"What in wild, wild, world of sports is going on here?"
— Slim Pickens
. . . In a word: updates. I write these things as events unfold, in reaction to questions, or just as matter of what strikes my fancy on any given day. I do this at least once a month but sometimes every week. How do you know what is the newest, freshest stuff? Right here.
If you are looking for updates to the International Operations Flight Manual, the are here: IOFM Updates.
Oh yes, one more thing. The magnifying glass (top left) is provided by Google. It will find what you are looking for within Code7700.com if it can, and will then move on the the rest of the Internet. But failing all that, click the "Contact" button on the top or bottom of the page. If I can help, I'll certainly try.
Laser Exposure — November 12, 2017
I've never noticed a laser beam aimed my way in an airplane but understand it is quite a problem. Some of my friends in the airlines say it is an over-hyped issue while others say it is only a matter of time before a pilot is injured permanently and an airplane is put into jeopardy.
We'll take a look at a few opinions about the dangers, the "official" FAA approach to mitigation, and some help on deciding if you need medical attention after a exposure to a laser beam. Finally, we'll also point you in the right direction on how to report such an incident in the United States.
Criticism — November 1, 2017
They say you need thick skin to be a professional pilot and I think that is probably true. But no matter your derma's thickness, there is an art to dishing out criticism so that it has a positive impact.
There is a continuum of pilot types that ranges from laid-back to hyper-wound-up and everything in between. No matter the pilot type, most of these profess to not care about outside criticism because they've compartmentalized feelings outside of the space reserved for all things aviation. We are cool, dispassionate, and have ice water running in our veins. All that is great. But it isn't true. Pilots are ego driven and that means we do actually care about what is said about us.
G450 Flap Schedule — October 23, 2017
In all manner of Gulfstreams you've grown up flying clean down to 200 knots, flaps 10° down to 180 knots, and flaps 20° down to 160 knots. (Perhaps even a little slower in the GV or G550.)
You never give it a second thought, except perhaps when you are particularly heavy or landing at a high pressure altitude airport. Nobody questions this, but is it right?
Stuck Mike: Memorize This! — October 15, 2017
Mike is stuck out again this week, so he asks Eddie to guest host. Eddie decides it would be a good time to talk about immediate action items and how to memorize them.
If you would like more detail on this subject, take a look at the previous posting . . .
Immediate Action! — October 1, 2017
How often in your cockpit are you required to do something so quickly that you have no time to read your checklist, no time to consult the crew, or no time to think?
Growing up in the Air Force I had immediate actions that I not only had to memorize, but memorize word-for-word. In most civilian aircraft the memorization simply means getting the steps in the right order without forgetting anything. But in some aircraft there are no memorization items at all. Should you memorize those things that have to be done without reference to a checklist?
Note-Taking — September 20, 2017
Most of us learn to take notes in high school or earlier, and we tend to settle on a method that works best for us. What works for History 101 may or may not help you with Powerplant 101 or how to cope with flight procedures.
So I have for you a story about how I started, how I learned the value of writing when learning, the value of keeping notes you can edit, the value of sharing those notes, and finally a few examples of how it can be done to the next level. Even if you never share a note or instruct another person, the act of taking notes will make you a better professional.
The C-17 and Hurricane Irma — September 15, 2017
The United States Air Force is usually the first long distance responder to any crisis, anywhere in the world. Every now and then that crisis is at home.
I am a big fan of Adrian Vargo and the photos he takes all over the world. Even more impressive, he does this while flying and maintaining the C-17 airlifter. Here are his shots and words during the 2017 relief efforts for Hurricane Irma.
Expired Navigation Database Update — September 10, 2017
Can you fly with an expired navigation database? Sure. But can you do so legally?
The answer depends on where you fly. And even if you are permitted to do so, there are a few steps you need to take to ensure the database is okay. If it isn't, you are pretty much grounded just about everywhere.
Weight and Balance Curtailment — September 1, 2017
Do you use "standard weights" when figuring your aircraft's weight and balance? If so, and if you are operating under 14 CFR 135, you will need OpSpec A097 and must have a method of making standard weights work for you. Even if you are operating under 14 CFR 91, you should still understand how to make standard weights work.
I've attacked this problem several times over the years and the reaction has almost always been: too much math! You only have to do the math once and from that point on, all you need to do is use your narrower (curtailed) center of gravity limits. It is easy and safer.
