Procedures and Airport Operations: Pilot Deviations

Today on the Learn to Blog, we’ll take a look again at safety in and around the airport. This post is excerpted from the new edition of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.

A pilot deviation (PD) is an action of a pilot that violates any Federal Aviation Regulation. While PDs should be avoided, the regulations do authorize deviations from a clearance in response to a traffic alert and collision avoidance system resolution advisory. You must notify ATC as soon as possible following a deviation.

Pilot deviations can occur in several different ways. Airborne deviations result when a pilot strays from an assigned heading or altitude or from an instrument procedure, or if the pilot penetrates controlled or restricted airspace without ATC clearance.

To prevent airborne deviations, follow these steps:

  • Plan each flight—you may have flown the flight many times before but conditions and situations can change rapidly, such as in the case of a pop-up temporary flight restriction (TFR). Take a few minutes prior to each flight to plan accordingly.
  • Talk and squawk—Proper communication with ATC has its benefits. Flight following often makes the controller’s job easier because they can better integrate VFR and IFR traffic.
  • Give yourself some room—GPS is usually more precise than ATC radar. Using your GPS to fly up to and along the line of the airspace you are trying to avoid could result in a pilot deviation because ATC radar may show you within the restricted airspace.

Ground deviations (also called surface deviations) include taxiing, taking off, or landing without clearance, deviating from an assigned taxi route, or failing to hold short of an assigned clearance limit. To prevent ground deviations, stay alert during ground operations. Pilot deviations can and frequently do occur on the ground. Many strategies and tactics pilots use to avoid airborne deviations also work on the ground.

Pilots should also remain vigilant about vehicle/pedestrian deviations (V/PDs). A vehicle or pedestrian deviation includes pedestrians, vehicles or other objects interfering with aircraft operations by entering or moving on the runway movement area without authorization from air traffic control.

In serious instances, any ground deviation (PD or VPD) can result in a runway incursion. Best practices in preventing ground deviations can be found in the following section under runway incursion avoidance.

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CFI Brief: Wind Shear

Wind shear is defined as a change in wind direction and/or speed over a very short distance in the atmosphere. This can occur at any level of the atmosphere and can be detected by the pilot as a sudden change in airspeed. As a pilot you can be certain that you will experience wind shear throughout your flying career. It is a common encounter and most often associated with thunderstorms, microburst, and frontal activity.  The majority of wind shear related accidents take place during the landing and takeoff phases of flight. In both phases of flight you are low and slow and will have less time to detect and recover from an encounter. Below are some of the more important aspects of wind shear in which you will be tested on during your FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Test.

  • Low-level (low-altitude) wind shear can be expected during strong temperature inversions, on all sides of a thunderstorm and directly below the cell. A pilot can expect a wind shear zone in a temperature inversion whenever the wind speed at 2,000 feet to 4,000 feet above the surface is at least 25 knots.
  • Low-level wind shear can also be found near frontal activity because winds can be significantly different in the two air masses which meet to form the front.
  • In warm front conditions, the most critical period is before the front passes. Warm front shear may exist below 5,000 feet for about 6 hours before surface passage of the front. The wind shear associated with a warm front is usually more extreme than that found in cold fronts.
  • The shear associated with cold fronts is usually found behind the front. If the front is moving at 30 knots or more, the shear zone will be 5,000 feet above the surface 3 hours after frontal passage.

Basically, there are two potentially hazardous shear situations—the loss of a tailwind or the loss of a headwind.

  1. A tailwind may shear to either a calm or headwind component. The airspeed initially increases, the aircraft pitches up, and altitude increases. Lower than normal power would be required initially, followed by a further decrease as the shear is encountered, and then an increase as the glide slope is regained. See Figure 1.

Figure 1: Tailwind shear to a Headwind.

Figure 1: Tailwind shear to a Headwind.

  1. A headwind may shear to a calm or tailwind component. Initially, the airspeed decreases, the aircraft pitches down, and altitude decreases. See Figure 2.

Figure 2: Headwind shear to a Tailwind.

Figure 2: Headwind shear to a Tailwind.

