View Full Version : Tips on how not to waste hour building after the PPL?
2nd Jun 2012, 15:42
I hold a PPL and will do some hour building later this summer.
Is there any GOOD books/ material that I should cover before I start? Obviously I want to make life as easy as possible for when I start the IR and CPL phase.
If you have any tips on what to do and what not to do, feel free to share.
I asked the exact same question a while ago. Some good responses:
3rd Jun 2012, 09:58
Thanks that looks helpful. :ok:
3rd Jun 2012, 14:48
Is there any books available that would allow a PPL-holder to get the grips with CPL procudures/ flight planning and pilot skills?
3rd Jun 2012, 17:27
I am not aware of CPL hour building books...the CPL in Europe has very little in the way of special procedures, it is more like a PPL to higher standards, in particular if it comes to emergency drills and expeditious flying.
The emergency drills come from the checklists, and include things like engine failure, catastrophic engine failure, engine fire, electical fire, electrical failures, engine malfunction (e.g., low oil pressure), gear failure. A fun one I had in training was an open door with the instructor pretending to be a very nervous passenger...
Here are a few personal opinions how to "hour build" well for later flying (CPL, IR or otherwise)
Be strict with yourself, debrief yourself after each flight, and note down learning points. How was your altitude / heading keeping? What did work well, what did not? How stable was the approach, and did you "nail" the approach speed? You can use a GPS data logger for self-debriefing.
Keep good checklist discipline - in particular performing the right checks at the right time.
Fly to interesting places. Firstly that will make it more enjoyable, and it will give you a varied experience. Include the occasional larger airport - that'll help your confidence in the IR later. Fly abroad.
Get clearances through controlled airspace where appropriate - don't be shy!
Spend a few flights on exploring the perfomance envelope of the aircraft. Land it as short as you can. Then look up how to do it properly in the POH and be amazed how well that works. I recommend doing this at a short-ish field (say, 800m) and pretending the second half of the runway does not exist....
Use both visual and instrument navigation during your trips so you remain proficient in both. And keep a PLOG and update it.
If possible, find yourself an experienced pilot as mentor who can help you - with questions, weather decisions, etc., and to take on the occasional flight. But make sure they have actual practical experience in touring, not all instructors venture much beyond their trainig area.
You could also get the VP prop / retractable differences sorted before the CPL, this will give you faster aircraft for trouring, and you have a head start - albeit at some cost.
3rd Jun 2012, 19:06
Thanks for the reply, yeah the IR will come next I should've said.
Is it a good idea to learn a bit more about instrument flying and using an ipad (I'll be using a C152 and not sure how well its equipped)? I think during the PPL we only covered VORs.
Another thing is, where can I find the structure for a passenger brief? I did it during my PPL but can't remember what to say at all. I understand thats its different for each airport but just to know the general structure would be good.
I'll be using a C152 and not sure how well its equipped
Typically they have 1 comm radio and 1 nav radio. Most I've flown have a U/S ADF, a transponder and only one I've flown as DME. Remember to do your correct checks before using the VOR. On my PPL skills test, the OBS was incorrect by around 40 degrees. So when he asked me to use VORs to find my location, it put me over the north sea!
3rd Jun 2012, 20:00
Why would a passenger brief be different for each airport?
There are two things - the passenger brief for the non-flying occupants, and the "captain's brief" for the pilots(s). Schools have their own varitions of these, and during training and test you will use their's.
Here are the ones I currently use:
Passenger brief (in a single). Purpose: make sure the passengers know how to act.
Make sure they are strapped in, and know how to open the seatbelts
Explain to a front-seat passenger how to keep clear of the controls, and to explain that why they can't do anything dangerous to let you know if they accidentally move a swich or similar
Explain that an engine failure means you will glide into a field
Explain brace position in case of emergency landing; need to remove glasses
Show to the passengers next to the door how to close and open them
Agree sequence of exit though door(s)
I am sure there is some mnemonic, but this is easy to remember because you do the first two items naturally, and the remainder follows an engine-out scenario (glide - brace - land - open door - get out)
In practice this can be adjusted to experience of the passenger [my wife would slap me if I did that on every flight with her], but for CPL trainig and indeed with new passengers this is the full spiel.
Captain's brief. Purpose: remind yourself of / "prime" yourself for critical actions.
Who is flying the departure (if more than one pilot)
The runway in use
Performance and wind consideration (if relevant)
Takeoff technique (configuration, speeds)
Actions on engine failure/fire
Who will fly the emergency (if more than one pilot)
Before lift off --> stop
After lift-off with runway remaining --> land on
After lift-off with no runway remaining --> land straight / min turns
Departure route and altitude
With non-pilot passengers I do this silently, again during training and test do this aloud.
