Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Turbine Matters

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

As far as the FAA is concerned, the standards for currency in a turboprop are pretty much the same as in the piston world—with possibly one small exception. RVSM LOAs (letter of authorization) and operating manuals are approved for each airplane by individual FISDOs. Some (but not all) FISDOs require recurrent RVSM training, so some turbine operators who operate above FL 280 have to periodically re-do RVSM training. It's not hard, but you have to know the requirements of your LOA.

In order to act as PIC in a jet, FAR 61.58 mandates a proficiency check within the last 12 months. If you're typed in more than one jet, you'll have to get checked in each of the types every 24 months. The "61.58" check is basically a "do-over" of the type checkride. It covers the PTS, and you have to demonstrate the ability to fly to ATP standards. Your rating will dictate whether or not you can do the proficiency check as a crew or solo (the details can be found in FAA notice 8900.200).

Some jets not originally type certificated for single-pilot operations (like a few older 500 series Citations) can be operated single pilot through a LOA, which will dictate the specific training requirements. In any case, to get a 61.58 sign off, you can't go to your local instructor; you'll need to fly with a designated pilot proficiency examiner (PPE) who's typed in the aircraft. The good news is that a 61.58 counts as a bi-annual flight review, and you'll do enough instrument work to renew your instrument currency for another six months. Once you've done a few 61.58 checks, it becomes pretty straightforward and even fun.

Whether you fly a turboprop or a jet, all insurance policies will require annual recurrent training, and some will specify that the training be done in a simulator.

Simulator time is "problem time," where you practice handling emergencies and events best left to a simulator. Both annual emergency training and 61.58 checks can be done at a Part 142 school (like FlightSafety, SimCom, CAE, and others). There's a lot to remember and it's easy to get rusty, so many operators train more than once a year, and some train as often as every quarter. High-performance turbine operations in busy airspace can be challenging, and frequent training elevates safety—particularly when something goes wrong.

Getting the ratings, staying current, and maintaining proficiency can seem like a real gauntlet, but with some perseverance, anyone with the means can work through it. Those who have been lucky enough to get there would agree: The view of the world from FL410 makes it all worth it.

John Hayes is typed in the Citation Mustang and is an ATP, CFI, MEI and CFII with over 4,300 hours in numerous airplanes. A founder and past president of TBMOPA and the Citation Jet Pilots, he also enjoys flying aerobatics in an Extra 300L.


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