Pilot Hearing Loss and Tips for Protecting Your Ears

Hearing loss caused by noise is a huge problem for all pilots and flight instructors, especially those who fly small aircraft. Think about it: Day after day, flight after flight, pilots are subjected to a constant din from the engines, exhaust, propeller, fuselage and other areas. And unlike other noisy professions, pilots are generally subjected to the same noise frequency and intensity for extended periods of time. Here are some important things to know about noise fatigue, and how you can help prevent long-term hearing loss.

While noise fatigue is a health issue for all pilots, small aircraft, especially turboprop planes, are generally noisier and less insulated than large commercial jet aircraft. Even if you fly a larger aircraft with a quieter interior, you are probably exposed to ambient noise from the tarmac or in the cockpit with the cabin door open. Most noise inside and around the aircraft are from four main areas:

  1. Noise from the exhaust stacks (especially short stacks) usually located directly beneath the cabin, and the subsequent airflow pushing up against the bottom of the fuselage
  2. The propeller and airflow off the propeller against the windshield
  3. Airflow through vents, leaks around doors and turbulence throughout the fuselage
  4. Engine noise, especially the vibration of air-cooled engines

Average Everyday Decibel Levels

The decibel (dB) is the unit used to measure sound intensity. To give you an idea of ​​the average decibel level of some everyday sounds, consider the following:

  • A whisper – 30 dB
  • A quiet room – 40 dB
  • Normal conversation – 60 dB
  • Busy traffic – 70 dB
  • Gas lawn mower – 106 dB
  • Jackhammer – 130 dB
  • Jet engine – 140 dB

Keep in mind that permanent hearing damage can occur from sounds louder than 85 dB, physical pain occurs at around 125 dB, and an eardrum may burst at 140 dB. The Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) states that the maximum level of "safe" exposure to loud sounds is 90 dB for up to eight hours, or 100 dB for up to two hours. OSHA requires that workers exposed to noise levels higher than 85 dB must use hearing protection equipment.

Study on Aircraft Noise Levels

In 2010, an Occupational Health & Safety study entitled, "Interior Sound Levels in General Aviation Aircraft" sought to determine if prolonged exposure to interior aircraft noise is a health hazard for pilots.

For the study, sound samples were taken in a Cessna 172 and a Piper PA-44 Seminole – two planes with different airframes. While the planes were in flight, two sound-level meters took readings from within an occupant's headset, as well ambient noise from the cabin, to get an idea of ​​true noise levels without any hearing protection.

To simulate a "worst flying day scenario," the researchers tested for eight-hour exposure, and created an eight-hour time weighted average from the sound sample readings. The time-weighted average for all of the aircraft cabin measurements came in at 86.26 dBA. The study's data reinforced that pilots are indeed exposed to sound levels higher than OSHA standards. The study also determined that the use of a headset is adequate hearing protection for a projected eight-hour period. Read the full study . To get an idea of ​​the decibel level inside your aircraft, buy a decibel meter at an electronics store and (safely) take readings during the climb, cruise and descent. Keep in mind the dB level inside your headphones should be lower than the ambient, unprotected noise level in the cockpit and cabin.

Tips for Protecting Your Ears

If the ambient noise level inside your cockpit reaches 90 dBA, you should be using hearing protection equipment. A good set of headsets are essential, especially if in-cockpit noise levels exceed OSHA exposure limits. Active noise reduction headsets are recommended because they improve signal-to-noise ratios and enhance sound quality. Another benefit of a quality headset is that they reduce high-frequency background noise, making speech signals clearer and easier to understand. For maximum protection, combine a good set of active noise reduction headsets with earplugs. Another good tip is to limit your exposure to loud activities before flying, such as mowing the lawn or listening to loud music.

If You Have Symptoms of Hearing Loss …

Some symptoms of hearing loss include difficulty understanding what people are saying, listening to TV and music at loud levels and avoiding social interactions because hearing is frustrating. Prolonged exposure to loud noises and unchecked hearing damage can also cause irritability, lack of focus, high blood pressure, increased stress levels, insomnia and high or abnormal heart rate.

