FAA Handbook Incorporates Eagle Guidance on Aircraft Energy Management
In collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Dr. Juan Merkt, an associate professor of Aeronautical Science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, is developing guidance materials for pilots on aircraft energy management and has contributed the first-ever chapter on the subject to the latest edition of the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook.
Dr. Juan Merkt, associate professor of Aeronautical Science
The chapter offers an in-depth explanation of the factors affecting an airplane’s energy use, pointing out that energy management awareness is key to aviation safety.
“Every pilot is an energy manager — managing energy in the form of altitude and airspeed from takeoff to landing,” Merkt wrote for the handbook. “Proper energy management is essential for performing any maneuver as well as for attaining and maintaining desired vertical flightpath and airspeed profiles in everyday flying.”
David St. George, executive director of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), called the energy management chapter “genius” in SAFE eNews, adding, “It’s a much more nuanced approach to aircraft control than the old ‘yank and bank’ method.”
Merkt, who initiated a course called Safety Principles of Aircraft Energy Management at Embry-Riddle’s Prescott Campus and has brought the course to the Daytona Beach Campus to start in Fall 2022, would like aircraft energy management to be incorporated into pilot training to help improve both safety and efficiency.
“Despite their impact on safety and economy, energy management skills are not adequately taught or evaluated in civilian pilot training,” Merkt said, pointing out that in-flight energy crises can lead to fatal accidents. He said that, as the aviation industry heads into a surge of pilot hiring, most new pilots will come not from the military, where fighters pilots are trained in energy management skills, but from civilian training programs.
Meanwhile, a focus on energy efficiency is also a “first step toward embracing principles of sustainability,” he said, adding that he has gotten excellent support from the FAA and others on his work.
Merkt is also involved in an FAA-sponsored research project with colleagues from Florida Institute of Technology and Georgia Tech that explores the energy requirements for certification of electric aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities.