ASA’s CFI offers insights on difficult concepts posed in FAA exams. Each post will break down an FAA question and deconstruct the answer in a way aimed to teach aviators how to more effectively prepare themselves for their FAA examinations.

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CFI Brief: Deciphering the METAR

Today we are going to take a look at your most common type of weather report, the Aviation Routine Weather Report, abbreviated as METAR. A METAR is an observation of current surface weather reported in a standard international format. The purpose is to provide pilots with an accurate depiction of current weather conditions at an airport. METARs are issued on a regularly scheduled basis, usually somewhere close to the top of the hour, unless significant weather changes have occurred. If this is the case then a special METAR or ‘SPECI’ will be issued at any time between routine reports.

Here is an example of a routine METAR report for a station location.

METAR KGGG 161753Z AUTO 14021G26KT 3/4SM +TSRA BR BKN008 OVC012CB 18/17 A2970 RMK PRESFR

This METAR reports contains the following typical information in sequential order which is the standard formatted coding for all METAR reports.

1. Type of report. There are two types of METAR reports. The first is the routine METAR report that is transmitted on a regular time interval. The second is the aviation selected SPECI. This is a special report that can be given at any time to update the METAR for rapidly changing weather conditions, aircraft mishaps, or other critical information.

METAR KGGG 161753Z AUTO 14021G26KT 3/4SM +TSRA BR BKN008 OVC012CB 18/17 A2970 RMK PRESFR]

2. Station identifier. A four-letter code as established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In the 48 contiguous states, a unique three-letter identifier is preceded by the letter “K.” For example, Gregg County Airport in Longview, Texas, is identified by the letters “KGGG,” K being the country designation and GGG being the airport identifier. In other regions of the world, including Alaska and Hawaii, the first two letters of the four-letter ICAO identifier indicate the region, country, or state. Alaska identifiers always begin with the letters “PA” and Hawaii identifiers always begin with the letters “PH.” Station identifiers can be found by searching various websites such as DUATS and NOAA’s Aviation Weather Aviation Digital Data Services (ADDS).

METAR KGGG 161753Z AUTO 14021G26KT 3/4SM +TSRA BR BKN008 OVC012CB 18/17 A2970 RMK PRESFR

3. Date and time of report. Depicted in a six-digit group (161753Z). The first two digits are the date. The last four digits are the time of the METAR/SPECI, which is always given in coordinated universal time (UTC). A “Z” is appended to the end of the time to denote the time is given in Zulu time (UTC) as opposed to local time. This METAR was issued on the 16th at 1753 Zulu.

METAR KGGG 161753Z AUTO 14021G26KT 3/4SM +TSRA BR BKN008 OVC012CB 18/17 A2970 RMK PRESFR

4. Modifier. Denotes that the METAR/SPECI came from an automated source or that the report was corrected. If the notation “AUTO” is listed in the METAR/SPECI, the report came from an automated source. It also lists “AO1” (for no precipitation discriminator) or “AO2” (with precipitation discriminator) in the “Remarks” section to indicate the type of precipitation sensors employed at the automated station. When the modifier “COR” is used, it identifies a corrected report sent out to replace an earlier report that contained an error. If this was the case for this example the word AUTO would be replaced with COR.

METAR KGGG 161753Z AUTO 14021G26KT 3/4SM +TSRA BR BKN008 OVC012CB 18/17 A2970 RMK PRESFR

5. Wind. Reported with five digits (14021KT) unless the speed is greater than 99 knots, in which case the wind is reported with six digits. The first three digits indicate the direction the true wind is blowing from in tens of degrees. If the wind is variable, it is reported as “VRB.” The last two digits indicate the speed of the wind in knots unless the wind is greater than 99 knots, in which case it is indicated by three digits. If the winds are gusting, the letter “G” follows the wind speed (G26KT). After the letter “G,” the peak gust recorded is provided. If the wind direction varies more than 60° and the wind speed is greater than six knots, a separate group of numbers, separated by a “V,” will indicate the extremes of the wind directions.

