PILOT TRAINING IN AUSTRALIA (PART 4)
The training aeroplane fleet
THERE'S CONSIDERABLE CHOICE AVAILABLE, AND IT PAYS TO HAVE A HANDLE ON THE QUALITIES OF AIRCRAFT TYPES OFFERED FOR YOUR TRAINING
YOUR CHOSEN flying school might have one training aircraft or it may have a number of different types to choose from. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, but overall they're all similar and will do the job of helping you become a pilot. Personal preference for whatever reason - whether it be because you like the look of a particular type, or one type is cheaper to fly than the next -will play a major role in determining the best trainer for you.
Initial training is usually conducted in a basic single-engined, fixed undercarriage, two or four seat trainer with simple systems and modest performance. But there are flying schools that specialise in teaching people to fly in tail wheel aircraft which they claim produces better pilots, and also aerobatic and agricultural aircraft, and even seaplanes. But most flying schools stick to the commonest choice and by far the majority of training aircraft are of the nose wheel variety.
Training aircraft are generally low powered and economical, both in terms of maintenance and flying costs. They are easy to manoeuvre and tend not to become unpredictable in normal circumstances - allowing the student pilot to learn to handle) the aircraft in a favourable environment. That is both the prerequisite and the advantage of trainers.
Often, if they're available, students start their training in a two seat Cessna 150 or 152 or four seat Piper Warrior, then progress onto something more comfortable and a little faster, such as the Piper Archer or Cessna 182 for the navigation sequences. The Archer is more stable and rides the bumps a little , better, and also provides more comfort and that extra space for reading maps and charts. However, the more sophisticated the aeroplane, the more it will cost to learn in it!
There's also the question of aircraft age. There are new training aircraft available, some manufactured in Australia and some imported from overseas; but new aircraft are expensive to buy and many flying schools use older aircraft for training. You need not worry about the age of your training aircraft. Unlike cars, aircraft are rigorously maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions or the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's rules. Here are some of the most commonly used primary trainers in Australia:
Fly with Jabiru J160
Originally built in France as the Robin but now wholly New Zealand made, the Alpha series aircraft are fully aerobatic, which is an increasingly popular feature in airline cadet pilot training.
For that reason the Royal Victorian Aero Club has already taken delivery of one of these French-designed aerobatic trainers, now built in New Zealand, and has two more order.
The introduction of the Cessna 150 marked the US company's return to the two-seat trainer market after a six year absence and resulted in the most prolific and successful two-seat trainer in history.
Production of the aircraft began in 1958 and since then, a continuous process of product improvement has developed. The little aeroplane's docile nature and user-friendly design has given many thousands of pilots the opportunity to learn in a stable, leisurely environment for more than 40 years. The Cessna 152 was a response to availability problems with 80/87 octane fuel. But while the C152 incorporated the C150 fuselage, the newcomer's new Lycoming 0-235 engine ran on 100 octane. The C 152 replaced the C150 from 1977 and remained in production until late 1985.
Cessna is now developing a new-generation glass cockpit C152 replacement, the Skycatcher, also with a 100 hp engine, targeting the new light sport aircraft certification category.
Simple, solid and state-of-the-art - that's the new version of one of the most popular training and recreational aircraft in the world.
The four-seat Skyhawk is possibly the most important light aircraft to re-enter production in the 1990s as it is the modern development of the most popular GA aircraft in history.
While the basic design remains the same, the new type is a refined version of the original with modernised standard equipment and new safety enhancements, particularly an optional Garmin 1000 glass cockpit.
The major change is a fuel injected engine that is significantly quieter than the older model, and there's also soon to be a turbocharged diesel-powered option.
The C 172 offers the same student-friendly qualities of the C 150/152 series, but is a faster four-seater and more comfortable.
And if you expect to be flying more modern aircraft, many new models are fitted with "glass cockpit" instrumentation, navigation systems and autopilots, so why not start in a glass cockpit aircraft if your school has one? While the basic design remains the same, the new type is a refined version of the original with improved standard equipment and new safety enhancements, particularly an optional Garmin 1000 glass cockpit.
The major change is a fuel injected engine that is significantly quieter than the older model.
