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.