Safety: Performance Anxiety

December Safety FAASTeam Topic of the Month: Aircraft Performance Calculations

Welcome to the Safety Section of the Flying Clubs Newsletter, Club Connector!

Each month we provide resources for flying club safety officers so that they can keep their clubs informed and safe.   We also include links to the FAASTeam Topic of the Month PowerPoint slides providing talking points for your next safety brief.  Along with the slides, we often provide links to relevant articles, videos, and other media that you may also find helpful.  To learn more about this section, be sure to check out Episode 15 and 15b of Flying Clubs Radio! 

If you are interested in using the FAASTeam WINGS program with your flying club, feel free to contact Steve, who is a Lead Representative and WINGSPro, and uses the program in his club.

More on WINGS for Clubs can be found here in Flying Clubs Radio Episode 8 and the May 2020 Question of the Month.

Before we get to this month’s Topic of the Month, let’s do a quick reminder of just some of the resources available to all pilots:

  1. The FAASTeam website is the portal to a vast array of courses, videos, links, and much more.Remember that WINGS not only encompasses “knowledge” activities, but also flight activities.Use the various search options to narrow done, to, say flight activities for a basic phase of WINGS and you’ll be able to find a syllabus and often a worksheet for each flight activity.


  2. AOPA’s own Air Safety Institute, which by the way, is funded by the AOPA Foundation just like the You Can Fly program, is packed with amazing content, including exceptional videos, podcasts, accident analysis, online courses, recorded webinars and more.Completing these activities may also earn WINGS credits.Of particular interest to flying club safety officers is the recently updated Safety to Go section.Here, you can download a selection of topics, each coming with PowerPoint slides and speaker’s notes!

Alright then, let’s get on with this month’s safety topic!

December Safety FAASTeam Topic of the Month: Aircraft Performance Calculations

The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) has studied a number of General Aviation accidents that were caused by inaccurate and/or unreasonable expectations with regard to aircraft performance. This short program will refresh GA pilots’ knowledge of critical aircraft performance parameters and the importance of accurately predicting aircraft performance – particularly in the takeoff and departure flight phases.

Aircraft Performance Calculation

  • A good way to plan a flight is to start by deciding how much weight (payload) you want to carry to your destination, starting with crew and passengers. After adding cargo and estimated bag weights you can determine if the aircraft has the capability to carry the desired load.
  • Once you determine the aircraft can carry the desired payload the pilot can then determine how much fuel can be added to remain within the maximum takeoff weight. This then determines if you have enough fuel to reach your destination plus alternate fuel based on weather conditions.
  • Departure, destination and alternate airports runway lengths, obstructions and expected density altitude must be considered based on your POH performance figures.
  • An understanding of your aircraft’s actual performance capabilities considering pilot proficiency and mechanical deterioration is important. Some pilots add 50% to their takeoff and landing calculations for safety.

Link to December Topic of the Month Slides




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