Big chance in working environment, so I started a new website:
Flightdeck of OO-CLF, a standard Cessna 152. Very basic cockpit, as usual for basic training aircraft. Students learn to fly with these aircraft, no need for fancy hot stuff. Visual flying is all about looking outside, and cross-checking inside.
Looks a lot like the cockpit of OO-BET (look in the blog archive of 12/2004), although OO-BET, is equipped with a more modern avionics and communications panel (which can be found between the two yokes) since it is primarily used for navigation flights.
Back in the beginning of this year we decided to go "back to school" to get a flight instructor rating. This is done at Ben Air Flight Academy, or BAFA (www.bafa.be) at the airport of Antwerp. The goal is to acquire a flight instructor rating. Such a rating allows a pilot to give flight training to student pilots, helping them to acquire a private pilot license.
The course started back in april (hence the long period without updates for this blog). The theoretical part is finished now, for the moment we're gearing up for flight training (during which we will be flying from the right seat). One of the aircraft of the BAFA fleet used for this purpose is OO-CLF, a Cessna 152.
This picture shows the part of the flightdeck situated between the two pilot seats. The most interesting features on this picture are the two red switches. These are the fuel selectors of the engines and are used to control the fuel supply to both engines. When set to the front position, the wing tank on the same side as the engine supplies the fuel to the engine. The lower position is the crossfeed position, and is used to feed an engine with fuel from the opposite wing. The middle position is the "off" position, which simply closes the fuel supply to the engine.
Since these switches are situated between the seats, they are not "in sight" of the pilots, but they are easy to reach. Therefore instructors sometimes use them to generate engine failures. When the student is busy with some task, the instructor might pull on of the selectors to the "off" position (without the student noticing anything). A few seconds later, the engine will start to "starve", run rough or intermittent, losing power. And then it's up to the student to react appropriatly...
More than three years after flying this Piper Seneca V for the first time, I finally had a camera with me to take some pictures. Here you see the aircraft parked in the hangar, waiting for the next students...
Note the aerodynamic shape of the engine cowling behind the propellers. The top section of the cowling has the same shape as a wing section. This design creates a lot of extra lift force in high power regimes when the "propwash" flows over the engine cowling at high speed.
Sunset creates a warm and colorful landscape, but also extra dangers. As you can see, you can get serious visibility problems. In this picture we are short final, not very high, almost ready for touchdown. Can you spot the concrete strip that precedes the landing strip? If you are not familiar with the strip, this might get you into trouble when trying to figure out where you exactly need to touchdown. Furthermore, if another airplane would be flying in front of us, and it would turn to the right, it would be impossible for us to follow it. It would "vanish".
The sun creates similar visibility problems when flying upsun with shallow fog or haze.
A final screenshot showing the Seneca in a single-engine climb. The left engine has failed, the aircraft is climbing out slowly at blue line speed, achieving a "nice" rate of climb of slightly above 300 feet per minute.
Notice the lights on the annunciator panel, indicating from left to right:
*) Low oil pressure (because the left engine is failing)
*) Left vacuum low (because the left engine is driving this vacuum pump)
*) Alternator problem (each engine has an alternator to drive)
*) Right overboost (right engine is producing too much power)
The last overboost problem is a typical example of the advantages of flying a Seneca V, compared to the Seneca III. When setting the throttle full open, the manifold pressure on a normal aspirated piston engine is the ambient atmosphere pressure (hence somewhere around 29.92 inHg or 1013hPa at sea level, reducing when climbing). The Piper Seneca III/V has turbocharged engines that can boost the manifold pressure to 38 inHg up to altitudes of 10000 feet. Absolute maximum is 42 inHg. Above 42 inHg the engines can be damaged so you have an overboost warning on the Seneca III. This is what you see in this screenshot, the right engine is overboosted, the pilot needs to reduce the throttle to protect the engine. So on the Seneca III, in the high power range and at lower altitudes, the pilot has to be very carefull not to overboost the engine.
The Seneca V however is equiped with a wastegate, which controls this pressure automatically. Hence you won't get the overboost situation, unless in extreme conditions (or when the system breaks down). The pilot has to worry less about overboosting the engines when advancing the throttles, the system protects the engine. This is a really nice feature, especially when dealing with engine failures, stalls,...
Another screenshot, this time at night and at Brussel National Airport (runway 02).
Some information on the instruments: the central instrument with the blue and brown section is the artificial horizon, the most important instrument there is. Below it the HSI or Horizontal Situation Indicator. The HSI is a slaved compass with a specific navigation instrument on top.
To the left of the artificial horizon is the speed indicator, a very interesting instrument that contains a lot of color information. The "speed envelope" is limited by two red lines, the highest being the "never exceed speed", the lowest the "single engine minimum control speed". The yellow tape indicates speeds to be used in smooth air only, the green tape indicates what you could call the "normal safe" speeds. The lower end of the green bar is the clean stall speed.
At the low speed end, the green bar has a white line on top of it (between 115 and 64kts approximately), this indicates the range of speeds where full landing flaps (40°) can be used. The lower end of the white line is the stall speed with landing flaps set to 40°. The small blue line (at 92kts) is the single engine best rate of climb speed, a very important speed when dealing with an engine failure. Whenever we climb on one engine, this is our target speed.
