PILOT TRAINING IN AUSTRALIA (PART 3)
Different by design
THROUGHOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN AVIATION YOU'LL PROBABLY GAIN EXPERIENCE WITH A RANGE OF AIRCRAFT WITH WIDELY DIFFERING DESIGN FEATURES. HERE'S A RUNDOWN ON SOME OF THE COMMON AIRCRAFT DESIGNS AND CONFIGURATIONS YOU MIGHT ENCOUNTER DURING YOUR TRAINING, AND SOME OF WHICH REQUIRE SEPARATE LICENCE ENDORSEMENTS.
CONSIDER what you want from it and ask yourself a few questions. How much money are you able to spend? Are you planning to go to commercial level? Are you wanting to fly long distances? Will you have a need to fly regardless of weather and nightfall? Thinking in this way will help you make some decisions about what to do next. Your instructor should also be able to advise you of the most appropriate ratings and endorsements to suit your plans. In the mean time, here's a rundown on what the choices are.
The endorsement process becomes more rigorous with larger aircraft types and more complex on-board systems. When you gain your pilot's licence however, you're automatically endorsed on the aircraft you learned in, but you will need to be endorsed on each type beyond this. Aircraft such as the Cessna 172 and Piper Warrior are similar in their performance and handling characteristics and if you've flown one of these types, getting proficient on the other is a relatively simple process involving a check flight with an instructor. You can be separately endorsed to fly aircraft with various more advanced systems described here. This means that officially you're approved to fly any aircraft of any manufacture, if your licence is endorsed for those features. It's then up to aircraft owners (and their insurers) to take whatever measures are necessary to satisfy themselves that you're competent on the specific type.
Each multi-engined aircraft however, requires separate training and endorsement, although some of these allow you to fly a number of different types from the same manufacturer with similar characteristics, as follows:
- Some aircraft (including all multiengine types) require a type endorsement (THE)
- Others, depending on their features, require one or more class endorsement (CE)
- And some operations require a licence endorsement (LE) for the particular kind of flying operation
- Aerobatic Aircraft (LE)
Aircraft specifically designed to perform aerobatic manoeuvres. Such aircraft are typically strengthened in parts of the airframe to withstand higher aerodynamic forces. Some also have engine and fuel systems which maintain oil and fuel flow when the aircraft is upside down for elongated periods of time. Some flying schools offer aerobatic training as an add-on, which helps you gain additional handling skills. acrobatic endorsement is an effective means of developing your aircraft handling skills and techniques. Aerobatics are maybe outside some pilot's comfort zone, but or those who enjoy the thrill of additional G forces and seeing the earth upside down and back to front, this endorsement is where it's to be found.
You'll do the endorsement in an aircraft which is specifically designed to cope with the higher aerodynamic forces generated by most aerobatic manoeuvres. Aerobatic trainers such as the Bellanca Decathlon will most likely be the aircraft you'll fly. You'll be throwing it around the skies in all manner of loops, spins, lazy eights, and barrel rolls for around fifteen hours to gain your endorsement
If you don't want to go all out with aerobatic training you have the option to be endorsed on particular manoeuvres. This will enable you to do the full endorsement at your own pace or simply exclude manoeuvres you don't want to do.
Whilst this endorsement is not for the faint hearted, it instils discipline and confidence in you as a pilot and gives you plenty of experience handling the aircraft to its absolute limits. A propeller that is governed by the CSU to vary its pitch so that it maintains a constant RPM throughout a range of throttle settings and airspeeds. On some aircraft the blade angle can also be "feathered" to reduce drag when the engine is shut down.
Busy day at Los Angeles International Airport LAX
1. Amphibious firefighting aeroplane
FLOAT ALIGHTING GEAR (CE)
Conventional aircraft fitted with floats, sometimes also amphibious. With a float endorsement you can takeoff and land on water in a float-equipped aeroplane. This type of flying presents its own particular set of considerations and requirements. Its not a cheap way to fly, nor are there many float-equipped aircraft for hire in Australia. Nevertheless it's a very challenging and rewarding endorsement to undertake.
The endorsement will cover a range of topics such as aircraft performance and handling with floats attached, takeoff and landing technique, taxiing on water, and assessment of factors such as surface conditions, wave height and other weather conditions.
A float endorsement will require a specified minimum number of flying hours aircraft will cost considerably more to hire than the equivalent aircraft with standard wheeled landing gear.
2. Tandem seat sportsplane
Seating configuration in two-seat aircraft, placing occupants one behind the other rather than side by, side. The student sits in the front seat on training flights. This configuration is most common in tail wheel aircraft and affords occupants an excellent view in all directions.
3. Aircraft whose lower hull shaped like a speedboat. Sometimes they're also amphibious
Aircraft with the main wing mounted above the fuselage. Such a configuration provides good clearance when taking off and landing from unprepared airstrips. It also affords the pilot and passengers an excellent view in flight, and even shade on the ground.
4. Beechcraft Premier 1 light jet
Jet aircraft are propelled by a turbojet engine which does not drive a propeller. A huge variety of jet engines is now on the market but the more modern and successful power plants (in terms of economy, noise and gas emissions) are characterised by "high bypass" ratios in which much of the driving thrust produced by the turbine is used to drive a large fan that is housed within the nacelle.
