Saturday, 22 May 2010

Alternator update

It seems ages since I posted about the alternator saga so it is probably time for an update. The new (well, re-built) alternator has been fitted and performs flawlessly so far. There's no whine through the headsets, there's no annoying low voltage light, and better still no fear of turning on the landing or taxi light, let alone the pitot heat.

After a couple more flight hours we'll take it out and re-torque the case bolts, something that will then be done every 100 hours. I'm hoping that this time I'll have an alternator that makes it through the year.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Low-level French military corridors

Flying in France is great. It's relaxed and generally easy, although there are a couple of gotchas waiting to trap the unwary, or to put off the unfamiliar.

One of those gotchas is the extensive network of military low flying corridors. The airspace is restricted, so picking your way through, over or under can be daunting, but the French SIA has made it very easy by making a series of activity maps available on the website.

From the front page follow the AZBA Charts link; this will bring you to an index page that breaks the day into time chunks. Click on any of these and you'll get a PDF map with the active areas in red (the darker red denotes restricted airspace that starts at the surface).

It's a brilliant solution to a problem that has troubled and confused many. The information may have existed previously, but now it's presented in a clear, concise form that's easy to understand.

NB. The low level zones aren't active at weekends, so the link on the home page will suggest you look at NOTAM instead. There's a chart that can be downloaded here that will show you the layout of the low level network with altitudes and operating hours.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Taxi to parking...

Only in France...

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Graphical NOTAM

For years now we've had pilots clambering for access to graphical NOTAM, and who can blame them? When presented with a huge list of lat/longs to plot it's easy to lose the will to live, or at least the will to go flying.

There are now a couple of sites that show NOTAM plotted on a map. This one makes use of Google mapping, and this one specialises in Ashtams. If you have SkyDemon's planning software running, then that too will display NOTAM once you have a route planned.

But we have to be a bit careful what we wish for. As you can see here, when there are a few NOTAM out there, the whole map becomes covered and there's no easy (or quick) way of making sense of any of it, and although the systems have ways of selecting different bits of data, I still find myself having a quick read through a Narrow Route Brief from the AIS site, just in case there have been any problems in the conversion from text to graphic.

I'm told that things will get easier with digital NOTAM, but they're not here yet.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Mixing it

Some airfields do a great job of mixing commercial and GA traffic. Some do a less good job and others do no job at all. There are three areas where the willingness of the airport management to make things work can be seen. Runway access and airside services, airside access and economic access.

Baden-Baden, Lubeck, La Rochelle, Dinard, Southend and Calvi are examples of those that score decent marks in all areas. Bournemouth and Exeter are examples of airports that fail on the airside access question - my last three visits have had different 'systems' - and places like Bristol, Luton, Farnborough and Edinburgh fail when it comes to economic access, i.e. they're bloody expensive.

I don't know exactly what motivates people to make things difficult (I can sort of see TAG's point of view at Farnborough where the movement are limited by planning permission), but there are plenty of shining beacons offering good examples should they have a change of heart.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Competition from Korea?

Meet the KC-100, a four-seat design being worked on by Korea Aerospace Industries.

The goal is to build and certify (both FAA and EASA) a fast, four-seat tourer. It'll be powered by a 315hp, turbocharged, full FADEC engine (my money is on Continental).

The site declares a top speed of 240kt, although it isn't entirely clear if that refers to a Vne (which would be understandable) or a full power cruise at altitude (possible I guess, but stretching it a bit). MAUW is said to be 3,600lb (1,636kg) with a payload of 1,100lb (500kg).

It'll be interesting to see if the project gets finished, and even more interesting to see the price…

Sunday, 16 May 2010

To France...or perhaps not

I'm heading for France later in the week, or at least I was. This is the NFZ that's been announced from midnight UTC, and it covers the strip where the C182 is based.

As mentioned in an earlier entry the NOTAM's wording isn't exactly clear, and with the edge of the zone being literally only a few miles away who knows how I'll interpret it when the time comes.

However, a lot can change between now and Tuesday afternoon, and the way things are going there's a good chance that I'll be outside the NFZ by the time of departure. Of course, by then the rest of France could be in it, but then they may not issue the same ambiguous NOTAM, or they may not put the same ultra-conservative rules in place. We'll see.

What a mess

This is the No Fly Zone (12z to 18z on Sunday 16th May). The NOTAM isn't as clear as it could be and ATC units are interpreting it in different ways. Some airfields in the NFZ have closed while others remain open to VFR movements at least.

There's no joined up view, no overarching advice and plenty of confusion.

What a mess. I'll try to get some clarification tomorrow, but I suspect that I won't be alone…

PS The screen grab above is from SkyDemon Plan