Posts Tagged ‘Federal Aviation Administration’

Tests Pilot Must Take Before Solo Flight

February 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Tests Pilot Must Take Before Solo FlightThere are many different flight maneuvers, 15 in all, that you must be able to perform competently before you can solo. Some of these basic maneuvers are stalls, steep turns, and slow flight. Your instructor must maintain a record that documents that these training maneuvers have been accomplished. Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 61.87 includes a list of these maneuvers. You must be at least 16 years of age (you’ll have to be 17 before you can earn a private pilot certificate). You must pass a medical exam and receive a student pilot/third class medical certificate from an aviation medical examiner.

It is a requirement under the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR 61.87) to take a pre-solo written exam. Before soloing, a student must demonstrate that they understand the regulatory and operational information that is pertinent to the solo phase of their flight training. This test helps assure this by addressing information appropriate to the solo flight, including regulations, local airspace, procedures, and aircraft operations and limitations. The instructor is responsible for administering the test and reviewing incorrect answers with the student.

Pre-Solo Written Test
  • Required before your first solo flight
  • May be written by your flight school, instructor, a commercial vendor, or anyone else as long as it meets FAA requirements
  • Questions may be any format (multiple-choice, fill-in-the blank, essay, etc.)
  • May be any number of questions
  • May be open- or closed-book
  • Must be corrected to 100%
  • Must include at least the following topics:
  • Applicable regulations from parts 61 and 91
  • Airspace rules and procedures for the airport where the solo flight will be performed
  • Flight characteristics and operational limitations for the make and model of aircraft to be flown
FAA Knowledge Test
  • Often called “the written”
  • Questions are pulled from an FAA database
  • Test is taken on a computer with supplementary information available on paper
  • Questions are multiple-choice
  • Minimum passing score: 70%
  • Instructor’s endorsement is required to take the test

Two vendors offer FAA approved testing:
Cost = $150
Number of questions and time limit depend on pilot certificate sought:

  1. Sport: 40 questions, 2 hours
  2. Recreational: 50 questions, 2 hours
  3. Private: 60 questions, 2 hours 30 minutes
When To Take The Knowledge Test

Experience has shown that the knowledge test is more meaningful, and is more likely to result in a satisfactory grade, if it is taken after beginning the flight portion of the training. For optimum benefit, it is recommended that the knowledge test be taken after the student has completed a solo cross-country flight. The operational knowledge gained by this experience can be used to advantage in the knowledge test.

FAA Practical Test
  • Often called a “checkride”
  • Administered by an FAA inspector, designated pilot examiner (DPE), or sport pilot examiner
  • Content and conduct of the test is strictly governed by the applicable FAA Practical Test Standards
  • Test is pass/fail (fail one item, fail the test)
  • Instructor’s endorsement is required to take the test

Cost: free if administered by an FAA inspector, otherwise normally a fee applies (set by the examiner)

Divided into two parts:

  1. The oral portion tests the applicant’s knowledge
  2. The flight portion continues to test the applicant’s knowledge and also evaluates flying skills
Individual Flight Training Courses

The Aviator Flight Training Academy offers a full line of flight training courses to meet the individual needs of each student.

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How Pilots Determine The Aircraft Worthiness

January 16, 2014 Leave a comment

How Pilots Determine The Aircraft WorthinessAs a PIC (pilot in command), you are responsible for determining that the aircraft you intend to fly is airworthy, and in a condition for safe flight.

Properly Equipped?

There are two equipment-related regulations that you need to know especially well.

1. The first is 14 CFR 91.205, which lists the instruments and equipment required for different types of flight. Some pilots use acronyms to remember these items. Another way is to think of them in terms of three categories: engine, performance/navigation, and safety.

2. The second is 14 CFR 91.213, which deals with inoperative instruments and equipment. The first part of this regulation relates to aircraft for which there is an approved Minimum Equipment List (MEL). If your aircraft does not have a MEL (often the case for light GA aircraft), you need to ask yourself several questions to determine whether you can legally fly with inoperative instruments or equipment. Specifically:

  • Is the affected equipment part of the VFR-day type certificate?
  • Is the affected equipment listed as required on the aircraft’s equipment list or kinds of operation list?
  • Is the affected equipment required by any other regulation, e.g., 91.205, 91.207?
  • Is the affected equipment required to be operative by an airworthiness directive
  • If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then the aircraft must be grounded. If the answer to all of these questions is “no,” then the last step is to remove or deactivate the affected item, and mark it as “inoperative.”
Maintenance Completed?