A relative newcomer to the light singles market, Cirrus Design had attracted a lot of attention worldwide for its SR 20 and SR 22 models. Between the two models there is little difference overall, other than engine size and power. The design incorporates the latest in aerodynamic research, giving it low drag and high speed capabilities. Flight controls consist of a single side stick each for pilot and co-pilot The SR 20 is powered by a Lycoming I0 360 engine rated at 200 horsepower, giving it a healthy 160 knot cruise speed.
Both aircraft incorporate the innovative Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) which is stowed in the ceiling behind the passenger cabin. It is deployed by the pilot in the event of loss of engine power. The system is designed to lower the aircraft and occupants to the ground at a slow descent rate.
This type has enjoyed widespread popularity in Australia, and represents a new generation of training aircraft.
Spacious, economical and unusually quiet, the four-seat Diamond DA-40D (for diesel) provides flight training organisations with an all-composite, new-generation sports trainer, now offered with a Garmin 1000 glass cockpit. Straight and level at 75% power, you can expect a 123 kt indicated airspeed (around 130 kt true airspeed), with a fuel burn of 18.5 litres/hr. Cabin noise is moderate, and engine noise is more of a hum than an RPM-related clatter.Modestly powered to keep operating costs to a minimum, the Thielert TAE 125 diesel-cycle engine delivers 135 DIN-hp at max continuous power, driving a three-bladed propeller through a reduction gear.
The DA-40D is responsive to handle and offers superior pilot visibility, while the cockpit is comfortable and surprisingly spacious. It will be very popular for the owner pilot who wants singular economy, excellent handling and comfort, and easy, reliable and accurate navigation. It will certainly make an outstanding IFR trainer, especially for pilots expecting to advance to glass cockpit flying as a full time occupation.
Conceived, certified and produced in Australia, the Eagle is considered one of the very best-handling sports trainers in , the air today. Its popularity in Australia has increased markedly with schools praising the aircraft's speed and superior pilot visibility.
From its corrosion-free, state-of-the-art graphite and Kevlar composite construction to the ergonomically-designed cockpit, the Eagle ISO employs the very latest in aviation technology.
The unusual `canard' wing configuration offers a remarkable fighter-like control response allowing mastery,of the aircraft in a short period of time.
The cruise speed of 120 knots makes it the ideal cross country aircraft and with a climb rate of more than 1,000 feet per minute and a fuel economy at cruise speed of only 23 litres an hour, the Eagle is perfect for training, surveillance or recreational flying.
Grob is a company well known for its sailplanes and powered gliders so it doesn't surprise that the G115 is the first aircraft made from Glass Fibre Reinforced Plastics to be certified by the US aviation governing body - the FAA.
The German-built aircraft has inherited the qualities of excellence for which the company is renowned.
Positive and well-balanced control forces throughout its speed range and a well-arranged set of flight instruments offers operators a simple-to-handle, pilot-friendly aircraft.
The Grob is authorised for spins, and its design allows for safe and easy recovery, making it a popular basic trainer choice for several of Australia's larger training organisations.
With ultralight origins, the Jabiru 160 is an all-composite, high-wing sports trainer designed and built in Bundaberg specifically for the new ASTM 2245 American Light Sport Aircraft Airworthiness Standard.
The Jabiru's cabin provides space for a full flight instrument panel, is available with a glass cockpit, and is designed to accommodate two slightly over-sized males.
The aircraft's 80 horsepower engine is uniquely designed and built by the manufacturers, and drives a two-blade wooden/composite propeller.
Outstanding performance includes a cruise speed at 2850 rpm 100 knots TAS with a range (nil reserve) of 1030 nautical miles at most efficient speed. Large ailerons and winglets give excellent cross wind handling performance, and the large wingspan gives great stability in turbulence and allows comfortable operations at high altitude or from short runways. Two large doors provide easy entry & egress, while low cowls and large windows provide excellent visibility for training missions. The composite structure needs minimal, simple maintenance and is easy to repair.
LIGHTWING SP 2000S "SPEED"
Australian Lightwing's all-new two seater is designed to LSA category specifications, but also with the expanding flight training market firmly in mind. Among its friendly features are a super-low 43 kt stalling speed, a substantial chrome moly steel safety substructure around the cockpit area, a 600 kg MTOW, along with a nippy 115 kt cruise and six hours flight endurance.
