Category: Educational

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Upper Limit and AOPA are Teaming Up to Help Rusty Pilots

If you’re a rusty pilot, Upper Limit and AOPA can help get you safely back in the air!

If you’re ready to get back in the air, but it’s been a while since you’ve been behind the controls, AOPA and ULA are here to help! On Saturday, August 10, we’ll be hosting a rusty pilot seminar aimed at helping you get current, and back in the skies.

You might be like more than 500,000 other pilots (that’s right, half a million), who have taken a little breather from flying. The good news is that getting back to flying is easier than you think. So, what does it take to get back in the air?

  • No FAA check ride or test.
  • You might not even need a medical!

As a seminar participant, you’ll get:

  • 3 hours of ground instruction toward completing your flight review
  • Valuable take-home materials
  • Handouts so you can review what you’ve learned.

WHEN: Saturday, August 10, from 9:00am – 12:00pm

WHERE: Upper Limit Aviation, Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) 619 N. 2360 W. Salt Lake City, UT 84116

Register for the event today by clicking this link on the AOPA website.

In addition, AOPA and ULA are proud to offer WINGS credit for attendees at this event! In order to receive credit, be sure to register with the email address that is associated with your FAASafety.gov account.

We’re thrilled to host this event with AOPA, and we hope to see you there!

And for anyone who would like to save or share this information with others, here’s a downloadable flyer with all the details as well:

Get Started with Your Flight Training Today!

For our Salt Lake City, UT location, call 801-596-7722 or email [email protected]

For our Temecula/Murrieta, CA location, call 951-696-7722 or email [email protected]

And click here to fill out our online application!

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Upper Limit and SkyWest are Hosting an Aviation Career Lunch

Come Join Us and Learn From Recruiters What It Takes to Become a SkyWest Pilot!

Upper Limit Aviation and SkyWest are giving you an opportunity to take control of your aviation career, by meeting with the SkyWest Pilot and Cadet Advocates at a delicious career dinner and open house generously provided by Upper Limit Aviation and hosted by Robintino’s of Bountiful.

  • Date: Thursday, September 13, 2018
  • Time: 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
  • Location: Robintino’s of Bountiful, 1385 South 500 West, Bountiful, UT 84010

Dinner is provided, so come hungry, and come with your questions for the SkyWest Pilot mentors and Cadet Advocates!

And if you can’t make the dinner, Upper Limit is hosting another lunch event with the SkyWest Pilot Recruitment team, at our Salt Lake Location.

  • Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2018
  • Time: 2:00 PM
  • Location: 619 North 2360 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116

Here are some of the benefits SkyWest Pilots enjoy in their career:

  • More opportunities and more exposure than any other regional airline pilot.
  • New key flying agreements with United, Delta, American, and Alaska!
  • SkyWest has more new aircraft that any other regional airline, and will have more than 145 E175s in their fleet by mid-2018.
  • More than twenty domicile options nationwide.
  • An upgrade time of around 2 years.
  • A strong culture of professionalism, teamwork, and success!
  • Excellent pay, multiple profit sharing programs, bonuses, and 401(k) match!

Don’t miss out on these incredible opportunities. By completing your flight training, from private pilot certificate to commercial pilot license, with Upper Limit Aviation, you’ll earn yourself the skills needed to fly with one of the most globally-recognizable airlines flying today. Call (801-596-7722) or email us ([email protected]) today and start your path to aviation greatness by doing your flight training at ULA. To fly with SkyWest, you should train with the best, and that means Upper Limit Aviation.

And for those who would like to save or share this information with others, here’s a downloadable flyer with all the details as well:

Featured Image: courtesy of SkyWest

Get started with your flight training today!

If you would like more information, you can:

  • Call us at 801-596-7722

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Your Remote Pilot Certificate is Just One Course Away with Upper Limit

Earn your remote pilot certificate with a thorough and comprehensive course developed by Upper Limit Aviation!

It’s the perfect time to get into the exciting world of flying unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, with Upper Limit Aviation providing you with a clear path to your remote pilot certificate. The field is currently projected to grow into a $140 billion dollar business by 2020, and there are a variety of exciting commercial uses for drones that are just taking off, including Event Photography and Filming, Scientific Research and Conservation, Rapid Response and Emergency Services, Real Estate and Construction, Law Enforcement, Agriculture, and Package/Supply Delivery.

Our course will prepare you on all aspects required to undertake the sUAS FAA Knowledge Exam for commercial drone operations. A variety of topics will be covered in the class, including:

  • FAA regulations
  • Aeromedical factors
  • Aeronautical decision making
  • Airport operations
  • Aviation weather
  • Aviation hazards
  • Airworthiness

Upper Limit’s instructors have condensed the course from 48 classroom hours spread over 16 nights to just 32 hours spread over four days. Once you’ve completed our course, you will be fully prepared to take the FAA Knowledge Test at a CATS testing facility, and once you pass the exam, you’ll be awarded your remote pilot certificate by the FAA.

WHEN

October 8 – 11, 2018

From 0800 – 1700

WHERE

Unified Police Special Operations Building – 3510 South 700 West, Salt Lake City

COST

Cost for the Course: $400.00, Payable to Upper Limit Aviation

There is also a $150.00 Testing fee, Payable to the FAA at the end of the course.

SIGN UP

You can pay for the class and reserve your spot by calling (801) 596-7722, or by visiting ULA’s online store here.

IMPORTANT: Payment to Upper Limit Aviation must be made by September 30th to guarantee a spot in the class. In addition, as the course has been condensed and a large amount of information is being put out, we recommend that participants arrive on time for the class and plan on attending the entire 32-hour block.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

For further information on the course, contact:

Officer Mike Loyd: 801-946-4918, [email protected]

To download a brochure with the information, click here.

Get started with your flight training today!

If you would like more information, you can:

  • Call us at 801-596-7722

Regional Airline Association’s 2017 Scholarships Now Available

The submission deadline for 2017 RAA Scholarships is May 1, 2017.

If you’re studying for a career in aviation with Upper Limit Aviation and eyeing the Captain’s chair, you may be interested to know that the RAA’s (Regional Airline Association) 2017 scholarship window is open, and the RAA says that they will be awarding four $4,000 aviation scholarships this summer. The money you can earn with this scholarship can fuel your flight training with ULA and put you miles closer to your end goal of the Captain’s chair.

