Discuss the problems and solutions to all of the situations that Pilot X finds himself in.
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Going for a Spin

Nick Lambert tells us how Pilot X, a whizz-kid on jets, fancies his chances of easy-handling in a light trainer, the Piper Tomahawk – he also fancies he’ll impress his young female instructor...

According to the newspapers, which Pilot X had ample time to peruse these days, his employer was looking increasingly likely to become the next victim of the perilous financial climate. It was therefore with some relief that he took a call from the chief pilot, checking his availability for the following morning. He readily agreed, despite being well outside the currency requirements to carry passengers. In order to rectify this, he popped down to his local club, which because of the low overcast, had its entire fleet available. He wanted to keep costs to a minimum, so asked for the cheapest instrument-equipped aircraft. He was issued with a Tomahawk – no problem, he’d done his initial training in a little Piper. The chap behind the desk in Operations then asked to see Pilot X’s logbook and licence. It wasn’t long before it was discovered that his recent flying experience didn’t meet the club’s requirements either. He would need to be accompanied by an instructor, which Pilot X let it be known was totally unnecessary.

Thirty quid

Most of his 3,000 hours were jet, but a considerable number of the hours were in an
Aztec, which was just a big Piper with an engine on each wing. He hadn’t earned a penny in months, and now, having an hour-building, clueless, spotty youth along for the ride would cost an additional thirty quid. He was somewhat placated when he was introduced to his instructor, a pretty girl called Lauren, about ten years his junior. Pilot X gave Lauren a brief synopsis of his flying career as they walked out to the aircraft and could tell she was impressed. It turned out Lauren only had 400 hours total time and was more interested in aerobatics than airliners.

They did the external checks together and everything was in order. The fuel was below the tabs on either side, but, as he explained, they were only ‘box ticking’ and a couple of quick circuits were all that was required. Inside, Pilot X worked through the checklist, pondering out loud that such a simple little aircraft was doing a good job of hiding switches and gauges from him. He had to admit that the cramped cockpit did feel a little alien.

As they lined up, a request from Ops for a pilot report of cloudbase came over the radio. Evidently they were the first aircraft to launch that day. Power checks completed, they lined up. Pilot X was busy announcing that all the temperatures and pressures were in the green when he noticed he had passed through rotation speed. He hauled back the yoke over-enthusiastically and immediately had to check forward to maintain airspeed. He noticed Lauren’s demeanour change; she leant forward, now more alert. “Needs a little less pressure than the jet,” he tried to reassure her.

Passing through 500ft, they entered cloud. He saw the instructor about to key the mike, but got in there first. “G-XXXX to Ops, cloudbase 500ft.” He looked at Lauren and smiled. She wasn’t smiling but pointing at the attitude indicator which was showing a 15° bank angle. Pilot X cursed and immediately set about correcting the error. This lark was a lot easier with a flight director, he thought to himself. “Watch your heading. Any more to the east and we’ll be inside the Terminal Manoeuvring Area.” Her voice was now sounding agitated.

Pilot X was flying like a novice and couldn’t understand why. As he sat there, in a steadily growing pool of his own sweat, any thoughts of impressing this girl had gone out of the window. His focus was now on getting the spam can back on the deck without having to ask her for help.
“Do keep climbing please, there is high ground to the north,” she briskly instructed him. He quickly re-established the climb. Hell, this thing was twitchy. He longed for the ponderous stability and familiarity of the Citation. When Lauren, without consultation, aligned the direction indicator with the compass, it became apparent to both of them that they were now probably well inside London’s busy airspace. Where was a moving map when you needed it? He banked sharply.

I have control

The next thing he heard was Lauren’s firm cry of, “I have control.” Every instrument seemed to be spinning madly and he had no idea of what to do. He sat there passively, abdicating all responsibility to the instructor. He saw her rapidly retard the throttle and centralise the ailerons. They were still spinning as they emerged out of the bottom of the cloud. Soon afterwards the spin was arrested. They were now in a steep dive with the fields of Berkshire rapidly filling the windshield. Still he did nothing, knowing his best chance of survival lay with the young girl next to him. She recovered with about 200ft to spare.
As they headed back to the airfield in silence, Pilot X was left in no doubt that if he’d gone up alone he wouldn’t have come back. Best thirty quid he’d ever spent…

1. What happened and why?
2. Did the instructor make the right decisions?
3. Had Pilot X completed three take offs and landings in the Tomahawk, would he have been legal for his Citation flight?
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By Jim Jones
He was over confident and distracted before the flight and it all went down hill after that
He wasn't current with the aircraft type and was used to automatics doing all the work e.g.-
He had no FO calling out airspeed , V1 and so on during the takeoff.
No autopilot to maintain heading and wings level
No pre programmed heading bug and target altitude etc etc

Basic FREDA check not done, perhaps he 'read' the checklist pre flight but didn't 'act' on it so compass and DI never aligned in the first place, this is a symptom of his general lack of awareness of the requirements in flying a 'manual' SEP.

Final act was to lose track of his airspeed in the climb, over control the turn and create an accelerated stall/spin in IMC.