Howard Hughes has been designing and producing a lengthy range of Australian-made high-wing aeroplanes for many years, and this first low wing model comes with optional glass cockpit instrumentation, and a solid record of local product support and development.
PIPER PA-28 CHEROKEE SERIES
For basic trainers, Piper aircraft offer unusual levels of pilot comfort - especially for those who don't quite measure up to the classic aviators' physique.
Rugged and versatile, PA-28 series trainers include the 160 horsepower Warrior and the more powerful 180 horsepower Archer, are a delight to fly, and offer similar handling qualities to the more advanced, sophisticated models in the Piper range.
Most versions typically seat four people while some dedicated trainer versions have seating for two only. With cruise speeds between 126 and 128 knots and a range of about 370 nautical miles, Cherokees are ideal training aircraft.
When introduced, the 'Tommy' or Tomahawk was the first all-new trainer built by one of the United States' major light aircraft manufacturers in almost 30 years.
Designed as an inexpensive trainer- the T-tail PA-38 Tomahawk was derived from the results of a questionnaire Piper distributed amongst 10,000 flight instructors during the 1970s.
The resulting aircraft featured a low-set wing of constant chord and thickness, a cabin design with 360 degree vision, and an economical 112 horsepower engine.
Although Piper ceased producing the Tomahawk over 16 years ago, the type remains a popular trainer and generally shares the quality handling characteristics of the Piper family
Socata's stylish 'Caribbean' TB series of light singles is one of the most successful ranges currently in production.
The well-matched duo of initial and advanced trainer offers design excellence and handling reliability and both aircraft are easily maintained.
Because they share similar handling characteristics, switching from the Tobago to the Trinidad is simple and both aircraft are designed for the whole range of flying training from ab initio to advanced.
Old-hand flying instructors all have their favourite basic training aeroplanes, but they'll all fall for the all-new Whitney Boomerang, a rugged purpose-built trainer with great structural integrity, a steel cage crash protection that's designed to take 12 g right on the nose, and excellent handling qualities.
This aircraft is certified to the latest of the FAA's ever more demanding airworthiness standards, and provides a comfortable and manageable teaching and learning environment for those long hours in the circuit, and excellent handling qualities.
It was a quite an adventure for Australian aeronautical engineer and designer Bill Whitney to get involved in a project to design, build and certify a completely new but very conventional and purpose-built basic trainer -especially one that would break new ground by meeting current FAR Part 23 requirements, which are the prime reason people had almost stopped certifying light aeroplanes under that rule set. This trainer will find a home in many a flying school, both in Australia and overseas - including the USA .
INSTRUMENT AND TWIN TRAINERS
Once you've attained your pilot's licence, you might well go on to learn to fly twin engine aircraft and train to fly on instruments only. If you do, you'll meet a different class of aeroplane.
BEECHCRAFT 76 DUCHESS
When developed in the mid-1970s, the B76 Duchess represented a new class of light, four-place twins. The concept was to create a family of Beech aircraft representing an opportunity for natural progression to more sophisticated types.The Duchess slotted between the Bonanza and the Baron in Beechcraft's model range.Aside from the prototype, no variations of the Duchess were built before production ended in 1982. Therefore, all models of the type feature two Lycoming 0-360 engines and a T-tail, entry doors on either side of the cabin and electric trim and flap controls.The Duchess also has counter-rotating propellers designed to improve the aircraft's low-speed performance and handling, and like all other Beech models is a delight to fly.
PIPER PA-44 SEMINOLE
The Seminole was developed during the heyday of the GA industry in the late I970s, only to fall victim to the depressed market of the early 1980s. The growing reliability and popularity of high-performance singles forced Piper to build the Seminole in limited numbers. Built of simple design and construction the Seminole is a low-maintenance, economical aircraft that shares the forgiving flight characteristics and docile low-speed handling of the entire Cherokee range. It makes an ideal twin conversion and IFR trainer
The Italian manufacturer's popular low-wing two seat Tecnam 2002JF was the first imported ultralight to have made the transition to VH registration, and to field a fleet with a major flying school. Darren Ward, proprietor of Bankstown-based Basair flight school assessed the aircraft as likely to be resilient to mishandling, reliable, and economical to fly and maintain, as well as something the student will enjoy flying.
