The Practical Pilot. "The Comfort Zone" (Part One) An Aviation Blog by Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Tuesday, February 14, 2012

 

 

The Comfort Zone

The rules of visual flight (VFR) are well stipulated and are designed to keep the non-instrument rated pilot out of harm’s way. However, the craft of successful VFR flight is more than merely measuring visibility or distance from cloud. It is about the ongoing assessment and application of a number of parameters beyond the regulations.

Am I Legal?

Safety in aviation should always be the foremost goal. Whether it is a quick scenic flight with friends or a trans-continental long haul flight with hundreds of fare-paying passengers, the primary obligation of the pilot is to ensure the safety of all on board. It is not an exercise in ego, or an absolute promise to arrive at the destination on schedule or even that day; it is about the duty of care for all on board and those whose roof-tops we overfly.

Through harsh lessons of the past and the ongoing review by governing authorities, guidelines and regulations have been established to point us in the right direction. However, there has never been a rule book, manual or computer program that is able to cover every scenario or cater to the varying levels of ability of the masses destined to apply the information. By their very nature, regulations tend towards the conservative side and rightly so; that is the safe thing to do. Yet even then the regulations may not be conservative enough for some individuals or situations and difficult to apply in the real world.

Visual Flight Rules are classic instance where the interpretation and application of a defined standard can prove difficult. They involve fixed parameters, calibrated in units of distance for in-flight visibility and the separation from cloud. Fixed units which are measured in the potentially highly dynamic air mass through which we fly at speed. Cloud bases fluctuate and visibility can shrink in the blink of an eye. This can be challenging stuff!

Furthermore, the average ability to gauge height and distance is, at best, marginal. One only has to look at the wide variation of responses from aircraft asked to report at 3 miles when there is no GPS or DME to assist them. To take this judgement and apply it to the fluid world of the weather raises the bar to a whole new level. 

Even so, as part of our cycle of activity, pilots must continually endeavour to assess the prevailing conditions against the legal requirements, bearing in mind that these are absolute minimums. Below these we are illegal; however, we were probably approaching an ‘uncomfortable’ situation some time before we actually reached the minimum requirements.

To safely operate in the visual flight regime, there is a need to not only strictly adhere to these pre-defined constraints, but tailor them to our own individual standards and the conditions that are set before us on the day. And all such tailoring MUST be applied on the CONSERVATIVE side of the equation as the countryside is marked with the wreckage of those who thought that their personal standards were better than the regulations.

                                          

Am I comfortable?

Flying should be enjoyable. Even when it is a paid profession, there should be a degree of gratification every time the world falls away from the wheels. That’s why we do it. There is very little fun to be had getting boxed into a corner which may ultimately cost your life. As such, one of the first and foremost questions a pilot should ask is, “Am I comfortable with this situation?”

This question can be applied to many aspects of aviation, but in the visual flight sense it rings particularly true as an early warning system. Generally speaking, well before the visibility drops to the minimum required or the fin starts cutting through the stratus, the heart rate will elevate and the hair on the back of the neck will start to twitch. This should serve as a signal to the pilot that they are starting to get towards the deep end of the pool; their feet may still be touching the bottom, but for how long?

The ‘comfort threshold’ will vary from person to person and change as the individual gains experience, hence the difficulty in applying a broad standard as defined by the regulations. The crosswind limit on an aeroplane may be 20 knots, but a lack of crosswind currency may render an inexperienced pilot to hesitate at going flying in those conditions. It would be legal, but would it be prudent? A dual check with an instructor would be a safer option and a sensible application of personal standards. In-flight weather is just the same. 5 kilometres visibility or 500 feet vertical separation may be legal, but may not be ‘comfortable’ to everyone.

In flight, at the first sign of discomfort with any particular scenario, the pilot should look at removing themselves from the situation or at the very least, critically review their circumstance and options. All VFR flight should be conducted with a ‘back door’, or a means of escape. It is foolhardy to continue towards deteriorating weather conditions but absolutely fraught with danger if the weather behind is also going bad.

Am I Orientated?

An escape route should be ever-present. At all times the VFR pilot should have a ready made answer for, “Where would I go if…?” When the rain is thrashing the windscreen or visual reference is silently lost in cloud, it is probably too late. Furthermore, the stress and workload of the situation will not permit the brain to offer the best resolution. Flailing charts and tuning radio aids knobs will rate a poor second to keeping the aircraft upright and out of harm’s way.

