FAA Releases BasicMed Alternative to Third Class Medical

FAA has released the final rule (PDF here) that allows many pilots operating under 14 CFR Part 91 to act as pilot in command without a third class medical. The full docket for the rulemaking is at the Federal Register, here.

Most of the practical details about these new regulations, which FAA has labeled BasicMed, are also available in a new advisory circular, AC 68-1 Alternative Medical Qualifications.

This advisory circular (AC) describes how pilots can exercise student, recreational, and private pilot privileges in certain small aircraft without holding a current medical certificate. It outlines the required medical education course, medical requirements, and aircraft and operating restrictions that pilots must meet to act as pilot in command (PIC) for most Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91 operations. This AC is intended to be used as a resource for pilots exercising the privileges described in section 2307 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016. It is also intended to be a resource for state-licensed physicians who will be providing the required medical examination to those pilots.

AOPA also has many details and resources for pilots at its website, starting here.

The new rules are FAA’s response to The FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (PL 114-190) (FESSA), enacted on July 15, 2016. Section 2307 of FESSA, Medical Certification of Certain Small Aircraft Pilots, directed the FAA to “issue or revise regulations to ensure that an individual may operate as pilot in command of a covered aircraft” without having to undergo the medical certification process under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 67 if the pilot and aircraft meet certain prescribed conditions as outlined in FESSA.

Highlights

The new rule:

  • Revises 14 CFR § 61.23(c)(1) and adds new § 61.23(c)(3)
  • Adds a paragraph to § 61.113 Private pilot privileges and limitations: Pilot in command
  • Adds Part 68 REQUIREMENTS FOR OPERATING CERTAIN SMALL AIRCRAFT WITHOUT A MEDICAL CERTIFICATE

Pilots choosing to operate under these rules may:

  • Fly aircraft with up to six seats that weigh up to 6000 pounds. There are no limitations on number of engines or engine horsepower or type of landing gear.
  • Carry up to five passengers
  • Fly day or night under VFR or IFR
  • Operate up to, but not including 18,000 feet msl
  • Operate at speeds up to 250 KIAS
  • Operate only within the U.S.
  • Not operate for compensation or hire

Traffic Pattern Altitudes

At the October 26-27, 2016 meeting of the Aeronautical Charting Forum, FAA updated its plans to publish traffic pattern altitudes in the Chart Supplement (formerly the Airport/Facility Directory).

The latest recommendation is described here (PDF). Briefly, it proposes adding the following text to AIM 4-3-3 Traffic Patterns:

Unless a specific traffic pattern altitude is published in the Chart Supplement entry for the airport, it is recommended that propeller-driven aircraft enter the traffic pattern at 1,000 feet above ground level (AGL), and that large and turbine-powered airplanes enter the traffic pattern at an altitude of not less than 1,500 feet AGL or 500 feet above the established pattern altitude. A helicopter operating in the traffic pattern may fly a pattern similar to the airplane pattern at a lower altitude (500 AGL) and closer to the airport. This pattern may be on the opposite side of the runway with turns in the opposite direction if local policy permits.
 As part of the review of the issue, ACF members agreed that only TPAs that deviate from the recommended altitudes described above should be published in the Chart Supplement.

Another Update on VOR Decommissioning

At the October 26-27, 2016 meeting of the Aeronautical Charting Forum, FAA provided an update on its plans to decommission VORs as the aviation world transitions to performance based navigation (PBN) predicated on GPS.

The briefing on the topic included proposed new language for the AIM (PDF), scheduled for publication in 2017, to describe the minimum operational network (MON) of VORs that will remain in place as about one-third of the existing VORs are gradually shut down.

You can learn more about the plans to reduce the number of VORs at this blog, here.

The new text (still subject to final revision) will appear in AIM 1-1-3.VHF Omni-directional Range (VOR):

f. The VOR Minimum Operating Network (MON). As flight procedures and route structure based on VORs are gradually being replaced with Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures, the FAA is removing selected VORs from service. PBN procedures are primarily enabled by GPS and its augmentation systems, collectively referred to as Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Aircraft that carry DME/DME equipment can also use RNAV which provides a backup to continue flying PBN during a GNSS disruption. For those aircraft that do not carry DME/DME. the FAA is retaining a limited network of VORs, called the VOR Minimum Operating Network (MON) to provide a basic conventional navigation service for operators to use if GNSS becomes unavailable. During a GNSS disruption, the MON will enable aircraft to navigate through the affected area or to a safe landing at a MON airport without reliance on GNSS. Navigation using the MON will not be as efficient as the new PBN route structure, but use of the MON will provide nearly continuous VOR signal coverage at 5,000 feet AGL across the NAS outside of the Western US Mountainous Area (WUSMA). (There is no plan to change the NAVAID and route structure in the WUSMA).

