Coming Or Going
Why might a pilot learning to sail become at least momentarily disoriented?
- because wind speeds are typically 100 times faster than ocean currents.
- because an airplane can head directly into the wind, but a sailboat cannot
- because pilots are used to sighting courses from altitude, with oblique perspectives towards a progression of checkpoints, whereas sailors can only sight short distances along the surface
- because wind direction and current direction are indicated in exactly opposite directions
Chip Off the New Block
A pilot who desires to retain instrument currency may use a first Personal Computer Aviation Training Device (PCATD) under what conditions?
- As per Advisory Circular 61-126, paragraph 5.b., under no circumstances can a PCATD be used, except training acquired and properly logged to meet the requirements for instruction for an instrument rating per as per Title 14 CFR part 61.65, and for only 10 hours of that requirement. Again, use of a PCATD may not be applied towards meeting currency requirements.
- Only if he or she is already instrument current. Unlike flight accomplished with an instructor or a safety pilot, when using a PCATD, there is no six-month grace period.
- Only under the supervision of an authorized instrument flight instructor (a CFII, but not a “non-instrument” CFI)
- Only for those PCATD installations within the recently approved “Advanced PCATD” category of aviation training devices. (These have enhancements such as life-sized instruments and an external visual system, as well as improved ergonomics.) This includes the requirements for logged flight experience in Part 61.51(b)(3), the logging of instrument flight time in 61.51(g)(4), and instrument experience as described in 61.57(c)(1).
You are on a precision approach into a major metropolitan airport and you have reached the 200-foot ILS decision height without seeing the runway environment, approach lights, or anything else except the inside of a milk bottle. Yet you continue your descent down towards a Category II decision height of 100 feet. Your aircraft is IFR capable, but it is without any of the additional instruments required for Category II authorization specified in Appendix A to Part 91. You are not breaking any rules. How can this be?
- You are not in the United States.
- You have earned a Certificate of Waiver from the FAA.
- You have a synthetic vision system certified under Part 91.205(i)(2)
- You are a military pilot.
- You are flying a Precision Approach Radar into a military airport that is approved for joint civilian/military use.
Coming Or Going
Answer: As all pilots soon learn, by meteorological convention, winds are depicted using barbs or vectors with directions that are measured clockwise from North, where the “arrow” points toward the direction from which the wind is blowing. Thus, a wind direction of 270 degrees means that the winds are westerly, or blowing from the West. However, in the sister science of oceanography (or any other branch of the physical sciences dealing with bodies of water), vector directions denote the direction of mass flow. So in this case, an arrow pointing westward means that the current is flowing from East to West! It’s D, all right.
Chip Off the New Block
Answer: D. This just came out in the Fall of 2003. You still need the presence of an “authorized instructor” as mentioned in CFR Title 14, Part 61.51(g)(4). Incidentally, that means that he or she must be either an Instrument Ground Instructor or an instrument flight instructor (a CFII). The term “authorized instructor” is defined in Part 61.1, sub-paragraph “b”. I was able to confirm the newly conferred status of this type of PCATD with a phone call to the somewhat blustery Aviation Safety Specialist and Operations Inspector within the FAA’s AFS-840, General Aviation and Commercial Division, Certification Branch, in Washington, DC. (If you want to make sure I heard it right, his name is Larry and he’s at 202-267-3837.) And of course, if your flight school doesn’t happen to have a brand new Advanced PCATD, the old ATC-610J, with all its glorious and anachronistic op amps and integrators, has long been legal for helping you maintain instrument currency (though you still need an “authorized instructor” looking over your shoulder, figuratively if not literally).
Answer: B. You would have to jump through a few procedural hoops, but actually, a Part 91 pilot and his or her airplane can attain Category II approval without needing any special avionics and instrumentation, manuals, or a copilot. What sort of hoops? The first one is writing a formal “letter of intent” to your local Flight Standards District Office requesting a waiver from the rules requiring a copilot described in CFR Title 14, Part 91.189(a)(i), as well as those requiring a manual (91.191), and the l-o-n-g list of avionics alluded to in 91.205, sub-paragraph (f) (although the list itself is in Appendix A to Part 91). In it you would list your airplane’s avionics, that they are all certified, and explain that you already have an instrument rating, that both you and your airplane are current for IFR flight, and that you do not fly for compensation or hire (the one limitation to all this). At this point, you aren’t actually mailing the letter, just writing it. Then you get a copy of FAA Form 7711-2, the Application for Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (which is what you’ll need to earn the actual Certificate of Authorization For Certain Category II Operations, Form 7711-1), fill it out, and attach it to your letter of intent. You then request a meeting with a FSDO general aviation inspector, to whom you show the letter, as well as Volume 2, Chapter 59 of FAA Handbook 8700 (which states what he is duty-bound to do, in order to help you get your waiver). Next, you take a check ride with an FAA inspector, demonstrating your ability to hand-fly an ILS down to 100 feet. (One warning: if your airplane is a twin, you’ll also have to do it on one engine.) If you manage all that, you’ll be granted approval to bust Category I as far down as 150 feet. Do three more practice approaches with a safety pilot down to 100 feet, write another letter affirming these to whomever signed your initial authorization, asking for 100-foot DH (and also perhaps, 1200 foot RVR minimums), and that’s it. Simple, huh?