5. Diamond DA-42 twin
Aircraft with landing gear which folds away into recesses in wings and or fuselage. This reduces aerodynamic drag and allows for increased airspeed. A Tail Wheel Endorsement presents some very different piloting techniques to those you're probably used to. Some flying schools use "taildraggers" for abinitio flight training and many pilots believe that tail wheel aircraft are the best to learn in.
6. Gippsland Aeronautics Airvan
Aircraft with two main wheels just behind the centre of gravity, and one - usually smaller - under the nose, which in most cases steers the aircraft when on the ground - This is now the most common undercarriage configuration for training aircraft.
7. The sting has a typical low wing configuration
Aircraft with main wing mounted to the lower part of the fuselage. This configuration provides for high strength in the airframe. Visibility in turns (where it's important) is excellent as the inboard wing drops, providing an unobstructed view in the direction of the turn.
8. Tailwheel-equipped Seabird Seeker
Tail wheel aircraft require particular attention and precise handling during takeoff and landing and this is not learned in a hurry. You will need to be briefed in detail regarding the aerodynamics and handling of the tail dragger. Then you'll most likely need to do around five hours of flight training to become familiar with tail wheel flying.
9. Pressurised Socata TBM 850
A cabin which can be pressurised for flight at higher altitudes.
10. High wings also provide good shade
FLOATING HULL (CE)
Aircraft whose lower hull is shaped like a speedboat. Sometimes they're also amphibious. A floating hull endorsement is a separate endorsement from floats, although you learn many of the same things. The actual hull is shaped like a boat, and while you're on the water your seat is probably below sea level.
11. Turboprop Cessna Grand Caravan
Turboprop propulsion comprises a turbojet engine which use the energy they produce to drive a normal propeller. Several GA aircraft, the most prominent of which are the Beechcraft King Airs and Cessna Caravans, are still in production and enjoy wide acceptance and continually upgraded production aircraft.
How to fly a Cessna 172
Trying your hand
IF YOU WANT TO TEST YOUR APTITUDE BY TAKING THE CONTROLS-REALLY EXPERIENCING WHAT IT'S LIKE TO FLY-YOUR USUAL FIRST STEP IS A TRIAL INSTRUCTION FLIGHT
ON A "trial instructional flight" you first experience the feeling of actually flying an aeroplane (or helicopter.) It's important to do this, before you decide to get seriously involved in flying training.
Usually about half an hour in duration, a TIF is a great way to get a first taste of what hands-on flying is really like. You get some basic insights into principles of flight and aircraft handling and control, and it also gives you an opportunity to evaluate how you feel about the whole experience.
To begin the session, your instructor will typically ask you some questions about any prior experience you may have with aircraft and aviation in general, to get an idea of your interest and motivation. Then you'll be given a short briefing on what you'll be doing during the flight, running through some of the basic manoeuvres, and how you will be given control of the aircraft.
Out on the tarmac the instructor will give you a quick walk around, pointing out the control surfaces such as ailerons, elevators, flaps and rudder. The process will be repeated in the cockpit as you are taken through the controls and how they work.
As you climb aboard you'll be directed to the left-hand seat. In most aircraft this is the `command seat' but it's important to remember that during all instructional flights, your instructor is the pilot in command.
As you settle in you'll notice immediately the daunting array of instruments and controls before you. Before and during the flight your instructor will give you a basic understanding of the purpose of the main instruments and their relationship to the aircraft during flight, and it's surprising how quickly you become accustomed to them and their functions.
"Your instructor will give you an opportunity to fly the aircraft"
The instructor will perform the takeoff, but will ask you to place your hands and feet lightly on the controls and feel what's happening as the aircraft accelerates down the runway and becomes airborne. You'll typically be wearing a headset and you'll be able to hear all radio transmissions as they are broadcast and received. The headset will also keep engine and wind noise to a minimum and this will enable you to talk freely with the instructor on the intercom.
After you've followed the control movements and the aircraft's reactions, your instructor will give you an opportunity to fly the aircraft. You'll try your hand at some gentle manoeuvres such as left and right turns, climbs and descents, and acceleration and deceleration. You'll quickly pick up on aspects of flying such as the sensitivity of the flight controls and how to coordinate your control inputs to make the aircraft behave as you want it to.
You'll also be introduced to phrases such as 'straight and level flight', `balanced turns' and 'trimming the aircraft'. Such terms describe basic piloting actions required to fly the aircraft properly.
Finally you'll be asked to follow lightly on the controls again for the landing. You may even be given a crack at taxiing the aircraft once you're clear of the runway.
During the TIF it's important to remember that your instructor is not expecting you to demonstrate your abilities in handling the aircraft. It is purely an opportunity for you to familiarise yourself with the experience of flying an aircraft and help you decide I whether or not you're ready to embark on your flight training in earnest.
When you walk away from your trial instruction flight, don't try to evaluate your skill levels as a pilot. If you proceed with your training, you've got many hours of flying ahead of you to work on them. Instead, ask yourself how much you enjoyed it. At this stage, enjoying the experience is all that really counts.
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