April in Brief

usaa-rampThere are good changes happening behind the scenes here.

After the recent redesign of the Aviation Weather Center website, I updated my Prog Charts Archive to include the mid-range prog charts.  Those are the 3 through 7-day forecast charts issued once daily.

In the Missed Approach Point Study Guide, I expanded some of the explanations and added others, which now include 12 different scenarios that instrument students are likely to encounter.

For a few weeks now, I have been working between my flights to add a new section to this website.  It isn’t ready yet, but it should be live sometime this summer.  Other projects offline have kept me away from blogging for a little bit.

In the meantime, it’s already 90 degrees here in Texas, and I am flying whenever possible.  I am still taking small steps toward airline qualification and learning new things at work every day.  More updates soon!

Restricted ATP Minimums

Easy-to-read details about the new ATP rules?  You found them!  I understand the need for simple explanations. There are six ways to get an ATP license now, each with different requirements.

This is my summary and comparison of the R-ATP minimums from 14 C.F.R. § 61.159 and § 61.160.

160 (a) 160 (b) 160 (c) 160 (d) 160 (f) 159
Age 21 years 21 years 21 years 21 years 21 years 23 years
Total Time as a Pilot 750 hours 1,000 hours 1,250 hours 1,250 hours 1,500 hours 1,500 hours
Cross-Country Time 200 hours 200 hours 200 hours see notes 200 hours 500 hours
Instrument Training Any § 141 § 141 § 141 Any Any
Commercial Training Any § 141 § 141 § 141 Any Any
Education Military Bachelor Associate Bachelor
Concentration Aviation Aviation Aviation
Certification see notes see notes see notes
Recognized Coursework 60 credits 30 credits 30 credits

Continue reading Restricted ATP Minimums

R-ATP Exemption for Part 61 Training

Logos of EMU, Jacksonville, MSU Denver, and Purdue.My searches on federal websites found four petitions by universities seeking R-ATP authorization without a required part 141 ground school certificate.

The petitioners are, in alphabetical order: Eastern Michigan University, Jacksonville University, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Purdue University.

Letters and documents filed by these universities seem to be routine.  I will point out also that the Jacksonville petition included a copy of the university’s rejection letter from the FAA dated December 2013.

While the FAA is not currently accepting comments on these petitions, I would like to offer my encouragement.  The FAA should authorize these universities as rapidly as possible, recognizing they are accredited institutions that offer 4-year degrees with aviation concentrations.  This is the purpose and intent of the R-ATP program, after all.

Details and reference numbers are listed below, in chronological order.

Continue reading R-ATP Exemption for Part 61 Training

Reaching 500 Hours

Goals, time building, industry changes, and future advancement.  A look at the modern career pilot.

Flight photo of earth and sky.
Flying Over Texas
Chart of flight hours
Work Weeks Include up to 30 Hours of Flight

At the 500-hour milestone, experience comes more quickly for me.  I enjoy six days per week at the airport, often arriving at 6:45 am and returning home by 8 or 9 pm.  My schedule is not consistent, though.  If I am training new students, the appointments always fall between 7 am and 5 pm.  But the instrument students are scheduled by airplane availability, which means my shift sometimes begins at 4 pm and ends at midnight or 1 am.  Fortunately, my company requires ten hours rest.  I stay home and sleep if the schedule gets overbooked or loaded with back-to-back shifts.  There is always a chance of bad weather or mechanical problems forcing cancellations within the schedule, which adds to the inconsistency.

A few years ago, someone in my position could spend their spare time looking into which airlines are hiring pilots, at which experience level, and at which locations.  This changed with the addition of FAR § 121.436 last year, requiring all new airline pilots to hold an airline transport pilot certificate.  I am not yet eligible to apply for that certificate, which has become my next career goal.

In terms of the calendar month when I could be ATP certified, there is no precise forecast.  The situation is optimistic, but complex.  Under the provisions of FAR § 61.160 (b), I could accumulate 1,000 hours of flight time within perhaps 4 to 12 months, and still have no expectation of eligibility.

Continue reading Reaching 500 Hours

New Detroit Airspace Effective April 3

Diagram of the proposed Class B airspace configuration
Finalized Airspace Configuration

The FAA finalized last week the redesigned Class B airspace over Detroit, Michigan, as proposed August 2012, effective 3 April 2014 to coincide with the next chart cycle.

With this new rule came another discussion of the impact on flight training activities at EMU:

The Class B airspace established southwest of DTW is required to contain large turbine-powered aircraft conducting dual SIILS arrival procedures to Runways 4L/3R, as well as arrivals entering the DTW terminal airspace via the POLAR1 STAR. It extends over approximately three quarters of the Eastern Michigan University (EMU) Aviation flight school’s southern practice area with 3,500-foot MSL, 4,000-foot MSL, and 6,000-foot MSL Class B airspace floors. The EMU southern practice area is subdivided into four sub-areas with virtually no impact to the west northwest sub-area and minor impacts to the southern sub-area, but training activities in the northeast and southeast sub-areas will be limited to 4,000 feet MSL, unless pilots receive a Class B airspace clearance. The FAA does not expect a substantive change to the concentration of VFR training aircraft or training activities conducted in that practice area or the other practice areas located further southwest of DTW under the 6,000-foot MSL Class B airspace shelf. The training activities conducted in those practice areas today could continue under the DTW Class B airspace or within Class B airspace with the appropriate Class B airspace clearance.

