Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Turbine Matters

A gauntlet of ratings, currency, and proficiency—it’s worth it!­­­­

To fly higher than Flight Level 280, you'll need RVSM approval for your airplane and a logbook entry for RVSM training.
At the end of the process, you'll face a comprehensive two-part exam from an examiner who isn't your instructor. The first part will be an oral covering all aspects of the systems, limitations, weight and balance, memory items and whatever else the examiner wants to ask. The oral is the real deal and covers everything—you either know your stuff, or it all ends right there. Next, you'll demonstrate that you can fly the PTS to ATP standards. Again, if you bust a minimum, forget a procedure or bobble a V1 cut, you'll probably get sent back for more training. As flight tests go, type rides are among the most challenging. The FARs additionally require 25 hours of SOE if you train or take your practical test for your first turbojet type rating in an approved simulator. Once you've submitted records showing that you've met the SOE requirements, you can obtain an unrestricted type rating to act as PIC. The process is set up to make sure that operators of jet aircraft are able to operate at ATP level proficiency before they get the rating.

At the end of the process, most insurance carriers require some additional SOE time depending on your background and experience. Go straight from a Cirrus SR22 to a CJ3 with only 500 hours in your logbook, and you can pretty much expect to fly with an instructor for at least a year—and if you have to ask what that policy will cost, forget about it. On the other hand, the jump from a King Air to a Citation Mustang with over 1,000 hours of logged turbine time might only require 10-15 hours of SOE.

Staying Current And Proficient
All Part 91 pilots have to satisfy the requirements for recent experience set out in FAR 61.57. First on that list are three takeoffs and landings every 90 days to carry passengers [61.57(a).] Remember, that's specific to the category, class and type of aircraft, so if you hold multiple type ratings, you have to meet the requirement in each type to be current. That also means that you could be current in two multi-engine jets but not in a single-engine Skyhawk.

You also have to meet the night currency requirements to carry passengers at night [61.57(b)] and the instrument currency requirements to be able to operate under IFR as PIC [61.57(c)]. For turbine pilots, instrument currency is particularly important because getting up into Class A airspace is where turbines are the most efficient.

There are some areas in the country where it may be hard to stay current without donning a hood and recruiting a safety pilot, but letting your instrument currency lapse is simply not an option if you operate a turbine. Finally, you have to have had a flight review as specified in 61.56 in the last 24 months to act as PIC.


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