June 2018 Safety Corner

Reprinted from June 2016:

Now that the real hot weather has graced its presence, it’s really critical to understand that pilots need priority attention on weight and balance and high density altitude operations. If you’re flying the Arrow, we all know that weight and balance is critical because of the long-range tanks, like the Arrow has. Now that we have the Bonanza V35, weight and balance in association with hot weather becomes even more critical. While you’re hanger flying with buddies, don’t listen to the old-timers who crow about
‘stuffing’ whatever they want in a C-182, Bonanza, Arrow, or C-172, etc., and ‘it’ll still fly with no problem’. All you need to do is take a very close look at the temperature and runway lengths in July and August heat in relation to weight and balance and you’ll find ‘that dog don’t hunt’!!! Even a great performing airplane will struggle if not loaded correctly or taking off on too short a runway on a hot day. Remember, just because you can get into an airport, doesn’t mean you’ll get out of it. Even if the plane is below the
gross weight and within the envelope, the temperature will make any runway a whole lot shorter. Remember, I’m not just talking about Millard Airport. If you’re going to another airport, especially airports with much higher elevations, make sure you also look at the lengths of the runways you’re landing at. As I said, you might get in, but getting out might with high temps will be a problem if you’re still carrying a bunch of weight or if you’re adding passengers or fuel. Keep these simple tips in mind when
flying in the really hot months:

  1. Even if you ‘think’ weight and balance will be no problem, do one anyway. You might be surprised (don’t let your passengers ‘cheat’ on their weights! Spouses always seem to be very ‘creative’ when giving their weights!!) Be ready to ‘adjust’ and add some safety margins when it comes to weight.
  2. Study the runway lengths at your departing and arriving airports and
    determine takeoff roll distances and landing rolls – especially over 50-foot obstacles.
  3. Don’t be afraid to trade off fuel for a better payload margin – as long as you’re not compromising safety. Remember, the fuel gauges are NOT always the accurate so give yourself some safety cushions.
  4. Look at the POH to determine if a specific flap setting will aid you in a high density altitude situation.
  5. If your basic parameters change (ie. You add passengers or fuel at a destination) then do another weight and balance check AND double check the POH on performance figures for that airport runway. Obviously, it’s better to ANTICIPATE that happening than have it be a surprise.
  6. Above all …. When in doubt on the numbers – ERROR ON THE SIDE OF
    CAUTION AND LIVE TO FLY ANOTHER DAY.

Kevin Broderick, ATP, CFI, CFII – Safety Officer