The value of checklists...

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by 1000RR, Jan 23, 2021.

  1. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-Flight

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    I've never doubted them whatsoever, but yesterday they came into play. We (me and my CFI) flew underneath a Bravo shelf to land at a Charlie (KSFB). Daytime flight on the way over and we were intending a nighttime flight for the way back. I'm in the middle of my XC's right now as well as about to get into night ops. So we did some dead reckoning and pilotage on the way over with a lot of focus on the radios. Flight over was great. We parked, got out, actually took the crew car (nice Mercedes) and picked up my CFI's daughter for the return flight. Got in the plane, going through the Startup Checklist and one of the early items is turning on the alternator and watching for positive charging to occur on the ammeter and... nothing. We tried a few more times and shutdown and restarted again - nothing. Being it was a night flight returning home (45 minutes), we called it. My wife ended up driving all the way over and picked us all up and back home we went. Great wife! Long evening/night! I did have a backup radio in my bag and me and my CFI both were running Foreflight with a Sentry... so there were some options but nothing worth taking a chance on. Great training flight!
     
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  2. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Not just checklists, but ADM and risk management
     
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  3. kep5niner

    kep5niner Pre-takeoff checklist

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    “Use of the checklist is mandatory” in Army Aviation.

    And in my aircraft.

    Well done. I’m sure you won’t forget that lesson.
     
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  4. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

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    Always good to have a reminder to do things properly, especially with a good outcome (nothing really bad happened).
     
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  5. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Good choice. One thing that might be a good discussion for a future ground lesson is to sit down and run through the process to determine if the alternator/charging system was required for this flight or not. Questions like this will be on the checkride, so this can be a good (and real) scenario to work through.
     
  6. Daleandee

    Daleandee Cleared for Takeoff

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    You did good ... and gave us all a great reminder.
     
  7. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    I will ask the obvious question. How does KSFB airport come to have a Mercedes for a courtesy car?
     
  8. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-Flight

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    Very good point, my initial response (without looking it up) was - we could have taken off as long as we believed we'd have lights for the entire flight (which I don't know that we would have - so I would have again said "no-go"). After looking it up, that seems like an appropriate answer, unless I've missed a piece?!
     
  9. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-Flight

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    Haha, great question. If you use 'Millionaire' for your FBO at KSFB, boom - Mercedes. They also have a mommy van, so there's that option too.

    We had called ahead so they had one waiting. With a top off, ramp fee was waived, then they had a $5 facility charge which also covered the 1st night's overnight fee.

    We actually used the Benz twice. Once to get my CFI's daughter, then the 2nd time was to go grab some BBQ for dinner while we waited for my wife to arrive to get us back home.

    It was my first experience doing all that (my CFI does it all the time) but they treated us very nice, really enjoyed it. Their facility inside was beautiful too. With a name like 'Millionaire' you can imagine the type of planes parked on their ramp on a continuous basis!
     
  10. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Without knowing what airplane you’re flying it is hard to say. But despite the common belief, many airplanes require a functional alternator. There is likely information provided in the flight manual for what equipment is required. With a little practice the information can be parsed easily if you know it is there.

    Aside from legality driven go/no-go choices I think you made a great decision. You guys weren’t comfortable with the situation and didn’t push it, plus you used the checklist to identify a problem and stopped before it became a bigger one. I recently mentioned elsewhere here that I’ve seen a lot of people accept grounding defects discovered at start up/run up, which I believe is caused by an error in the decision making process in which they decided they were going flying before they even made it to the airport. It can be a hard choice to make, especially when you’re away from home and plan B requires significant inconvenience, like it did in your case.
     
  11. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Was a no-alternator/generator version of the airplane cerified?
     
  12. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Thats essentially the way I teach it as well. :)
     
  13. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-Flight

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    I was looking at it from the legal standpoint. I did go back, since your response, and look at the Owner's Manual (1956 Cessna 172) and can't find any requirements from there.