METAR KGGG 161753Z AUTO 14021G26KT 3/4SM +TSRA BR BKN008 OVC012CB 18/17 A2970 RMK PRESFR

6. Visibility. The prevailing visibility (¾ SM) is reported in statute miles as denoted by the letters “SM.” It is reported in both miles and fractions of miles. At times, runway visual range (RVR) is reported following the prevailing visibility. RVR is the distance a pilot can see down the runway in a moving aircraft. When RVR is reported, it is shown with an R, then the runway number followed by a slant, then the visual range in feet. For example, when the RVR is reported as R17L/1400FT, it translates to a visual range of 1,400 feet on runway 17 left.

METAR KGGG 161753Z AUTO 14021G26KT 3/4SM +TSRA BR BKN008 OVC012CB 18/17 A2970 RMK PRESFR

7. Weather. Can be broken down into two different categories: qualifiers and weather phenomenon (+TSRA BR). First, the qualifiers of intensity, proximity, and the descriptor of the weather are given. The intensity may be light (–), moderate ( ), or heavy (+). Proximity only depicts weather phenomena that are in the airport vicinity. The notation “VC” indicates a specific weather phenomenon is in the vicinity of five to ten miles from the airport. Descriptors are used to describe certain types of precipitation and obscurations. Weather phenomena may be reported as being precipitation, obscurations, and other phenomena, such as squalls or funnel clouds. Descriptions of weather phenomena as they begin or end and hailstone size are also listed in the “Remarks” sections of the report. The coding for qualifier and weather phenomena are shown here in this chart. The weather groups are constructed by considering columns 1–5 in this table sequence: intensity, followed by descriptor, followed by weather phenomena. As an example “heavy rain showers” is coded as +SHRA.

METAR KGGG 161753Z AUTO 14021G26KT 3/4SM +TSRA BR BKN008 OVC012CB 18/17 A2970 RMK PRESFR


8. Sky condition. Always reported in the sequence of amount, height, and type or indefinite ceiling/height (vertical visibility) (BKN008 OVC012CB, VV003). The heights of the cloud bases are reported with a three-digit number in hundreds of feet AGL. Clouds above 12,000 feet are not detected or reported by an automated station. The types of clouds, specifically towering cumulus (TCU) or cumulonimbus (CB) clouds, are reported with their height. Contractions are used to describe the amount of cloud coverage and obscuring phenomena. The amount of sky coverage is reported in eighths of the sky from horizon to horizon as shown in this table. Less than 1/8 is abbreviated as Sky Clear, Clear, or Few. 1/8 – 2/8 Few. 3/8 – 4/8 Scattered. 5/8 – 7/8 Broken. 8/8 Overcast. For aviation purposes, the ceiling is the lowest broken or overcast layer, or vertical visibility into an obscuration.

METAR KGGG 161753Z AUTO 14021G26KT 3/4SM +TSRA BR BKN008 OVC012CB 18/17 A2970 RMK PRESFR


9. Temperature and dew point. The air temperature and dew point are always given in degrees Celsius (C) or (18/17). Temperatures below 0 °C are preceded by the letter “M” to indicate minus. 10.

METAR KGGG 161753Z AUTO 14021G26KT 3/4SM +TSRA BR BKN008 OVC012CB 18/17 A2970 RMK PRESFR

10. Altimeter setting. Reported as inches of mercury (“Hg) in a four-digit number group (A2970). It is always preceded by the letter “A.” Rising or falling pressure may also be denoted in the “Remarks” sections as “PRESRR” or “PRESFR,” respectively.

METAR KGGG 161753Z AUTO 14021G26KT 3/4SM +TSRA BR BKN008 OVC012CB 18/17 A2970 RMK PRESFR

11. Remarks—the remarks section always begins with the letters “RMK.” Comments may or may not appear in this section of the METAR. The information contained in this section may include wind data, variable visibility, beginning and ending times of particular phenomenon, pressure information, and various other information deemed necessary. An example of a remark regarding weather phenomenon that does not fit in any other category would be: OCNL LTGICCG. This translates as occasional lightning in the clouds and from cloud to ground. Automated stations also use the remarks section to indicate the equipment needs maintenance.