Qualification Details for the 2017 RAA Scholarships

In order to qualify for the scholarship, you must be a US citizen or permanent resident and submit a completed electronic application no later than May 1, 2017. The RAA says they will not be accepting mailed applications, and will only consider digital applications submitted through their website. Applicants will also need to meet the following requirements:

  • At the time of application and award, applicants must be officially enrolled in an accredited college, in a program that is leading them toward a career in the airline industry.
  • Applicants must have a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA, and provide a transcript reflecting those grades through the previous academic year at either high school or a college.
  • A resume that details the applicant’s working experience, extracurricular, and/or community activities will need to be provided.
  • Applicants will need to submit a 350-word career essay describing their interest in the airline industry.
  • Applicants will need to provide a faculty recommendation.

Student pilots in flight sim cockpit - 2017 RAA Scholarships Now Available

The RAA says that the scholarships will be awarded “without regard to sex, race, religion or national origin.” Instead, they say the following criteria will be used for ranking the scholarship applicants:

  1. Demonstrated scholastic achievement.
  2. Demonstrated work experience, extracurricular and/or community activities.
  3. The strength of the applicant’s faculty recommendation.
  4. The strength of the applicant’s 350-word career essay.

Recipients of the scholarships will be announced on July 14, 2017, and all recipients will be asked for a headshot and short bio so they can be featured in Regional Horizons, the group’s quarterly publication.

For more information, and to apply for the 2017 RAA scholarships, click here to visit their website.

Upper Limit Aviation is proud to offer any and all assistance possible to our student pilots to help them earn these scholarships and achieve their goals of flight and commercial flight.

Featured Image: Kent Wien, CC2

Get started with your flight training today!

If you would like more information, you can:

  • Call us at 801-596-7722

How The Grand Canyon Mid-Air Collision Changed ATC

A retrospective of the tragic Grand Canyon mid-air collision, and how air traffic control and flight safety changed drastically from one event.

Shawn Arena

I think all of us regardless of profession or interests, can instantly recall dates of certain events in our lifetimes that still resonate many years later: Assassination of President Kennedy (11/22/63), the beginning of Operation Desert Storm (1/16/1991), and ‘9/11’ (9/11/01). And for those of us in aviation or aerospace, events/dates such as the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy (1/28/86) and the Shuttle Columbia break up upon reentry (2/1/03) come to mind. However long before any of the above events occurred, one historical aviation accident changed forever how we aviators successfully navigate and communicate in today’s complex airspace – the Grand Canyon mid-air collision on June 30, 1956.

Two Commercial Aircraft Conducting ‘Flight-Seeing’ Activity

United Airlines Flight 718 (a DC-7 aircraft), and TWA Airlines Flight 2 (a Super Constellation aircraft) had taken off minutes from each other at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). United 718 was en route to Newark (EWR) via Chicago Midway (MDW), and TWA 2 was en route to Kansas City (KCI). As was customary in those days of commercial aviation, aircraft captains may ‘opt-out’ of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight protocol to fly ‘off-the-airways.’ In this case, the flight is then governed by Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and the flight crew would now be responsible to ‘see and be seen’ [ which remains today the VFR standard]. In the case of United 718 AND TWA 2, the respective captains decided to fly VFR for the same reasons.

For those unfamiliar with meteorological phenomena in Arizona, about late June or early July every year, there is a southwesterly flow aloft, brought in from Baja California. This creates thunderstorm activity in the afternoons over most or portions of the state (i.e. very prevalent in northern AZ and the Grand Canyon area). So, with the weather conditions as such, both United and TWA crews wanted to avoid the billowing thunderheads along their routes, and they both flew at the same altitude of 21,000 feet (flight level 210) – on converging paths. To make matters worse, both captains decided to provide a little ‘flight-seeing’ activity for their passengers over the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon Mid-Air Collision and Ramifications For Air Traffic Control and Safety

Imagine if you will, you are sitting in a right window seat of United 718 or the left window seat of TWA 2 and the feeling of terror and helplessness as you see both planes get closer and closer until you hear metal collide. 128 passengers and crew of both aircraft plummeted to the ground just below the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers – one of the most inaccessible areas of the Grand Canyon.  Mind you, at the time, the news was not instantaneous as our connected world is today, so it took a bit for word about the accident to get out. When it did, a public outcry arose.

This was the deadliest US airplane disaster of any kind up to that point, and the first time more than 100 people were killed in a crash. And it shattered the public’s illusion of a safe air travel system. Air-to-ground communication in 1956 was as archaic as we consider dinosaurs today. Air Traffic Controllers relied on pilot reports for positioning. Controllers literally had a large board or display area that they pushed ‘shrimp boats’ along the reported route. VFR was common (as stated above), and most shockingly there was only ONE (1) radar facility in the United States, in the Washington DC area.

Like many things in governmentally controlled industries, changes or improvements aren’t made until some tragedy. As a result of the Grand Canyon mid-ar collision, Congress, and President Eisenhower increased funding to modernize ATC, hire and train more controllers, build additional radar installations, and perform a complete overhaul of the navigational rules (also still applying today). Above flight level 180 (18,000 feet) all flights are to be positively controlled and are flown IFR.

But airspace authority was split between the CAA (Civil Aeronatuics Authority) and the military, and after another crash in 1958 between United Airlines Flight 736 and an F-100 Super Sabre, the public demanded more. So with the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, the Government dissolved the CAA and formed the Federal Aviation Agency (which became the Federal Aviation Administration we know today in 1967), and gave the FAA complete airspace authority.

In Conclusion

Those of us who fly today can thank our predecessors (commercial, military, and general aviation operators) for establishing what is considered the safest air traffic system (though not without flaws) that exists in the world today.

So each time you fly, keep in mind the 128 passengers and crew that perished on June 30, 1956, in the Grand Canyon mid-air collision, and say thanks. In part because of their sacrifice, our aeronautical adventures are possible.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Featured Image: Darshan Meda

The GPS Jammer: Understanding This Aviation Hazard

The FCC Is Cracking Down On GPS Jammer Use

Amber Berlin

With the ease and affordability of obtaining a GPS jammer on the internet, the average citizen can create chaos, often unaware of the extent of GPS usage and the widespread effect their personal jamming will have. This is bad news for aviation, as many new aircraft technologies are dependent on GPS. If interrupted at a critical time, the loss of GPS can have severe consequences and result in the loss of life. Because of the risks to aviation and other critical sectors, regulatory agencies have begun stepping up their enforcement efforts and new technology has found innovative ways identify and deter jammers. While GPS jamming is a real hazard to aviators, understanding the ways we can combat this unpredictable threat can bring us some peace of mind and increase safety.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the regulatory body responsible for the enforcement of anti-jamming laws. On October 5, 2011, the FCC promised to step up its efforts by launching a major enforcement initiative for actions that breach the Communications Act. Many citations and stop orders have been issued for seemingly benign civilian activities such as posting currently owned jamming devices for sale on Craigslist, while the intentional use of a GPS jammer is against the law and has garnered hefty fines up to $144,000 or more. These fines and citations against both individuals and companies speak to the zero tolerance position of the U.S. government on intentional GPS interference. The FCC’s enforcement division has made a public example from its initial offenders, which has been a powerful deterrent for those considering the sale, purchase, or use of jamming devices.

