Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Buying an aircraft

As mentioned yesterday - I bought a share of an aircraft last October. This post will summarize my thinking and approach.

First and most important, when thinking about whether to start flying it would be a Really Good Idea to answer the question "When I get my license, what am I going to do with it?". The answer really doesn't matter, but it is good to understand that you're going to spend about $10,000 getting the license so there really should be some objectives around how you are going to use it.

In my case, I figured that drilling expensive holes in the local atmosphere would be an occasional interesting activity, but what I really wanted to do was to go places.

One can always rent an aircraft - and if you don't fly too often (10-20-30 hours per year) then this is the least expensive option. It is also the least complicated, since (as part of your rental cost) you're paying the club or the company to worry about maintenance, upgrades, administration etc. However, renting gets more expensive quickly as the hours increase, the aircraft will be safe but they will also be somewhat battered, different aircraft will be configured differently. And if you go on an overnight trip, there is often a minimum per-day charge (which addresses the lost opportunity to the club of not having the aircraft available to rent to others).

And so I explored owning a share of an aircraft. My wife and I attended the Ownership Forum, as run by the Rockcliffe Flying Club. RFC gets an income stream from fuel sales and from parking at the airfield, as well as ensuring that the rental fleet does not become either too large or over-taxed, so they like to see their graduates move towards ownership.

Owning an aircraft can be Damn Expensive - and at my level of income and annual flying, owning an aircraft myself is an expensive proposition. Generally, when you sell the aircraft you will more or less get your purchase price back - but the annual costs will be borne by yourself only.

I elected to look for shared ownership, preferably located at Rockcliffe since I like the camaraderie. Shared ownership means I will pay only a portion of the capital costs (the airplane and equipment), the annual costs (annual inspection, parking space, insurance, COPA membership, etc), calendar costs (annual ELT certification, 5-year propeller rebuild, etc), and equipment upgrades (better radio, paint job, etc). There will be several hands to share the workload (cutting the grass, washing the airplane, doing the finances, ...). The operational costs (per-hour, including fuel, oil, etc) would be the same whether I owned the aircraft solely, or was in a shared ownership arrangement.

The downside of a shared arrangement is that other people are involved (that takes effort to manage, I have a responsibility to cooperate, but you "inherit" the existing members of the partnership). And since you have to share the airplane, you have to expect that it will sometimes not be available when you want it.

The last factor was timing - there are hundreds of airplanes available for sale at any one time, so I could have my choice of airplane at whatever time I wanted at pretty much any desired level of equipment. But there are a limited number of partnership groups, and they are further filtered by the type and configuration of the aircraft they own.

Fortunately, there is a group at Rockcliffe which met all my needs....

Monday, February 28, 2011

Checkride.... er Currency Check.... er PIC Check

So - I purchased a share of an airplane back in October 2010 (more about that in a later blog post).

I flew during the fall, with my previous flight with my son and daughter-in-law on December 24th (more about that in a later post as well).

But, due to weather, work, and mechanical problems, I didn't fly for more than 2 months. One of the rules our group has is a 60-day currency rule - if you don't fly in 60 days then you need to go fly with an instructor to regain the PIC capability. Even if we didn't have this rule, at my level of experience I'd do it anyway.

Last Saturday was a beautiful day - big wind but steady right down the runway centreline. Sunny. Below zero, but not too cold. I booked the bird and an instructor, Steven.

I have to take a flight with an instructor to re-PIC, but what I need to do on that flight is not explicitly specified. Technically, one circuit is sufficient.

But I like to fly. And I booked Steven for 2 hours, not 6 minutes. So in our pre-flight briefing I request everything I want to cover. Steven is going to have fun with me, since we did everything on my list and little more.

To save reading to the end: I re-certified. I'm safe. I forgot all sorts of little things due to rust, but caught myself on almost all of them (or the checklists caught me). I didn't do anything stupid or dangerous.

