AIRCRAFT PERFORMANCE & MONITORING
(Ed.Note: Common Sense, ain’t it?….)
Accident investigations have discovered causal factors resulting from unreasonable expectations of aircraft performance — especially when operating at the edges of the aircraft weight and balance envelope. That’s why the GAJSC’s Loss of Control Work Group suggests improvement in pilots’ understanding and calculation of aircraft performance and performance monitoring.
When we speak of aircraft performance, we’re usually answering three basic questions:
· How much can I haul?
· How far can I go?
· How long will it take me?
WEIGHT AND BALANCE
A good way to plan a flight is to decide how much weight you want to haul and to what destination. Start with the crew and passengers. Then add cargo. If these items alone exceed your aircraft’s capability, you’ll either have to make multiple trips, or get a bigger aircraft.
TAKE-OFF AND LANDING DISTANCE
You’ll also have to consider your departure and arrival airport’s runway lengths, obstructions, and expected density altitude. If the field is short and/or obstructed, you may not be able to safely fly with a full load. One more thing: Just because the book says the aircraft can do it, doesn’t mean you can do it. Pilot skill and experience count for a lot when you’re trying to duplicate pilot operating handbook (POH) performance figures. Be conservative when you calculate your performance and consider adding a safety factor. Some pilots add 50% to their take-off and landing calculations.
When it comes to landings, you’ll want to be stabilized on final approach with full flaps at 1.3 times the stalling speed in landing configuration. Don’t cut your final short. Make it long enough to be stable and go around if you’re unstable
THE GREATEST VARIABLE
So, what’s the greatest variable in all of this? That’s right — the pilot. Let’s face it. The POH figures and all of our calculations don’t mean much if we can’t duplicate them in our flying. That’s why it’s important to document your performance capability at least yearly with a flight instructor.