e. The FAA recommends that each seaplane owner or operator provide flotation gear for occupants any time a seaplane operates on or near water. 14 CFR Section 91.205(b)(12) requires approved flotation gear for aircraft operated for hire over water and beyond power‐off gliding distance from shore. FAA‐approved gear differs from that required for navigable waterways under USCG rules. FAA‐approved life vests are inflatable designs as compared to the USCG's noninflatable PFD's that may consist of solid, bulky material. Such USCG PFDs are impractical for seaplanes and other aircraft because they may block passage through the relatively narrow exits available to pilots and passengers. Life vests approved under Technical Standard Order (TSO) TSO-C13E contain fully inflatable compartments. The wearer inflates the compartments (AFTER exiting the aircraft) primarily by independent CO2 cartridges, with an oral inflation tube as a backup. The flotation gear also contains a water‐activated, self‐illuminating signal light. The fact that pilots and passengers can easily don and wear inflatable life vests (when not inflated) provides maximum effectiveness and allows for unrestricted movement. It is imperative that passengers are briefed on the location and proper use of available PFDs prior to leaving the dock.
f. The FAA recommends that seaplane owners and operators obtain Advisory Circular (AC) 91-69, Seaplane Safety for 14 CFR Part 91 Operations, free from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Subsequent Distribution Office, SVC-121.23, Ardmore East Business Center, 3341 Q 75th Avenue, Landover, MD 20785; fax: (301) 386-5394. The USCG Navigation Rules International-Inland (COMDTINSTM 16672.2B) is available for a fee from the Government Printing Office by facsimile request to (202) 512-2250, and can be ordered using Mastercard or Visa.
7-5-9. Flight Operations in Volcanic Ash
a. Severe volcanic eruptions which send ash into the upper atmosphere occur somewhere around the world several times each year. Flying into a volcanic ash cloud can be exceedingly dangerous. A B747-200 lost all four engines after such an encounter and a B747-400 had the same nearly catastrophic experience. Piston-powered aircraft are less likely to lose power but severe damage is almost certain to ensue after an encounter with a volcanic ash cloud which is only a few hours old.
b. Most important is to avoid any encounter with volcanic ash. The ash plume may not be visible, especially in instrument conditions or at night; and even if visible, it is difficult to distinguish visually between an ash cloud and an ordinary weather cloud. Volcanic ash clouds are not displayed on airborne or ATC radar. The pilot must rely on reports from air traffic controllers and other pilots to determine the location of the ash cloud and use that information to remain well clear of the area. Every attempt should be made to remain on the upwind side of the volcano.
c. It is recommended that pilots encountering an ash cloud should immediately reduce thrust to idle (altitude permitting), and reverse course in order to escape from the cloud. Ash clouds may extend for hundreds of miles and pilots should not attempt to fly through or climb out of the cloud. In addition, the following procedures are recommended:
1. Disengage the autothrottle if engaged. This will prevent the autothrottle from increasing engine thrust;
2. Turn on continuous ignition;
3. Turn on all accessory airbleeds including all air conditioning packs, nacelles, and wing anti‐ice. This will provide an additional engine stall margin by reducing engine pressure.
d. The following has been reported by flightcrews who have experienced encounters with volcanic dust clouds:
1. Smoke or dust appearing in the cockpit.
2. An acrid odor similar to electrical smoke.
3. Multiple engine malfunctions, such as compressor stalls, increasing EGT, torching from tailpipe, and flameouts.
4. At night, St. Elmo's fire or other static discharges accompanied by a bright orange glow in the engine inlets.
5. A fire warning in the forward cargo area.
e. It may become necessary to shut down and then restart engines to prevent exceeding EGT limits. Volcanic ash may block the pitot system and result in unreliable airspeed indications.
f. If you see a volcanic eruption and have not been previously notified of it, you may have been the first person to observe it. In this case, immediately contact ATC and alert them to the existence of the eruption. If possible, use the Volcanic Activity Reporting form (VAR) depicted in Appendix 2 of this manual. Items 1 through 8 of the VAR should be transmitted immediately. The information requested in items 9 through 16 should be passed after landing. If a VAR form is not immediately available, relay enough information to identify the position and nature of the volcanic activity. Do not become unnecessarily alarmed if there is merely steam or very low‐level eruptions of ash.
g. When landing at airports where volcanic ash has been deposited on the runway, be aware that even a thin layer of dry ash can be detrimental to braking action. Wet ash on the runway may also reduce effectiveness of braking. It is recommended that reverse thrust be limited to minimum practical to reduce the possibility of reduced visibility and engine ingestion of airborne ash.
h. When departing from airports where volcanic ash has been deposited, it is recommended that pilots avoid operating in visible airborne ash. Allow ash to settle before initiating takeoff roll. It is also recommended that flap extension be delayed until initiating the before takeoff checklist and that a rolling takeoff be executed to avoid blowing ash back into the air.