Checklists were slow - they didn't flow, and I was methodical while working through them. I missed checking the brakes after we started moving (but checked all the instruments). I missed doing a carb lean test while at 1700 RPM (Steven caught that one).

I chose to do a soft-field take-off. I find it the most difficult one to do, especially in a lightly loaded 180HP Cessna 172 with a good headwind. I may have leveled out a bit high, and I forgot to raise the flaps once we were climbing, but I did remember to turn off the landing light.

Standard straight&level flight on a heading, then climb once in the training area.

We started with steep turns. Left or right? I answer "let's do both". I prefer turning to the right over turning to the left. Turn was good, rolling out at the end was excellent, my altitude control was within limits but pretty loose. I'm grabbing the yoke too tightly. No spiral dive though.

Slow flight, with turns to a heading, and then speed recovery. Pretty good. I'll want to practice this alone, however, since my airspeed fluctuated. And it didn't feel very comfortable.

A power-on stall. Routine.

Simulated emergency landing to a field. Done well, but I should have given a passenger briefing at a higher altitude when I was less rushed. And I forgot to "transmit" a Mayday or a 7700. Sheesh.

The we get the foggles out for instrument work, and climb, descend, change speeds, turn to a heading, etc.

With the foggles still on, Steven decided my vacuum pump has failed, we cover the AI and HI, and we do some more turns, flying a heading, and then we fly back to the field.

Back to Rockcliffe, descend from 1700 to 1200 feet on the quiet side with a procedure turn, and I take the foggles off as we cross over the field to join the mid-right downwind for R27.

We do an inspection pass to see that the runway is indeed bare&dry (since we didn't run through the precautionary landing out in the practice area), then climb out and remain in the circuit.

On the soft-field landing I'm not descending on base because I have some power on, so I remove power and side-slip, losing air at about 1200 FPM, and I set up for the final Real Pretty. The landing was not great but OK - soft-field landings are also my least favourite.

A heavy workout after more than 60 days of no flying, and with very short air time -0.8 in the air, of which 0.3 was instrument (and some of that was partial panel).

One other observation - when recovering after a stall or slow flight I need to use full throttle (I'm timid on the throttle because the airplane accelerates faster than the flaps come up, and the speed limit with flaps extended is 100 MPH).

And I still need to always put the carb heat back in so I get that last 10% of power from that nice thick cold air (I sometimes forget).

But it was good to be in the sky again.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Non-aviation photograph post

I posted a comment about horses in downtown London UK over on Aviatrix's blog (go read her posting, including the comments, to understand the context).

But needed a place to post a picture to illustrate.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rent vs. Buy?

It has been a long time, .

I have embarked on the journey to a new decison - should I buy an aircraft (or a share of an aircraft)?

I am, and will continue to be, a member of the Rockcliffe Flying Club. They have a a fleet of aircraft (mostly 172s, with two 152s and a 182) available for rent. These aircraft have various levels of equipment, there are enough of them that you can get one pretty much when you want one. They are of course older aircraft, but well maintained, and safe.

And expensive. By the time you rent one (wet rental), add HST, figure on $150 per Hobbs hour.

There is also the price of "opportunity cost" - by the published rates, if my wife and I take a club aircraft to PEI for a week, then there is a minimum charge of 3 hours per day even if I never start the engine.

However, if I don't fly, the cost to me of a rental aircraft is nil.

Renting, and not owning, makes sense if you do not fly a large number of hours per year. There are rent vs. buy calculators, but the more you fly the more it makes sense to consider owning instead of renting (the crossover point is determined primarily by the costs associated with owning, such as the purchase price, but is usually somewhere around 50-100 hours per year).

The cost of ownership can be dramatically reduced by owning a share in an aircraft, instead of a whole aircraft. The operating costs per hour are the same, but the capital cost (purchase price), annual costs (tie-down, insurance, annual inspection, ....) are divided n ways, as are the costs of any upgrades, paint jobs, etc. Owning a share of an aircraft can drop the crossover point to as little as 30 hours per year. Instead of $150 per hour, flying is half that cost.