Eddie's on vacation — August 8, 2017
Eddie is on vacation from August 1st to September 2nd, but he will be posting photos and sarcasm throughout.
By the date I've posted this we will have made it to Vancouver, Canada, and onto a cruise ship to Alaska. But there's more to come.
A New Standards Captain — August 1, 2017
Anybody can be a standards captain and quite often the worst pilot in an organization ends up with the check airman moniker because he or she outlasted the competition. Even a very good pilot can be a lousy standards captain if saddled with an unchecked ego or poor interpersonal skills. So let's just say such a pilot won't be reading this and move on.
You are a great pilot and you get along with your peers — that's half the battle. If you had a good reputation as a captain, you can solidify that as a standards captain. More importantly, you can capitalize on that.
Pilot Error: A How to Guide — July 21, 2017
Aviation safety professionals will tell you that pilot error is one of the most controllable factors leading to aircraft accidents. If you eliminate pilot errors, you can eliminate most aircraft accidents. I think they have that all wrong. Pilot error is inevitable. The problem is that we as pilots don't know how to deal with the very concept of pilot error. We are doing it all wrong.
Contrary to public opinion, pilot error is not the root cause of all (or even most) aviation accidents. While it is tempting to say all pilot error is evil and we must strive for perfection, that mindset may cause you to deny even the smallest errors and keep from analyzing those that can be prevented with a little research. I think freely admitting those errors and using them as "teachable moments" will allow us to improve on those while allowing us to put a greater focus on errors that really are more critical.
G450 Electrical System — July 15, 2017
Those of us who grew up in Gulfstreams before the GV thought of the electrical system as something mysterious that would bite you when things go wrong. We took that philosophy with us the to the GV. We shouldn't have bothered.
Starting with the GV the electrical system is not only easy to use but it is virtually problem free. You would think that kind of user simplicity would mean extreme system complexity but it isn't so. I used to teach the complete schematic, the one that says normal power flows down, abnormal power flows up, and emergency power flows from the center out. While that is true, it is hardly necessary. So let's take another stab of explaining this system, simply.
When Pilots Become Passengers — July 9, 2017
Have you ever been a mere passenger seated in row one of an airplane? (That's the seat with the best view and all those pretty screens and/or dials.)
We sometimes forget the most basic tasks every pilot must complete. At other times, we cede control of our aircraft to others who may not even be pilots. And, in a paradox of our Crew Resource Management training, we sometimes give up control of the aircraft to a crew who isn’t aware, leaving the airplane in no one’s control. How do professionally competent pilots find themselves in these out of control situations?
Cockpit Reference Guide — July 1, 2017
Chances are you already have some kind of cockpit guide with things you need to quickly reference on a recurring basis. Us too.
Here is our solution, complete with a Microsoft Word template in case you would like to take add some of the things we're using or just take the whole thing and adapt it to your operation. If you see something missing that we could add, just hit the "Contact Eddie" button.
Blue Spruce Routes — June 22, 2017
Flying the Blue Spruce Routes in the North Atlantic is a contingency maneuver for me, something I've never done. But for many airplanes it is the normal procedure. So how does one prepare for these routes?
For me, it would be a last minute and frantic decision. So I would study the Jeppesen North Atlantic Orientation chart and learn quickly. If you are flying an airplane that has to fly use the Blue Spruce Routes to cross the pond, then a little more orderly approach is called for. Jason Herman provides us with his notes.
SLOP Mandatory? — June 19, 2017
The world has gone to SLOP. You can (and should) employ SLOP in almost every oceanic area. There is a debate about using SLOP over land, but the legal and official answer is you cannot with only very rare exceptions. But there is news:
SLOP is now mandatory in the North Atlantic. There are a few other updates around the world. The Flight Service Bureau also offers some SLOP guidance given in light of a recent A380 wake turbulence encounter.
The Wrong Airport — June 10, 2017
Though I've never landed at the wrong airport, I know a few pilots who have or who have come pretty close. But these were in the days before GPS.
The truth is that it is easy to make this mistake when you are flying a very fast airplane with very small windows and are being pressured to do things very quickly. Looking at a few examples, however, can show you how easy it is to get this wrong. Moreover, thinking about it ahead of time can give you the techniques needed to avoid the same mistakes.
The G450: Not Your Father's Gulfstream — June 1, 2017
Many of us longtime Gulfstream drivers are fond of saying, "She's built like a tank!" Or, "the Gulfstream flies conventionally." In fact, I am guilty of saying these things on many of these pages. And that is, for the most part, true. But the G450 is an exception.