METAR KGGG 161753Z AUTO 14021G26KT 3/4SM +TSRA BR BKN008 OVC012CB 18/17 A2970 RMK PRESFR

Putting it all together you would read this sample METAR as follows:

Routine METAR for Gregg County Airport for the 16th day of the month at 1753 zulu automated source. Winds are 140 at 21 knots gusting to 26 knots. Visibility is ¾ statute mile. Thunderstorms with heavy rain and mist. Ceiling is broken at 800 feet, overcast at 1,200 feet with cumulonimbus clouds. Temperature 18 °C and dew point 17 °C. Barometric pressure is 29.70″Hg and falling rapidly.


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CFI Brief: New GFA Supplement Figures

In the latest Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement for Instrument Rating (CT-8080-3F), the FAA has added several Graphical Forecast for Aviation (GFA) figures. These figures are 260 through 271 in the supplement and although the FAA has not yet added questions to the Instrument knowledge test on GFA, this weather tool is still something to become familiar with.

The GFA at the Aviation Weather Center (AWC) website is an interactive display providing continuously updated observed and forecast weather information over the continental United States (CONUS). It is intended to give users a complete picture of weather critical to aviation safety. The GFA display shows user-selected weather categories, each containing multiple fields of interest at altitudes from the surface up to FL480. Depending on the field of interest chosen, weather information is available from -6 in the past (observed) to +15 hours in the future (forecast).

The GFA is not considered a weather product but an aggregate of several existing weather products. The information and data from the various weather products are overlaid on a high-resolution basemap of the United States: The user selects flight levels and current time period for either observed or forecast weather information. Mouse-clicking or hovering over the map provides additional information in textual format, such as current METAR or TAF for a selected airport. The GFA replaces the textual area forecast (FA) for the CONUS and Hawaii with a more modern digital solution for obtaining weather information. The Aviation Surface Forecast and Aviation Cloud Forecast graphics are snapshot images derived from a subset of the aviation weather forecasts.

The Aviation Surface Forecast displays surface visibility with overlays of wind and gusts, predominant precipitation type (i.e., rain, snow, mix, ice, or thunderstorm) coincident with any cloud and predominant weather type (i.e., haze, fog, smoke, blowing dust/sand). The graphical AIRMETs (Airmen’s Meteorological Information) for instrument flight rules (IFR) and strong surface wind are overlaid. See FAA Figure 260. Forecast surface visibility is contoured for Low IFR (0 – 1 statute miles), IFR (1 – 3 statute miles), and Marginal VFR (MVFR; 3 – 5 statute miles) conditions. Visibilities in excess of 5 statute miles are not shown. Winds are depicted with a standard wind barb, in red when indicating gusts (see the figure below).


Below are some sample questions for what you could expect to see on an FAA knowledge test in the near future using those aforementioned GFA figures.

1. (Refer to Figure 261.) The precipitation type forecast to occur over southern ND (area C) is
A—Freezing rain.
B—Freezing drizzle.
C—Moderate snow.instrument_261

2. (Refer to Figure 266.) Precipitation throughout Washington and Oregon is predominantly
A—Light rain and rain showers.
B—Heavy rain showers.
C—Freezing rain.instrument_266
3.(Refer to Figure 269.) The cloud coverage around area B on the Aviation Cloud Forecast is forecast to be
A—Bases at 6,000 feet, tops at 7,000.
B—BRKN tops at 7,000 feet.
C—OVC at 7,000 feet.instrument_269

Answers and explanations

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CFI Brief: Sunset Weather

What could be better than taking your significant other on a romantic sunset flight around your local airport? I’ll tell you what, taking your significant other on a romantic sunset flight during an absolutely epic sunset! Sounds awesome right, but just how are you suppose to know when an epic sunset is going to happen? Easy… check the forecast. has come up with an algorithm to forecast the sunrise and sunset quality throughout the United States and all over the world! Take a look below at the sample sunset forecast for the United States.