Another journey begins.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Why is the stall horn sounding.....?

March 10, 2010

The weather this week has been terrific, work has been long hours, I am coming up on a month since the last flight, time to go drill holes in the sky for an afternoon. So I invite one of my daughters, and her friend, to go for a flight. I need to fly at least monthly (or else I need to go rent an instructor for a lap), so I may as well take someone along for the ride.

Krysten (daughter) and my wife took the co-pilot course last fall, and Krysten has not gone for her two rides. This way she can get up for an initial flight, do some handling of the controls, and get some of the shine off so her two lessons with an instructor will be more fruitful.

Unlike the last two flights, the temperature is above zero, +6C. The pre-flight check is not as brutal.

I've not flown this aircraft before. It's a C172M - generally I've flown November models. Review the different V-speeds before climbing aboard, locate all the controls (flap lever and indicator are different), and make sure there are no surprises. The left strobe light is burned out, but otherwise everything is clear.

The flow of the passenger briefings is getting better. During flight training I did very few briefings, so I'm working up to having a "flow".

Start-up, taxi, run-up, backtrack to the button on 09, apply power, gauges checked green, rotate, and we smoothly leave the earth.

As we're climbing out, I notice that we're climbing slower than usual. Mixture is rich, RPMs are good, gauges still green, flaps are not extended, airspeed is good, attitude is normal. Weird, but nothing is out of agreement and things look good out the window.

To the practice area, flying past the casino and the ski hills. Krysten does some straight&level flight. Just north of Wakefield I demonstrate shallow turns, and let Krysten take the yoke. She puts in a bit of a turn (while I manage the yaw with the rudder), and mixes in an assortment of nose-up and nose-down attitude. At 3200' there's lots of time to recover, she gets a bit better over time. There were a few times where we were noticeably nose-down, but the altitude wasn't spinning down, nor the airspeed significantly increasing. Weird.

Megan (in the back seat) is fine, so I do a HASEL check and show them a medium turn (30 degrees of bank) both left and right. Everyone is still happy, so Krysten tries a medium turn - she shows the usual hesitation about putting a "real" bank on the airplane, but does set up for a spiral dive. I have control, and we climb back to 3200'.

I ask them if they want to see a steep turn - warning them that it will likely feel uncomfortable with that much "tilt", and if they look out the side window then there will be lots of air and not much airplane between them and the ground. Gotta love kids, they say go for it. I tell them to speak up the instant they feel uncomfortable, announce our position, do a lookout, and put it into a right steep turn. I wish I flew this well on my flight test, I nailed the nose on the horizon and didn't vary more than 20 feet from altitude.

Everyone is still fine, so I put it over to about 60 degrees, still maintaining altitude. The secret to making a good steep turn is keeping your eyes outside, keeping the nose up on the horizon, and making a quick glance, at most, to the altimeter.

Next stop is towards Ottawa, so Megan can see her apartment building from the air. It will have to be from a bit of a distance since she's inside the Ottawa control zone and I don't have a transponder code.

The Prime Minister's summer residence has a restricted airspace above it to 3500', so I climb to 3900' and head southwest towards the river.

Past the Gatineau Hills it is time to lose some altitude, as we want to fly down the river under the 1500' floor of Terminal's airspace. I brief my passengers that I'll reduce the power to idle, the nose will drop, and we will descend. Everyone is still good.

Partway through the descent (when still plenty high) I point out the VSI and our rate of descent. To get down faster, I tell them about a forward slip being basically plowing the aircraft somewhat sideways through the air, and again, if it feels too weird then say something. Full left rudder, a bit of right aileron to maintain direction, and we plow down through a thousand feet. Remove the slip, descend a bit more to 1300', apply power and fly over the river while the girls try to find Megan's building. Left turn short of the CZ and head east (keeping a sharp watch for traffic heading southeast over the Descehnes Quarry towards CYOW), climb to 1700', pass north of the casino, overhead procedure at CYRO and join the mid-left downwind for 09.