While GPS jamming is easy to locate in theory, it is much harder in practice. Using current technology the time needed to locate, identify and disable a single GPS jammer was 5 months (Department of Homeland Security, 2012). Whether intentional or unintentional, the hazards of GPS jamming remain the same, causing the United States to search for viable ways to identify where and when GPS jamming is taking place. One suggested mitigation strategy is the concept of Patriot Watch. Designed by Overlook Systems Technologies, Inc., Patriot Watch uses a variety of technology to identify GPS jamming attempts, including locating the offender. Patriot Watch attempts to “reduce the risk to CIKR [Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources] sectors dependent on civil GPS services” by providing a capability to “detect, locate, report and attribute GPS interference” (Overlook Systems Technologies, Inc., 2010, p.3). The Department of Homeland Security has adopted the architecture of Patriot Watch as a mitigation strategy to address malicious GPS jamming attempts.

According to Overlook Systems Technologies, Inc. (2010), the core strategy of Patriot Watch includes a comprehensive solution of “complementary and interdependent technologies, new or refined operational processes, and future command and control venues” (p.3). Patriot Watch technologies include monitoring and collection equipment, such as J911 smart phone crowdsourcing, which attempts to locate the jammer by giving the position information and signal characteristics from cell phones in the jammer’s area. According to GPS systems engineer Logan Scott of LS Consulting, cell phone density is around 1000/km2 in urban areas providing ample opportunity to locate the signal (Scott, 2014). Another deterrent for J911 is to show a warning on the screen of the cell phone that jamming is detected. By using jamming power, jamming duration and channel stability for identification, the likely suspect can be identified and a deterrent message delivered that can scare the GPS jammer into turning off the jamming device (Scott, 2014). JLOC (GPS Jammer Location) is another upcoming technology for Android phone users currently under development by NAVSYS Corporation of Colorado Springs, Colorado, which can provide JLOC sensor reports using internal GPS (Homeland Security Steps Up…, 2011). The JLOC Master Station threat database is a proposed part of the Patriot Watch system, with the capability to report threats to end users.

Two additional supportive programs to complement Patriot Watch were also suggested: Patriot Shield and Patriot Sword. Patriot Shield is designed to harden GPS technologies to resist jamming attempts, and Patriot Sword is an offensive concept to deny civil GPS use to individuals identified as using it to do harm. Both of these concepts, combined with Patriot Watch, are designed to provide a comprehensive solution of GPS jamming mitigation.

GPS interference is not just a U.S. problem but affects countries worldwide. The United Kingdom’s government-funded Sentinel program, a 24-month program to determine GNSS reliability by using 20 roadside sensors, revealed more than 60 GPS jamming attempts in 6 months in a single sensor location. Charles Curry of Chronos Technology, the company leading the project, stated, “We believe there is between 50 and 450 occurrences in the UK every day.” (BBC News, 2012, para. 9). Jammers are illegal to use in the UK, but because of a legal loophole it is legal to import, buy, sell or possess them. In Germany, motorists have used GPS jammers to evade GPS-based road tolls, and the Kaohsiung International Airport in Taiwan reports 117 Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) events per day on average (Scott, 2014). Many countries have taken a stance against GPS jamming because of the potential for affecting critical infrastructures. However, in France and Japan, cell phone jammers are legal for use in public venues.

In 2014, the FCC imposed a fine on a Chinese company for selling GPS jammers in the United States. CTS Technology Co., Limited, an electronics manufacturer and online retailer, allegedly marketed 285 models of signal jamming devices to U.S. consumers and sold 10 of those jammers to undercover FCC personnel. The fine is set at $34.9 million dollars, making it the largest fine in FCC history (FCC, 2014). The FCC is making an example out of CTS Technology, just as it did for the individuals who intentionally used GPS jammers for extended periods of time. These hefty fines are designed to deter future instances of GPS jamming, including the marketing and sales of jammers through the internet. This shows the international community the U.S. has not wavered on its vow to pursue jamming attempts and step up enforcement of FCC regulations.

With more critical technology depending on GPS to function, GPS jamming mitigation has become an essential part of technological advance. Globally, the U.S. has taken the strongest stance against jammer use, with a zero tolerance policy for the marketing, sale, purchase, use, and possession a GPS jammer. With the potential to invoke loss of life, GPS jamming attempts should be met by the cutting edge technology of Patriot Watch, Patriot Sword, and Patriot Shield. This technology has the potential to quickly identify and locate jamming attempts and has initiated the production of hardened technology more resistant to jamming.

As the technologies of Patriot Watch mature and operational procedures are refined, locating and deterring jammers will also become faster. Because GPS is a foundational technology for our critical infrastructures, the FCC should continue to enforce anti-jamming laws to the maximum extent. Considering employee jamming is a large portion of the problem, companies that require GPS tracking should consider adopting the technology to identify jamming at the lowest level, and a no tolerance policy for employees paired with quick identification within the fleet tracking system will eliminate much of the unintentional jamming that could affect CIKR sectors, including aviation.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

References:

BBC News Technology. (2012). Sentinel project research reveals GPS jammer use. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-17119768

Department of Homeland Security. (2012). Patriot Watch: Interference Detection Mitigation (IDM) Vigilance Safeguarding America.

Federal Communications Commission. (2014). Press Release. FCC Plans $34.9 Million Fine Against Chinese Online Retailer of Signal Jamming Devices.

Homeland Security Steps Up to Protect GPS (But not from Light Squared). (2011). The Washington View.

Overlook Systems Technologies, Inc. (2010). Patriot Watch/Patriot Shield/Patriot Sword.

Scott, L. (2014). Strategies for Limiting Civil Interference Effects Inspired by Field Observations, And Why Civil Receivers Need to Have Jamming Meters. L. S. Consulting.

Reviewing Aviation Insurance Options For Pilots

This is the second part of a two-part article exploring the available aircraft and aviation insurance options available to pilots.  Click here to read part 1.

Dr. Mary Ann O’Grady

Approved Use Insurance

Approved-Use insurance covers reimbursement by non-owners who use an aircraft. Approved-Use insurance is similar to the approved-pilot clause since no specific premium is assigned to the approved-use clause, but as anticipated, commercial operations are confronted with higher premium rates than non-commercial operations.

Approved-Use clauses are included in all insurance policies, but because it is considered to be a “sleeper,” most aircraft owners erroneously assume that they can do anything they want with their aircraft.

Caveat: Just as with the approved-pilot clause, the approved-use endorsement varies greatly among insurers where each insurer maintains several versions it can use with varying degrees of [broad] coverage. Since the insurance broker negotiates the wording, it is wise to retain an experienced aviation insurance broker for representation in an effort to avoid being placed at a disadvantage when negotiating terms with the insurer.

In the event that subsidiary companies, business associates, friends, etc. have access/use to an aircraft, it is necessary to be sure that the broker is aware of exactly what compensation is changing hands, such as money, a case of wine, a week at a time-share, and so forth since it all converts back into a dollar amount. If an aircraft is involved in an accident, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration determines that due to the reimbursement you received, the flight was actually commercial in nature and should have been operated under Part 135 charter regulations instead of Part 91, the insurance claim could be denied.

Additional Aviation Insurance Coverages and Clauses

There are several other types of aviation insurance coverages and clauses that are also available:

Broad Form Names Insured Clause – This extends the insurance coverage to a subsidiary or affiliated companies of the named insured and other companies the named insured controls or actively manages.

Contractual Liability Coverage – To some extent, this insures against liability that is assumed under contract but this coverage requires vigilance so that any or all contracts or agreements related to the aircraft are submitted to the insurance broker. These documents include hanger agreements, dry-lease, time-share and interchange agreements, purchase/lease agreements, and leased/loaner engine agreements.

Non-Owned Aircraft Liability – This extends coverage under the policy for the use of non-owned aircraft which includes chartered and rental aircraft; however, it is wise to review any known or anticipated use with the aviation insurance broker.

Diminution of Value – This reimburses the aircraft owner for depreciated value caused by damage history that is due to a physical-damage claim; however it is rarely purchased due to the cost and the complexity of the formula that is employed to determine coverage.

Garagekeepers Liability – This covers the insured for his or her negligence to a non-owned auto in his or her care, custody or control, such as cars in hangars.

Helicopter Insurance – This consists of coverage that can protect the insured if:

  1. He or she owns a helicopter and rents it out to other helicopter pilots
  2. He or she is a helicopter pilot and flies for fun or recreation
  3. He or she is a helicopter pilot and flies rescue missions and/or medical evacuations
  4. He or she is a helicopter pilot and works in the firefighting division of the U.S. Forest Service

The aviation insurance coverage required will depend upon the risks involved in the particular use of the helicopter, where it is flown, and other factors, such as requiring personal helicopter insurance when flying for fun in contrast to needing business insurance when flying as part of a commercial operation. Because the policy is tailored to address the insured’s use and risk factors, it is imperative to work with a knowledgeable agent who can conduct an accurate needs assessment to formulate the best aviation insurance coverage.

Helicopter insurance covers a variety of risks including the following:

  1. Liability coverage addresses the insured’s legal responsibility in the event that he or she causes another person’s personal injury or property damage while flying or landing the helicopter.
  2. Passenger liability is required if the pilot carries passengers in the helicopter; however sometimes general liability or public liability will be packaged with passenger liability which offers an overall coverage limit that applies to public liability claims, passenger liability claims, or a combination of both.
  3. Hull insurance or property damage insurance for airplanes and helicopters can insure the helicopter when it is on the ground or when it is in flight. However, it is necessary to verify that the coverage offers protection from a range of risks, such as theft, vandalism, severe weather, and/or damage or a total loss due to an accident.

Private and business helicopter insurance coverages differ due to the wide variety of jobs and contracts that pilots perform ranging from flying for fun to medical evacuations, firefighting, traffic patrol, news reporting, business transportation, charter rides, and search and rescue. Although liability and property damage coverage is required for any of these uses, specialized endorsements or additional policies may also be necessary especially when flying commercially. Some additional coverages that may be required include:

  • BOP or business owner’s policy insures other business property and equipment in addition to one or more helicopters in the fleet as well as provide loss of income protection in the event of a covered business interruption.
  • Equipment coverage protects the use of specialty equipment or medical supplies depending on the nature of the work performed. This additional coverage often in the form of a rider covers the insured’s investment in the specialized equipment and supplies.
  • Business interruption coverage provides coverage in the event of a covered loss that interrupts business operations by bringing in money to pay bills and employees’ wages.
  • Workers compensation is required when employees are present to cover them in case of work-related injuries or illness. WC also provides a percentage of pay to employees if they are unable to return to work but laws vary, so access state regulations to ensure that the required coverage is in force.
  • Medevac insurance, medical equipment insurance, and other specialty coverages can mitigate the additional risks that can be encountered by medical helicopters, air ambulances, and Medevacs which often perform risky flights to transport critically injured patients or organ donors to medical centers. Increased risky conditions, such as night flights, inclement weather, mountainous terrain, and elevated stress levels can serve to increase the likelihood of a mishap.
  • Cargo insurance or inland marine coverage insures the cargo, mail, parcels, and/or equipment that is transported on a helicopter while it is in the care, custody or control of the insured. Note that each of these policies has certain exclusions so it is important to review the policy to determine if there are any gaps in the coverage which may require the purchase of additional coverage as needed.
Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Aircraft Insurance: What Type Should Pilots Carry?

Dr. Mary Ann O’Grady

Your aircraft and flying skills represent wonderful business and personal capabilities, but they may also constitute one of the largest exposures to catastrophes that you can imagine. So, the following summary details a list of the most critical aircraft insurance coverage types and [potential] losses:

Aircraft Hull Insurance

Aircraft hull insurance covers physical damage to the aircraft as a result of an accident where the insurer has the option to pay for the repairs or to declare it a total loss, which requires that the insured pay the insured value that is stated on the policy.

Aircraft hull insurance premiums are calculated on $100 of the insured value of the aircraft where the higher the insured value, the lower the rate per $100 drops. For example, the hull premium for a midsized jet that is not used for commercial purposes and has an insured value of $10 million might cost $13,000.00 or 13 cents per $100 of insured value. In comparison, an older version of the same jet that is insured for $5 million might have a premium cost of $10,500.00 or 21 cents per $100 of insured value.
Aircraft hull insurance is required by the bank if you have a lien on the aircraft; however, you would also need it unless you can afford to withstand an uninsured loss.

