Sunday, September 13, 2009

A difference

We were a bit shocked when the sun peeked through today, after all its been nearly a week of gray skies and gloomy weather. I had a flight scheduled for Friday (9/11) but when I got up for my first conference call I knew it wasn't going to happen. Ugly clouds and a low pressure area generating gusty winds and rain showers was positioned right over Philadelphia. If the water temperatures had been 20 degrees warmer it could have been a tropical storm, instead it was just "Canc- Wx".

Disappointed, I sat back in my favorite chair and picked up the latest issue of "The Aviation Consumer" and started paging through. I liked the article by Bertorelli on page #4, EFIS Report Card. "Glass panels require a lot of consistent usage. It's comparable to using a computer program. If you don't use it every day, you won't know all of the features or be proficient in operation...flying once a month won't do it." Amen to that.

A simple example; going from en-route to a vectors to final. The 'old way' was to brief the approach, ensure navaides were set up and identified, current weather, etc. When the controller said 'Turn Right heading X, you turned right heading X. The 'new way' has the same setup, brief, etc, but a different flow. You see, you're not flying the A/C, George is, and you need to translate the commands so George can understand them. So, "Turn right heading X" means checking on the PFD where the heading bug is, ensure the heading function button is active, push the right hand knob to center it. Next check the autopilot, go from Nav Mode to Heading Mode. Now twist the knob on the PFD to the correct heading. (also, set up the GNS430 to activate vectors to final...but you would do that anyway if you had one installed.)

Does that sound like MORE work? Actually it isn't, its just different.You do more then 'just turn to X' using the old way. Your scan is minding altitude, your checking position with the tail of the needle, trimming, watching for the roll out heading, etc. That all seems natural to the point it almost becomes automatic. Telling George to do it takes care of the flying and more, and all agree that the 'situational awareness' is fantastic, but pushing the buttons is not (yet) automatic. That's the difference.

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