If you suspect you are suffering from hearing loss and its side effects, see your doctor and / or get checked by a qualified otolaryngologist or audiologist to find out the extent of the hearing damage, if any, and what you can do to treat it.

Cessna 182 – Tips for a Smooth Transition

One of the first upgrades most pilots face is the one from basic training aircraft to something with a bit more performance and complexity. At one time the common transition was from a Cessna 152 to a Cessna 172, or from Piper Tomahawk to Piper Warrior. As those very basic aircraft disappeared from training inventories for a few years, it became much more common to start off in a 172 or something similar, pushing the first transition to a more complex aircraft such as the Cessna 182.

According to the FAA, the 182, with an engine of over 200 horsepower, is considered a high performance aircraft. To fly a high performance aircraft the FAA requires you log ground and flight instruction with a certified flight instructor (CFI). Though the amount of time is not specified by the FAA, instructors commonly indicate around 5 to 10 hours as the amount of time required- though that may vary significantly based on a student’s background and experience.

While the 182 is classified as a high performance aircraft, it does not fit in the complex category. Though it has two of the three requirements (flaps, constant speed prop, retractable gear), its fixed landing gear means it’s not considered a complex aircraft.

Though the FAA may not consider the 182 complex, beginning students may think differently. As mentioned, the 182 adds a constant speed prop and cowl flaps to the already familiar controls. More weight means different handling techniques, and a bigger engine means more attention has to be paid to its management. Overall, these additional elements give more weight to the importance of following checklist procedures.

As far as what the new controls mean, the prop RPM will be controlled by the blue knob. The throttle will go from controlling the RPM as in a 172 to controlling the manifold pressure. Most of the time in the 182, ground ops, takeoff and landing will be with the prop control pushed all of the way in. That will give you the most power available. In cruise flight though, that setting isn’t very efficient, so you’ll bring the blue knob back to a slower RPM, which will have the propeller taking a bigger bite out of the air. The settings for RPM and manifold pressure vary slightly from one model of 182 to the next, so consult the POH for your particular aircraft for the exact numbers.

When adjusting the engine controls the inevitable question will arise as to which control to move first. The easiest way to remember is that the blue knob will stay in more than the throttle. So, when you want to increase power, lead with the prop control. When reducing power (as in leveling off), lead with the throttle.
Bigger engines tend to foul more easily than their smaller counterparts- meaning the proper leaning technique must be adhered to. Proper technique is to lean during taxing and in cruise flight. On the ground it’s usually sufficient to pull the mixture out an inch or so or just a bit before the engine coughs. In cruise you can lean by fuel flow or cylinder head temperatures based on the equipment in your aircraft. Check the POH for detailed instructions.

The cowl flaps are another thing to remember. They control the amount of cooling air flowing over the engine. Cooling air is good when it’s hot or you’re slow or on the ground; but it increases drag the rest of the time. For the 182 the cowl flaps will remain open until you reach cruise flight, then they can be closed. They will usually remain closed until landing. As in all cases, follow the checklist.

As for handling, the 182 is heavier in both roll and pitch than a 172. Pitch will be the first notable difference as you’re rolling down the runway for takeoff and realize that it will take a decided pull to get the nose moving up. That same characteristic will come into play on landing as it will take a conscious effort to keep the nose wheel up longer than the mains. Proper trim, which is more important in heavier planes, will minimize this effect. You should be trimming for hands off flight at all times. There are many 182’s that have suffered bent firewalls in testament to the importance of a good flare and proper trim.

The Cessna 182 is nothing to be intimidated by. It’s not much more difficult to fly than a 172, with the addition of some checklist items to keep in mind. After a few hours you will come to enjoy the increased speed, range and stability that it will give you.