Sunset Forecast

Areas of better sunset quality are denoted by warmer colors like the yellows, oranges and reds. It appears that the highest quality sunset will be visible throughout Central California according to this forecast. So if you happen to live in say Sacramento, CA it would be an excellent evening for that sunset cruise.

For the latest forecast visits and follow them on twitter @sunset_wx .

Now remember, since you will potentialy be flying prior to civil twilight, it is important to make sure your aircraft has the minimum required equipment under 14 CFR 91.205 for night flight. This is in addition to required equipment for day flight.

14 CFR 91.205

…(c) Visual flight rules (night). For VFR flight at night, the following instruments and equipment are required:

(1) Instruments and equipment specified in paragraph (b) of this section.

(2) Approved position lights.

(3) An approved aviation red or aviation white anticollision light system on all U.S.-registered civil aircraft. Anticollision light systems initially installed after August 11, 1971, on aircraft for which a type certificate was issued or applied for before August 11, 1971, must at least meet the anticollision light standards of part 23, 25, 27, or 29 of this chapter, as applicable, that were in effect on August 10, 1971, except that the color may be either aviation red or aviation white. In the event of failure of any light of the anticollision light system, operations with the aircraft may be continued to a stop where repairs or replacement can be made.

(4) If the aircraft is operated for hire, one electric landing light.

(5) An adequate source of electrical energy for all installed electrical and radio equipment.

(6) One spare set of fuses, or three spare fuses of each kind required, that are accessible to the pilot in flight.


To help you remember you can use this simple mnemonic ‘FLAPS’.

F uses (spare) or circuit breakers

L anding light (if for hire)

A nticollision lights

P osition lights

S ource of electricity


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CFI Brief: Part 107 sUAS Operating Limitations

If you plan on operating an sUAS under 14 CFR Part 107, make sure you fully understand your operating limitations.

Operating Limitations

The sUAS must be operated in accordance with the following limitations:

• Cannot be flown faster than a ground speed of 87 knots (100 miles per hour).

• Cannot be flown higher than 400 feet above ground level (AGL) unless flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure and not flown higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit. See Figure 1-1.


Figure 1-1. Flying near a tower

Crewmembers must operate within the following limitations:

• Minimum visibility, as observed from the location of the control station, must be no less than 3 statute miles.

• Minimum distance from clouds must be no less than 500 feet below a cloud and 2,000 feet horizontally from the cloud.

Note: These operating limitations are intended, among other things, to support the remote pilot’s ability to identify hazardous conditions relating to encroaching aircraft or persons on the ground, and to take the appropriate actions to maintain safety.

Below is the regulation outlined in 14 CFR Part 107.51

§107.51   Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.

A remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small unmanned aircraft system must comply with all of the following operating limitations when operating a small unmanned aircraft system:

(a) The groundspeed of the small unmanned aircraft may not exceed 87 knots (100 miles per hour).

(b) The altitude of the small unmanned aircraft cannot be higher than 400 feet above ground level, unless the small unmanned aircraft:

(1) Is flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure; and

(2) Does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit.

(c) The minimum flight visibility, as observed from the location of the control station must be no less than 3 statute miles. For purposes of this section, flight visibility means the average slant distance from the control station at which prominent unlighted objects may be seen and identified by day and prominent lighted objects may be seen and identified by night.

(d) The minimum distance of the small unmanned aircraft from clouds must be no less than:

(1) 500 feet below the cloud; and

(2) 2,000 feet horizontally from the cloud.


You can find all the sUAS Part 107 regulations in this years 2018 FAR|AIM available NOW!

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CFI Brief: Can you be a pilot with Diabetes?

Today we are featuring a guest editorial column by  

In this article we will explore whether or not you can become a pilot if you have diabetes. We will look at piloting for a commercial airline with diabetes and piloting for a private company with diabetes. We will also look at other jobs centered on aviation, such as being a flight instructor, or flying gliders and other small aircraft.

