Air NZ Captain Locks Himself in the Cockpit

Two Air New Zealand pilots hav been suspended after a mid-air drama developed when the Captain locked the First Officer out of the cockpit.


The incident occurred on a B777-200, flight NZ176 from Perth to Auckland on May 21, the aircraft was carrying 303 passengers plus crew.

The captain locked himself inside of the cockpit and did not respond to requests to open the locked door during a period of two minutes, alarming crew.

Apparently an argument developed between the pilots because of a departure delay originated when the First Officer was called for a random drug and alcohol test.

“This departure delay frustrated the captain who prides himself on operational efficiency,” Air New Zealand’s manager of operational integrity and safety, Errol Burtenshaw, told AFP in a statement Sunday.

This incident has sparked calls for a third crew member to be added to flight decks so no one is ever alone in the cockpit.

Air NZ spokeswoman Marie Hosking said the first officer and crew became concerned after the captain did not respond to three requests over two minutes from a cabin crew member to open the cockpit door.

The first officer eventually used an alternative method to access the cockpit. For security reasons, the airline would not say how.

“Naturally, cabin crew operating the flight were concerned about the inability to contact the captain and became quite anxious,” said the national carrier’s operational integrity and safety manager Errol Burtenshaw.

They were offered the support of the company’s employee assistance programme after the flight.

Both pilots were stood down — the captain for two weeks and the first officer for a week, and given counselling and additional training.

“Both pilots have learned a valuable lesson around the need to communicate better with peers.”

He said the captain did not respond or open the door because he was approaching a navigational waypoint and in his cockpit monitor saw a cabin crew member rather than the first officer ringing.

The airline provided a report on the incident to the Civil Aviation Authority. Spokesman Mike Richards said it was satisfied with Air NZ’s actions.

Aviation commentator Peter Clark said the incident showed it was time all airlines put a third crew member in the cockpit. “After [the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight] MH370 there’s definitely questions being asked about whether there should be more than two people on the flight deck.”

Clark said there was no excuse for the Air NZ captain to not immediately respond to calls, given the MH370 mystery and the fate of other flights, including an Ethiopian Airlines flight hijacked by its asylum-seeking co-pilot this year.

“You can push a button and say ‘I’m busy’ … two minutes is an eternity when people reflect on MH370. The transponder can be turned off, the flight co-ordinates changed, the plane depressurised.

“It shouldn’t have happened.”

Source: The New Zealand Herald

Photos: Air NZ



FAA and Drones – Incident Case Study.

An US Airways Bombardier CRJ-200 aircraft almost collided with a drone above Florida earlier this year, a near-accident that rise concerns about the growing risk from increased use of unmanned aircraft, said Jim Williams, head of the unmanned-aircraft office at the Federal Aviation Administration. Mr. Williams revealed the incident publicly at a conference in San Francisco on Thursday.

US Airways Flight 4650 from Charlotte, N.C., was approaching Tallahassee airport descending through 2,300 feet and about five miles from the airport when it encountered the drone, which the pilot described “as a camouflaged F-4 fixed-wing aircraft that was quite small.” The remote controlled jet was more similar to a model aircraft flown by hobbyists rather than a so-called quadcopter that many see as the type of unmanned aircraft with commercial potential.

“The airplane pilot said that the drone was so close to his jet that he was sure he had collided with it,”
The CRJ did not appear to be damaged when it was inspected after the March 22 incident, Williams said.
But the incident served to highlight the risk of remote-control aircraft, he said.

“The risk for a small UAS to be ingested into a passenger airline engine is very real,” Williams said. “The results could be catastrophic.”

The FAA currently bans the commercial use of drones in the United States and is under growing pressure to set rules that would permit their broader use. Hobby and many law-enforcement uses are permitted.
Last year, the agency began establishing test sites where businesses can try out commercial uses. Two of the centers have started working ahead of schedule.

“The FAA is working aggressively to ensure the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace,” the agency said in a statement.

The March incident was reported to the Tallahassee control tower by the pilot for Bluestreak Airlines, a US Airways commuter carrier. US Airways is part of American Airlines.