I'm stabilized on final, attitude is normal, flaps are extended, airspeed was about 65-70 knots, and through my headset I hear the stall horn start to sound. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Attitude is good, airspeed is good. Weird. But I put in a bit more power, adjust attitude to stay aimed at the numbers, and get rid of the horn.

Greased the landing, but just left of the centre line. Quick backtrack to Charlie and park the bird.

I discussed the sounding of the stall horn with two instructors after I entered the clubhouse. There was no obvious cause - my attitude and airspeed were good, there were no noticeable gusts... Later that evening I received a phone call - they had taken the plane for a later lesson, and there was a partially blocked static source.

Time: 1.0

Weather: SKC, 10003KT, +06C

Skills: Steep turns, forward slips, normal takeoff and landing

Need to improve:
  • Forgot the check the snags book before flying
  • Forgot to do the rolling instrument check when leaving the apron (I did it after the run up)
  • When doing my 360 check before taking the runway, my wing extended past the stop line.
Done well:
  • Steep turns
  • Forward slip
  • Checking with the passengers - making sure they were comfortable. I hope they felt they could speak up if they were uncomfortable.
  • Reaction to the stall horn. The stall horn was disagreeing with the other instruments, but the worst that would happen with a higher airspeed would be a longer float over the runway. The worst that would happen from ignoring it would be a stall-spin. Though it made no sense (according to the other instruments), I reacted correctly in adding a touch of power and eliminating the horn.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Second Passenger Flight

Friday February 12 2010

So my passenger this time is Heather, a friend (and singing compatriot of my wife). Nancy can't get the time off work. Spousal units, kids and work all coordinated, we head to Rockcliffe.

Heeding advice and lessons learned from my last flight, this one was to be a simple flight to/from the practice area. Heather lives at the southern edge of the practice area, north of CYRP, and so that will be one of our destinations.

Weather was not as brutal as Nancy's flight, it was "only" -14C. Winds were 29008Kt, pretty much down the runways.

Normal take-off at Rockcliffe, pass north of the casino and fly along the Gatineau Hills in the 2000+ range. There was a cloud streamer dead ahead, so I reduced power and ducked under, flying at 1000' (or about 600-800' AGL). On the other side I climbed back up to 1400' (1000' AGL) and flew to Kinburn. From there, Heather, through a hit&miss method. figured out roads and bushes and whatever, and figured out where she lived - reminding me of my first flights in the same area where my instructor was pointing out different towns and roads.

Reduce speed to 70Kt, drop 20 degrees of flaps, and we did a few orbits around Heather's house while she took some pictures.

Off to Carp CYRP where I did a normal crosswind landing (winds about 30 degrees from the right). Well done.

Briefed and performed a short-field take-off, then climb up to 2500' and head back the Heather's for another orbit and more pictures.

Heather than practiced some straight&level flight east, towards Rockcliffe. After about 5 minutes of some pretty decent flight I took over, we headed home to Rockcliffe CYRO, culminating in a normal landing with (unfortunately) a bit of a thunk to the runway - they can't all be greasers.

Time: 1.3

Done well: Overall, this was a clean flight.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Flying with the one I love

Nancy and I have been married 31 (and a bit) years - the first and only marriage for both of us. We met in the summer of 1976 at university, and married in 1979 at the start of Nancy's 4th year, which was mid-way through my final year.

I have a very patient wife - some might say that only a very patient person could stay married to me, especially for that long. The most recent test of her patience was watching the bank account drain as I worked through fulfilling my life-long dream of earning my pilot license. But it was my dream fulfillment, and she agreed to the commitment at the start of the journey, so she saw me through it.

The classic question, asked mid-way during 2009: "So, once you get this thing, what are you going to do with it?"

"Why, go flying of course - we are going to go flying."