The Tecnam can now be registered in the light sport category, where there would be some further savings that weren't available when they entered Basair's fleet. Now, with six Tecnams chalking up the hours, Mr Ward has had time to assess whether it was a good decision, and says he has "no regrets."
AND TWO NEW CONTENDERS
These days both flying schools and trainee-sponsoring airlines are demanding more economical solutions. These will include affordable acquisition, maintenance and other direct operating costs, and a high level of reliability when performing required training tasks. Growing demand for new, more reliable and economical piston twin IFR trainers has attracted two newcomers. One is an intelligent adaptation of an existing aircraft type, and the other is a bold venture into new technology. We've flown both, and judging one against the other's a tough call.
DIAMOND'S DA-42D CHALLENGER
And The DA-42 Twin Star is a bold step forward with its all-composite structures, a luxury sports-sedan cabin and two interesting-looking 135 hp (99 kW) Thielert diesel-cycle engines, and a Garmin 1000 glass cockpit. Direct hourly operating costs are expected to be notably cheaper than the elderly machines the Twin Star replaces. All-composite primary structure means no airframe corrosion and easy hangar-rash repairs, and the glass cockpit system components are all line-replaceable. Fuel economies are delivered in two ways —lower specific fuel consumption, and the more modest pump price of Jet Al. That translates to a smaller task fuel load, along with low fuel burn and resulting hourly fuel costs that are equivalent to comparable Avgas singles.
And it performs well on one engine. Straight and level, it indicates around 105 kt, with a fuel burn on the operating engine of 29 lit/hr. Climbing at 82 kt blue line speed with full power, it stabilises at well over the graph figure of 220 ft/min. That should take a bit of the sweat out of asymmetric training.
AND VULCANAIR'S VR TWIN TRAINER
Airline recruiters insisted they wanted a reliable retractable gear twin IFR trainer, and they didn't have to say it twice. Italian manufacturer Vulcanair's Vr, based on its successful 6/7-seat P68 light twin, features a glass cockpit, a wide and roomy six seat cabin, easier cabin access with a pilot door, relative system simplicity, low maintenance, and high credibility as a twin trainer in terms of performance, handling, and operating economy.
Unlike other training aircraft the Vr requires flap for takeoff which, in the event of an engine failure, is maintained until an acceleration height is reached. This characteristic is unique to the Vr and trains students from the beginning in the four takeoff segments used by the airlines.
This remarkable light twin does pretty much everything an FTO proprietor could possibly hope for, and will also fit very neatly into the fleet of any operator who mixes flight training and air taxi (charter) operations.
If you want to learn to fly a helicopter you'll probably train in one of these more popular types.
A classic helicopter, the familiar and distinctive Bell 47 is a significant aircraft as it was one of the world's first practical utility helicopters.
The ubiquitous Bell 47 dates back to Bell's Model 30 of 1943, an experimental helicopter evaluated by the US Army.
The aircraft became the world's first mass-produced chopper and remains in strong demand because of its simplicity and reliability.
As the slowest helicopter trainer in both speed and control response, the Bell 47 requires greater engine management skill, and thus develops better student pilot coordination.
Since its introduction in the late 1970s, the R22 has become the most popular helicopter in the world.
Conceived as an efficient, cheap, reliable and economical multi-purpose two seater, the remarkable "Robbo" has been hugely successful, with over 4,300 delivered worldwide, and more than 400 flying in Australia.
The R22 is also the most modern two-seat helicopter currently used for training, and is especially popular with training schools because of its low maintenance costs, modest fuel consumption, and simple construction and aerodynamics.
Robinson has added a four-seat R44 to its product range, and is now developing a five-seat turbine-powered machine.
With over 3000 built by two successive manufacturers over 30 years, the Hughes/Schweitzer 300 is the most successful three-seat helicopter currently in production.
Development of this versatile rotary-ute dates back to the 1950s, but since
American company Schweizer acquired the rights to the aircraft in 1986, hundreds of minor improvements have been made to the 300C model, while the basic design has remained unchanged.
Sling 2 Light sport aircraft
4. Landing light
5. Left wing
6. Main landing gear
10. Cockpit canopy
13. Vertical stabiliser
14. Tailplane & Elevator
15. Rudder trim tab
16. Left wing
A GUIDE TO SOME OF THE BASIC COMPONENTS OF LIGHT AIRCRAFT
These are the main externally visible features shared by every propeller-driven aircraft, although they're sometimes arranged differently, for example in high-wing or twin-engined configuration. the ailerons, which work are raised and lowered in oppositely to one another, cause the aircraft to bank to the left or right when you turn.