The VOR MON has been retained principally for IFR aircraft that are not equipped with
DME/DME avionics. However, VFR aircraft may use the MON as desired. Aircraft equipped with DME/DME navigation systems would, in most cases, use DME/DME to continue flight using RNAV to their destination. However, these aircraft may, of course, use the MON.

1. Distance to a MON airport. Within the contiguous United States (CONUS), the VOR MON is designed to ensure that an airport that has an instrument approach that is not dependent on GPS, ADF, DME or radar is within 100 nautical miles of any location. These airports are referred to as “MON airports” and will have an ILS approach or a VOR approach if an ILS is not available. VORs to support these approaches will be retained in the VOR MON. MON airports are charted on low-altitude enroute charts and are contained in the Chart Supplement and other appropriate publications.

It is important to note that any suitable airport can be used to land in the event of a VOR outage. For example, an airport with a DME-recquired ILS approach may be available and could be used by aircraft that are equipped with DME. The intent of the MON airport is to provide an approach that can be used by aircraft without ADF or DME when radar may not be available.

2. Navigating to an airport. The VOR MON will retain sufficient VORs and increase VOR service volume to ensure that pilots will have nearly continuous signal reception of a VOR when flying at 5,000 feet AGL. A key concept of the MON is to ensure that an aircraft will always be within 100 NM of airport with an instrument approach that is not dependent on GPS. (See 1-1-8.) If the pilot encounters a GPS outage, the pilot will be able to proceed via VOR-to-VOR navigation at 5,000 feet AGL through the GPS outage area or to a safe landing at a MON airport or another suitable airport, as appropriate. Nearly all VORs inside of the US Western Mountainous Area (WUSMA) and outside the CONUS are being retained. In these areas, pilots may use the existing (i.e., Victor and Jet) route structure and VORs to proceed through a CPS outage or to a landing.

3. Using the VOR MON. In the case of a planned GPS outage (e.g., contained in a published NOTAM), pilots may plan to fly through the outage using the MON as appropriate and as cleared by ATC. Similarly, aircraft not equipped with GPS may plan to fly and land using the MON, as appropriate and as cleared by ATC. Note that, in many cases, flying using the MON may involve a more circuitous route than flying GPS-enabled RNAV.

In the case of an unscheduled GPS outage, pilots and ATC will need to coordinate the best outcome for all aircraft. It is possible that a GPS outage could be disruptive, causing high workload and demand for ATC service. Generally, the VOR MON concept will enable pilots to navigate through the GPS outage or land at a MON airport or at another airport that may have an appropriate approach or may be in visual conditions.

The VOR MON is a reversionary service provided by the FAA for use by aircraft that are unable to continue RNAV during a GPS disruption. The FAA has not mandated that preflight or inflight planning include provisions for GPS- or WAAS-equipped aircraft to carry sufficient fuel to proceed to a MON airport in case of an unforeseen GPS outage. Specifically, flying to a MON airport as a filed alternate will not be explicitly required. Of course, consideration for the possibility of a GPS outage is prudent during flight planning as is maintaining proficiency with VOR navigation.

Also, in case of a GPS outage, pilots may coordinate with ATC and elect to continue though the outage or land. The VOR MON is designed to ensure that an aircraft is within 100 nautical miles of an airport, but pilots may decide to proceed to any appropriate airport where a safe landing can be made. WAAS users flying under Part 91 are not required to carry VOR avionics. These users do not have the ability or requirement to use the VOR MON. Prudent flight planning by these WAAS-only aircraft should consider the possibility of a GPS outage.

The FAA recognizes that non-GPS-based approaches will be reduced as VORs are eliminated and that most airports with an instrument approach may only have GPS- or WAAS-based approaches. Pilots flying GPS or WAAS-eguipped aircraft that also have VOR/ILS avionics should be diligent to maintain proficiency in VOR and ILS approaches in the event of a GPS outage.