7-5-10. Emergency Airborne Inspection of Other Aircraft
a. Providing airborne assistance to another aircraft may involve flying in very close proximity to that aircraft. Most pilots receive little, if any, formal training or instruction in this type of flying activity. Close proximity flying without sufficient time to plan (i.e., in an emergency situation), coupled with the stress involved in a perceived emergency can be hazardous.
b. The pilot in the best position to assess the situation should take the responsibility of coordinating the airborne intercept and inspection, and take into account the unique flight characteristics and differences of the category(s) of aircraft involved.
c. Some of the safety considerations are:
1. Area, direction and speed of the intercept;
2. Aerodynamic effects (i.e., rotorcraft downwash);
3. Minimum safe separation distances;
4. Communications requirements, lost communications procedures, coordination with ATC;
5. Suitability of diverting the distressed aircraft to the nearest safe airport; and
6. Emergency actions to terminate the intercept.
d. Close proximity, inflight inspection of another aircraft is uniquely hazardous. The pilot-in-command of the aircraft experiencing the problem/emergency must not relinquish control of the situation and/or jeopardize the safety of their aircraft. The maneuver must be accomplished with minimum risk to both aircraft.
7-5-11. Precipitation Static
a. Precipitation static is caused by aircraft in flight coming in contact with uncharged particles. These particles can be rain, snow, fog, sleet, hail, volcanic ash, dust; any solid or liquid particles. When the aircraft strikes these neutral particles the positive element of the particle is reflected away from the aircraft and the negative particle adheres to the skin of the aircraft. In a very short period of time a substantial negative charge will develop on the skin of the aircraft. If the aircraft is not equipped with static dischargers, or has an ineffective static discharger system, when a sufficient negative voltage level is reached, the aircraft may go into “CORONA.” That is, it will discharge the static electricity from the extremities of the aircraft, such as the wing tips, horizontal stabilizer, vertical stabilizer, antenna, propeller tips, etc. This discharge of static electricity is what you will hear in your headphones and is what we call P-static.
b. A review of pilot reports often shows different symptoms with each problem that is encountered. The following list of problems is a summary of many pilot reports from many different aircraft. Each problem was caused by P-static:
1. Complete loss of VHF communications.
2. Erroneous magnetic compass readings (30 percent in error).
3. High pitched squeal on audio.
4. Motor boat sound on audio.
5. Loss of all avionics in clouds.
6. VLF navigation system inoperative most of the time.
7. Erratic instrument readouts.
8. Weak transmissions and poor receptivity of radios.
9. “St. Elmo's Fire” on windshield.
c. Each of these symptoms is caused by one general problem on the airframe. This problem is the inability of the accumulated charge to flow easily to the wing tips and tail of the airframe, and properly discharge to the airstream.
d. Static dischargers work on the principal of creating a relatively easy path for discharging negative charges that develop on the aircraft by using a discharger with fine metal points, carbon coated rods, or carbon wicks rather than wait until a large charge is developed and discharged off the trailing edges of the aircraft that will interfere with avionics equipment. This process offers approximately 50 decibels (dB) static noise reduction which is adequate in most cases to be below the threshold of noise that would cause interference in avionics equipment.
e. It is important to remember that precipitation static problems can only be corrected with the proper number of quality static dischargers, properly installed on a properly bonded aircraft. P-static is indeed a problem in the all weather operation of the aircraft, but there are effective ways to combat it. All possible methods of reducing the effects of P-static should be considered so as to provide the best possible performance in the flight environment.
