Before you, the Pilot in Command, taxi into position for your next takeoff, try this acronym to assist you to make excellent decisions per the authority given to you by your aviation pilot certificate.
If you are a Private Pilot in the United States, then you have earned a Private Pilot Certificate (not a license). You completed and passed (to standards) a medical exam, written exam, oral exam and practical flight exam. Your certification is for life as long as you meet the currency requirements. Under the authority granted to you as a Pilot (FAR 91.3), you get to make any and all decisions regarding flying in the National Airspace System (NAS) … And that is where my acronym might be important to you.
A Quick Review
But first, a quick refresher regarding the atmosphere on planet Earth. Air is comprised, by volume, of 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases. Air also contains a variable amount of water vapor, on average around 1% at sea level, and 0.4% over the entire atmosphere. This composition of the atmosphere is important to humans and it turns out to aircraft. WHY?
Does your brain really desire nitrogen? No! It wants Oxygen.
Does your engine really want nitrogen? No! It also wants Oxygen
Does your propeller want Oxygen? Nope… all it cares about it is a fluid to move and air is that fluid.
And finally how about the wing? The same as the propeller, it wants to have a fluid to displace or move.
So… Here is what I am recommend to you, the Certificated Airmen, the Pilot in Command – each time you start-up an aircraft for the purpose of taking flight, ask yourself this: Based upon the current conditions around me, in-route and at the destination, how much Oxygen will be available for my Brain to function correctly and how much Oxygen will be available for the Engine to produce power? How much AIR is available to my Propeller and my Wings to generate thrust and lift?
BEP-W………. If you do a preflight BEP-W check.. this will cause you to calculate what performance to expect from your aircraft because of the ambient conditions. Your flight manual shows you how to calculate the expected performance of the aircraft.
So what about YOUR BRAIN’S performance and your body? CAMI, Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, is the medical certification, research, education, and occupational health wing of the FAA’s Office of Aerospace Medicine. It is an extensive and valuable resource of information about the health and physiological challenges of the aviation environment and related safety concerns. Check out their Aeromedical Safety Brochures and don’t miss “Hypoxia: The Higher You Fly…The Less Air In The Sky”.
Will you do a BEP-W check? Each startup?
Will you research what the FAA states about how the human body reacts to certain conditions you encounter as a pilot?
Will you faithfully exercise the authority and responsibility of being a Pilot in Command?
FAR: § 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.
Are you a subject matter expert on the aircraft you are flying under the current conditions? If not, why not?
Use BEP-W as a tool during your preflight check to focus on the conditions needed for a safe flight.