Some airports can report boundary winds as well as the wind at the tower. When a tower reports a boundary wind which is significantly different from the airport wind, there is a possibility of hazardous wind shear. Many modern commercial aircraft and jetliners have systems that have the ability to detect wind shear and notify the pilots.  The types of aircraft however in which you will be flying during training are not equipped with these types of systems, the responsibility lies on you the pilot to detect and understand how to recover from all types of wind shear encounters.

The three questions below are great examples of what you should expect a wind shear question to look like on the knowledge test. Can you get all three correct; the answers are all outlined in the text above so hopefully you read carefully.

1. A pilot can expect a wind-shear zone in a temperature inversion whenever the windspeed at 2,000 to 4,000 feet above the surface is at least
A—10 knots.
B—15 knots.
C—25 knots.

2. Where does wind shear occur?
A—Only at higher altitudes.
B—Only at lower altitudes.
C—At all altitudes, in all directions.

3. When may hazardous wind shear be expected?
A—When stable air crosses a mountain barrier where it tends to flow in layers forming lenticular clouds.
B—In areas of low-level temperature inversion, frontal zones, and clear air turbulence.
C—Following frontal passage when stratocumulus clouds form indicating mechanical mixing.

Check out the FAA Safety document on Wind Shear for some great additional knowledge on the topic.


Answers to questions: 1. C 2. C 3. B

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Navigation: The Effect of Wind

As you know by now, wind is a mass of air moving over the surface of the Earth in a definite direction. When the wind is blowing from the north at 25 knots, it simply means that air is moving southward at a rate of 25 NM in one hour. Under these conditions, any inert object free from contact with the Earth is carried 25 NM southward in one hour. This effect becomes apparent when clouds, dust, and toy balloons are observed being blown along by the wind. Likewise, an aircraft flying within the moving mass of air is similarly affected. Even though the aircraft does not flow freely with the wind, it moves through the air at the same time the air is moving over the ground. Today, we’ll discuss the effect wind has on navigation, with an excerpt from the new edition of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.

At the end of one hour of flight, the aircraft is in a position that results from a combination of the following two motions:

  • Movement of the air mass in reference to the ground; and
  • Forward movement of the aircraft through the airmass.

As shown in the figure below, an aircraft flying eastward at an airspeed of 120 knots in still air has a groundspeed (GS) exactly the same—120 knots. If the mass of air is moving eastward at 20 knots, the airspeed of the aircraft is not affected, but the progress of the aircraft over the ground is 120 plus 20 or a GS of 140 knots. On the other hand, if the mass of air is moving westward at 20 knots, the airspeed of the aircraft remains the same, but GS becomes 120 minus 20 or 100 knots.


Assuming no correction is made for wind effect, if an aircraft is heading eastward at 120 knots and the air mass moving southward at 20 knots, the aircraft at the end of 1 hour is almost 120 miles east of its point of departure because of its progress through the air. It is 20 miles south because of the motion of the air. Under these circumstances, the airspeed remains 120 knots, but the GS is determined by combining the movement of the aircraft with that of the air mass. GS can be measured as the distance from the point of departure to the position of the aircraft at the end of 1 hour. The GS can be computed by the time required to fly between two points a known distance apart. It also can be determined before flight by constructing a wind triangle.


The direction in which the aircraft is pointing as it flies is called heading. Its actual path over the ground, which is a combination of the motion of the aircraft and the motion of the air, is called track. The angle between the heading and the track is called drift angle. If the aircraft heading coincides with the TC and the wind is blowing from the left, the track does not coincide with the TC. The wind causes the aircraft to drift to the right, so the track falls to the right of the desired course or TC.


The following method is used by many pilots to determine compass heading: after the TC is measured, and wind correction applied resulting in a TH, the sequence TH ± variation (V) = magnetic heading (MH) ± deviation (D) = compass heading (CH) is followed to arrive at compass heading.


By determining the amount of drift, the pilot can counteract the effect of the wind and make the track of the aircraft coincide with the desired course. If the mass of air is moving across the course from the left, the aircraft drifts to the right, and a correction must be made by heading the aircraft sufficiently to the left to offset this drift. In other words, if the wind is from the left, the correction is made by pointing the aircraft to the left a certain number of degrees, therefore correcting for wind drift. This is the wind correction angle (WCA) and is expressed in terms of degrees right or left of the TC.