7 Tips to Getting Over Your Fears Before Getting Your Private Pilot License

We all have fears. Some of us won’t even admit to them, but we have them. Embarking on anything new, while being very exciting, can also be very scary. The reason, the main reason…fear of failure. You need to get over your fears not only of flying, if you have one. but of failing as well before you can be the proud owner of a private pilot license.

If you’ve taken a driver’s test and didn’t pass the first time, you remember what that was like when the instructor turned to you and said, “Sorry, you failed.” If you looked up the word “down” in the dictionary, you would have seen a photo of yourself right next to the definition.

Nobody likes to fail, and fear of failure is one of the worst fears in the world.

Okay, great… now that we’ve established that… how do we deal with it?

Here are a few great ways of overcoming the fear of failure.

1. Consider The Missed Opportunity.

Imagine that you decide that you’re too afraid to go through with learning how to fly and taking your exam. Now imagine what life is going to be like without being able to do this very thing that you love so much. I’m assuming that if you want to learn how to fly, there is a big reason for it. Focus on that instead of the fear and this will go a long way to alleviating that fear.

2. Research The Alternatives

Imagine what you will have to do without your PPL. You’ll have to rely on commercial airlines. You won’t be able to go where you want to go WHEN you want to go there. You’ll be at the mercy of others. The alternatives to flying your own plane, if you don’t want to rely on commercial airlines, are driving, train, bus and even boat. If that thought makes you sick to your stomach, focus on it. That’ll get you over your fear of failure.

3. Put The Worst Case Scenario Into Perspective

Let’s say you fail your PPL exam? What’s the worst thing that can happen? They can’t tell you that you can’t take it again. You can still take another shot at it. It’s not like this is a one time offer. If that were the case, there would be a ton of people not driving or flying planes. It’s not the end of the world if you fail. At worse, you have to wait a little longer to get your PPL.

4. Understand The Benefits Of Failure

Believe it or not, you learn something from failure. You learn what it is you did wrong and get a chance to improve it. Would you rather that you didn’t fail your exam only because some instructor took pity on you and ended up getting yourself killed because you really weren’t ready to fly? I think you know the answer to that.

5. Make A Contingency Plan

If you do fail, have a plan. You should already be planning in advance on taking more lessons, getting more flight time and rescheduling. Failing doesn’t mean that you give up.

6. Take Action

The best way to get rid of that fear is to just go ahead and do it. The more you procrastinate, the more afraid you’re going to become until you reach a point where you’re unable to take your exam at all.

7. Burn Your Boats

In ancient times, Greeks would burn their boats so that they had no choice but to move forward. They couldn’t turn back. I don’t know what you have to do in order to burn YOUR boat but do it. If that means picking up the phone and scheduling your exam, do it. Don’t look back.

Hopefully, the 7 items I’ve gone over will help you get over your fears of getting your private pilot license

10 Tips For Buying Aircraft at an Aircraft Auction

One of the best places to purchase a nearly new, quality aircraft at a price far below retail value is an auction. Often, brand-name and top-quality aircraft (Cessna, Beechcraft, Piper etc) become state or bank

property when their owners are unable to pay debts, and have to be sold fast to avoid substantial storage and maintenance costs. Because of this it is sometimes possible to obtain quality, nearly new aircraft as much as 80-90% off retail price.

Purchasing an airplane is a major investition and should be done with appropriate care. This is especially true if you are an inexperienced and/or first-time buyer. The sums involved are close to what one pays

for a house, so, just as for real estate, getting an expert appraisal is the safest way to go. However, that is rather costly and not everyone feels they want to make that investition, especially when just buying a used light aircraft.

In order to help first-time buyers, I have put together the top 10 things to look out for when purchasing an aircraft at an auction. A lot of them are similar to the recommendations for purchasing a used car, and in fact experienced pilots basically approach aircraft purchases in a similar way. Still, there are a few aircraft-specific points to pay attention to.