If you've grown up in anything older than the GV, thinking this aircraft flies like any other can bite you. Even if this is your first Gulfstream, you need to understand that the G450 is unique and has many unsavory traits that require you to rethink what you know about airplanes.
The Teterboro Circling Conundrum — May 23, 2017
What is a circling approach? Does it require keeping the airplane precisely on the Minimum Descent Altitude within the published visibility distance or TERPS circling radii? If you think that is true, you are setting yourself up for unnecessary challenges at Teterboro.
When approach control or tower tell you to circle to another runway they are not telling you to fly a circling approach procedure the same way the check airman is: you don't have to keep the airplane within circling radii or at the minimum descent altitude. Just remember your goal is to roll out on final no lower than 500' above the landing surface's elevation and that will take a mile and a half final to do that.
The NOTAM King — May 18, 2017
Eddie confronts the NOTAM system head on and is given a rare glimpse of the NOTAM King.
Discover with Eddie just how dangerously inept our NOTAM system is and the key to survival.
The NOTAM System is Messed Up! — May 10, 2017
If you've been flying for more than a few years you already know this: the NOTAM system is broken and has been almost since the beginning. The case of Malaysia Airlines MH17 should have erased all doubt about this.
So what can we do about this? Well, first we need to understand the secret purpose of all NOTAMs. Then we need to find an ally when it comes to figuring out where it is too dangerous to fly. And, finally, we need a strategy for discerning which NOTAMS are important and which are simply garbage.
Now Hiring — May 1, 2017
You may have heard there is a pilot shortage right now. Well, that isn't true. There are lots of pilots out there. What we have a shortage of is highly qualified pilots. Believe me, I've been looking!
So let's tackle the obvious questions (qualifications, resumes, and so forth). But let's dive deeper into those questions and others. What constitutes a "red flag" on a resume? How can you really discover what an applicant is really like during a series of interviews? How do you do a background check? If you are in the business of hiring pilots, perhaps we can trade a few secrets. If you are in the business of being hired, perhaps you can learn a few.
The Great Circle ETP Myth — April 24, 2017
I've been told by many international operations instructors that you should never insert an ETP into an FMS because it will change the course line between waypoints. At first, I just assumed they knew what they were talking about. But as it turns out, they didn't.
So let's try to kill this myth right now. You should not enter the ETP into your FMS flight plan, that's true. But not because it changes the course -- it doesn't. But you shouldn't enter the ETP because it will generate a CPDLC event contract, and you don't want that. What if you don't have CPDLC? You should still leave the ETP out because it does change your distances between waypoints and complicates your crosschecking.
Pointing and Calling — April 15, 2017
We in the aviation world are quick to beg, borrow, and steal procedural innovations in the name of safety. When one operator innovates, other airlines and flight departments are quick to follow suit. Pilots are eager to share techniques, knowing one aviator’s idea can save lives worldwide. We are, to say the least, selfless in the pursuit of safer skies.
But are we casting our nets wide enough to capture every good idea out there? The next time you board a train in Japan, you might notice a technique well suited for your cockpit. Known by various names, including “Shisa Kanko,” the Japan Railway standard procedure can be translated to mean: Pointing and Calling.
Plotting Optional? — April 7, 2017
Those of us who grew up in the days of navigators and star charts rejoiced when GPS showed up. Now the next shoe has dropped, the United States Federal Aviation Administration no longer mandates plotting procedures when flying oceanic or over remote areas.
The new AC 91-70B makes a point of saying you really should plot, but acknowledges that a high tech cockpit makes this optional. I'm not so sure.
Minimum Equipment Lists (MELs) — April 1, 2017
Can you fly without an MEL? What about an MMEL? Is an MMEL good enough? The answer to all those questions is: it depends.
How about this: under Part 91 do you have to comply with the repair time intervals? As much as you are going to hate to hear this, the answer is yes. I seem to get into this argument whenever I move to a new operation where the maintainers are highly steeped in the ways of general aviation. Things are not always as they seem.
Good Pilots Gone Bad — March 13, 2017
I spoke to the Air Charter Safety Foundation in early March, 2017, about the pilots on N121JM, the Gulfstream IV that crashed in 2014 at Bedford, Massachusetts.
