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Teaching cockpit management

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Teaching cockpit management

Old 13th Jul 2018, 13:33
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Teaching cockpit management

I'm an EASA CRI, so all of my instructing is of existing qualified pilots. Some of them are current for e.g. a biennial or some differences training, a large proportion are lapsed coming back after a break. What a great many of them have in common is shockingly bad cockpit management. Bits of paper of various sizes all over the place, a chart stuffed wherever it'll fit occasionally folded to the right area, pens poorly secured, kneeboards that might not fit the cockpit they're trying to fly (A4 kneeboard with a stick anybody?). Not all, but a large proportion.

To add to the fun, an increasing number of people use electronic devices in the cockpit, which I think it would be very wrong for me to prohibit, since they'll certainly pull them out and start using them as soon as I'm not around - so it should be included in their flying.

My take on it is this...

- If they're already using their own system for cockpit management, which keeps the area reasonably FOD free, they can always go to what they need, it provides a clear trail of information for the whole flight, and they integrate it all together with a good lookout and management of the aeroplane: brilliant, let them carry on, perhaps make the odd suggestion of improvements.

- If they're a complete cockpit disaster (which is probably a third of the people I fly with) initially impose my personal system, which is fairly straightforward of the major bits of paper (PLOG, checklist, airfield diagram, approach plates, notes, etc.) secured together with a treasury tag in the corner on a single kneeboard that fits the cockpit, pens in a good clip in the kneeboard - any electronic device using information co-ordinated with that, and so-on and so-forth: probably very similar to what most of you use. Give them carte blanche to vary from it SO LONG AS THEY CAN DEMONSTRATE THEIR SYSTEM CONTINUES TO KEEP A CLEAN AND CONTROLLED COCKPIT (and of course means they always have whatever they need immediately to hand).

My experience is a bit variable with this - a lot of pilots, particularly mid-hr PPLs can be very resistant to attempts to get them to maintain some good cockpit management principles, which frustrates both me and them.

Can I ask the old and bold - what's your approach to teaching, or improving cockpit management? It seems, to me, to be a topic very little talked or written about.

Genghis the Engineer is offline  
Old 26th Jul 2018, 12:20
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Gengis.... That is a very worthwhile subject to raise, indeed organisational skills should be taught, examined and debriefed in an ideal world.

The student is not really helped, as from day one they seem to acquire the wrong equipment, starting with the 'Pilot Case' which may be useful and easy to access by an airline pilot in flight, but once inside a light aircraft, it is of little use. Far better these days, would be a laptop backpack, with lots of compartments and a place to keep the GPS or IPAD.

Once inside the aircraft, such as the PA28 or C152/C172 there is very little space, during a solo flight, a laptop bag can be secured to the pax seat, or failing that is more accessible to the PAX (or examiner). The next thing is where to stow items, most light aircraft have two pockets for the stowage, but really only big enough for a paperback in either side. The logical use of these are one for the pitot cover, fuel strain, control lock and cardboard oil funnel. The other pocket is suited to a checklist, chart and clipboard, but only if they are A5 size. Clearly these need to be stowed for take off, landing and as part of HASSELL checks, but during flight I have not problem with them on top of the instrument panel, as long as they do do cause loss of lookout or reflection.

This leads to a lot of other equipment to be stowed. While there is opposition to flying coveralls in civil aviation, it really solves the problems of stowage. As follows:

LEFT LEG POCKET: En route supplement, which includes frequencies, interception procedure, morse, airport operating times, etc. Protractor and rule for calculating diversions, not the rule needs to be no longer than 15mm and marked in NM and minutes (say at 95 kts TAS.
RIGHT LEG POCKET: Chart, Airfield Plate, PLOG and small tablet.
LEFT LEG KNEE PAD: Notes for times, tach, hobs, defects, and in the pocket underneath a sick bag. Pen torch in pen pocket.
RIGHT LEG KNEE PAD: Notes for clearances, airfield data, etc, pocket underneath spare paper and alcohol wipes for maps
LEFT ARM PEN POCKET: Three Pens (to include one biro and one OHP permanent pen for marking charts)
LEFT BREST POCKET: ID, Driving Licence, Debit Card, Glasses.
RIGHT BREST POCKET: Gloves and mobile phone.
RIGHT THIGH: Scabbard & Knife (for emergencies and inadvertent inflation of life jacket or raft)

The above would pretty much cover you for everything, but the important thing is to have a system that works for you, and every thing is within reach with your eyes closed, the same could be said with any flight bag you use. From my experience, having noted from the pilots candidate the requirement to carry spare glasses, almost always they are not in reach!

Having stated the ideal, I think it is important for the instructor encourage to student to have the best equipment for the job, this does have to involve purchases from Transair, Polleys or the flying club shop, all the things you need can be found in a good stationers such as Staples or for that matter Wilkinsons at a much lower price. I have to say i never really thought much of the kneepads, chinagraphs and those silver analogue stopwatches, far better is a 8 casio watch/stopwatch which you can either wear or velcro onto a kneepad or clipboard.

Getting back to the original question by Ghengis, I am not really sure the management of inflight equipment will ever be taught, yet I think there is a lot of mileage in raising the subject on renewal, both during flight and debriefing. Inflight asking the student to find his spare glasses, during the HASSELL checks asking the student where the pens are stowed and how many were there at the beginning of the flight.
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Old 30th Jul 2018, 01:58
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Gengis, thanks for bringing this subject up!

I'm currently instructing ab initio integrated ATPL students and I even make a big point of some of these points when signing off solo students for solo flights.

If I don't like the way some items are presented when we check they carry out everything that's needed for their flight (charts, pen/marker , spare specs, etc) I ask them how is it gonna work in flight when they need it.

I am surprised and somehow disappointed how many times the students answer "didn't think of it that way" + "nobody told me before".

I also get a good feeling when a student presents a tidy navigation exercise and everything is organized.

Relieved to see I'm not the only "cockpit management bigot"
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Old 6th Aug 2018, 00:43
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Great thread on a topic that it commanly overlooked. Good points raised.
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Old 7th Aug 2018, 09:53
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I'm totally with Ghengis and I teach cockpit management from day 1. The nub of the problem is the lack of accessible storage space in all the two-seat trainers. The motor accessories industry has back-of-seat pockets as an after-fit option. Perhaps something similar behind the right hand seat that could be closed for transportation and with a carry handle? All that is needed 'to hand' is a map and kneeboard/kneepad (appropriate to type). Sadly, most 'experienced' PPLs are quite resistant to change! I don't share anchorhold's taste for the flying suit - it looks a bit naff in the GA environment, but it's interesting to note that all our instructors wear cargopants because of all the extra pockets.
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Old 7th Aug 2018, 17:10
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To be honest, I do share anchorhold's passion for military-style growbags, and for some aeroplane flying what he describes is extremely close to what I do in my own flying.

However, frankly I'm going to struggle in most flying environments to insist somebody wears one (I don't, more's the pity, teach on a Tiger Moth - nor at the moment anything else open cockpit or aerobatic). And even if I could, not unlike my earlier point about personal avionics - people will "do their own thing" once I'm not around. So, the only sensible approach, surely, is one that the student can be made to accept and believe is the way to manage their cockpit going forwards.

Genghis the Engineer is offline  

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