Fast-forward to January 30 2010, when we scheduled our first flight.

It was appropriate that Nancy would be my first passenger. Technically the flight test examiner is the first passenger, though that designation is there primarily to make it clear that the Transport Canada examiner is not there in a role as a pilot or as an instructor and therefore the PIC is the examinee - all of which is there for liability limiting reasons. Maybe it would be best to call her my first passenger of choice.

And so discussions started. Where do we want to go? What do we want to see? How long do we want to fly? Is this going to be a breakfast flight to a destination, or a sight-seeing flight around the area?

I asked another pilot and instructor at the club, Tony Hunt, about airports within a decent distance that had decent food. Most of the restaurants are of the greasy-spoon variety, and breakfast flights are better in the summertime anyway.

So Nancy and I decided on a local sight-seeing flight, over familiar landmarks, not too long or complex, with lots of novelty.

As always, I had my own objectives for this first flight:

  • Make sure Nancy had an excellent experience. After all the investment of time and effort and money, I did not want this to culminate in one flight which freaked her out, and as a result we'd never fly together again. Smooth, simple, safe, well-explained and no-surprises would be the key criteria.

  • I wanted to fly with precision - holding altitudes, holding headings, final approaches which were stabilized early. In other words, make it look easy and build her confidence.

  • Build my confidence. Just as with any important event, nerves were going to be a factor for me. But I have a decent number of hours, I know how to fly an airplane, I can do this, so quit worrying about it and just go do it.

Flight planning was Friday night. The weather was going to be clear though frightfully cold, the winds were going to be minimal, the jet stream was not overhead, so it was looking like a day with great visibility and minimal or no turbulence.

Route selection was to be local. We live on the west end of Ottawa, and so the route was to be a loop on the northwest side. Once I calculated the total flight time I removed the final leg, there is such a thing as too-much, especially on her first long flight.

Saturday morning: Sky clear, winds were 300 light, temperature was -22C, 30.34". With a density altitude of -5026 feet, the C172 was going to climb like a homesick angel. The club's limitation was a minimum temperature of -25C. Definitely a day to wear layers, especially long underwear (which I wear for every winter flight anyway).

The selected route:

  • CYRO R27, clearing to the west. Fly alongside the Gatineau hills at 2200', providing Nancy with a nice view of the lookouts in Gatineau Park.

  • Turn southwest, fly over Constance Bay to Carp (CYRP). Point out the landforms and towns around CBay, Constance Lake, etc.

  • Descend from 2200' to 1400' over the town of Carp. Fly over the airfield to join the mid-left downwind to a stop&go. Carp is a quiet airport situated in farmland, so it has lots of airspace and not much traffic, a good place to practice circuits with no pressure. I wanted Nancy to see landings, since to an inexperienced passenger seeing the approaching ground get larger through the windscreen is usually one of the more stressful aspects of flying.

  • Backtrack R28. To highlight the performance of the aircraft (and to practice my skill), I briefed her on the short-field take-off technique. No obstacle-clearance required, since I didn't want to surprise her with the extreme nose-up attitude. She was impressed with how quickly we were airborne.

  • Climb straight-out to 1400', circle left to a southeast heading, clear CYRP frequency and talk to Ottawa Terminal, requesting 2000' over Stittsville (our town) then west to Carleton Place for sightseeing. Approved by terminal, I did an enroute climb.

  • Over Stittsville I pointed out a few landmarks, such as the neighbourhood school and the shopping plaza near our house. Nancy traced streets until she figured out where we lived. Pictures were taken.

  • Westbound to Carleton Place. Nancy had the map on her lap, and was correlating landmarks to the map (the world looks very different from even a bit of altitude).

  • Just west of Stittsville to floor of Terminal's airspace changes from 1500' to 2500', radar coverage terminated, and we switched to enroute 126.7. Nancy was relieved, since the radio traffic on Terminal's frequency was constant, and overwhelming her.