    We were going to rent a car and head back home, but were lucky my wife was willing to come to the rescue. So I guess you could say - Plan A was to fly back, Plan B was my wife coming, Plan C was renting a car, and Plan D was getting a hotel and fly it back in the next day. The latter 3 seemed much better than Plan A given the circumstances. If we were closer to home and not under a Bravo at a Charlie, may have been different too.
     
  14. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-Flight

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    Are you saying that if the plane only came in the configuration that includes an alternator that without it working properly, it would not have been legal to fly? Also, if that's the case, and the plane only came configured with a certain set of instruments, if any one of those were not functioning properly, would it also not be legal to fly? Assuming the instrument in question is not part of 191.205? I ask because the attitude indicator wasn't working properly (plane doesn't have a vacuum pump, rather has a venturi system that creates vacuum once airspeed is up). I judged that as being 'ok' to fly given the minimum requirements of 91.205 were met and there were other instruments available to provide the type of information given from the attitude indicator.

    I'm learning, so please bear with me. :)
     
  15. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Essentially, yes. If the airplane was type certified with a charging system it needs to be functioning unless there was some approval to remove or disable it. Think about it this way, would it pass an annual inspection with the alternator or generator not working?

    The older airplanes with minimal or no flight manual are more challenging to work through what is or is not required but that doesn’t necessarily negate the requirement.

    My point with diving a bit deeper into this topic is to point out that there are more things to consider than just 91.205. To answer your question about the attitude indicator, it is unlikely that the attitude indicator was included in the type certification and therefore unnecessary if 91.205 does not require it for a specific type of operation.

    Take some time and sit down with an equipment list from a newer 172 or 150/152. Cessna does a good job showing what parts of the plane are required to be installed and functional. You’ll see that not only is the engine required but the charging system is as well.

    We all are (or should be). It’s a good, constructive discussion for checkride prep and future flying!
     
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  16. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    It was only a 45minute flight!
    You know you can take off, fly & land without electricity.
    The weather was great!
    What a nuisance to impose on someone to drive to get you!
    Turn an easy 45 minute hop into a 3 hour trip? sheesh.

    These (corrected for context/pronoun) are all things the accident pilots have said in the past.
     
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  17. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-Flight

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    Thanks @mondtster for taking the time to expand on all that. I am following what you're saying. I will follow back up with my CFI as well. I need to make sure I'm well versed in this area, not only for my own sake, but also my check ride that's probably not too too far off.
     
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  18. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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  19. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Works great as long as it works.

    Somebody finally convinced my dad that checklists* were a good idea after his “flow” resulted in pulling into the runway with a takeoff clearance and control lock installed for the second time.

    *proper use...not just running your finger down the page and saying “checklist complete”.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2021
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  20. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    91.213(d) is the direct reference for operating with inoperative equipment if you don’t have an MEL. Besides 91.205, it references the certification rules for the airplane, along with “any other rule of this part”, which includes 91.7, and 91.7 says the airplane has to be “airworthy”. While not specifically defined in regulation, airworthiness includes compliance with the type certificate, and if the type certificate doesn’t include a version that can’t generate electricity, it’s probably required under 91.213(d).

    kind of a roundabout logic, but welcome to aviation. ;)
     
  21. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-Flight

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    This is the frustrating part of the regs... seems that there's too many hidden gotchas if you don't know where to look (and there isn't always only 1 place to look). So I read 91.213(d). I am going to confirm whether or not the plane has a MEL, but I'm guessing it does not with it's age (1956). But if it doesn't, I read where it says it's ok (legal) as long as the inoperative equipment is not part of the VFR-day type certification instruments and equipment prescribed in the applicable airworthiness regulations under which the aircraft was type certificated. This 1956 Cessna 172 wouldn't have a Type rating (unless I'm confusing terms now?), so it would seem that the required equipment (assuming there's no MEL or KOEL) would fall under 91.205?! This stuff seems a bit confusing to me but I would have answered a DME (during my check ride) if he asked me if it was legal to fly with the alternator out on this particular plane (1956 172) - daytime would have been fine with a backup radio available (separate power source) given the airspace we were in. Night time I would have said - as long as the battery held out it would be legal but that's an "if" that my personal minimums would call the flight a "no-go".
     
  22. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    I assume when you say “type rating” here that you’re meaning type certification. The 1956 cessna 172 is most definitely type certified. Therefore, unless Cessna created a version of the 172 that did not have a charging system (if they did Im not aware of it), it is required.
     
  23. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-Flight

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    I need to learn more about the type certified you mention. I was thinking in terms of Category/Class/Type thinking the 172 would be a ASEL for the Cat/Class and there would by no Type since it's nothing special. I guess I'm mixing terms - plenty to lean here!
     
  24. falconkidding

    falconkidding Line Up and Wait

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    I'm curious if anyones really done much work pushing back on the idea that checklist in their typical form for GA help. Most seem so long that I see a lot of people just reading them and giving a cursory head nod.
    In some ways I think checklist should be limited to is it going to kill me or violate something.

    I think we build checklist for the student pilot then cause thats what we were taught and everyone pushes checklist compliance so we just go along with it.
    Think on a 1970s 172 what is going to kill you on takeoff. Configuration, and mechanical abnormality. Engine instruments green, fuel both, flaps set for T/O, beacon/nav/collision lights as required. Everything else is a self correcting problem. Why do we put stuff like check oil, sump tanks, seatbelts on, avionics turn on how to start the engines etc.

    Just windmilling ideas but instead of a how to fly list we treat checklist as a way to protect ourselves from configuration/configuration changes we don't need to be in. I bet you could hack off 60% of most GA aircraft checklist and not hurt safety one bit. Maybe even help cause it highlights items on the checklist that with those 15 item long ones get blended together in a hurry to read through them.

    Maybe i'm just salty cause the POS jet i'm flying has a checklist thats 325 items long no kidding you don't actually move a switch till about 140 items in. 1970s manufacturers list suck.....
     
  25. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    “The plane” doesn’t have an MEL, “the owner or operator” would have one for the airplane. It’s non-transferable, so (assuming it’s your airplane) if you didn’t apply to the FAA for one, you don’t have one. I know of very few, if any, non-135 operators that have one for a light single engine airplane.

    Or, as I quoted above, “any other rule of this part”.

    Yup...you’re confusing terms. ;) A type rating is what you’d have to have to fly, say, a jet. A type certificate is basically the FAA’s approval of an airplane design.

    Since a type certificate exists, it would still be a player.
     
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  26. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-Flight

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    Yes - that was the confusion. Thanks for the enlightenment.
     
  27. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-Flight

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    I'd like to know more about the actual airworthiness regulation part under which the aircraft was type certificated. And if there's any conclusive way to figure out what exactly (equipment/instruments) constitutes legal flight. Is there something the owner should have possession of that would help?
     
  28. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Start with the type certificate data sheet (TCDS). It will tell you what rules the airplane was certified under (in this case CAR3). It doesn’t list everything but it is a start. Like I mentioned earlier, the older airplanes are a bit more challenging because you really have to go looking for information.

    https://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_...0c4d09e58625845e004c18b1/$FILE/3A12_Rev85.pdf
     
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  29. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Since you opened that can of worms... ;)

    Excerpts from the Type Certificate Data Sheet (distinct from the Type Certificate):
    https://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_...0c4d09e58625845e004c18b1/$FILE/3A12_Rev85.pdf
     
  30. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Nobody would argue that checklists are anywhere near perfect, but where do you draw the line? What level of airmanship and systems knowledge should the checklist be built on?

    in the 1970s, one manufacturer provided a checklist for a “pitch trim runaway or failure” that got you to the emergency trim system, but didn’t tell you which checklist to use if that didn’t work. Their 2010 certification connects those checklists. On the other hand, the 2010 airplane’s checklist takes the factory test pilots 45 minutes to go through the electrical fire checklist, by which time everyone in the airplane would most likely be dead.

    Certain items are in checklists because the manufacturer wants them done in a specific order...and they’re three pages apart. Systems knowledge would easily get it done correctly, but most pilots don’t read enough of the airplane documentation to learn that stuff, and I preflighted one (professionally flown) airplane that was obviously not checked correctly for more than a couple of flights.

