Without visual reference to the surface

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drseti
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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby drseti » Sun Sep 15, 2013 8:57 am

CharlieTango wrote:When I need to go above 10,000 in a flight it happens more than once, should I have to climb then descend and climb and descend and climb ...etc?


If you take the FAR quite literally, that is indeed what it implies. Whether that makes much sense or not is another matter. (Of course, we can ask if any of the FARs make a lot of sense...)

The origin of the Rocky Mountain Altitude Exemption is that it's a carry-over from the Rec Pilot rules of three decades ago, and the language is exactly the same. In fact, when the LSA rule came out on 1 Sep 2004, the FAA inadvertently left that provision out. It was added with the April 2010 amendment to the original LSA rules.
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CharlieTango
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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby CharlieTango » Sun Sep 15, 2013 9:18 am

drseti wrote:If you take the FAR quite literally, that is indeed what it implies...


The image below shows my field and the high terrain to the south. Much of that high terrain is sloped beyond 45 degrees. As you fly along your altitude AGL changes dramatically and continually.

If you take the language literally you have to do things like deviate your flight path and climb and descend ridges. You can't really use that 2,000' you have to work within it. How would you fly over a big volcano like Mt Hood? Spiral up and then spiral down?

High terrain presents hazards and a literal interpretation here generally means exposing yourself to them instead of avoiding them.

Image

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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby FlyingForFun » Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:12 am

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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby Jack Tyler » Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:21 am

"I guess if I was going to fly on top of a ceiling in an LSA, I would at least want to make sure I had sufficient training in IFR flight and I had current instrument approach plates on board (electronic) and had made enough practice instrument approaches, I was confident I could make a successful approach."

You have other options. And even if you don't exercise them, the one does not lead to the other nor should it. If you find yourself 'on top' and need to descend as you approach your destination, then yes you will need to penetrate the goo and be on instruments if you stick with your flight plan. But what about turning around once the layer initially thickened to the extent that looks like it might become necessary? It's not like the plane or pilot is stuck on Plan A. And whether you fly with on-board wx or you use Flightwatch/FSS, there should be no reason to find yourself discovering your destination airport is below marginal VFR on arrival.

As mentioned earlier, choosing to fly above an increasingly dense layer (or layers) adds a risk to the flight. Now you're considering a second risk: going into IMC. And then considering flying an approach? The risks just keep piling up...

In my limited current exposure to other pilots and how they fly, I'm amazed at how limited their use of the radio is - whether it's using Flight Following, using Flightwatch or even using the radio on the ground when a taxi conflict arises. I read (here) a lot more discussion about using Flight Following than I hear being discussed among PP's, and that's good to see. But not all the useful data is displayed on your Dynon or iPad, even with ADS-B, nor with the Controller who's working only one slice of airspace. Pireps are one such example. Imagine that layer you're flying over has changed from 'few' to 'scattered', continues to increase, and you have another 1.5 hrs in that direction. Wouldn't a Pirep come in handy? We hear over and over about the negative influence these digital devices have on pilot awareness outside the cockpit. That applies what's available to us from the radio, not just from our eyes.
Jack
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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby CTLSi » Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:28 am

......
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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby FlyingForFun » Sun Sep 15, 2013 11:37 am

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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby Merlinspop » Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:49 pm

What is wrong with some people on this site?

Relax. This looks to me as an example of the shortcoming of written communication. Too hard to get the full meaning. The same words with different delivery can mean totally different things. I read your post along the lines of, "if everything else goes wrong and I'm having the mother of all bad decision making days, at least I'll have this one last chance to save my butt". Jack may have heard it in his head like, "eh, I'll just charge ahead and can always let down on instruments" (not unlike "why worry about fuel reserves... I'll have plenty of altitude to glide in".)

Good point on getting training to expand skills and add to one's options. Speaking of options, did anyone else think about the chute during that video?
- Bruce

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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby Jack Tyler » Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:29 pm

Relax, FFF. We're not gunning for you. Let's repost that same quote a second time and take a look:

"I guess if I was going to fly on top of a ceiling in an LSA, I would at least want to make sure I had sufficient training in IFR flight and I had current instrument approach plates on board (electronic) and had made enough practice instrument approaches, I was confident I could make a successful approach."

Here's how I read that: Part of your stated plan as a SP, if you choose to fly above a layer (which all of us do since it is quite common) is to be instrument current, fly solely by instruments, enter IMC and attempt an approach. That is what your words state. When I read that you want to be "confident I could make a successful approach" that sounds pretty intentional to me. Now for you, that may be an acceptable risk from a flight safety and legal risk standpoint and you might want that coin in your pocket. My point was that I think there is a far better alternative for SP rated folks that don't leave one needing to make that choice - namely, deviating from the planned route in some fashion to eliminate being left with the sole option of entering the layer.

There was no criticism of practice under the hood or any other kind of training. If you want to attempt being instrument proficient - for whatever reason - have at it. But I am reminded of the old saw: When a hammer is your only tool, everything begins to look like a nail. And as you probably found out a long time ago, it's difficult for many IR pilots to consistently remain instrument & approach current. So I'd advise caution about putting that tool in your toolbox.
Jack
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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby FlyingForFun » Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:32 pm

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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby FlyingForFun » Sun Sep 15, 2013 5:01 pm

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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby dstclair » Sun Sep 15, 2013 5:17 pm

(Almost) Sorry I reopened this thread. :wink: I blame Paul :D

It's pretty simple. There are those that interpret ''without visual reference to the surface" to mean:

I interpret the Light Sport rules to mean don't fly over a ceiling. A ceiling can be broken or overcast or obscured.


And those that interpret it to mean, well, you need to be able to see the ground to safely fly the aircraft.

Don't think either camp will convince the other.
dave

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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby FastEddieB » Sun Sep 15, 2013 6:04 pm

I automatically took it to mean no flying over an overcast, and have probably expressed the limitation as such.

Many broken layers do, IMHO, allow a pilot to navigate quite well by reference to the surface. At least I can, usually still referencing landmarks along my route of flight. After all, as much as 40% of the surface may be seen, depending on how broken the layer is.

But that's just me! (tm)
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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby 3Dreaming » Sun Sep 15, 2013 6:21 pm

If the FAA wanted the rule to mean no flying over a ceiling they would have worded it that way. Why try and make it more than what it is? I think as long as you can see the ground, and can safely make the flight without going in the clouds you should be OK.

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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby dstclair » Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:40 pm

Not to revive the debate but I have extra non-flying time on my hands as I wait for new Soft Start Ignition Modules so Google and I went to work. The term 'visual reference' is used in a few publications with pretty much all of them dealing with Instrument Approaches. They all deal with seeing the threshold, threshold lights, etc. ICAO defines visual reference to be:
Required Visual Reference "means that section of the visual aids or of the approach area which should have been in view for sufficient time for the pilot to have made an assessment of the aircraft position and rate of change of position in relation to the desired flight path. When using external references, the visual references must be adequate for the pilot to assess horizontal flight path and vertical flight path."

Substitute 'surface' for 'visual aids' and it becomes clear (to me).
dave

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Re: Without visual reference to the surface

Postby Merlinspop » Wed Aug 13, 2014 4:29 pm

I agree with you, Dave. If you can see enough of the surface to navigate by visual landmarks and determine which way is up *while* meeting the cloud clearance requirement of the airspace you're in for all phases of the flight, you comply with the rule.
- Bruce


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