We will look at whether or not you can pilot an aircraft if you have Type 1Type 2, or pre-diabetes. We will look at whether or not it matters if you are taking insulin, other injections for diabetes, oral medications, or are diet and exercise controlled.

We have already been looking at some promising careers that we can have with diabetes that is well-controlled.

We have looked at being a long-distance truck driver, an EMS/Paramedic, a Firefighter, an air traffic controller, and a law enforcement officer. We have looked at whether or not you can be in the military with diabetes. Now we take on the most difficult career to date.

*Becoming a commercial airline pilot with diabetes requiring insulin is prohibited by a blanket ban in the United States. It is one of 15 conditions that can disqualify you when you go for your medical certificate with the FAA.

So what’s up? Let’s look…

You can read the article in it’s entirety by clicking on the image below.

Pilot Diabetes

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CFI Brief: Fireworks, Drones and Airplanes Don’t Mix

The ASA offices will be closed July 3rd and 4th for Independence Day. Happy 4th of July!

Now for a public service announcement from the FAA!

June 30– As people travel, purchase fireworks and fly drones over the Independence Day holiday, the FAA reminds them to know and follow the aviation safety rules.

Here are general guidelines for people flying drones:

  • Don’t fly your drone in or near fireworks
  • Don’t fly over people
  • Don’t fly near airports

To learn more about what you can and can’t do with your drone go to or download the B4UFLY app for free in the Apple and Google Play store. Also, check out the FAA’s July 4th No Drone Zone PSA video.
There are also strict rules prohibiting airline passengers from packing or carrying fireworks on domestic or international flights. Remember these simple rules:

  • Don’t pack fireworks in your carry-on bags
  • Don’t pack fireworks in your checked luggage
  • Don’t send fireworks through the mail or parcel services

Passengers violating the rules can face fines or criminal prosecution. When in Doubt…Leave it out!

For more information on the passenger rules for fireworks and other hazardous materials, please go to  Leave the fireworks at home–Fireworks Don’t Fly (PDF) (Poster)

As FAA works to ensure that passengers arrive at their destinations safely, it is important that you follow the rules while enjoying your drones as well as celebrating the July 4th holiday.

FAA 123

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CFI Brief: Significant Weather (SIGWX) Forecast Charts

The updated Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement for Instrument Rating (FAA-CT-8080-3F) has replaced 4 panel Low Level SIGWX Prognostic charts with updated 2 panel charts. These new figures as seen below show outlooks for both 12  and 24 hour forecast periods, with the left display being 12 hours and right 24 hours. The High Level SIGWX Prognostic chart has been updated as well with a much clearer chart. The following study information and sample test questions will help to prepare you for answering questions relating to these updated charts.

The Low-Level Significant Weather Prognostic Chart (FL240 and below) portrays forecast weather hazards that may influence flight planning, including those areas or activities of most significant turbulence and icing. It is a two-panel display representing a 12-hour forecast interval (left) and 24-hour forecast interval (right). Turbulence intensities are identified by standard symbols as shown in the figure below. The vertical extent of turbulence layers is depicted by top and base heights separated by a slant and shown in hundreds of feet MSL (180/100 = 18,000’ MSL to 10,000’ MSL). Freezing levels above the surface will correspond with a given altitude in hundreds of feet MSL (080 = 8,000’ MSL). Low-level SIGWX charts are issued four times daily, and valid time, date, and chart type are depicted in the lower left corner of each panel.

The High-Level Significant Weather Prognostic Chart (FL250 to FL630) outlines areas of forecast turbulence and cumulonimbus clouds, shows the expected height of the tropopause, and predicts jet stream location and velocity. The chart depicts clouds and turbulence as shown in the figure below.


Cumulonimbus cloud (CB) areas are enclosed by a red scalloped line. The height of the tropopause is shown in hundreds of feet MSL and enclosed in a rectangular box; centers of high (H) and low (L) heights are enclosed in polygons. Areas of turbulence are enclosed in yellow dashed lines and labeled with the appropriate severity symbol and top and base altitudes. A jet stream axis containing a wind speed of 80 knots or greater is identified by a bold green line and directional arrowhead. A standard wind symbol is placed on the jet stream to identify velocity and an associated flight level is placed adjacent to it. An omission of a base altitude (XXX) identifies that the weather phenomena exceeds the lower limit of the high-level SIGWX prog chart (FL250).

