GAARMS Report: October 2017 

fred-gibbsFred Gibbs 

 

Another month has passed, and unfortunately, as I write this article, our safety record has slipped further down …

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The Mesa Police Department reported 2 people, the pilot and one passenger, were killed in a plane crash near Falcon Field Monday evening, September 18th. According to the FAA, the pilot reported mechanical trouble and said the plane was unable to reach the airport. The plane went down about a half mile from Runway 22. The aircraft, a Lancair Evolution, crashed onto the fairway of the 10th hole at Longbow Golf Club around 5 p.m. The aircraft was destroyed. The FAA and the NTSB are investigating.

As I reported in last month’s article, our Luck-meter has moved from “Doing really Good” with only 2 accidents and 6 fatalities, back to an ”Average Year” by moving up the scale to 4 accidents with 10 fatalities. With this latest accident, we are slipping further down the scale from the “Average” level towards the “Worse than last Year” level, with 5 fatal accidents and 12 fatalities. Hopefully we can continue to hold it right here for the rest of the year, so think safe, fly safe.

 

NTSB Nomination – An old friend

Bruce Landsberg, who worked as a safety advocate at the AOPA Air Safety Institute for many years, has been nominated to be a member and vice chairman of the NTSB, the White House announced on Friday. Landsberg, who lives in South Carolina, served as executive director and then president of the ASI, from 1992 to 2014. Landsberg’s depth of experience, along with the recent appointment of Robert Sumwalt, who worked as a pilot for 32 years, as chairman of the NTSB, suggests that the board will have a strong presence on aviation safety issues. NATCA issued a news release on Tuesday applauding the choice, noting that Landsberg’s work at the ASI “raised the bar for pilot safety.”

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"If all goes as planned, Senate confirmation will take place this fall and I'll be sworn in and start around the first of the year," Landsberg told AVweb in an email on Tuesday. "It's both exciting and humbling to join this group, although I have worked with them for almost three decades. The mission hasn't changed, just the organization, to help pilots and the traveling public get where they're going - safely!"

Landsberg is nominated to serve as a member for a five-year term, the White House said, and also will be designated vice chairman for a term of two years. In its news release, NATCA said, “[Landsberg] created the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Flight Assist Commendation Awards, which honor air traffic controllers who displayed exceptional professionalism and dedication to safety to help general aviation pilots who needed their help. Bruce has used these types of flight assists over the years as teaching opportunities to educate other pilots to further the cause of aviation safety.”  

Some of you may remember Mr. Landsberg was one of my original guest speakers for the very first GAARMs presentation down at the ASU facility back in 2012. Bruce and I have been friends for over 25 years, and I am very pleased to see his nomination to the NTSB.

 

Light Sport Repairman Inspection Course:

If you are a LSA pilot, LSA owner, wanna-be LSA owner or builder, or just interested in maintaining LSA’s, then you might be interested in attending the 2-day training program up in Cottonwood on Friday, October 20th, and Saturday, October 21st, of this year.

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Jim Scott, an A&P since 1977, will be teaching the 2-day, 16 hour Light Sport Repairman Inspection Course at the Kestrel Aviation Services hangar located at the Cottonwood Municipal Airport (P52) on October 20 & 21. This course will qualify participants to receive an FAA LSRI certification valid for any ELSA aircraft they may own or purchase in the future. The course covers both 3-axis LSA aircraft as well as weight-shift ELSA aircraft. The LSRI certification allows the holder to legally perform the annual condition inspection on a specific ELSA aircraft. The two-day course provides:

  • Critical information on today’s experimental aircraft and engines
  • Over 100 mistakes that cause engine failures 
  • Valuable Information for the maintenance and inspection of your aircraft. 
  • Common mistakes on amateur built aircraft that can affect your liability and accountability 

Many previous participants report correcting major problem on their aircraft as a direct result of the information learned in class. Over 80% of participants learn about problems on their own aircraft that, prior to the class, they were unaware of, but left unaddressed would have lead to engine failure. The LSRI course is only held a few times a year across the US and this is a rare opportunity for Arizona pilots to take the course right here in our home state. 

Rainbow Aviation charges $400 for the course and you may register by email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact them at 530-824-0644. More information is available on their website at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

ADS-B Performance checks – 

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So, you went and spent the bucks for ADS-B “Out” and maybe “In” also. How do you know if it is working properly? The old “It well better be working for all the money I put out!” approach doesn’t cut it. To help you find out, The FAA’s Flight Standards organization provides an online automated tool in order to assist aircraft owners, operators, and avionics shops with the validation of the performance of the ADS-B Out equipment installed on aircraft. Public ADS-B Performance Reports (PAPR) may be requested for aircraft operations that were detected within FAA ADS-B Coverage areas. For best results, ADS-B validation flights should be conducted within published areas of FAA ADS-B Coverage. Flying near the surface or at the fringe of ADS-B coverage areas may negatively impact the metrics provided in your PAPR Report. Please refer to the FAA ADS-B Coverage Map before flying. The tool can be found at: https://adsbperformance.faa.gov/PAPRRequest.aspx 


