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12/12/17    Home | Articles | Training | Instructor's Corner | Airplanes | Travelogues | PIREPS | For CFIs | ATPs | Pilot for Hire

Your multi-engine rating
By Ryan Ferguson

(cont'd from Page 2)

Checklists, checklists, checklists

Twin Comanche 8259Y Piper PA-30B Twin Comanche
Your primary flight instructor ingrained the use of checklists into your head, right? Good, because you will be reviewing checklists in every phase of flight when you're flying a twin from taxi, to runup, to before-takeoff, to enroute climb, to cruise, to descent, to landing. Yes, every phase, every time! And there's a good reason we're flying a complex, multi-engine aircraft that demands attention. You won't remember everything on the checklist every time. Get in the habit from the start. It will keep the equipment (and possibly yourself) from getting bent at some point down the road.

"Now, you are fully qualified to handle a twin. You can effectively manage the systems, fly the airplane around the pattern, and land safely. So what's the big deal?"

Takeoff and landing

Both takeoff and landing are no big deal. You'll notice the increased climb performance of those two props pulling you skyward. I'll bet you noticed that blue-line on the ASI that's going to be Vyse, best single-engine rate of climb, and you should not drop below it on the climbout. Of course, follow the recommendations of your airplane's POH. Blue-line is an important speed we'll talk more about it in a moment. Carry some power in on final you'll probably need between 13"-15" of MAP to keep a stabilized descent. Most of the time, you'll want to fly short final at or slightly above the blue line speed. Again, refer to your aircraft's POH. Most importantly, you'll want to make sure the aircraft is correctly configured for landing your instructor should insist that you do your GUMP check on every leg of the pattern! On final, I use G.U.M.P.P.S. Gas on proper tanks, undercarriage extended, mixtures full rich, props forward, electric fuel pumps on, switches set (landing lights, radios, etc.)

The nose will probably want to plunk right down on the runway after main gear touchdown. Greasers are considerably more difficult in a light twin at least, they are for me. But there's no special challenge on landing aside from being careful not to cut the power too soon, or get too slow above 20 feet or so. If you're reasonably proficient in a single-engine aircraft, you'll pick it up in a couple of tries. Trim is your friend.

You might find that the twin you're flying is a lot harder to slow down than the single-engine plane you're used to. You'll need to plan your descents carefully. In the Twin Comanche which I now own, I travel more than 3 miles per minute while descending at 500 FPM that means I have to start a descent from 9,000 10,000 feet to near sea level (I live in Florida) from many miles out. It's easy to find yourself "behind the aircraft" in the sense that things are happening much faster than they did when you putted leisurely around behind a single prop. Well, unless you were flying a Bonanza, that is.

One other thing. The view is tremendous! Without the fat engine cowl and a swinging prop in front of you, you'll enjoy a great view ahead. And the noise in cruise flight will be a lot less than what you'd have to deal with in a high-performance single.

Now, you are fully qualified to handle a twin. You can effectively manage the systems, fly the airplane around the pattern, and land safely. So what's the big deal?

Now the real flying begins

No way, Jose. If you thought it'd be that easy, guess again! You'll cover all of this in your first one or two hours of multi-engine flying (plus ground school and systems study, of course.) Consider this the 'basic intro' nothing more than a systems familiarization. Learning to fly a multi-engine aircraft is all about flying on one engine.

Let's talk about stress. Handling an engine failure in a single-engine aircraft is considerably less stressful. Why? Because you have fewer options. I'm sure you remember your instructor pulling the power abeam the numbers, or on the way to the practice area. "Remember your ABCs," he or she probably said. "Airspeed, Best Field, Cockpit checks." You pointed the nose towards a suitable field and set up the approach with the engine power at idle to simulate failure, while running through your troubleshooting procedures. It was even simpler if you lost an engine on takeoff: your CFI simply emphasized that unless you were at least 500 ft. AGL (or more, depending on your airplane and topography), you'd need to land straight ahead making shallow turns to avoid obstacles. It was (and is) a stress-free exercise because no matter what, your course of action is pre-determined. Not so in a multi-engine aircraft.

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