To summarize:

  • Course—intended path of an aircraft over the ground or the direction of a line drawn on a chart representing the intended aircraft path, expressed as the angle measured from a specific reference datum clockwise from 0° through 360° to the line.
  • Heading—direction in which the nose of the aircraft points during flight.
  • Track—actual path made over the ground in flight. (If proper correction has been made for the wind, track and course are identical.)
  • Drift angle—angle between heading and track.
  • WCA—correction applied to the course to establish a heading so that track coincides with course.
  • Airspeed—rate of the aircraft’s progress through the air.
  • GS—rate of the aircraft’s inflight progress over the ground.
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CFI Brief: Maneuvering During Slow Flight (PA.VII.A)

Maneuvering during slow flight is a task required of all private pilot airplane applicants per 14 CFR §61.107(b). The applicant must be able to demonstrate this task to a set of evaluation standards outlined in the Airman Certification Standards (ACS-6). The Private Pilot ACS, effective June 15 2016, revised how slow flight should be conducted during the check ride. Additionally, to support this change the FAA released a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) to reiterate those changes including the logic behind them. You can view the complete SAFO below:


Slow flight was previously taught and evaluated as outlined in the Practical Test Standards (PTS) by flying at an airspeed where any further increase in angle of attack, increase in load factor, or reduction in power, would result in an immediate stall. This often lead to the stall warning being activated throughout the entire maneuver, yes that blaring horn that says, “hey you’re about to stall, do something about it!” Maneuvering with the stall warning activated can promote negative learning—it’s never a good idea to ignore a warning system—the FAA says this was “neither desirable nor intended.” This specific evaluation standard is now changed to read:

Establish and maintain an airspeed, approximately 5-10 knots above the 1G stall speed, at which the airplane is capable of maintaining controlled flight without activating a stall warning. (PA.VII.A.S2)  

This now allows the pilot applicant to maneuver without the stall warning continuously being activated during slow flight. He/she will still assimilate the same fundamental concepts and skills of operating an aircraft at slow airspeeds like during departure and landing.

Establishing Slow Flight

To establish an airspeed 5-10 knots above the 1G stall speed:

  • Reduce power and progressively raise the nose to maintain altitude until the stall warning sounds and note that airspeed;
  • pitch down slightly to eliminate the stall warning;
  • adjust power to maintain altitude and note airspeed required to perform slow flight maneuver (a few knots above stall warning speed);
  • note the position of the control column and the force you are having to apply; and then
  • retrim and balance.

As you note in the first step the pilot applicant is actually momentarily pitching for an airspeed in which the stall warning will activate. This allows the pilot to determine the stall warning speed and then pitch for an airspeed slightly above it (2-3 knots). For example if the stall warning activates at 55 knots an acceptable speed to perform slow flight would be 57 knots. Further evaluation standards allow for airspeed variances of +10/-0 giving the pilot an acceptable airspeed range of 57–67 knots.


The FAA is further working on removing inconsistencies found between documents particularly the Airplane Flying Handbook to better align the slow flight maneuver with the new standards outlined in the ACS. The next time you head out to conduct slow flight make sure you take a look at the ACS to completely understand the required standards for the task.

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Aircraft Performance: Runway Surface and Gradient

The majority of pilot-caused aircraft accidents occur during the takeoff and landing phases of flight. So today on the Learn to Fly Blog, we’ll take a look at how runway conditions can effect takeoff and landing performance. Today’s post comes from The Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.

Runway conditions affect takeoff and landing performance. Typically, performance chart information assumes paved, level, smooth, and dry runway surfaces. Since no two runways are alike, the runway surface differs from one runway to another, as does the runway gradient or slope.


Takeoff distance chart.

