A New Symbol for Stadiums on VFR Charts

The FAA has begun depicting stadiums that are covered by the blanket TFR for major sporting events–that is, stadiums with a capacity of at least 30,000 seats. The new stadium symbol, a red diamond with the label STADIUM or STADIUMS, appears VFR sectional and terminal area charts as shown in the examples from the Seattle charts below.

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The new symbol isn’t described in the current edtion of the Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide, but it does appear in the legend of updated VFR charts.

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You can find more information about this new symbol in document ACF-CG RD 17-02-311 (PDF) at the Aeronautical Charting Forum.

Cameras in the Cockpit: Another Mounting Option

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The Tackform GoPro Headrest Mount

My YouTube channel, BruceAirFlying, includes many aviation videos shot from inside the cockpit of a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, an Extra 300L, and other aircraft. I’ve tried several types of mounts to provide a stable platform and a good overview of the cockpit.

You can read about some of these setups and my tips for making videos here and here.

Although the GoPro Jaws: Flex Mount has served me well, it hasn’t proven as stable as I’d like, and it sometimes gets bumped out of kilter, resulting in videos that aren’t properly aligned.

A search for other options suggested headrest mounts used by car enthusiasts to capture driving video. I decided to try one in my Bonanza to capture forward-facing views that show both the instrument panel and the outside scene.


The following video of a short hop from KPWT to KBFI on a rainy day shows how both the Tackform GoPro headrest mount and the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 performed in the A36. For more details about the headrest mount, read below.


I settled on the GoPro Headrest Mount (TF00-0R05) from Tackform. At about $70, it’s not the cheapest option, but customer reviews at Amazon.com suggest it’s a high-quality, sturdy metal mount, and with various adapters, it works with action cameras from other manufacturers, such as the Garmin VIRB series.

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As you can see from the photos, the arm can be adjusted at four points through a range of angles, and it locks in place. All of the main components, including the ball joints, are made of metal, not plastic, but the mount doesn’t feel heavy, just substantial.

At one end, the mount clamps onto a vertical headrest support. It should fit a range of standard headrest posts. You need the supplied Allen wrench or a suitable driver head to remove and tighten the screws that hold the clamp in place. Otherwise, no tools are needed to secure and adjust the arm and camera.

Ball joints at each end allow you to rotate the arm and the camera to any position.

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You can remove the arm when you don’t want to shoot video, leaving just the headrest post mount in place. Note, however, that with the clamp attached, you won’t be able to lower the headrest flush with the top of the seat. I chose to attach the arm to the pilot’s seat on the left, where I normally sit. But you could just as easily attach the arm to the copilot seat or any other seat that has headrest posts, and you can buy additional headrest clamps and other components separately from Tackform.

Interlocking teeth ensure a firm grip at each pivot on the arm itself.

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The mount includes a GoPro-standard clamp and tripod-style scew adapter on a ball joint at the end of the arm.

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You can find a wide variety of action-camera attachments and adapters online at Amazon and other sources.

My new Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 includes a frame-style camera holder with a GoPro standard connector, and it was easy to secure it to the arm.

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I also attached my older Garmin VIRB Elite with its unique cradle. I had to dig around in the big bag of connectors and adapters to find a Garmin-to-GroPro clamp, but it secured easily.

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The arrangement seems tight and stable on the ground. Just in case, I slid a cloth beneath the headset post clamp and the seat cover to prevent chafing the expensive leather.

 

A Quick Way to Search for GPS NOTAMs

The FAA NOTAM search site (https://notams.aim.faa.gov/notamSearch) provides the quickest way to find GPS NOTAMs that alert you to disruptions in the satellite-based navigation system. If you’ve ever tried to find and sort through the text descriptions of these alerts, you’ll appreciate the lists and map views that show how GPS tests and other issues may affect your ability to navigate using GPS.

To learn more about using the FAA NOTAM search site, you can download the User Guide from the FAA website or from my Aviation Documents folder at OneDrive.

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To find GPS-related NOTAMs at the FAA website follow these steps:

After acknowledging the disclaimer, on the main page, select the Predefined Queries option and choose GPS.

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Click the Search button, and you’ll see a list of GPS NOTAMs.

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You can also show the NOTAMs in a table.

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Or in a table with an adjacent map.

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You can filter the list to show only the NOTAMs effective in one or more air route traffic control centers.

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And you can zoom in on the map and click a NOTAM flag to see more information about that notice.

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Use the +/- buttons in the upper-left corner of the map to zoom in and out. To print a NOTAM, click the print icon next to the text.

FAA Guidance on BasicMed

FAA has issued a notice (8900.420) (PDF) that explains the documentation that pilots must have in their possession while operating under BasicMed.

For the details about BasicMed, start at the AOPA pages devoted to the topic and see the FAA’s page on the regulations. AC 68-1 provides additional details.

The notice also describes which documents FAA inspectors and designated pilot examiners may ask for during so-called ramp checks and for practical tests.

