It takes a pilot to fly a go around but a commander to initiate one

DON’T BREAK THE NOSEWHEEL, it can be a lonely expensive walk back to the clubhouse!

If you look through the CAA AIIB accident bulletins you will notice that the most common type of damage to light aircraft is to the nosewheel and nosewheel leg assembly. Nosewheel oleo legs have nothing like the same strength as their main leg assembly counterparts, they are designed to steer the aircraft on the ground, not to be smashed into the tarmac. Consequently if you do arrive heavily, nosewheel first, there is every chance you may be walking back to the clubhouse and even worse maybe facing a big bill (have you asked your club if you damage the aircraft – who pays?)

If you look more carefully at the details of light aircraft landing accidents you will see almost all without exception follow a very similar ERROR CHAIN format something like this:

Low hour pilot or student rounds out too high and bounces heavily, on the second or third bounce the nose wheel assembly collapses or detaches. Sometimes the accident error chain starts with the pilot failing to round out at all and arriving heavily on all three wheels and bouncing back into the air but again it’s the second or third bounce that breaks the nosewheel. Clearly in all these accidents:

THE PILOT FAILED TO RECOGNISE THE PROBLEM AND FLY THE AIRCRAFT TO A SAFE PLACE.

Now  for whatever the reason, the bounce is the big clue and your possible last chance to STOP THE ERROR CHAIN.

If the aircraft is still together and you can’t see daylight through the fuselage it’s time to FLY THE AIRCRAFT TO A SAFE PLACE,  this action is called, in this incidence,  A GO AROUND.

What is actually happening when you bounce or make a large balloon and I am talking large, not a small skip or bounce which we all do from time to time, is that the speed is washing off and you are getting closer and closer to the stalling angle of the wing. Guess where the one place in the whole world is where you do not want to investigate the stall characteristics of your aircraft?. I think you know and you don’t want a ringside seat do you because believe me this is one gig to definitely miss playing a big part in! 

As you probably remember something very strange happens at the stalling angle, the nose pitches down, even if you pull back on the column or stick, this pitch down, together with a loss of control and increased rate of descent, means that if you do not recover IMMEDIATELY you are going to get star billing in one of those AIIB bulletins.

So after the first big balloon or bounce your first consideration must be a GO AROUND:

OK,  so let’s say you got it wrong, it wasn’t that a big a bounce or balloon but you went around anyway, what did you lose? In fact you lost nothing but you gained some valuable handling experience as well as some decision making skills. Contrast that with making the wrong decision of  just trying to stick with it and hoping the aircraft may make it safely onto the runway eventually, I would say the choice of safe action was a no-brainer, wouldn’t you?

There is far too much empathize amongst pilots on smooth landings and I am sure you have heard that old joke,’ any landing you can walk away from is a good one’. It’s not true, any landing that does not require a technical log entry is good enough but every go around must be excellent, well executed and early!

Amazingly a lot of schools and instructors pay scant attention to GO-AROUNDS especially before first solo. Going around instinctively without any effort is much more important than being able to land well and needs to be prioritized. An instructor who sends any student, at any stage, solo without that student being able to perform consistent safe go arounds from a bounce or balloon is not doing his job properly and in my book is irresponsible.

REMEMBER IF IN DOUBT, THERE IS NO DOUBT GO-AROUND.

It takes a pilot to fly a go around but a commander to initiate one

TAKE CONTROL – GO AROUND

See GO-AROUNDS for more tips

As Captain Jon originally August 2005 re-edited August 2011

STUDENT STRAYS INTO LUTON CTZ – How to avoid doing similar!

STUDENT STRAYS INTO LUTON CTZ

Thanks for TAO for sending me this one


A 35 hour JAR PPL student from Blackbushe to Cranfield on a first solo land away cross country strayed into the Luton Control Zone after making a divert from the planned track to avoid 3 or 4 gliders in the Westcott area.

The student reported that the route was from Blackbushe to Cranfield via Westcott and Woburn. There were no problems until approaching Westcott, where there was intense glider activity, around 3 –4 were seen. To avoid the gliders a turn was made to give them plenty of room.