The FAA investigated but could not identify the pilot of the drone.
During the conference at the Small Unmanned Systems Business Expo in San Francisco, Williams also showed videos of several drone accidents, including one in which a drone crashed into a crowd during the running of the bulls in Richmond, Virginia, last fall.

Capt. Ivan

Photo: File – Wikipedia


Shedding Light On Night Flying

I still remember my first flight at night. I felt deeply attracted and interested in experiencing the flight when darkness enveloped the small airport where it was my flight school. I used to hear stories from other pilots who would tell me that after the rotation all the real world ended and all that counted were my flight instruments.  Night flying has magic and beauty, there’s usually less air traffic and controllers are more helpful. However, the limitations that darkness puts in human vision, the effect of daily fatigue and time changes increase the risks of night flying.

In this post I would like to cover the issues involved in flying at night: The vision limitations at night, night scanning, night illusions, aircraft lightning, night operations, regulations and tips to make your night flight more comfortable and safe.

After sunset, our perception of real world changes completely, depth perceptions are severely altered and visual acuity diminishes.

Visual Limitations at Night – Pilots rely more on vision than on any other sense to orient themselves in flight. The following visual factors contribute to flying performance: good depth perception for safe landings, good visual acuity to identify terrain features and obstacles in the flight path and good color vision. Although vision is the most accurate and reliable sense, at night visual cues can be misleading, contributing to incidents occurring within the flight environment. Pilots must be aware of and know how to compensate effectively for the following:

– Physical deficiency or self-imposed stress, such as smoking, which limits night-vision capability
– Visual cue deficiencies
– Limitations in visual acuity, dark adaptation, and color and depth perception.

Even pilots with perfect vision find that image sharpness decreases as pupil diameter increases. These factors become important when pilots rely on terrain features during unaided night flights. Practicing good light discipline is very important and helps pilots to retain their night adaptation. Keeping the cockpit lighting on dim allows the pilot to better identify outside details, unmarked hazards such as towers less than 200′ AGL, and unimproved landing sites with no hazard lighting.
Normal visual acuity, or sharpness, is 20/20. A value of 20/80 indicates that an individual reads at 20 feet the letters that an individual with normal acuity (20/20) reads at 80 feet away. The human eye functions like a camera. It has an instantaneous field of view, which is oval and typically measures 120° vertically by 150° horizontally. When both eyes are used for viewing, the overall field of vision measures about 120° vertically by 200° horizontally.
The eye automatically adjusts for the light level experienced. During night flight, the cockpit and instrument lights should be as dim as possible. The eye can then adjust for the outside lighting conditions (ambient lighting) to see outside. The dimmer the inside lighting is, the better you can see outside.

Effects of cockpit light dimming at night flying.

Effects of cockpit light dimming at night flying.

Diet and general physical health have an impact on how well a person can see in the dark. Deficiencies in vitamins A and C have been shown to reduce night acuity. Other factors, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, smoking, alcohol, and certain drugs can greatly decrease night vision. Lack of oxygen can also decrease night vision as the eye requires more oxygen per weight than any other part of the body.

Night Scanning – Good night visual acuity is needed for collision avoidance. Night scanning, like day scanning, uses a series of short, regularly spaced eye movements in 10° sectors. When looking at an object, avoid staring at it too long. If staring at an object without moving the eyes, the retina becomes accustomed to the light intensity and the image begins to fade. To keep it clearly visible, new areas in the retina must be exposed to the image. Small, circular eye movements help eliminate the fading. Also, move the eyes more slowly from sector to sector than during the day to prevent blurring.

During daylight, objects can be perceived at a great distance with good detail. At night, range is limited and detail is poor. Objects along the flight path can be more readily identified at night when pilots use the proper techniques to scan the terrain. To scan effectively, pilots look from right to left or left to right. They should begin scanning at the greatest distance at which an object can be perceived (top) and move inward toward the position of the aircraft (bottom).

Visual Illusions – Illusions give false impressions or misconceptions of actual conditions; therefore, pilots must understand the type of illusions that can occur and the resulting disorientation. Although the visual system is the most reliable of the senses, some illusions can result from misinterpreting what is seen; what is perceived is not always accurate.

