Instrument Pilot Operations
Functions of Pitot-Static System Instruments
Since the introduction of foundation manned flights, it has been noted that providing pilots with necessary information regarding the plane and its operation would be important and can make a flight to be safer. Wright Brothers, the first aircraft had very little instruments fixed on the Wright Flyer; however, they had a wind meter, engine tachometer as well as stop watch. The operators were only concerned about the engine of the aircraft and the progress of the flight. From such a simple foundation, a wide range of pitot instruments have been created forming flight bunches of diverse parameters. The systems present area is meant to give information about the aircraft’s condition, engine, different components, altitude in the atmosphere, weather condition, cabin environment, routing and communications. The capability to capture and transmit all information that pilot needs in precise and easily understood way, has been challenged since the invention of aviation (Federal Aviation Administration, 2014).
Due to the growth of the wide variety of desired information, the size as well as the complexity of the current aircraft has also greatly developed. This has caused increased the need to notify the flight team without over cluttering the cockpit or sensory overload. Ultimately, the previous flat panel fixed in the front of cockpit together with some individual instruments connected to it has changed into complex computer operated digital interface that has flat panel display monitors and emphasized messaging. Basically, there are two parts on any pitot instrument system where one part is meant for sensing the situation, whereas the other one displays it. The two functions mainly take place in single instrument, but only in analog instruments. These are referred to as direct sensing instruments. On the other hand, remote sensing requires information to be captured or sensed and then conveyed to a different display component in a cockpit (Federal Aviation Administration, 2008).
Static Vents and Pitot Tubes
This consist pitot static system, a tube or head that has static ports for air pressure and leak free tube that connect the air pressure points to the instrument that needs the air for indication. The most commonly used instruments are airspeed display, altimeter and vertical speed display. The tube faces and opens to the airstream to achieve full force impact of air pressure while the aircraft flies. The tube heads comprises heating elements for preventing moisture from condensing during flight. In this case, pilot is able to switch on an electric current that heats the element whenever ice-forming conditions are experienced. Figure 1 shows various pitot-static instruments while figure 2 shows a Pitot tube.
Associated Pitot-Static System Errors
Blockage of Pitot System
This system can be blocked partially or completely in case the tube hole stays open. If this tube becomes obstructed while its associated hole remains clear, the air is no longer able to get into the system. The air previously in the system escapes through the drain outlet while the remaining air pressure drops and balances with the outside air pressure. In such a circumstance, the reading in the ASI reduces to zero, as the ASI system senses no variation between static and outside air pressure. Eventually, the ASI stops working because dynamic air pressure cannot pass into the tube. In case both the drain opening and tube opening becomes blocked simultaneously, the air pressure in it becomes trapped. This causes airspeed indication change not to be noted despite the increase or decrease of the airspeed (Federal Aviation Administration, 2004).
Classification of Airspace
Airspaces are classified into two categories that is, regulatory and non-regulatory. These two categories are further categorized into four types, which are controlled, uncontrolled, particular use and other airspace. Controlled airspace refers to different airspace classifications and their defined sizes within which aircraft control service is given according to a particular classification (Cox, 2012). These classifications are as follows:
- Class A
- Class B
- Class C
- Class D
- Class E
Class A airspace
This is basically the airspace that ranges from 18,000 feet above sea level, including FL600 and airspace overlying waters within 12 NM (nautical miles). Unless otherwise allowed, all operations for this class are normally conducted under IFR (instrument flight rules).
Class B Airspace
This is usually the airspace that from the ground goes up to 10,000 feet above the sea level surrounding the busiest airports in a nation. Configuration of this class airspace is independently tailored according to the demands of a specific area and contains a two or more layers and a surface region. Some airspace resembles an upside down wedding cake. A pilot is required to have at least a certificate of private pilot in order to operate this type of class airspace. Nevertheless, there is an exemption to this condition whereby recreational or student pilots that seek for private pilot qualifications can work in the airspace. In this case, they are required to land at particular primary landing fields within the airspace so long as they have obtained training as well as their logbook authorized by a specialized flight instructor (Federal Aviation Administration, 2014).
Class C Airspace
This type of class normally extends from the ground to about 4,000 feet higher beyond the airport altitude surrounding the airports that are equipped with control tower.
Class D Airspace
This airspace goes beyond from the ground to about 2,500 feet high exceeding the airport elevation surrounding those airports having operational control tower. Its configuration is customized to meet operational requirements of the region.
Class E airspace
This is a controlled airspace that is not assigned neither A, B, C nor D. Exclusive of 18, 00 feet above sea level, Class E category has no definite vertical boundary, but instead extends up from either designated altitude or surface to the bordering controlled airspace.