Continually through a VFR flight, the pilot should be aware of the nearest landing field and ensure that there is a clear route to it. It may be a private airfield, a farmer’s crop-duster strip or even a friendly paddock, but it is an option and ideally should not be released from clear access until another presents itself ahead, particularly when the weather is deteriorating. The field does not have to be in sight, but access to it must be apparent.  Even with 5km visibility, with no clear route to a landing field means that the pilot will be forced to possibly conduct a precautionary landing on an unprepared surface should the weather close in further.

To have suitable options and an escape route, it is vital that the pilot remains orientated and ‘situationally aware’. ‘Situational awareness’ can be defined as “…being aware of what is happening around you to understand how information, events, and your own actions will impact your goals and objectives, both now and in the near future”. To be aware of what is happening around you and how that may evolve requires the pilot to continually review the situation...........

Check back for Part Two of 'The Comfort Zone' and the next instalment in the 'Practical Pilot' series.

The Practical Pilot. Friendly Words of Warning.

Comments
Post has no comments.
Post a Comment




Captcha Image

Trackback Link
http://www.owenzupp.com/BlogRetrieve.aspx?BlogID=5920&PostID=271888&A=Trackback
Trackbacks
Post has no trackbacks.

Recent Posts

Tags

aviation careers Temora Aviation Museum EFATO Jatstar Airbus B777 Boeing 747 Dreamliner Royal Australian Navy how to land an airplane Pump Up the Angels Korean War boeing 737 flying career 2012 50 tales of fllight Sydney Airport top tips pilot airshow future Boeing 767 p Owen Zupp green technology P-51 Mustang Cessna Caravan EFIS formation flying Terwilliger Productions Yak 18T Hong Kong Trader aviation journalist Uluru WW2 Garmin G1000 terrorism bombing of Darwin Beech King Air cumulonimbus skipper Tiger Moth ATFV Area 51 5 flying tips Ansett Australia aeroplane learn to fly how to land solo flight australia QANTAS announcement landing an aeroplane Bulldog Pitts Milford Sound Canberra Boeing 787 Dreamliner low flying landing an arplane flight Beechcraft coastal flying Steve Visscher flight blog buting an aeroplane G-force Bush Pilot 737 solo flight DC-3 PCDU land an aeroplane Hawker Hurricane keynote speaker A350 QANTAS Boeing 737 Ice Pilots popular aviation blog Boeing 747-8F HUD Boeing 787 ANZAC Boeing 747-400 aviation speaker Steve Cooke J230D McGrath Foundation solar Strategic Airlines contrail Australian War Memorial A320 storm cells take off ZA003 flying ebook tailwheel Battle of Britain airliner QANTAS Airbus A380 Flying Fortress flight instructor Nancy Bird Walton aviation writer 0/11 C-47 QF94 jabiru PFL choosing a flying school aviation image aviation photography 737 classic memorial life saving solo flight. australia Defence Force Recruiting fling Avalon 2013 Ricky Ponting first solo Blue Angels Aviation Photography CAC Boomerang Gen-X engines pilot suicide Douglas DC-3 737NG ditching an airplae Honolulu Steve Waugh sailor Impossible Airport National Press Club J170 army Northwest Orient Solo Flight Australia. jet upset amazon best seller 9/11 Facebook Airbus A320 air australia Queenstown New Zealand DH Mosquito aircraft commercial pilot license speaking airplane Steve Waugh Foundation the Fatal Stall airman BAE Hawk Turkish Airways 1951 Ayers Rock glass cockpit anthony jackson airliners.net Rolls Royce Merlin Practical Pilot Piper flying instructor warbird bowral Nancy Bird landing an airplane Scouts UAV Cathay Pacific Cargo P2902 Kenneth Butterworth McGlashan ditching an aeroplane K.I.A aviaton author Bombardier low pass deCrespigny US Navy flying armore airpot FA-18 maiden flight fly at bell X-1 pilot training USS Missouri ATIS Spitfire Ansett aviation consulatant Australia STOL USS Arizona open day student pilot avspecs metal detectors aircraft accident Bf109 Plane Crazy Down Under GFC Honolulu Airport Seattle pilot license hijack aviation Glenn McGrath airlines solo flight. asutralia the bombing of Darwin most popular aviation blog