Consequently, the student did not turn where he intended to turn towards Woburn. The student believes he was north of Westcott when he chose to head 090 to intercept the intended original heading or track of 056.

The students next navigational check point was a town in the 10 o clock position which he incorrectly identified as Milton Keynes and another in his two o clock which he also misidentified as Leighton Buzzard (while talking to Cranfield with a FIS)
He then says around the half way point he made out a disused airfield which he took to be Little Horwood. The student said that, as everything seemed to ‘fit’, he maintained heading. (Unfortunately, the towns were in fact Leighton Buzzard to the left, and Hemel Hempstead to my right. The disused airfield was Wing according to the student but see later.)

As the ETA to Woburn approached the student was concerned that he did not have the abbey or village in sight, but he soon made out a manor with a lake ahead.

The student stated that the town to his left was larger than it should have been and the manor ‘did not look right’.  He had had flown the leg dual the previous week and  he then says that alarm bells started ringing but despite of this he reported ‘overhead Woburn’, to Cranfield and was asked to report downwind.

The student’s next heading from Woburn to Cranfield should have been as planned, 358, but the airfield he could now see was more was towards a heading of 030.(or do you mean 130) The student says the alarm bells got louder at this point and when Cranfield asked his position he thinks he told them he was now uncertain of his position.

The student later reported he could see Jets on runway 06 and states it was now blatantly obvious he was in the Luton CTZ and was put over to Luton ATC.

The student eventually landed safely at Cranfield after being told by Luton to phone the supervisor after landing. The student states that he was mortified with his error and very nervous during the ensuing circuit and landing. The student complimented Luton ATC for being very calm and helpful with no hint of chastisement.
After telephoning the home school, the student flew the return back to Blackbushe and was very relieved to get home.

The student later sat down with a map and tried to work out what had happened.

The student believed that being north of Westcott after the manoeuvring turns was the cause and not trusting the training and not being pro active when the alarm bells rang. The student says he should have requested a position fix there and then, rather than taking comfort in ATC’s supposition that they had him in sight of their field. The student sated that he was the pilot and it was his responsibility. He finally stated he was not sure what happens next!

CJ SAYS

Hello,  I was impressed with your concise clear description of what happened and your enthusiasm for admitting you had made a mistake. You have learnt a valuable lesson and my money is on you never doing that again but was it entirely your own fault? I do not think so, so I shall give you my version.

The routing;

It’s not a routing I would choose for a first solo student cross country because that is a one of the busiest pieces of airspace in the UK.  You have only to look at the number of airfields that have cable launching of gliders to see that. It is also a popular north south corridor between regulated airspace for en route flying. I would also never use an airfield turning point that has a radio aid because you know that is going to be a very popular busy turning and over flying point.

In addition if I was using that leg to Westcott I would not turn there (for a student) because the Westcott — Woburn leg is too close to the Luton CTZ and years of experience has told me, and now you, that students do make mistakes and you do need to leave a very generous margin close to regulated airspace, bearing in mind what the dreadful consequences could be. I would have in fact extended that leg to Silverstone which is extremely easy to identify and produces a simple onward leg to Cranfield.

Now, to how the cross-country was flown.

I recognise the remarks only too well and I recognise the style of navigation, I used to use it myself until I invented the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ style of navigation! All those clues that Watson gave him but Holmes was a deeply suspicious man and it was that suspicion that made him a great detective, you have got to be a Sherlock Holmes not a Dr Watson or you will make the same mistakes again believe me!

So my students know that they dare not ever nominate a checkpoint without being able to use TWO  UNAMBIGUOUS FEATURES TO PROOVE IT and we will stay over the point till they can do it. Lets look at your waypoints. Little Horwood—Line feature-railway line (any line features must be orientated correctly and noted) about west to east in this case. WINSLOW to south west of Little Horwood. Notice that Wing does not have these features.

Your waypoint Milton Keynes. First off all for successful serious navigation around an area like this I believe the 1-250 000 chart to be better and I wouldn’t mind betting you only had a 1-500 000 chart. Our students would have had both on board or I should say a section of the chart on board. Now before you all say, ‘Oh you can’t use those charts’, have a look at the difference between Milton Keynes on the two charts and then make your mind up.

