MG @ POU I have been discussing the proper pre-takeoff procedure with my flying group and we recently came across an interesting article that recommends turning the transponder on while still on the ground. I have always been taught that the proper procedure was to turn the transponder on immediately prior to take-off and even remember the memory tool, “Lights-Camera (transponder)-Action”, when lining up for takeoff. I do not see an FAR requiring either and wonder if there is any authority that might clarify the right way.
Sal’s Law: Well MG, in the old days (around January of this year) the official recommended procedure in the AIM was to leave the transponder in standby until beginning your takeoff sequence, unless the airport was equipped with ground surveillance. That all changed with a revision to the Aeronautical Information Manual Section 4-1-20, which now calls for the transponder to be activated in the Altitude (Mode C) position “prior to aircraft movement”.
There are several reasons for the change but the most important is to lend consistency between airports with ground surveillance and those without. More and more airports are installing such ground monitoring equipment so as to better control taxiing aircraft on the field and with this new best operating practice it is hoped that pilots will soon be in the habit of being electronically visible, even when the weather conditions make it difficult to see.
So flip the switch prior to taxi and leave the lights, camera and action for the Hollywood bunch.
DC by Email After having followed your column for many years I recently came across a situation that involves aircraft insurance that you have touched on in the past. The issue I’m dealing with has to do with what constitutes a “total loss” of an aircraft and therefore the institution of the hull coverage amount. With the aircraft market obviously depreciated as it is, is there any good indicator of aircraft value for the purpose of setting hull insurance?
Sal’s Law: DC, what constitutes a total loss for insurance company purposes is when then cost of repairing the aircraft after an accident, exceeds the stated value for a total loss, minus the amount of salvage value of the remaining piece of the aircraft.
The problem I see most often is an owner who does not insure the aircraft for enough of the value. If an aircraft has a fair market value of $65,000 for example, but the owner decides that he will only insure it for $30,000 to save premium costs. In the event of damage the insurance company may very well pay him the $30,000, repair or salvage a repairable aircraft and take possession of a perfectly good asset worth much more. Conversely if you insure it for too much, the law may allow the insurance company to pay the lesser of the stated value or the fair market value (especially if these numbers are out of proportion).
It is wise to consult a reputable insurance broker or appraiser to determine what the real value of the subject aircraft should be. Aircraft values are often hard to determine but some general rules of thumb are to begin at a “Blue Book” price and assume that this value is for an average aircraft in normally good shape with moderate to low engine time. Anything over half tbo will reduce the price. If it needs a new exterior or new interior, figure the cost of same and deduct at least half that amount from the value of the blue book. If it needs a new autopilot or GPS or any other major piece of avionics, again take half the cost of upgrade and reduce the price by that amount. If the fuselage is missing, then you have an additional problem but I’ll save that for another day.
Another good tool is to use the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) model. Take a look at similarly equipped aircraft in a similar geographic area and determine what the actual selling price has been (not the asking price). By combining several of these methods, you should be able to determine a price for each that is within 5% of the other.
Blue Skies all!
Sal Lagonia Esq., is an Aviation Attorney and Consultant, Professor of Aviation Law and frequent speaker on aviation safety. Questions may be sent to Sal@LagoniaLaw.com or to his main office at 914-245-7500.