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Newsletter - May 11th, 2011

Now Available for your iPad or Android Tablet
Free Sectionals and High/Low Altitude Charts now provides free high-quality images of actual U.S. IFR Enroute Charts and Sectional Charts for viewing on iPads or Android tablets such as the Motorola Xoom. Integrated with your flight plans, you can use these charts as the background for your route of flight, with weather overlay, TFRs and special airspace. These charts are the same as the paper charts that you would carry on your aircraft, and they show VOR frequencies, inbound/outbound radials, distances, MEAs, Restricted Areas, MOAs and a wealth of other information. You do not need to download an app to get these FREE charts! They are part of the website and can be accessed from the Navigation Log, or from the Charts and Maps section (left side of Main Menu Page).

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Who Is Pilot In Command?
by J. Mac McClellan

I'm sure you have noticed that asks you to designate a pilot in command. That's standard stuff for any flight plan. But also asks if you want to list a second in command. That is not part of the normal FAA flight plan.

Knowing who is pilot in command seems pretty straight forward. And it is if there is only one pilot in the cockpit. Or if only one pilot has the required certification to fly the airplane. Or if you are flying under a very structured system such as for an airline where the captain is clearly designated.

But in many business flying situations it may not be obvious who is actually pilot in command. Often both pilots have type ratings and all other required credentials to act as PIC. It's not unusual for some flight departments to call their pilots "co-captains" because both are highly experienced and have all the necessary ratings. Typically pilots in business airplanes swap seats and legs taking turns being captain. But under the rules, there is no such thing as a co-PIC. Somebody has to be in charge.

The FAA in the Part 1 definitions sections of the rules defines the pilot in command as the pilot who "has the final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight." The FAA goes on to say the PIC "has been designated as pilot in command before or during the flight."

Notice that the FAA definition of pilot in command has nothing to say about who is manipulating the controls, or who is sitting in the left or right seat. Nor does the definition say anything about which pilot has the most experience, or the highest level of pilot certificate. The fundamental requirement is that the PIC has the minimum required certification, and that that pilot be designated as PIC.

Many of the procedures, customs, and even rules that we follow in aviation are rooted in the centuries of seafaring law and tradition. One absolute law of the sea is that there is only one captain, whatever happens the captain is responsible, and that the captain is in charge at every moment. If the ship runs aground while the captain is snoring in his bunk, it's still his fault.

It should be the same in an airplane. There must be only one captain, and the FAA rules demand that. And I think we pilots accept and understand that concept.

However, if something goes wrong there can be questions about who was PIC. The courts have been particularly variable on this question which can be crucial when there are law suits or insurance issues.

Even the FAA has expanded its scope beyond its own definition of PIC in some enforcement actions by throwing the book at both pilots. I guess this is an expansion of the CRM training that has been drummed into all of us, but if you bust an altitude don't expect to get off because you are not PIC by FAA definition. can't resolve these issues, but it can be a big help in the requirement that a PIC be designated. That's why there is the optional SIC entry on the flight plan entry page, the page where you put in the altitude, ETD and so on.

When you enter an SIC on that name is not transmitted to the FAA when you file the flight plan. The FAA has no capability to accept that information. But an SIC entry will remain on the computer servers and can be retrieved when necessary as additional evidence of which pilot was PIC and which was SIC.

The simple, but potentially important step, of naming the SIC on your flight plan could be crucial evidence if something unexpected happens and the authorities investigate. You know who is PIC for the flight, so use the option to let everyone else positively know by selecting the SIC as well as the PIC.


Check out Mac McClellan's Left Seat
This week Mac McClellan's blog, Left Seat, is "Don't Be So Lazy". You can view Left Seat by clicking on the banner on the log-in page or by going directly to

Once Again - ICAO Equipment Suffixes:
"Where did my /Q go? It's showing /M!"

