Saturday, July 30, 2011

Letting Me Down Gently

I like looking at AIM amendments. Even old ones that I should have reported on months ago. Some stuff sits in my buffer and keeps getting bumped until I have a place for it. Every country issues a sort of national pilot's handbook, a combination of sage advice, regulatory requirements, and doorstop. US pilots will be familiar with the FAR/AIM, an annually issued paperback the size of a James Clavell novel. Canada used to have a looseleaf binder about the same size. It was called the AIP--Aeronautical Information Publication--and oh boy amendments were fun back then, because they mailed them out in a sheaf and you had to individually remove the outdated pages and replace them with the new ones. I'm nerdy enough that I kind of enjoyed the ritual, but that doesn't mean I wasn't occasionally a year behind in my amendments.

Some years back, Canada needed to normalize its publications with an ICAO standard that required the AIP to be a document for foreign pilots, containing only ICAO differences, so they changed the name to the AIM (Aeronautical Information Manual), and at the same time they changed the format to 8 1/2 x 11 (that's the standard letter size here, approximately A4) and shortly afterwards started charging for the paper format. I still free update notices electronically and can look at it online.

An amendment that caught my eye was this detail explaining what to include in your flight plan:

RAC 3.16.9 The sentence “INDICATE if aircraft is equipped with a ballistic parachute system.” was added to “N/(REMARKS)”.

It certainly would be relevant to ATC and rescuers to know if the airplane they are looking for could have descended vertically to a survivable landing, or that could pose a hazard to rescuers (thanks, Plastic Pilot). I remember having an aircraft attended by local (non-airport) firefighters after a smoke-in-cockpit incident and they had no aircraft specific training. I showed them where the fuel lines and tanks were located in that airplane, where the battery was and how to shut off the engine and electrical in the cockpit. I know they would simply treat the whole airplane as a dagerous mix of fuel and electrical power, but it was a little startling to realize how little they knew about what they might be dealing with.

I've never flown an aircraft with a ballistic parachute. It's not tempting, even if it were available for aircraft over about 700 kg. My nightmare scenarios are not ones that a parachute would get me out of.

When I'm getting ready to go into town I call to ask if my camera is ready. The guy in the shop says he will call me back. Needing to actually GO into town rather than sit on the couch and wait for the camera guy to call me back, I leave. There's a message to call them. I call them. They have to call me back. This repeats a number of times. I think they have lost the camera. Finally they manage to answer the question. The camera is not lost, but it is not ready either. It is "beyond economical repair." I'll go and get it to get the SD card back, and perhaps I can get another the same and reuse the battery.


Frank Lee MeiDere said...

I can just hear their phone messages:

"Dear Aviatrix, your camera got out onto the roof today..."

Jim said...

The most recent Aviation Safety Letter (ASL) had an article about Ballistic Parachute Systems. With a nice picture of an aircraft that was pretty much destroyed by the rocket engine in the BPS.

Seems the like the aircraft crashed. And burned. But the BPS had not been used. Then the rocket motor in the BPS caught fire, and did a really bad thing to the remainder of the aircraft.

Apparently, you don't want to be around one of these rocket motors when it catches fire.

Reminds me of when the first airbags deployed in cars - the material is coated with a fine powder (like baby powder) to lubricate it's way out of the containers, resulting in a fine coat of white dust on everything. Nobody told the first responders. They donned hazmat suits.

leisuresuitwally said...

Sorry to hear about your camera :(
I hope you only paid the non-refundable diagnostic fee.