Caveat: Since aircraft hull insurance is predicated upon the aircraft’s agreed-to or stated value rather than its cash value, there is a potential for over-insuring or under-insuring it which can be problematic. For example, when the hanger collapsed at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. in 2010, many of the damaged aircraft were significantly over-insured. This resulted in a situation where the insurers were forced to repair aircraft that the owners would have rather declared as total losses. Therefore, the accurate insured value to carry on the aircraft is its current market value or lien amount whichever is greater; coverage for war-risk perils should also be included since it offers broad additional coverage for a small additional premium. Annual reviews of aircraft insurance coverage should be conducted and adjusted at the time of renewal if necessary.

Aircraft Liability Insurance

Aircraft liability insurance covers liability for bodily injury or property damage that arises from an accident, and the insurance is written on a single-limit-per-occurrence basis, such as $100 million per occurrence. This type of aircraft insurance includes [legal] defense costs over and above the stated liability cap.

Aircraft liability insurance premiums are typically a flat amount that is based on factors, such as the selected liability limit, the pilot(s) who are flying the aircraft and/or the owner/pilot, and the approved use (Part 91 versus Part 135). Using the midsized jet mentioned previously as an example, with an insured valued of $10 million, the approximate annual premiums for ascending liability might be $8,500.00 for $100 million of coverage, $17,000.00 for $200 million of coverage and $25,000.00 for $300 million of coverage. These quotes will vary based on the age of the aircraft and the extent to which the underwriter opts to place a greater premium on the hull insurance and less of a premium on the liability component of the coverage. There could also be rate surcharges of up to 25 percent depending upon how much or often the aircraft is used for charter flights.

Aircraft liability insurance is needed by everyone since it protects against the largest catastrophic loss exposure, such as accidents resulting in injury or property damage due to which you are most likely to be sued even if the suit is groundless.

Caveat: Buy as high a limit of coverage as you can afford since it is likely that you will not find out whether you have enough coverage until after you have experienced a loss. The liability claims generated by a crash while carrying one or more high-net-worth individuals or when flying over a populated area could easily exceed $100 million. So for that reason, carrying $200 million to $500 million liability limits can certainly provide additional peace of mind. As with hull insurance, carrying coverage for war-risk perils is recommended since it offers broader additional protection for a small additional premium.

Approved Pilot Clause

Approved pilot clause covers who is authorized under a policy to act as pilot-in-command or second-in-command on an aircraft.

There is no specific premium associated with this approved-pilot clause, but the overall policy premium directly correlates with the pilots’ experience level and their training protocol. Obviously, the better qualified the pilots and the more stringent their recurrent training and safety initiatives, the lower the premiums will be.

Approved pilot clause is included in all policies; however, a disproportionate number of claim denials are directly related to the fact that the pilots flying aircraft did not meet the exact criteria of their pilot clause. For example, a Falcon 900 that aborted a takeoff and exited the runway causing extensive damage to the aircraft was denied the claim by the insurer because the copilot that day, although well-qualified, had not completed the insurance-related training for the make and model of the aircraft.

Caveat: If only one section of the aircraft insurance policy is renewed each year, this should be the section and it should be negotiated by an aviation insurance broker as the broadest approved-pilot clause possible. The clause varies greatly among insurers so if the insured is not represented by an experienced broker, he or she will be at a distinct disadvantage. Be sure to provide the flight department and/or any other pertinent parties with a copy of this section combined with any evidence of required recurrent training when the insurance policy is received annually. Also, note that virtually without exception, the primary pilots of all turbine/jet aircraft must complete annual recurrent training at an insurer-approved facility whether or not such training is stipulated in the policy. In addition, this training is critical when statistics purport that 85% of aircraft accidents are a result of pilot error.

We will continue to explore additional aircraft insurance options in an upcoming Part 2 on this topic.

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Why Pilots Need To Know About The Mesoscale Convective Complex

Beware. The Mesoscale Convective Complex feeds on itself and grows like rapidly-spreading cancer.

Vern Weiss

It is called the Mesoscale Convective Complex and pilots should be keenly aware of the term when it appears in a weather briefing. Of course, all thunderstorms require caution but what makes the MCC so nasty is that it becomes a long-living, slow-moving, self-regenerating system that covers an enormous area of ground.

It wasn’t until 1980 that we even knew about them when meteorologist Robert Maddox identified its characteristics while doing research at the NOAA Environmental Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.1 Until then Mesoscale Convective Systems were known but primarily in the tropical regions of the world. What made his MCC discovery significant is that it is a product of “the good ol’ USA.”

I am sure we agree that all thunderstorms can be nasty. They all can spawn lots of rain, hail, wind and short-term titillation like wind-shear and tornadoes. With an MCC we cannot even call it a thunderstorm; it is a multiplicity of thunderstorms. If you put a pot of water on a stove top and bring it to a rolling boil, you are watching something analogous to a Mesoscale Convective Complex. As one bubble diminishes, another grows. As that one begins to diminish, another one adjacent to it erupts.

One of the best-known events that was caused by a Mesoscale Convective Complex occurred in 1977 when flash flooding surprised everyone in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and killed 76 people.2 In 1985, a Delta Airlines L-1011 got snarled in the grip of wind shear believed to have been associated with an MCC, smashing it into the ground on the approach to DFW and killing 134 people.3

More recently in May 2015, MCCs deluged and clobbered Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Nebraska. Typically 10 to 14 inches of rain fell on concrete bridges that were busted to bits. “It has been one continuous storm after another for the past week to 10 days in several regions of the state,” said Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, a Texas state climatologist.4

Pilots know that all thunderstorms require 3 main ingredients: moisture, unstable air, and a lifting force. It is the lifting force that gets the storm’s engine to start. The four primary means of providing a lifting force are through convection when the sun warms up a parcel of air. Since warm air is lighter than cool air the parcel begins to rise. When it rises high enough the moisture in that parcel begins to condense and there’s your rain. Another means is through frontal activity. The lifting force is provided by the “scooping” action of a front as it is pushed along by the winds rotating around the big “L” in the center of a low-pressure area. By the way, I’ve been flying a long time and seen my share of bad weather but have yet to ever see the “L” at the center of low pressure. One time I was looking up in the sky on a CAVU (Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited) day and I thought I saw the “H” of a high-pressure system but it turned out to be just 3 high altitude aircraft making contrails that crisscrossed.