Relative Motion – is the falsely perceived self-motion in relation to the motion of another object. The most common example is as follows. An individual in a car is stopped at a traffic light and another car pulls alongside. The individual that was stopped at the light perceives the forward motion of the second car as his or her own motion rearward. This results in the individual applying more pressure to the brakes unnecessarily. This illusion can be encountered during flight in situations such as formation flight, hover taxi, or hovering over water or tall grass.

Confusion with Ground Lights – Confusion with ground lights occurs when a pilot mistakes ground lights for stars. When no stars are visible because of overcast conditions, unlighted areas of terrain can blend with the dark overcast to create the illusion that the unlighted terrain is part of the sky. In this illusion, the shoreline is mistaken for the horizon. This illusion can be avoided by referencing the flight instruments and establishing a true horizon and attitude.

Reversible Perspective Illusion – At night, an aircraft may appear to be moving away when it is actually approaching. If the pilot of each aircraft has the same assumption, and the rate of closure is significant, by the time each pilot realizes his or her own error in assumption, it may be too late to avoid a mishap. This illusion is called reversible perspective, and is often experienced when a pilot observes another aircraft flying a parallel course. To determine the direction of flight, the pilot should observe the other aircraft’s position lights. Remember the following: red on right returning; that is, if an aircraft is seen with the red position light on the right and the green position light on the left, the observed aircraft is traveling in the opposite direction.

At night, the horizon may be hard to discern due to dark terrain and misleading light patterns on the ground.

At night, the horizon may be hard to discern due to dark terrain and misleading light patterns on the ground.

Flicker Vertigo – Flicker vertigo is technically not an illusion; however, as most people are aware from personal experience, viewing a flickering light can be both distracting and annoying. Flashing anticollision strobe lights, especially while the aircraft is in the clouds, can produce this effect.

Featureless Terrain Illusion – An absence of ground features, as when landing over water, darkened areas, and terrain made featureless by snow, can create the illusion that the aircraft is at a higher altitude than it actually is. The pilot who does not recognize this illusion will fly a lower approach.

Atmospheric Illusions – Rain on the windscreen can create the illusion of greater height, and atmospheric haze can create the illusion of being at a greater distance from the runway. The pilot who does not recognize these illusions flies a lower approach. Penetration of fog can create the illusion of pitching up. The pilot who does not recognize this illusion steepens the approach, often quite abruptly.

Ground Lighting Illusions – Lights along a straight path, such as a road, and even lights on moving trains can be mistaken for runway and approach lights. Bright runway and approach lighting systems, especially where few lights illuminate the surrounding terrain, may create the illusion of less distance to the runway. The pilot who does not recognize this illusion flies a higher approach. Conversely, the pilot overflying terrain which has few lights to provide height cues may make a lower than normal approach.

The night flying environment and the techniques used when flying at night, depend on outside conditions. Flying on a bright, clear, moonlit evening when the visibility is good and the wind is calm is not much different from flying during the day. However, if flying on an overcast night over a sparsely populated area, with few or no outside lights on the ground, the situation is quite different. Visibility is restricted, so be more alert in steering clear of obstructions and low clouds. Options are also limited in the event of an emergency, as it is more difficult to find a place to land and determine wind direction and speed. At night, rely more heavily on the aircraft systems, such as lights, flight instruments, and navigation equipment. As a precaution, if visibility is limited or outside references are inadequate, strongly consider delaying the flight until conditions improve, unless proper instrument flight training has been received.

Aircraft Lighting – In order to see other aircraft more clearly, regulations require that all aircraft operating during the night hours have special lights and equipment. Position lights enable a pilot to locate another aircraft, as well as help determine its direction of flight. The approved aircraft lights for night operations are a green light on the right cabin side or wingtip, a red light on the left cabin side or wingtip, and a white position light on the tail. In addition, flashing aviation red or white anticollision lights are required for night flights. These flashing lights can be in a number of locations, but are most commonly found on the top and bottom of the cabin.

Aircraft Position Lights

Aircraft Position Lights

Here we have an example of aircraft lighting. By interpreting the position lights on other aircraft, the pilot in aircraft 3 can determine whether the aircraft is flying in the opposite direction or is on a collision course. If a red position light is seen to the right of a green light, such as shown by aircraft 1, it is flying toward aircraft 3. A pilot should watch this aircraft closely and be ready to change course. Aircraft 2, on the other hand, is flying away from aircraft 3, as indicated by the white position light.

