Discussing the Area Forecast

AFDDiscussMapRemember those vague Area Forecasts (FAs) that you try to interpret and figure out what portions of what areas the un-decoded text is talking about as you think about alternate minimums, cloud ceilings over an area bigger than a TAF site covers, or as you try to plan a cross-country flight through a region? Well, many people only use them periodically, but they can actually be very useful.

Specifically, while the actual forecast is very useful, a little paid attention to part of the forecast is the “Aviation Forecast Discussion. (AFD – no, not the green books with airport information, the weather product). Continue reading

The Tough Job of Being an FAA ASI

One of the most thankless jobs in aviation has to be that of an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector (ASI). This cadre of experienced aviation professionals has made the choice to work for the government bureaucracy that is the FAA and by doing so, are in many cases they are the front line for safety in the aviation community. But many pilots don’t exactly roll out the welcome mat when they see an FAA staff member show up at their local airport. It’s a tough job that doesn’t typically bring accolades from the aviation community.

While many of us in aviation specialize in one or two specific areas, the folks that do these jobs have to be masters of many areas. They have to be knowledgeable enough to conduct oversight for compliance and safety of the aviation community within each of their particular districts of every type of activity that takes place in their district. One day they may be overseeing the work of a Designated Pilot Examiner, the next day responding to an accident, followed by working to review and approve an RVSM manual for a corporate operator, and then doing a proficiency ride for a Part 135 charter operator. Oh, and they might have to work with a Part 141 training provider, do a few ramp checks, then try to stay on top of current internal policy changes the FAA makes that govern how they do their jobs. After that they may have do to an evening safety seminar. They are pulled in many directions and aren’t given much room to make mistakes. Safety and lives depend on their work. Continue reading

Finding the Freezing Level…

awclogoFall flying brings us all back to needing to worry about icing on
our flights, but still gives us warm enough days that flights in IFR conditions may sometimes still be able to be completed. We all
know that icing on airframes is a very dangerous thing to have
happen, even in icing equipped aircraft. It is something we all try to avoid while still completing flights that are important to make happen.

Airframe icing is most common when an aircraft is flown in
visibly moisture (think clouds, snow, or rain) at or below freezing temperatures. The worst icing is typically found in temperatures just below the freezing point where the water moisture is, well, wettest. This is an important factor and is an area pilots should try to avoid flying. Do to this, we need to find where the freezing levels are.

One way to do this is to figure out where the freezing levels are for our flights. By determining where the freezing level is, we can do some simple math. Continue reading

Flight Training and Pilot Supply a Priority for Big Industry Players

A global pilot shortage continues to grow, airlines airlines in the United States (with regional airlines being hit hardest) continue to feel the pilot shortage. On a global basis, Asia and the Middle East continue to see the largest growth in annual passenger enplanements. Deliveries of the worlds largest commercial service passenger aircraft (Airbus A-380) are evidence of this growth on pair routes outside the United States with additional 737NG delivery commitments equally strong. This need is being described as a shortage of pilots.

At least that is what lots of experts within the aviation industry think. And I for one am not going to argue. The reasons for the shortage are debatable, but the reality is that no matter the reason, we are going to need more pilots and big players in the industry are starting to take notice, and get involved.

166This past week, at AirVenture, Boeing announced it is getting involved in the pilot development pipeline when it announced a “comprehensive global training solution that provides all the training a pilot needs, from basic theory through qualification as a commercial jet first officer, the “right seat” in the flight deck.”
(More information at http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=20295&item=129164.) Continue reading