f. A wide variety of discharger designs is available on the commercial market. The inclusion of well-designed dischargers may be expected to improve airframe noise in P-static conditions by as much as 50 dB. Essentially, the discharger provides a path by which accumulated charge may leave the airframe quietly. This is generally accomplished by providing a group of tiny corona points to permit onset of corona-current flow at a low aircraft potential. Additionally, aerodynamic design of dischargers to permit corona to occur at the lowest possible atmospheric pressure also lowers the corona threshold. In addition to permitting a low-potential discharge, the discharger will minimize the radiation of radio frequency (RF) energy which accompanies the corona discharge, in order to minimize effects of RF components at communications and navigation frequencies on avionics performance. These effects are reduced through resistive attachment of the corona point(s) to the airframe, preserving direct current connection but attenuating the higher-frequency components of the discharge.
g. Each manufacturer of static dischargers offers information concerning appropriate discharger location on specific airframes. Such locations emphasize the trailing outboard surfaces of wings and horizontal tail surfaces, plus the tip of the vertical stabilizer, where charge tends to accumulate on the airframe. Sufficient dischargers must be provided to allow for current-carrying capacity which will maintain airframe potential below the corona threshold of the trailing edges.
h. In order to achieve full performance of avionic equipment, the static discharge system will require periodic maintenance. A pilot knowledgeable of P-static causes and effects is an important element in assuring optimum performance by early recognition of these types of problems.
7-5-12. Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (Laser) Operations and Reporting Illumination of Aircraft
a. Lasers have many applications. Of concern to users of the National Airspace System are those laser events that may affect pilots, e.g., outdoor laser light shows or demonstrations for entertainment and advertisements at special events and theme parks. Generally, the beams from these events appear as bright blue-green in color; however, they may be red, yellow, or white. However, some laser systems produce light which is invisible to the human eye.
b. FAA regulations prohibit the disruption of aviation activity by any person on the ground or in the air. The FAA and the Food and Drug Administration (the Federal agency that has the responsibility to enforce compliance with Federal requirements for laser systems and laser light show products) are working together to ensure that operators of these devices do not pose a hazard to aircraft operators.
c. Pilots should be aware that illumination from these laser operations are able to create temporary vision impairment miles from the actual location. In addition, these operations can produce permanent eye damage. Pilots should make themselves aware of where these activities are being conducted and avoid these areas if possible.
d. Recent and increasing incidents of unauthorized illumination of aircraft by lasers, as well as the proliferation and increasing sophistication of laser devices available to the general public, dictates that the FAA, in coordination with other government agencies, take action to safeguard flights from these unauthorized illuminations.
e. Pilots should report laser illumination activity to the controlling Air Traffic Control facilities, Federal Contract Towers or Flight Service Stations as soon as possible after the event. The following information should be included:
1. UTC Date and Time of Event.
2. Call Sign or Aircraft Registration Number.
3. Type Aircraft.
4. Nearest Major City.
6. Location of Event (Latitude/Longitude and/or Fixed Radial Distance (FRD)).
7. Brief Description of the Event and any other Pertinent Information.
f. Pilots are also encouraged to complete the Laser Beam Exposure Questionnaire (See Appendix 3), and fax or email it, per the directions on the questionnaire, as soon as possible after landing.
g. When a laser event is reported to an air traffic facility, a general caution warning will be broadcasted on all appropriate frequencies every five minutes for 20 minutes and broadcasted on the ATIS for one hour following the report.
h. When these activities become known to the FAA, Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) are issued to inform the aviation community of the events. Pilots should consult NOTAMs or the Special Notices section of the Airport/Facility Directory for information regarding these activities.
7-5-13. Flying in Flat Light and White Out Conditions
a. Flat Light. Flat light is an optical illusion, also known as “sector or partial white out.” It is not as severe as “white out” but the condition causes pilots to lose their depth-of-field and contrast in vision. Flat light conditions are usually accompanied by overcast skies inhibiting any visual clues. Such conditions can occur anywhere in the world, primarily in snow covered areas but can occur in dust, sand, mud flats, or on glassy water. Flat light can completely obscure features of the terrain, creating an inability to distinguish distances and closure rates. As a result of this reflected light, it can give pilots the illusion that they are ascending or descending when they may actually be flying level. However, with good judgment and proper training and planning, it is possible to safely operate an aircraft in flat light conditions.
