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Monday, August 29, 2011

Avionics Envy

This weekend I flew with a new student, I'll call him Ernie.

Ernie is a private pilot with an instrument ticket, and owns a 2007 model Mooney M20R Ovation.  That's a fast, expensive airplane (they seem to be listing for mid $300k), and his is very clean with around 400 hours on the clock.  He bought it new.  I think Ernie is a surgeon.

Ernie needed an Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC).  The FAA requires that in order to fly in instrument conditions, you must be current, and they define currency as having competed at least 6 instrument approaches during the past 6 months, along with intercepting a VOR radial and performing a hold.  After the 6 months are up you may not fly instruments, but you can still regain currency by doing the 6 approaches with a safety pilot.  After 12 months, you need an IPC with an instructor.

The IPC is essentially the same as the checkride you have to pass in order to get an instrument rating in the first place, it is just done with an instructor, instead of an FAA examiner.  It is a little more rigorous in terms of performance standards, and requires 1 hour of ground training, and also adds a few extra items to complete such as unusual attitudes.  But it only requires 3 approaches, although they must be 3 different types of approaches.

Ernie's Mooney is equipped with Garmin G-1000 avionics.  Instead of all the round gauges, all of the information is displayed on 2 large LCD displays - altitude, airspeed, attitude, rate of climb/descent and heading are all on the primary display in front of the pilot, while engine conditions, radio frequencies, traffic conflicts and navigation are all on the secondary.

After take off, I had Ernie do the Hubbard 6 DFW departure.  On the very first leg, the TCAS showed we were climbing into the path of what turned out to be a twin coming out of Greenville airport.  I told Ernie to stay at 4200 feet, and the twin passed overhead and slightly behind.  If we had kept up our climb, we would have been on a collision course.

We did the approaches and holds and so on, finishing in slightly under 1.5 hours.  I was surprised at how much traffic was shown on the TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) display, especially since I only saw a small fraction of the airplanes shown using my mark 1 eyeballs.  Even when you are flying along and all seems quiet, it isn't.  And that's a lesson learned for me, especially when flying my new Bonanza, which requires more heads down, eyes in the cockpit work, especially on take off.  I need to keep my head on a swivel, and beware the Hun In The Sun.  Just like Biggles (a British fictional ace pilot that all English boys read).

I want TCAS.

1 comment:

CMP said...

Not sure if you are aware but the ZAON XRX Portable TCAS is a fantastic piece of kit. It also has adaptors that you can plug it into many various GPS devices (handheld as well as cockpit built, that will show the TCAS info relative to the GPS display. They're not as expensive as you might think either....somewhere around $1000. Maybe it's an investment worth checking out.

Keep up the great work on the blog, froma fellow ex-Ciscoer :-)