Pilot Responsibilities Commentary

General Information for Pilot Responsibilities

In this section, if the answer choice "the responsibility of the pilot" is available, it is always correct. It's your responsibility to do what is safe, regardless of instructions, and to let the controller know what you are doing and why, if you deviate from instructions. That's what pilot in command means: whatever happens, it's your fault.

The air law in this section is mainly CARs 602.31, on ATC instructions and clearances.

Question-by-Question Explanation of Pilot Responsibilities

See section 7 commentary for more explanation of wake turbulence.

6.02 & 6.03
A controller may offer an intersection take-off to spare you a long taxi, because there is traffic blocking the taxiway that goes to the end, or because there is no taxiway going to the end, and he would rather you not backtrack. You can find out the length of the runway remaining after a particular intersection by (a) estimating based on the airport diagram in the CFS (b) asking the controller or (c) sometimes it included in the ATIS. If you haven't worked out your required take-off distance as part of your preflight planning you may have to ask the controller to "standby" while you pull out the POH and check it.

With no other instructions you join on or before the downwind leg. The controller will specifically clear you "left base" or "straight in" if he wants you to join base or final. Usually the controller will not cross you over the airport

airplane joining left hand circuit on right base, in accordance with ATC instructionsThat means that if there is normally a left hand circuit, the controller will clear you to right base if that is more convenient for you. She may even ask, "Golf November Uniform, are you set up for right base or downwind?"

(1) Cross at circuit height to join the circuit.
(2) I don't know about you. but I can barely see the windsock from that height.
(3) 2000' agl is usually the same as 1000' above circuit altitude. This is the height to cross if you are not landing at that airport at all.
(4) Any aircraft looking for wind information before joining should be 500' above the circuit.

Remember from question 6.04 above that you must join on downwind or crosswind if no leg is specified in a clearance. aircraft making right turns to enter a left hand circuit Therefore you should not join base or final whether by a right or left turn. Answer choice four is a trick, because you should not normally descend on the downwind leg at all. The airplane following the blue track in my picture is doing a circuit join known as "downwind on the forty-five." This is the standard join in the United States, at uncontrolled circuits. Americans consider crossing midfield to join downwind from the inside to be weird.

In this case it's that easy. If the runway is obstructed you won't get a landing clearance, but if there is no reason you can see why you shouldn't land, and the controller is not talking to someone else, ask for a clearance by saying your call sign followed by "short final." If you do not receive a clearance, you must overshoot, even if there is nothing in the way.

6.08 and 6.09
Whatever the circuit height is at an aerodrome, you are still required to obey CARs 602.114 and be 500' below the cloud base.  If the clouds are so low that that does not leave you a safe altitude to fly, then the clouds are too low to be in the circuit.  It is very dangerous to fly close to the clouds in an attempt to get around the circuit anyway, because there is a high risk of collision with other aircraft doing the same thing.

(1) If you have a straight in clearance, you descend straight towards the airport, on runway heading, at whatever rate will bring you properly to the runway.
(2) An airport with high terrain or noise sensitive areas on both sides of the runway may have a published circuit altitude higher than 1000' agl.  If the airport is underneath class C airspace, or near the navaid for the instrument approach to a nearby airport, the circuit altitude may be lower than 1000'.  Boundary Bay has an 800' circuit, because class C airspace for Vancouver International Airport starts at 1500'.  That allows aircraft to cross 500' above circuit altitude and still have a 200' margin of safety.
(3) Clouds may force a lower circuit as described in 6.08 above.

If you're told to reduce airspeed, then reduce airspeed, don't turn without asking permission.  You can lower the flaps to decrease your minimum safe speed.  Your POH gives a range of approach speeds for flaps up and flaps down.  Use the lowest speed in the range only if you can control the airspeed closely.  Leave a margin of safety according to your skill and the wind conditions.  No matter what you're told, don't reduce airspeed below what is safe for your aircraft.  That reminds me of a joke.

