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complex aircraft

High Performance Aircraft

When pilots transition to other higher performance airplanes they need to become familiar with other aircraft systems and procedures, as well as the basic knowledge required to safely pilot these complex aircraft. Our page can be used as guide for the flight instructor and the pilot in training.

Your flight school will usually have an approved syllabus designed with the proper ground and flight training subjects to help the pilot with his/her transition. This syllabus must be flexible in nature and can be adjusted to accommodate the capabilities of the pilot. It consists of a number of hours of ground instruction, flight training, solo (or with a designated safety pilot) practice and final checkout.

On this page we will concentrate on the subjects the pilot must become familiar with during ground instruction and flight training.

Checkout Syllabus

Before commencing any flight training verify the requirements in terms of previous experience and flight hours you need to successfully complete this syllabus with your CAA/FAA.

Such a syllabus may look like this (based on the one used by ChrisAir Flight Training LLC) but you will see many variations of the theme. The overall outcome should be the same: obtaining the rating!

Ground InstructionFlight InstructionDirected Practice
1 hour1 hour 
Aircraft Flight Manual, OperationsFlight Training Maneuvers 
Line InspectionTakeoffs, Landings & Go-around 
Cockpit Familiarization  
1 hour1 hour1 hour
Aircraft loading, limitations & ServicingEmergency Operations 
Instruments, radio & other equipmentControl by reference to instrumentsAs assigned by flight instructor
Aircraft SystemsUse of radio & autopilot
1 hour1 hour1 hour
Aircraft Flight Manual, PerformanceShort, soft field T/O landings 
Cruise controlMaximum performance operationsAs assigned by flight instructor
Review of procedures  
1 hour - Checkout

The above syllabus should be adapted to the actual performance and capabilities of the pilot and the checkout should only be done when the transitioning pilot is comfortable with the aircraft, procedures and systems.

Study Subjects

High performance airplanes have a number of systems which are most likely not found on the day to day trainer he/she is accustomed too. These systems require study and training by the aspiring pilot as to become intimately familiar so that the limits of the aircraft are never exceeded.

With more capabilities you will find these aircraft in the low or mid flight levels where oxygen levels are lower than at ground level and the effects of this on the human body must be fully understood by the pilot.

Throttle Mixture Propeller Control

Controllable Propellers

With more powerful engines comes the need to deliver that power to the propeller with greater efficiency than a fixed pitch type can do. This means that blade angle must be controlled and for that there is a propeller control and manifold pressure indicator in the cockpit. Both of which the pilot must handle during different flight regimes: takeoff, cruise and descent.

Engine Cooling Systems

More power also means more heat under the cowling and we need need to handle the cool airflow the engine requires to keep it within its operating limits. Especially during high powered climbs where RPMs are high and airspeeds are low. For that the engine cowling is equipped with so-called controllable cowl flaps enabling more airflow and cooling for the engine.

High Altitude Performance

When climbing higher, air pressure drops and this requires the aircraft to have some form of oxygen system onboard to supply the crew and passengers of supplemental oxygen for that part of the flight where it is needed. Without that the aircraft is limited to lower altitudes where its performance doesn't shine.

Physiological Factors

Lower air pressures have certain unwanted effects on the human body. Flying with a cold and flying with a possible sinus block can be very painful when the descent is started. Also, if the pilot was scuba diving in the days before the flight he/she needs to be aware of decompression sickness and the effects of excess nitrogen in the blood stream.

Written by EAI.

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