The third primary type is the nocturnal thunderstorm. A simplification of this one’s description is that it is a variation of the convective type. The sun beats down on the Earth all day, warming up the ground. After sunset, the air cools quickly and then the ground starts releasing its stored- up heat. Warm air rises and the parcel of air adjacent to the ground begins rising. Once it reaches an altitude where its dew point is achieved, the moisture condenses and if the air is unstable the mechanism for a thunderstorm is launched. These typically occur after 10 PM, so don’t ever fly after 10 PM if you want to avoid them.

The fourth mechanism providing a lifting force to unstable and moist air is through orographic means. This is a fancy word that, translated for we who were solid “C” students in school, means hills or mountains.

Now let’s get back to the Mesoscale Convective Complex.

The generation of an MCC is usually detected with satellite infrared imaging. I’m now going to throw a whole bunch of generalities at you. Bear in mind that these are not absolutes; they’re just typical.

Photo by Keven Menard

Photo by Keven Menard

Mesoscale Convective Complexes are most often found in the central part of the US but begin with frontal and orographic movement. This is not to say that they don’t occur elsewhere. (remember Johnstown and Delta at DFW?). They generally are strong for 12 hours or more and commonly form in the late afternoon and continue until sunrise the next morning. They typically form when the dewpoint is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This last ingredient is particularly savory because a dewpoint above 70 degrees is also considered the trigger for plain, old garden- variety tornadoes. So yes, it should be no surprise that an MCC will be rich in tornado activity.

From a pilot’s standpoint, there are obvious cautions: Wind-shear, heavy rain, high winds, intense lightning, hail and damaging tornadoes; lots of all those things because this is a thunderstorm that covers a wide area and moves slowly, feeding on itself. Even Dr. Maddox (now with the National Severe Storms Forecast Center in Oklahoma) warns pilots that, with an MCC, “the agglomeration and expansion of thunderstorm cells may occur so rapidly that the pilot of a slow-moving light aircraft may find himself literally engulfed by thunderstorms.”5

Mesoscale Convective Complexes are huge and minimally will cover an area of nearly 39,000 square miles (or roughly the size of the State of Virginia). Aircraft attempting to skirt the northern side of such a large area will experience extremely strong winds which may be a factor, depending on the direction of travel. Pilots skirting the southern side of an MCC will observe very light winds which may diminish any anticipated “help” from tailwinds. But, c’mon…with such a weather system are we really worried about “on time” arrivals? Of course, if the wonky winds create fuel concerns it becomes a serious matter.

We’ve got some incredible aircraft now. Big…tough…powerful. But even those “heavy iron” monsters are no match for Nature. The more dangerous the weather forecast is, the longer you should study it. Flying in the vicinity of thunderstorms can be dangerous but, carefully executed, is do-able. But when a Mesoscale Convective Complex is sitting on your destination it might be a good time to head to the Motel 6. Because they’ll leave the light on for you.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

References:

1 – Maddox, Robert A. Bulletin – American Meteorological Society, “Focus on Forecasting,” November 1980.

2 – Reynold, Harold, “Mesoscale Convective Complex – An Overview”, 1990

3 – National Transportation Safety Board Aircraft Accident Report, August 15, 1986.

4 – https://weather.com/forecast/regional/news/plains-rain-flood-threat-wettest-may-ranking

5 – Maddox, Robert. A., and J. Michael Fritsch, Weatherwise, “A New Understanding of Thunderstorms-The Mesoscale Convective Complex,” 1984.

Featured Image: Keven Menard

Pilot Salary: What Is The Pay Like In Different Careers?

A pilot’s salary can vary just as they do with any other job. Experience plays a big role as far as what a pilot makes, mainly because the different companies and positions available depend on the experience of a pilot. First, if we look at what the different types of jobs there are for pilots, then we can begin to narrow down the pilot salary range. Then when we look inside each job, we can see what affects the pay of the pilot at that point, whether it be experience within that company, the state of the economy, or other factors.

There are many opportunities for a pilot such as flight instruction, agriculture (crop dusting), regional and mainline airlines, corporate, shared operations and even tour guides. Jobs such as flight instructing, tour guides and even regional airlines tend to be on the lower end of the pilot salary scale. The instructing and touring jobs are generally for newer pilots to build their time while making some money. Hourly, they usually make what seems to be good money, anywhere from $15 to $40 dollars an hour, depending on where they work and level of experience. However, although that sounds like a good amount of money, an instructor or even a tour guide makes money when the propeller of the aircraft is moving. So, for every hour in the plane or helicopter, there is probably at least another hour to two hours spent preparing for that flight. For 8 hours of pay, at least 15 to 16 hours is actually worked. It is generally too expensive for most pilots to build flight hours on their own dime, so these types of jobs allow for them to work while reaching that goal.

If pursuing an airline career, regional airlines are generally the next step. And though pilots have to have a specific number of flight hours to be hired on, they are on the lower end of the pilot salary scale. In many cases, they have been known to pay less than flight instructing. Although regionals have been increasing their initial pay from what it once was, it can still be difficult for a pilot. Depending on the airline, starting pay can range from $22,000 to $38,000 annually. The pay does increase as more time is put in as well as upgrades and a captain can potentially make $80,000 a year flying for regional airlines.

A Boeing 747 landing at an airport -

Photo by Mike

Once a person builds their time and experience within a regional airline and is able to get on with a major airline such as Delta, American or United, the pay increases. For a pilot who has dreams of flying the big commercial airlines, working their way up to the majors is a long and hard process but if they get there, it’s generally very worth it. Major airlines set starting pay for first officers at around $60,000 to $80,000 yearly. Pay here will also continue to increase over time, of course, and a captain could make over $150,000 a year, depending on the airline. Another job on the higher end of the pilot salary scale is flying for UPS or FedEx or one of the major cargo companies. They tend to choose experienced pilots, who are paid well, and don’t have to deal with the passenger side of aviation. The average pay for a cargo pilot is in the neighborhood of $150,000. These positions, though they come with long hours and other considerations, tend to be desired due to the pay and passenger-less element.