    And, of course, there are cases where pilot technique screws up a system, so the manufacturer has to add in another layer of protection to protect us from our own stupidity.

    Any right answer has to start with a level of pilot competence that is far from universal. And of course, the less the pilot understands about his airplane, the worse the checklists look, and the less likely they are to be used properly.
     
  31. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-Flight

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    We're getting warmer... but Google can't seem to find TS1000-13. I think I'll stop in and talk with the owner of the aircraft (who will also be my DPE for my check ride) and talk to him. I'm sure we will get somewhere with this.
     
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  32. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Former AF F16 pilot Ross Russo tells the story over the higher ups giving them a hard time not using checklists when prefighting the plane even though they had memorized the flow. So they started carrying the checklist while doing so. The higher ups noticed they weren't using them because they didn't see them turning the pages. The pilots then learned where in the flow they had to turn the page, while still not using it.
     
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  33. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Too many people use checklists as do lists. A proper flow should be developed, then the checklists ensure the big items are completed.
     
  34. Redline

    Redline Filing Flight Plan

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    "turning on the alternator and watching for positive charging to occur on the ammeter and... nothing. We tried a few more times and shutdown and restarted again - nothing. Being it was a night flight returning home (45 minutes), we called it. My wife ended up driving all the way over and picked us all up and back home we went. Great wife! Long evening/night! I did have a backup radio in my bag and me and my CFI both were running Foreflight with a Sentry... so there were some options but nothing worth taking a chance on."

    I strongly believe the right decision was made. The part I question is "there were options" since taking off was not one of them. Flying at night, even with a handheld backup (which I always fly with), is not enough. It is unknown how long had the battery already been powering the electrical systems for the aircraft during the flight over. Having a handheld radio as a backup is great, but it is there for a backup in an emergency, just like carrying a flashlight inside the plane during night flights. :)
     
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  35. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-Flight

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    With this plane being so old, it's been an interesting test of how to apply the FAR for sure, particularly 91.213. What I decided to do was talk further with the actual owner of the plane, who just so happens to also be a long time DPE. His knowledge of both the FAR and his own plane (as it relates to a MEL and so forth) runs deep. By the end of our discussion, I concluded that there was nothing from an equipment list stand point that would indicate that I had to have an alternator to make the flight as long as I had power (battery). So the real question came down to would the battery last long enough to get me out of the Charlie and Bravo airspace I was in and back home. So taking off was an option, but an option each person would have to evaluate as to their comfort level with the associated risks. This same DPE will also end up being my DPE when I go for my check ride so it was probably a worthy discussion to have with him beforehand (before my check ride) so that I could gather the information straight from the horse's mouth. In the end, it's kinda like this - you could make the flight and everything would be fine... until it's not. For me, the decision was not to fly.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2021
  36. Redline

    Redline Filing Flight Plan

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    "So the real question came down to would the battery last long enough to get me out of the Charlie and Bravo airspace I was in and back home."

    It might be option to use battery power if you KNEW you had enough to get out and get home, ... but it is hard to know if a plane is going to land gear up just ahead of you at your destination, or if the runway lights are going to go out, or ... and it is very hard to know how much juice your battery actually had at the start of the flight. So, I agree that you made the wiser decision.

    This scenario confirms that there are many points to consider legally, and practically. Legal is not always safe, and safe is not always legal. :)
     
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  37. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-Flight

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    Your last statement... VERY well said!!!
     
  38. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    That right there. A night flight? With an unserviceable alternator? And how long was it already unserviceable and the battery draining? Radios and nav and landing lights and beacon all needed and some POAers would take off anyway, perhaps based on some idea that the airplane is legal without a functioning alternator? You can be both legal and dumb at the same time.

    There are checklists to catch stuff. And then there is common sense. And wisdom. Airplanes with good checklists still crash when the pilot decides to depart when common sense would say "wait a minute now...so what was the point of checking the alternator in the first place?"
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
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