Are You Ready For Hurricane Season?

Hurricane season is upon us once again. The official Atlantic hurricane season stHurricanearted June 1 and runs through November 30. Experts are forecasting the 2017 season to be more active than historical averages with regard to the number of named storms. NOAA is forecasting 11-17 named storms, 5 to 9 of which would become hurricanes and 2 to 4 which will be considered major hurricanes.  These major storms can cause considerable damage to or total loss of your aircraft. So do you have a game plan for keeping your aircraft safe during this busy hurricane season?

GivFloridaen the unpredictable nature of hurricanes, even the best-made plans can break down in the face of a storm, but having a plan at least puts you ahead of the game. The first thing you should do is check your insurance policy and make sure it is up to date and you know everything that it covers. Here are just a few precautions you can take to give you and your aircraft a fighting chance during a major storm.

    1. Don’t take any chances and get out! Make sure you pay attention to the “cone of uncertainty” that is projected by the National Hurricane Center. Each tropical system is given a forecast cone to help the public better understand plane upside downwhere it’s headed. If you are able to get your aircraft out of this projected path you have a much better chance of making it out with no damage. Try and keep a list of airports and their contact information so that you can make educated decision on where to go. Just keep in mind you will not be the only aircraft owner or pilot getting out of Dodge. Make sure to give yourself  a sufficient amount of time to get to your chosen evacuation airport or FBO.
    2. If you don’t have enough time to get your aircraft out-of-town, the next best thing is to get it into a safe hangar. A good hangar will be the best protection for aircraft during any severe storm. You are going to want to attempt to secure a hangar spot as quickly as possible because these spots will be costly and they will be gone before you know it. Remember though that hangars are not 100% storm-proof and there is still the possibility of your plane getting damaged if the hangar were to collapse or become damaged itself. So move fast but find the safest and strongest hangar possible.
    3. It’s Hail Mary time. If you can’t leave the area and there is no hangar space available, the last thing you can do to give your aircraft a fighting chance is to tie it down. Here is a list of procedures you should try to follow if you must resort to tying your plane down:
      • Make sure the surrounding area is clear of all debris that could become flying projectiles.
      • If possible park your aircraft up wind from all other aircraft. This will Tie downprevent them from blowing into your plane if they become loose.
      • Move it to the highest ground you can to stay away from flooding.
      • Make every effort to park your plane with the nose into the wind.
      • Double check that all doors and windows are closed and locked. Also cover all engine openings and pitot-static tubes, to protect them from any flying debris.
      • Choke the wheels and deflate the tires to keep the airplane from rolling around.
      • Use both an external and internal control lock.
      • Most important is to make sure you have top rated ropes or chains and tie down anchors that are in top-notch condition. If you are not using chains, use nylon or Dacron rope because of its higher tensile strength and make sure to not leave any slack when tying off.

Hurricanes and tropical storms can turn an airport into a junk pile in a hurry. Plan ahead and make sure you have a solid game plan in place well before any storms are threatening. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your procedures, aircraft manuals, and local airport/FBO policies. Of course it goes without saying to make sure your family and home is your first priority. Keep this American Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist handy when the time comes. Stay informed and don’t wait until it’s too late to take the necessary precautions to keep you, your family, and your aircraft safe.

Statistics and information from NOAA, The Weather Channel, and The National Hurricane Center.

 

 

ADS-B ASAP

Tired of hearing about ADS-B yet? Time marches on as the January 2020 deadline draws closer. It is safe to say that the FAA will not extend thisCapture deadline. FAA Acting Deputy Administrator Victoria Wassmer assures everyone of that fact, “I’m going to say this as plainly as I can: the ADS-B equipage deadline is not changing. If you plan to fly your plane in most controlled airspace after December 31, 2019, you’re going to need to install ADS-B.”

The FAA has estimated that there is between 100,000-160,000 GA aircraft that will need to be ADS-B equipped to fly after the deadline. So how many of those aircraft are equipped with 31 months left before time runs out? As of June 1, 2017 the FAA reports that 26,414 GA aircraft have been equipped with ADS-B. That is a scary number. With approximately 1,100 certified repair stations ready to install ADS-B, now is the time to get serious about a solution for your aircraft. Getting an appointment in an install shop will be harder to obtain as the deadline approaches, not to mention the possibility of higher install prices. There are certain factors in an ADS-B installation that an average A&P mechanic cannot and should not handle. Equipping sooner rather than later helps in case there is an issue with the installation. This will allow you time to fix the problem affecting the performance and compliance of your system and then take your test flight to validate that your system is working properly.

So why are so many aircraft owners and operators still not ready to equip? Why does it seem like so many are waiting until the last minute?

  • Some say they are waiting for the prices on ADS-B units to drop. It does seem like prices have gotten about as low as they are going to get. Also lets not forget about the FAA’s $500 rebate, which runs for one year or until all 20,000 rebates are gone. Here’s the good news about the ADS-B rebate, it’s not too late to get yours. As of June 5 there are still 13,828 waiting to be reserved before the cut off date of September 18, 2017.
  • I’m selling my aircraft anyways, so why should I spend the money for the upgrade? Well that’s fine but go ahead and deduct the price of an ADS-B system from your ground-plane-garminidea (3)asking price, because one of the first things most buyers are going to ask is if the plane is compliant with ADS-B. The value of your aircraft will depend on whether or not you have at least a validated ADS-B Out system installed. If you still don’t want to upgrade, just find a nice parking spot for your plane because it will probably be there for a long time.
  • I just don’t see the value in getting ADS-B. Really…how is that possible? The value in ADS-B and NextGen should be very easy to see by now. It is the most advanced and most accurate way to track and position aircraft in our skies. It improves the communication between air traffic controllers and pilots, given them both an accurate and exact location of every plane in the surrounding airspace. Pilots have never had this much situational awareness in the cockpit. Not to mention if you are flying with ADS-B In, having the free weather and traffic information right in front of you is very beneficial.

Despite recent comments made by the President about ATC, the ground based radar system we have had in place for 80 years has served our airspace well.  But like all thingsADS-B Coverage it must come to an end. The state-of-the-art ADS-B system will provide safer skies by giving the ATC and pilots more information, less impact on the environment by reducing the amount of fuel you will use because of more direct routes, and by providing coverage where radar does not exist, such as the Gulf of Mexico and mountainous terrain. This will help with search and rescue operations in the event an aircraft does go down. So however the new President changes our ATC system, there is no realistic way around the foundation of ADS-B Out (i.e. GPS position data of aircraft).  While there may be plenty of other ideas and theories out there still being discussed, ADS-B is what we got and unless someone can offer any other economical, reasonable, and implantable solutions, that’s what we are going with by 2020.  If you’ve got something better, then I’ll wait to hear from you.