Well, here we are, in the middle of the monsoon season with its rain. There was about a week that the flying weather really wasn’t very good. Highly unusual for Arizona, where unlimited visibility is usually the rule. The other weekend, when a group of us would normally fly somewhere to have breakfast, it was drizzling rain, and the discussion was that we may be able to go somewhere in this, but we might not be able to get back home. So, the discussion ended with the decision for all of us to go to I-HOP, have breakfast, and watch the rain. So here is hoping for better flying weekends to come. Have fun and watch out for the weather.
While we have had some rain, forest fires may still be an issue, so watch out for forest fire TFRs, and remember, some areas may still be closed for access. We don’t like to see this happening, but unfortunately, it’s only necessary for the moment, because we don’t want anyone to be responsible for starting another catastrophic fire.
Unfortunately, the FAA has issued a directive in July that states flight instruction is now being prohibited in limited, primary, and experimental aircraft. While pilots and flight instructors receiving and giving instruction in standard category aircraft are not affected by this recent move, it is a roadblock for those seeking instruction in any of these three specific categories of aircraft. Now, to receive instruction, or get a flight review in your experimental, or limited designation aircraft, you as the owner, and the instructor, both must have an FAA Letter of Deviation Authority (LODA) for that aircraft to get training or a flight review in it. This requirement could possibly result in causing some pilots to forego flight training, or flight reviews, and this will result in having a very negative impact on flight safety. This new ruling really flies in the face of the FAA’s own Safety Office and their FAA Wings Program that encouraged pilots to regularly fly with an instructor to keep their flying skills sharpened. While there have apparently been some FAA Flight Standard District Offices that have indicated they will not be enforcing this new misdirected rule, I have also heard that many CFI’s still don’t want to take the risk of offering their services in an experimental aircraft. There are a couple of Federal Legislators that have indicated they will be introducing bills in both the Senate and the House of Representatives to correct this over-reach of the FAA. The FAA is planning to correct the problem by rewriting the rule, to permitting flight training in experimental aircraft. To do this correctly without creating other problems, it will require much time to happen. The FAA is estimating it will take four years. In the meantime, the FAA also appears to have realized that this is an immediate problem, and they have set up an e-mail account for you to apply, and get a quick response for a LODA for your experimental aircraft, which will be valid for four years. It is a fillable pdf form asking only for the basic information, and when submitting the form, simply state you want a LODA permitting you to get flight instruction and flight reviews in your own aircraft. The following is the form to fill out, as well as the address to send it to.
The airspace system seems to have been operating smoothly because I’m not aware of any issues from the users or from the FAA ATC people. I hope it stays this way for a while.
It's summer, the temperatures are high, and that means density altitude will be a factor. So be sure to recognize (and calculate) your aircraft’s limitations, as well as your own when you plan your flight in the high country. Gusty winds and thunderstorms can factor in also. So, in doing your preflight planning, be sure to include a check of the forecast weather.
If you decide to fly to the Grand Canyon, be aware that the Grand Canyon Special Flight Rules Area has a complex set of flight rules. Specific altitudes, frequencies and altimeter settings for each sector are on the chart. Familiarize yourself with the flight rules that are published for this airspace under 14 CFR § 93 Subpart U, and the notes on the Grand Canyon VFR Aeronautical Chart.
Aviation safety this past reporting period was certainly not good in that we had two fatal accidents. While it’s fortunate that the number of accidents and incidents were not any more than the last report, they are still not as low as they should or could be. Based on the number of pilot deviations being committed and the number of accidents occurring, it does appear that pilots have not cut back much on their flying activity, but it’s evident that there are a significant number of pilots out there that are still not paying attention to their flying or are letting themselves become distracted from what they are supposed to be doing. To get more detailed information on this past month’s accidents and incidents, see my Accident & Incident Summary elsewhere in the newsletter.
Wherever you fly, make sure that you know what the requirements and limitations are for the airspace you are flying in, or the airspace you may be about to enter, and what Air Traffic Control (ATC) may be expecting of you, and be sure you can comply with the requirements. It’s obvious that some pilots are not aware of what’s expected of them, and wind up with pilot deviations. In the time period from June 11 through July 15, 2021, there were eighteen general aviation pilot deviations recorded by the FAA SDL FSDO. These deviations were committed by the full range of certificate holders from student through ATPs, including CFIs, and Military pilots. Of the eighteen pilot deviations that were recorded by the FSDO, a military pilot committed an IFR altitude deviation in a MOA, and got a Brasher, and an Air Carrier pilot committed a deviation by taxiing on a taxiway without ATC authorization. The remaining sixteen deviations were committed by the full range of general aviation pilots, and of the sixteen general aviation deviations, there were five Brashers issued.
A Brasher is a notice that is issued when further FAA action will be needed.
