Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

DA 40 XLS: The Innovator Keeps Getting Better

With the addition of Garmin’s Synthetic Vision Technology and other improvements, the popular composite four-seater reaches a wider audience


DX 401) CHECK AND VERIFY USING THE PFD'S AUTOPILOT DISPLAY. Pilots, even airline pilots, new to a glass cockpit have been known to say, “What’s it doing now?” when referring to the autopilot doing something completely unexpected. If you’ve flown a glass-cockpit aircraft, then you’ve probably felt the same way at some point. The G1000 has a very straightforward way to check and verify what the autopilot is programmed to do. The Navigation Status box at the top of the PFD provides a complete picture of the next waypoint and the active and armed autopilot settings. Include the Selected Altitude box at the top of the altimeter ribbon for a comprehensive understanding of how the G1000’s autopilot is programmed. Green text means the procedure is active, while white text means that it’s armed and will automatically become active when appropriate. Always review this information before enabling the autopilot or changing mode (e.g., NAV, approach, etc.), and you’ll never be surprised.
2) USE THE NAV RANGE RING FEATURE TO DISPLAY AN AIRCRAFT'S ESTIMATED GLIDING DISTANCE. The G1000 provides a visual indication showing how far your aircraft can glide if it loses engine power: If an airport is located within the ring, it should be reachable. The Nav Range Ring feature displays a ring showing the rough estimate of the gliding distance. First, calculate the gliding distance for the aircraft’s altitude. On the MFD’s Map Setup–Map Group window, turn the Nav Range Ring on, and the map will display an azimuth ring around the aircraft along with a number that’s the radius of the ring in miles. The distance is always 1⁄4th of the map range. Set the map scale such that the radius value is roughly the aircraft gliding distance, and you’ll have a gliding reference. It’s important to remember that the Nav Range Ring is circular and doesn’t take winds into account.
DX 403) MANAGE YOUR DESCENT OR CLIMBS MORE EFFECTIVELY. Want to manage your descent or climb to arrive at a waypoint precisely on altitude? First, make sure you have the waypoint or the destination airport in the active flight plan. Configure the MFD’s Navigation Status bar fields to include Vertical Speed Required (VSR). From the MFD’s Flight Plan window, press the FMS knob and scroll using the large FMS knob to the Waypoint of Airport Altitude field. Next, enter the altitude you need to be at. If it’s a waypoint, simply enter the desired altitude at the waypoint and press Enter, and then press Enter again to accept MSL. If it’s an airport, then you need to apply a little judgment because the altitude you enter will be for overhead the airport waypoint. If, for example, you want to be at a pattern altitude of 1,200 feet MSL/800 AGL prior to entering the traffic pattern, then you’ll typically want to be at that altitude at least a mile before the airport. In this example, if you enter 800 MSL for overhead the airport, then you’ll be able to level at 1,200 feel MSL a short distance from the airport. Now all you have to do is match the VSR descent rate to arrive at the desired point at the desired altitude.
DX 404) MANAGE DIRECT TO NEARBY WAYPOINTS MORE EASILY. Sometimes you need to obtain or are given a clearance to a waypoint or airport that isn’t in the current flight plan. When given direct to a nearby airport, pressing the PFD’s NRST soft key will display the airport name, so you can select it and then press the Direct To button. It’s slightly more complex if you’re looking for intersections, VORs, etc. Use the MFD’s Nearest page. Find the page containing the type of waypoint you’re searching for (e.g., intersection), enable the cursor by pressing on the FMS knob and then scroll through the list to find the waypoint you desire. If you want to fly directly to the selected waypoint, press the Direct To button and then press Enter.


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