10) Get a copy of the FAA Type Certificate for the airplane that interests you. On the Internet you can get one at http://www.faa.gov/aircraft. Here, you will find all the specifications about aircraft–applicable

engines, propellers, gross weight, empty weight, speeds, etc. Also, inform yourself at the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association). They have a lot of detailed information, forums, and guides on purchasing used aircraft, all accessible for an annual membership fee of $39.

9) Take a good look at the maintenance history. Regular mechanical checkups should have been made. Pay particular attention to engine hours, equipment, airworthiness directives (ADs), damage history, paint,

and interior. Be sure to ask for the number of prior owners. Several prior owners are likely to indicate prior problems with the aircraft.

8) Ask owners of the aircraft model you’re eyeing about frequent prior defects and things to pay attention to at the preview. This is best done at one of the large net aviation forums like http://www.totalpilot.com or http://www.airplanes.com.

7) If you find a good candidate, it’s time for a thorough visual inspection. Be sure to check struts (are they equally extended?), wings (corrosion, loose rivets), flaps (rust?), ailerons (any abnormal play if you push slightly?), doors and windows (should seal well), propeller (track, cracks?), engine (mounted solidly, any leaks, exhaust system ok?).

6) If possible, have the engine started and check how well it’s running. Any irregularities in the sound? Blue smoke from the exhaust pipe (oil, can mean that the engine is worn)? Excessive white smoke (may mean that coolant is leaking)?

5) When purchasing aircraft at auctions, start by observing. Attend the preview (usually held a while before the auction, and open to the general public). Stay cool during the auction, and decide what you want to bid

beforehand. Never get into a bidding war, it’s a surefire way to buyer’s remorse.

4) Beware of any too-good-to-be-true claims. At an auction, odds are they are just that – not true. Liability for a seller at a public auction is relatively low, and two powerful words – “AS IS” – basically free the seller of any responsibility. It is up to you to pinpoint them on essential statements and be wary of any outrageous promises.

3) Should you win the bid, insist on a written contract, and ask that all important figures and claims are mentioned (e.g. about prior owners or repairs, engine hours, or the timespan until you get the plane). Don’t forget that the price you will pay is usually higher than the winning bid. Most auctions include a 5-10% buyer’s premium.

2) consider purchasing title insurance along with accident and liability coverage. We have just touched the main points of buying a good aircraft, and there are still numerous issues that may remain undiscovered until after the purchase.

1) Do not be too hasty. Looking at some auctioned aircraft, you may get the feeling of a once-in-a-lifetime bargain, but in fact the market is pretty large and great opportunities are around all the time. It is best to observe a few auctions first to get a feel of the process, and only actively start bidding once you have a good idea of the market.

There are several databases of auctioned aircraft online. One of the largest is http://www.seizedaircraft.com, with unlimited access for a one-time annual fee of $19.95.

5 Tips for Stress Free Long Haul Flights

The world is becoming smaller by the day. Flying long haul to distant locations for business or pleasure is becoming increasingly more popular. There are more aircraft, more airports to fly to and more people ready to spend half a day or longer in the air. It is quite simply easier and cheaper than it used to be fly long haul. Unfortunately, the experience of traveling to the other side of the world can very often be a stressful and exhausting affair, especially for the uninitiated or unprepared. This does not have to be the case. Just follow this guide to a stress free long haul flight and you can sit back and enjoy the whole experience!

Step 1: Do Your Homework:

A little bit of homework will certainly help you to discover the right airline for you. The Internet is an excellent resource in this regard, but don't ignore you're local travel agent who may have a wealth of customer experience with various airlines.

You might want to find out who is going to offer the most leg-room, what the quality of food is like and how reputable their customer service is.
Most airlines now offer some sort of in-seat entertainment such as Singapore airline's Krisworld system (Always very good) and I particularly enjoyed Japan airline's onscreen camera views allowing you to see forwards from the nose of the aircraft or down over wherever you are flying. These systems are good way to kill a few hours of any flight.