Preflight – Aircraft preflight inspection is a critical aspect of flight safety. During night preflight we should use a flashlight with an unfiltered lens (white light) to supplement lighting. Windscreens are checked ensuring they are clean and relatively free of scratches. Slight scratches are acceptable for day flight but may not be for night flight. Careful attention must be paid to the aircraft electrical system. A tripped circuit breaker may be an indication of an equipment malfunction and should be left for maintenance to troubleshoot.
All aircraft operating between sunset and sunrise are required to have operable navigation (position) lights. Turn these lights on during the preflight to inspect them visually for proper operation. Between sunset and sunrise, these lights must be on any time the helicopter is operating. All recently manufactured aircraft certificated for night flight must have an anticollision light that makes the aircraft more visible to other pilots. This light is either a red or white.

One of the first steps in preparation for night flight is becoming thoroughly familiar with the cockpit, instrumentation, and control layout. It is recommended that a pilot practice locating each instrument, control, and switch, both with and without cabin lights. Since the markings on some switches and circuit breaker panels may be difficult to read at night, be able to locate and use these devices, and read the markings in poor light conditions.

Before starting the engine, make sure all necessary equipment and supplies needed for the flight, such as charts, notepads, and flashlights, are accessible and ready for use.
Check all interior lights with special attention to the instrument and panel lights. The panel lighting can usually be controlled with a rheostat or dimmer switch, allowing the pilot to adjust the intensity. If a particular light is too bright or causes reflection or glare off the windshield, it should be adjusted or turned off. As ambient level decreases from twilight to darkness, intensity of the cockpit lights is reduced to a low, usable intensity level that reduces any glare or reflection off the windshield. The light level should be adjusted to as close to the ambient light level as possible. A flashlight, with red or blue-green lens filter, or map light can supplement the available light in the cockpit. Always carry a flashlight with fresh batteries to provide an alternate source of light if the interior lights malfunction. If an existing map/ utility light is used, it should be hand held or remounted to a convenient location, in order to retain night adaptation use low level light when using your checklist. Brief you passengers in the importance of light discipline during night flight so the pilot is not blinded and loses dark adaptation.

Taxi Technique – Taxi slowly at night, especially in congested ramp and parking areas. When operating at an unfamiliar airport at night, ask for instructions or advice concerning local conditions, so as to avoid taxiing into areas of construction, or unlighted, unmarked obstructions.

Takeoff – Once you are ready and cleared for takeoff, select a point down the takeoff path to use for directional reference. During a night takeoff, notice a lack of reliable outside visual references after becoming airborne. To compensate for the lack of outside references, use the available flight instruments as an aid. Establish a climb attitude on the attitude indicator, check the altimeter and the airspeed indicator to verify the proper climb attitude. The first 500 feet of altitude after takeoff is considered to be the most critical.

En Route – During preflight planning, it is recommended that a route of flight that is within reach of an airport, or any safe landing site, be selected when possible. It is also recommended that pilots fly as close as possible to a populated or lighted area, such as a highway or town. Not only does this offer more options in the event of an emergency, but also makes navigation a lot easier. In the event of a forced landing at night, use the same procedure recommended for day time emergency landings. If available, turn on the landing light during the final descent to help in avoiding obstacles along the approach path.

Approach and Landing – Studies have revealed that pilots have a tendency to make lower approaches at night than during the day. This is potentially dangerous as there is a greater chance of hitting an obstacle, such as an overhead wire or fence, that is difficult to see. It is good practice to make steeper approaches at night, increasing the probability of clearing obstacles. Monitor altitude and rate of descent using the altimeter.
Another pilot tendency during night flight is to focus too much on the landing area and not pay enough attention to airspeed. If too much airspeed is lost, a settling-with-power condition may result. Maintain the proper attitude during the approach, and ensure that you keep some forward airspeed and movement until close to the ground. Outside visual references for airspeed and rate of closure may not be available, especially when landing in an unlit area, so pay special attention to the airspeed indicator. Although the landing light is a helpful aid when making night approaches, there is an inherent disadvantage. The portion of the landing area illuminated by the landing light seems higher than the dark area surrounding it. This effect can cause a pilot to terminate the approach at an altitude that is too high, which may result in a settling-with-power condition and a hard landing.

