Tuesday, October 25, 2016

When I look out the window, I see nothing but water.

Flying over seas. Did You Know?

I will often hear someone say that there is no way they would fly to Hong Kong or Australia. Maybe even Europe, because it is too much of a challenge. Why? Because 14 hours in the air over nothing but ocean sounds risky.

Flying over long expanses of water is planned out with many turnaround points built in called go/nogo waypoints. When each point is reached, a planned track to any airport with a long enough runway and fueling facilities is an option; but rejected if there is no reason to do so.

Remember that pilots file flight plans. That flight plan includes many useful details, both for the pilot, and to inform the Air Traffic Control system every step of the way. The part that the pilot must calculate is what we call waypoints. Sometimes these waypoints are named points with a specific distance from a shore based radio navaid. For simplicity we will equate a navaid with a ground based direction finder; distance and direction; which is actually given a name on a chart. If you are a pilot, do not write me! You may also make up a waypoint by drawing on a map, every 200 miles a point where you will make a very firm decision. Will I continue to my destination? Will I return to my departure airport? Will I turn now to the closest airport with a runway long enough for my size airplane? These other airports, not visible from the airplane could be hours away, but are all circled and referenced on a chart.

There are other details that we look into, and the options are plentiful. Each time we reach a named fix, or a 200 mile mark, we call the closest Air Traffic Control facility. And this is what we tell them. “This is our location, in miles and altitude. This was the moment in time we arrived there. This is how many hours of fuel we are carrying. Everything is great (we don’t really say that) so we will continue on to our next waypoint. We will get to that waypoint at a specific time and if we descend, we plan to be at this specific altitude.”

Now let’s say, somewhere between this waypoint, and the next waypoint, we have a problem. Based on the headwinds or tailwinds, the facility we have already picked out, direction of turn, is it faster to 1) continue to destination, 2) return to departure airport, 3) fly to the pre determined alternate. We happen to know that the winds are stronger when we head west bound then when we head eastbound. So as we travel west, we know that it will take a shorter amount of time to turn around and go east then to continue a short distance west.

There is also a go/no go point. If we are traveling east/west, then the mid point of our distance to our destination is NOT the midpoint of our flight. We decide, before we ever leave the flight planning room, where the go/no go point of our flight. Once we pass that point, then we know, we are continuing to our destination or next waypoint, but returning to departure is not an option.

Also you should know that flights over a certain number of hours say 8 hours, requires extra crew members. That way, we share flight time and rest time. A 9 hour trip will carry one Captain and two First Officers. Each pilot will fly at least 2/3 of the trip. A 14 hour Asian flight will have two full crews, or two Captains and two First Officers. Each pilot will fly at least half of the trip.

During flights over long expanses of water, when reaching each waypoint and contacting the nearest facility to make our report, we are legally bound to notate our every word, time, altitude, expected next waypoint, and fuel remaining, right on our flight plan. At the end of our flight, this flight plan is turned in as a document and filed as the log that accounts for the whole flight and is considered an official document. Years later, someone can go back and track the entire flight just by referencing the statistics, documented by the flight crew.

See you in Bora Bora!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Did You Know? Rejected Takeoff...

Over the next year you will learn the minimum you should know to be a confident passenger on any flight. There is nothing for you to do as all safety precautions are already baked in. If you plan to become a pilot, this will take the mystery out of the Big Picture.

Did you know?

During the typical take off, pilots are aggressively looking for any mechanical reason to abort the take-off

Typically an aborted take-off, which is also called a rejected take-off is usually not that big of a deal.  More than likely it’s something out of the ordinary yet manageable that will cause the pilot to abort the take-off.  Should it be a major mechanical malfunction, the preplanned response makes this a priority best dealt with on the ground rather than taking it into the air.

