Tuesday, August 28, 2007

PlasticFlying moved to www.plasticpilot.net

Dear reader,

given its succes, and to make things easier to manage, but also easier to read for you, this blog has been moved to http://www.plasticpilot.net/blog

I'm sorry if this cause any inconvenience to you, but hope to see you there soon !


Sunday, August 26, 2007

G1000, ADF, DME and dual ILS display

The topic of ADF and DME integration in the G1000 seems to be a source of misunderstanding, so I will try to make the situation a bit more clear for anybody.

At first, you must know that ADF and DME are not part of the standard G1000, but are options. One bad consequence of this is the way they are integrated. At audio box level, there are keys for turning their audio on or off, but all the rest goes through soft-keys and the FMS knobs.

Typically, tuning and ADF frequency needs the following steps:
1) Press the ADF / DME softkey
2) Go in the frequency box
3) Change the frequency with the FMS knobs
4) Press enter to validate the new frequency
5) Press enter to activate the new frequency (flip-flop)
6) If needed, use the FMS knobs to adjust the audio volume

Not exactly simple, isn'it ?

The same kind of procedure is needed to switch DME from NAV1 to NAV2 receivers. Because of this, the school where I trained decided to always fly with the DME coupled to NAV1, to avoid too complex and lengthy manipulation in flight.

Something else that is not possible with the G1000 is to have two simultaneous display of the ILS. I know many people tuning NAV1 and NAV2 on the ILS while flying with classical instrumentation, so as to be able to continue in case of receiver failure during the approach. As the G1000 has only one HSI, this is not possible. Nevertheless, you can tune the ILS on the two NAV boxes, and in one fail it is possible to switch the HSI source with one soft-key click.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

DA 50 update

Diamond air recently posted more information about the DA50 SuperStar on their website, it is even possible to reserve one ! I won't recopy all of the information here, but I just want to highlight some points.

Unlike the DA40 and DA42, the DA50 will have a dual G1000, with two PFDs and one central MFD. This is possible because Diamond moved the circuits breakers on the ceiling.

The engine will be a 350 HP turbo continental, controlled by a FADEC. The prop is not yet defined, and could be 3 or 4 blades. It won't be pressurized, but offers built-in oxygen, and TKS de-icing as well as a parachute are optional.

They announce a speed of 200+ kts in the low flight levels, which seems credible, depending the definition of "low", but the PA46 familly has the same performance, with pressurization.

DA50 is a five seater, but Diamond call it 4+1, as the 5th seat is between the two normal back-seats, which is the way the automtive industry is doing for years, so one more time Diamond re-use automotive ideas.

Begin a modern aircraft, the DA50 will include some goodies, like an MP3 player, and other gadgets.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

AOPA: Technologically Advanced Aircrafts safer !

In a recent report, the AOPA Safety Foundation (ASF) examined statistically the kind and rates of accicents of Technologically Advanced Aircrafts (TAA), and compared them to the rest of the General Aviation fleet.

This report is available online, and I strongly recommend to any TAA interested pilot to study it. It highlights many interesting factors. The TAA appears to be safer, but the kind of accidents occuring the mosts are different from classical aircrafts.

One typical factor is that TAA have more weather related accidents than classically equiped aicrafts. This is quite surprising given all the weather infos that modern MFD can display. I guess (and this is a personal opinion) that because weather is depicted with more detail, pilots are more inclined to put themselves in challenging situations than with low information.

Once in a critical weather however, even the best MFD won't help you getting out of it. At most, it will tell the pilots that he is in crazy weather where he should never even think of going.

Before you jump in and read this report don't forget one thing. The total time flown by TAA's is still ridiculously low compared to the rest of the fleet, so it is not sure now that the trends shown will be stable or confirmed over time.

It is neverthelss a very interesting piece of information, and again I advise any TAA interested pilot to read it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

IFR in IMC in a DA40 with G1000

IFR is about two things: flying according to procedures, and being able to maintain the plane attitude using instruments only. Procedures can be trained in simulator and in flight. Simulator and simulated IMC can give a base for flying in clouds, but nothing is like the real thing. When I made my G1000 training on a DA40, and then my IR(A) renewal, I did not had the opportunity to fly actual IMC.

I returned to Cannes Aviation recently, for some pleasure flying in south-eastern France. While in cruise a flight level 90, I flew through a perfect IPL (IMC practice layer). It was a stratus layer, approximately 800 feet thick, exactly centered on my flight level. I remained in that layer for about 20 minutes, having my first actual IMC with a DA40 / G1000.

After a few minutes using autopilot to get re-used to IMC, and practice my scanning, I disconnected the AP and flew manually. The first feeling was a strong nose down attitude, which was purely resulting from disorientation. The huge sky / earh line on the PFD confirmed that I still was flying straight and level.

Scanning the G1000 is really easy, because any attitude change is made obvious by the PFD. The slightiest roll movement results in the screenwide horizon line moving, and this is immediately noticeable. In pitch, the scale is quite wide as well, so any change is easy to detect. Flying in clouds with an accuracy of +/- 20 feet was really easy, even with the very sensitive wing of the DA40.

As a conclusion, the G1000 held all its promises when dealing with the hardest aviavion task, single pilot IFR in IMC.