It requires the following information:

  • The date at the start of your flight of interest. This is entered as the date recorded in Zulu Time (UTC+0) at the start of the flight.
  • A way to identify your aircraft. This may be entered as the aircraft's tail number (US registered aircraft only) or the ICAO Address of the aircraft in hex, octal, or decimal format.
  • Your name and a valid email address to send your requested report.
  • The configuration of the ADS-B OUT equipment installed on the aircraft, and the equipment installer. There are selection lists below for common equipment and Repair Shops. A notes area is included if you do not find your specific equipment.

Using the above information, the tool will search through its inventory of past aircraft operations for a flight meeting the selections. If a flight with matching identification can be located on the requested date, a Public ADS-B Performance Report will be sent to the supplied email address. PAPR reports are typically delivered within 30 minutes. 

Successful report processing depends on the accuracy of the information provided. All fields should be completed and verified prior to submitting your request. It is very picky with regard to the accuracy of input, so you need to know some information about your ADS-B installation, like is it 1090ES, UAT978, or both? Below is what the form looks like, and it looks a lot better on the actual FAA site. It is pretty much self-explanatory, and it tells you if something is incorrect or missing. I have used it several times now, and find it quite easy once you know what to put in, and you get a response within 30 minutes!!! That in itself is quite amazing! The report gives you a whole bunch of numbers and stats, but I do not know what a bad report looks like to be able to tell you that – all my reports are zero errors. (Just lucky, I guess, plus a good avionics shop!) Here is what the form looks like (Not an exact screen shot, but close):

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PS – it is not nearly as complicated as it looks!!

So if you have ADS-B installed, you should go online and have your system checked, and if all is well, just keep the report with your maintenance logs. If the report is bad, take the report to your avionics guy and show him the report. The shop should be able to “tweak” it back into spec for you and then the next time you fly, go ask for another report. 

 

SAFETY PROGRAMS:

There are a lot of FAASTeam safety programs on the schedule over the next couple of months all around the state, so go to WWW.FAASAFETY.GOV and click on “Seminars” and check them out. You might find one that interests you. Should you desire a particular safety or educational program, like the BasicMed program, at your local airport or pilot meeting, simply contact me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call me at 410-206-3753.  The Arizona Pilots Association provides the safety programs at no charge. We can also help you organize a program of your choice, and we can recommend programs that your pilot community might really like. 

 

Later that day, at 1316, an Alert Notice (ALNOT) was issued for the airplane after family members of the pilot became concerned when he did not arrive at his intended destination. At 1810, the airplane wreckage was found by the sheriff's department in the Gila Mountains. There were no reported witnesses to the accident. The airplane was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

 

Lancair Evolution out of Falcon Field

Two people were confirmed dead in a fiery airplane crash at a northeast Mesa golf course late Monday afternoon, with one official describing the scene as "a ball of fire.'' The Lancair Evolution, a single-engine light aircraft, crashed at 4:52 p.m., about a half-mile east of Falcon Field Airport, according to Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board. Allen Kenitzer, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman, said that the aircraft reported mechanical problems before the crash. (NOTE: There was no mention or indication of what the problem(s) were.)

Mesa fire officials were notified of the aircraft down at Longbow Golf Club by the Falcon Field Airport tower, Mesa Deputy Fire Chief Forrest Smith said. Smith said crews arrived to find the aircraft had crashed and burned on a fairway at the course. The golf course is at the northeast corner of Higley and McDowell roads in Mesa. The airport is southwest of the intersection. "It was a pretty horrific scene,'' Smith said.  "When crews first arrived, they were met with a ball of fire on the course itself.'' Officials confirmed the 2 people aboard the aircraft were killed.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s talk about the category the NTSB tends to “lump” accidents into, the “Loss of Control” category. I believe that category, or action, is the final result of many mistakes or inactions taken when things start to go wrong. I have said, and continue to say, there is usually NOT ONE single thing that causes an accident, but a chain of events that leads you down the “Primrose Path.” Break that chain somewhere, and you may most likely prevent an accident. For instance, does the weather look questionable? You need to make a decision BEFORE you press on into it, not stick your nose into it to see just how bad it is!! If you stick your nose so far in that you determine it is bad, you have already gone too far, and you may be in deep trouble! The story goes that a non-instrument rated pilot who ventures into IMC only has 3 minutes to survive once immersed in the weather!

Airplane doesn’t sound right or feel right to you? Land NOW, and have it checked out, and most importantly, DO NOT take off with that dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over you. Remember, there is no such thing as an emergency takeoff!!! Problems encountered during the takeoff phase of flight can be, and usually are, deadly. There is no time for contemplating a course of action, no airspeed to save you, and no altitude below you to give you time, and we all know you can never make that turn back to the airport. On top of everything else, a forced landing on departure is probably one of the very few times you can have too much gas in your airplane!!!