Of course the price is important and shopping around really pays off. Don't be afraid to go straight to the airline and check out any special offers they might have as well as using high street and Internet based agents.

Step 2: Airport Time:

You will usually be expected to check in 2 hours in advance of your long haul flight although it always pays to arrive a little earlier than this as most people will arrive in the queue around this time. You are better off spending 3 hours sat in the departure lounge with a good book than standing in the check-in queue!

Of course the earlier you are the better chance you have of reserving a good seat. Many airlines are now introducing services on their websites that allow you to reserve seats, order meals and allow you to check-in via automated express check-in systems; the best way to do it by far.

Step 3: Enjoy the flight:

On a 19 hour flight it is important to keep yourself occupied. The obvious solution is a good book. I always start a book a few days before I fly so that I'm already 'into it' before I get on the plane, ensuring a pre-planned slice of escapism.

These days we are blessed with in-seat technologies to keep us entertained, these will often include the latest blockbuster films, video games and all sorts of TV shows and in flight information. I still find, however, that the trusty book is the best way to kill some time.

The holy grail of long haul flight is being able to get some quality sleep. Air quality, light sources, noise and cramped upright seating is certainly not conducive to falling asleep. An Ezysleep inflatable travel pillow , for example is designed to deal with the issue of supporting your neck whilst upright but there are other things you can do. Ear plugs and an eye mask can help deal with light and noise so combine them with your travel pillow for some quality sleep.

If the food isn't up to scratch, make sure you're prepared with some healthy snacks and a good supply of water. It might be free but alcohol and coffee are very dehydrating and this is the last thing you want in an already arid environment. Stick to the water and fruit juices.

Most importantly, enjoy the flight! Enjoy that time away from the mobile phones and the boss and the traffic and relax. You're 40,000 feet away from everything, make the most of it!

Step 4: Stay healthy:

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a constant worry for long haul travelers. Although extremely rare, it is a very dangerous condition. The condition is avoided by ensuring that the blood flow around your body is kept moving.

Do the exercises advised by the in-flight video and magazines, take regular walks to the galley, the toilet or just up and down the aisles and drink plenty of water.

Step 5: Avoid Jet Lag:

The best way to avoid, or minimize, jet-lag is to start planning whilst on your flight. Set your watch to your destination time as soon as you can and do your best to sleep when it's night time where you are going, even if that means missing onboard meals.

Keep drinking that water so you're not dehydrated when you land. When you get to your destination, don't hit the hay straight away. Try to stay awake until the evening and you'll give yourself the best chance to adjust quickly to your new time zone.

FAA's Summer Safety Tips for Pilots

in an effort to improve safety and reduce accidents during summer's peak flying season, FAA Administrator, Michael Huerta, sent an open letter to general aviation (GA) pilots asking them to be ready – really ready – to fly. Here's a recap of Huerta's message, and what the FAA is doing to help improve aircraft safety.

Goal: Reduce fatal accidents

Huerta's letter is a reaction to the fact that the general aviation fatal accident rate has stayed the same over the past five years, despite the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) efforts to improve safety. Through mid-May 2013, 149 fatal accidents have caused 262 deaths, according to the FAA, and about 40 percent of fatal accidents are due to loss of control as a result of stalls.

In his letter, Huerta wrote, "This summer – this flying season – we need you to make a personal commitment to understand your strengths and limitations, to use a personal minimums checklist, and make sure you are ready each and every time you fly. If we make that commitment, then together we'll reduce fatal accidents. "

Huerta continued, "We cannot become complacent about safety. Together, we must improve the safety culture to drive the GA fatal accident rate lower."

FAA's summer safety tips

Huerta also offered some summer flying tips for general aviation pilots, including:

  • Fly with an instructor to brush up on your skills.
  • Pay special attention to the weather and be willing to fly another day if conditions are beyond your capabilities.
  • Talk with fellow pilots about safety as often as you can to help instill a community-wide safety culture.
  • Intervene if you see someone else doing something unsafe.