Airlines and cargo are not the only opportunities for a higher pilot salary. Many large companies have their own aircraft and pilots can fly on the corporate side of things. The flying is different in that they do not necessarily have a set schedule and many times are on call. Salaries can range widely within this type of flying, based on the company and type of aircraft, but with the right set-up, pilots can make a good amount. The downside with corporate flying is there is usually very little room to grow. Once a person has reached captain, they have maxed out their potential within that company. So with each job, it really depends on where a person is at in their life as far as meeting their expectations and desires. A large part of this is the company and how much they value their employees. There are many corporate type operations where pilots make $40,000 to $50,000, with no real chance of an increase. Those operations tend to have a revolving door and don’t care as much about keeping the same pilots. Other companies can pay $80,000 to $120,000 and possibly as much as $190,000 for a Gulfstream 650 pilot, according to a 2014 survey conducted by Professional Pilot magazine. They value their pilots, but also rely on them heavily and fly them often. And with more money can come longer flights and more time away from home, though it can also mean more time off and more opportunity to travel outside of work. So just like aviation in general, the choice is up to each person with the effort they want to apply and the sacrifice they want to make as they tackle a new position.

As with any other job, aviation is affected by the economy. When the economy is booming, airlines are branching out, more flying is being done, and more people are learning to fly. When the economy begins to suffer, so does the flying. The price of everything goes up except for pilot salaries. So where “X” amount of money was once a great income, it may now be just enough to live off with no extras. Pilots begin to weigh the benefits to the negatives and decide if flying is really for them in those types of situations. If a pilot has a true passion for the skies, then the pay might not be the most important thing to them. However, everyone has to be able to survive off the income they make working so it is up to each individual person to figure out what their limits and desires are and head down that path.

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The Most Effective Diet For Pilots

Amber Berlin

Every year at Thanksgiving we gather around the table and consume massive amounts of turkey. Then we spend the afternoon napping on the couch in a turkey coma. We know from experience that turkey is a food that promotes a state of sleepiness, and we also know that you wouldn’t want to eat that same turkey dinner and embark on a flight requiring you to be awake and alert. But why does the turkey dinner cause us to get sleepy? And what other foods can contribute to being too sleepy when you need to fly, or too awake when you need to sleep? In an effort to provide a complete understanding of why these foods work like they do, let’s get started on the main course: an easily digestible neuroscience lesson.

Understanding The Best Diet For Pilots

The body must gain certain nutrients from the diet, and these nutrients keep the body and mind performing at maximum efficiency. There are 9 essential amino acids that we must obtain from our diet in order to stay healthy (Young, 1994). All of the other amino acids required by the body can be produced from these 9 essential amino acids. Any lack of nutrients will have a direct impact on how the body and mind function, creating an environment which is detrimental to its recovery. Of the chemicals consumed by our body in the foods we eat, the following four chemicals play a significant role in achieving a state of sleep or wakefulness:

Tyrosine – a non-essential amino acid produced inside the body from Phenylalanine. Tyrosine contributes to an increased state of alertness and wakefulness in the brain.

Tryptophan – an essential amino acid found in most protein. Tryptophan has the ability to increase brain levels of serotonin, which produces a relaxed, calm state.

Serotonin – Biochemically derived from Tryptophan, Serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, platelets, and in the central nervous system (CNS) of humans and animals. It is a well-known contributor to feelings of well-being.

Dopamine – a catecholamine neurotransmitter present in a wide variety of animals…in the brain, this phenethylamine functions as a neurotransmitter, activating the five types of Dopamine receptors—D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5—and their variants. Dopamine has many functions in the brain, including important roles in behavior and cognition, voluntary movement, motivation, punishment and reward, inhibition of prolactin production (involved in lactation and sexual gratification), sleep, mood, attention, working memory, and learning.

Because of the chemical composition of foods and the way the body metabolizes these foods, eating a certain diet can either create a state in the body which promotes wakefulness or sleep. If you have a busy duty day ahead of you, it makes sense to indulge in the foods that support a state of wakefulness. However, if it’s the end of your duty day and you need to relax, it makes sense to consume those foods which promote sleep.

Foods That Increase a State of Wakefulness

High protein/low carbohydrate meals increase Tyrosine in the brain. Foods high in the essential amino acid Phenylalanine include:

  • Soy Foods, Soy-based Protein Powder
  • Parmesan and Swiss Cheese
  • Peanuts, Almonds, Sunflower Seeds
  • Lean Beef, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey
  • Tuna, Lobster, Salmon, Mackerel, Crab, Halibut, Cod
  • White Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas
  • Wild Rice, Brown Rice, Quinoa, Oats, Oat Bran, Wheat Bran
  • Gelatin
  • Milk

Dopamine is also derived from the essential amino acid Phenylalanine and contributes to wakefulness. Dopamine is easily oxidized and foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, may help protect dopamine-using neurons from free radical damage. Sugar, saturated fats, cholesterol, and refined foods contribute to low levels of dopamine.

Foods That Increase a State of Sleepiness

The essential amino acid Tryptophan promotes increased sleepiness and is the building block for Serotonin, which produces a calm, relaxed state. Foods high in Tryptophan include:

  • Turkey, Rabbit, Lean Pork, Lamb, Beef, Chicken, Fish
  • Baked potatoes with their skin
  • Cheddar, Mozzarella, Romano, Cottage Cheese
  • Shrimp, Scallops, Clams
  • Pinto Beans, Kidney Beans, Lentils
  • Milk

Tryptophan intake has been shown to increase blood melatonin levels fourfold (Sinha, 2015). Melatonin production normally occurs in response to the darkness of the evening hours and assist the body to gear down for sleep. Final meals of the day should include protein, carbohydrates, and calcium, which assist in the production of Serotonin.

Wait a minute! If some of these foods are on both lists, then how can I eat to promote wakefulness or sleep? Let’s go back to the Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey contains both Phenylalanine and Tryptophan, which is very good for your body. However, in order for the Tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier, it needs carbohydrates. Eating a high protein, low carbohydrate meal provides the essential amino acids your body needs to function and also limits its ability to use those amino acids which promote sleep. The turkey by itself will not make you sleepy, but when you add all the carbohydrates found in the rest of the dinner, the Tryptophan has a ticket into the brain where it can produce what we know as the turkey coma (Richard, Dawes, Mathias, Acheson, Hill-Kapturczak and Dougherty, 2009; Zamosky, 2009). Armed with this information, we can now see a diet for pilots that promotes wakefulness and sleep:

Pre-flight – Breakfast meals should contain proteins and minimal carbohydrates

In-flight – Lunch meals should contain proteins, fruits and vegetables and minimal carbohydrates

Post-flight – Dinner meals should contain proteins, carbohydrates, and calcium

And as always, limit your intake of sugar, saturated fats, cholesterol, and refined foods

As you can see here, your eating habits can either support or undermine your pilot work schedule requirements, making you sleepy or awake at the wrong times. However, when you line up your daily dose of food chemicals to support your duty day, everything works in unison to achieve the ultimate goal of keeping you at peak performance. If the moment requires you to be alert, you can set yourself up for success by minimizing carbohydrate intake. If the stage is set for sleep, you can finally indulge in those carbs and drift off to dreamland. Many times we grab a high-carb snack to keep us going when we should grab some beef jerky instead. Changing these small habits can make a big difference in how you feel as you will no longer be struggling against your body, but working together toward a sustainable and successful aviation career.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

References:

Richard, D. M., Dawes, M. A., Mathias, C. W., Acheson, A. Hill-Kapturczak, N., Dougherty, D. M. (2009). L-Tryptophan: Basic Metabolic Functions, Behavioral Research, and Therapeutic Indications. Int J Tryptophan Res. 2009; 2: 45–60.