Missing from this discussion, again, is the fact that it is often not possible to obtain a Class B airspace clearance in the existing Detroit area.  To say that there is “virtually no impact” from expanding Class B airspace seems inaccurate.  Maneuvers such as chandelles and power-on stalls often exceed 6,000 feet to conserve time and altitude during training.  The airspace changes are likely to cause students to practice these maneuvers at lower altitudes.

Expansion of the Class B airspace designated to the surface appears to intersect the visual route between the EMU southern practice area and the base airport YIP, which will impact that training route and all south departures.

The new airspace certainly brings exciting changes to the entire Detroit area this summer.  Be careful to maintain awareness of the new airspace boundaries.

Previous Post: Detroit Airspace Redesign

CFI Checkrides Do Count as Flight Reviews

Federal Register Cover PageYes, it’s true!  After a CFI or CFII checkride, you do not need another flight review for 24 calendar months.

For example, I passed the commercial AMEL practical test on 26 October 2012.  When I was hired in October 2013, I reported my flight review date for my commercial test, meaning I would need a flight review in 2014.  But, then my flight review date changed.  Why?

As of 15 November 2013, flight instructor practical tests are recognized as flight reviews.  This rule was published as a revision to FAR 61.56 in the Federal Register under RIN 2120-AK23 on 16 September 2013, pages 56822 through 56829.

Thanks to this new regulation, my flight review date changed to 19 August 2013.  I will need a flight review in 2015.

If you find conflicting information on this topic, it is likely obsolete.  This new regulation does not appear in the ASA printing of the 2014 FAR/AIM.

Enjoy the new grace period, and have a Happy New Year!

How to Credit Card

Three Credit Cards
Photo by Petr Kratochvil

If credit were as simple as cash, we wouldn’t need cash anymore.  Credit cards are very complicated sometimes, yet the fundamental financial skills needed to use them are not taught in schools or colleges.  Here are my secrets to success in managing credit accounts.

#1  Always have at least two credit accounts

This is the number one, most important lesson.  Credit cards help to establish your history of responsible borrowing, whether or not you use them at all.  For pilots especially, it’s a good idea just to have a credit card in the airplane in case of unexpected expenses while traveling.  And believe me, a credit card can stop working at any time for a wide variety of reasons.  Two “reliable” credit accounts is my bare minimum.  If one credit card is restricted to specific stores or small spending limits, then I need to have three cards or more so that I always have a fallback.

#2  Get your rewards

All the best credit cards put something back in your pocket when you spend money.  Rewards might be in the form of billing credits, gift certificates, or free air travel.  If you’re not getting rewards, it’s a bad deal.  Look into it.  Shop for what you like.  Don’t take bad deals.  Don’t open accounts that mention any annual membership fees.  If you are attending a flight school that accepts credit card payments, this will be a matter of hundreds of dollars in rewards!  Do the shopping before it’s too late.

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Missed Approach Point Study Guide

Legend for the missed approach point symbol.
FAA Chart Symbols

The M.A.P. Study Guide is a list of notes I first developed during instrument-flight-instructor training because I needed a concise explanation of various approach profiles.  Now that I am instructing instrument students, it seems this guide is the best tool for teaching missed approach identification with FAA charts.  The Missed Approach Point and Missed Approach Track symbols on each chart profile can mean different things depending on the type of procedure.

PDF Icon Study Guide Download – FAA format (2.8 MB)

You might also want the Jeppesen charts format of the study guide.


Reading a missed approach procedure is a critical step toward briefing and flying a complete instrument approach to an airport.  The missed approach point is the position where the pilot must immediately climb away from the airport if the landing criteria of FAR 91.175(c) are not met.  There are two challenges involved in reading the missed approach point:

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Robert Chapin at the US Aviation Academy.

A photo to send home, from KGYI, October 2013.

A successful career move happened since my last post.  I am now the newest flight instructor at US Aviation Academy based on the North Texas Regional Airport!

Leading up to this development, my commencement ceremony at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) was in April, followed by my official flight instructor course completion in June, and my official graduation in August.

Between June and August, I used my time to obtain the flight instructor instrument airplane rating, which I was advised was “the most important job qualification for a pilot.”  The so-called CFII was not a degree requirement at EMU, but now I have to agree with the advice.  I would not have this job today without a CFII certificate in my pocket.

Continue reading Hired!

New Circling Procedures in Michigan

New approach minimums format.Starting with the current chart cycle from August 22, the radius of protected airspace for new circling approach procedures has increased.

This change will mainly affect airplanes in approach categories B through D.

While the procedures are flown in the same way, the requirements for a larger protected airspace may result in higher altitudes being flown.

For example, if your destination is the Traverse City (KTVC) GPS RWY 36 approach, the category C minimum descent altitude (MDA) has increased from 1,280 ft to 1,500 ft.  The category D MDA changed from 1,300 ft to 1,720 ft, and so on.  The good news is that this approach was also revised to include an LPV decision altitude of 898 ft.

Continue reading New Circling Procedures in Michigan