This past month there were a large number of both runway intrusions and failure to follow ATC instructions.
The sixteen general aviation pilot deviations in this last reporting period are as follows:
One IFR altitude deviation.
One Forest Fire TFR deviation where the pilot flew through the TFR and in front of a fire attack airplane.
Two Class Delta Airspace deviations.
In one case, the pilot flew through the Class Delta Airspace without contacting ATC, and in the other case, the pilot contacted ATC after he had flown about a mile into the Delta Airspace. Both pilots in these two cases got a Brasher notice.
Five Runway Incursions.
In two cases, the pilots did not hold short at the runway “Hold Short Line” but crossed over it before stopping. In one of the cases the pilot went so far that he finally stopped at the very edge of the runway, and he got a Brasher for that one.
In two cases, the pilots took off without ATC authorization. Both pilots got a Brasher notice.
There was one case at Sky Harbor where a vehicle entered the active runway without ATC authorization.
Two Taxi Without Instructions.
In one case the pilot landed, and taxied to parking without contacting Ground Control, and in the other case the pilot taxied from parking to the runway without contacting Ground Control.
Five Failure to Follow ATC Instructions.
In two cases, the pilots were instructed to maintain runway heading after takeoff, and in both cases the pilot initiated a turn immediately after takeoff, and in one case the pilot turned into conflicting traffic.
In another case, the pilot was instructed to make “S” turns to provide spacing with traffic in front of him, and he started the turn into conflicting traffic. ATC caught the start of the turn, and got the error corrected.
In another case, the pilot was instructed to follow an airplane in the pattern, but the pilot ended up turning base inside the traffic he was to follow, causing it to go around while on half mile final.
In this last case, the pilot requested a change in runway at a two-runway airport, the change was approved, and the pilot failed to recognize and accommodate an inbound aircraft approaching the same runway he was changing to. There was no loss of separation.
Because we operate in a very crowded and complex airspace, all pilots must be on high alert when operating at many of our airports. Be extra wary and alert and develop good situational awareness of what is happening around you. Be safe, and think about what you are doing, or are about to do. Don’t commit a pilot deviation.
Scottsdale Municipal Airport (SDL) closed their runway 3-21 on July 6 for 45 days to rebuild the runway. Helicopter operations at SDL are continuing as usual, and the control tower operation is continuing as before the runway closure, and the Class Delta airspace is in effect.
Falcon Field (FFZ) Mesa has a tenant constructing several new hangars on the northwest corner of the airport, and some corporate sized aircraft are planning to move into the large new hangars.
Gateway Airport (IWA) is in the process of building a new control tower. Construction is progressing on schedule, and unless something unforeseen happens, it should be completed by next July.
Prescott has ongoing runway and taxiway projects under way, so check NOTAMS before arrival so you won’t have any unexpected surprises.
With funding that has been available from the FAA, many airports around the state have construction projects planned or in progress. Unfortunately, we don’t have the latest details on all these projects, and it would be a good idea to always check for NOTAMs at your destination airport to see what is happening, so you won’t have a surprise when you arrive. Always use caution, and always fly informed.
APA continues to work with a number of airports around the state assisting with the updating of their Airport Master Plans, thus providing the pilot and aircraft owner’s perspective in the process. Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport (HII), Superior Municipal Airport (E81), Sedona Airport (SEZ), Flagstaff (FLG), Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport (IFP), Grand Canyon Airport (GCN), and the Willams, H. A. Clark Memorial Field (CMR) are currently in the Master Plan update process.
THINGS TO DO - PLACES TO FLY FOR BREAKFAST:
The fly in breakfast at Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08), normally on the first weekend of the month, has shut down for the summer and will restart in the fall.
On the second Saturday consider flying down to Ryan Field (RYN) near Tucson for breakfast or lunch at Ritchie’s Restaurant. They are open from 6 am to 2 pm to serve you. They will have a breakfast special for you if you mention you are an APA member.
The Falcon Field EAA Warbirds Squadron fly in breakfast, on the third weekend of the month, is on hold because of the virus pandemic, and the coming summer. Here’s hoping for an October restart.
Grapevine has reopened, but always check local forest conditions and fire restrictions before visiting a forest service airstrip. Grapevine, which lies within a National Forest, is heavily used by the Forest Service for fighting wildfires and the Military for Special Training.
There is now a pancake breakfast on the last Saturday of the month at the Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ). The breakfast is being put on by the Casa Grande Masonic Lodge (Pinal Lodge #30). Time will be from 7:00 to 10:00 am, and the breakfast will be served in the air-conditioned terminal. This is planned to be a monthly event until the renovation of the cafe area of the terminal is completed and staffed, which should happen near the end of the year.
Check with the APA Getaway Flights program and online calendar for fun weekend places to fly.