Vietnam War coaxe take-off P-40 Kittyhawk 1940 747-8F Chris Sperou Pacific Warbirds caribou aviation blog GPS ballooning administration Dash 8 war 16R www.owenzupp.com QANTAS QF32 QANTAS A380 poppies beyond blue Kenneth McGlashan cricket New Zealand: QANTAS Malaysia Airlines deHavilland Mosquito Bundaberg Mick Wilson Flight 6231 manuscript September 11th aviation jobs forced lending Cathay Pacific B-17 Super Hornet Down to Earth Brumby Aircraft Brumby High Wing Pearl Harbor addresses airliner crash wings Around Australia flight canyoner US Airways Flight 1549 there and back QANTAS Boeing 747-400 CA18 Mustang Bradman amazon jet upset recovery flying schoold Commercial pilot licence simpler time RMS Titanic Chuck Yeager buying an airplane pre-flight briefing principles of flight Kingsford Smith Airport T-6 723 squadron NASA Cb MH370 found Brumby Evolution aerobatics Japanese Zero Yak 52 Sydney Australia 50 tales of flight aviation eBook Boeing 737-800 dogfight most poular aviation blog RAF Gloster Meteor currency value A350 XWB flying kangaroo Victorian Air Ambulance cost of flying pilot licence mosquito engine failure pilot jobs Jetstar Super King Air firts solo Duxford FA-18 Hornet speaker hars SNJ North American Harvard de Crespigny aviation consultant flying training RAA flying school CRT Shuttleworth Collection coaxial raked wing-tip Singapore Scimitar plane crash Caboolture rescue smashwords airliner missing fatal stall QANTAS Formula One Grand Prix Boeing 777 forced landing VH-OQA flight school stick and rudder Q400 arospace 737-400 writing QNH Sullenberger planes missing airliner Owen Zupp, fly at kitplanes Dunkirk ditching an aircraft Lord of the Rings aero club Titanic sinking aeromedical sport pilot traininf Glass revolution Day of Infamy a aviation Garmin ICAO flight training airline collapse Lockheed Hudson iTunes Cessna disney planes Pitts QANTAS pilots careers in aviation RAAF Bell 429 helicopter the sky is not the limit owen zupp author memory ditching an airplane Australian Aviation magazine Australian Army aerospace biplae learning to fly ambulance pilot careers Ponting Foundation Yak Formation ditching Nancy Bird-Bird Walton aeroplane blog Flying Podcast open cockpit Bell 429 coosing a flight school best aviation blog flying blog Puffin R-DX Supermarine Spitfire short field aviator Paramedic how to land an aeroplane spitfire 944 Grant McHerron first flight ANZAC Day contra-rotating propeller NTSB NSW Ambulance Service Planes Premiere single-engined blog RNP dusty Costa Concordia QANTAS Ernest Gann QANTAS half yearly report airport security Avalon Air Show EADI DX-R GenX QANTAS Boeing 737-800 The Battle of Britain Airbus A330 77 Squadron Edwards Air Base George Hale biofuel Jabiru Aircraft aviation book Boeing Boeing 747-8i QANTAS engineers Special Casualty Access Team CO2 emissions Sir Donald Bradman CAC Wirraway MH370 Air Ambulance solo around australia navigation training HGS airbus aviation story soldier buying an aeroplane Airbus A380 Red Bull preflight briefing G-ROBT Kitplane tail rotor flight ebook SCAT International Cricket Hall of Fame landing a jet 38 Squadron RAAF airmanship Mystery Aircraft Texas ghost 1942 400 pilot blog Bradman Foundation building your own aeroplane baggy green san francisco The Hobbit Fleet Air Arm Winglets Boeing 737 Ferry Flight cirrus crash airline QF32 Boeing 737NG wings night Blackhawk One Six Right Queenstown pilot academy September 11 Mittagong Airfield Se5a Kimpo Asiana D-Day hustling hinkler aviation degree in-flight diversion Diamond DA40 Kenneth McGlashan: Hawker Hurricane Korean Air War Flight for Control MXS Air France 447 Bert Hinkler tom wolfe Matt Hall Brumby flight deck Pearl Harbour bachelor of aviation masters of aviation management Wallaby Airlines aerodynamic stall aviation author Red Baron 787 safer flying Brumby 610 737-300 Highlander airplane owen zupp australian aviation New Zealand warbirds RFC the right stuff WW1 plane crash Flying Wing disney pixar

Archive

© Owen Zupp. All rights Reserved.                                             Admin . Privacy . Disclaimer                                            Website by Shot to Pieces . Powered by Blackroom