On the briefing your instructor gave you before the cross country he should have reminded you that Milton Keynes is three times bigger than Leighton Buzzard and that MK is the easiest town in the United Kingdom to spot because its roads are laid out in a square grid!. He should have also briefed you on the possible misidentification of Aylesbury as well and features that make all these towns unambiguous.

Now you stated that you turned north of Westcott but you do not seem to know how far north. Unfortunately if you do not know where you are when you turn it then follows that you now no longer know where you are going to. Be sure you understand this because this was your major mistake. If you turn to avoid you must turn as part of a plan where possible. Turn 45 left for two minutes then turn 45 right for two minutes, etc etc. If you turn left a bit, right a bit, left a bit, where are you, I have no idea? The other way of doing it is to turn to a known point (check it though, be suspicious!) or TURN BACK to Westcott which in this case may have been the best solution.

You can also continue on the original track. In this case I would have picked Buckingham because you must turn over a point you can mark on the chart. However to be able to ad-lib navigate you need to know how to do it and that is why we (my school) always do a cross country with an en route diversion BEFORE first solo land away cross-countries. You need to be able to navigate off the plan as well as on it, in fact its more important to be able to just take a map and a chinagraph and put a cross country together in the air, that’s what I want to see my students do, that’s the key to good visual navigation, the ability to re-plan when the original plan goes wrong.

You can practice this at home with a map and a chinagraph. Thumb to joint = 10 nm, is your ruler, and a mile to two miles a minute. Interpolate in between 60 – 120 kts for your ground speed.

You can use VOR roses on the map for protractors.

Then check it all with your posh Airtour rulers and computers etc., you wont be far out.

One other point about your selection of heading 090 to intercept the original track. That to me seems to be a large change in heading which I understand because you are trying to intercept but if you miss the I/C point which you obviously did that must eventually put you into regulated airspace. Always err on the other side Eg away from regulated airspace. In fact this incident really hinges on that selection of the heading of 090 which dosnt quite ring true because for you to be so close to Luton that you can see the runway numbers and for it to be on the 210 radial you have either not steered 090 or there has been an extremely strong northerly wind or you in fact turned around Aylesbury, so I would check that out again if I was you. Consider when looking for an intercept point to make that point a clear unambiguous feature. Eg turn from a map point and intercept on a map point.

By the way we always teach that if you are ever changing heading 30 degrees or more from a planned heading there is something wrong and you need to be very careful and if need be request assistance and you can see here why we have this rule. ((You always need to act early around regulated airspace, get on the radio straight away and call for help and the best unit to have called here would have been Luton)

There is a big tendency to make what you see out of the window fit what you want on the map but visual navigation isn’t about luck, it’s a skill, and the skill is you need to PROOVE what you can see on the ground is what is on the map.

SO TO RECAP

Be suspicious, use two unambiguous supporting features to prove each check or turning point. Always orientate supporting features with compass direction.

Be very suspicious if you ever need to change heading by 30 degrees or more, that’s a big change, WHY? Seek help if unsure.

If you divert around traffic, weather, etc have a timed plan,

Always turn from a point that you can plot on the map otherwise you are lost.

In addition

You may have already have been talking to Brize LARS but its always better to be on a LARS than a FIS especially if you have a transponder. (I appreciate you are at the possible limit of cover at Westcott)

ATC should never tell a student pilot, or any pilot, to ‘phone the supervisor when you land’, it’s not necessary, the ATCO assistant only has to phone your destination airfield and tell them to tell you on the ground or they can phone your school. Saying that over the radio is very unprofessional and creates an unwanted level of stress for the remainder of the flight which will be the most stressful anyway, Eg the approach and landing.

I would add that I believe that it should be mandatory for all solo student flights to have the pre-fix call sign SOLO.

Do not worry about what has happened it happens to many pilots both experienced and novice.

I have been lost many times more than you and every time it taught me a lesson but remember,

YOU ARE NEVER REALLY LOST UNTIL THE CIRCLE OF UNCERTAINTY IS LARGER THAN THE MAP YOU ARE READING!

If you suspect you are lost-CALL THE NEAREST ATC UNIT WITHOUT DELAY ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE NEAR REGULATED AIRSPACE

Good luck with the rest of your training.

