Flight Training - July 2020 - 42

FLIGHT FOLLOWING

Many pilots believe that requesting
VFR traffic advisories, known as flight
following, is a good replacement for filing
a flight plan. After all, they rationalize, they're on the radio with air traffic
control the entire time. All they need to
do is give a quick shout-out if they get
into trouble, and ATC will already know
where they are.
Flight following is granted on a workload-permitting basis, and the workload
doesn't always permit. On top of that, the
service typically is available only in the
cruise portion of flight, rather than during
the higher-risk takeoff and landing phases.
Oh, and depending on where and how high
you fly, there are more holes in the nation's
radar net than you'd expect. In many places
in the Mountain West flight following isn't
available at lower altitudes simply because
the controllers can't see you on radar.
All of that is not to dis flight following.
Its traffic alerts-the primary purpose of
the service-enhance safety. But flight
following is no substitute for a flight plan.
ADS-B

Completely separate from an airplane's
ELT, and in many cases much more

accurate, is ADS-B. If equipped, these
next-generation transponders are
always broadcasting location data.
If you're within range of an ADS-B
ground station, this feeds into the air
traffic control system, whether or not
the airplane is on a flight plan.
Is ADS-B used to help search for
missing aircraft?
"Most definitely," says John Desmarais Sr., the headquarters director
of operations for the Civil Air Patrol.
"We try to narrow down the search
area with whatever reliable data we
have, including ADS-B." In the case
of a missing aircraft, CAP can even
access space-based ADS-B data.
But like many of the other perceived technological replacements
for the humble flight plan, ADS-B-
despite its amazingly accurate
location data-can't tell anyone an
airplane is down.
NOT OBSOLETE YET?

The technology for finding a missing
airplane has never been better-once
the authorities know to start looking.
And that's where the traditional flight
plan continues to shine.

All this new tech, says master CFI
and safety guru Gary Reeves, has led
to pilots being "a little bit lazy" about
filing flight plans. "Pilots are spoiled by
the new technology," he says, "and they
think they don't need the flight plan
anymore." And although frustrated by
it, he also appreciates the irony that the
same tech that's made flight plan filing
numbers drop is also making the actual
filing easier than ever.
Just how many aviators are saved
thanks to the VFR flight plan? No one
knows. None of the various agencies
involved in search and rescue operations
can put a finger on this number, but the
latest annual report of the Air Force
Rescue Coordination Center reports that
82 percent of the organization's missions
are flown in response to what they call
ALNOT, an alert notice issued by the FAA
that an aircraft is overdue. And the best
tool to alert the FAA that an airplane is
overdue is the old-fashioned flight plan.
So it would seem that the flight
plan isn't obsolete yet. Far from it. In
fact, Reeves views the flight plan as the
cornerstone for all the new technology.
When speaking of GPS trackers, of
which he is a huge fan, he says, "Every
pilot should have one. But every pilot
should use flight plans, and flight following, too." FT
WILLIAM E. DUBOIS is an aviation writer
who holds a commercial pilot certificate with
instrument rating, and advanced and
instrument ground instructor certificates.

42  FLIGHT TRAINING JULY 2020



Flight Training - July 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - July 2020

Contents
Flight Training - July 2020 - Intro
Flight Training - July 2020 - Cover1
Flight Training - July 2020 - Cover2
Flight Training - July 2020 - Contents
Flight Training - July 2020 - 2
Flight Training - July 2020 - 3
Flight Training - July 2020 - 4
Flight Training - July 2020 - 5
Flight Training - July 2020 - 6
Flight Training - July 2020 - 7
Flight Training - July 2020 - 8
Flight Training - July 2020 - 9
Flight Training - July 2020 - 10
Flight Training - July 2020 - 11
Flight Training - July 2020 - 12
Flight Training - July 2020 - 13
Flight Training - July 2020 - 14
Flight Training - July 2020 - 15
Flight Training - July 2020 - 16
Flight Training - July 2020 - 17
Flight Training - July 2020 - 18
Flight Training - July 2020 - 19
Flight Training - July 2020 - 20
Flight Training - July 2020 - 21
Flight Training - July 2020 - 22
Flight Training - July 2020 - 23
Flight Training - July 2020 - 24
Flight Training - July 2020 - 25
Flight Training - July 2020 - 26
Flight Training - July 2020 - 27
Flight Training - July 2020 - 28
Flight Training - July 2020 - 29
Flight Training - July 2020 - 30
Flight Training - July 2020 - 31
Flight Training - July 2020 - 32
Flight Training - July 2020 - 33
Flight Training - July 2020 - 34
Flight Training - July 2020 - 35
Flight Training - July 2020 - 36
Flight Training - July 2020 - 37
Flight Training - July 2020 - 38
Flight Training - July 2020 - 39
Flight Training - July 2020 - 40
Flight Training - July 2020 - 41
Flight Training - July 2020 - 42
Flight Training - July 2020 - 43
Flight Training - July 2020 - 44
Flight Training - July 2020 - 45
Flight Training - July 2020 - 46
Flight Training - July 2020 - 47
Flight Training - July 2020 - 48
Flight Training - July 2020 - 49
Flight Training - July 2020 - 50
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Flight Training - July 2020 - 55
Flight Training - July 2020 - 56
Flight Training - July 2020 - Cover3
Flight Training - July 2020 - Cover4
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