New Edition of Airplane Flying Handbook

FAA has published a new edition of the Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3B), the handbook that complements the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge and the Airman Certification Standards (and Practical Test Standards).

airplaneflyinghandbook-cover

The preface notes that:

The Airplane Flying Handbook provides basic knowledge that is essential for pilots. This handbook introduces basic pilot skills and knowledge that are essential for piloting airplanes. It provides information on transition to other airplanes and the operation of various airplane systems…This handbook is developed to assist student pilots learning to fly airplanes. It is also beneficial to pilots who wish to improve their flying proficiency and aeronautical knowledge, those pilots preparing for additional certificates or ratings, and flight instructors engaged in the instruction of both student certificated pilots. It introduces the future pilot to the realm of flight and provides information and guidance in the performance of procedures and maneuvers required for pilot certification.

 

ForeFlight Plugin for FSX, Prepar3D

Flight1 Aviation Technologies, a major add-on developer for the Microsoft Flight Simulator series, is offering a free plugin for FSX and Prepar3D. Details and download information here.

Our ForeFlight Plug-in sends GPS, AHRS, and Traffic data from Lockheed Martin® Prepar3D™ or Microsoft® Flight Simulator X to ForeFlight on your iPad or iPhone.

ForeFlight uses that data just as it would use data coming from a real GPS or ADS-B device. You can use ForeFlight with the simulator just like you would in an airplane, including the GPS, ADS-B Traffic, and Attitude Indicator features.

According to Flight1:

Once the connection is made, you’ll be able to:

  • Practice using ForeFlight while you’re aviating, navigating, and communicating within the simulated world.
  • Master using ForeFlight during VFR and IFR flights between any airports anywhere in the world, in any season, in any weather conditions, at any time of day or night.
  • Learn to use ForeFlight features you might never have the opportunity to explore during a real flight in a real airplane.
  • Build proficiency flying unfamiliar routes and procedures by “pre-flying” them using the flight simulation and ForeFlight.
  • Practice using ForeFlight to perform route modifications and other potentially distracting tasks.
  • Train using scenarios you could otherwise only complete in a real airplane (or via “chair flying” using your imagination).

New Edition of AC 00-6 Aviation Weather

FAA has published a new edition of AC 00-6 – Aviation Weather (PDF), the 1975 handbook that explains weather theory for pilots.

New scientific capabilities now necessitate an update to this AC. In 1975, aviation users were not directly touched by radar and satellite weather. In 2016, much of what airmen understand about the current atmosphere comes from these important data sources. This AC is intended to provide basic weather information that all airmen must know. This document is intended to be used as a resource for pilot and dispatcher training programs.

The new edition of the companion handbook, AC 00-45 Aviation Weather Services, which explains aviation weather reports and forecasts and the briefings available to pilots, is also available at the FAA website.

FAA Updates Two Handbooks

FAA has released updated editions of two key handbooks for pilots and flight instructors.
The new version of Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25B) is a key reference for pilots training for the private pilot, commercial pilot, and flight instructor certificates.

You can find free PDFs of these handbooks and other FAA training manuals on the FAA website here and here.

PHAKCover

The Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge provides basic knowledge that is essential for pilots. This handbook introduces pilots to the broad spectrum of knowledge that will be needed as they progress in their pilot training. Except for the Code of Federal Regulations pertinent to civil aviation, most of the knowledge areas applicable to pilot certification are presented. This handbook is useful to beginning pilots, as well as those pursuing more advanced pilot certificates.

The Weight & Balance Handbook (FAA-H-8083-1B) is aimed at pilots and maintenance technicians.

Weight-Balance-Cover

The Aircraft Weight and Balance Handbook has been prepared in recognition of the importance of weight and balance technology in conducting safe and efficient flight. The objective of this handbook is twofold: to provide the airframe and powerplant mechanic (A&P) with the method of determining the empty weight and empty weight center of gravity (EWCG) of an aircraft and to furnish the flight crew with information on loading and operating the aircraft to ensure its weight is within the allowable limit and the center of gravity (CG) is within the allowable range.

You can find free PDFs of these handbooks and other FAA training manuals on the FAA website here and here.