As passengers turn their attention to the takeoff roll, their thoughts turn to the possible danger of the lift off. Pilots on the other hand have completed preliminary calculations that are put into effect the moment the pilot releases the brakes. Taken into account is the length of the runway; the wind speed and direction; what contamination may be on the runway surface; what obstacle can be found off of the end of the runway. Be it a tree or a mountain. All factors are taken into account. By knowing the speed required for the airplane to lift off and how long it takes to accelerated to THAT speed, is calculated into the amount of runway required to reach that speed. Then by adding the runway length, obstacle distance and height, the pilot can calculate at what point they would need to put on the brakes and come to a full stop within the runway remaining. That long math calculation has a specific name. It’s call the Accelerated Stop distance. So let’s recap. Before the pilot pulls out onto the runway, they have already figured out at what distance they will be at the fastest speed just before they must put on max breaking to come to a full stop, no matter what the reason, prior to the end of the runway.  That distance or point they give another name. It’s called V1. At that speed, the pilot, will retard the throttles/power levers, use reverse to assist the breaking process, apply full and sometimes anti skid breaking, and bring the airplane to a full stop.
While a pilot is taxing onto the takeoff runway, they are completing their final checks looking for some small problem that has the potential to cause unacceptable issues later in the flight. Adding power and rolling down the runway continues the same priority, look for or listen for the slightest indication of a problem. Before V1, the pilots are ready to stop. What if something happens after V1? Then what?

After V1, the next phase of flight begins, and it has its own set of rules. After V1, the calculated distance to stop within the runway length is no longer an option. It is much less dangerous, often not dangerous at all, to continue the flight into the air, handle the malfunction and then bring the airplane back to an airport for a controlled stabilized approach and landing. Last week we discussed an engine failure and how the airplane flys perfectly well on one engine. Pilots practice engine failures during all training evolutions. That may not make passengers happy, but your pilots have expert knowledge in takeoff malfunctions. All pilots must pass a checkride which includes many opportunities to prove competency in takeoff malfunctions.
So whether the pilot stops the airplane on the runway, abruptly it may seem, or takes it into the air, every precise segment of the takeoff roll is planned well in advance expressly for the safety of the passengers and flight crews on board.

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Did You Know? An A & P licensed aircraft mechanic makes more money than a Junior Pilot

Did you know?

An aircraft mechanic with an A&P license makes more money than a junior pilot.
An A&P license, which is an abbreviation for Airframe and Power plant license, is issued to technicians who have the proper training and meet all the requirements set by the Federal Aviation Administration. Once certified, an A&P mechanic can perform routine and complex aircraft inspections and repairs that ensure aircraft are properly maintained and in peak condition.
In 2013 there were an estimated 20,000 airplanes on the planet. In the next 20 years, that number will quickly climb to 35,000. Each airplane must be inspected and all maintenance must be done by a certified aircraft mechanic. In general aviation, there is the annual or 100-hour inspection. Repairs can only be done by an aircraft mechanic. The number of mechanics required to maintain all of these airplanes, several times a year or constantly, cannot be counted. Just as the number of pilots retiring is leading to a pilot shortage, there is the same need for aircraft mechanics. To be certified by the FAA to actually work on an airplane, the mechanic must be A&P certified.
This highly sought after skill requires a few years of study, often completed through a two-year course or an Associate’s Degree. Many in the business start with military aviation, which is excellent paid-for training. Not every mechanic can become an airplane mechanic, but every A&P licensed aircraft mechanic can choose the best positions in almost any field requiring maintenance. That certification is highly sought after, and those who earn it receive respectable pay. A certified mechanic can expect to earn $30,000+ starting pay and quickly increase to $45,000. More senior Airline Mechanics can expect $24/hour to $80,000+ per year. This line of work is hourly based and is often subject to increased hourly pay through overtime. A junior pilot at a regional airline, after years of training, building up of hours, and completion of certificates, may begin at $22,000, with a slow climb to $50,000.

Aircraft mechanics quickly take on supervisory positions, as all types of training are closely supervised and signed completion inspections are required every step of the way. A mechanic who holds an A&P license is certified to inspect, perform, and supervise maintenance on aircraft and their systems. A&P mechanics work on all parts of the aircraft except for the instruments. An A&P mechanic is certified for both commercial and private aircraft.
Before you take on the job of Aircraft Mechanic, check your integrity. Passengers depend on it. Any lapse in judgment or work ethic will cause problems for your reputation, your fellow mechanics and the traveling public that depend on you. This is one industry in which quality control and safety are top priority. Redundant checks and balances support a safer environment.
The mechanic skill set can prove to be a quality, satisfying job for the worker and their family. Because they are highly sought after, you can choose to live anywhere, and you will find a position available. Also, there are many industries outside of aviation that will hire someone with their A&P such as industrial turbines or wind power.
Join #AviationCarolinaKids if you want to attend Aviation Camps of the Carolinas to get the full details on this and other inside information.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Did You Know? It only takes one engine to safety fly a two engine plane

Over the next year you will learn the minimum you should know to be a confident passenger on any flight. There is nothing for you to do as all safety precautions are already baked in. If you plan to become a pilot, this will take the mystery out of the Big Picture.