Night Flying Currency – 14 CFR section 61.57, Recent Flight Experience Pilot In Command, in order to carry passengers, “during the period beginning one hour after sunset and ending one hour before sunrise,” the pilot in command must have made at least three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop, between the hours of one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise, within the preceding 90 days.

Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 1 “Night means the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the American Air Almanac, converted to local time.”

– Aircraft Lights – 14 CFR section 91.209 “No person may: (a) during the period from sunset to sunrise… (1) Operate an aircraft unless it has lighted position lights.”


For More Information

– Risk Management for VFR Flight at Night

– “N.I.G.H.T.” FAA Aviation News,

– AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Night VFR Checkup



– FAA Night Vision & Night Operations – Chapt. 13.

– FAA Night Flight Safety.

– Illustrations & Pics:  FAA

Capt. Ivan


Asiana Airlines Generates Even More Doubts About its Pilots Training.

The Korea Office of Civil Aviation – KOCA is investigating an Asiana Airlines incident in which a Boeing 767-300 crew continued flying on one engine to its destination instead of diverting to a close alternate.

On April 19, an Asiana Airlines Boeing 767-300, flight OZ603 departed Seoul-Incheon bound to Saipan with 253 passengers on board. One hour after departure, the pilots received a warning light related to one of the aircraft’s two General Electric CF6 engines. The flight crew reduced the affected engine power but the light remained on.

Instead of divert to a close airport in Japan, they decided to continue the flight, landing in Saipan four hours later on a single engine.

On arrival at Saipan, the engineers discovered “metal particles” – apparently caused by abrasion – blocking an engine oil filter. According to South Korean official news agency Yonhap, a replacement engine had to be flown to Saipan.

Asiana operates a fleet of seven 767-300s and one 767-300ERF. The average age of its 767s is 18 years.
A 47-member committee comprising government officials and experts will be assembled to look into the incident.

The Yonhap report adds that the two pilots involved in the incident have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

The incident will raise further questions about the competence of Asiana’s flight crews following the crash of an Asiana Boeing 777-200ER while attempting to land in San Francisco on 6 July 2013. Investigators later attributed this crash to pilot error.

Capt. Ivan

Flight Training A350 XWB by Airbus

Airbus A350 XWB

The introduction of innovative training for Airbus’ next-generation A350 XWB jetliner is reinforcing the company’s focus on pilot competencies. To provide self-paced functional learning for theory and practice, the Airbus Cockpit Experience (ACE) trainer utilizes a “learning by discovery” approach. Hands-on training is also introduced at an early stage with the Airbus Pilot Transition (APT) trainer and Full Flight Simulator (FFS).

A Rusty Pilot Goes Back in the Air

I remember a phrase that I heard some years ago “the sky always going to be there, waiting for you”.

This can be the case of Mark Luetkemeyer, of Plano, Texas. Thanks to AOPA Rusty Pilots Initiative, Mark returned back to the air after being inactive as pilot for more than 25 years.


Mark’s flying desires began when his dad used to take him to the Jefferson City [Memorial] airport” in Missouri, where he learned to fly in the mid-1960s, he said. “I got my certificate when I was 24 while in the Navy, where I was an intelligence officer.”
Meanwhile he was in the military he earned his instrument and multiengine ratings and obtained a Commercial and Instructor Pilot Certificate, logging more than 1.500 hrs. at the moment he stopped flying.

Mark’s decision to stop flying is the reason why many young people get away from aviation and postpone their dream: Money.
Although Mark stopped flying, he didn’t went too far from airplanes, in the 1990’s he worked for a Company named Flexjet in Dallas airport as IT programmer. Later he also worked for a Piper and Gulfstream contractor.
Last spring Mark told his wife about his desires to go flying again “If you want to talk about rusty pilots, that’s me. I’ll be 63 this fall, and a few years ago, I got prostate cancer,” he said.

After obtaining his third class medical, he joined the RFC Dallas Flying Club at Addison airport, the club has three Beechcrafts and two Piper Cherokees.