  • Highway 7 is being rebuilt to 4 lanes, between the 417 and Carleton Place, and so she was quite interested in trying to figure out the new routing.

  • Just short of CP I turned north, to track along the Mississippi River.

  • Almonte is a great little town (childhood home of James Naismith, inventor of basketball). Nancy didn't figure out which town it was until she cross-correlated with the map (and I pointed out the water tower with the big black letters on the side).

  • Just past Almonte the floor of CYOW's airspace rises from 2500' to 6500', so I climbed to 2800' in anticipation of over-flying Arnprior's airport.

  • Flew past Packenham, between the town and the ski hill.

  • Just east of Arnprior airport (CNP3) we turned northeast, entered the practice area and climbed to 3950' to maximize visibility of Gatineau Park. Told Nancy we were headed to Wakefield to see the covered bridge.

  • Pointed out Meech Lake under the right wing - a very long and narrow lake in Gatineau Park. We've taken the kids swimming there in previous summers.

  • Nancy asked where the covered bridge was located. I told her "look right over the nose", reduced throttle and pushed the nose down - and there it was.

  • Descended to 3000' in a slow descending sweeping turn to the right, so she could have a good look at Wakefield and at the bridge.

  • Flew over the Mont Cascades ski hill. Nancy wanted to have a look at the hill, so I told her to take the yoke and turn it slightly to the left, so we would not fly directly over the hill. Nancy redefined the word "gentle" in a gentle turn. Who knew a C172 would turn with 3 degrees of bank.

  • I took control, dropped the right wing a little so she could see the ski hill. "Oh, that's neat, there is a red helicopter taking off from the ski hill." This observation was made while looking almost straight down, so the heights were clearly not bothering her. We didn't hear any radio calls from the Medevac helicopter, but I made my position reports on frequency. I expect they have TCAS anyway.

  • Enroute descent to 1700' over the Chelsea dam, flying south down the east side of the Gatineau River. Casino and the Parliament buildings were straight ahead.

  • Pre-landing checks complete, landing briefing complete, descend to 1200' and join the straight-in left downwind for CYRO.

  • Normal landing R27.


  • This was a busy flight. CYRO - practice area - CYRP- Ottawa Terminal - enroute - Arnprior CNP3 - practice area - CYRO.

Done well:

  • The crosswind landing at Carp CYRP was stunning. Told Nancy exactly what to expect, and I landed exactly on the centre line, no yaw, right wheel first, then the left wheel, and a greaser.

  • Turns were all gentle, 10-15 degrees of bank.

  • No surprises. If I was going to turn, climb, descend, drop a wing so she could have a better look, I remembered to always tell her first.

  • I had a flight plan filed for the route, with calculated times and headings. The only heading I used was Arnprior-Wakefield, the rest of the flight was flown via pilotage (ground landmarks). All the legs were too short to bother calculating ground speed, so I just noted my time at each turn and calculated a delta against my ETA (a minute early here, two minutes late there, ...).

  • I ballooned a bit on the final landing at Rockcliffe, but put in a little power and ultimately greased it. Nancy commented on the smooth landing, and didn't even notice the balloon until I mentioned it.

Lessons learned:

  • I did startle Nancy on the descents. Though I told her we were going to descend, over Carp and approaching Wakefield I reduced power to idle and the nose dipped down to the descent profile. She just didn't think it normal that you would "turn the engine off and the airplane would keep flying". Note to self - use gentle enroute descents where possible when flying new passengers. Otherwise, brief the passenger better.

  • The volume of radio traffic on the Terminal frequency was overwhelming for someone not used to typical radio traffic.

Overall, it was an excellent flight. Nancy enjoyed the eye-candy out the window. Flying over our house was an excellent idea. I did not frighten her. Her comfort grew as the flight moved along, and she was comfortable with looking straight down out the window. Same as being a passenger in the car, she likes to have a map on her lap.

Apparently, she believes I can fly safely. She'll come flying with me again.