They asked me to hypothesize about the human factors involved that would lead two professional pilots to act with (as the NTSB put it) Habitual, Intentional Noncompliance. My theory is that they were once good pilots, but they had gone bad. This is a video of the speech. I also wrote an article about this for Business & Commercial Aviation magazine in an article called, "Fixing Problem Pilots."
The Big Sky Theory — March 1, 2017
The "Big Sky Theory" postulates that the sky is so big and airplanes are so small, that we should have to worry about a midair collision. Of course nobody admits to using this theory in actual practice, but many pilots conduct themselves as if they did.
With a better understanding of how our eyes actually work, we can make better use of them for the first half of the "see and avoid" directive placed on all pilots, even those operating under Instrument Flight Rules. We should also understand the help available as well as the limitations of air traffic control, ground based radar, ACAS/TCAS, and ADS-B In. The best way to avoid a midair collision remains to employ better situational awareness and to fly predictable so as to increase situational awareness for all those that share they sky with you.
V1 Reaction Time — February 1, 2017
How much time do you have to react at V1? None. The reaction should have already happened!
There is a reaction time built into V1, but it happens prior to that speed. Knowing this should effect when you make the V1 call. Your reaction time begins at VEF (critical engine failure speed) which must occur before V1 by at least the time allowed for reaction. And how much time is that? It depends.
Leadership in the Real World — January 25, 2017
We concluded a four part series on leadership with a look at a civilian flight department.
I've had several times at bat as a civlian chief pilot, flight department manager, or whatever you want to call the position. But I will look at another pilot's attempt at it because, (a) he was very good, and (b) I want to introduce quite a few elements to distance this flight department from ones that I was a part of. The point of this lesson is to give some pointers in story form while protecting the identities of the people involved. That's why we are looking at the Acme Paperclip Company's flight department.
Leadership Secrets — January 17, 2017
In the late nineties a great book on leadership made its rounds around the U.S. Army, "Leadership Secrets of Atilla the Hun," by Wes Roberts.
Not many in the Air Force would admit to reading it; the conventional wisdom was Atilla was a ground pounder from days of yore. I thought it was the best book on leadership I had ever read. Apparently its lessons were lost on some of us blue suiters. But even there, we find lessons.
Leadership Styles — January 9, 2017
What style of leadership is best? Does a particular style of leadership always work?
As I took command of a flying squadron I was to apply the lessons learned over the years, thinking I would have the right solution my first time at bat. I certainly didn't make the same mistakes as my predecessors. But it took me a few years to realize that I did make a mistake.
Leadership 101 — January 1, 2017
How does a young pilot approach crew leadership for the first time? We had our share of leadership courses in the Air Force, but none of them really taught the "how" we need to run a crew or a flight department.
For that you need experience. Lacking that? Find a good mentor. Fortunately I had the best. The Nick is four years older than me. He is wise beyond his years and his lessons are as applicable today as when this story was written, way back in 1984.
A Question of Balance — December 15, 2016
How do you balance your hectic life as a professional pilot with all the demands placed on you by your non-pilot life?
Eddie gets that exact question for a reader and provides his answer which begins and ends at the same point. It may not be the right answer for you, but perhaps it will provoke some thought along your way to discovering your own answer.
Aviation Gurus — December 1, 2016
The long awaited for pilot shortage is here. That's good news, right?
The problem is that the most experienced professionals are "out there" flying, too busy to mentor the next generation. We need more mentors, but we need more mentors of the highest caliber. Here are a few aviation gurus trying to mentor the next generation of gurus.
SAFA Checks: Alternate Fuel — November 1, 2016
One of the hot items during these ramp checks in late 2016 has been an inadequate documentation of fuel reserves on aircraft flight plans for arrival or departure.
You need to have the minimum required reserve fuel listed as just that, reserve fuel. If you don't need an alternate, do you have the required holding fuel? If you do need an alternate, is the computed fuel realistic?
Safety > Comfort > Reliability — October 1, 2016
As pilots for the 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base (now Joint Base Andrews), we had hammered into our heads the idea of “Safety, Comfort, Reliability.”
“Safety > Comfort > Reliability.” The preceding elements are more important than the subsequent. But theory is often overwhelmed by reality. I cover the various interpretations of this motto in Flight Lessons 3: Experience, the third book of that series. The danger for crews at the 89th and for us in commercial aviation, is that we can be corrupted into thinking of the motto as "Reliability, Reliability, Reliability."
