Tuesday, August 6, 2013
A gauntlet of ratings, currency, and proficiency—it’s worth it!
When you step into the world of high-performance turbine operations, you'll face numerous requirements for new sign-offs, ratings and training. The goal is to establish and maintain a high level of proficiency in core areas, including: airmanship, knowledge of systems, communications, situational awareness and resource management. Even after you get all that done, you'll be required to demonstrate ongoing proficiency in order to maintain both legal currency and insurability. Just what requirements you'll have to satisfy will depend on the FARs, what you fly, and various insurance-mandated requirements. It may sound daunting, but once you get there, it isn't all that hard—and sometimes it's even fun. Still, it's useful to know what to expect before you even start the process.
The oral...covers everything—you either know your stuff, or it all ends right there.Turboprop Basics
For those who start off with a single-engine high-performance turboprop (SETP) like a Piper Meridian, Socata TBM 850 or Pilatus PC-12, the FARs require high-performance and complex sign-offs, as well as a pressurized aircraft 61.31(g) training endorsement. Although in principle, these aircraft can be operated VFR below FL180, no insurance company will provide coverage without an instrument rating. Those sign-offs will get you into the flight levels up to FL280. If you want to go higher, you'll need RVSM (Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum) approval for your airplane, and you'll need to get a logbook entry for completing RVSM training. RVSM airspace starts at FL290 and extends to FL410. Traffic at those altitudes is generally moving pretty fast, and with only 1,000 feet vertical separation between opposite direction traffic, the FAA wants to ensure adequate levels of equipment and training to keep everyone safe. It takes a while to get FAA approval for the airplane (ranging from two to six months), but the pilot training, which covers regulations and procedures, can be done online in only about two hours. Finally, if you've got your heart set on a twin turboprop, you'll also need a multi-engine rating along with everything we've mentioned so far.
Jeffrey Robert Moss of Flying Like The Pros gives instruction on flying a Citation Mustang jet.
What About Jets?
Moving into the jet world brings some additional requirements. All turbojet aircraft require a type rating, and the first one is almost always an eye-opener. The type rating comes in two flavors: single pilot and crew. Most folks start at the crew level and move to the single pilot rating after some experience. Don't be fooled—both are challenging—and you'll learn a lot of new skills in either case. You'll train with an instructor to learn steep turns, a series of stall recovery procedures, V1 cuts, single-engine go-arounds and lots of instrument work. In the classroom, you'll learn all of the systems along with a number of memory-item checklists and all of the operating limitations. In most light jets, initial type training takes anywhere from one to three weeks, depending on the airplane and your background. If you go for a crew rating, you have to demonstrate the ability to effectively communicate and work with a copilot. As a single pilot, you're on your own, and it can seem overwhelming at times.
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