Captain Jon

BELOW ARE THE TOP TEN TIPS FOR AVOIDING CONTROLLED AIRSPACE FROM THE CAA

Airspace infringements continue to be one of the UK’s main aviation safety risks. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), through its Airspace Infringements Working Group, is currently working with industry to tackle the issue. The Group has issued a list of top ten tips to avoid an infringement. How not to infringe – Ten Top Tips from the ‘On Track’ team

1. Navigation is a skill, and needs to be practised regularly, both planning a flight and conducting it. Safety Sense Leaflet 5 (available on the CAA website and in the LASORS publication) contains good advice on VFR navigation, but it only works if you read and apply it!

2. If you plan a route through controlled airspace, remember that a crossing clearance may not always be possible and consider that route as your ‘secondary’ plan. Your primary plan should avoid controlled airspace – and don’t forget to make your overall time and fuel calculations using the longer, primary route!

3. Where possible, avoid planning to fly close to controlled airspace boundaries. If you do need to do so, be very careful. A small navigational error or distraction of any sort can lead to an infringement – and it doesn’t take much to ruin your day!

4. Pilot workload rises rapidly in less than ideal weather – and so do infringements. If the weather starts to deteriorate, consider your options early and if necessary divert or turn back in good time.

5. If you wish to transit controlled airspace, think about what you need to ask for in advance and call the appropriate Air Traffic Control (ATC) unit at least 10 nautical miles or five minutes flying time from the airspace boundary. This gives the controller time to plan ahead.

6. Thinking before you press the transmit switch and using the correct radio phraseology helps air traffic control to help you – and sounds more professional!

7. Be aware that ATC may be busy when you call them – just because the frequency doesn’t sound busy doesn’t mean that the controller isn’t busy on another frequency or on landlines.

8. Remember – the instruction ‘Standby’ means just that; it is not an ATC clearance and not even a precursor to a clearance. The controller is probably busy so continue to plan to fly around the airspace. Only fly across the airspace if the controller issues a crossing clearance.

9. Your planned route through controlled airspace may appear simple on your chart but the traffic patterns within that airspace may make it unrealistic in practice. Be prepared for a crossing clearance that does not exactly match your planned route but will allow you to transit safely.

10. Don’t be afraid to call ATC and use the transponder when lost or uncertain of your position – overcoming your embarrassment may prevent an infringement which may in turn prevent an Airprox (or worse).

MY WALK AROUND CHECK WAS TOO LONG!

MY WALK AROUND CHECK WAS TOO LONG!

Question from Ivor new PPL

I went to hire an aircraft from a different organisation last week and got told off for doing what the manager called an unnecessary C of A check when the aircraft only needed a running check (so he said) Can you tell me what this is and was he really correct?

Yes Ivor you were obviously never shown the abbreviated check after the first flight of the day check (CHECK A). This abbreviated check is sometimes referred to as a running check.

Unfortunately some schools only teach the first flight of the day check and this leads pilots to believe they must do what appears to experienced pilots as a C of A (major inspection) on each and every occasion they fly!

It’s up to you as the commander of the aircraft how you do the walk around but it’s quite in order to do a brief check after the first flight of the day.

Each aircraft should receive a FIRST FLIGHT OF THE DAY CHECK (Check A) every day, this should not be carried out by a student unless he/she is being supervised by a qualified person and that doesn’t mean looking through the window! It means being with the student. Teaching students to do a first flight of the day check for each and every flight implants a bad habit in their minds and makes them very unpopular when they waste time at subsequent hire organisations they visit after qualifying and this is what I think has happened to you Ivor.  A running check should be substituted after the first flight of the day and this is an abbreviated check of the aircraft and the vital equipment etc for flight.

Basically has anybody driven into the aircraft, are the tyres in good condition, is the windscreen clear and clean? Are there any visual leaks?. There is no need to  exercise the flaps.