Did you know?

Airplane engines are structurally designed to be fully capable of producing all the power required to fly the aircraft should either one of the two engines fail.

On occasion, engine malfunctions or failures may occur that require an engine to be shut down during a flight. Yet there’s no need to worry, because the inflight shutdown of an engine is typically not a serious safety of flight issue, although airport fire and rescue equipment are usually positioned near the runway as a precautionary measure.

At cruise altitude, one engine typically produces 40% of its capacity. Airplane engines are actually capable of running above 100%, but only for a few seconds before intervention by the pilot. Engines run at 90% of capacity for takeoff, but during normal flight they run at less than 50%. Therefore, should an engine fail during flight, simply doubling power on the remaining good engine is within its normal power range.  If a pilot loses an engine while at high cruise altitude, charts are available to determine the single engine ceiling. The pilot will have to descend to a safe altitude to continue to efficiently fly on a single engine.

Most in-flight engine shutdowns follow flowchart like, pre-planned calculated steps. The response is immediate, with no emotional considerations. Pilots practice, over and over again, different circumstances and situations in which they would find themselves with a single engine. Sometimes the pilot determines that the engine malfunction requires a shutdown to eliminate unintended consequences or safeguard deterioration of other safety of flight components. Sometimes they practice an engine failing for no readily apparent known cause, such as during takeoff or just after takeoff. This almost never happens in real life but pilots practice it anyway. There is no surprise moment for a failed engine. And training is repetitive along those lines. Single-engine flight is practiced so often during training that pilots find the procedure more routine than threatening.

 Experienced pilots will be more concerned when shutting down an engine, to manipulate the airplane in such a way that the passengers do not realize what has happened. And for the astute, it will simply sound like an air conditioner shutting down.  Modernization and technology also assists pilots with automation. For example, a Boeing 777 is designed to fly for at least 3 hours on just one engine, giving the pilot adequate time to find a nearby airport to land. Single engine flight on all aircraft is limited by fuel on board, which is calculated into hours.

Join #AviationCarolinaKids if you want to attend Aviation Camps of the Carolinas to get the full details on this and other inside information.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Aviation Camps of the Carolinas - Did You Know?

Over the next year you will learn the minimum you should know to be a confident passenger on any flight. There is nothing for you to do as all safety precautions are already baked in. If you plan to become a pilot, this will take the mystery out of the Big Picture. AviationCamps.org

Did you know?

When two pilots fly together, pilot and co-pilot, their qualifications to fly that airplane are identical.

 A pilot is a person who controls the flight of an aircraft by operating its directional flight controls. The pilot, also known as the captain, makes the final decisions about anything that happens on the aircraft and also ensures adherence to all Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

 The captain’s co-pilot, also known in aviation terms as the first officer, is second in command of the aircraft. In the event that anything happens to the captain, the co-pilot will assume command and responsibility of the aircraft.

 Control of the aircraft is usually shared equally between both pilots, with one pilot designated to fly the aircraft and the other designated to monitor the aircraft instruments, systems, and respond to all ground communications. Either pilot will input changes to the navigational systems with anticipated, or air traffic control requested updates.

 It should be clearly noted that annually, both pilots, the first officer and the captain, must prove their skill and ability under the same training conditions for all flight and emergency procedures.

 Generally speaking, both pilots share flying the aircraft by flying every other leg (that is, from takeoff to landing) and logging PIC (Pilot in Command) or SIC (Second in Command) time.

 Both captain and co-pilot each hold an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, also known as an ATP. Airline companies do not hire pilots right out of flight school. Pilots usually start out as co-pilots or flight instructors for charter and regional companies before becoming flight engineers or co-pilots for major airlines.

 They can advance to co-pilot and then pilot for a regional airline after obtaining about 2000 hours of flight experience. It usually takes one to five years for a regional co-pilot to advance to a regional captain, and another 10 years to become an airline first officer. All airlines promote to Captain based on seniority.

 Most major airlines require four-year degrees. Military pilots generally start flying for the military in their twenties and have already acquired their four-year degree. Their buildup of flight time allows them to apply directly to the major airlines with both experience and education.

Join #AviationCarolinaKids if you want to attend Aviation Camps of the Carolinas to get the full details on this inside information.