It's great to do things as a couple.

Just a little behind.....

I am behind on my blogging - I have about 32 flights between August 20th, and today. I'll do some catching up, likely through a summary posting. The objective of all those flights was to get up to snuff for the flight test - grinding out circuits, filling in some skill gaps, build instrument time and three cross-country flights.

Compounding all of this, I was heading towards the last three months of the year, when sunset seemed like it was at 4pm and the weather seemed like it was always crappy.

But I have my Private Pilot's License - I tried my flight test on December 22nd and had a severe case of test-itus, and the DFTE passed me on all but two items. I obtained the remedial instruction, did the supervisory check (my primary flight instructor is a Class 4 so he needed his recommendation supervised by a Class 1/2 instructor), I got weathered-out six times, and finally passed the two remaining items on a partial flight test on January 21st (the last day of the 30-day period to conduct the partial flight test). I'll summarize everything later.

But I am now a pilot.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Passenger Briefings

I'm surprised at how little information is present in the usual student reference sources regarding the provision of passenger briefings.

I could not find anything in the AIM.

FTM has one paragraph, p.39:

  • Seat belts and shoulder harnesses,
  • Smoking limitations,
  • How the doors work,
  • What actions to take in the event of an emergency landing,
  • Location and use of emergency exits, the ELT, the fire extinguisher, the first aid kit, and any other emergency items that may be in the aircraft (survival kits, life vests, life rafts, etc).

FTGU has one line, on p.315

  • Brief passengers: door, seat belts, prop hazard, ELT.

The CARS has, of course, the definitive requirements. CARS 602.89:

  • Location and means of operation of normal and emergency exits,
  • Location and means of operation of seat belts, shoulder harnesses and restraint devices,
  • Position of seats, and securing of seat back and chair tables,
  • Stowage of carry-on baggage,
  • Use of oxygen, if flight is planned to an altitude where oxygen is required,
  • Any prohibition against smoking,
  • If an over-water flight, the location and use of flotation devices, before the over-water portion has commenced,
  • Location and use of first aid kits and survival equipment,
  • Location and use of the ELT.

And passenger briefings are detailed in one more spot - the flight test guide itself (TP13723E):

  • Use of seat belts,
  • The location and use of emergency exits (but regular exits are not mentioned),
  • ELT,
  • Fire extinguisher,
  • Passenger considerations for aircraft evacuation (which generally means "to the tail good, towards the engine bad"),
  • Action to take in the event of an emergency landing,
  • Smoking limitations,
  • Items specific to the airplane being used (the Diamond Eclipse had a pointy hammer which could be used to break the plastic canopy so it can be used as an emergency exit,
  • Other items for use in an emergency (first aid kit, life vests, etc).

Aircraft Documents

To be legal for flight in Canada, the following documents are required on a powered aircraft in Canada:

  • A - certificate of Airworthiness
  • R - certificate of Registration
  • R - Radio station license (not required for flights solely within Canada)
  • O - pilot Operating handbook
  • W - Weight and balance calculation

  • J - Journey log
  • I - Insurance
  • L - personal Licences (license, medical, radio operator certificate)
  • I - Intercept procedures

Certificate of Airworthiness

See CARS 507, AIM LRA 2.0, FTGU Ch. 5
  • Is issued by Transport Canada, certifying that the original design is airworthy,
  • Is issued when the aircraft is built, or imported into the country,
  • Remains with the aircraft until the aircraft is exported or destroyed
  • An Annual Airworthiness Information Report must be filed with Transport Canada on/before the anniversary date of the CofA. A copy of the AAIR does not need to be kept on board, but failure to file the AAIR will automatically expire the CofA.
For the CofA to be in force, the aircraft has to be airworthy at the time of the flight:
  • Periodic inspections must be up to date (annual for private aircraft, every 50 hours for commercial),
  • Airworthiness Directives must be up to date,
  • Defects which affect airworthiness must be repaired, or signed off as "deferred" by an AME,
  • The aircraft must be operated in compliance with the POH and with regulations, meaning that all equipment required for the planned flight must be installed and functioning, the weight and balance must be within the limits specified in the CofA, required emergency equipment is installed.

