Sunday, October 20, 2013

"The Black Box Flight Recorder"

Do you know who invented "The Black Box Flight Recorder"?

In 1953, Dr David Warren who was working with the "Defence Science and Technology Organisation" Aeronautical Research Laboratory in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) was widely credited with creating the prototype of the "The Black Box Flight Recorder” an advance in aviation that was partly inspired by the death of his father in a plane crash when he was 8.

“The Black Box Flight Recorder” is an electronic recording device placed in an aircraft for the purpose of facilitating the investigation of an aircraft accident. For this reason, “The Black Box Flight Recorder” are required to be capable of surviving the conditions likely to be encountered in a severe aircraft accident.

“The Black Box Flight Recorder” can withstand temperatures of up to 1100 degree Celsius, submersion in water for 30 days, pressure of 5000 pounds per square inch & a force of 3400 times its own weight.

It's prominently colored bright orange or yellow with reflective surfaces to facilitate recovery of "The Black Box Flight Recorder" from an aircraft accident site.

Late Dr David Warren pictured with “The Black Box Flight Recorder”.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

It's All In A Day's Work

While flying is fun, bear in mind that there are huge sacrifices a pilot have made. It's not all rosy. From the training days till when they're at the helm of a modern passenger jet once fully qualified. There are massive amount of assessments, exams, check rides & requirements to be fulfilled biannually & annually as part of their competencies to maintain the professional qualification.

From an early start before dawn or even a late one after dusk, it's all part of the package. There aren't any set holidays unlike those who are desk bound in an office on a routine 9 to 5 job. Aviation industry runs like clockwork 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There are instances when you're on roster to be on standby in case someone fails to turn up for their flight due to unforeseeable circumstances as well as in situations where one is put on minimum rest time between flights.

A typical trainee's day would be an early start at 6 conducting preflight checks, preparing the aircraft for navigation & cross country exercise of around 4 to 5 hours flight time depending on competencies & experience, preparing & filing of flight plans amongst others, conducting the flight itself & finally post flight debriefing concluding the long & otherwise an exhausting day.

For an airline pilot's day, one could start anytime of the day depending on where you're from & where you're going. A flight can range from a single sector, round trip or multiple leg depending on routes. It can range anywhere between 30 minutes to over 12 hours. Fatigue kicks in especially where multiple time zones are crossed. This is where time management & healthy lifestyle component are at times in conflicts. Nonetheless many are accustomed & trained to ensure health are their number one priority to maintain a very highly mobile & global occupation.

While it can be challenging juggling early starts, long hours, delays, cancellations & diversions; It's definitely a wonderful & worthwhile industry to be in. It's undeniably one of the best way to travel doing what you really love albeit all the sacrifices at the beginning.

Once you've caught the travel bug, you'll never want to be still again.

An example of a typical flying roster.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Varied Path

There are different career path taken by qualified pilots. By choice many choose to be in the airline industry, those who prefer highly charged adrenalin rush move on into the military whereas others remains within the general & private aviation industry being instructors in academies & training centers. The remainder serves the industry in coastal surveillance, forestry, fire fighting, survey work & many more.

Regardless of which path each & every pilot takes, it is a rewarding & a professional choice each have made. At the end of the day, it's the excitement & thrill of flight that takes these pilots into the air.

In general if one decides to take up flying just for recreational (PPL), you would expect an industrious focused time frame of approximately 60 hours of flight time & 3 months of training including ground school depending on your competencies. Financially it'll set you back about $15000.

If one decides to get serious, in order to obtain a CPL, you would expect a general qualification time frame of between 6 to 9 months worth of training, 150 to 250 hours of flight time & ground school depending on your competencies along with a general price tag of $55000.

Once you have obtained CPL, some may choose to be an instructor in order to quickly clock the flying hours. This is also a path taken for those who have a passion in teaching & instructing where they are able to impart their knowledge & educate new trainees on the joy of flight.

To be an instructor, you may look at a general time frame of about 2 months to qualify for that rating which includes ground school as well as flight time. This would cost an aspiring instructor approximately $15000.

This is the best known path most pilots takes in order to build more hours to unfrozen their ATPL which requires at least 1500 hours once they have passed the ATPL theory components.

This also the best time for new pilots to get themselves trained for other ratings & endorsements while instructing & be paid while gaining flight time as well as experience. This is by far the best fast tracked path.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Journey

Every pilot are trained professionally & are very highly qualified in their own rights. Every flight is a different one, pilots undergo hundreds if not thousands of hours to ensure each flight is a safe journey for everybody.

Every pilot starts their journey to the top gaining their minimum flying qualification from:

  1. Private Pilot Licence (PPL) - A pilot may fly for pleasure or personal business. Private pilots cannot be paid, employed or hired by any operator. 
  2. Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) - A pilot can be paid, employed or hired by any operators.
  3. Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) - ATPs as they are called typically are qualified to fly airliners.

Apart from obtaining all these mandatory licences, there are other common ratings & endorsements pilots take up in addition to the above:

  1. Night rating
  2. Instrument rating
  3. Instructor rating
  4. Multi engine endorsement
  5. Tail wheel endorsement
  6. Formation flying endorsement
  7. Float plane endorsement 
  8. Aerobatics endorsement
  9. Low level endorsement

Some pilots start early in their life & there are many that holds a Pilot's Licence well before they even started driving a car. One may undertake the PPL flight training & test while still 16 however one cannot be issued with the licence until one is 17.

In order to hold a CPL, a PPL pilot may undertake the flight training & test at 17 however the licence cannot be issued until the pilot turns 18.

If a CPL pilot wish to fly as pilot in command of a multi crew aircraft (Airliners) one will need to obtain an ATPL.

To be issued with the actual licence, a pilot must have at least 1500 flying hours with specified time as pilot in command. The licence also sets minimum requirements for cross country, night flying & instrument time. A pilot also need to be 21 or older.

For an ATPL on aeroplanes, a pilot must hold or have held a Command Multi Engine Instrument Rating.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Start

Thanks to The Wright brothers.

In 1905, the Wright Flyer III was capable of fully controllable & stable flight for substantial periods.

This is recognized by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), the standard setting & record keeping body for aeronautics as "the first sustained and controlled heavier than air powered flight".

For The Wright brothers this is a major inspiration for their decision to pursue manned flight.

Today, in our admiration for these modern flying heavy metals, we tend to forget that every pilot starts from scratch & it is from the small light aircraft that they then embarked on their journey onto the medium size & eventually to the heavies.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Talking About Planes

Good Morning Ground Control, Talking About Planes requesting "Radio Check".

  1. A heavier than air aircraft kept aloft by the upward thrust exerted by the passing air on its fixed wings & driven by propellers or jet propulsion.
  2. Any similar heavier than air aircraft such as a glider or helicopter.
  3. Is a powered fixed wing aircraft that is propelled forward by thrust from a jet engine or propeller.
  4. Airplanes come in a variety of sizes & shapes.
  5. Airplane are generally used for recreation, transportation of goods, people & military.
  6. Most airplanes are flown by a pilot/pilots on board the aircraft however some are designed to be remotely or computer-controlled.
When you hear them, what comes across your mind? Travel, flying, going places, holidays & lots more. For some just the word "airplanes" it's good enough to give them the shivers.

Airplanes, planes or aeroplanes depending on how they're pronounced & where you are geographically; They're all the same. It flies. Some flies slower than the others whereas others flies really fast as in supersonic.

Flying is one of the safest mode of transportation & man have always been fascinated with flight since its first inception back in 400 BC hence till today many are still in awe of its invention, its operation & with its flying crew.