The theory goes something like this: the sky is SO big, there is no way that two planes could collide. Sadly, that theory's not quite true. Most of these accidents indeed occur closer to the ground, and, around congested non-controlled airports. However, planes come together tens of thousands of feet above ground in cruise flight.Read More
We've booked a number of turboprop flights this year. This post, from the summer of 2017, is a good primer on what to expect, compared to a jet:
We recently sent a client and his daughter to Aspen in a French-built Daher TBM850. He normally flies, and will continue to fly, Lears and Challengers, but he was in no hurry and wanted to try something simple and reasonably priced. We sourced a new operator that I wanted to get to evaluate, plus, I wanted a co-pilot when flying into a mountainous area on what is normally single-pilot airplane, so I sat in the right seat. It was…different, to say the least, from my jet-centric flying.Read More
Seems you can’t walk through a busy airline terminal without seeing at least one “Delayed for Maintenance” notice on a boarding gate sign. It happens. Planes are incredibly complex machines that have to be in near-perfect working conditions before they can take off (each plane has a Minimum Equipment List, MEL, that allows for certain items to be inoperative, yet still allow the plane to fly). The airlines typically stock replacement parts at all major cities, along with having the mechanics on-call to make the repair. Unless the item is not at base, or the repair will take an extended period of time, the flight will be delayed, but will eventually take off.Read More
A while back I overnighted in Boston (not a bad place for a layover). We had a 6am show, and as I was walking to the plane in the pre-sunrise light, I noticed something seemed off. I performed my walk-around and came back to the #4 tire. It seemed low (see photo - can you even tell it's low?? It's the one on the left). It's not as easy as whipping out a tire gage so I called a mechanic over to take a reading. It was well below minimums. The tolerances on jet tires are tight - the pressure range on a Lear 60 main tire is 209-219psi. If pressure drops below 180psi on one tire you have to replace BOTH tires on that side. Why is this critical? Tires are prone to blow out at high speed if they're under inflated - causing catastrophic consequences. Let me tell you, changing tires ain't easy - or cheap. It's at least a 24 hour process where a mechanic "builds" up a tire and waits to test the pressure the next day. The Boston case turned out to be a fiasco because when the maintenance team went to jack up the plane to put on the new tires, the nose wheel jack jumped its cradle and dented the plane (see photo). What's a dent? Well, the Bombardier engineers said if the dent was less than 100 mils, we'd be OK. Of course it was 150 mils! After more days in Boston (now, not a bad place to be broken down), we had to ferry the plane to a Bombardier repair facility for manufacturer's repairs. Three months, yes, three months later I airlined up to pick up the repaired plane.
By Chris Promecene
On a recent Friday morning my wife and I, along with our editor Jim and his wife, headed to Houston Intercontinental Airport to hop on a United flight to Newark. Our mutual friend had invited us to a dinner party that evening for his 50th birthday and we decided to make a weekend in Manhattan out of it. Since the big boys were doing the flying neither Jim nor I bothered to check ForeFlight before departing. Little did we know our country's president also planned to fly into the New York terminal area that day. Thanks to something pilots know as a TFR, our 10:30AM departure ended up being a 2 PM departure, putting our arrival at the dinner party on the far side of fashionably late.
A TFR (temporary flight restriction) is a geographically limited restriction to flight for a specific period of time. TFR's are often associated with major sporting events, national disasters or, as was this case, the movement by air of the president or other VIPs.
In short, the good news about TFR's is is that they are usually short-lived. The bad news is they often occur with little notice, effect major metropolitan areas and nobody (almost nobody) escapes them. So, the reality is, under the same circumstances, had we been flying private, the air traffic restriction and concomitant terminal area back up would have still grounded and delayed us. Turns out the bar at terminal C has a great cocktail with rum and pineapple juice called the delayed departure--cheers.
“My friends just took off, why can’t we?" "What do you mean that we can't take all of our luggage on the plane?" “Why can’t we fly non-stop home from Aspen?"
Sometimes you can, and sometimes you can’t. Add this to the confusion: sometimes you can in the winter, but, not the summer. It’s as frustrating for pilots as it is for the passengers. However, because pilots are bound by simple laws of physics, it’s easier for us to accept.
There are 4 limiting factors that affect the ability to take off, and, how far we can fly. I’ll try and keep it simple.Read More