The very thick white line below the green line (from +/- 105 to 165kts) is a moveable scale that can be used to calculate True Air Speed (TAS) in flight.
To the right of the artificial horizon we have the altimeter, indicating the altitude at which the aircraft is flying. Below the altimeter, you find a vertical speed indicator (showing a descent of approximately 450 feet per minute). Further down is a VOR indicator, a navigation instrument.
Below the airspeed indicator is the turn & slip indicator. The small aircraft indicates if the aircraft is turning, the ball if the aircraft is slipping/skidding. Further down is an RMI (radio magnetic indicator), which is basically a slaved compass system with needles pointing to navigation stations.
To the right of these flight instruments, you can see a stack of engine instruments. From top to bottom: MAP (manifold pressure), RPM (revolutions per minute), EGT (exhaust gas temperature) and fuel flow. Below these instruments, a series of smaller needles indicating fuel quantity, oil pressure, oil temperature and cylinder head temperature.
Further to the right is an annunciator panel, below that the avionics stack with radio, navaids, transponder, autopilot and GPS. And the thing above the annunciator is ... a compass.
Due to the "bad" weather of the last couple of days, time for some more simulator information. This is a screenshot of the Seneca III add-on of the Elite flight simulator.
The Piper Seneca is the type of aircraft we use for our annual multi-engine IFR proficiency check. A small piston twin constructed by the New Piper, Inc company, with room for 1 pilot and 5 passengers. The latest version is the V, used by ie the Sabena Flight Academy and Ben Air Flight Academy. Many schools use the Seneca III (Propeller ie), which is a previous version of the V. There is not much difference between the III and the V, they are almost the same, except that the V has some extra systems making it easier for the pilot to fly it.
The screenshot shows the aircraft short final runway 29 at Antwerp-Deurne airport, slight crosswind from the north.
A movie of a flight with OO-VCM, a Cessna 152. The weather wasn't that beautifull, a big raincloud obscured the area around Merchtem (approximately). The video is 10Mb big and lasts 4 minutes. To watch, click here!
* PH-CYB: Socata TB9 Tampico
* PH-SPE: Robin 3000
* PH-LAG: Piper PA-28
* N146JJ: Cirrus SR-20
A nice view on their "fleet" with the sun settling down, and the aircraft getting ready to head back home.
The fifth aircraft on the right side is OO-RAQ, a local aircraft.
This technical masterpiece is known as "hellend vlak van Ronquieres" ("inclined plane of Ronquieres"). You could call it a horizontal elevator for ships on the canal between Charleroi and Brussels. Ships are placed in big boxes with water which are pulled upwards on an inclined surface.
You can see the two boxes in the lower left corner, behind the bridge. They are 91x12m big, and more than 3m deep. Along a horizontal distance of 1432m, the boxes (with the ships in it) are pulled upwards at a speed of 1,2 m/s with cables. At the end of the trip, the box with the ship will have climbed 68m along the inclined surface.
Flying overhead Vlassenbroek we spotted one of the Vondelmolen balloons on sunday 26/12/2004 in the afternoon. To fly along in one of their balloons, visit the propeller website!
Some technical information: you can see the pitot tube under the wing (looks like a gun), a device to measure the airspeed of the aircraft. To the left of it, slightly behind the wing strut, you can see a vent tube. This tube is connected with the fuel tank. The forward speed of the aircraft creates a positive air pressure inside the fuel tank which helps the fuel supply to the engine fuel pump.
This picture was taken approaching Temse, enroute to Sint-Niklaas. You can see the bridge over the Schelde (N16), which is called "Tango" in aviation terms. It is used as an entry point for aircraft flying under "visual flight rules" who want to enter or exit the controlled area that surrounds the Antwerp-Deurne airport.
A bit further down the river, where the Schelde meets the river Rupel, is another reporting point, called "Rupel".
This is what you get to see from the pilot's seat. It's not an exact picture, since the pilot's head is lower than the camera (I simply put the camera on top of my head to take this picture). The instrument in the top right corner, attached to the windshield, is the compass.
In the center, slightly to the right, you can see the industrial site near Dendermonde (the aircraft is exactly overhead Lebbeke). The road starting at the left, then curving away, is the N41. It passes over the railroad between Brussels and Dendermonde. If you look closely, you can see a "cloud" rising slightly to the left of the compass. This is the nuclear powerplant Doel near Antwerp. Ah yes, on a day with good visibility there's a lot to spot!
This is a 2' video showing the highlight of every multi-engine training: the real engine shutdown. To see the video, click here (movie removed to save webspace, sorry!). I apologise for the choice of music and the interaction with the images, I simply couldn't resist trying to create a "wow!" effect ;-).
