Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beyond The Checkride

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

FAA accident statistics support recurrency training. Pilots who undergo regular refresher training are safer than pilots who don't. Much of aviation—instrument flying, for example—is a mental skill, and mental skills atrophy quickly. Dealing with emergencies is similar, with the mental part triggering muscle-memory reflexes that erode with time. To do either one effectively, recurrency training is key. Insurance companies are overjoyed with pilots who seek recurrency training and offer discounts on premiums because their data illustrates the fact that pilots who seek recurrency training are ultimately safer in the cockpit.

High-Altitude Endorsement
If you plan to ever fly anything that's pressurized and capable of flight altitudes above 25,000 feet MSL, you'll need a high-altitude endorsement. FAR 61.31 is pretty specific about the requirements for this endorsement, and it's included in the same section that describes the complex (retractable gear, flaps and controllable pitch prop) and high-performance (more than 200 hp) endorsements. Like other ratings and endorsements, high-altitude training consists of both ground and flight instruction, with the topics to be covered outlined carefully in the FARs. The key issue in high-altitude training is recognizing the physiological effects of high-altitude flight.

Not all FBOs offer the high-altitude endorsement because the flight-training portion requires aircraft that are usually beyond what the typical FBO offers. Several companies specialize in high-altitude training and typically offer a one-day course to earn the endorsement. Training is typically four to six hours of ground instruction followed by an hour in the air.

The air portion is a lot of fun and works as a confidence builder, as well. It consists of proper emergency procedures for rapid decompression (almost always simulated), normal cruise operations above 25,000 feet and emergency descents. The emergency descent part is the most fun—especially in a light jet. It's a real kick to crank the airplane on its side while spiraling down and donning your oxygen mask all at the same time.

Cirrus Transition
With more than 5,100 of the airframes sold (and increasing fast), it seems the Cirrus has become to the modern generation what the Cessna 172 represented to an earlier generation. Though the venerable 172 is still going strong, the Cirrus is fast becoming the "It" airplane for an airline-like travel experience at a fraction of the hassle. More and more FBOs are featuring SR20s and SR22s on their rental line, and more pilots are discovering the comfort and utility of this cross-country machine. Certified Cirrus Transition Training is an excellent way to get to know this unique aircraft.

Cirrus' global network of Cirrus Training Centers (CTCs) and Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilots (CSIPs) are experts in Cirrus flight training. Cirrus Training Centers have Cirrus aircraft available for rental and flight instruction, along with professional flight instructors to get you the best Cirrus pilot education possible. Though Cirrus' goal is to prod you toward eventual ownership, Cirrus training is quite comprehensive and will get you comfortable with the characteristics of the highly capable airplane.

CTCs and CSIPs have been trained and evaluated by specialists at Cirrus headquarters and follow the same training programs that Cirrus uses during factory flight instruction. In many cases, insurance companies offer discounts on premiums for having completed Cirrus transition training, and most FBOs require it prior to renting this excellent and comfortable cross-country hauler.


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