Contrived PC nonsense! If it was to be changed, they should have gone with “Notices to Aviators”. It could be referred to as “N2A” for brevity and to save expensive teletype ink. (oh wait!)
  • Enough with the gender offense police. So are all generic references like “craftsman” going to be outlawed and renamed? Ridiculous. Get a dictionary. The word or suffix man can mean all humans. Time to quit bowing to ignorance.
  • Just another thing to argue over that will realistically have zero effect on currently certificated pilots. Hopefully we can all just accept that change happens and move on regardless of our opinion.
  • Was someone offended by Notice to Airmen? I know of no female pilots that took offense to it.
  • Perfectly acceptable change reflecting the inclusion of women to the ranks…finally. It doesn’t bother me a bit and I’m happy for more equality.
  • Another expensive FAA foray into making sure no one’s feeling get hurt. Fix the system and let’s not worry about a nonexistent problem.
  • Surrender to political correctness.
  • Better late than never, and fix the NOTAMs mess.
  • It’s NOT a notice to a mission, it’s a notice to the pilot. This is stupid.
  • Useful, minor change. Good for harvesting page views from outraged codgers reading AVweb.
  • What does this have to do with the FAA’s safety mission?
  • All I can see are DOLLAR SIGNS for all the wasted time.
  • The term “mission” applied to light airplanes encourages a “go” mindset.
  • Doesn’t really fix the whole “Airmen Certificate” issue.
  • Waste of time and funds that should have been better managed!
  • It personally has no effect on my flights whatsoever. If it helps someone else though, I welcome it.
  • Asinine, unnecessary and downright stupid.
  • Pilots should not be worried about this sort of stuff. Fly the plane!
  • Typical bureaucratic time waster. I’m sure they could better serve by working on more pressing and meaningful issues.
  • Yes, fix the NOTAM system. But Notices To Air Missions just looks silly, in addition to being grammatically incorrect. Change the acronym – Notices To Pilots (NOTP or NTP). Accurate. Doesn’t sound like government speak.
  • I hope you kids see what a silly waste of resources this was.
  • What about FAR Part 65 – Certification: Airmen Other Than Flight Crewmembers? And a quick check of FAA FSIMS shows -295 active document matches for airman.
  • A pointless change which will cost all of us money to no useful purpose!
  • What’s in a name? Make them FUNCTIONAL! I’m tired of ten-year old unlit towers that are allowed to remain unlit because it was NOTAM’d.
  • It’s part of a good thing. “Boys’ Club” mentality scares off more than 1/2 the population.
  • Daft. Notices to Aviators would surely satisfy the easily offended.
  • Airmen is gender-neutral. It is not “Airman.”
  • This broadened the scope rather than woke gender issues. Good change.
  • Laughable… Especially since NOTAMS are still coded and difficult to quickly disseminate.
  • Since there are NO legitimate aviation issues that need our attention, we should play word games.
  • The most accurate and thorough definition of “pointless waste of time and effort” that I’ve even seen.
  • Call it whatever you want. Just fix it.
  • Unnecessary, but inevitable.
  • Missions are not capable of receiving notices; only people can.
  • Change happens. Why is this even worth polling?

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2 COMMENTS

  1. “In the airline world we have almost the other problem. We train worst case so much that we have desensitized pilots so much that we treat emergencies as normal events. In most cases when you listen to an airline crew dealing with an engine failure like the catastrophic failure on the UAL 777 or Aloha Cargo 737, you will hear an almost monotone voice on the radio with little to no concern that their engine has just exploded.”

    There’s plenty of concern, by the time we notify ATC of the situation, initial actions are already accomplished and the situation is under control as well as it can be, we are just giving ATC a head’s up about what we need from them. We don’t panic, we’re paid and trained to get the job done, that’s why pilot voices seem normal to most listeners. There’s plenty of time to panic at the debriefing!

    • I don’t really get the quote containing “desensitized pilots”, especially since they don’t even know what caused the engine failure, or if it’s a temporary (ie. icing, volcanic ash, sound vibration, etc.) or permanent condition.