Engine failures are normally practiced with "simulated" engine failure: the engine is not shut down, but it is put in a "zero-thrust" setting when the student simulates the feather action. When feathering an engine, the propeller blades are rotated parallel to the airflow to create minimal drag. It also creates maximum drag in the direction of rotation of the propeller and the engine immediatly stops rotating. This is what you see during the shutdown. During normal training however, the student calls out the feathering action, but does not "do" it. Instead, the instructor uses the throttle to simulate a similar aerodynamic effect (zero thrust). The engine is still working though. But a real engine shutdown and restart is also a requirement and it's a thrill for every student!
This training flight was flown under instrument flight rules, starting with a blind takeoff. You can see the instructor putting the visor down, with a paper attached to it, to obstruct the forward view of the pilot. The pilot may only use his instruments, not the outside view. It's pretty scary for a takeoff...
After the shutdown, notice the engine controls in the cockpit. The left controls (black = throttle, blue = propeller rpm, red = fuel mixture) all down for the left engine, the right ones all forward. The camera shows the engine instruments. The electronic display is called the DDMP (Digital Data Monitoring Panel). It shows, from top to bottom: Manifold pressure (MAP), engine RPM and TIT (turbine or turbo inlet temperature I think... I don't fly this aircraft anymore). The round gauges below the digital system show the same data: MAP, RPM and TIT. Always left for the left engine, right for the right engine.
You have to admit... the new paint scheme of Vliegclub Grimbergen is beautiful! OO-BET was the first aircraft to be painted this way. Then OO-DKM got a similar jacket to wear (we've already posted some pictures of this PA-28, take a look at the postings of june 2004). Today there are three aircraft in total with this paint scheme, the third one is OO-VCR, with a white/red color scheme.
Like OO-VCL (see postings of last month), this Cessna 152 also has long-range tanks and a GPS which makes it ideal for navigation flights.
We've just finished a few test flights, basically standard departures and ILS approaches at Brussels Airport. This screenshot shows the aircraft on final runway 25R at night.
For more information on the simulator: website of Elite.
The Elite simulator is probably the best Instrument Procedures trainer on the market today. It used to be very pricy, but the system has changed, now you can choose which aircraft you want. So no need to buy the C172 if you only need the Seneca III.
Even though the world of home flight simulators is growing every day, finding a good and affordable jet simulator has been a big problem. The world's best selling Flight Simulator (Microsoft Flight Simulator) offers stunning visuals but lacks several important characteristics. It seems impossible to trim the aircraft in pitch, hence setting a correct attitude in all phases of flight is difficult. If you consider the most basic rule in flying is "pitch + power = performance", you know you can't be dealing with the best possible solution. Especially since the prop modelling lacks accuracy as well...
Any others sims around? Airline Simulator 2 - AS2 - had the first "realistic" jet aircraft model (also MD-81). But the simulator itself, the core of the program, was a brushed up version of the ancient ATP... this is FS4 era if some of you might remember that one. I've used it up to a few days ago, but it's annoying you can't assign your yoke buttons. Ie trimming and engine control is a keyboard issue.
Let's not forget Aerowinx Precision Simulator, a piece of art! Excellent flight model, excellent engine model, the best 747-400 systems simulator, all in one piece! But... you can imagine, if it's a 747-400 SYSTEMS simulator, it's not very efficient as a basic jet IFR trainer. This simulator is for me the number 1 on the charts of home flight simulators, but the combination of glass cockpit and complex systems makes it unefficient for my personal goals: get myself prepared for simchecks in old-fashioned, analog style cockpits.
There was one other jet simulator on the market: Elite. The problem with this sim was that it was initially designed as a basic IFR trainer like On Top and Jeppesen Flitepro. It was/is the best in this class but... you payed big bucks for quality like this. Then they added the MD-81, and this was what we needed although... even more expensive! Aouch. You needed to buy the core version of the sim (including almighty C172 and the likes). If you wanted a bigger one, you needed to buy the smaller ones to.
But finally, finally they changed the system. Now you can buy the core version, without any aircraft, and simply request the MD-81. The result is a excellent priced high quality Jet Instrument flight trainer.
This first picture shows the quality of the visual system. Notice the slope of runway 25L at Brussels National Airport. This is something I've never seen before in any sim for home use...
This little fella' became my flying mascotte... My nephew decided to put him on a transatlantic flight, to assist me while I was in Scottsdale, Arizona for my flight training. When he arrived at my place, he told me he enjoyed the flight across the ocean soooooo much, he wanted to be up there as much as possible. I understood this perfectly off course... "So do I, dude!" I said. So we decided he could make my headset bag his home. This way he could join me on all my flights, and he loves it!
So here he is saying hi to all of you, waiting anxiously for another flight. Oh yes, he's seen it all. The sweat during training, the beauty of different landscapes, the thrill of a perfect landing and... Just a second he has something to add... what do you say? "The mess you get when you screw up!"...aaaah...shhh boy!!!
A true mascotte don't you think?
A strange picture, taken while overflying the "Vlaamse Ardennen" near Oudenaarde. We wanted to film a group of cyclists while they were working hard on the hilly roads which have made the "Ronde Van Vlaanderen" the most famous classic cycling race of all times. Not very easy to spot them from the air though! But we finally found them. And while we were filming them, they took this photograph. The circle marks the spot!