Sunday, September 14, 2014

Precision Approach Lighting systems

Part of the training for a Commercial Pilot's Licence includes understanding the different lighting systems in operation at airports. Pictured here is a Category 1 precision approach lighting system which features a 900m stretch of lighting before you get to the start of the runway (threshhold). It features a line of lights in the direction of the runway, and crossbars, and the lights are white, varying in intensity as you get closer to the threshhold for landing. In the closest 300m the line comprises a single line of lights, in the next 300m there is a double line of lights and in the furthest 300m there is a triple line of lights.

Green threshhold lights

The beginning of the runway or threshhold is marked by a crossbar of green lights and the end of the runway is marked by a crossbar of red lights.

In poor visibility a pilot may not land the aircraft unless he has the runway or approach lights in sight when he reaches the minimum decision height which is generally about 200 ft above the runway surface, otherwise he needs to do a missed approach, taking off without landing and going around. Many accidents have been caused by pilots landing without having clearly identified the runway in misty conditions and the lighting systems are intended to make identification clearer. 

In the photo below you can see King Shaka International Airport's approach lights at night in a slightly different configuration. The lines of lights on ether side of the centre line from the green threshhold bar (start of the runway) extending into the runway indicate the touchdown zone. The two bars of lights on either side of the runway adjacent to the touchdown zone are the Papi (Precision Approach Path Indicator) lights... when the two outer lights are white and the two inner lights are red, you are on the correct glide slope for the landing, whereas more red lights will show you are too low and more white lights will show you are too high.

King Shaka International runway lights at night

An illustration of PAPI lights 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Flying the big birds

I hate waiting, but I do love airports and for the second time flew in the A380, this time from Shanghai to Dubai, along with several B777s in the routing from Durban to Shanghai and Busan, South Korea.

TV screen view of our landing in Dubai showing the threshhold (green bar/line of lights) at the start of the runway as well as the cluster line of lights extending into the runway showing the touchdown zone.

Dubai on take-off routing home to Durban on Thursday

You can't really see the several layers of clouds at differing heights in this photo, but was amazing

Plane view of Korea shortly before landing at Gimhae International Airport, Busan, South Korea

Final Approach Gimhae

Durban Skyye in Shanghai and South Korea

I spent the last few days in Shanghai and Busan, South Korea, with my kids Mark, and Kate-Lynn who is presently spending a year teaching English to Koreans there.

And Durban Skyye was there!!

Durban Skyye Flight School at Gwangali beach, Busan, South Korea

Durban Skyye viewing the amazing Shanghai skyline

My son mark and I in Shanghai, China this week

The Shanghai skyline from the sky-bar at the Indigo Hotel

My daughter Kate-Lynn enjoying the beach and Gwangan (Diamond) bridge view near where she lives in Busan, South Korea

Instructor's Rating

On my arrival back from South Korea, where I visited my daughter the last week, I was chuffed to receive my Raasa Instructor's update to my licence. Looking forward to my first students.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bookings open for Restricted Radio Certificate

I received my accreditation today from the SA Civil Aviation Authority as an approved Radio Telephony Examiner. This enables me to set the practical oral exam and conduct skills tests for the Restricted Radio Telephony Certificate required for NPL and PPL pilots - evidencing their competency to operate the radio equipment in their aeroplanes.

Our Flight School has therefore launched our short training course which will brief students on the requirements for the CAA Online Exam and after the course and the Online exam I will conduct the practical skills test required by each student to obtain his radio certificate. Bookings are now open for the September course.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Go Sharks Go!

I had a great day at the Flight School today with several new Pilot training enquiries as well as some good friends who came flying with me in our Sling ZDL.

Billy and Bernard from Tyson Properties Amanzimoti came to visit and fly over the Durban and Umhlanga beachfront with me.

Yak Pilot Chris is doing his taildragger rating with us

Jonathan from ATS Flight School in Johannesburg paid us a visit

Theuns is keen on getting his PPL licence and came to check out my Sling

The view of the Umhlanga beachfront from ZDL

Bernard from Tysons enjoying the flight with me

Mark is one of my service providers who took naturally to the skyye over Durban with me

Sharks Academy rugby player Marc-Alexander is keen to get his pilot's licence and follow in his Dad's footsteps

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Left or Right

As joint owners of our Sling ZDL we have notched up well over 100 hours flying together over huge mountains, past many scary clouds and thunderstorms from one side of Southern Africa to the other, but this was the first flight we have done together with Llew in the left seat and me in the right with me being comfortable flying from both sides now. Most right-handed instructors prefer the right seat, but I am left-handed and it has taken a bit of adjustment to fly with my right hand. Fortunately I did my early training in the Foxbat which has a centre Y-stick, needing the pilot's right hand to control the plane from the left seat so my first flying experience was with my right hand. 

Llew gets into the left seat while I handle the selfie

 We did a jaunt to Pietermaritzburg hoping to have a toasted sandwich in the coffee shop there which opens when the scheduled Airlink jet flies in, but unfortunately they don't serve food over the weekend.

The air was pretty bumpy today with crosswind landings in both Pietermaritzburg and Durban, but the visibility was excellent and we got some good snaps of Durban's beautiful stadium and coastline.
Llewellyn prepares for the flight to Pietermaritzburg

Gazing intently ahead for oncoming traffic

Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium in all its glory

On a clear day you can see forever

Thumbs-up Dave (left, in the right seat) and Llew (right, in the left seat) ha ha

Durban Harbour as we turn inland for Light Flight, then on to Pietermaritzburg

Pietermaritzburg Airport

Looking a bit windswept as the wind was gusting 25kts

Our Durban Skyye Sling ZDL at Pietermaritburg Airport

In a first, our flight school CFI, Brad, was passing by in the flight school Sling FYA and took a snap of us alongside before we continued on our separate ways

The Bluff and Harbour entrance as we rounded it on the return leg to Durban

Congratulatory drink after our first flight in reversed seats

200th Sling delivered

I am incredibly proud, as Durban Distributor and Agent of the Sling Aircraft,  to be associated with The Airplane Factory which has delivered its 200th aircraft. This is an amazing achievement for this Johannesburg team of guys and it pushes The Airplane Factory to within the top 10 aircraft manufacturers in the world today, with assembly plants in Johannesburg, the United States, Australia and home-kitbuilders worldwide. I am also proud to be the part owner of two of these fine aircraft on register at our Flight School. They have carried me around Table Mountain and Saldanha Bay in the west of South Africa, over the Victoria Falls in the north of Southern Africa and up Mozambique in the north east of Southern Africa and next year will take us across the Mozambique Channel to Madagascar... nothing like the achievement of the guys from The Airplane Factory who have circumnavigated the world twice in their Slings, but exhilarating nevertheless to be part of this adventure.

Check out the YouTube video clip as they make international history.

The Airplane Factory delivers its 200th Sling on YouTube

Friday, August 22, 2014

Taildragger next

If you like dodgem cars, you will love the Explorer Taildragger we have as a training aircraft at Durban Skyye Flight School and I had a lesson with our rated Instructor Ian today.. the difference between a taildragger and a tricycle plane is that the centre of gravity is behind you, so instead of it balancing on a nose wheel and two main wheels, it leans backwards with a little "supermarket trolly" type wheel at the back just above the ground. The huge difference this makes is that when you taxi or land the plane, the heavier back tail keeps trying to overtake you and can easily result in a ground loop or spin-around unless you can keep the tail centred behind you. Pilots like the taildraggers because they keep you on your toes and are fun to fly - certainly no docile plane!!

Here is Ian with the Explorer taildragger and then a few happy snaps as we took advantage of the clear Durban skyye after the rain and he showed me how to land the little bugger.

Ian poses before showing me how the plane works.. just taxiing the plane was taxing!

I think I can do this thing!!