1. (Refer to Figure 18.) The right panel of the significant weather prognostic chart provides a forecast of selected aviation weather hazards up to FL240 until what time?
A—March 18th at 0600.
B—March 17th at 1800.
C—March 18th at 1800.

2. (Refer to Figure 19.) The next issuance of the 12-hour significant weather prognostic chart will become valid at

3. (Refer to Figure 20.) What is the height of the tropopause over the northwest United States?
A—45,000 feet MSL.
B—45,000 meters.
C—450,000 feet MSL.

Answers posted in the comments section. 

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CFI Brief: June 2017 Test Roll

June has been a busy month here at ASA headquarters and for the FAA. Let’s recap what all is going down in terms of Airman Testing.

The FAA has released updated Airman Certification Standards for both Private Pilot Airplane (FAA-S-ACS-6A) and Instrument Pilot Airplane (FAA-S-ACS-8A) effective June 2017. Additionally, the Commercial Pilot Airplane ACS was released, replacing the Practical Test Standards (8081-12). These are now available for purchase through the ASA website and can be found following the two links below, out with the old in with the new!

Private Pilot Airplane (ACS-6A)
Instrument Pilot Airplane (ACS-8A)
Commercial Pilot Airplane (ACS-7)


Getting ready to take the Instrument Knowledge Exam? Be aware the FAA has released the new Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement for Instrument Rating (FAA-CT-8080-3F) now in effect at all testing centers. This supplement includes several new and updated figures and is available for purchase through the ASA website. This new supplement will be included in the 2018 Instrument Pilot Test Prep books and Prepware software and apps, available late July.

Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement for Instrument Pilot (FAA-CT-8080-3F)


In terms of the Airman Knowledge Exams, the FAA is reporting no substantial changes with respect to topics covered in pilot certificate/rating test banks for this June test roll cycle. We are getting a lot of calls asking if the FAA has begun testing on the new BasicMed rules and the answer is no. The FAA expects to develop test questions on the new BasicMed regulation in the future. Third-Class Medical questions will remain, since BasicMed is an addition to the medical certification structure, not a replacement of the Third-Class Medical Certificate.

The following topics have been removed from FAA Knowledge Tests (effective June 12, 2017):

  • 4-panel prog charts
  • Weather depiction chart
  • Area forecasts
  • Aerobatic flight

June 2017 ASA Test Prep Question Updates are now available! Check the link below.



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CFI Brief: 5 Major Items Pilots Miss During Their Preflight Inspection – InfoGraphic

Today on the Learn to Fly Blog we are featuring a guest article by Alec Larson of Sun State Aviation. Thanks for the excellent article, Alec, and for all the hard work that went into producing this this!

Perhaps the most critical part of any general aviation flight is the preflight inspection of the aircraft. For most pilots, the preflight inspection follows a checklist along with a routine flow around the aircraft. Most pilots and student pilots perform what would be considered a sufficient inspection, following their checklist and routine items.

Surely 100% of pilots would be able to find discrepancies if they were present right?

Sunstate 1

Well………not exactly. Sit down, strap yourself in and get ready to read some interesting real-life statistics!

Every year at the Sun N Fun airshow the FAA partners with a local flight school to host the Project Preflight event. The purpose of the event is to test the preflight efficiency of pilots and student pilots of all ages, hours and experience. A flight school volunteers one of their airplanes for the event.

Participants are invited to preflight the aircraft like they would before any other flight – checking the fuel, oil, tire pressure and anything with blue tape is unnecessary. The catch is, the aircraft has several intentional discrepancies, some are major squawks! This year we hosted the event and gathered the data from 144 total participants.

Here are the results………

Water Bottle Lodged Behind Rudder Pedals – Out of 144 participants only 30% found this major discrepancy.

