GAARMS Report: September 2017 

fred-gibbsFred Gibbs 


HIP HIP HOORAY!! We have made it through another month without a fatal accident, As I reported in last month’s article, our Luck-meter has moved from “Doing Really Good” with only 2 accidents and 6 fatalities, to “Back to an average Year” moving up the scale to 4 accidents with 10 fatalities. Hopefully we can hold right here, so think safe, fly safe.

A cursory look at the causal factors in the 4 fatal accidents so far this year shows no specific pattern or patterns. 

  • The C210 over Payson was “Continued VFR flight into IMC conditions” by a non-instrument-rated pilot
  • The King-Air BE-300, a highly sophisticated turbine-powered aircraft, was a Loss of control during the takeoff phase of flight down in Tucson
  • The RV-7 out of Buckeye causal factors are completely unknown at this time 
  • The Lancair Evolution on departure out of DVT elected to divert to FFZ as a result of events starting with an electrical issue the previous day that seemed to be repeating itself during the departure out of DVT during the takeoff phase of flight. The aircraft crashed on the approach to FFZ.

gaarms 2017 09 1

Learning to fly up in Flagstaff is 84% great, and 16% a Bummer. Why would I say that? Well, in that 84% you learn how to deal with density altitude (DA), you learn how to deal with winds (250 degrees @ 24G33kts), you learn all about thunderstorms throughout the monsoon season, you learn all about the joy and demands of winter flying, but you rarely ever get to fly single-engine IMC because the weather is so darn nice. Except when it isn’t nice, it really isn’t nice, but closer to deadly!! The only ice I like is the ice cubes in my B&B at the bar Friday nights!!

gaarms 2017 09 2

The other day I had the occasion to park my 1973 Bellanca Super Viking next to a brand new Cirrus SR-22T. Talk about a comparison in time! That super slick SR-22T, gleaming in its brand new paint job was a beauty, a brand new Ferrari, while my Super Viking, “gleaming” in its continuously polished 22 year old Imron paint job, looked like a 1957 Chevy Nomad next to that Ferrari! Each had its merits – My Super Viking cost me $28,000.00 back in 1988, and I can only guess about $500,000.00 for the SR-22T! I think my Viking has twice the wing area of the Cirrus, the wing is twice as thick as the Cirrus wing, is as smooth as the cirrus (it is laminar flow) but much more draggy than the cirrus, and thus is probably about 30 – 40 knots slower than the Cirrus, but only burning about two thirds as much gas. Am I jealous? Well, maybe a little, but I like my classic airplane, with all of its warts and quirks. It could use a pilot’s side door to make my life a lot easier. It is my personal machine, my personal hot-rod, modified, souped up, painted to my liking, and can do everything the Cirrus can except go as fast or as far. But now, at my age, my airplane has more range than I do… and it remains a conversation piece at airports.


gaarms 2017 09 3


When you are out just flying around, or maybe in the pattern just doing takeoffs and landings, do you challenge yourself to be GOOD? Do you set a standard for your landings? Do you practice short field landings seriously? Do you practice short field takeoffs and a maximum performance climb out at Vx? Do you shy away, or perhaps avoid like the plague, any airport with a runway 3000 feet or less in length? Can you put your aircraft onto the runway within 100 feet, plus or minus, of a particular point on the runway? Practiced a power off/simulated engine failure to the same standard as above? I believe every student pilot, and probably every pilot, should experience, obviously with an instructor on board, just what it is like to lose an engine on takeoff, say out of 500-600 feet about to turn crosswind. But it must be done carefully, and at an isolated airport, not over down town Deer Valley or Scottsdale!!! The airport neighbors might really not like that! You will learn very quickly and effectively that you cannot turn back to the runway – the deadly 180 degree turn back is just that – deadly! And once you experience it, you will know that forever.


gaarms 2017 09 4

NTSB Cites Fuel-Management Hazard

The NTSB says better fuel management by aviators could prevent an average of 50 general aviation accidents a year. “The idea of running out of fuel in an aircraft is unthinkable, and yet, it causes more accidents than anyone might imagine.” They stated, “Fuel management is the sixth leading cause of general aviation accidents in the U.S.” Pilot error contributed to 95 percent of the fuel-management-related accidents; equipment issues contributed to just 5 percent. 

The safety board suggested several strategies that would help to reduce the number of fuel-starvation accidents. Don’t rely exclusively on fuel gauges; visually confirm the quantity of fuel in the tanks before takeoff. Know the aircraft's fuel system and how it works. Have a fuel reserve for each flight. Don’t try to stretch the fuel supply — stop and get gas.

Fuel Exhaustion flat running yourself out of gas!

Fuel Starvation is having fuel onboard, but it doesn’t reach the engine for reasons such as a blockage, improperly set fuel selector, or water contamination. 

gaarms 2017 09 5

• More than 66% of fuel management accidents occurred on flights when the intended destination airport was different than the departure airport. About 80% of all fuel management accidents occurred during the day in visual meteorological conditions, and only 15% occurred at night. 

• Almost half of pilots involved in fuel management accidents held either a commercial or air transport pilot certificate (48%); pilots holding private or sport pilot certificates make up 50%. Only 2% of accidents involved student pilots. 

• Pilot complacency and overestimation of flying ability can play a role in fuel management accidents. 

Running out of fuel or starving an engine of fuel is highly preventable. 

• An overwhelming majority of the NTSB investigations of fuel management accidents—95%— cited personnel issues (such as use of equipment, planning, or experience in the type of aircraft being flown) as causal or contributing to fuel exhaustion or starvation accidents. Prudent pilot action can eliminate these issues. Less than 5% of investigations cited a failure or malfunction of the fuel system.

gaarms 2017 09 6

Concerning fuel-related accidents, fuel exhaustion and fuel starvation continue to be leading causes. From 2011 to 2015, an average of more than 50 accidents per year occurred due to fuel management issues. Fuel exhaustion accounted for 56% of fuel-related accidents while fuel starvation was responsible for 35% of these accidents.  Fortunately, we rarely see this type of accident here in Arizona, and these types of accidents are rarely fatal, but they can be.

OK, to close out this article, I leave you with these final 2 questions – 

Could you fly your airplane if I covered up ALL of your instruments??

If you have a glass cockpit and encounter a complete electrical failure, ending up with 2 blank screens in front of you, could you still safely fly and land your airplane?

I am NOT talking about IMC conditions or even at night, just plain ol’ VFR, but with NO instruments, no tachometer, no airspeed, no artificial horizon, no turn and bank indicator, no stall warning horn, no angle of attack indicator, just your brain and your Mark 12 eyeballs… Could you survive that??



There are a lot of FAASTeam safety programs on the schedule over the next couple of months all around the state, check out the calendar. 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 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.



Vans RV-7, N731RV out of Buckeye

On June 27, 2017 about 0850 Mountain Standard Time, a Vans RV-7, N731RV, was destroyed when it impacted mountainous terrain near Arlington, Arizona. The pilot, who was the registered owner of the airplane, and a pilot-rated passenger, sustained fatal injuries. The flight was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed. The local flight originated from Buckeye Municipal Airport, Buckeye, Arizona, about 0835.

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!!




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.


Please login to add a comment.