Three steps to improve safety

The FAA has announced their goal of reducing fatal aviation accidents in the US by 10 percent by 2018. To help achieve this goal, the FAA has been working with aviation groups and manufacturers to develop three steps to improve flying safety.

1. Better reporting and sharing of key data throughout the aviation community. The intent is that this will help identify risks and prevent them from causing fatal accidents.

2. Enhance pilot testing and training.

3. Develop a set of design standards to improve the safety of a group of airplanes, and to streamline the certification process for safety technologies to get them into all aircraft much faster.

The focus of the enhanced design standards will be smaller Part 23 airplanes, both new and older aircraft, including piston-powered airplanes and executive jets. The new technology being explored will address stalls, and help prevent pilot error with terrain avoidance equipment.

Call for better technology

In addition to the above steps, the FAA is calling on the aviation community to install life-saving equipment, including angle of attack indicators, inflatable restraints and two-axis autopilots in existing GA airplanes.

The FAA is also overhauling training and testing standards to bring them up to date with current technology while incorporating risk-management and decision-making skills.

For more information on what the FAA is doing to reduce general aviation accidents, read the FAA's Fact Sheet on General Aviation Safety.

Tips and Tricks For Private Pilots – Check Ride Guides

Anytime one is completing a practical test in any subject the attitude of the examiner plays a part in how comfortable and confident you feel. Of course you are going to feel some form of intimidation, but make every effort to put this aside as it will interfere with your capabilities.

Completing your Private Pilot Check ride is a perfect example of the above scenario. This is your final practical test before achieving your Private Pilot License. You must remember that the examiner has a job to do. He/she must determine that you are knowledgeable enough and capable of flying a plane on your own. There is a standard form that the examiner must follow but some will add a few twists of their own to see how you react. They go a little beyond the classic textbook knowledge.

A favored trick of some examiners is the pencil fallacy. Here they will drop their pencil at some point of time during your flying. Most often, it will occur when you are engaged in performing a task that requires your undivided attention such as doing a turn. Your first instinct is to want to impress the examiner, so you will immediately try to retrieve the pencil taking your attention away from your maneuver. This act of kindness on your part could cause you the loss of the chance to obtain your license. In other word a failing mark. Be one-step ahead of these types of ploys. Keep extra pencils on your kneeboard. Then simply tell the examiner you cannot reach their pen as you must concentrate on what you are doing, but in fact, you do have an extra one.

Always be prepared for the unexpected. Dead batteries are one of the most common mishaps. Let’s assume you are being rerouted to another airport and your E6B that you rely so heavily on is suddenly flat. If you carry a good supply of extra batteries with you then there is not going to be a problem. If you don’t then you have to rely on the wheel that you have thought about since your initial training. Talk about extra stress this is it. The last thing you need is any more stress at this particular time.

There are not only instances where deviating from your concentration could be dangerous they could also be embarrassing. You can imagine how you would feel if you were in the take off mode only to discover that, you hadn’t removed the tie down rope? After all, isn’t this something you should have completed in your pre flight? The lesson to be learned here is taking nothing for granted and check everything.

The purpose of this test is to show you are capable of being the pilot in command. This includes viewing your examiner as your passenger. Ensure that your passenger has his seatbelt on. If you miss this simple step you could be missing your license. Don’t forget about the pre flight briefing that is to be given your passenger as well. You are ultimately responsible for the safety of your passenger regardless if he happens to be the examiner. Also, remember to do your break check at your takeoff. You have to show that you are considering the flight as a whole. You need to know that you can land.

You must always be prepared. This means that if the examiner were to tell you that an engine was out you would have to be prepared for an emergency landing. In this case, you need to be constantly aware of your surroundings and always know the possible places you could put your plane down safely if you had to do so.

These are just a few of the unforeseen circumstances your examiner could put in your path. Just be prepared for anything.