My Photo
Location: Massachusetts, United States

Monday, January 30, 2006

Multi-engine training -- Day 1

Busy is the word of the day.
Set off for the airport in the thickest fog I have seen in a while early this morning and after some paperwork it was time for ground school on critical engine, Vmc and the Piper Seminole's systems.
In a nutshell, the critical engine in a twin prop-driven airplane is the one which, were it to fail, would impact handling the most. While the Seminole has no critical engine because of its counter-rotating props, it typically is the left engine on other aircraft because of a variety of reasons (P-factor, accelerated slipstream, spiraling slipstream and torque). What that means, is that if the left engine were to quit the plane's tendency to roll and yaw into the dead engine would be worst than if the right one died.
Vmc, the second topic of today's study, is the minimum speed at which directional control of the aircraft can be maintained with the critical engine windmilling. Again, a whole panoply of factors come into play to determine Vmc and whether it's high or low. On the Seminole, it remains pretty low even in the worst of scenarios (in standard conditions at sea level with the inop engine windmilling, the least favorable weight and center of gravity, flaps and gear up, full power in the operating engine and in a zero-slip situation) but on more powerful twins like the Baron and King Air it can be a killer in a hurry.
In addition to learning to fly the Seminole, the multi-engine rating will focus heavily on emergencies, more particularly failed engines. The brief introduction to this reminded me of a friend of mine who had a close call in his checks flying days when the left engine on the beat up old Seneca died after take-off in the soup.
The weather was down to minimums and in the process of returning to the airport to land, he forgot to hit the suicide switch, which selects either GPS or radio navigation course guidance on the flight instruments. That meant that he wasn't where he thought he was on the approach.
There's a reason they call it the suicide switch...
He quickly caught his mistake, got back on the final approach course and landed safely, all on one engine. Luck was on his side as he couldn't maintain altitude and was surrounded by terrain.
I gained a lot of perspective today!
Much of this is new to me, although I've been studying the basics for a few months so it has been a fascinating and very rewarding day. After my instructor and I went over the basics, I came "home" to study those topics more and learn flows, checklists and procedures. There's A LOT of information in my brain right now and I feel it buzzing.
What a tremendous feeling.
Tomorrow: more ground and sim. Weather allowing, I should go up in the Seminole on Wednesday.
Now off to sleep...


Post a Comment

<< Home