The rudder keeps the aircraft in a balanced turn so that it doesn't sideslip or skid, and the elevator raises or lowers the nose for climbing and descending.The flaps provide extra lift for low speed operation including landing approaches, and most modern tricycle undercarriage aircraft are steered on the ground by the nosewheel.
A CONVENTIONAL INSTRUMENT PANEL
At the controls
2. Airspeed indicator
3. Artificial Horizon
5. Vertical speed indicator
6. Turn & bank indicator
7. Directional gyro
8. Instrument landing system indicator
9. Automatic direction finder
10. GPS landing system
11. Second automatic direction finder
12. Radio communication and navigation systems controls
13. Backup/copilot flight instruments
14. Manifold Presure Gauges
15. Engine RPM gauge
16. Exhaust gas temperature gauges
17. Fuel pressure gauges
18. Oil temp/pressure & cylinder head temp gauges
19. Fuel pressure gauges
20. Gyroscopic instrument power supply indicator
21. Pilot's control yoke
22. Copilot's control yoke
23. Radio press-to-transmit button
24. Undercarriage selector
26. Propeller RPM controls
27. Fuel mixture controls
28. Flap selector
29. Rudder and brake pedals
31. Rudder trim indicator
32. Aileron trim indicator
33. Aileron trim control
34. Parking brake
35. Electrical system switches
36. Electrical circuit breakers
The 21st century instrument panel
1. Primary flight display (PFD)
2. Airspeed indicator
3. Artificial horizon
5. Vertical speed indicator
6. Horizontal situation indicator
7. Mini map display
8. Autopilot mode selector?
9. Altitude selector?
10. Press-to-talk switch?
11. PFD control switches?
12. Dual control wheels
13. Dual avionics control panels
14. Autopilot controls
15. Digital engine instrument display?
16. Multifunction display (MFD) selected to show moving map
17. MFD controls
18. Standby altimeter
19. Standby artificial horizon
20. Standby airspeed indicator
FLYING HAS JUST GOT EASIER
THE INSTRUMENT and radionavigation/ communication systems panel on the preceding pages is common on many single and twin engine aircraft that are still in use today.
But the information they presented on a couple of dozen instruments had to be analysed continuously, and all those moving parts needed lots of expensive maintepance and repair. By modern standards these systems are bordering on unreliable.
In contrast, integrated solid-state avionics systems being delivered on most modern aircraft are many times more reliable, lighter, more easily maintainable, and far easier to interpret.
This "glass cockpit" panel, on a single engine Cessna 172, is a typical modern display. Aircraft and engine systems information is presented in easy-to-read format, faults are automatically detected and necessary warnings are automatically displayed. The conventional six primary flight instruments are replaced by a "primary flight display" that integrates them all into one easy-to-read colour image. A separate colour navigation display presents a visual image of the aircraft, its planned route, terrain and its proximity, controlled airspace, other traffic, airports and even critical weather — all on a moving map - and time/distace to a diversion point can now be calculated in seconds along with fuel remaining at destiation.
And in most new aircraft all this is also integrated with new autopilot systems to a degree that immeasurably simplifes instrument flying, navigation, systems management and radio communications.
It's safer, there's less risk of confusion or omission, and you have more time to enjoy your flight.
Airports and circuits
THE FOLLOWING DIAGRAM REPRESENTS A TYPICAL CIRCUIT PATTERN
- Upwind leg - normal climb to 500'
- Crosswing leg - normal complete at 1,000'
- Downwind leg - normally flown straight & level before decelerating for approach.
- Base leg - descent to 500', extend part flap.
- Final approach - straight in from 500', full flap for decelerating to final approach speed.
THE FOLLOWING DIAGRAM DEPICTS SOME OF THE MAIN GROUND FEATURES OF A TYPICAL AERODROME
- Holding point
- Runway direction indicator
- Control tower
- Runway threshold marker
- Runway center line
- Parking area
- Two runways
- Flight strip boundary makers
- Run-up bay
- Maintenance hanger