So: walk around in a circular path and check;

Airframe checked, ensure no damage, no visual leaks, no ice (winter of course)

Tyres serviceable

Propeller serviceable but STAY OUT OF THE PROP ARC (the habit may save your life one day)

Cowls clear , no birds nests (yes I’ve seen a bird start building a nest in an engine cowl 20 mins after parking)

Windscreen clear and clean (never use solvent or abrasive cleaner on Perspex/plastic windows)

Check complete! (Check fuel for water 10 minutes after each refuel)

I will cover first flight of the day check on another page.

Obviously if you feel the need to do a more comprehensive check that’s up to you.

Sounds like the manager was a little rude to you but it is exasperating when the aircraft is hired out for an hour and you are running late and some over zealous pilot comes along and spends 15 minutes on a walk around. Aircraft only earn money when they are flying so understandably there is sometimes pressure to ensure the day is maximised. I fly airliners and I only do an abbreviated check after the first flight of the day check, so I recommend you look at doing a quicker check next time. If you would like me to have a friendly word with your ‘manager’ drop me an email I would be pleased to do so without mentioning your name or the particular incident.

How Not To Infringe Regulated Airspace –

BELOW ARE THE TOP TEN TIPS FOR AVOIDING CONTROLLED AIRSPACE FROM THE CAA

Airspace infringements continue to be one of the UK’s main aviation safety risks. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), through its Airspace Infringements Working Group, is currently working with industry to tackle the issue. The Group has issued a list of top ten tips to avoid an infringement. How not to infringe – Ten Top Tips from the ‘On Track’ team

1. Navigation is a skill, and needs to be practised regularly, both planning a flight and conducting it. Safety Sense Leaflet 5 (available on the CAA website and in the LASORS publication) contains good advice on VFR navigation, but it only works if you read and apply it!

2. If you plan a route through controlled airspace, remember that a crossing clearance may not always be possible and consider that route as your ‘secondary’ plan. Your primary plan should avoid controlled airspace – and don’t forget to make your overall time and fuel calculations using the longer, primary route!

3. Where possible, avoid planning to fly close to controlled airspace boundaries. If you do need to do so, be very careful. A small navigational error or distraction of any sort can lead to an infringement – and it doesn’t take much to ruin your day!

4. Pilot workload rises rapidly in less than ideal weather – and so do infringements. If the weather starts to deteriorate, consider your options early and if necessary divert or turn back in good time.

5. If you wish to transit controlled airspace, think about what you need to ask for in advance and call the appropriate Air Traffic Control (ATC) unit at least 10 nautical miles or five minutes flying time from the airspace boundary. This gives the controller time to plan ahead.

6. Thinking before you press the transmit switch and using the correct radio phraseology helps air traffic control to help you – and sounds more professional!

7. Be aware that ATC may be busy when you call them – just because the frequency doesn’t sound busy doesn’t mean that the controller isn’t busy on another frequency or on landlines.

8. Remember – the instruction ‘Standby’ means just that; it is not an ATC clearance and not even a precursor to a clearance. The controller is probably busy so continue to plan to fly around the airspace. Only fly across the airspace if the controller issues a crossing clearance.

9. Your planned route through controlled airspace may appear simple on your chart but the traffic patterns within that airspace may make it unrealistic in practice. Be prepared for a crossing clearance that does not exactly match your planned route but will allow you to transit safely.

10. Don’t be afraid to call ATC and use the transponder when lost or uncertain of your position – overcoming your embarrassment may prevent an infringement which may in turn prevent an Airprox (or worse).

Flying A Low Level Go Around With Full Flap

From Candia Smith, student post solo

Can you go over going around from low level please?

Most certainly Candia. As you do not say what aircraft you are in I shall choose an old Cessna 150 which has 40 degrees of flap and is more troublesome than most light aircraft when handled carelessly in the go around phase.

Go around then from just above the runway, due to a large bounce or balloon, with 40 degrees of flap selected down.

APPLY  FULL POWER, CARB AIR COLD,  keep the a/c in balance  =  rudder = ball in the middle

(mixture should be fully rich before application of full power)

MAINTAIN LEVEL FLIGHT ATTITUDE FOR   40 (or 30) DEGREES OF FLAP.

Beware of a very  large upward pitch change but don’t trim it off just yet-hold the aircraft in level flight so that some excess airspeed is built up.