The owner or operator of an aircraft is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition (14 CFR 91.403). These duties, as outlined in 14 CFR 91.403, 91.407, and 91.417, include ensuring that:

  • Required inspections are performed.
  • Discrepancies are repaired.
  • Maintenance personnel make appropriate logbook entries, to include description of work, date of completion, and signature and certificate number of the person who approves the aircraft for return to service.
  • Inoperative instruments and equipment are treated in accordance with 14 CFR 91.213.

As PIC, you do not have to perform these duties yourself. You do, however, have primary responsibility for verifying that the aircraft you intend to fly is airworthy and in a condition for safe flight.

Inspections Done?

Part of ensuring that the aircraft you intend to fly is airworthy and in condition for safe flight involves verifying that all required inspections have been completed. The chart below summarizes what to look for:


Experimental or Restricted?

If you are flying an aircraft in a restricted or experimental category, you will need to review the regulations concerning operation of these aircraft. You will find the provisions applicable to restricted category aircraft in 14 CFR 91.313. Operating limitations that apply to aircraft with experimental certificates are located in 14 CFR 91.319.

How Much Fuel?

Fuel-related light aircraft accidents usually involve one of two problems. The first is fuel starvation, which means that fuel cannot get to the engine(s), even though there may be plenty of fuel in the tanks. Knowing your aircraft’s fuel system very thoroughly is key to avoiding fuel starvation accidents.


The second is fuel exhaustion, which results from running out of gas. The regulations attempt to prevent this problem by specifying minimum fuel requirements for different kinds of flight. Regardless of time of day and flight rules (VFR or IFR), the regulations always require you to carry enough fuel to the first point of intended landing, and then continue for a specified period of time. Specifically:

  • Day VFR – Destination + 30 minutes at cruising speed (91.151)
  • Night VFR – Destination + 45 minutes at cruising speed (91.151)
  • IFR – Destination + alternate + 45 minutes at cruising speed (91.167).
Flight School Aircraft & Maintenance

Aviator flight school fleet consists of 10 multi-engine and 26 single engine aircraft. The Aviator fleet is made up of multi-engine and single-engine aircraft. The primary aircraft used in our training programs are the Beechcraft BE-76 Duchess, Piper Warrior III PA-28, and the Cessna 172 Skyhawk cessna, all are well known as training aircraft the world over. Our fleet also includes a Piper Arrow and a J-3 Cub. All aircraft are maintained in our maintenance facilities located here at the St. Lucie County International Airport. We average more than 35,000 hours of flight time per year. They are all equipped for VFR and IFR flight per FAR 91.205 (except the J-3 Cub which is VFR Day only).

Flight Training Aircraft Maintenance

Aviator has its own in-house maintenance facility, a 13,000 square foot environmentally approved hangar. Maintenance is under the supervision of the FAA. All technicians hold Airplane & Powerplant Certificates or better. Maintenance is open six days a week.

Pilot Fatigue A Serious Problem

December 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Pilot Fatigue A Serious ProblemFatigue is a safety hazard because of the reduction in alertness and performance it creates. Fatigue is a normal response of the human body to many aspects of flight operations such as: sleep loss, shift work and long duty cycles. Its negative impact on flight crew performance can be significant, as the crew have to remain alert to ensure a safe flight by their observations, communications and actions. The only effective treatment for fatigue is to get adequate sleep.

Most often, when we use the term “fatigue” in aviation circles, it refers to the airplane’s fatigue life. Airframes get tired, eventually reaching the point that they’re dangerous. The exact same thing could be said about the pilot’s airframe. A pilot can easily reach a level of fatigue that he’s no longer safe to fly. What makes it difficult, however, is that he may not even know he’s getting fatigued. Then, when this is mixed with any kind of distraction, a pilot becomes a danger to himself, his passengers and those around him. source

Following the fatal crash of a UPS cargo plane in Birmingham, Ala. In August 2013, a former National Transportation Safety Board chairman said that federal aviation officials should reconsider rules that set different fatigue standards for cargo flight pilots.

“I hope the FAA will revisit their decision on the ‘cargo cutout,'” Jim Hall told America Tonight, warning that other factors could also have been involved in Wednesday’s crash.

Hall, who served as NTSB chair from 1994 to 2001, was referring to rule changes the FAA announced in 2011 that cut the hours that passenger-plane pilots can fly if they’re in the cockpit late at night or face multiple takeoffs and landings. Those new rules aren’t set to take effect until 2014 and largely exclude cargo flights since the measures’ benefits were focused on limiting potential loss of life.