Uncontrolled Airspace (Class G)
This is the part of airspace that is not designated any of the above classes, thus designated as uncontrolled airspace. This class extends from the ground to the bottom of the Class E. While air traffic control has no responsibility or power over air traffic, pilots need to know that there are visual flight rules that apply to this class. Figure 3 presents an overview of dimensions of airspace classes.
Standard Holding pattern for an inbound leg (holding course) of 270 radial from VOR
Figure 4 below shows Standard Holding pattern for an inbound leg (holding course) of 270 radial from VOR
Holding Pattern Entries
In this pattern entry, the air traffic control gives the pilot instructions to either hold north of SKIER junction as published or particular holding instructions like hold southeast of Falcon on Victor 366, left turns. This pattern can be discovered on the instrument flying chart that is normally a junction of Victor airways or VOR. After arriving at the holding fix, the pilot turns towards the direction of allocated turns to the front of the outbound led. Then pilot flies the leg for about a minute and turn towards the allocated heading of his inbound wheel and intercept his allocated holding radial (Ayers, 2003).
In this pattern entry, upon arriving at the hold fix, the pilot turns to match the inbound path on an outbound front end for a minute. After one minute, the pilot turns toward the holding area (protected side) and intercepts the radial holding inbound on the inbound heading. After reaching the hold fix, the pilot begins holding procedures again.
Here, upon arriving at the holding fix, the pilot turns 30 degrees to the holding area (protected side) and take off for a minute. Once one minute is over, the pilot begins turning back to intercept the allocated holding radial inbound towards the fix.
Instrument Landing System (ILS)
For over fifty years, the instrument landing system has been the foundation of the landing navigation support. The current versions applied by the FAA give aircraft precision horizontal and vertical navigation direction information in the time of approach and landing. Low power distance measuring equipment (LPDME) or associated marker beacons indentify the distance to the landing strip. The attractiveness in this system lies in the saving of its avionic costs as well as its broad international recognition. The advancement of technology has yielded huge improvement in terms of precision, reliability and maintainability. ILS therefore, is an international normalized system that navigates aircrafts during the last approach for landing. In 1947, it was approved as a standard system by the International civil Aviation Organization. Given that the technical requirements of ILS are internationally widespread, an aircraft fitted with board system similar to the ILS will consistently cooperate with ILS ground system on all airports where the system is implemented (Ayers, 2003).
Nowadays, the ILS is the main system meant for instrumental approach for class type I-II-A and provides horizontal and vertical guidance required for a precise landing approach in instrumental flight rules (IFR) conditions. The precise landing method is a process of authorized landing with the use of navigation equipment (Transport Committee, 2009).
This has a minimum height is about 200 feet resolution while the decision elevation represent a height at which a pilot decides on the eye contact with the landing strip if he/she will either complete the landing movement or he will cancel and repeat again.
This one has a minimum decision height of about 100 feet, whereas the runway visibility is at minimum of 1,200 feet. The aircraft has to be fitted with an internal marker receiver or radio altimeter as well as engine’s system for controlling draught automatically.
Category III A
This has a minimum decision height less than 100 feet and the runaway visibility is at a minimum of 700 feet. An aircraft must be fitted with an autopilot that has a passive failure monitor.
Category III B
This has a minimum decision height less than 50 feet and runway visibility of 150 feet at the minimum.
Category III C
This category has zero visibility.
Localizer is the main component of the ILS system that handles guidance in the flat place. It is an aerial system that comprise VHF transmitter that uses similar frequency range. The aerial acts as the runway axis on its other end opposed to the approach direction. The signal sent by the aerial is determined as right and left of the centerline by the aircraft instruments. Marker beacon is another component meant for alerting the pilot when an action is required, such as, altitude check (Transport Committee, 2009).
A straight-in ILS approach to runway has minimums of about 253 feet. As the aircraft flies downwards the glide slope and the altimeter displays 253 feet, the pilot should decide whether to proceed with the descent or execute the missed approach.
Ayers, A. (2013). Holding. Retrieved 11th February, 2015 from http://www.altairva-fs.com/training/ava_training_ifr_holding.htm
Cox, T. (2012) United States Airspace Classification. Retrieved 11th February, 2015 from http://www.vatsim.net/pilot-resource-centre/vfr-specific-lessons/united-states-airspace-classification
Federal Aviation Administration. (2004). Airplane Flying Handbook. United States: flying Publishing Services.
Federal Aviation Administration. (2008). Instrument Flying Handbook 2008. United States: Government Printing Office.
Federal Aviation Administration. (2014). Instrument Flying Handbook: FAA-H-8083-15B. United States: flying Publishing Services.
Transport Committee (2009). The Use of Airspace: Fifth Report of Session 2008-09. United States: The Stationery Office.
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