b. White Out. As defined in meteorological terms, white out occurs when a person becomes engulfed in a uniformly white glow. The glow is a result of being surrounded by blowing snow, dust, sand, mud or water. There are no shadows, no horizon or clouds and all depth-of-field and orientation are lost. A white out situation is severe in that there are no visual references. Flying is not recommended in any white out situation. Flat light conditions can lead to a white out environment quite rapidly, and both atmospheric conditions are insidious; they sneak up on you as your visual references slowly begin to disappear. White out has been the cause of several aviation accidents.
c. Self Induced White Out. This effect typically occurs when a helicopter takes off or lands on a snow-covered area. The rotor down wash picks up particles and re-circulates them through the rotor down wash. The effect can vary in intensity depending upon the amount of light on the surface. This can happen on the sunniest, brightest day with good contrast everywhere. However, when it happens, there can be a complete loss of visual clues. If the pilot has not prepared for this immediate loss of visibility, the results can be disastrous. Good planning does not prevent one from encountering flat light or white out conditions.
d. Never take off in a white out situation.
1. Realize that in flat light conditions it may be possible to depart but not to return to that site. During takeoff, make sure you have a reference point. Do not lose sight of it until you have a departure reference point in view. Be prepared to return to the takeoff reference if the departure reference does not come into view.
2. Flat light is common to snow skiers. One way to compensate for the lack of visual contrast and depth-of-field loss is by wearing amber tinted lenses (also known as blue blockers). Special note of caution: Eyewear is not ideal for every pilot. Take into consideration personal factors - age, light sensitivity, and ambient lighting conditions.
3. So what should a pilot do when all visual references are lost?
(a) Trust the cockpit instruments.
(b) Execute a 180 degree turnaround and start looking for outside references.
(c) Above all - fly the aircraft.
e. Landing in Low Light Conditions. When landing in a low light condition - use extreme caution. Look for intermediate reference points, in addition to checkpoints along each leg of the route for course confirmation and timing. The lower the ambient light becomes, the more reference points a pilot should use.
f. Airport Landings.
1. Look for features around the airport or approach path that can be used in determining depth perception. Buildings, towers, vehicles or other aircraft serve well for this measurement. Use something that will provide you with a sense of height above the ground, in addition to orienting you to the runway.
2. Be cautious of snowdrifts and snow banks - anything that can distinguish the edge of the runway. Look for subtle changes in snow texture or shading to identify ridges or changes in snow depth.
g. Off-Airport Landings.
1. In the event of an off-airport landing, pilots have used a number of different visual cues to gain reference. Use whatever you must to create the contrast you need. Natural references seem to work best (trees, rocks, snow ribs, etc.)
(a) Over flight.
(b) Use of markers.
(c) Weighted flags.
(d) Smoke bombs.
(e) Any colored rags.
(f) Dye markers.
(h) Trees or tree branches.
2. It is difficult to determine the depth of snow in areas that are level. Dropping items from the aircraft to use as reference points should be used as a visual aid only and not as a primary landing reference. Unless your marker is biodegradable, be sure to retrieve it after landing. Never put yourself in a position where no visual references exist.
3. Abort landing if blowing snow obscures your reference. Make your decisions early. Don't assume you can pick up a lost reference point when you get closer.
4. Exercise extreme caution when flying from sunlight into shade. Physical awareness may tell you that you are flying straight but you may actually be in a spiral dive with centrifugal force pressing against you. Having no visual references enhances this illusion. Just because you have a good visual reference does not mean that it's safe to continue. There may be snow-covered terrain not visible in the direction that you are traveling. Getting caught in a no visual reference situation can be fatal.
h. Flying Around a Lake.
1. When flying along lakeshores, use them as a reference point. Even if you can see the other side, realize that your depth perception may be poor. It is easy to fly into the surface. If you must cross the lake, check the altimeter frequently and maintain a safe altitude while you still have a good reference. Don't descend below that altitude.
2. The same rules apply to seemingly flat areas of snow. If you don't have good references, avoid going there.
i. Other Traffic. Be on the look out for other traffic in the area. Other aircraft may be using your same reference point. Chances are greater of colliding with someone traveling in the same direction as you, than someone flying in the opposite direction.
j. Ceilings. Low ceilings have caught many pilots off guard. Clouds do not always form parallel to the surface, or at the same altitude. Pilots may try to compensate for this by flying with a slight bank and thus creating a descending turn.
k. Glaciers. Be conscious of your altitude when flying over glaciers. The glaciers may be rising faster than you are climbing.