The cause of the Birmingham crash, which killed the pilot and the co-pilot, is still under investigation, but no severe weather was reported in the area and preliminary reports say that the pilots didn’t radio a distress call to the tower.
The Birmingham crash is the latest layer in the back-and-forth between the FAA and the pilots union that represents UPS over pilot-scheduling rules. In December 2011, FAA officials said that overhauling the rules for cargo-airline pilots would have cost $214 million in a decade, calling it too costly for the industry. In January 2012, the Independent Pilots Association, the union that represents UPS flight crews, had sued the FAA to have the same fatigue-prevention rules apply to cargo carriers as commercial airlines. In the lawsuit, IPA noted that it could not find justification for the FAA’s cost estimate, which was ultimately the basis for granting an overhaul to the rules. Source

It is no longer questioned whether pilot fatigue is a threat to flight safety. Ever since the 1944 Chicago Convention it is recognized that fatigue can pose a risk to the safety of air operations.

Fatigue and exhaustion are common reactions of the body and can occur in healthy individuals as a normal response to physical and mental efforts. Nonetheless, fatigue is considered a safety hazard because it reduces alertness and impairs performance.
Insufficient rest and sleep opportunities, shift work and long duty hours make pilots and cabin crew particularly prone to fatigue.

The 2012 Barometer on Pilot Fatigue brings together several surveys on pilot fatigue carried out by Member Associations of the European Cockpit Association. Between 2010 and 2012, more than 6.000 European pilots have been asked to self-assess the level of fatigue they are experiencing.

The surveys confirm that pilot fatigue is common, dangerous and an under-reported phenomenon in Europe.

  • Over 50% of surveyed pilots experience fatigue as impairing their ability to perform well while on flight duty.
  • 4 out of 5 pilots have to cope with fatigue while in the cockpit, according to polls carried out in Austria (85%), Sweden (89%), Germany (92%) and Denmark (93%).
  • A common indicator of the problem is that fatigued pilots are prone to fall asleep or experience episodes of micro-sleep in the cockpit. In the UK (43%), Denmark
  • (50%), Norway (53%) and Sweden (54%) the surveyed pilots reported falling asleep involuntarily in the cockpit while flying. In the UK, a third of the pilots said to have woken up finding their colleague sleeping as well. 65% of Dutch and French pilots stated they have trouble with “heavy eyelids” during flight.
  • Yet, fearing disciplinary actions or stigmatization by the employer or colleagues, 70-80% of fatigued pilots would not file a fatigue report or declare to be unfit to fly. Only 20-30% will report unfit for duty or file a report under such an occurrence.
  • More than 3 out of 5 pilots in Sweden (71%), Norway (79%) and Denmark (80-90%) acknowledge to have already made mistakes due to fatigue, while in Germany it was 4 out of 5 pilots.
  • Being the first of its kind, this Barometer is a first step towards closing the gap between operational reality – as assessed by airline pilots – and official statistics that so far have failed to capture this phenomenon and its potential impact on flight safety. Source
Distractions And Fatigue As Check List Items

How do we know ahead of time, when distractions and/or fatigue are getting the best of us? Simple: add a single, unwritten item right at the top of the pre-start checklist—Brain Check. Climb into the airplane, lay our hands in our lap, put our head down and, for five seconds, let our mind run free while we analyze what it’s doing. We need to look at ourselves as if we’re outside observers and see if there’s anything floating around in our thoughts that has nothing to do with flying an airplane. If our thoughts aren’t totally airplane oriented, it might not be a bad idea to cancel the flight.

Further, if, when starting the airplane and preparing to taxi, we find we have to thinker harder than normal to know what to do next, then we know that this is a flight that shouldn’t be taken.

Even if we don’t bring distractions into the cockpit with us, pre-existing fatigue will definitely come aboard with us. So, if there are distractions during the flight—a radio stops working, there’s a mechanical malfunction, weather forces us to scud run, etc.—that fatigue may rob us of the mental acuity required to deal with the developing situation. It takes very little mental fatigue mixed with relatively minor distractions to cause major problems, so we need to be aware of exactly how fatigued we really are.

Everyone has distractions in life. And civilization almost guarantees that each of us will be fighting a little fatigue. We just have to recognize both and make sure we stay on the ground, so we don’t purposely create a dangerous situation when either or both reach disruptive levels. Source

FAA Flight Safety and Pilot Experience

September 20, 2013 Leave a comment

FAA Flight Safety and Pilot ExperienceThe FAASTeam logo connotes safety of flight and conveys the concept that the FAASTeam is part of the FAA, implying we are authoritative, and suggests we are approachable by the aviation community.

FAASTeam Mission

To improve the Nation’s aviation safety record by conveying safety principles and practices through training, outreach, and education. At the same time, FAASTeam Managers and Program Managers will establish meaningful aviation industry alliances and encourage continual growth of a positive safety culture within the aviation community.

