Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Yesterday's Aviation Safety Seminar

Yesterday was heavy overcast, rain and thunder squalls and everything that would make for a non-flying day. Plus I had work to do so flying was right out.

However, I did have time to take a late lunch, eat in the car and attend an early afternoon safety seminar at Pontiac Airport before going back to work.

Put on regularly by our local FAAST team, it's a free educational resource.

As a pilot, I'm truly at the stage where I know that there is so much that I do NOT know.

So, attending these seminars helps add some knowledge, and even if only a tiny sliver of it helps keep me out of trouble or helps me handle trouble I may get into, it is worth it.

The seminar had about 15 attendees, and as typical for these, I was on the younger side of the age curve for the group.

The seminar started off noting that there's been around 23 Detroit Class B airspace violations each year for the past few years. Part of the problem is people not paying attention or not having updated charts/maps. Another problem is that Detroit's radar and your GPS map showing the Class Bravo don't always match and they suggest remaining at least 5 miles away from the blue line if you're at an altitude that would violate the airspace.

Dan Holtzclaw then presented the Safety Topic of the Month concerning Maneuvering Flight.

Maneuvering flight is basically anything except straight and level flight.

25% of fatal accidents occur during maneuvering flight and 50% of those are stall/spin accidents. Interestingly, of the fatal stall/spins, 28% are during takeoff, 18% on approach, 6% on go-round and 41% during maneuvers. I would have thought the takeoff and approach numbers would be opposite at the very least.

Tips included pay attention during takeoff and landing which is pretty obvious, as was not doing buzzing, and don't try aerobatics unless you've got training for aerobatics and are in an airplane that can handle it.

32% of maneuvering accidents are buzzing related, and most of those are fatal.

He also noted that even a maneuver as simple as turns around a point has led to fatal accidents and altitude is your friend for those. The stall/spins from a TAP are often referred to in Alaska as a Moose stall - you see a Moose, want to get lower to see it, start circling, pay insufficient attention to airspeed, bank, and angle of attack and the stall then results. In Australia the same accident is called a Kangaroo Stall. He also noted instead of a TAP, to instead fly past the object, then do a gentle turn and fly past the object of interest again.

In short, pay attention when you're flying.

Gary Knaggs then presented on "Solid State Ignition for Piston Powered Aircraft Engines".

In short solid state tends to be more reliable for starting the plane, gives more performance and saves about 6-10% on fuel, but it is still in its early stages for general aviation aircraft and you typically replace one magneto and one set of spark plugs with the solid state system and plugs to keep redundancy and that you still have a system that will keep your engine working if you lose electrical power. Certainly an intriguing technology improvement that should keep on improving. After all we've had them in cars for decades.

Pat Ryan the FAAST team rep then presented The Art of Aeronautical Decision Making and Safety Risk Management. Again, a lot of it was refresher from private pilot training including the Decide model, IMSAFE, PAVE etc. Personally I think the flow of the Decide model is way to lengthy and cumbersome - by the time you work your way through it you've likely already crashed, but it at least makes you think - OODA is likely better, easier to remember, and faster to implement, but its an Air Force thing and likely the FAA doesn't want to borrow it.

He noted participants in the WINGS program and attendees at these seminars do have a statistically significant reduction in the likelihood of being in an aircraft accident or violation. Whether this is a result of going to the seminars or just the mindset of pilots who go to the seminars is that of being more aware and of regularly acting in a safe manner is a good question.

He gave quite a few examples of fatal accidents that occurred from bad planning and/or bad aeronautical decision making. Sobering stuff.

The majority of the seminar was pretty much aeronautical common sense, but it is always good to refresh and update it.

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