After a couple of exams this week on multi-engine operation and the next aircraft type we’ll fly, we are finally done with sitting in a classroom for now. And should be clear of exams for a couple of months!
Right now we’re starting our CPL(A) training. Since I last wrote about the school aircraft fleet a couple of years ago, there has been some changes in the fleet. The school received three new Diamond DA42 NG aircraft last year and they have replaced the Bonanzas in IR training. (Here’s an article in Finnish with some pictures about the DA42s’ arrival to Pori last year: Suomen Ilmailuopiston modernit DA42-koulukoneet saapuivat.) The first class to do their IR rating with the DA42 has just started their training. The last Bonanza school flights were flown late last year. The DA42 has also replaced the Bonanza as well as the C152 in the CPL training. Previously both of them were used in CPL training, but we’re the first class to do it solely with the DA42. Also previously the first multi-engine aircraft in training was the Phenom 100. We’ll still fly the jet to acquire the type rating for it as well as a ME IR rating. Phenom 100 is also used in MCC training. With the DA42 we’ll get our CPL and ME VFR ratings.
The DA42 is a twin-engine airplane and with this some interesting new aspects come into the picture. We will be practicing engine failure situations before take-off as well as after take-off, and the operation with the remaining engine. The engine failure scenario is one of the most rehearsed situations also in the recurrent training of airline pilots.
The DA42 is a 4-seat, low wing plane with a T-tail. Its’ structure is fiber reinforced plastic composite, which gives it a lightweight structure. It has two turbocharged Austro Engine E4-C liquid cooled in-line 4-stroke 4-cylinder engines, which produce 168 hp (123.5 kW) each. The engines are controlled by an electronic engine control system (EECS). Each engine control system has two independent computers, either of which can provide all control functions for the engine and propeller. An Electronic Engine Control Unit (EECU) controls all engine components and has two digital engine control units ECU A and ECU B to provide for redundancy in an emergency. The engine is equipped with an electrical starter, an alternator, oil and water pumps, an oil cooler and a coolant system. It is possible to crossfeed both engines from the fuel tanks in each wing. Engine indication data is neatly presented on the MFD (Multi Function Display, the right side screen). We get oil pressure, oil, fuel, coolant and gearbox temperatures, voltages, generator output, de-ice fluid and fuel quantities, engine loads and RPMs. The engine alerts as well as other alerts are shown on the PFD (Primary Flight Display, the left side screen). Some alerts are also accompanied by an aural alert.
The wing span of the DA42 is 13.55 m, which is 3.5 m more than in the Bonanza and over 1 m more than in the Phenom. That is to say it has a lot of wing. The maximum take-off mass is 1900 kg. The maximum structural cruising speed is 151 KIAS and the never exceed speed is 188 KIAS. The maximum operating altitude is 18 000 ft if supplemental oxygen is used. We’ll be staying at 10 000 ft. The school DA42s have the optional air conditioning, weather radar and ice protection systems installed. The ice protection system is a fluid based system. It prevents accumulation of ice by distributing a thin film of de-icing fluid through porous panels on the wing leading edges and the horizontal as well as the vertical stabilizer. De-icing fluid is also distributed on the propellers and windshield. Because of this ice protection system the DA42 is certified for flight into known icing. This should be a great advantage in the IR training in Finland.
The school DA42s are fitted with a Garmin G1000 Integrated Flight Deck System (link has a good large picture of the flight deck). It presents flight instrumentation, position, navigation, communication and indentification information using two large 10.4″ LCD displays, the PFD and MFD. The planes are also fitted with a GFC 700 digital Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), which is fully integrated with the G1000 system architecture. The AFCS provides flight director (FD), autopilot (AP), yaw damper (YD) and manual electric trim (MET) functions. I must say this glass flight deck is pretty nice!
I had my first school flight in the trainer today. Did the basic stuff, stalls, steep turns, slow flight, a couple of landings and a go-around. We should be flying the real plane in a couple of weeks. First we’re learning to fly this plane and then we’ll get to the actual CPL training flights. Anyway, it’s good to be flying again!