Saturday, 23 February 2013

CAA Safety Sense Leaflets and London City Helicopter Crash

Just a word on safety..

I have to say there are some superb safety sense leaflets on the Civil Aviation Authority website for General Aviation. I have added a link to them on the menu on the right hand side.

The link is also available here.

AAIB initial report on London Helicopter Accident

Recently (Jan 16, 2013) there was a well publised and tragic accident in London with a helicopter striking a crane near Vauxhall bridge. It was a misty morning and visibility was extremly poor in patches.

After striking the crane's jib, the rotor head and gearbox seperated from the fuselarge and both plumeted to the ground and were consumed by fire. The pilot who was the sole occupant of the helicopter and a pedestrian were fatally injured. 

The AAIB have released their initial report. This can be found here.

There is also an interesting Daily Mail story on this which can be found here. It is a yet another all too familiar story, a reminder that while we all complain about the weather, and try and press on, it has to be treated with the utmost respect.

Snow Joke - Cancelled Navigation Trip

 I had a Navigation session booked for today. Basically I was to fly Rochester to Bewl Reservoir, to Rye, to Ashford and them back to Rochester.

However the weather was not kind to me and hence (another) cancellation was the end result. It is bitterly cold with a NE wind making it feel sub zero. Here are the components of the Met Office 215 form.


As you can see from the far rightermost column the freezing altitude was at the surface level, the next column back from that, that the cloud base was not great and one column back again, that within the areas of snow showers, visibility was not good. I had been watching the weather all week and had my fingers crossed but admit defeat.
One positive today though was I got up early this morning and headed down to the Canterbury area and had my Aviation Medical Examination. I am pleased to say I passed this so I have my medical certificate which is good for another 2 years. This one is different than the last as it is an EASA one. It appears the ECG test is no longer applicable.
Despite the fact my nav trip was cancelled I ran through the PLOG generation. I do this every time. Once through Sky Demon and once through a wizz wheel calculation. I do the wizz wheel one first and then double check for sanity against the Sky Demon one. Of course the latter does some different GS calculation so you never get exactly the same result but good enough to reassure yourself you still know what you are doing... with that wizz wheel!
This was to be the route I would have flown. Perhaps next time ?

Sky Demon PLOG
My routine for a navigational exercise trip goes something like this, it may seem a little laborius to some (err perhaps many) but I am a project/programme manager by day and I just can't help myself :
1) The night before my adventure, I draw my route on both 500k and 250K charts.
2) I repeat this task in Sky Demon, double check the true track calculations in 1, and generally have a look at the weather and notams.
3) I then prepare a manual flight PLOG calculating up to the point of the wind direction and velocity (5th column above).

On the day / next morning

1) Perform the IMSAFE checks.
2) Perform Met Office GA briefing (essentially print off 215, 214, SE Air Met, SE TAFs).
3) Decide on what wind speed and direction I will use for my plog. I typically extrapolate this from the South East Air Met report (I perform a sanity check of this against the 214 report).
4) Open Sky Demon on my computer, ensure it's connected to the internet and let it refresh with the current Weather stats and do its calculations. I then look at the notams, metars and tafs it is giving me and then print the PLOG.
5) Complete my previously prepared manual PLOG by using my chosen wind speed and direction.
6) I then sanity check my manual calculation against the calculations from Sky Demon.
7) I check official NATS Notams

And then generally in my case I ...
8) Contact the flight school and have them confirm my session will have to be cancelled due to the weather!!!!

This was my manual PLOG.... consigned to the cancelled pile.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Lesson 51 & 52 Refresher Basic Handling

Well, the weather has been absolutely dreadful for so long now it has made flying a rare event. Rochester airfield with its grass runways has suffered considerably and I have heard of aircraft relocating themselves elsewhere for the winter. It has been quite disheartening really. 

That said, I have managed to squeeze in two refresher lessons this year. The first one was on the second of January and was with Mike my normal instructor. This was a lesson to keep my hand in. To some extent this was the purpose of todays session. I went out with Stuart today as Mike was away on holiday and we went over to the Isle of Sheppey and did some basic handling.The visibility was not very good but we managed to get through:

1) Steep Turns (2 to the right, 2 to the left)
2) Stalling (20 minutes)
3) 3 PFLs

The last PFL was to land on R16 which is an unusual runway for Rochester. It went ok in the end. I extended out a little too far crosswind but managed to rectify the situation in a reasonably good approach and landing.

Everything else went well. I am clearly a little rusty and I need to be more positive when making the drills. Real positive head movements on the lookouts for the steep turns is also needed, making sure I look at the direction I'm turning into last on my lookout drill. To help with this I will make sure my shoulder restraints are not so tight.

Right then, upon reflection I would sum up that today felt great, it is such a wonderful experience flying an aircraft. While cold, the sun was out and it felt like last winter (which was ok I thought) and almost like spring was around the corner.

.... This means it will probably be that we are all about to suffer the wettest/snowiest/windiest/apocalyptic Feb-Mar-April on record!

Oh I need to sort out my medical as my certificate has expired. I should book an appointment this week and get this out the way!

51. 02/01/13 C152 G-BNKV EGTO EGTO 12:35 13:35 1:00 EX 16, 19, 10B
52. 17/02/13 C152 G-CEPX EGTO EGTO 13:30 14:25 0:55 EX 15, 16 10B (20 Mins)
HOURS = 44:05 DUAL + 13:10 SOLO