(1) Using full flaps in a strong crosswind is not recommended because the flaps may affect airflow over the elevator as you sideslip, decreasing elevator effectiveness.
(2) Landing on another runway is a good idea, but this answer choice is wrong because you need to ask for and receive a clearance before you can take another runway.
(3) You don't need a clearance to overshoot, but the controller would appreciate you telling him in advance what you are doing, if you can safely do so.  "Echo Alfa Charlie unable this crosswind.  Overshooting, request runway one eight."
(4) Certainly do not continue if you do not feel you can do so safely.

6.13 and 6.14
Some controllers are in basement rooms, not control towers and air traffic radar does not show clouds at all.  You have full responsibility for remaining VFR.  I was crawling into Oakland  once, barely legal between the bases of the clouds and the tops of the buildings, and the approach controller told me to report overhead a VFR landmark at 3000'.  My response?  "Unable VFR at 3000'."  So he gave me a different instruction.

6.15 and 6.16
Special VFR allows you to fly in a control zone when weather limits are below those for normal VFR flight.  Student pilots are not permitted to fly Special VFR.  It remains your responsibility to remain clear of cloud and obstacles.

(1) You could change altitude to avoid the other aircraft, saying "X-ray Yankee Zulu descending one thousand for traffic" but this answer choice is incorrect because you do not always use altitude changes to avoid traffic conflicts.

You are not constrained to your heading until it kills you: you may change heading as required to avoid the traffic, telling the controller you are "in a left three-sixty for traffic" "widening out to the left for traffic."   If you are not in an immediate conflict you can ask the controller about the traffic.  "There's an aircraft converging from my right, do you want me to follow him?" (if you don't remember who has the right of way, check back to section 1.0)  ATC may reply, "negative, that aircraft is departing to the west," but you were absolutely correct to ask.

VFR aircraft normally put the numbers 1 - 2 - 0 - 0 on the transponder. We call that "squawking 1200."  That number shows on an air traffic controller's radar, and she can see that there is a VFR aircraft out there, even if you are in uncontrolled airspace and are not talking to her.  The radar also reports your speed, so she can guess that you are in a training airplane. Above 12,500' in Canada you are in class B airspace.  You must have a clearance before you enter class B airspace, and the controller will almost certainly assign you a discrete transponder code, so she can keep track of you, but if she doesn't, you squawk 1400.  As far as I know 1300 is not a special transponder code.

Only push the ident button when instructed to do so by ATC.  Push the button once, then release it.  Your aircraft's blip will flash for a few seconds on the controller's screen, so he can pick you out from other aircraft. If you push it at another time, you may cause another aircraft to be misidentifed.

When you receive your student pilot permit it will have the restrictions, from CARS 401.19 printed right on it.
(1) When you are with your flight instructor, she is PIC.
(2) In Canada student pilots are forbidden to fly alone at night.
(3) Day VFR only.
(4) There is one passenger you are allowed to carry as a student pilot, and that is a flight test examiner, for the purpose of your own flight test.  Whether you pass or fail, you are PIC for that flight.

This is an irritating question because it's unlikely that you would receive light signals outside of controlled airspace, you wouldn't be looking for them.  But the operative phrase is CARS 602.31 tells you to "comply with and acknowledge, to the appropriate air traffic control unit, all of the air traffic control instructions directed to and received by the pilot-in-command."

CARS 602.71 says, in its entirety, "The pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall, before commencing a flight, be familiar with the available information that is appropriate to the intended flight."  Everything.  There are plenty of flights you can make with no ATC clearances whatsoever.

The Designated Airspace Handbook lists coordinates of airspace and navaids and the names and contact numbers of those responsible for them.  If you wanted to enter a particular area of restricted airspace, you could look up the person to contact for permission. It doesn't list ATC frequencies.

A.I.P. Canada doesn't give airport-by-airport information.

The 1:250.000 scale VTA (VFR Terminal Area) chart is like a zoom-in map for high density areas.  It lists frequencies and altitudes that are not given on the normal 1:500,000 scale VNC (VFR Navigational Chart).  The CFS lists frequencies, airspace and procedures for every airport in Canada.

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This page written 8 October 2002 by Robyn Stewart.  Last revised 29 December 2002.

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