Smart MGL glass cockpit of the Explorer with all the information you need to fly

Beautiful Durban and the harbour on take-off from Virginia Airport

Thursday, August 21, 2014

National Flight Instructor

I passed my flight test today for my National Flight Instructor Rating Grade C, so I will now be able to train my own students.. very chuffed and looking forward to this next phase of my aviation life. Thanks to my Instructor and flight school partner Brad for the hours he spent with me having as much fun as I was in my plane teaching me some of the more advanced techniques the Sling is capable of. Thanks also to Johnny our airline pilot who handled the flight test. Looking forward to working more with you. I am the first student of Durban Skyye Flight School to commence and complete training at the fledgling flight school.. many more to follow!! 

Johnny (right) with Dave during the flight test

It's a thumbs-up from Dave enjoying his flight test

About to go 

The view of the beachfront homeward bound on a poor weather day finishing off the flight test

Johnny completes the skills test assessment for submission to Raasa

Monday, August 18, 2014

Survival and emergency Equipment for our flight over the sea

In preparation for our  2 and a half hour flight over the sea next year from Mozambique to Madagascar, and in preparation for my Commercial Pilot Airlaw exam this week, here is the researched information on our Civil Aviation Regulations and Technical Standards (CARS and CATS) which apply to flights over the sea which exceed 30 mins or more than 50 nautical miles..

91.04.24 Life jackets and other flotation devices

No owner or operator of an aeroplane, shall operate the aeroplane –

(i) when flying over water and beyond gliding distance of land in the case of the aeroplane not capable of continuing the flight to an aerodrome with the critical power-unit becoming inoperative at any point along the route or any planned diversion;

(ii) when taking off or landing at an aerodrome where the take-off or approach path is so disposed over water that in the event of an incident, there would be a likelihood of a ditching, unless such aeroplane is equipped with a flotation device or a life jacket containing a survivor locator light, for each person on board, stowed in a position easily accessible, with safety belt fastened, from the seat or berth of the person for whose use it is provided, and an individual infant flotation device, containing a locator survival light for use by each infant on board.

91.04.25 Life Rafts and Survival Radio equipment for extended over-water flights

(1) An owner or operator must ensure that the aircraft is equipped with sufficient life rafts to carry all persons on board. Unless excess rafts or enough capacity are provided, the buoyancy and seating capacity beyond the rated capacity of the rafts must accommodate all occupants of the aircraft in the event of a loss of one raft of the largest rated capacity.

(2) The life rafts must be equipped with –
(a) a survivor locator light; and
(b) life saving equipment including means of sustaining life as appropriate to the flight to be undertaken.

(3) The following shall be included in each life-raft –
(a) a means for maintaining buoyancy;
(b) a sea anchor;
(c) life-lines and means of attaching one life-raft to another;
(d) paddles for life-rafts with a capacity of 6 or less;
(e) means of protecting the occupants from the elements;
(f) a water resistant torch;
(g) signalling equipment to make distress signals;
(h) for each 4, or fraction of 4 persons which the life-raft is designed to carry –
(i) 100 g glucose tablets;
(ii) 500 ml of water. This water may be provided in durable containers or by means of making seawater drinkable or a combination of both; and
(i) first aid equipment.
Note – Items (g) – (i), inclusive, should be contained in a pack.

(4) An aircraft must be equipped with at least two sets of survival radio equipment capable of transmitting on 121.5 MHz and 243 MHz.

(5) Unless the life rafts and survival radio equipment are clearly visible, their location must be indicated by a placard or sign, and appropriate symbols may be used to supplement the placard or sign.

91.04.23 Minimum number of ELTs to be carried

(1) Aeroplanes to be operated on extended flights over water or over areas where search and rescue would be especially difficult, shall carry at least one automatic ELT (emergency locator transmitter);

Emergency locator transmitters (ELTs), required to be fitted in terms of CAR 91.04.23, shall be capable of transmitting on the frequencies 121,5 MHz and 406 MHz simultaneously.

ps with aircraft weight being a consideration, I would swop sea anchor for more water!