View Full Version : Switching cockpits

7th May 2013, 05:33

This is about the requirements of switching cockpits as captain of production helicopters/light airplanes for customer based operations.

Notwithstanding the requirements of regulatory authorities on the subject, I feel that in addition to basic requirements of safe aircraft handling, dealing with aircraft emergency situations, adapting to the 'new' cockpit for achieving adequate situational awareness needs to be considered.

A safe bet may be avoiding flying more than one cockpit in a 24 hour cycle, assuming that the pilot is cleared as first pilot on all types under discussion.

Understandably other factors like pilot competency, type of operation, multi-crew cockpit, habit interference etc would influence the subject, but reasonable assumptions may be made for posting comments that may be supported by opinions of respective regulatory authorities.


7th May 2013, 06:34
We would never get anything done on that basis! We can change aircraft several times in a day when at work. All are different, even the same types.

As long as the basics are the same a switched on pilot should no have a problem moving between different cockpits. I think that it actually helps keep the crews sharp as I believe that familiarity can breed contempt.

Sleeve Wing
9th May 2013, 22:48
Been flying for 50+ years, regularly switching cockpits for 15 years and agree totally with Bose.

All aircraft fly basically the same way.
The biggest problem in a lot of cases is how do I start the engines !

Flippancy apart, I regularly have to test aircraft that I have not seen before.
The first requirement is to read the Flight Manual from cover to cover; doesn't take long.
This allows you to assimilate the limitations, learn, particularly, the fuel system, relate to usually similar EMC drills and put sufficient notes on your kneeboard to conduct the flight in compliance with the CAA requirements.
The whole idea is to complete the test flight without upsetting your Engineer/Observer in the back. He is is also a useful nudge if you are not sure of something.
It takes little time too to familiarise yourself with the instrument layout but can be done during taxying and the first ten minutes of the flight ie. whilst you're positioning.

When I was with the airlines, we would often change models of the same type on different sectors during the same day but with totally different flight systems or even with no flight system at all ! eg. from Smiths zero reader to Collins FD or a standard 6 instrument panel. The whole situation was resolved by how you mentally approached flying your aeroplane.

In a nutshell, it basically came back to 'what do I need to safely complete the job'.
As Bose says, it really keeps you on your toes and, having conducted a good flight, is also very satisfying.