Graphical Forecasts for Aviation

The Graphical Forecasts for Aviation tool at the Aviation Weather Center is now operational. It supplants the text Area Forecasts in the lower 48, plus it offers more information about current weather. AOPA has published more news about the swtich to the GFA here.

For more detailed information about the GFA tool, see this description (PDF) and this tutorial.

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ICAO Aircraft Type Designators

The FAA plans to switch all flight plans–VFR and IFR–to the ICAO format sometime in the fall of 2017 (the date keeps slipping; see this notice for the latest details)

I’ve offered help on the most vexing problem for most pilots–the myriad codes for communications, navigation, and transponder equipment–here at BruceAir.

But long-time U.S. pilots also need to understand and use the proper ICAO type designators for the aircraft they fly. Most codes use four-characters; some use only three letters.

Some of the codes are the same as those used on the FAA domestic flight plan form, but many are different–sometimes surprising so.

For example, the ICAO designator for the Cessna 172 is C172.

But the ICAO designator for a fixed-gear turbocharged Cessna 182 is C82S.

Note that the ICAO designators don’t include hypens or other special characters. For example, the Beechcraft Debonair is BE33, not BE-33.

The easiest way to check the type designators for the aircraft you fly is via the web-based tool at the ICAO website, here. The flexible search feature quickly displays the designators assigned to aircraft by manufacturer, make-model name, and so forth.

You can also find the correct type designators in FAA order JO 7360.1B.

Flying without Paper Charts

I recently gave a presentation about flying RNAV procedures at the Northwest Aviation Conference. As usual, I asked how many pilots in the audience were using tablets like iPads in the cockpit. Most of the folks raised their hands. It’s astonishing how quickly the aviation community has adopted this technology.

Nevertheless, questions persist about the legality of “going paperless” in the cockpit, at least for typical GA pilots operating light aircraft under 14 CFR Part 91. Here are some key references to help you understand the rules and good operating practices.

The best background is in AC 91-78-Use of Class 1 or Class 2 Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), which explains:

This advisory circular (AC) provides aircraft owners, operators, and pilots operating aircraft under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91, with information for removal of paper aeronautical charts and other documentation from the cockpit through the use of either portable or installed cockpit displays (electronic flight bags (EFB).

The AC also notes:

This AC is applicable to instrument flight rules (IFR) or visual flight rules (VFR), preflight, flight, and post flight operations conducted under part 91, unless prohibited by a specific section of 14 CFR chapter I.

And it explains:

EFB systems may be used in conjunction with, or to replace, some of the paper reference material that pilots typically carry in the cockpit. EFBs can electronically store and retrieve information required for flight operations, such as the POH and supplements, minimum equipment lists, weight and balance calculations, aeronautical charts and terminal procedures…The in-flight use of an EFB/ECD in lieu of paper reference material is the decision of the aircraft operator and the pilot in command. Any Type A or Type B EFB application, as defined in [AC 120-76] may be substituted for the paper equivalent. It requires no formal operational approval as long as the guidelines of this AC are followed.

You can find further guidance on the FAA website here. And Sporty’s has a good overview of the topicĀ here. For information about using iPads and the like on practical tests, see this item at AOPA.

If you fly IFR using an approved GPS navigation system, you can find additional guidance (and common sense advice) in documents such as theĀ Operational Suitability Report for the Garmin GTN series navigators, published by the FAA in 2011, and available in the FSIMS system, here.

The following Type B applications were evaluated under this report:

(1) Chart capability is limited to Approach Charts, Standard Terminal Arrival Routes, Departure Procedures and Airport Diagrams. Access to the chart information is accomplished by touching the chart symbol on the screen home page. Scaling is accomplished by touching the plus or minus signs on the screen. Chart information is in standard chart layout, oriented in portrait view. It is possible to overlay an approach chart on the navigation display. Navigation Display Approach Chart overlays however, are always oriented so that North on the chart is at the top of the display. Caution should be taken when using this feature, as it can be confusing in some circumstances.

(2) En route charts are not available to view in the GTN 7XX series of units. Airways and associated navigation aids and intersection names are displayed on the navigation display but not in chart format. Because en route chart view is not available, operators will be required to have immediately accessible a suitable approved aeronautical information source of en route charts.

A typical installation includes a GTN 7XX paired with a GTN6XX. Since the GTN6XX series of navigator does not have chart capability a second GTN7XX with charts and an independent power source may be installed to provide the necessary backup. Another method of redundancy could be for the operator to carry an approved stand alone Class I, or Class II EFB device onboard the aircraft. Otherwise, a set of paper charts is required to provide chart redundancy.

In the case of a single unit installation, paper charts (including approach, departure and arrival procedure, airport diagram and en route charts) must be onboard the aircraft or an approved stand alone Class I, or Class II (with a suitable approved source of aeronautical data) device may be substituted for paper charts.