Frugal pilots vs. aircraft mechanics

My last column on aircraft maintenance that can be performed by aircraft owners in Canada, but not the U.S., stirred up a lively discussion online.

Reader Greg Wilson summarized it best, noting that the owner of a U.S. standard category aircraft can maintain the aircraft, refurbish or overhaul all or part of the plane, install certified parts, install or replace many instruments or avionics, modify the aircraft (within limits), and even rebuild an aircraft out of service — as long as it is under the supervision and signed off by an FAA-licensed A&P/IA mechanic.

“Finding a mechanic to work with you may take time, especially if you want to do a lot of changes,” he wrote. “Give the mechanic time to trust your abilities and you will be amazed at what an owner can do.” [Read more…]

Harvard University studying pilot health

Researchers at Harvard University are conducting an anonymous pilot health study.

The study, open to current and retired airline, will be used to research the environmental effects of the cockpit environment, including fatigue, air quality, radiation, noise, and more. To date, the study has pilots from over 23 countries participating.

You can participate by going to


Fuel starvation brings down Mooney

The Mooney M20K’s engine lost power in flight, and the pilot made a forced landing to a field near Hudson, Colo. The pilot was seriously injured.

During the post-accident examination, one pint of fuel was recovered from the right wing fuel tank, and 7.5 gallons of fuel were recovered from the left wing fuel tank. The fuel selector valve was found in the right fuel tank position. No fuel was found in the lines to the engine.

The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident as the pilot’s improper fuel management, which resulted in the loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.

NTSB Identification: CEN13LA388

This June 2013 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.