Cotter Pin Missing In Right WheelOnly 28% found this one!

Elevator Nut Missing – 39% found the nut to missing from the right side of the elevator.

Rag Behind The Alternator – Easy to spot but only 63% of participants found the rag!

Cotter Pin In Control Lock – Only 42% found a small cotter pin in place of the control lock, hard to miss but deadly if left in.

Sunstate 2

Interesting right?! The statistics are concerning to say the least, but what a great insight into a previously unknown sector of general aviation that can be used to educate pilots and future pilots.

So how can we improve these statistics?

Yes, of course we can say “pilots need to be more thorough in their inspections” or “we need to apply more focus and attention to detail during a preflight” but what are some other realistic strategies we can implement to actually achieve that?! Here’s one – maybe it’s extreme and definitely hypothetical but it’s worth pondering.

“Try to preflight the airplane as if you had just built it part by part, or just finished working on it yourself”. 

Again, hypothetical but let’s break it down. We need pilots to perform thorough inspections, how can you put yourself in that “attentive” frame of mind? If you’ve ever rotated the tires on your vehicle yourself, isn’t it likely that you’ll double check and triple check the tightness of the lug nuts before you call it a job done? The theory is that you’ll be taking more responsibility for the state of the aircraft rather than assuming the mechanic or previous pilot left the aircraft in an airworthy condition. This doesn’t mean you should become an aircraft mechanic or add an hour to your preflight, the goal is to find a way to improve our attention and focus when preflighting an airplane.

Project Preflight was certainly educational and we had an absolute blast hosting the event. On behalf of SunState Aviation we would like to thank all of the 144 participants for stopping by and giving us your time, without you this educational piece and the safety of future pilots would not be a reality!

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CFI Brief: FAA Taxi Test

Monday on the blog we briefly discussed runway incursions and recommended practices for pilots to avoid such an occurrence. As air traffic grows and airports become busier, both general aviation and commercial, runway incursions become more of a growing concern to pilots and airport operators. In an effort to cut down on the potential of surface movement issues the FAA has implemented programs such as defining runway hotspots and identifying standardized taxi route.

Runway Hotspots
ICAO defines runway hotspots as a location on an aerodrome movement area with a history or potential risk of collision or runway incursion and where heightened attention by pilots and drivers is necessary. Hotspots alert pilots to complex or potentially confusing taxiway geometry that could make surface navigation challenging. Whatever the reason, pilots need to be aware that these hazardous intersections exist, and they should be increasingly vigilant when approaching and taxiing through these intersections. These hotspots are depicted on some airport charts as circled areas. [Figure 1-6] The FAA Office of Runway Safety has links to the FAA regions that maintain a complete list of airports with runway hotspots at

Hot Spots

Standardized Taxi Routes
Standard taxi routes improve ground management at high-density airports, namely those that have airline service. At these airports, typical taxiway traffic patterns used to move aircraft between gate and runway are laid out and coded. The ATC specialist (ATCS) can reduce radio communication time and eliminate taxi instruction misinterpretation by simply clearing the pilot to taxi via a specific, named route. An example of this would be Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX), where North Route is used to transition to Runway 24L. [Figure 1-7] These routes are issued by ground control, and if unable to comply, pilots must advise ground control on initial contact. If for any reason the pilot becomes uncertain as to the correct taxi route, a request should be made for progressive taxi instructions. These step-by-step routing directions are also issued if the controller deems it necessary due to traffic, closed taxiways, airport construction, etc. It is the pilot’s responsibility to know if a particular airport has preplanned taxi routes, to be familiar with them, and to have the taxi descriptions in their possession. Specific information about airports that use coded taxiway routes is included in the Notices to Airmen Publication (NTAP).

Standardized Taxi Routes
The best way you as a pilot can prevent a runway incursions is by being familiar with your surroundings and understanding the airport environment and standardized procedures that are in place. The FAA Safety Team has put together an excellent video and taxi test that will test your knowledge of procedures and operations on the airport movement area. I encourage you to spend 60 minutes and take the course.

The FAA Taxi Test

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