3rd Jun 2012, 20:05
Excellent. Thanks very much :ok:
3rd Jun 2012, 22:01
One way to improve your skill (and safety) is to include an IMC rating in your PPL. That way, provided that you do so before Apr 2014, even if your commercial aspirations slow down for whatever reason, at least you will have grandfathered IMC rating privileges for use on EASA and non-EASA aeroplanes into the future.
4th Jun 2012, 06:19
If I'm doing the IR next year, I don't see much point in doing an IMC?
4th Jun 2012, 06:43
1. Self-discipline (try to fly like an instructor or examiner is watching and critising every move you make) - if you keep flying during hour building in the same way as you were taught during PPL, you should be fine. Additional experience will bring finesse and self-confidence required for CPL.
2. Navigation: maintain good DR skills. Having said that, try to learn how to intercept and track radials/QDM/QDR, so that you are proficient in it when you start IR (you can do it on a Flight Simulator on your PC - it's cheaper and more efficient learning if you start by using autopilot and just turning the heading to see where the needles go). Learn how to use GPS (if it is installed in the aircraft you fly with) thoroughly - learn how to calculate winds, estimates, how to enter entire flight plan, etc. - not just the direct to, which 95% of PPLs do.
3. Instrument work: once you're good with intercepting radials, you can try flying an ILS - but ensure that you have someone, who will keep lookout during the time you look at the instruments (at least PPL, but I'd prefer an IR holder). Once you feel comfortable flying an ILS, you can try a non-precision approach, such as VOR or NDB.
4. Short field: try to "force" yourself to fly to shorter strips - your goal should be that you are able to land or takeoff with distance not longer than 50m than published data in the AFM/POH offers. Start with simulating this on longer runways and once you see that it's working quite OK, start flying to more and more short strips - although I wouldn't go below 700-800m at this stage (for a regular spamcan).
5. Study Air Law and EU OPS. As a holder of Commercial Pilot License you have a privilege to fly as commander in single-pilot commercial air transport. I know it's boring for the most part, but you should look at least what you can and cannot do commercialy with SEP/MEP, how to see if you have adequate performance for commercial operations, etc. I doubt anyone will ask you about Class A performance on CPL exam - although it wouldn't hurt to know if you're planning to fly something bigger in the future.
6. Have fun, go some places, abroad, new airports! Don't limit yourself to 1h radius around the airport. Try flying to some airport that is just at your maximum range (with all reserves included) - you'll see that you have to do much more fuel planning and monitoring this way than departing for an 1h trip with full tanks.
4th Jun 2012, 15:29
Thanks for suggestions. Much appreciated,
In 2), what do you mean by "entering an entire flight plan and not flying direct"?
Entering into what?
4th Jun 2012, 17:33
One which a lot of people don't think about.
Do you hour building where you plan to do your CPL. That way if they are a half decent school - they can guide you, even fly with you and then you'll have the added benefit of knowing the area and procedures which on it's own will save you the amount of money that you could "save" by going to a cheap hour building location.
6th Jun 2012, 19:27
BG, thanks for the suggestion, I've thought of that.
1 more thing, during the CPL, is there a typical way of dividing 1 leg into cetrain sections?
For my PPL, I was tought to devide each leg (given it's long enough) into 3 equal sections. I don't necessarily agree with this approach however did it nevertheless. Each section was typically 9-15nm long.
Is the CPL nav similar in this respect? Or there are certain distances etc?
I can't speak to JAA regs being a Canadian pilot, but don't just look to your CPL and IR for hour building - look also at any ATPL requirements that you could clean up. I got caught with this myself, being short on PIC Night X-Country. I ended up having to rent a Cessna 152 to clean the hours up while also flying a Dash 8...:\
As for CPL Nav - Division of legs is a common situation in IFR flying. Not only do you have to calculate your Top of Climb and Top of Decent, but you also have intersections, airway changes, etc. In some cases these do happen every 15 to 30 miles, so its good to get used to having that level of detail now such that when you get to operational flying (especially in faster aircraft) you already have that experience. Granted with RNAV much of this is going the way of the dinosaur, but then if you know how to drive a manual, you can drive anything...same in flying.
Whatever the case though your school may have insurance requirements as well that spell out how long specific sections of a flight can be or they may simply want to give you more experience using a flight computer by having you change your direction a couple of times through the flight. Whatever their reason, do it - there is a lot in the PPL, CPL and IR courses that don't make any sense until you're actually flying the line and its easier to get the basics from the get go than to have to figure it out on the fly (pardon the pun).