Certificate of Registration

See CARS 222, AIM LRA 1.0

Is issued by Transport Canada and is valid for the life of the aircraft and must be carried on board (CARS 202.26), unless:

  • There is a change of owner, in which case the seller must complete and mail the postcard section of the CofR within 7 days. The buyer must complete the Application for Registration form on the CofR to apply for a new CofR, mail the white copy and keep the pink copy. The pink copy is the interim CofR, for a maximum of 3 months after the transfer or until the permanent CofR is received (or unless the aircraft is subsequently sold again).
  • There is a change of address, in which case the owner must notify TC by completing and mailing the postcard section of the CofR.
  • There is a change of purpose (private to commercial, or vice-versa).
  • There is a change of nationality. An aircraft can be registered in only one country at a time.
  • The aircraft is destroyed (notify Transport Canada).

Radio Station License

A Radio Station License is issued to an aircraft by Transport Canada. However, carrying this licence on board the aircraft is not required provided the flight is carried our solely within Canada. It must be carried on board for International flights.

Pilot Operating Handbook

See CARS 605.04

The POH not only must be on board, but it also must:

  • Be available to the flight crew members at their duty stations (e.g. as a pilot I need to be able to reach it when I need it in flight, as opposed to having it buried in baggage compartment),
  • It must have all the required supplements and amendments.
Weight and Balance

See CARS Standard 571 Appendix C

Each aircraft is weight after manufacture, and after each modification which could change the weight and balance. The W&B printed in the POH is the manufacturer's standard for the fleet. The current W&B for the specific aircraft is contained in the journey log, and all previous W&B reports must be marked as "Amended" (which is the pilot's trigger to go look for something more current).

A W&B report for the specific flight (e.g. one which includes the actual fuel, human and baggage load) must be calculated and carried on board. This document will prove that the aircraft is being operated in compliance with it's CofA.

Journey Log

See CARS 605.94, 605 Schedule 1

The CARS are very specific about the requirement for the Journey Log, what needs to be entered, and when it needs to be entered. There are specific provisions for continuity in the Journey Log (knowing that there are no missing logs).

See CARS 605.95

The Journey Log needs to be carried on board the aircraft except when it is planned that the aircraft will not land and shut down at another aerodrome.


CARS 606.02 specifies how much liability insurance must be carried.

CARS 606.02 (9) states the the proof of insurance must be carried on board (unless it is a hot air balloon)

Personal Licenses (License, Medical, Radio Operator Certificate)

See CARS 401

"While acting as a member of a Flight Crew, the individual must be able to produce the appropriate permit, license or rating AND a valid and appropriate medical certificate." (CARS 401.03)

Pilot License

A pilot license in itself is not a time-limited document (though a student permit has a lifetime of 5 years). However, for the license to be valid the pilot also has to carry a valid medical certificate, and for the pilot to utilize the license (fly an aircraft) the individual has to meet the required recency and currency requirements (CARS 401.05).


Fixed-wing aeroplanes are operated on a pilot license under a Class 1 or Class 3 medical (pilot permits require only a class 4 medical). Medicals must be renewed every 6, 12, 24 or 60 months, depending on the permit, license or rating type, and the age of the individual - see CARS 404.04.

Radio Operator Certificate

If an individual will operate the aircraft radio, then the individual must be carrying a Radio Operator Certificate (which may be restricted to aviation operations). Radio Operator Certificates are issued by Industry Canada, not Transport Canada - they call it a "Restricted Operator Certificate with Aeronautical Qualification (ROC-A).

Intercept Orders

Not legally required to be carried on board, but a darn good idea in case an F-18 appears off your wing. A copy appears on the last pages of the CFS.