Runway surfaces vary widely from one airport to another. The runway surface encountered may be concrete, asphalt, gravel, dirt, or grass. The runway surface for a specific airport is noted in the Chart Supplement U.S. (formerly Airport/Facility Directory). Any surface that is not hard and smooth increases the ground roll during takeoff. This is due to the inability of the tires to roll smoothly along the runway. Tires can sink into soft, grassy, or muddy runways. Potholes or other ruts in the pavement can be the cause of poor tire movement along the runway. Obstructions such as mud, snow, or standing water reduce the airplane’s acceleration down the runway. Although muddy and wet surface conditions can reduce friction between the runway and the tires, they can also act as obstructions and reduce the landing distance. Braking effectiveness is another consideration when dealing with various runway types. The condition of the surface affects the braking ability of the aircraft.


An aircraft’s performance during takeoff depends greatly on the runway surface.

The amount of power that is applied to the brakes without skidding the tires is referred to as braking effectiveness. Ensure that runways are adequate in length for takeoff acceleration and landing deceleration when less than ideal surface conditions are being reported.

The gradient or slope of the runway is the amount of change in runway height over the length of the runway. The gradient is expressed as a percentage, such as a 3 percent gradient. This means that for every 100 feet of runway length, the runway height changes by 3 feet. A positive gradient indicates the runway height increases, and a negative gradient indicates the runway decreases in height. An upsloping runway impedes acceleration and results in a longer ground run during takeoff. However, landing on an upsloping runway typically reduces the landing roll. A downsloping runway aids in acceleration on takeoff resulting in shorter takeoff distances. The opposite is true when landing, as landing on a downsloping runway increases landing distances. Runway slope information is contained in the Chart Supplement U.S. (formerly Airport/Facility Directory).


Chart Supplement U.S. information.

We’ll have more on takeoff and landing performance factors in future posts and we’ll be back on Thursday with more from our CFI!

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CFI Brief: Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)

In keeping with the theme from Monday’s post and celebration of the release of the new book Finding Carla, today we will continue the discussion on emergency locator transmitters (ELTs). Since the 1960s, technology has improved greatly and brought about new legislation requiring an ELT in all registered U.S. Civil aircraft with few exceptions. The ELT comes in all shapes and sizes from your traditional aircraft version to small handheld devices you can pick up at your local outdoor store. If you have a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket you can even head down the street to your local fine jeweler and pick up one of those trendy Breitling watches with built in ELTs (I’ll take one for my Birthday in case anyone is feeling generous).

Let’s take a look at 14 CFR §91.207 which outlines the regulations surrounding the Emergency Locator Transmitter.


§91.207 Emergency locator transmitters.

(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (e) and (f) of this section, no person may operate a U.S.-registered civil airplane unless—

(1) There is attached to the airplane an approved automatic type emergency locator transmitter that is in operable condition for the following operations, except that after June 21, 1995, an emergency locator transmitter that meets the requirements of TSO-C91 may not be used for new installations:

(i) Those operations governed by the supplemental air carrier and commercial operator rules of parts 121 and 125;

(ii) Charter flights governed by the domestic and flag air carrier rules of part 121 of this chapter; and

(iii) Operations governed by part 135 of this chapter; or

(2) For operations other than those specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, there must be attached to the airplane an approved personal type or an approved automatic type emergency locator transmitter that is in operable condition, except that after June 21, 1995, an emergency locator transmitter that meets the requirements of TSO-C91 may not be used for new installations.

(b) Each emergency locator transmitter required by paragraph (a) of this section must be attached to the airplane in such a manner that the probability of damage to the transmitter in the event of crash impact is minimized. Fixed and deployable automatic type transmitters must be attached to the airplane as far aft as practicable.

(c) Batteries used in the emergency locator transmitters required by paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section must be replaced (or recharged, if the batteries are rechargeable)—

(1) When the transmitter has been in use for more than 1 cumulative hour; or

(2) When 50 percent of their useful life (or, for rechargeable batteries, 50 percent of their useful life of charge) has expired, as established by the transmitter manufacturer under its approval.

The new expiration date for replacing (or recharging) the battery must be legibly marked on the outside of the transmitter and entered in the aircraft maintenance record. Paragraph (c)(2) of this section does not apply to batteries (such as water-activated batteries) that are essentially unaffected during probable storage intervals.

(d) Each emergency locator transmitter required by paragraph (a) of this section must be inspected within 12 calendar months after the last inspection for—

(1) Proper installation;

(2) Battery corrosion;

(3) Operation of the controls and crash sensor; and

(4) The presence of a sufficient signal radiated from its antenna.