Declaring an Emergency, Effectively — September 1, 2016
There is a general reluctance to declare an emergency by pilots who believe it is either "less than manly" or will lead to a mountain of paperwork and unforeseen costs.
If you think the safety of your airplane is in danger unless you are guaranteed everything you need from the rest of the world, you need to declare an emergency. And do so using that word: "I am declaring an emergency." Air traffic control should understand. If they don't, try this: "If you do not approve this, people will die." Yes, you need to be blunt.
Maintenance Malpractice — August 1, 2016
I got an angry letter to the editor for the Business & Commercial Aviation magazine version of this article. A mechanic thought I was being unfair . . .
A doctor who jeopardizes a patient's life through unskilled, improper, or negligent treatment is guilty of medical malpractice. Any person in the maintenance profession — from the lowest mechanic to the highest VP — can be guilty of maintenance malpractice through unskilled, improper, or negligent treatment of an airplane. Malpractice. Is that too strong a word? No.
Pre-Accident Investigator — July 1, 2016
We all know the vital role accident investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies play AFTER an accident has happened. Their primary role is to learn from the past so that we may avoid future accidents. All that is great.
But what role do we line pilots have in all this? I contend that we would be the perfect PRE-Accident Investigators. We should be able to learn from everything at our disposal so that we can investigate the causes of accidents BEFORE they happen to prevent them in the first place. I think a perfect case in point is the case of what I call the "Ambiguous Gulfstream Auto-Throttles." If you aren't a Gulfstream pilot, I am betting you could find a similar system on your airplane that could use some good PRE-accident investigation. I gave a speech on this topic to the Teterboro Users Group, in June, 2016.
Weight and Balance (A Sensual Approach) — June 1, 2016
Weight and balance tends to be a math intensive subject and you should understand the principles. Because some airplanes are more sensitive than others and even those that are center-of-gravity-sensitive tend to be okay most of the time, we tend to let our guards down on this subject.
Even if you aren't a math wizard, having a "feel" for weight and balance can come in handy. If you can visualize where on your airplane the center of gravity resides, the forward and aft limits of your center of gravity, and how the seats and fuel tanks all relate to those points, you will have the skills you need to approach your weight and balance sensually. Sensually? Yes: weight and balance by feel.
Gray Areas — May 1, 2016
When we have incomplete knowledge about an upcoming decision we tend to say it is an issue mired in a gray area and therefore open to our personal judgement.
That kind of latitude leads to rule bending and more times than not, the wrong answer. A better way to respond to a question from the gray area is with the answer: it depends.Of course there are many so-called gray areas that need clarifying. But if you have the methodology down you can tackle them all. We'll look at a few here.
Functional Check Flights — April 1, 2016
The glamour days of the test pilot are long gone. It makes absolutely no sense to strap on an airplane that has never flown before, go up there an "punch a hole in that thar envelope."
You could very well be called upon to do a functional check flight in your business jet and those that came before you will say it is no big deal. You may start to believe that, because the pilot who had the task before you was nothing special. How hard can it be? I recommend you read this: "I've never been so scared." And then you should get serious about the task at hand.
Departure Obstacle Analysis — March 1, 2016
If I asked five pilots how to best deal with departure obstacles, I would get five different answers.
No wonder, this stuff is complicated! You can be a math wizard or math-phobic, but either way you should understand what will happen if you lose an engine anywhere from V1 through the moment you have cleared the last obstacle. And here is the bad news: some of that software that promises to keep you safe is lying to you.
Case Study: Bedford — December 1, 2015
We are told that on May 31, 2014, the professional pilot world got a wake up call when two pilots crashed their Gulfstream IV and killed all on board. The NTSB rightfully calls their performance an act of "intentional, habitual noncompliance" but this is being charitable.
We analyze the accident itself and debunk the thought that the "cause" was the design of the gust lock. It was not. The cause was the design of the two pilots up front. Then we'll look at checklist philosopy; it is more clear cut than you might think. Finally, we'll look at pilot complacency and a way to cure that.
Slow Onset Hypoxia — August 1, 2015
We in the high altitude jet set train extensively for the chance we may one day suddenly lose cabin pressurization and need to immediately don oxygen and execute an emergency descent. But how often does that really happen? Almost never.
But we are trained for this. When it happens, it will be obvious and we will know what to do. A rapid depressurization has never resulted in the loss on an airplane, at least not that we know of. The real dangers lurks when the loss of pressurization happens gradually. Slow onset hypoxia has killed and you are at risk.