Plane & Pilot
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Flying the G1000 IFR Like the Pros!


Advanced training for Garmin's glass panel


tech talkFlying the G1000 IFR Like the Pros! by J. Robert Moss, a Master CFI, offers a truly advanced course in IFR operations. Furthermore, many topics covered in this “ground school” apply regardless of the avionics installed in your airplane. It’s advertised as containing more than four hours of material, and if anything, that’s an underestimate. It took me about seven hours to get through both CDs, even t­­­­­hough I skipped over some parts!
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tech talkFlying the G1000 IFR Like the Pros! by J. Robert Moss, a Master CFI, offers a truly advanced course in IFR operations. Furthermore, many topics covered in this “ground school” apply regardless of the avionics installed in your airplane. It’s advertised as containing more than four hours of material, and if anything, that’s an underestimate. It took me about seven hours to get through both CDs, even t­­­­­hough I skipped over some parts!

I haven’t space here to cover all the topics on the two CDs, but I’ll try to give an overview and hit the highlights. Moss begins with a review of IFR preflight procedures, then steps through most phases of a typical IFR flight. Along the way, he offers many useful pointers—for instance, use the remarks section when you file a flight plan to alert ATC if, say, you’re going to do IFR training. When you ask for your clearance, add the words “please go slow,” and they’ll generally slow down—a really good idea at unfamiliar locations.

G1000-specific material includes detailed instructions on confirming the nav database expiration date, checking GPS1 versus GPS2 integrity and powering up the unit (though Moss doesn’t cover standby-battery and alternator checks, which are airplane type–specific). I was a little surprised that he didn’t show (or even mention) Garmin’s RAIM/FDE prediction software, which should be checked before planning your route—if an outage is forecast, you’ll need to plan for something other than GPS-direct navigation.

After loading a flight plan, Moss suggests stepping through the waypoints, looking at the name, desired track and distance—if you see an unexpectedly long leg, you may need to fix an incorrect waypoint. He recommends backing up the active flight plan in Flight Plan #1 on the MFD, and gives details on how to do this (along the way, showing you how to copy a flight plan from #1 to another slot). That way, if for any reason you have to turn the avionics switch off, you can still get your flight plan back (the active flight plan doesn’t persist through a power cycle on the G1000). Later, he shows students how to use the same method to load your takeoff alternate as Flight Plan #2.

One particularly good part of Moss’ presentation is his instruction on how to activate a leg on an approach procedure: “Our goal is to have the MFD show exactly what we’re going to fly.” He explains in detail how to activate the leg after the first waypoint and adjust the desired track to provide an extension of the final approach course. I’ve seen this demonstrated by another instructor during a flight in a G1000-equipped C172. The point in activating the next leg is that ATC will most likely vector you to join the extended final approach course, and this way you can see exactly what’s happening on the MFD.

Moss is especially good in his discussion of autopilots. He provides a quick but detailed explanation of the modes on the three most common autopilots used in G1000 installations (King KAP 140, S-TEC 55X and Garmin GFC 700 with flight director). On the latter, he warns against accidentally turning on just the flight director and, thus, getting into an unintended steep turn thinking the autopilot is fully on.

tech talkUsing examples, Moss emphasizes your option as PIC to declare an “emergency for safety” if, in your judgment, following ATC instructions would be dangerous. Another safety-related tip: If you need to deviate around heavy weather and can’t get permission due to frequency congestion, squawk emergency (7700) after writing down your existing transponder code. Moss says that ATC will most likely respond with “November-whatever, are you deviating around weather?” and then instruct you to resume your old squawk.

Moss gives a couple of neat shortcuts to quickly access G1000 features: Holding down the comm transfer switch for three seconds will automatically load 121.5. When cleared on a very long leg, many pilots switch the MFD to north-up mode and use the pan/zoom feature to check for TFRs, restricted areas, high terrain and other problems; Moss suggests using the weather soft key, which automatically puts the map in north-up mode.

He gives a good explanation of the SUSP mode, surely one of the more confusing features not only of the G1000, but also of all advanced IFR GPS systems. It suspends waypoint sequencing and needs to be done in such situations as holding outside an initial approach fix. Otherwise the G1000 would begin guiding you in on the approach, which isn’t a good idea if you haven’t been cleared yet!

Part II ends with two potentially life-saving topics. “Circle-to-Land Danger” got my attention, as his example is at an airport (Santa Monica, Calif.) where I regularly fly. What happens if you’re midway through a circling maneuver when you fly into a cloud and lose sight of the runway and approach lights? The only answer is an immediate Vy climb to the minimum safe altitude on the approach plate—taking note that circling isn’t authorized on the northwest side of the field, so you don’t fly into a building on the way up! In “Deadly RNAV/GPS Approaches,” he notes that many pilots flying with the G1000 and other advanced equipment can be tempted to force the unit into approach mode if it doesn’t automatically switch out of terminal mode. Doing so can result in an unexpected turn toward high terrain while you’re flying at the approach altitude. The right thing to do is execute the missed-approach procedure, get into a hold and then try to figure out why the GPS didn’t automatically sequence you for the approach.

As you can probably tell, I’m quite impressed with Flying the G1000 IFR Like the Pros! That said, it isn’t perfect. The presentations appear to have been made in 2006, and don’t cover WAAS and the new LPV approach minima. Moss also doesn’t provide a basic introduction to the G1000. If you don’t know what a PFD and MFD are, you’ll need to bone up before sitting down with this course. I used Sporty’s Flying the Garmin G1000 DVD ($24.95 from Sporty’s Pilot Shop) and can recommend it as a fine complement to Moss’s more-advanced program. I also found Garmin’s G1000 PC Trainer ($24.95 from www.garmin.com) and the free Pilot’s Guide to be extremely helpful.

Flying the G1000 IFR Like the Pros!
sells for $160. A similar course is available for Garmin GNS 430/480/530 and Avidyne Entegra users. For more information, browse www.flyinglikethepros.com or call (310) 479-5173.

 





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