On a different subject, just in case you have not noticed, monsoon season is here, with lots of thunder boomers, heavy rains, poor visibility in the rain, dust storms, and many other weather issues to make your day exciting, so be careful out there. ADS-B In is a great situational awareness tool, but not to be used to dodge thunderstorms. Remember, ADS-B In data is a picture of what the weather was, and where it was, NOT WHERE IT IS NOW!!! I got to use it this last weekend flying from Scottsdale back up to Flag. Between the ADS-B In weather radar depicting the precipitation in 3 colors (YES, there was definitely some RED around), compared to what the controller was telling me about the precipitation he was painting on his ATC radar, and what I saw by looking out the windshield (a very critical part in the decision making process), I was able to easily and safely make my way home to Flag staying in VMC the entire way. The only precipitation that I got on my airplane was the light drizzle at the Flag airport while pushing the airplane away. It was utilizing all the tools and services available to me that made the flight easy and successful.

 

Another subject – With the installation of all the “stuff” I have installed into my airplane, is my 1973 Bellanca Super Viking now considered a Technically Advanced aircraft (TAA) under the definition of a TAA aircraft?

It used to be that only professional pilots like corporate or airline pilots needed to be trained in modern avionics and other modern on-board technologies. Today, this same high-tech equipment is being used widely in small aircraft, which means that pilots of these small aircraft must be trained in TAA, or run the risk of being inept at using this equipment, or worse, a safety hazard to themselves and others. 

What's Makes an Airplane a TAA? The FAA defines a TAA as an airplane that is equipped with the following:

· A moving map display - I have an 8 inch screen iPad mounted on my yoke that is Bluetooth connected to my permanent mounted FAA-approved TSO’d ADS-B In that displays other ADS-B equipped aircraft and weather data.

· An instrument-approved GPS - I have a Garmin 430 WAAS unit

· An autopilot - I have a 3-axis autopilot coupled to my HSI with GPSS steering

Additionally, I have a new Garmin G5 artificial horizon that is just like a glass cockpit display that shows attitude, airspeed, altitude, and turn coordinator information all in one instrument, giving me a ton of information in one place, improving my scan.

Many aircraft are equipped with all of these and even more complex systems, making it difficult for even the best of pilots to navigate through their aircraft's avionics, let alone the airspace they're in. Many pilots are familiar with the term glass cockpit. An aircraft that is considered to be a TAA is not always a glass cockpit aircraft, but a glass cockpit aircraft is always considered a TAA. A glass cockpit goes beyond the description of a TAA, and is generally defined as one with a Primary Flight Display (PFD) and a Multi-Function Display (MFD), both of which replace most of the old-style gauges in an aircraft. According to AOPA, more than 90 percent of new aircraft today are coming off the line with glass cockpits. These aircraft are all considered TAA.

New Avionics in an Old System

The FAA has come under fire because of the influx of TAA and the FAA's lack of a modern flight training program. The current flight training standards have been in place since 1973, and were designed with basic stick-and-rudder flying in mind. Current training syllabi do not leave room for TAA training, but that could change in the future. As of right now, pilots are training on both the old style instruments and the new glass panel displays. The old six-pack displays are still very common, but as glass panel displays become more commonplace, we'll see the old six-packs disappear.

TAA are generally a good thing for the average pilot, as long as the pilot knows how to use the equipment correctly. Still, many accidents are attributed to the pilot's lack of understanding of the aircraft's avionics. When a pilot doesn't fully understand the avionics on board his aircraft, he can quickly become task-saturated trying to figure out how it all works. This task-saturation, coupled with excess heads-down time in the cockpit, can lead to disorientation and loss of aircraft control. 

The criticism of technologically advanced airplanes being more of a distraction than a helpful tool holds merit, though. For this reason, the FAA created the FITS program, and new training program that supplements the old one, created specifically for use with TAA. The FITS program is designed to assist flight instructors and flight schools in training pilots for TAA, and includes a more scenario-based training environment.

So, when all is said and done, when I fly my 44-year old tubular steel, fabric and wood airplane, can I legally log that flight time under the TAA column??? I certainly believe so!!

 

 

SAFETY PROGRAMS:

There are a lot of FAASTeam safety programs on the schedule over the next couple of months all around the state, check out the APA Calendar Online. Should you desire a particular safety or educational program, like the BasicMed program, at your local airport or pilot meeting, simply contact APA via our website and connect with me through the Safety Program Director. You can also contact me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call me at 410-206-3753.  The Arizona Pilots Association provides the safety programs at no charge. We can also help you organize a program of your choice, and we can recommend programs that your pilot community might really like.

 

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