Aviation Safety Corner

GREETINGS! For this month's topic, I would like to finish our discussion on, "Set Up For Success." Here's how to make your Flying Safer, more Efficient and more Effective. This is Part IV of IV. Now, let's discuss, "Clearing SWAT". Look at "clearing" as part of the setup thought process. Use the acronym "SWAT." It reminds pilots to ensure proper clearance from four things:

1. The Surface. 2. Weather. 3. Airspace. 4. Other Traffic.

Clearance from the surface triggers at least two warnings. Current FAA practical test standards caution " an entry altitude that will allow recoveries to be completed no lower than 1,500 feet AGL" for slow flight or stall maneuvers. Ground reference maneuver standards cite altitude" 600 to 1,000 feet AGL," with plus or minus tolerances of 100 feet. FAR 91.119 prescribes the "minimum safe altitude" anywhere as the altitude at which you could lose an engine and not pose undue hazard to persons or property on the surface. Isn't it appropriate to have those mini-mum altitudes in mind prior to beginning maneuvers? That's what the "S" in SWAT reminds us to do. "Surface."

The "W" is weather. Depending on where we are operating, it reminds us to ensure adequate cloud clearance: 500 feet below, 2,000 feet horizontally and 1,000 feet above clouds with three miles' visibility for VFR. The minimums are different in some instances below 1,200' AGL and above 10,000' MSL.

The same applies to airspace, the "A" in SWAT. Airspace can become a critical clearing consideration under many wind conditions. That same consideration applies to practice areas near Restricted Areas, airways and other special-use airspace. You might want to check out areas in which you regularly operate. If airspace isn't already an important consideration in all maneuver setups, maybe it should be.

Traffic, the "T" in SWAT, is the only thing too many pilots think about when it is time to "clear." Running into another aircraft because you did not take time to look for other traffic will flunk a check ride-big time. It will also ruin the rest of your day.

Viewed from these four separate perspectives, Clearing carries much more meaning than just a couple of cursory turns to fill the square. Knowing what clearing means ahead of time-planning for it-puts structure into your setup procedure, removes a lot of doubt and brands you as someone who really knows what he's doing.

Now, let's discuss, "Know What It Takes." After accomplishing the "Maneuver Checklist" to trigger your setup and after clearing from the surface, weather, airspace and other traffic (SWAT), it's time to Configure the airplane for what comes next.

Don't forget that power and airspeed are as much a part of configuration as gear and flaps. Know the airspeeds and power settings required for various phases of flight and maneuvers for your airplane. Armed with that knowledge, the uncertainty of slowing to minimum controllable airspeed will be removed.

Execution: This is the payoff. If the setup is right, actual execution is only a matter of practice and feel. Just do it! The procedures will almost take care of themselves if you have done your homework, know the numbers, set up properly and established the proper maneuver "flow." An appropriate setup sets the stage for success. Take care to know what the maneuver aims to achieve or display, review the elements during your setup. Give careful thought and planning to the effect of the wind and the environment in which you are operating.

Recovery: This completes the maneuver. After fully demonstrating what you meant to accomplish, maintain your con-centration until recovering to level flight and moving into the next phase of flight, as directed by the evaluator or the situation.

Now in conclusion, remember, a little thought ahead of time about organization, flow and setup will go a long way toward making flying more affordable, enjoyable, precise and safe. Your flying will be safer, more effective and highly efficient, with very little wasted motion or energy.

Don't miss next month's Aviation Safety Corner, when we'll start a new topic, "The Deadly Deluge." Research has shown that heavy rain can rob an aircraft of lift quickly and without much warning. This will in a Four Part Series.

SAFE FLYING!
Larry G. Harmon
FAA AVIATION SAFETY COUNSELOR

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