Okay, we know we may sound like a broken record on the subject, but we're still seeing a lot of questions about ICAO equipment suffixes and wake turbulence categories. So if you're one of our long-term users and you've read this before, go ahead and skip this article. If you're new to and you don't know why your aircraft type shows /L, keep reading.

On June 29, 2008 the FAA started requiring ICAO Format Flight Plans on all flights using RNAV departures and arrivals. (Yes, that's three years ago!) In ICAO format flight plans, the wake turbulence category appears directly after the aircraft type. Wake turbulence categories are as follows:

  • "H" for Heavy - Greater than 300,000 lbs. maximum certificated take-off weight
  • "M" for Medium - Between 15,000 and 300,000 lbs. maximum certificated take-off weight
  • "L" for Light - Less than 15,000 lbs. maximum certificated take-off weight
  • The confusion here is that in Domestic format the equipment suffix appears in this position. When filing ICAO format, the equipment is entered in item 10 (versus right after the aircraft type) and appears as a string of letters in the item 10 equipment box. So a Challenger 601 with standard equipment (which is VHF, ADF, VOR, ILS) and DME, HF Radio, RVSM, and RNP certification, and Mode S transponder would look like this: CL60/M - SDHRWZ/S (Fig. 1). If you're flying a Piper Saratoga with standard equipment (VHF, ADF, VOR, ILS) and DME, GPS, point-to-point RNAV capability, and a Mode C transponder it would look like this: PA32/L - SDGZ/C. (Fig. 2)

    When talking to ATC about aircraft equipment it's necessary to specify whether you're referring to ICAO or Domestic formatting. Here's why: Government computers are currently translating ICAO format flight plans back into Domestic format to send to Air Traffic Controllers. The change to ICAO formatting is part of a huge transition from the current system to the new ERAM (En Route Automation Modernization) system. Because of the many computer networks involved in ATC, the complete changeover to the use of ICAO data will be quite some time in the works. If you're capable of PDCs (pre-departure clearance), you'll also notice that your filed ICAO equipment information has been translated back into the Domestic format.
    Click here for a full article on ICAO format flight plans, which appeared in FltBrief June 2009 Vol.1. on the Road
    Come visit us at one of these upcoming events:

    May 25, 2011
    CBAA (Canadian Business Aviation Association) Atlantic Chapter Meeting

    Citadel Halifax Hotel
    Halifax, Nova Scotia

    June 4, 2011
    Destination Bahamas

    Galaxy Aviation
    Northeast Florida Regional Airport (SGJ)
    St Augustine, FL

    June 6-8, 2011
    NATA's 2011 Air Charter Summit

    Westfields Marriott
    Chantilly, VA

    June 8, 2011
    NBAA Business Aviation Regional Forum

    Panorama Flight Service
    Westchester County Airport (HPN)
    White Plains, NY

    June 10, 2011
    Pilatus Owners and Pilots Association

    15th Annual Convention.
    Westminster, CO

    For our eAPIS users:
    Did you know you can easily sort your Passenger List?
    So you've entered all your passengers and their pertinent information into your eAPIS account. The only trouble is there are several passengers, and they're not in alphabetical order. It's annoying to have to go through every one. Well, you don't have to!
    Go to your eAPIS page and click Display Passenger List. At the bottom of the page, you'll see a button that says SORT LIST and RETURN to eAPIS Selection Page. Click that button to alphabetize your passenger list. It's that easy.

    Use of "No Document Provided" for Passengers
    The use of the No Document Provided selection, in lieu of a passport or other accepted document, is strictly for use in an emergency situation (like flying passengers in need of immediate medical care). In this case, prior pre-authorized permission must be obtained from CBP before you depart. was the first commercial provider to be certified by Customs and Border Patrol for the electronic submission of eAPIS Manifest.
    We continue to be the largest submitter of eAPIS Manifests to CBP.
    For More information on's eAPIS system, please see: On Twitter
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    Contributing Editor: David Wilson
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