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Sun, Jul 16, 2006

ANN's Daily Aero-Tips (07.16.06): Wake Turbulence, Pilot Responsibility

Aero-Tips!

A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of "there are no old, bold pilots.")

Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner, master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us -- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators. Some of them, you may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we might never have considered before, or something that didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for the practical test.

Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you through the Aero-News Network.

Aero-Tips 07.16.06

Tower cleared a light, four-seat airplane for takeoff. It crashed, caught in wake turbulence... from a light piston twin.

Although we don't usually think about wake turbulence avoidance behind anything less than large jet aircraft, all pilots have responsibility to consider wake turbulence when operating around any other aircraft. It's easy to get complacent when receiving Air Traffic Control (ATC) services. But there are specific ATC phrases, if you acknowledge affirmatively, that move wake avoidance responsibility from controllers to you.

The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) tells us: 

Accepting ATC instructions in the following situations is acknowledgment you will ensure safe takeoff and landing intervals and accept responsibility for wake turbulence separation:

  • Traffic information (e.g., traffic is a XX at YY o'clock and ZZ miles)
  • Instructions to follow another aircraft
  • Acceptance of a visual approach clearance
He ain't heavy...

...But if "he" (the other airplane) is, and ATC warns you about him (or her), you'll hear the word "Heavy" used with it's callsign (e.g., "United 25 Heavy"). ATC will also call it (to standardize my pronouns) heavy when it's pointed out as traffic. Remember it's you're responsibility to give the "heavy" an even wider berth, and follow it farther upwind and in trail.

Aero-tip of the day: Know when it's your responsibility to avoid wake turbulence, even when under Air Traffic Control.

FMI: Aero-Tips

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