Luetkemeyer started his flight training in July and finished it in December. “I flew twice a week for six weeks, which helps you bring back and retain muscle memory. This helps you get back in the saddle quicker,” he said. “Then from late August until December I flew about once a week. I did my cross country in late December.” Now, he’s working on getting his instructor certificate back, “so once I do finally retire, I can flight instruct on the side.”

The RFC Flying Club played an important role in bringing Mark back to fly again “I could not have done it without them. The club gave me access to better aircraft that are more suitable for cross-country work. And I wanted to get my ticket back so I could fly from point A to point B,” he said. “There’s a great deal of camaraderie in the club [which] has 100 active and nearly 200 total members.”

The reward, both for him and his wife, was when he flew from Addison to Memphis, Tenn., over Christmas. “It was my wife’s first ride in a GA aircraft”.

Luetkemeyer said he probably spent around $4,300 to get current again, including $3,000 in aircraft rental hours, $600 in instructor fees, the club deposit and initiation fee, and club dues of $360. “It takes persistence, especially if you’re over 60 like me and have medical problems. But if you want to do it, you can.”

Capt. Ivan

NBAA Releases an Update for Its Crew Rest Guidelines

The National Business Aviation Association – NBAA, has released an update to its guidelines for crew rest in business aviation first published 17 years ago. The new suggested limits are the result of recent scientific researches about human reaction to fatigue.

“We developed these guidelines after significant scientific review, extensive analysis of industry practices and industry feedback,” said Leigh White, president of Alertness Solutions and lead of NBAA’s Fatigue Task Force. “Our goal was to present the latest data and guidance to company and flight department management to help educate them about how to best use their crews.”

The investigation result is a 16-page report that reflects the effects of working at different hours of day it covers important topics like fatigue management and provides tables to compute flight time, duty time and rest periods.

This publication, developed the NBAA Safety Committee’s Fatigue Task Force and a host of industry experts, is intended to be a practical tool for flight departments that is easy to understand, implement and incorporate in any operator’s flight operations manual.

Capt. Ivan

10 Tips for VFR Flying

Visual flying can be much more challenging than flying using instruments as sole reference.  Visual flying requires good pre-flight planning, knowledge of weather conditions at departure, en-route and destination and a careful study of winds aloft.  Also requires a good knowledge of terrain along the route, obstructions, prominent landmarks combined with familiarity with your aircraft performance and speeds. 

I have put a series of suggestions that will help you keep your VFR flying safer and enjoyable.

1.    If you are flying VFR, keep under visual meteorological conditions.  Countless accidents happened because of trying to keep visual conditions into deteriorating weather.  If weather ahead of you starts pushing you between the clouds and the ground to keep visual conditions, the key element is to know when to turn back towards good weather or divert to a visual alternate.  Remember, always have a plan B.

2.    Study the weather forecasts and make a plan well ahead of your departure time. In the U.S., TV weather forecasts are very accurate and we can get a good picture of what to expect on the area of our flight.  For complete weather information always rely on professional aviation related websites.  Don’t stay only with the info provided by your briefer, sometimes is difficult to get a mental weather picture on spoken words.

3.    Flight Plan, don’t leave home without one.  Is the cheapest insurance you can get that someone is going to look for you outside there is you don’t arrive on ETA at your destination.  You can file a VFR Flight Plan several ways:  by telephone to your nearest Flight Service Station (FSS), with your Flight Dispatcher at your flying school of FBO or by VHF with your nearest FSS after you depart.  Jeppesen’s provides a free service with access to MyFlitePlan online to file a VFR Flight Plan.  Always remember to close your flight plan on arrival at your destination.

4.    Use the advantages of GPS, but just as a backup source.  With GPS accuracy and complete information provided, is hard not to fall into follow it blindly, resist the temptation and use it to create a path that includes relevant enroute landmarks and obstructions or to deviate around busy, prohibited, or restricted areas.

5.    Avoid congested areas around busy airports and big cities.  Even when VFR flights are routed through corridors around big airports, this can result in a big deviation or a series of radar vectors to avoid commercial traffic.  Flying near or over big cities can reduce significantly the forward vision due to air pollution.

6.    Are you a low timer, flying first time on a new area?  If you can, get a qualified pilot familiar with the area to ride with you on the right seat.  Learning by yourself in aviation is always the hardest way, two pairs of eyes are much more better to scan for traffic, help with navigation, do radio-communications and share the experience!