(e) Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this section, a person may—

(1) Ferry a newly acquired airplane from the place where possession of it was taken to a place where the emergency locator transmitter is to be installed; and

(2) Ferry an airplane with an inoperative emergency locator transmitter from a place where repairs or replacements cannot be made to a place where they can be made.

No person other than required crewmembers may be carried aboard an airplane being ferried under paragraph (e) of this section.

(f) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to—

(1) Before January 1, 2004, turbojet-powered aircraft;

(2) Aircraft while engaged in scheduled flights by scheduled air carriers;

(3) Aircraft while engaged in training operations conducted entirely within a 50-nautical mile radius of the airport from which such local flight operations began;

(4) Aircraft while engaged in flight operations incident to design and testing;

(5) New aircraft while engaged in flight operations incident to their manufacture, preparation, and delivery;

(6) Aircraft while engaged in flight operations incident to the aerial application of chemicals and other substances for agricultural purposes;

(7) Aircraft certificated by the Administrator for research and development purposes;

(8) Aircraft while used for showing compliance with regulations, crew training, exhibition, air racing, or market surveys;

(9) Aircraft equipped to carry not more than one person.

(10) An aircraft during any period for which the transmitter has been temporarily removed for inspection, repair, modification, or replacement, subject to the following:

(i) No person may operate the aircraft unless the aircraft records contain an entry which includes the date of initial removal, the make, model, serial number, and reason for removing the transmitter, and a placard located in view of the pilot to show “ELT not installed.”

(ii) No person may operate the aircraft more than 90 days after the ELT is initially removed from the aircraft; and

(11) On and after January 1, 2004, aircraft with a maximum payload capacity of more than 18,000 pounds when used in air transportation.

You can be certain that you will be tested on this regulation, not only on your knowledge exam but on the oral portion of the checkride as well. To highlight a few of the more important elements in which you will likely see on your knowledge test.

  • Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT) have been developed as a means of locating downed aircraft. Transmitting on 121.5 and 406 MHz, the ELT will operate continuously for at least 48 hours after impact.
  • To prevent false alarms, the ELT should be tested only during the first 5 minutes after any hour and only for one to three sweeps. False alarms can also be minimized by monitoring 121.5 or 406 MHz prior to engine shutdown at the end of each flight.
  • Non-rechargeable batteries used in ELTs must be replaced when 50% of their useful life has expired, or when the transmitter has been in use for more than 1 cumulative hour.

Between Monday’s and today’s post let’s see if you can correctly answer the group of sample knowledge test questions below.

1. When are non-rechargeable batteries of an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) required to be replaced?
A-Every 24 months.
B-When 50 percent of their useful life expires.
C-At the time of each 100-hour or annual inspection.

2. When may an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) be tested?
B-At 15 and 45 minutes past the hour.
C-During the first 5 minutes after the hour.

3. Which procedure is recommended to ensure that the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) has not been activated?
A-Turn off the aircraft ELT after landing.
B-Ask the airport tower if they are receiving an ELT signal.
C-Monitor 121.5 before engine shutdown.

4. When activated, an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) transmits on
A-118.0 and 118.8 MHz.
B-121.5 and 243.0 MHz.
C-123.0 and 119.0 MHz.

Answers and Explanations to above questions.

And be sure to check out the newly released Finding Carla which in part led to the above regulation.

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Communication Procedures: Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)

Today here at ASA, we’re celebrating the launch of Finding Carla, the first book from commercial pilot and writer Ross Nixon. Finding Carla chronicles the Oiens, a family of three, who survive a plane crash in California’s Trinity Mountains in 1967. The family survived for almost two months but the ruggedness of the terrain and the fact that they were far off their intended course made finding them by sight impossible. Searchers determined the weather in the mountains also made living impossible after a period of time had passed. Half a year later, the eventual finding of the wreck by hunters shocked the nation. A diary and series of letters from the survivors explained their predicament in detail.

This tragedy spurred political action towards the mandatory Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs) that are carried aboard all U.S. civil aircraft. ELT radios have saved thousands of lives since they were mandated and their technology continues to improve and find more lost people.