Sinha, A. (2015). Remedies and cures for the common diseases. Page Publishing, Inc.

Young, V. R. (1994). Adult amino acid requirements: the case for a major revision in current recommendations. J. Nutr 124 (8 Suppl): 1517S-1523S.

Zamosky, L. (2009). The truth about tryptophan.

The Dangers of a Falsified Pilot Logbook

Avoid rattlesnakes and falsified flight log books. Each has a nasty disposition and sharp fangs that bite.

Vern Weiss

In August 2012, a Federal Court in Des Moines, Iowa sentenced a pilot to 4 years probation and fined him for falsifying his pilot logbook hours when going for an FAA instrument rating.1

Federal court! We’re not talking about something that can be taken lightly. It would be bad enough to be taken to task with an FAA action but when you’re hauled into Federal court, you’re really in a big-time quagmire.

In the FAA’s eyes, forgery of a certificate is on a par with air piracy and it is not treated as a simple administrative action. In fact, it is considered a criminal act and the US Department of Justice gets involved. The “bible” used by FAA inspectors is called “FSIMS” which stands for Flight Standards Information System. This manual guides FAA inspectors as to how to handle things that can come up within the scope of conducting their duties. Here’s what it says an inspector should do when an altered certificate is detected: “An inspector should never attempt to confiscate a suspected forged, fraudulent, or counterfeit certificate. Since fraudulent certificates are sometimes used for criminal activities, the person in possession of this certificate may be armed and dangerous. If an inspector suspects that an airman certificate is counterfeit or forged, the inspector should immediately contact the Investigations and Security Branch of the Regional Civil Aviation Security Division or a local law enforcement officer.2

Is the inspector really in the restroom or did he leave the room to phone the cops?

In recent years more and more things aviation matters are falling within the purview of the Department of Justice, including mistruths of all kinds, and things like pilot logbook falsification are becoming criminal acts.

Over in FAR §61.59 the nitty-gritty is laid out for us regarding falsification of a pilot logbook: It’s defined as “Any fraudulent or intentionally false entry in any logbook, record, or report that is required to be kept, made, or used to show compliance with any requirement for the issuance or exercise of the privileges of any certificate, rating, or authorization under this part.” It further warns that “The commission (of such an act) is a basis for suspending or revoking any airman certificate, rating, or authorization held by that person.

But beyond the administrative laws of the FAA, let’s consider how it might affect a pilot in his or her career. When you’re hired by a commercial operator you will usually be required to bring your pilot logbook(s) to the interview. Very often, there is one person in the interview team who thumbs through your logbook. Although they likely do not have the time to actually total up all the columns and determine if the hours stated are accurate, they more often are picking out select flights you made which will surface later on in the interview. For instance, 3 years ago there might be a flight in a King Air from Austin, Texas to Little Rock, Arkansas. During the interview, you’re asked if you have any turboprop time and you naturally will say yes. They’ll probe a bit more: “How long ago was this?” “Was it corporate or Part 135?” Who was this for?” They’re zeroing in on one of the details they’ve found and seeing if you are digging yourself a hole that you cannot climb out of or if you’re verifying that the ground is level before building a relationship with them. They may check out the tail number, who owned it and contact the company. If the company never heard of you, you just wasted your time interviewing with them.

There are other ways a falsified pilot logbook can be detected. We’ve all had less-than-sterling simulator check-rides but when someone claims an enormous amount of flight time and flies like a beginner, the logbook numbers become suspect.

Insurance companies have become ravenous vultures of data mining. When you go to work for a company, you will probably have to fill out a form for their insurer and flight time totals will be asked. This data will be entered and disseminated so if you were with Company “A” for six months and joined them with 3,000 hours but when Company “B” offered you a job you entered 6,000 hours, it will flag. You’ll also be tagged as a liar and may have problems for years to come getting an insurance company to believe you are who you are.

When there is an accident which ends up in a civil court proceeding or in a lawsuit, you can bet your logbooks will be subpoenaed and the lawyers will pour over them carefully. The ramifications that come out of this are obvious and not too pretty.

Some years ago I worked for a large pilot training school. Prior to signing anyone off for a check-ride, we had a dedicated session we called “the preflight.” “The preflight” had nothing to do with checking fuel and making sure the wings were attached but, instead, was the administrative portion of signing someone off for their check-ride. During this period, the instructor meticulously went through all the paperwork (this was prior to the implementation of the FAA’s IACRA system) including the student’s logbook(s) and confirmed all the hourly requirements had been achieved and proper endorsements made. One day a gentleman appeared at the school to train for an instrument rating. He carried a brown paper grocery sack with him and in that sack were hundreds of pieces of paper. Every flight of his piloting career was detailed on a small scrap of paper. Every training session he had experienced was documented on a valid receipt. That was his log and it was perfectly legal. Perhaps not every examiner would have been as patient with him as the one used by my flight school but he got through it even by using his non-traditional log-keeping system.

Today such a log style would probably not work. Even though you only have to log those flights that are required to show currency or for purposes of meeting the requirements of an FAA certificate or rating, a sloppy logbook reflects badly on the pilot whether you’re defending yourself in a serious legal entanglement or trying to woo an airline to hire you.

Your pilot logbook should be a matter of professional pride and visible proof of your integrity. Both things are as important for a pilot as safety and competence.

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Footnotes and References:

1 – Pilot Sentenced For Making False Statements In His FAA Flight Logbook

2 – Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS) 8900.1 09/13/2007 Para. 5-193 SUSPECTED COUNTERFEITING, Federal Aviation Administration.

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