Mark Twain is said to have remarked, “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it,” but Fargo Jet Center (FJC) and Weather Modification, Inc. (WMI) qualify as exceptions. The two, joined at the hip on Hector International Airport, Fargo, N.D., are actually doing a lot about the weather.
Weather was not my best subject in flight school, though I readily accepted its importance for pilots. On the FAA written exam for my ATP, six of the eight questions I got wrong were about weather.
Improper de-icing procedures led to an accident that substantially damaged a Flexjet Challenger 300 last winter at Chicago Executive Airport, according to the NTSB. The Safety Board concluded that the operator of the de-icing vehicle did not adhere to company procedures and did not maintain clearance between the vehicle’s boom and the airplane during the de-icing operation.
Three helicopters being used to warm crops against cold temperatures and frost overnight in Western Palm Beach County, Fla., crashed in the early morning hours of December 8 in separate accidents between 2:10 and 7:40 a.m. The accidents involved two Robinson R44s and one Bell 206L-3. Only the pilot of the 206, the most extensively damaged of the three aircraft, sustained serious injuries.
It should go without saying that private jet passengers generally enjoy more space, more comfortable seats and more advanced cabin systems than their airline counterparts. But the benefits of all these luxuries can be badly undermined by inadequate humidity levels in the cabin that can make the VIP traveler as weary as an economy-class pauper at the end of a long flight.
Quest Aircraft yesterday received approval from the FAA for the Kodiak turboprop single’s ice protection system, meaning the aircraft is now able to fly in known icing conditions. According to the Sandpoint, Idaho-based aircraft manufacturer, the glycol-based TKS system has been installed on three Kodiaks to date.
The FAA’s Draft Advisory Circular 20-147A released last month provides new guidance to aircraft manufacturers on compliance with regulations covering engine induction system icing and engine installation ice requirements. Comments on the draft AC are due by November 1.
Progression in the development of both aircraft and their systems have made it so that in many cases pilots manage the systems more than they handle the airplane. However, old-fashioned piloting skills remain as essential as ever since such systems can be affected by interference from outside sources such as the sun–a vulnerability that might rear its head quite soon.
Pilots who like the XM satellite weather products WxWorx delivers to cockpit displays might like to access the same weather products on their office or portable computers. WxWorx has released the new WxWorx Online QuikLink subscription service so pilots can do just that. Like the airborne products, the QuikLink online service comes in three sizes and monthly fees, Wings ($14.99), Wings Plus ($24.99) and Wings Elite ($49.99).
No one likes to endure the sticky feeling of excess humidity, but lack of humidity in aircraft cabins at altitude can be a major cause of discomfort and travel fatigue.