Well, we are still doing great so far this year. As of July 1st, the general aviation fatal accident rate for the state of Arizona remains at only one, the crash of a Piper PA-22-160 south-southeast of Kingman.
Within the fatal accident guidelines of the GAARMS reporting process, our safety performance still stands at an outstanding rate of 100% safe, with NO Arizona-based general aviation pilot fatalities so far this year. In the Kingman crash cited above, the student pilot received serious injuries, but the owner/non-pilot rated passenger received fatal injuries.
GAARMS maintains the auspicious goal of trying to reduce the fatal accident rate to zero, or said a different way, to operate every flight safely, with a 100% success rate. That rate means NO fatal accidents with NO fatalities, including passengers. You have often heard me tout “The Four 9’s Program”, where we try to operate at a safety rate of 99.99% for any given year vis a vie the pilot population here in Arizona, currently at approximately 26,000 pilots. As of June 30th, we actually stand at a pilot safety rate of 100%. That is really outstanding, but the real challenge facing us is to stay at, or greater than, the 99.99 percentile for the rest of 2019!
Watch for announcements on FAASAFETY.GOV to register, or you can always just walk in and join in the fun. If your organization or airport community would like to sponsor a presentation, just contact me through the APA website.
Summer has (finally) come to the high country. The weather up here in Flagstaff has turned beautimous (Is that really a word?), and if not for the wind would be Mecca. But it is windy, and appears to want to stay that way, often with afternoon winds gusting in excess of 35 knots! Ride reports of turbulent conditions exist most of the day, creating challenging conditions, especially when trying to do initial private pilot training.
On a different subject, if and/or when you plan to fly up to Flag, please remember to use Phoenix approach for Flight Following. Flagstaff has become quite busy, with a significant increase in airline operations. It is not unusual to see 2 or 3 commuter jets parked at the terminal, and there are many more scheduled commuter jet arrivals and departures during the day and evening hours. They fly a much larger traffic pattern, geographically speaking, than the GA aircraft, so be alert to very wide and high downwind legs and especially to 5 or 6 mile final approach legs. Be very careful NOT to turn in front of them. They are much faster than us little guys, and that could cause some very exciting - and potentially dangerous - situations. If the tower says you are number 2 behind a commuter and asks you to report that traffic in sight, DO NOT turn inbound until you actually have that traffic in sight and determine when you can safely turn in behind them. Do not turn in until you tell the tower you actually have the traffic in sight and can safely follow that traffic. If you lose sight of the traffic, tell the tower immediately so they can provide separation. And when things are dicey, radio phraseology - and listening intently - is very important. Remember, if unsure, talk to the tower... communicate, communicate, communicate!
Some points to ponder: Did you know –
- Is the surface wind direction in a METAR is relative to true north?
- Is the surface wind direction in a TAF is relative to true north?
- Is the wind aloft direction is relative to true north?
YUP, that is all correct, so you need to add or subtract the magnetic variation to get the corrected magnetic direction. Why, you might ask? Well, it is simple, actually. All the weather reporting data is part of a world-wide database, and it all needs to be in one format, i.e., relative to true north. So at your specific location, you add or subtract your local magnetic variation to get a correct magnetic value. A quick rule to remember this is: The written word is TRUE.
- Is the surface wind direction in an ATIS relative to magnetic north?
- Is the surface wind direction given by the tower relative to magnetic north?
YUP, that is correct, and you DO NOT need to add or subtract the magnetic variation. Why the difference, you might ask? Well, again, there is a simple reason. A quick rule to remember this is: The spoken word is MAGNETIC. All runways are aligned relative to magnetic north. PS – Ever wonder why runways are not perfectly aligned magnetically, like Runway 21 here at Flag? It is actually closer to 214 degrees, but all runway numbers are aligned to the nearest 10 degree increment, thus 214 becomes 210, or just runway 21. So, why do runway numbers change? Again, simple. The earth is covered by tectonic plates that are constantly, albeit very slowly, moving, and the magnetic north pole moves with those plates. Using Flagstaff as an example, over time, the magnetic pole will move just enough to move the magnetic variation another 1 or 2 degrees, changing the actual runway heading to 216 degrees, thus requiring a new paint job to change the runway to 4-22. Fortunately, those tectonic plates move very slowly, so changes may not occur but once or twice in our lifetimes.