You must remember if you are flying level with full power and gaining airspeed you are safe-if you allow the aircraft to pitch up and wash all the speed off you will be anything but safe- hold the aircraft level.

Airspeed is lifeblood – Altitude is life insurance

LIFT 10 DEGREES OF FLAP ONLY –– resist the temptation to lift all the flap at this stage as this will cause some undesirable pitch/ attitude changes with sink which may put you back on the runway. As you lift the flap adjust the nose attitude slightly higher to prevent descent- no abrupt control movements, be content with level flight still. However If you do touch the runway don’t be alarmed it’s not uncommon in any aircraft, stay cool and stay with it.

What you must not do is try to put the aircraft into the normal climb attitude you are used to because you run a very real chance of reducing the speed very quickly and stalling the aircraft. A stall at this altitude with full flap and full power will most likely result in a very serious accident. For this reason it is essential to practice this manoeuvre with a qualified instructor who is current on type.

The climb out attitude with 30/40 degrees of flap is VERY FLAT but as always  fly ATTITUDE FOR AIRSPEED.  Glance at the ASI but don’t become distracted. I guarantee with 30 degrees of flap and a normally loaded C150 on a normal elevation and temperature UK day with full power you will climb away but you need to fly accurately.

(I demonstrate to students full flap take offs and circuits to show that the aircraft is well capable if handled correctly)

It takes two seconds to lift 10 degrees of flap on early Cessna 150s (no flap gates on the early C150s with electric flaps) so count 1000 and one 1000 and two. Now trim for the climb out speed . Do not make any extreme pitch changes, BE GENTLE and keep your hand on the throttle ensuring you have full power.

Once you are sure that attitude and airspeed are correct lift another 10 degree of flap and re-trim. By this stage you should now be climbing away safely.

When you have 20 degrees of flap climb to your normal flap retraction altitude( 2-300 feet) and lift the flap in two stages.

Resist the temptation to speak to ATC until you are safely established in the climb and have some spare brain capacity and always remember:

AVIATE –  NAVIGATE – COMMUNICATE in that order.

Unless its Stevie Wonder in the tower they will have seen your go around anyway!

When you feel its safe to do so;    RT call— Golf  XRay Charlie Going Around.

Lift the remaining flap at a safe altitude as recommended by your flying school/club  (generally 2-300ft)

To summarise for most light aircraft using FULL flap.

FULL POWER –CARB AIR COLD

MAINTAIN BALANCE–KEEP STRAIGHT

MAINTAIN LEVEL FLIGHT ATTITUDE WHILE LIFTING ONE STAGE OF FLAP (maintaining level flight allows the aircraft to accelerate more quickly)

ADOPT CLIMB ATTITUDE FOR DRAG FLAP CLIMB (this needs to be demonstrated and taught by your instructor)

WHEN REASONABLE RATE OF CLIMB ESTABLISHED  LIFT ANOTHER STAGE and RE-TRIM (total flap now 20 degrees)

LIFT REMAINING FLAP AT A SAFE ALTITUDE. (Dont ever dump flap in one go and yes it is possible with a non electric lever operated flap)

RT CALL WHEN SAFE TO DO SO

AFTER TAKE OFF CHECKS  — ENSURE ALL FLAP LIFTED UNLESS REQUIRED

FULL FLAP GO AROUNDS NEED TO BE PRACTICED FIRST WITH AN INSTRUCTOR

Also Consider

Use of drag flap will reduce rate of climb and angle-if your climb path is performance limited you need to very careful.

Hot & high degrades aircraft perfomance reducing excess power means less available power.

Consider you will be higher over the upwind runway end, is there anyone joining from the dead side? Keep a good LOOKOUT dont fixiate on the go around.

DO I NEED TO USE A CHECKLIST?

PPL question from Mel PPL, Midlands

Should I use a checklist when I fly? I was talking to some student pilots in the airfield bar and I noticed that those who learn in the other club on the airfield are taught without using checklists whereas in our school the instructors insist on the use of checklists. Who is correct?  Mel  (new PPL 15 hrs P1)

Hi Mel this is a little bit subjective and a matter of an opinion. My opinion is that a checklist is an excellent instructional tool and it can prevent mistakes if;

1. It is authoritative, practical and sensible.

2. It is used carefully and correctly.

However in flight, with light, simple, single pilot aircraft, using a checklist is a distraction and just not practical. A good example being in the circuit where you want EYES OUTSIDE as much as possible. For stages of flight like this a simple mnemonic acts as an aide memoire. An example would be BUMPF for a pre-landing check  (Do NOT call it a DOWNWIND CHECK!)

