We finished the IR theory with three exams this week! Three months of sitting in the classroom was good practise for the 5 months of ATPL theory we will sit through next fall. But in January we will switch to flight training. We will first get acquainted with the Bonanza trainer. We’re supposed to have two trainer flights and then two flights in the real plane. The objective of these first flights is to teach us the basic handling of the plane, the stalls, turns, slow flight etc. After we learn to fly the plane we will start digging more deeply into the actual IR procedures.
The first exam this week was the Bonanza exam that was cancelled the previous week. The exam had 50 questions about Bonanza. How different systems like de-icing work, weight limits, fuel capacity, different speed limits etc. There’s always a few speeds you have to memorize to be able to safely operate an aircraft. Vne (Never Exceed) for Bonanza is 205 knots (379 km/h). That’s the speed you should never exceed in any circumstances. That’s the maximum speed that quarantees the aircraft will stay in one piece. Vno, often called normal operation speed, is the Maximum Structural Cruising speed. It shouldn’t be exceeded except in smooth air and then only with caution. Bonanza’s Vno is 167 kt (309 km/h). That also means that our normal cruising speed will be close to that figure. Va is 141 kt (261 km/h), which is the maximum maneuvering speed. Full or abrupt control movements should not be made above this speed because it may cause a force that is greater than the aircraft’s structural limitations. In plain English that means that the aircraft might suffer damage. The Vfe, Maximum Flaps Extension speeds, for approach flaps (12°) and full flaps (30°) are 154 kt (285 km/h) and 122 kt (225 km/h) respectively. The flaps should not be operated above these speeds. The Vle speed, 154 kt (285 km/h) is the maximum speed when the landing gear should be extended or retracted. The stall speeds for Bonanza are 61 kt (112 km/h) with full flaps and 68 kt (125 km/h) with flaps up. Then there are the procedural speeds like rotate speed (75 kt/138 km/h), climb speed (110 kt/203 km/h), arrival speed (140 kt/259 km/h), approach speed (100 kt/185 km/h) and threshold speed (80 kt/148 km/h) to name a few. These should give you an idea of the speed range within which we will operate with Bonanza.
Studying for the Human Performance and Limitations exam I was reminded about the fact that 70% of accidents are caused by human error. The human can be the pilot, the mechanic or someone else in aviation. Human error cannot humanely be reduced to 0%, but the right attitude and personality go a long way. The hazardous behaviours and attitudes for pilots, and I think for any aviation-related job, include anti-authoritarianism, impulsiveness, excessive self-esteem, resignation, complacency and sense of invulnerability. These traits can cause a person to think that accidents will never happen to them and lead to reduced risk-awareness. Some people might take unnecessary risks to prove themselves to their peers or superiors. Impulsiveness can lead to decisions without much thought and resignation on the other hand can lead to avoiding making the decisions at all. Today’s ideal pilot is a stable individual with good communication and teamwork skills, not forgetting the knowledge of his or her aircraft and good piloting skills.
The last exam was the Flight Planning and Monitoring which pretty much sums it all up. When planning a flight you need to familiarize yourself with the charts, be aware of your aircraft’s performance, the route, the airspace, the regulations, the procedures, the fuel consumption, the destination information etc. All your knowledge comes together when planning and executing a flight.
All the school exams went well and next up are the official ones at Trafi (the civil aviation regulatory authority in Finland) in January. All 7 subjects will be tested. I will do the exams in mid-January in Helsinki.
Being so busy these past weeks, mainly because of studying, has caused me to mentally overspeed and lose the sense of the present. I realized this the other day when I came across a quote: Think about how far you have gotten, not about how far you still have to go. I realized I have felt a sense of hurry, kept looking into the future and lost sight of what is happening right now. And forgotten to be grateful and happy about how far I have come. This year I have learned to fly (!!) and acquired Night Flight rating, I have now finished the IR theory and I’m about to start the IR flight training. A year ago in December I had done none of that yet. Now it’s time to stop and think about that for a while. I have a 2-week Christmas holiday and will be back in January. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in 2014!