Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Recurrent Training

Next day I go for a flight with my chief pilot. Due to a variety of SNAFUs, there hasn't been time to book an examiner and do the required training for a PPC renewal, so although my IFR expires in a few days, we're not doing the six hours of training required to renew it, just the one hour for the company annual. I'll be restricted to VFR flight only, and to part 702 work--no night VFR with passengers--until we get that straightened out.

The flight is practice and demonstration of competence at a few procedures that I never do in the normal course of work. We start with steep turns, 45 degrees of bank, maintain altitude and airspeed, roll out on the initial heading. My first one is terrible, but I try a few more each way and determine the sweet spot. Still not stunning, but the chief pilot is satisfied. Not banking is generally what I am paid to do.

Stalls are simple. Reduce the power below the setting at which the airplane can maintain level flight, let the speed bleed off and trim down to blue line or so, then maintain back pressure on the control column and hold altitude until the angle of attack approaches a critical point. If I let it continue right to the stall, the nose would pitch forward as the centre of pressure moved aft. It's not entirely dissimilar to the feeling when you're not pedalling a bicycle hard enough for the grade and it slows to a stop and would flop over if you didn't put your foot out. The standard for the exercise calls for me to recover at the first sign of a stall, which in this airplane is the stall light and horn, so when it flashes and bleats I apply full power and pitch the nose down just enough to fly again. We repeat the exercise with the flaps and gear extended. This time I have to raise the gear and reduce the flap setting gradually to aid recovery.

My worst exercise is recovery from the engine failure in the overshoot. Considering that I do mentally practice for an engine failure on take-off, and that I know I'll be given a failure as we simulate an overshoot, I should have been much better at simulating the feathered engine while maintaining speed and heading. I do another and the procedures are better but the airspeed control, but the third one is the charm. I'm fairly horrified, but the chief pilot is tranquil. I remind myself that the purpose of training is to train, not to be perfect already, but I hate being bad at things I should be good at.

Once I have the airplane cleaned up with the simulated engine failure, my next instruction is to turn to a heading. It is the reciprocal of the heading I am on. I look for traffic, and then bank, saying out loud, "turn away from the dead engine." Pilots who turn towards a failed engine can find themselves unable to control the airplane. And it turns out the instruction was a test.

At the end I do an ILS approach, go missed, fly a circuit and come back and land. I'm signed off for another year of company service, and we'll try and schedule a PPC before too long.


david said...

I just flew to Mirabel and back under the foggles yesterday to get my own last hour and last approach for my 6&6. Bring it on, IMC!

Anonymous said...

you know as well as I do that the art of "not turning" is just as important as the "turn" itself! :) so you should still be proud.

It's amazing how many people focus on the wrong idea when trying to maintain straight flight... "hold your heading" (pilot looks at heading indicator) "doh!"

but I knew you knew that... cuz you taught me!

J said...

What is "the overshoot"?

gmc said...

"...the purpose of training is to train, not to be perfect already..."

Which some people with fragile egos miss! So those that live close to the simulators at the training center go in on their days off and practice ahead of time - then make the rest of us look bad! Grrrr....

Just let the trainers train us all - will ya!

Aviatrix said...

J: An overshoot is the take off phase after an aborted landing. It's the worst possible time to lose an engine because you're low energy, low speed, close to the ground, nose up and you have flaps down and gear out.

If you were just about to land and then something happened so you couldn't, maybe a moose on the runway or the gear unsafe light flickered red, you add full power and start to climb. If at that moment one of the engines fails, you have your hands full keeping from crashing. So we train for this.

chris said...

Happy to hear you've passed, although there was no doubt in the air.

Makes me post a link to perhaps one of the best flight tutorials.

I'm not a pilot, just have been interested in flying since long. Your posts are always interesting, sometimes going into details of navigation or something else, make me try to follow and learn something new.

I just stumbled about this tutorial and started eating the chapter about "Energy Awareness and Energy Management". Just this chapter explains so much about what it means to fly any kind of airplane.

Just want to highly recomment the tutorial to all your readers, specially the non-/prospect-pilots.

Best wishes,

Jimmy said...

I don't understand why you could not be able to do night VFR under 702. Change your definition of passengers... They are not passengers, they are persons assigned duties aboard the aircraft. I've always felt that passengers buy tickets (a la 703). I've successfully argued it with TC to bypass the 1000 hr requirement for single pilot IFR with 'passengers'.

Get the CP or OM to talk with your POI about it. My company used to be the same until I butted heads with TC about it. Bottom line is a modicum of training and being given duties aboard makes someone more crew than pax. They can try and argue otherwise but don't have much of a leg to stand on. It also doesn't matter if they don't 'work' for your company, I call them 'contracted crew' in that case...

Good luck. Once again it is all about interpretation of the regs and not taking no for an answer.

Aviatrix said...

If we're doing 702 with contract crew, then yes, that's fine. But sometimes we do do honest-to-goodness part 703 with people who sit in their seats, eat chocolate chip cookies, sip coffee and are there purely to get themselves and their goods from point A to point B.