Today, an ELT is required by 14 CFR §91.207, and must be inspected within 12 calendar months after the last inspection for the following:

  • Proper installation.
  • Battery corrosion.
  • Operation of the controls and crash sensor.
  • The presence of a sufficient signal radiated from its antenna.

The ELT must be attached to the airplane in such a manner that the probability of damage to the transmitter in the event of crash impact is minimized. Fixed and deployable automatic type transmitters must be attached to the airplane as far aft as practicable. Batteries used in the ELTs must be replaced (or recharged, if the batteries are rechargeable):

  • When the transmitter has been in use for more than 1 cumulative hour.
  • When 50 percent of the battery useful life or, for rechargeable batteries, 50 percent of useful life of the charge has expired.

An expiration date for replacing (or recharging) the battery must be legibly marked on the outside of the transmitter and entered in the aircraft maintenance record. This does not apply to batteries that are essentially unaffected during storage intervals, such as water-activated batteries.

Ross Nixon’s compelling story uncovers the “Carla Corbus Diary”—along with the family letters that accompanied it—never before published in full.

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CFI Brief: Remote Pilot Knowledge Exam, Inside Scoop!

I took the new Remote Pilot knowledge test this week and scored a 95%! While proud of my score, my strength isn’t in my genius but rather my ability to develop and execute a plan: I studied properly and used all the recommended materials to achieve the highest possible grade I could. So here’s the inside scoop from my perspective: if you study properly and use the correct materials, the test really will not be all that difficult. The key word being STUDY!

Get the Remote Pilot eKit here!

Based on my firsthand experience, I have created an organized 7-day study preparation plan. I suggest a minimum of 3 hours spent on the topic; for some it might take longer or additional days. Everyone learns at a different pace so don’t rush yourself. The goal here is to learn so you can safely operate your small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) in the National Airspace System. Pay close attention to the text. This will allow you to transfer your learning to all iterations of how a particular topic may be tested on your specific exam.

Here is the material that will be required. Things like the FAA Study Guide are available for free directly from the FAA; the rest can be purchased from There is no way around it; you will need this material to achieve the aeronautical knowledge for a passing score.

Required Study Material:

DAY 1: FAA Certification process
Your first order of business is to become familiar with the Remote Pilot Certificate and all that it entails. By reading over the below material you will better understand what is required of you as the applicant and how best to use the available material and references.


  1. FAA Study Guide—Introduction
  2. Test Prep—Instructions
  3. Airman Certification Standard—All the required knowledge detailed in the ACS are covered in the ASA Test Prep but it doesn’t hurt to do a quick review through the ACS document itself.

Get the Remote Pilot eKit here!

DAY 2: Regulations
Regulations are a good chunk of the test, especially Part 107. About 15-25% of the questions on the knowledge test will cover regulations. Remember: all pertinent regulations are contained in Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, so read it and then read it again.

  1. Read the FAA Study Guide—Chapter 1: Applicable Regulations
  2. Review 14 CFR Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR/AIM)
  3. Test Prep—Chapter 1: Regulations.

Carefully read through each sections study material (the text that precedes the practice questions) and answer all section questions. Once you can answer 90% correct you’re ready to move on to the next subject.

DAY 3: Airspace and Charts
Airspace and charts is another good chunk of the knowledge test, again about 15-25%. Make sure you have a solid understanding and ability to read sectional charts, particularly identifying airspace and frequencies. The back of your Test Prep book contains Legend 1 and several sectional chart excerpts; review them! You will be handed a separate book at the testing center with these same figures to reference on the actual knowledge test. Legend 1 will come in handy (hint hint).

  1. Read the FAA Study Guide—Chapter 2: Airspace Classification, Operating Requirements, and Flight Instructions & Chapter 11: Airport Operations
  2. Watch VTP Video Segments:

Procedures and Airport Operations

Enroute Flight

  1. Test Prep—Chapter 2: National Airspace System

Carefully read through each sections study material and answer all section questions. Once you can answer 90% correct you’re ready to move on to the next subject.

DAY 4: Weather
Weather, it is an extremely broad topic and a lot to cover so I would highly suggest you watch the VTP videos below. These videos will really help you out understanding the specifics of how and what kind of weather impacts flight.

  1. Read the FAA Study Guide—Chapter 3a: Aviation Weather Services & Chapter 3b: Effects of Weather on Small Unmanned Aircraft Performance
  2. Watch VTP Video Segments:


Weather Services
Weather Services

  1. Test Prep—Chapter 3: Weather

Carefully read through each sections study material and answer all section questions. Once you can answer 90% correct you’re ready to move on to the next subject.

Get the Remote Pilot eKit here!

DAY 5: Aircraft Performance
If you are already familiar with the operations of an sUAS, today’s subject will be a little more recognizable as it deals with loading and performance of sUAS. Although a lot of information needs to be covered, it is one of the smallest knowledge topics tested, consisting of 7-11% of your total knowledge test.

  1. Read the FAA Study Guide—Chapter 4: Small Unmanned Aircraft Loading & Chapter 8: Determining the Performance of Small Unmanned Aircraft
  2. Test Prep—Chapter 4: Loading and Performance

Carefully read through each sections study material and answer all section questions. Once you can answer 90% correct you’re ready to move on to the next subject.

DAY 6: Operations
The last knowledge topic is a big one, operations, consisting of 35-45% of the total questions on your exam. Spend some extra time reviewing Aeronautical Decision Making. This is probably something that will be fairly new to you and is an important aspect in aviation. To learn more about aviation communications I would also suggest you watch the below video where you can hear actual radio communications between pilots and air traffic control.

  1. Read the FAA Study Guide—Chapter 5: Emergency Procedures, Chapter 6: Crew Resource Management, Chapter 7: Radio Communications Procedures, Chapter 9: Physiological Factors Affecting Pilots Performance, Chapter 10: Aeronautical Decision Making
  2. Watch VTP Video Segment:

Communications Procedures
Communications Procedures

  1. Test Prep—Chapter 5: Operations

Carefully read through each sections study material and answer all section questions. Once you can answer 90% correct you’re ready to move on to the next subject.

DAY 7: Final Review
Your final study day should be used as an overall review of all the knowledge content. This is a great time to use the 5 free online practice tests that came with your ASA Remote Pilot Test Prep book, or unlimited tests in the Prepware Remote Pilot Software. Once you can consistently score 90% on the practice tests and feel confident with the knowledge behind each question you’re ready to take the exam. A common mistake that new pilot applicants make when studying is trying to memorize the study questions. Many of the questions in the Test Prep may be very close to what you will see on the actual exam, but it’s important to remember they are NOT exact replicas. The actual database of FAA Knowledge Test questions for Remote Pilot is kept private and not available to the public – it’s what the FAA refers to as a ‘closed exam.’ So it is very important to actually understand the knowledge associated with the question so you can answer any version of the questions you’ve been studying.

  • Consistently score 90% on practice knowledge exams.
  • Fully understand the knowledge presented in the FAA Study Guide and Test Prep.
  • Test Scheduled, Date & Time:____________

I’d say good luck but you’re not going to need it if you follow the above plan!

Download the remote pilot seven day study plan and be sure to get the Remote Pilot eKit which contains all components of the 7-day plan.

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Aircraft Systems: Fuel Contamination

Fuel contamination is a preventable event. Today, we’ll take a look at what the new edition of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge has to say about it.

Accidents attributed to powerplant failure from fuel contamination have often been traced to:

  • Inadequate preflight inspection by the pilot
  • Servicing aircraft with improperly filtered fuel from small tanks or drums
  • Storing aircraft with partially filled fuel tanks
  • Lack of proper maintenance

Fuel should be drained from the fuel strainer quick drain and from each fuel tank sump into a transparent container and then checked for dirt and water. When the fuel strainer is being drained, water in the tank may not appear until all the fuel has been drained from the lines leading to the tank. This indicates that water remains in the tank and is not forcing the fuel out of the fuel lines leading to the fuel strainer. Therefore, drain enough fuel from the fuel strainer to be certain that fuel is being drained from the tank. The amount depends on the length of fuel line from the tank to the drain. If water or other contaminants are found in the first sample, drain further samples until no trace appears.