6th Jun 2012, 20:09
Thanks very much for the advice TSRA :ok:
Could you tell me if you need to start and finish a leg on a visual reference point, or I can plot the legs from airport to airport? For the PPL, we used visual reference points close to the departure and destination airport to start/ stop the stop watch. Is this the same for the CPL?
And do the legs need to be divided into IDENTICAL sections (by distance)? If I have a leg that's 30nm, does it have to be split into 15 and 15 or I can make it into any distances I like depending on the visual landmarks?
7th Jun 2012, 17:19
Hi Bearcat. I will soon be in a similar position to you, about to begin hour (experience) building and enjoying my PPL this summer. As far as I have been taught there are no hard and fast rules or requirements to PPL navigation. There is no requirement to split legs identically, or fly from VRP to VRP, you could plan a route using a town or village as a waypoint. One of my PPL navigation exercises included navigating from unnamed dots of towns on the VFR 1:500000 chart. It really got my map reading skills up to speed - for example how to interpret road patterns, shape of nearby hills, etc.
I have always been taught that if you are flying in class G airspace, provided you stick to the rules of the air and your route is suitably clear of terrain, obstacles, airspace, gliding sites, prohibited/restricted and aware of danger areas you can pretty much fly wherever you wish. If you plan a route through a control area or control zone of any description make sure it is sensible and plan a diversion leg around in case you don't get the clearance you want.
7th Jun 2012, 17:54
Thanks, yeah what I meant was - using visual references that you yourself make up depending on the terrain (not an actual VRP on a chart).
But really if it was me, I would like to plan a route beginning at the airport of my departure and ending at the airport of my arrival. I understand that by the time you take off, get back on course etc you will loose some amount of time, and I am happy to account for this during flight planning. Is this OK for a CPL? For the PPL, we had to use a bunch of red building next to the airport to start the actual leg (i.e start the timer) and we finish at a landmark of some sort close to the arrival airport. This makes the flight plan look a little messy I think...
7th Jun 2012, 21:21
I cannot say for sure regarding CPL level navigation, but what I have done in the past for PPL flying is to use a point located nearby the airport of departure and a point nearby the airport of arrival and plan the plog from and to those points. You can also include the legs from the airport to and from each point on the plog for fuel and time planning/estimating. If a suitable navigation point is not available then departing, following the circuit pattern and climbing into the overhead to route directly over the airport (provided this is ok) is also an alternative option for accurate navigation. The take-off and immediate departure are busy enough as it is without having to worry about dead reckoning/mapr-reading/start timing/noting ETA/ATA etc whilst climbing and following the circuit pattern and any noise abatement. I have always been taught (whether this is right or wrong I don't know) this method of starting a navigation flight and it seems to work well so far. Likewise for the arrival, particularly at an unfamiliar airport, time is taken up with joining instructions or an overhead join, pre-circuit checks, landing checks, etc. etc to worry about navigation! If you've positively identified the airfield, plog and navigation get put to one side and aviating takes priority! I'm not sure if this helps you much :) all the best!
Unless your school dictates something different, visual flying can be accomplished from any reference point. A VRP is simply there because it stands out and forms part of a "controlled" flow of traffic - that is, everyone with a map will know exactly where you are if you use them; and if in controlled airspace, the controllers will not have to find a topo map. In the non-training environment if a VRP is there, its best to use it but if not, use something else!
I was taught to use anything that was on the map and that was likely to stand out - for example a unique bend in a river, a 4-way intersection, and island or cove - something that you could not possibly miss from altitude. It always worked well for me.
As for the spacing of reference points, like I said before they occur regularly in IFR flying. In VFR flying you do want them closer to one another - within about 20 miles or so - because any further and you run the risk of flying off course (but then, if you use the 10* drift lines this becomes slightly less of an issue). I was taught that for VFR if you are overhead one point and cannot pick out your next point with certainty, then your points are too far apart.
Hope this helps!
9th Jun 2012, 07:31
I was taught that for VFR if you are overhead one point and cannot pick out your next point with certainty, then your points are too far apart.
Well, that piece of nonsense is a new one on me!
Given that a JAR-FCL or part-FCL PPL holder is legally permitted, if below 3000 ft a.m.s.l and 140 KIAS and in sight of the surface, to fly in only 1500m in-flight visibility, your 'technique' would require fixes every 1500m - which at 90KIAS would mean a visual fix point every 32 seconds....
visual fix point every 32 seconds
Now that is accuracy!