I am suprised they recovered if the cloudbase was 500ft when they dropped out still spinning. Good luck or good skill on the part of the instructor.
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By Charles Hunt
First action of the instructor, IIRC, was to pull back the throttle; which suggests a spiral dive rather than spin.


oops just re-read it. I will await the experts to explain. In the final section were the instruments spinning or both the a/c and the instruments?
By Intercepted
Don't forget that Lauren was pilot in command, not Pilot X!

She would probably have taken control a lot earlier if Pilot X wouldn't have been a 3000+ hour jet jockey.

I think Lauren as an instructor has as much to learn from what happened as Pilot X.

He would need to be accompanied by an instructor, which Pilot X let it be known was totally unnecessary.

Maybe ops should have picked up on Pilot X behaviour and arranged for a more experienced FI, probably CFI to fly with Pilot X.
By johnm
1. It looks as if the steep turn at low speed resulted in a stall and spin

2. The instructor left it all a bit late: e.g. DI and compass alignment is an after start up check in my aeroplane!

3. He'd need specific currency for a Citation I think, type rating currency? All a bit outside my experience I'm afraid!
By AttorneyAtLaw
He has been over correcting on the controls as he is used to something heavier. When asked to maintain the climb he no doubt over controls again. He is not maintaining a scan (used to EFIS rather than a six pack) so airspeed drops quickly without him realising due to having no scan and no visual reference. The application of a sharp bank increases the stall speed and with the rapidly decreasing airspeed due to a nose high attitude puts the aircraft into a stall and spin. In fact, the set up is not dissimilar to a low and slow stall on base to final except in this instance the throttle is likely to be open, possibly to maximum. This of course will not prevent a stall. The power on stall is likely to be more violent than power off and the IMC would result in almost total disorientation. It is quite possible that the Tomahawk flicked over into an oposite spin from the turn.
I agree with others that the instructor deferred too much to her more experienced student. That lead to her failing to correct basic errors at an early stage (DI). She failed to take control the moment he put on the steep bank in the climb and had she acted then might have avoided the spin. She actually did well to quickly identify the direction fo the spin whilst in IMC.
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By AfricanEagle
pilot x took a call from the chief pilot, checking his availability for the following morning. He readily agreed, despite being well outside the currency requirements to carry passengers.

I would expect a chief pilot to know the currency of his pilots before entrusting a jet with passengers to someone that hasn't flown for 90 days. Or am I missing something.
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By Keef
I don't think this is the first time I've read of an experienced jet pilot having trouble with a GA single. They are very different animals!

I flew an Arrow (2730lbs) and a D119 (under 1000lbs) in the past week - they were different enough to handle to make the point between Jet and Tomahawk.
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By KNT754G
Spin or spiral dive, it matters little. It was brought on by an arrogant pilot thinking he was way better than he actually was. Not monitoring airspeed duringthe climb and
He banked sharply

Tha misaligned DI was probably due to precession, not necessarily a missed pre departure item.

Q2, Did the instructor make the right decisions?
Eventually yes but IMHO should have taken control and terminated the lesson a lot sooner.
Q3, definitely NO. The three take offs and landings must be in the same type or class as is to be used for carriage of passengers. Flight Ops should have been on top of that one.
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By Morley
You can't align a DI with a compass in a climb.
On to the points
1 a tomahawk is designed to provide an easy transition to a PA28 (or so I have been told). It behaves very similarly in the middle of the flight envelope with key speeds similar. But due partly to the narrow wing chord it is rather enthusiastic when it comes to stalling and spinning.
The aircraft was in a high nose up attitude and banked sharply. Anyone who has flown a "traumahawk", not my description, I love them, will know that if you did what pilot X did the aircraft would most probably enter a spin.
His arrogance and lack of proper radial scan experience all contributed to the situation.
2 the prevention is mostly down to the instructor. She was impressed by his hours and a little intimidated so didn't intervene earlier. As has been said, she should learn a lot from her self debrief we all give ourselves, don't we? ;-)
3 the 90 day rule applies to any aircraft but I don't know of there are any other currency rules which apply to flying a Citation after a long break.
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By KNT754G
You can't align a DI with a compass in a climb.

Why not, in an unaccelerated constant heading climb what is the problem?
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By Tall_Guy_In_a_PA28
You can't align a DI with a compass in a climb.
Why not, in an unaccelerated constant heading climb what is the problem?

The compass 'sees' a constant speed climb as an acceleration due to gravity, likewise a decent exhibits the same effect as decelerating.

Not sure how significant the effect would be for a 20 degree climb. I reckon sines, cosines and vectors are involved (they usually are).

Question for Greg: what PPL book are you using? My old one does not mention this effect at all.
By greggj
Tall_Guy_In_a_PA28 wrote:Question for Greg: what PPL book are you using? My old one does not mention this effect at all.

Don't really remember it, but one of the books that I read pre-ppl, for PPL students was mentioning it. Basically it said, that you only set DI if in straight and level configuration (and trimmed, so you don't start descending/ascending as soon as you lay your hands on DI).