Water may also remain in the fuel tanks after the drainage from the fuel strainer has ceased to show any trace of water. This residual water can be removed only by draining the fuel tank sump drains.

Water is the principal fuel contaminant. Suspended water droplets in the fuel can be identified by a cloudy appearance of the fuel, or by the clear separation of water from the colored fuel, which occurs after the water has settled to the bottom of the tank. As a safety measure, the fuel sumps should be drained before every flight during the preflight inspection.

Fuel tanks should be filled after each flight or after the last flight of the day to prevent moisture condensation within the tank. To prevent fuel contamination, avoid refueling from cans and drums.

In remote areas or in emergency situations, there may be no alternative to refueling from sources with inadequate anticontamination systems. While a chamois skin and funnel may be the only possible means of filtering fuel, using them is hazardous. Remember, the use of a chamois does not always ensure decontaminated fuel. Worn-out chamois do not filter water; neither will a new, clean chamois that is already water-wet or damp. Most imitation chamois skins do not filter water.

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CFI Brief: Remote Pilot Privileges

So who’s planning on taking the Remote Pilot Knowledge Test next week? It becomes available August 29. I know I am! Don’t worry, I am well aware I don’t “need” to since I already hold a pilot certificate issued under Part 61, but I figured it would be a great opportunity and good learning experience to take the exam anyway. Not everyone has an interest in drones, but anyone flying in the National Airspace System has something to gain by learning the operational parameters of our new neighbors we’re sharing the sky with. One of the topics covered on the knowledge exam that I have been studying up on is regulations. According to the Airman Certification Standards (ACS-10), 15-25% of the questions will fall under this knowledge category. I thought it would be fun today to take an excerpt from the ASA Remote Pilot Test Prep book and then test our knowledge on a couple of the regulation questions. Start by reading the below except and then see if you can answer all 4 of the sample knowledge test questions correctly. I will provide answers and explanations at the end of the post.

Remote Pilot Privileges
The remote PIC is directly responsible for and is the final authority as to the operation of the sUAS conducted under 14 CFR Part 107. He or she must:

  • Be designated before each flight (but can change during the flight).
  • Ensure that the operation poses no undue hazard to people, aircraft, or property in the event of a loss of control of the aircraft for any reason.
  • Operate the small unmanned aircraft to ensure compliance with all applicable provisions and regulations.

Being able to safely operate the sUAS relies on, among other things, the physical and mental capabilities of the remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, Visual Observer (VO), and any other direct participant in the sUAS operation. Though the person manipulating the controls of an sUAS and VO are not required to obtain an airman medical certificate, they may not participate in the operation of an sUAS if they know or have reason to know that they have a physical or mental condition that could interfere with the safe operation of the sUAS.

A person may not operate or act as a remote PIC or VO in the operation of more than one UA at the same time. Additionally, Part 107 allows transfer of control of an sUAS between certificated remote pilots. Two or more certificated remote pilots transferring operational control (i.e., the remote PIC designation) to each other may do so only if they are both capable of maintaining visual line of sight (VLOS) of the UA and without loss of control (LOC). For example, one remote pilot may be designated the remote PIC at the beginning of the operation, and then at some point in the operation another remote pilot may take over as remote PIC by positively communicating that he or she is doing so. As the person responsible for the safe operation of the UAS, any remote pilot who will assume remote PIC duties should meet all of the requirements of Part 107, including awareness of factors that could affect the flight.

Alright, let’s find out if we learned anything!

1. Who is responsible for ensuring that there are enough crewmembers for a given sUAS operation?
A—Remote Pilot in Command.
B—Person manipulating the controls.
C—Visual Observer.

2. Who is ultimately responsible for preventing a hazardous situation before an accident occurs?
A—Remote Pilot in Command.
B—Person manipulating the controls.
C—Visual Observer.

3. The remote PIC may operate how many sUAS at a time?
C—No more then 2

4. When using a small unmanned aircraft in a commercial operation, who is responsible for informing the participants about emergency procedures?
A—The lead visual observer.
B—The FAA inspector-in-charge.
C—The Remote Pilot in Command.


Click here for the answers and explanations, no cheating!

You can find all Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Regulations in the 2017 FAR/AIM.


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