In recent years, handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) units have become more affordable and more widely used. Many General Aviation (GA) pilots, in particular, find handheld GPS units a convenient supplement to other navigation methods. Mechanical problems with GPS are infrequent; a more common problem reported to ASRS is that old bogy—operator error. A GA reporter illustrates: prior to clearing Class B, and was informed to remain clear by ATC. I believe the automatically-sequenced map scale was a contributing factor, as it was set on a high mileage scale, which compressed the locations of XYZ intersection, the Class B airspace, and my position. Appropriate cross-checking with other navigational aids might also have prevented this pilot’s unauthorized penetration of Class B airspace.
s I descended through a hole in the broken layer thinking
I was 5 statute miles from [the airport] based on my GPS and DME. It appears I might have been inside the airport’s Class D airspace. Trying to familiarize oneself with a new handheld moving map GPS while flying in a broken cloud layer environment and cross-checking with VORs and GPS is not a bright thing to do. Next time, it will be in severe clear and with a second pilot onboard. Our reporter offers good advice for future GPS familiarization flights. Another GA pilot relied only on the GPS to maintain positional awareness, and found the information deceiving:
Dead Batteries...and Reckoning
In an effort to get back to his home base, our next reporter passed up a perfectly good VFR airport en route, and then the problems really started to pile up:
s Halfway [to my destination], the GPS batteries failed,
ceiling and visibility lowered, I lost radio contact with Approach because of my low altitude, and was unsure of my position. I finally found [my destination] by dead reckoning. I made a poor decision not to land at [an intermediate point], where I could have plotted a course by VOR navigation and changed GPS batteries which I knew were low. Never fully depend on handheld GPS for position, and keep fresh batteries installed.
s While watching my progress on the GPS moving map,
at approximately one mile from XYZ intersection, it appeared I would be clear of the Class B airspace by the time I reached 3,000 feet. [However] I reached 3,000 feet
Cabin Crew Priorities
In spite of what some passengers may believe, the cabin crew’s primary duty is to ensure passenger safety. This duty becomes obvious during an aircraft emergency, when the crew’s skills and training come to the fore, as described in this report to ASRS on an emergency descent and landing:
announcement per our procedures. Our Flight Attendant procedures seemed to work well. Flight Attendants receive extensive initial and recurrent safety training just so that all emergency procedures go as smoothly as the ones in this incident did. Next, cool heads and good crew communications combined to bring an emergency return-to-land incident to a textbook conclusion, as described in this report from a Flight Attendant:
s I was seated in the aft part of the aircraft and I noticed
some unusual changes in cabin temperature and airflow. Another Flight Attendant came to the back and said that she had been in the cockpit and the pilots seemed to be having some problem. I could tell we were descending. About this time, the Captain made a PA [Public Address] announcement stating that we were having a pressurization problem and that we might have to use the oxygen masks. He also asked passengers to make sure their seatbelts were fastened. I made my way to the front, checking seatbelt compliance. At this point, we seemed to be descending rapidly…[and] the oxygen masks deployed throughout the aircraft. I donned a mask…and slowly worked my way to the back, checking on passengers. All passengers seemed to get their masks on with no problems. The Lead Flight Attendant made the required PA
s On takeoff roll, multiple loud thumps (explosions) were
heard when the left gear inside tire blew and made an incision into the wing, then entered the engine. We contacted the Captain and gave him as much information as possible. He informed us were going to return to make an emergency landing, and we did so without incident. Since the cabin crew provided the Captain with a thorough assessment of the damage, none of the flight crew needed to leave the cockpit to survey the damage personally. All three flight crew members were able to remain in the cockpit and concentrate on preparing for the emergency landing.
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A Monthly Safety Bulletin from The Office of the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System, P.O. Box 189, Moffett Field, CA 94035-0189
February 1999 Report Intake
Air Carrier/Air Taxi Pilots General Aviation Pilots Controllers Cabin/Mechanics/Military/Other 1864 592 52 158
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