7-5-14. Operations in Ground Icing Conditions
a. The presence of aircraft airframe icing during takeoff, typically caused by improper or no deicing of the aircraft being accomplished prior to flight has contributed to many recent accidents in turbine aircraft. The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) is the primary vehicle for government-industry cooperation, communication, and coordination on GA accident mitigation. The Turbine Aircraft Operations Subgroup (TAOS) works to mitigate accidents in turbine accident aviation. While there is sufficient information and guidance currently available regarding the effects of icing on aircraft and methods for deicing, the TAOS has developed a list of recommended actions to further assist pilots and operators in this area.
While the efforts of the TAOS specifically focus on turbine aircraft, it is recognized that their recommendations are applicable to and can be adapted for the pilot of a small, piston powered aircraft too.
b. The following recommendations are offered:
1. Ensure that your aircraft's lift-generating surfaces are COMPLETELY free of contamination before flight through a tactile (hands on) check of the critical surfaces when feasible. Even when otherwise permitted, operators should avoid smooth or polished frost on lift-generating surfaces as an acceptable preflight condition.
2. Review and refresh your cold weather standard operating procedures.
3. Review and be familiar with the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) limitations and procedures necessary to deal with icing conditions prior to flight, as well as in flight.
4. Protect your aircraft while on the ground, if possible, from sleet and freezing rain by taking advantage of aircraft hangars.
5. Take full advantage of the opportunities available at airports for deicing. Do not refuse deicing services simply because of cost.
6. Always consider canceling or delaying a flight if weather conditions do not support a safe operation.
c. If you haven't already developed a set of Standard Operating Procedures for cold weather operations, they should include:
1. Procedures based on information that is applicable to the aircraft operated, such as AFM limitations and procedures;
2. Concise and easy to understand guidance that outlines best operational practices;
3. A systematic procedure for recognizing, evaluating and addressing the associated icing risk, and offer clear guidance to mitigate this risk;
4. An aid (such as a checklist or reference cards) that is readily available during normal day-to-day aircraft operations.
d. There are several sources for guidance relating to airframe icing, including:
4. Advisory Circular (AC) 91-74, Pilot Guide, Flight in Icing Conditions.
5. AC 135-17, Pilot Guide Small Aircraft Ground Deicing.
6. AC 135-9, FAR Part 135 Icing Limitations.
7. AC 120-60, Ground Deicing and Anti-icing Program.
8. AC 135-16, Ground Deicing and Anti-icing Training and Checking.
The FAA Approved Deicing Program Updates is
published annually as a Flight Standards Information
Bulletin for Air Transportation and contains detailed
information on deicing and anti-icing procedures and
holdover times. It may be accessed at the following
web site by selecting the current year's information
7-5-15. Avoid Flight in the Vicinity of Thermal Plumes (Smoke Stacks and Cooling Towers)
a. Flight Hazards Exist Around Thermal Plumes. Thermal plumes are defined as visible or invisible emissions from power plants, industrial production facilities, or other industrial systems that release large amounts of vertically directed unstable gases. High temperature exhaust plumes may cause significant air disturbances such as turbulence and vertical shear. Other identified potential hazards include, but are not necessarily limited to, reduced visibility, oxygen depletion, engine particulate contamination, exposure to gaseous oxides, and/or icing. Results of encountering a plume may include airframe damage, aircraft upset, and/or engine damage/failure. These hazards are most critical during low altitude flight, especially during takeoff and landing.
b. When able, a pilot should fly upwind of possible thermal plumes. When a plume is visible via smoke or a condensation cloud, remain clear and realize a plume may have both visible and invisible characteristics. Exhaust stacks without visible plumes may still be in full operation, and airspace in the vicinity should be treated with caution. As with mountain wave turbulence or clear air turbulence, an invisible plume may be encountered unexpectedly. Cooling towers, power plant stacks, exhaust fans, and other similar structures are depicted in FIG 7-5-2. Whether plumes are visible or invisible, the total extent of their unstable air is difficult to ascertain. FAA studies are underway to further characterize the effects of thermal plumes as exhaust effluents. Until the results of these studies are known and possible changes to rules and policy are identified and/or published, pilots are encouraged to exercise caution when flying in the vicinity of thermal plumes. Pilots are encouraged to reference the Airport/Facility Directory where amplifying notes may caution pilots and identify the location of structure(s) emitting thermal plumes.