Sunday, January 28, 2018

Saturday Educational Enhancements - The Michigan Aviation Safety Seminar

At a rather early hour, before the sun had risen, I met up with Pete and we headed to Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti for the 2018 Michigan Aviation Safety Forum.

A now annual affair, it's put on by AOPA and the FAA's FAAST Team and for a fee of $5 for a day of informative lectures that help make you a safer pilot, it's a heckuva bargain.

It kicked off with the unpleasant stuff: Pilot Deviations - Who is the FAA Catching put on by the FAA reps.

A major deviation the FAA is concerned about is runway incursions and there were 22 of those at the 7 towered airports in the Southeastern Michigan sector this year. No collisions resulted, but still not a good statistic. Basically, if you're in any doubt at all as to the instructions you were given by the tower - don't assume, ask and make sure you understand. The Tower is there for you, not the other way around.

In Michigan last year there were 7 Presidential TFR violations. Bust a Presidential TFR (which is a very no-fly zone) and the best you can hope for is a short suspension and the penalties get worse from there.

Of the 7 who messed up, 4 had departed with no briefing at all - no calling a briefer, no DUATS, nothing and managed to blunder their way into the TFR. One of the 4 who didn't bother to get a briefing was an airline pilot in real life and was just doing a pleasure ride in a GA aircraft and wandered into the TFR as he figured it was a really nice day and he didn't need a brief.....until he did.

In short get a damn briefing, preferably with it being on tape talking to a live briefer as those calls are recorded so you can prove you did it and were told there was no TFRs.

Interestingly enough, I learned that the ATIS at Pontiac is recorded on a recording system dating back to 1934 which has a 2 minute limit, which explains why they talk rather fast sometimes when there's a bunch of taxiway NOTAMs.

Overall General Aviation safety statisticaly improved this year, bit still more work needs to be done.

Next up was a presentation on Night Flying by Andy Miller of AOPA. Very useful things to consider whicle flying at night and he noted that while only 10% of general aviation flights occur at night, night flying accounts for half of all general aviation accidents. In short we need more practice night flying, and need to be aware of the risks involved. >ots of good tips for safer night flying.

Next was a presentation on Aviation Medical issues focusing on Basic Med. Overall a good and useful program but I'll stick with my 3rd Class Medical as its more flexible and has more utility than Basic Med.

After that was a presentation on ADS-B. With 2020 coming up fast its clear that General Aviation will not be ready for the FAA diktat that planes be ADS-B equipped before flying in Class A, B, and C airspace and at 10K feet in Class E. There's 438 workdays left before Janauray 1, 2020 and 131,473 general aviation aircraft that still don't have ADS/B installed. Do the math and if you have a plane without ADSB and intend to fly anywhere a transponder is required now, you better get in line right quick.

After a lunch break, held at the Student Center's food court featuring a delicious Smashburger and fries we bought it was back to the seminar.

It began with a rather sobering Accident Case Study at Untowered Airports.

He used the 2013 Johnson Creek crash to look at what went wrong - A Piper Tri Pacer and Piper Arrow both on final, both had made radio calls, with the Arrow above the Tri Pacer and the two planes colliding with 3 survivors and 1 fatality. Lots of useful discussion as to how to better announce and use the radio more descriptively at untowered fields, and the need for situational awareness.

Then we looked at Aerodynamics for the General Aviation pilot, put on by the always awesome Don Weaver.

He began stating that 40% of accidents in GA are due to loss of control, typically due to poor flying: poor energy management, lack of stick-and-rudder skills, chasing airspeed, and not knowing where the edges of the envelope are and especially being surprised when finding them at a critical time.

He talked a lot about the base to final turn stall-spin scenario and how to avoid it as its still biting pilots, mainly due to them going slow and imposing a high load factor on the plane by hauling it through the turn after overshooting the runway, leading to the stall-spin at an unrecoverable altitude. Always a great presentation from Don.

Next was a rather neat presentation: "It's the Fuel, Stupid" By Randy Coller, the head Airport Inspector for MDOT.

He showed quite a few fuel facilities at airports in Michigan that were less than subpar - forget rusty pipes and tans which are bad enough, but one airport had its fuel in a stationary truck that was marked "Unsuitable - Not for Aviation Use" which must really build confidence for anyone crazy enough to fuel up there.

He noted that a plane that started with half a load 100LL in the tanks that is filled to half with jet fuel will have the same blue color upon sumping the tanks - the only way to tell is by smell and touch. A piston plane with tanks half full of jet fuel will takeoff - and then crash shortly after due to detonation caused by the jet fuel that wrecks your engine. In short, his advice was to preferably fuel the plane yourself or if need be only let another person fill it under supervision. He also suggested pilots quit running out of fuel.

Last up was a presentation on Unmanned Aerial Systems by Chris Monti. UAS means Drones. In short the presentaiton noted they're here to stay. Unfortunately the majority of operators of drones have no idea what the rules and regulations for operating them are and this ignorance is causing problems. Basically, education is important and users of drones need to learn and be informed as to what they may and may not do with their drones. Flying into controlled airspace without authorization, or above 400 feet, or beyond line of sight, is a no-no. He also did a good look at Part 107 which is the rules for commercial drone operations.

A very useful seminar with lots of useful and pertinent information.

1 comment:

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Aaron;

Looks that was a good seminar and we at work gets lectures on runway incursions..."You cross the zipper line, you in a world of hurt" kinda things. We occasionally have a vehicle violate the zipper line, and drive on the runway, thankfully they don't belong to my employer but to other companies around the airport, usually gut trucks and things of that nature.
What kind of airplane you looking to buy btw?