iPad Use in Emergencies

I was asked today what my vacuum failure procedure was and if it was legal to use an iPad with ForeFlight® instead of relying on a magnetic compass, etc.

The answer is absolutely yes! Where do we get legal authority to use a handheld device as primary navigation? Let me give you a very simple three-word answer…MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY

  • 91.3   Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.

(a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

(b) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.

There are a couple caveats I’d like you to take away though. This will only work well if you are truly prepared with planning and in-flight practice, with an expert instructor, before it happens to you.


iPad use in IFR Vacuum Failure Checklist:

In addition to getting a standard weather briefing before every flight, find out two important pieces of information about your route and destination

    1. What are the cloud tops?
    2. Where are the nearest VFR airports?
    3. The best way to shoot a partial panel approach is not to!
  1. After recognition of a vacuum failure
    1. Immediately declare “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday” and inform ATC
      1. The nature of your emergency
      2. If possible ask for vectors to a nearby area of VFR conditions
    2. If capable place the autopilot on in altitude and heading hold
    3. Place ForeFlight in Split Screen Map/AHRS view with IAP overlay on the map
    4. Ask for “no gyro” vectors to an ILS or if capable LPV (WAAS) approach.
      1. You must still use your OBS/HIS/FD for course guidance with FF as a backup for situational awareness.
    5. Configure the airplane for approach.
    6. After landing:
      1. Call mechanic
      2. Call your instructor you taught you this and thank them…..

When will your iPad be even more important? A much worse emergency that is almost as common and never emphasized or trained for…ELECTRICAL FAILURE. Think about it. What would you do if you lost all course guidance and had no way of even shooting an approach? This is where ForeFlight® can really save lives because it will allow you to accurate shoot a non-precision (There is no way to show a GP or GS) safely into an airport and it’s even easier than a vacuum failure.


iPad use in IFR Electrical Failure Checklist:

  1. In addition to getting a standard weather briefing before every flight, find out two important pieces of information about your route and destination
    1. What are the cloud tops?
    2. Where are the nearest VFR airports?
    3. The best way to shoot a partial panel approach is not to!
  2. After recognition of an electrical failure
    1. Immediately declare “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday” on your handheld radio and inform ATC
      1. The nature of your emergency
      2. If possible ask for vectors to a nearby area of VFR conditions
    2. Place ForeFlight in Split Screen Map/AHRS view with IAP overlay on the map
    3. Ask for “no gyro” vectors to a non precision approach (GPS, LOC, VOR)
  3. Configure the airplane for approach.
  4. After landing:
    1. Call mechanic
    2. Call your instructor you taught you this and thank them…..

Remember, ForeFlight® can never be legally used as a primary form of navigation unless you declare the emergency first. Also it is critical to your safety that you practice these techniques often, with an expert instructor, before this happens.

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For More FREE Safety information and downloads please visit us at www.PilotSafety.org

Fly Safe,

Gary Reeves, ATP, Master CFI, CFII, MEI

FAA Safety Team Lead Rep

www.PilotSafety.org

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