FAASTeam Organizational Structure

Each of the eight FAA Flight Standards regions now has a Regional FAASTeam Office dedicated to this unique safety program and managed by the Regional FAASTeam Manager (RFM). Based on the makeup of the aviation community in each region, the RFM has selected a group of FAASTeam Program Managers (FPM) with specific aviation specialties and assigned them to geographic areas of responsibility within the region. FPMs do not report to work where the RFM resides. They are “hosted” at FAA facilities within their assigned geographic area but they still report directly to the RFM.

This structure allows each regional FAASTeam to station employees throughout the region and still remain focused on its plan to reduce accidents.

FAASTeam Process for Planning to Reduce Accidents

The FAASTeam uses more data to decide what should be done to reduce accidents. Each Regional FAASTeam Office develops a business plan based on information compiled by FPMs from each of the region’s geographic areas. The data includes:

  • Accident/incident reports involving airmen from the area
  • Hazards identified by FAA Inspectors at local Flight Standards District Offices
  • Information from the local aviation community

Once the data is collected and analyzed, the FPMs develop tasks that they plan to accomplish, with the help of all their FAASTeam Members, in an effort to mitigate future accidents.

Relationships with the Aviation Community

The FAASTeam is “teaming” up with individuals and the aviation industry to create a unified effort against accidents and “tip” the safety culture in the right direction.

FAASTeam Members

A FAASTeam Member is anyone who makes a conscious effort to promote aviation safety and become part of the shift in safety culture. To become a member:

  • Sign-up at and take part in all it has to offer.
  • Pilots – participate in our new WINGS – Pilot Proficiency Program
  • Mechanics – participate in the new automated AMT Awards Program
  • Attend live FAASTeam seminars in your area
Pilot Experience Equals Airplane Safety

Why the experience level of pilots directly impacts the safety of your flight.

The A380 is arguably the world’s most sophisticated commercial aircraft—and it has to be, in order for just two pilots to operate it safely. It is truly a digital marvel, as are most of the new aircraft rolling off modern assembly lines. Today’s pilots gather loads of information at a glance from digital avionics and sophisticated systems-monitoring displays. But what happens if these systems fail? Does the newer generation of pilots have the air sense to handle an aircraft with multiple systems failures? The answer is uncertain and can only be answered with time. That said: In my opinion, an experienced pilot is the most important safety factor when problems arise.

As a pilot becomes more experienced, he thinks less about the “stick and throttle” part of the job and becomes more of a tactical or critical problem solver. The ability to handle both the technical and strategic aspects of the job comes from years and years of experience. The technical term for this type of thinking is “metacognition,” which can be defined as the process of knowing about knowing. Recent studies have revealed that it takes 20 to 25 years of experience to develop this type of mental processing. Aviators are continually challenged to make strategic decisions during our annual check flights.

The majority of pilots at the major airlines are in their 40s or older, with the average age around 48. Most of them earned their licenses flying aircraft with steam gauge technology, also known as round dial instrumentation (analog). As with any advance in technology, aircraft instrumentation has become simpler (digital) and can provide a pilot with an incredible amount of easily interpreted data. Even so, experience with flying older aircraft is invaluable because a pilot develops an air sense—flying by the seat of the pants—that comes only through repetitive flying. In essence, an analog pilot has the experience to fly a digital aircraft because the airplanes he used to fly were degraded in comparison with modern planes. If an airplane loses most of its digital displays, it is still an airplane and must be hand-flown to a safe landing.

A recent incident shows why experience and air sense are so important. On November 4, 2010, Qantas Flight 32 departed Singapore’s Changi Airport, bound for Sydney. As it was climbing through 7,000 feet, its number two engine suffered a catastrophic explosion commonly known as an uncontained engine failure. As the engine disintegrated, the second-stage turbine rotor threw blades and other metallic components against its protective cowling, rupturing part of it and puncturing portions of the wing and the fuselage. Engine shrapnel severed many of the delicate system components lying beneath the surface of the wing, crippling the superjumbo A380.
The aircraft’s cockpit displays showed no fewer than 43 error messages less than 60 seconds after the initial engine failure warning. The captain focused on prioritizing the error messages and assigning duties to the four other pilots as they wrestled the million-pound beast.

“Serendipitous” is an insufficient word to describe the fact that there were five highly experienced pilots in the cockpit on that memorable day: In addition to the captain, the copilot and the second officer, two additional pilots were onboard in a checking capacity. Together, they had over 140 years of flying experience (71,000 combined flying hours). They saved hundreds of lives onboard the aircraft and possibly thousands more on the ground because of their experience, air sense and systems knowledge. Source Chris Cooke

Pilot Training Program With Aviator Flight Training Academy 259 Flight Hours

Aviator Flight Training Academy offers professional pilot training programs with a minimum of 200 hours of multi-engine time. The flight school has a state of the art 37,000 square foot facility, featuring a CRJ Level 5 Flight Training Device (Simulator), large classrooms and individual briefing rooms.

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