Accident Probe: Course Reversal In IMC
Turning around is ok if you have trained for it. I got vertigo in the left seat of a B-52 doing a descending right turn between layers of sloping clouds. I had been trained to believe the instruments and I locked onto the HSI and told my copilot to take the airplane through the turn and level at 10,000 feet. There was no reply so for a second I unlocked my twitching eyes to glance at the co-pilot who was barfing in his helmet bag. I managed to level off and shoot an ILS to landing. It was 40 years ago and I remember it like yesterday. Know your target power settings, know your min maneuver speeds, trust your instruments, fly the airplane.
First student solo flight off the airport I euphorically followed the Cumberland River until Nashville ATC informed I would need to change frequencies or turn around. And so I did. 15 miles out from the airport a cloud bank had mechanically marched behind me at pattern alt almost to the turn point it seemed. First thrill with clouds, scud and terror followed. Went home, got the King School course and passed the instrument written before private check ride. Then went directly to instrument training and got the ticket. Never looked back. We do look out for traffic, but I’m always on the needles. Once was enough.
ATC Pet Peeves
A number of my own past screw-ups have involved confirmation bias. The most recent example was at an airport I had been frequenting which has two parallel east-west taxiways. One is “always” assigned to westbound taxiing traffic, the other used for eastbound…except on the day it wasn’t, for me. Exiting the runway, I cheerfully and correctly read back Ground’s taxi instructions and then proceeded to do exactly the opposite, putting me head-on with another aircraft on a narrow taxiway. I’ll transmit this expression of thanks ‘in the blind’ to the annoyed controller who gave me a break on that one.
I’ve been lined up on the wrong airport twice in unfamiliar areas to me. ATC was trying to help, but I was disoriented enough both times that what they were saying made no sense. One guy gave me a good vector which solved the problem, but the other guy for some reason could or would not. I swear he got me off my proper vector, and then back on it or there was a third airport that looked JUST like the one I was aiming for all along. I’ve found that humility and civility make up for a lot of stupidity. At least I didn’t catch any anger coming through.
I would think glass panels would help reduce this a lot.
Poll: Is The FAA Right to Crack Down On Illegal Expense Sharing?
- As with everything else, the FAA is trying to make everything fit in a one-size-fits-all box. Rules appropriate for someone like NetJets are overkill for an operation with a pair of single engine piston airplanes. And trying to crack down on someone flying their buddies somewhere is a waste of resources. Nobody bats an eye if my friends pile into my minivan and I drop them off somewhere and nobody tries to pull my driver’s license for running an “illegal taxi operation.” The FAA has bigger and more important things to worry about.
- FAA is trying to protect the industry during a slowdown in business.
- Illegal is illegal… Enforce the rules or change them.
- While I’m not sure whether there’s very much aerial “ride sharing” abuse happening now, it is ripe for abuse and will be very hard to stop if it really gets going.
- Certainly for jets and large turboprops. For little guys, not so much.
- Qualifying for a charter company is a daunting and expensive task, but for a reason. The aircraft, company and pilot must meet the requirements. With sharing the cost/Part 91 charter type of operation you don’t have any checks and balances for the operation. Cheaper for the customer, but at what cost?
- FAA’s emphasis discourages doing favors for friends. FAA is overstepping; it needs to back off.
- The cost sharing rules impede reasonable activities and the FAA is overly concerned about the issue. They should give this a rest, as you say; and, the rules should be changed to allow pro rata sharing with no further intent inquiry.
- Inspectors need to have reasonable discretion. If a person gives a ride to a friend, no harm and no foul. If that same person gives a ride to a “friend”… well, that’s holding out and should be prosecuted. There’s no algorithm that will tell the difference, so the personal judgement of the inspector must be part of it.
- They are the rules and the FAA should enforce them. If someone is unhappy with the rules, they should work to get them changed. Unless/until that happens, the FAA is right to enforce them. We don’t get to pick which rules to follow and ignore the ones we don’t like.
- Having gone through the rigors of getting a 135 certificate and having the FAA do base checks along with taking check rides to keep that certificate, I say yes, the FAA needs to come down hard on illegal charter operators.
- Rules and regulations, though needed for safety, have skyrocketed the cost of ownership. As a seasoned aviator with over 25,000 hrs. flight time, cost is still out of control to afford a fairly new aircraft.
- Why does NBAA have a special carve out? Special privilege for wealthy corporations does not extend to the average joe.
- I think safety would be better serviced by cracking down on airplanes flying out if annual and pilots flying without current medicals. Let’s start there.
- There are other issues that are certainly more important.
- I’ve seen way too many pilots fly Part 134 (you know, not quite 135) charters (wink, wink).
- Rules is rules; either enforce them or abolish them.
- Didn’t know it was a problem.
- The FAA is NEVER right.