Where the checklist is particularly useful is on the ground.

What you need to do is ensure you have covered all the relevant checks before departure and there are several ways of doing this.

1.    Just check everything you can find in the cockpit!

2.    Scan the cockpit in an orderly, logical fashion, say left to right, up and down.

3.    Just use your memory

4.    Use a mnemonic

5.    Use a checklist.

6.    To hell with the checks lets start it and go!

I have seen all 6 ways used and I have seen mistakes made with all 6 ways. I favour a belts and braces method using a dual system with a ordered logical circular check backed up with a check list.

I would just add at this stage that for student instruction, in my opinion, a checklist should be used and indeed I would deem a school or club that doesn’t use one as being rather unprofessional but thats just my opinion. However having said that it is good to learn the pre take off ‘vital actions’ by mnemonic and you can use a mnemonic that can be used in any light aircraft. See the other separate question on ‘before take off checks’.

There are two ways of using a checklist, you can use it as a ‘check and do’, or you can use it as a ‘do and check’. Being a belt and braces pilot I am a ‘do and check’ fan, the checklist being used as backup.

As I am all for a double check of anything my preference would be get in (see, ‘Checks to do when arriving at the aircraft’) and do a logical ordered check from left to right and up and down or a circular check across the cockpit and then back up these actions with the checklist. Same at the holding point I would do a logical order check across the cockpit and then back it up with a checklist. I always like to see a student coming up to skills test being able to have a mnemonic that he/she can use on any aircraft because after qualifying you may go and hire an aircraft without a checklist being available or from an organisation that doesn’t believe in check lists.

My ex-partner regularly came home without all the shopping we needed because she would not write a list. It’s the same with checklists in an aircraft if you follow the list you will come home with the bacon, so to speak!

Just a few words about checklists;

Some school/club produced checklists tend to be a encyclopedic nightmares which have you constantly criss crossing your hands around the cockpit in an illogical order and covering everything from ensuring your licence is up to date, to the window is clean. I am sure there are ones out there which ask you to check you have your trousers done up properly as well but lets get real, there has to be a happy medium with check lists otherwise they become unworkable and therefore pointless.

There is no point going from one side of the cockpit to the other, checks should ideally follow a logical flow, left to right & and or an up & down pattern whenever possible.

Some organisations continual add things to check lists, called ‘Christmas treeing’ in the RAF. You end up with a checklist that needs two people to carry it to the aircraft. Unfortunately an over enthusiastic checklist has the opposite safety effect and soon gets stowed away in a locker never to be seen again.

When you use a check list use your thumb to underline and release each item as its done, if you get interrupted you will not loose your place and you also lessen the risk of missing a line out. Being interrupted while using the checklist by ATC or a passenger, or any distraction is the most common cause of missing an item.

It’s also a good idea to check a checklist against the manufacturers flight manual or equivalent document because that is the definitive version. Some school checklists are the products of limited experience and big egos that masquerade as authoritative documents.

At the end of the day a checklist is a tool, an aid to safe flight. You must decide whether or not to use one but whatever method you use my advice is always adopt TWO independent checks such as outlined above and a checklist can be one of these.

REMEMBER CHECK LISTS DO NOT THINK, THAT’S THE PILOTS JOB!

Questions or responses to askcaptainjon At gmail.com

Your input always welcomed, I do not know all the answers and any pilot who thinks he does is safer on the ground and off airfield!

Hello Aviators!

Hello Everyone

These posts were part of the original Captain Jon’s website and have been lifted off a disc onto here since the original site closed. Some of the posts are 5 years old.

Your input is always welcomed, I do not know all the answers and any pilot who thinks he does is safer on the ground and off airfield!

 

Questions or responses to askcaptainjon At gmail.com

 

5 day PPL Ground School Course for all 7 subjects -details on another webpage soon!