It's been a great couple of days in Saratoga Springs, New York. You almost had to miss it since your TBM is in the shop. Luckily, the owner of your former V-tail Bonanza let you borrow back your old bird after a few phone calls and promises of adult beverages. You knocked out your business engagement early so you even got a chance to tour the battlefields--which was great until torrential rains forced a retreat to a local pub.
It was a quick, VFR hop coming over, so you just flew the old Bonanza by feel. It's still IFR for departure this morning, so the rustiness with the plane has you more concerned. Still, you fly the TBM on several business trips every month, so you figure once you're in the system, IFR is IFR. Ceilings are 300 overcast, but PIREPS say tops are only a couple thou sand feet up. The ASOS says winds favor Runway 05 and the altimeter is 29.62.
You review the departure procedure, program the GPS, pour on the power, and rotate when it feels right. As you enter the clouds you start to sense that something isn't quite right. Of course, the Bonanza feels sluggish compared to a TBM, and the mains and aux tanks are nearly full. But even as you pitch up, this plane doesn't seem to be climbing at all. Answers on page 23.
1. What's going on with your airplane?
a. You found an area of sink associated with mountain wave activity.
b. This stupid mechanical attitude indicator must have failed and you're not pitched up.
c The pitot tube must be blocked.
d. The vertical speed indicator must be incorrect.
e Impossible to tell without watching the instruments in motion and feeling the associated terror.
2. Are you complying with the requirements of the departure procedure?
a. No, you turned too soon.
b. No, you're clearly not meeting the climb requirements.
c. Yes, GPS altitude shows you're high enough and you must be climbing.
d. Maybe. You must be climbing, but GPS altitude isn't accurate enough.
3. True or False: A strong headwind will decrease your effective climb gradient on this departure, all else being equal.
4. Is it safe to rely on your indicated airspeed?
a. The IFR inspections were just done, so it has to be within spec.
b. It's reading higher than it should (gulp!).
c. It's reading lower than it should.
d. Should you ever?
5. What could you do to improve your present state of affairs? (May have multiple answers.)
a. Request that ATC report your altitude periodically.
b. Break the glass on the vertical speed indicator.
c. Open your alternate air source.
d. Pull on your alternate static source.
6. If your airplane had dual static ports, would you still have this problem?
c. Maybe. Maybe not.
7. True or False: Textual departure procedures like this should only be flown when specifically assigned by ATC.
8. What's with all those trees, shrubberies, and other annoyances listed in the Notes section of the procedure?
a. The list contains all Identified obstacles along the departure path.
b. Pilots are expected to visually remain clear of them.
c. They are all located on airport property and therefore not assessed for obstacle clearance.
d. They are the obstacles that require any non-standard takeoff minimums or departure procedures.
e. Someone is very proud of their garden.
9. Which of the following would be true statements if you needed to make an IFR departure from Runway 32 instead? (May have multiple answers.)
a. You can't make any turns until 1000 feet above the runway.
b. You can't turn on course until reaching 2700 feet MSL.
c. Only a visual climb over airport (VCOA) departure is authorized.
d. The departure requires at least a 48C fpm climb at 90 knots groundspeed,
e. The VCOA departure requires a 320 feet/NM climb gradient.
10. Essay: What would be a good technique that could safely resolve this situation, even if you couldn't get your gauges back?
1. d. The rain broadsided your airplane and filled your static lines with water. If this magazine was a video, you'd notice the altimeter isn't moving, either. Your attitude indicator shows you've continued to pitch up in hopes of getting a climbing indication. It'll keep working fine until it tumbles as you start spinning.
2. c. Your altimeter is inop, but the altitude shown on your GPS is 1840. GPS altitude is a physical altitude computed above a standard datum to approximate altitude MSL. There's no need to correct it for temperature or pressure. However, it may differ from indicated altitude because the computation has its own errors, we rarely correct altimeters for temperature, and the Kollsman window setting is likely not the exact setting needed for that specific point in space.
3. False. At a given climb speed on departure, your rate of climb (in altitude gained per minute) will be roughly constant regardless of wind. Experiencing a headwind on departure will result in a lower groundspeed for the climb, and therefore a greater climb gradient (in altitude gained per nautical mile).
4. c. Your airspeed indicator functions by measuring the difference between the incoming ram air pressure and the ambient static pressure. When your static system becomes blocked, whatever pressure is trapped in the line becomes the airspeed indicator's reference pressure. Therefore, it's accurate at the altitude the blockage occurred, but operates similar to a barometer at other altitudes. Since you are above the blockage altitude, it reads lower than your actual airspeed.
5. b, d. The least destructive option is opening your alternate static source, which introduces air from the cabin into the system. Breaking the glass on your altimeter or VSI accomplishes the same thing, but costs more. The resulting indication won't be as accurate as your normal static system, and every plane is different on how inaccurate. ATC can't help because they rely on your static system as well.
6. c. Static ports on both sides of the fuselage can reduce instrument error due to yaw, and provide some backup. However, these systems generally join to a common line before the cockpit. Larger aircraft with separate copilot instruments often have completely independent systems feeding each set of instruments.
7. False. Obstacle departure procedures are occasionally assigned by ATC, but may be flown at pilot's discretion to ensure obstacle clearance. When flying one that includes a route or restrictions prior to turns (like this one), ATC should be advised beforehand.
8. b. Obstacles listed in the notes section are not factored into climb performance requirements and must be visually avoided. Most of these are "low close-in obstacles," typically located within one NM of the departure end of the runway. They would impose an impractically steep climb requirement to a low altitude to clear. It's nearly impossible to form a mental picture of the location of the listed obstacles based only on the text, so keep your eyes open when the list is long.
9. d. The departure from Runway 32 could be a bit confusing. It has a non-standard climb gradient and a departure procedure published, but the departure procedure only discusses a VCOA. The intent is that if a pilot has the required climb performance, he or she can climb to the standard 400 feet above the runway and then turn on course. At 90 knots, 320 feet/NM equates to a 320 * 1.5 = 480 feet/min. Alternatively, the pilot could climb in visual conditions over the airport to 1800 feet, after which the standard climb gradient applies as they continue on course.
10. Standard profiles. Developing standardized profiles for the plane(s) that you fly goes a long way toward removing any guesswork from your flying. For instance, you can, through experimentation in good weather, determine that in your specific plane, a five-degree nose up pitch, along with full throttle and 2500 RPM will give you a 90-knot climb. The precise climb rate will vary by weight and temperature, but you can know that in any situation this is your "climb profile." Our pilot could learn a thing or two about this.
BY IFR STAFF