Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beyond The Checkride

Advanced training means new skills, reduced insurance premiums and renewed passion

Many pilots call this an "add-on" rating because it's added to your existing private or commercial certificate. Most people say this is one of the easier ratings because you aren't necessarily mastering a new skill, but rather, improving your existing skills. The goal in multi-engine training is for a pilot to be able to safely control an aircraft with one (or more) engines inoperable. The training and subsequent checkride will focus on engine-out performance and control.

Usually, the multi-engine rating is offered as a package, and includes all necessary ground and flight instruction required by the Multi-Engine Practical Test Standards. The rating can be done in four to six days and usually entails some seven to 10 hours of dual instruction (depending on the aircraft and pilot's abilities).

The leader in multi-engine add-ons is probably ATP, which provides more multi-engine flight training and certification than any other flight school in the nation. ATP's aircraft fly over 8,500 hours each month, and more than 3,700 FAA certifications and ratings are achieved by ATP customers each year. In addition to ATP, most FBOs across the country offer multi-engine ratings, and they can be earned for around $4,000 depending on location, aircraft, fuel prices, etc.

For anybody who's really serious about multi-engine time, Eagle Jet International in Miami, Fla., has a number of turbo-prop time-builder programs. Pilots with commercial, instrument and multi-engine ratings can select from 100-, 200- and 500-hour blocks (or more) of flight time in Beech 1900s, Metroliners, Shorts and more. The program is designed to give pilots enough experience to qualify as a First Officer in turboprops.

Recurrency Training
As aviation has grown more complicated, regular training has become a critical part of staying ahead of the airplane. The challenge of technologically advanced aircraft is to manage everything around you. The ability to use all that technology becomes a game of balancing information against flying the aircraft. The FAA, insurance companies and even FBOs recognize the need for consistent, repeated training to make sure pilots can manage the myriad of systems feeding them information in today's advanced cockpits. Regular re-currency training is the answer.

Real aircraft cockpits are horrendous learning environments. Noise, danger and aircraft management tasks get in the way. Simulators, however, allow pilots to hone skills, experience emergencies and perfect procedures without burning fuel and without exposing themselves to real danger, and to do so in a quiet, comfortable environment conducive to learning. It's for these reasons that recurrency specialists like Simcom, FlightSafety, Recurrent Training Center (RTC) and others exist.

Any pilot who flies multi-engine aircraft or any advanced piston single owes it to him or herself to engage in recurrency training either every year or every six months. Yes, the training is expensive, but the list of reasons why it's a critical part of being a safe pilot is long. Simulator-based training can reproduce emergency scenarios that are dangerous or unfeasible in a real aircraft. The time savings alone is worth the cost of the training. In a real aircraft, you can shoot maybe two or three approaches in an hour. A simulator affords six or seven in the same time span.


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