April has turned out to be the month of one of the most deadly crashes we have seen in quite a while. The crash of the Piper Comanche taking off out of Scottsdale airport took the lives of 6 beautiful young people on their way to Las Vegas for a fun time! If you want to read a whole bunch of stuff on the crash, I suggest you go online to:
The horrific nature of the accident aside, we are fortunate that it did not involve anyone from our Arizona pilot community. That does not make the accident any less terrible; it only heightens our awareness of our own vulnerabilities. Participating in the excitement of flight most certainly has its perils, and the price of a mistake can be extremely high.
Most of the information available right now tends to suggest the aircraft was overweight, possibly out of CG, and a victim of density altitude. There is also a lot of discussion about the aircraft itself, such as, was it really a 6 seat certified aircraft? Could it have been within weight limits? Could it have been within CG? And, even then, what about the takeoff performance at that weight and CG? And did anyone take into account the density altitude at the time?? The NTSB will certainly take their time and a very hard look as they investigate this accident.
Summertime in the Desert
Summer, that time of blistering heat in the Valley of the Sun, is coming on fast, and it will have a significant impact on your flying. Everyone needs to think about long takeoff rolls, lackluster climb performance, hot engines, high oil temperatures, hot seat belts and instrument panels, iPads impacted by the heat, and, of course, the impact on you, the pilot (i.e., dehydration, fatigue, and lethargy). All of these things can and will impact your decision making capabilities. Even up here in the north country, Flagstaff is already being impacted by density altitude. I was out flying the morning of April 28th, and the DA at high noon was 9200 ft. Ye ol’ C172 needed almost 2500 ft to get off the ground at Vy! No matter how much I sweet talked her, she would not go above 11,000 ft. – period! For all of you non-Northern Arizona flyers, that is only 4000ft above the ground (and that is at the low spots)! As you approach the Mogollon Rim from the south, the turbulence starts, and we know we are close to home. We quietly mutter to ourselves, “Oh well, WTF!” And, of course, we all know that means “Welcome to Flagstaff!”
The following is a copy of the FAA notice changing the requirement for use of a complex aircraft for the Commercial Pilot check ride. All flight Schools, Flight Instructors and DPEs need to be aware of this change:
Use of a Complex Airplane During a Commercial Pilot or Flight Instructor Practical Test
- Purpose of this Notice. This notice outlines a change in policy regarding testing applicants for a commercial pilot or flight instructor certificate, regardless whether the training was received under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 61 or 141. Specifically, it outlines the policy which no longer requires applicants for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine rating to provide a complex or turbine-powered airplane for the associated practical test and no longer requires applicants for a flight instructor certificate with an airplane single-engine rating to provide a complex airplane for the practical test.
- Audience. The primary audience for this order is Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) aviation safety inspectors (ASI), Training Center Program Managers (TCPM), and Designated Pilot Examiners (DPE). The secondary audience includes FSDO managers and supervisors, other operational FSDO employees, managers and employees of the Regulatory Support Division, the Civil Aviation Registry Division, managers and employees of the FAA Academy Commercial Transportation Operations Branch, and managers and employees of the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) Training Standardization Team.
- Where You Can Find This Notice. You can find this notice on the MyFAA employee website at https://employees.faa.gov/tools_resources/orders_notices. Inspectors can access this notice through the Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS) at http://fsims.avs.faa.gov. Operators can find this notice on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) website at http://fsims.faa.gov. This notice is available to the public at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/orders_notices.
- Background.Many pilots seeking a commercial pilot or flight instructor certificate in the airplane category take the initial practical test in a single-engine airplane. Training providers have noted that there are far fewer single-engine complex airplanes available to meet the airplane requirements outlined in the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) or Practical Test Standards (PTS), as applicable, and the single-engine complex airplanes that are available are older airplanes that are expensive to maintain. The FAA recognizes that accomplishing the required testing in either a single-engine complex airplane or turbine-powered airplane has become cost-prohibitive for flight schools.
- The ACS for an initial commercial pilot certificate with an airplane category and single-engine class rating requires the applicant to provide a complex or turbine-powered airplane for the practical test. Similarly, the FAA PTS for the issuance of a flight instructor certificate with an airplane category and single-engine class rating requires the applicant to provide a complex airplane for the practical test.
- As stated above, there are far fewer single-engine complex airplanes available to meet the ACS/PTS requirement, and the single-engine complex airplanes that are available are older airplanes that are expensive to maintain. Additionally, the FAA finds that removing the commercial pilot ACS requirement to furnish a complex or turbine-powered airplane and removing the flight instructor PTS requirement to furnish a complex airplane will achieve the same objectives. The FAA has determined that removing these ACS/PTS requirements will significantly reduce costs for persons pursuing a commercial pilot or flight instructor certificate by allowing applicants to utilize less-expensive airplanes on the practical test that are not complex or turbine-powered.
- Under part 61, § 61.31(e), prior to operating as pilot in command (PIC) of a complex airplane, a pilot will still be required to receive flight training and an endorsement from an authorized instructor certifying his or her proficiency in a complex airplane. Furthermore, the FAA finds that no longer requiring an applicant to provide a complex airplane for the initial commercial pilot with an airplane single-engine rating practical test or a flight instructor with an airplane single-engine rating practical test will not result in a decreased level of safety.
- The FAA has also received multiple petitions for exemption that seek relief from § 61.45(b) and the requirement to use a single-engine complex airplane during the commercial pilot and flight instructor practical tests for the issuance of airplane category and single-engine class ratings. The petitions are additional examples of ongoing industry concern over the lack of flexibility provided by the current requirement to furnish a complex single-engine airplane for use during testing for these certificates and ratings.
- Guidance.The FAA has determined that any airplane may be used to accomplish the tasks prescribed in the initial commercial pilot with an airplane single-engine rating practical test or a flight instructor with an airplane single-engine rating practical test, provided that airplane is capable of accomplishing all areas of operation required for the practical test and is the appropriate category and class for the rating sought. Therefore, the airplane used for the practical test must still meet the requirements specified in § 61.45.
- The applicable ACS and PTS will be amended to reflect this change in policy as soon as possible. Until that time, this notice should be used.
- The Commercial Pilot ACS with the updated policy will be FAA-S-ACS-7 with changes 1, 2, and 3. This ACS must be utilized until a revised one is published.
- The Flight Instructor PTS with the updated policy will be FAA-S-8081-6D with changes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. This PTS must be utilized until a revised one is published.
- There is no change to the complex airplane training and endorsement requirements of § 61.31(e) or to the commercial pilot aeronautical experience requirements of § 61.129(a)(3)(ii) or part 141 appendix D.
- Action. FSDOs should immediately provide a copy of this notice to all assigned DPEs and local flight training providers. It is recommended that local FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) Program Managers (FPM) be utilized to help educate the local aviation community on this new policy.
- Disposition. We will incorporate the information in this notice into the applicable ACS and PTS before this notice expires. Direct questions concerning the information in this notice to the Airmen Training and Certification Branch at 202-267-1100.
ORIGINAL SIGNED by
/s/ John S. Duncan
Executive Director, Flight Standards Service