7.    Fly high, whenever possible.  Always keeping in mind to have visual contact with terrain, fly higher when conditions permit.  Instead of staying at usual altitudes of 4000 or 7000 feet, a higher altitude, let’s say 10.000 feet (max allowed without supplemental oxygen), will give you a better environment perspective and save fuel.

8.    Make a list of the airports with suitable runways along or near your route of flight.  In aviation, the most challenging situation is the unexpected,  there are several reasons why you may find yourself forced to divert or land at a different airport than planned destination, weather, an on board emergency or abnormal situation, even that lunch that you had at the airport can create a problem in an aircraft without toilette.  Make a plan, and work your plan.

9.    Use all resources available today.  When I started flying we had to rely only on our eyes, a visual chart, a clock and a circular computer.  Today all available resources are amazing, not only some general aviation aircraft are equipped with terrain display presentations, devices like the Ipad and GPS make our flying much more enjoyable and accurate. 

10.Only fly at night if you are really qualified to do so.  Moonless nights can represent a real challenge for visual flying for non-instrument rated pilots.  Once the wheels leave the ground all outside references are lost, especially on runways in the middle of a dark spot, rapid acceleration can create a series of body sensations that tend to confuse our brain when no outside clues are available. 

Be receptive to all clues that can be telling you is not the day to do a VFR flight, an aircraft that is not in proper condition, forecasted deteriorating weather or even yourself not being fit to fly, remember; be safe, as the old saying goes: “is better to stay on the ground wishing to stay in the air, than in the air wishing to stay in the ground”

Visual Flight Rules – VFR

Capt. Ivan


FAA Softens Considerably their Apnea Policy

The FAA – Federal Aviation Administration went backward considerably on its sleep apnea proposal. The controversial plan to require sleep clinic testing based on body mass index appears to be dead. Last year, Federal Air Surgeon Fred Tilton announced, without consultation with aviation groups or the doctors that do flight medicals, that any pilot with a BMI greater than 40 would have his/her certificate suspended and be automatically required to be assessed by an accredited sleep specialist to prove that he or she did not have obstructive sleep apnea.

Under the proposed new rules, assessment may still be required, but the certificate will remain valid until it’s completed, this represents an important step in the right direction over the policy announced last year,”

Under the new policy AMEs have been asking questions about sleep apnea since 2009 and under the new policy if they think a pilot needs further assessment, it can be done by a regular doctor and not a sleep specialist as previously required. It will be up to the second-opinion doctor whether an expensive sleep test ($3,000 or more) is required. The issue prompted bills in both the House and Senate to require the FAA to go through the rulemaking process to enact its previous proposal.

Capt. Ivan

Photo:  AOPA

Are You Willing to Work in Exchange for Flight Training?

Do you have services to offer in exchange for flight training? Or, are you a flight instructor who would accept those services in exchange for your skills and knowledge? If so, Stephanie Thoen hopes you’ll visit a new website:

Thoen, of Aurora, Colo., created the website as a means of offering an alternative method for student pilots to pay for their flight training. Certificated flight instructors can register free of charge. All others pay a yearly fee of $18.95. Thoen said she has begun the process of registering her business, Limitless Aviation, as a nonprofit. She plans to set aside 10 percent of registration fees toward monthly scholarships for registered users.

The website  suggests numerous services that registrants may wish to offer, such as accounting, automotive work, house and pet sitting, property management, tutoring, catering, and many more. If you aren’t particularly skilled in any of those areas, the website also suggests that timeshares, cabins, hunting property, recreational vehicles, or boats can be posted if owners are willing to barter for the use of the items or even trade them outright for instruction.

Thoen said she was inspired to create the website after running out of funds to pay for her own training. Discharged from the U.S. Army in January, she had applied for flight training assistance through the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. She has been unable to get full credit for her active duty time from the Department of Veterans Affairs and is just 16 hours away from completing her private pilot certificate.

“My business isn’t just targeting” primary student pilots, Thoen said. “I want to find CFIs of all ranks of experience who are willing to barter with students all the way up to ATP.”


By Jill W. Tallman – AOPA

  •   GDL 39