A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard
this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer
statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of
"there are no old, bold pilots.")
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators. Some of them, you
may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be
something we might never have considered before, or something that
didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized
it for the practical test.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network.
The weather outside is frightful. It's foggy, with low clouds.
It may be dark. You have an instrument-capable airplane, are
instrument rated and current, and have your IFR clearance. Can you
take off into near zero visibility?
FAR 91.175 gives us this
Unless otherwise authorized by the Administrator, no pilot
operating an aircraft under parts 121, 125, 127, 129, or 135 of
this chapter may take off from a civil airport under IFR unless
weather conditions are at or above the weather minimum for IFR
takeoff prescribed for that airport. If takeoff minimums are not
prescribed for a particular airport, the following minimums
- For aircraft, other than helicopters, having two engines or
less--1 statute mile visibility.
- For aircraft having more than two engines--1/2 statute mile
- For helicopters--1/2 statute mile visibility.
What about all us noncommercial pilots that are actually FLYING
UNDER PART 91, where we've looked this up? The FAA provides no
guidance…and therefore no limitation on what we can do.
The simulated zero-zero takeoff is a staple of instrument
training and checkrides, especially for advanced work (like the
Airline Transport Pilot certificate). I had a "zero-zero" on my ATP
checkride. Here's the procedure I was taught (and evaluated
- Complete all checklist items for entering the runway.
- Taxi slowly into position, precisely aligned with the runway
and on centerline.
- For purposes of training (or evaluation), don the view-limiting
- Confirm the heading indicator is aligned with the runway in use
(note: this check is subject of a recent NTSB recommendation in the
wake of the Lexington, KY Comair accident).
- Release brakes and apply power slowly. In a multiengine
airplane, be especially careful to advance both throttles together
to avoid engine-induced yaw.
- Maintain precise runway alignment with rudder and crosswind
- Accelerate to liftoff speed and pitch to the climb
Now you're IFR in flight. If you did your job right and navigate
correctly after the zero-zero takeoff you're golden... unless
something happens that you need to return for a landing!
Aero-tip of the day: The zero-zero takeoff is a
good training and confidence-building maneuver. Carefully evaluate
whether it's worth the risk "for real" on a zero-zero day.