- When the ATIS says the weather is better than 5000 and 5, is that NOT the actual weather conditions?
YUP, that is correct, and that is not what the AWOS is reporting. When you hear 5000 and 5, that is an ATC phraseology statement simply stating there is NO ceiling below 5000ft AGL within the control zone, i.e., the class Delta airspace, and the visibility is greater than the 5 mile radius of the control zone, i.e., the class Delta airspace, and, therefore the tower and/or Phoenix approach control can allow IFR traffic to conduct visual approaches to the airport. No ceiling below 5000 ft means the lowest layer of clouds constituting a ceiling are at least at 12,000 ft MSL, but it could well be 13,000ft overcast. However, once clouds appear, the tower usually drops the 5000 and 5 terminology and uses the AWOS data to more accurately report the current conditions within the control zone, i.e., the class Delta airspace. One must also remember the ATIS broadcast is recorded once every hour on the hour, actually between 55 and the top of the hour, so it can be as much as 45 – 50 minutes old. That is why the tower always gives you the current winds when cleared to land, and it is always in reference to magnetic north (remember – the spoken word.)
- Unlike Deer Valley or Prescott, is Flagstaff tower NOT authorized to use “Line up and Wait” ?
YUP, that is correct, so do not expect to hear that up here at Flag. Maybe, if we get busy enough, it could be authorized, but not now. So, just sit at the hold line until actually cleared for takeoff.
- Unlike Prescott, is the Flagstaff tower NOT able to use “LAHSO”?
Again, correct, so do not expect to hear that up here at Flag. LAHSO is designed for airports with a crossing runway, thus Flag (with only one runway) doesn’t need such a procedure.
- Are Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS) broadcasts being terminated?
YES, that is correct, HIWAS is being eliminated. The FAA is proposing to discontinue HIWAS now that the internet and other technologies give pilots multiple sources of the same, or better information–with graphics. From the FAA’s point of view, user behavior suggests that HIWAS, which was established to give pilots access to hazardous weather information without having to raise a Flight Service specialist on the radio, has outlived its usefulness. “With the advent of the internet and other technology, the demand for inflight services from Flight Service specialists has declined.
- Factoid: Staffing was 3,000+ specialists in more than 300 facilities during the early 1980s and now consists of three hub facilities.
- Factoid: In 2018, radio contacts dropped to less than 900 per day from an average of 10,000 radio contacts per day,”
The proposal to eliminate the service is part of the FAA’s effort to “modernize and streamline service delivery.”
- Is it true, the June 20 issue of the chart supplement included a new batch of air traffic control facility phone numbers that pilots can call to receive or cancel IFR clearances as the FAA ends the practice of flight service “relaying” clearances to pilots from ATC?
YUP, big change for IFR clearance delivery. The phone numbers for 27 approach/departure control facilities and 20 air route traffic control centers, added to dozens published since 2017, put pilots in direct contact with the ATC facility that issues their clearances to both streamline and reduce the risk of error in the clearance delivery process. The FAA is not currently publishing a phone number if the airport has a frequency located on the field for pilots to contact either the tower, the approach control, air route traffic control, or flight service. Existing options to receive clearances by radio from ATC or flight service radio frequencies are not affected by the change.
AOPA reported on the program at its outset in May 2017, when clearance delivery phone numbers were published for 30 FAA facilities covering approximately 660 public-use airports. Phone numbers for about 26 more FAA facilities were added in the fall of 2018. Leidos, the FAA’s flight service contractor, can also provide pilots with the name and phone number of the facility to contact to obtain or cancel an IFR clearance. “Pilots may continue to request clearances via radio from air traffic control or Flight Service,” the FAA said in a notice on the FAA Safety Team’s website.
- Factoid: This initiative does not affect pilots operating in Alaska.