Monday, March 13, 2023

Import and ambiguous aircraft

A pilot today had a question about how to do an import when a tail number has been re-used across multiple airframes/models.

There are really two scenarios here.  The simple one is where there are multiple versions of an aircraft, but you've only flown one model.  The more complex scenario is where you've flown Nxxxx as, say, a C-172 and as a Kodiak.

If the former, this is pretty simple:

  • Add Nxxxx to your account.  
  • You might get the wrong version if the wrong version is also in the system; that’s fine – if so, on the website go to Aircraft->My Aircraft, click on Nxxxx and you’ll see a section titled “Other versions of this aircraft.” Click on “My flights are in this aircraft” next to the version you want.  If you don’t see your version at all, then click the pencil icon next to the model and you can edit the model.  The system will see the change as a “major” change (assuming that you’re changing from, say, a 172 to a 182 but not from a 172 N to a 172 S) and will clone the aircraft automatically and put you into the clone.
  • Now, import your file.  Since you only have one Nxxxx in your account, it will pick up the correct version.

If the latter (you've flown the same tail across different models), the process requires a few more steps:

  • Add Nxxxx to your account.
  • If the alternate version of Nxxxx is already there, then click on “Don't change any flights, but add this aircraft” next to the other version.  This will allow multiple versions of Nxxx to coexist in your account side-by-side
  • On the other hand, if you don’t see the other version, then click the pencil next to the model name and you can edit it to be the other version; this will create a clone of the aircraft and switch you to that clone; you should then be able to click “Don't change any flights, but add this aircraft” in the clone.  I.e., if Nxxxx is the 172 and you don’t see the Kodiak, then edit it to be the Kodiak and now it will be the Kodiak but not the 172.  You can then click to add the 172 alongside the Kodiak
  • One caveat to the above step: if you’re the only pilot in an aircraft, it won’t clone.  Look at the top where it tells you how many pilots use the aircraft:

    If it says it’s used by multiple users, then the step above will work.  If it says only 1 user, that’s you and the edit to the model will actually modify the underlying model instead of cloning.  If so, let me know the aicraft and the model you want and I can clone it for you.
  • Once you have all of the relevant versions of Nxxxx in the system, you need to get the unique ID for of each variant.  Go to Aircraft->My  Aircraft and click on one of the versions of Nxxx and look in the address bar:

    Right after “…id=” you’ll see a number.  That’s the unique identifier for that specific aircraft.
  • Now, go to the CSV that you’re using to import.  Add a column titled “Aircraft ID”; I suggest putting this next to the Tail Number column, but it doesn’t really matter.  For the aircraft that might be ambiguous, fill in the correct ID in the “Aircraft ID” column.  You don’t need to do this for the unambiguous aircraft because the tail number is sufficient.

    E.g., suppose I had two versions of N30322 but only one version of all my other aircraft, then my spreadsheet might look something like this (aircraft ID's below are made up for illustration)
You should now be able to import.  For the sample screenshot above, the system will see, for example, N2939J and there'd be no ambiguity because there's only one version of N2939J in your account.  But for N30322, it would use the Aircraft ID column to determine whether it needs to use 38473 or 103948.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

61.65 and Sims/Training Devices

Ever since I implemented support for instrument ratings progress for Instrument ratings (61.65(d)), there were two pesky problems regarding the use of simulators/training devices toward 61.65(d)(2)'s forty-hour requirement.  Namely, 

  • 61.65(h) allows 30 hours (rather than 20) of FTD/FFS (Flight Training Device/Full Flight Simulator) time if your training is conducted under part 142, and 
  • 61.65(i) distinguishes BATD (Basic Aviation Training Device) time from AATD (Advanced Aviation Training Device) time, allowing 10 hours for BATD and 20 hours for AATD.

I don't have a reliable way to tell if a given training session was performed under part 142, and I don't distinguish AATDs and BATDs anywhere else in the code (no real reason to do so), so I did the conservative thing and allowed up to 20 hours of FTD time or 10 hours of ATD time (limited to 20 hours total, per 61.65(j)).

Simple, and safe (won't overstate your time), but possibly cheats you out of some experience. So today I've taken out a change that addresses both of these changes.  

The part 142 one is easy: there are three new instrument rating progress items for 61.65 (d)-(f) where you simply declare that you want to see your progress assuming part 142.  If you choose that rather than the plain 61.65 ratings progress, then I will apply the 30 hour FTD/FFS limit rather than the 20 hour limit.  (Note that the 30 hour limit does not apply to ATD time!)

The ATD one is a bit more of a hack.  If the flight "aircraft" is identified in MyFlightbook as being an ATD (not enough to simply name it that - you have to add it and specify that it's an ATD), then I look at the model's name and the flight's comments.  If either of these contain the word "AATD", then I assume it is an AATD; if not, it is a BATD.

There's an interesting problem here, though - and I'd love if folks could weigh in.  61.65(i) allows up to 10 hours of BATD time OR 20 hours of AATD time.  The word "OR" there is interesting - it means there is a choice.  Other places where the FAA uses the word, they mean it as an exclusive "on or the other, but not both" option (e.g., see the "Grannis" interpretation referenced here).  FAA also usually uses words like "and" or "combination" when they mean you can mix and match.  

I have not seen an official interpretation on this, but I'm still going to be conservative and assume that "or" means "or".  So if you have, say, 9 hours of AATD time and 9 hours of BATD time, you can only count 9 hours of ATD time towards the 20 hour limit imposed by 61.65(j).  I don't know if that was the FAA's intent, but it's how I read the words.

Anyhow, here's some details on the math

  • I compute your Aircraft time as the sum of your instrument time in real aircraft.
  • Per 61.65(h), I compute FTD/FFS time as
       MIN(20, FTD/FFS instrument time)
  • I also compute FTD/FFS-142 time as
       0 or MIN(30, FTD/FFS instrument time)
    depending on whether you are using the part-142 Training variant.
  • Per 61.65(i) I compute ATD time as
       MAX(MIN(10, BATD instrument time), MIN(20, AATD instrument time))
    So for now, at least, if you have 9 hours of BATD time and 9 hours of AATD time, that’s just 9 hours, due to the “OR” in the reg.  Easy to change if I get an authority to say they can be combined.
  • Per 61.65(j), I then compute your Non-142 Sim time as
       MIN(20, FTD/FFS time + ATD time)
  • Finally, I compute your total experience as:
        Aircraft time + MAX(FTD/FFS-142 time, Non-142 Sim time)
Let me know if you have any reference on mixing/matching BATD and AATD time here.