Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Cockpit Management

Every time I fly a Piper Archer, I get the same feeling. It is a nice plane; I really enjoy them, but it always feels as if we are at a higher angle of attack than we really are.

I flew one today with a student. He is starting to work on the commercial license. He will have to get into a complex plane for some official training, but his deal on the Archer is good, so we use that for now.

That problem comes up especially when we perform the simulated engine-failure spot landing. He brings the nose relatively high on short final, and my first instinct is that we are near stall. Then we come down fine, and end up floating too far in the end. I recognize the deal, it is just odd to me that I still get that feeling after 30 or 40 hours in make and model. I don't get that in any other model.

He has a significant amount of learning to do before we can think of a checkride, but he knows that. The main problem is cockpit management. If he gets distracted, or behind the plane, he forgets things. Doesn't follow his checklist. I see that a lot when we fly on instruments too.

For most students, that problem tends to develop from one cause: not believing he is really the pilot in command. Students that spend all their time with an instructor, never flying by themselves, or those with instructors who take over the plane too often, often end up there.

One of the best things an instructor can do for that kind of student is to sit still. As long as safety is not in jeopardy, often the student will do better to be forced to deal with the situation without help from the guy in the other seat. I know a few instructors who are overly prone to taking over when things get even slightly out of whack, and more often than not, lack of confidence is what the student learns.

I have flown with this student now, about 6 hours, and that is the plan. Force him to deal with everything.

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