13th Jun 2012, 10:00
How about if you get an introduction to taildraggers and aerobatics? As long as it's tax deductible, it will help you with stick & rudder basic skills, be fun and you are probably at the right stage to to take as much knowledge out of experienced instructors as you'll ever be?
Instrument stuff is best practised on the ground first anyhow, as mentioned above, flight sim and FNPT get you much further than watching NDB and VOR needles (and I doubt most hour-building aircraft have an HSI with glide slope indications - if I am wrong then of course use that excessively with an experienced pilot beside you as mentioned before by those great answers you got before).
13th Jun 2012, 10:32
Quote: "I was taught that for VFR if you are overhead one point and cannot pick out your next point with certainty, then your points are too far apart."
Well, that piece of nonsense is a new one on me!
Given that a JAR-FCL or part-FCL PPL holder is legally permitted, if below 3000 ft a.m.s.l and 140 KIAS and in sight of the surface, to fly in only 1500m in-flight visibility, your 'technique' would require fixes every 1500m - which at 90KIAS would mean a visual fix point every 32 seconds.... +1
In fact, the PPL skills test proves that statement to be incorrect.
"The navigation route will normally require 2 legs; each leg should be sufficiently long to require at least one visual fix during the leg and would therefore be of 15-25 minutes duration."
If you can see your destination you aren't really navigating with the DR method. The point of calculating your track, taking into account drift and calculating your heading is to test the skill of pointing the aircraft into the haze ( still > VFR minima ) and arriving at your destination close to your timed estimate.
I did my skills test in 8k viz and although it was a bit nerve wracking, I think the fact that I was forced to fly my heading and couldn't see very far into the distance stopped me second guessing myself.
Genghis the Engineer
13th Jun 2012, 10:47
Common sense is that your leg has regular references that allow visual cross-checking of position, but that's not the same thing as being able to see every point from the last.
Using a reference point close to the airfield as a route starting point is useful and sensible, and likely to be heavily encouraged. For example, I did my CPL from EGTC and we usually used a sticky-out bit of either Milton Keynes or Bedford, depending upon what direction we were going. This allows the route to start with positioning and climbing done.
In the real world (as opposed to VFR nav exercises) I usually start my trips from EGTC in my own aeroplane intercepting a radial of CFD VOR a few miles out. This works very well, but wouldn't be acceptable on a CPL skill test, which is 80% about VFR DR nav.
On the other hand, having another aeroplane share at EGTB (and doing a little teaching there), where the nearest beacon is 11 miles away, the aeroplane usually doesn't have any serviceable navaids except GPS, and several routes out would take me lower than I wish in an SEP over High Wycombe, I generally start and end routes at Stokenchurch mast, then use DR / GPS / or radials to or from an en-route navaids from there.
Horses for courses, but for passing VFR skill tests my EGTB real world practice is closer to best practice than my real world practice at EGTC.
Genghis the Engineer
13th Jun 2012, 11:00
A further thought - I developed my own preferred PLOG for my CPL skill test; this was acceptable to both the school and the examiner.
Using your hourbuilding to develop your preference in PLOG and kneeboard information use/carriage may do you no harm.
PM me an email address, and you're welcome to a copy of the one that I passed my CPL skill test with. (I designed it in A4 in Word, and just print it in A5 using the "2 pages to a sheet" option).
23rd Jun 2012, 04:41
This might not be too relevant to you as my training has all been done in Australia but what I can say from experience here is get as much DR navigation practice as you can.
A lot of the time as a student you tend to have a comfort zone when it comes to flying...flying circuits, in the local training area etc. As you progress to CPL you'll have to be comfortable flying into airports you haven't been to before and in airspace you might not be too familiar with. It not only gives you a lot more confidence when progressing but PPL hour building also lets you see new places that you probably would never have thought of seeing before. Why not use the money and time you're spending to experience as much as possible, even if it seems difficult and daunting at first?
To add to that, on each flight incorporate a forced landing and maybe some shortfield techniques. Make up a time before you depart for your first or second leg and write it down. At that time have the practice engine failure, it might not be a nice area with fields and somewhere straight forward to land - but it's the closest thing you'll get to a real one so it prepares you somewhat.
19th Feb 2013, 22:30
Ahh I remember this thread from a few months ago, very helpful indeed. I am due to begin my hours building in the Channel Islands in the next week or so (Having my proficiency check tomorrow) and was wondering if anyone had any pointers to add regarding operating out of the Channel Islands and into the French zones, I have heard rumours about aircraft communicating amongst each other and to air traffic in French, is this true?
Any help would be much appreciated! :)