Monday, November 19, 2012

Basic instrument training - Part 1

The first 10 hours of instrument training are spent learning how to interpret the basic instruments and getting to know the airplane. Mainly focusing in the formula that says for a given attitude (pitch) plus a power (throttle) setting plus configuration (flaps) you will get one performance (airspeed). This is done without visual contact with the exterior (under the hood) except the instructor.

Under the hood
We start with simple things, first we executed a pattern that our instructor calls it "Death Carousel". It is flown at constant airspeed, 90 knots in clean configuration and 70 knots with flaps 10, and it has 4 segments. 
  • It starts with a 500 feet climb at full power, the airspeed is maintained with small pitch adjustments; 
  • After leveling execute an immediate level coordinated turn of 180º;
  • Then descend 500 feet at 500 feet/min maintaining the airspeed; 
  • After leveling another 180º turn and repeat all over again.

After starting the 180º turn the clock is started to help you making adjustments during the turn in way that you finish the 180º turn in 1 min (in a coordinated turn the airplane turns 3º/s, so you know after 1min you had done 180º). For instance if after 30s you had only turned 80º you need to increase the bank a little because you are getting behind.  
For me the tricky part are the transitions from climb to level and level to descend because if you want airspeed to maintain constant you have to have an idea what kind of power setting you have to have for that configuration and attitude.

After this, the challenge is increased by doing the same pattern but now with partial panel (without attitude indicator and directional gyro). 

Partial panel
Another challenge is doing this pattern but without the 180º level turn. Instead, the turn is done while climbing or descending.   

Here is a video of my friend doing the "Death Carousel" with flaps 10º.


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