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Variable pitch prop "endorsement"?

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Variable pitch prop "endorsement"?

Old 6th Jan 2022, 17:24
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Variable pitch prop "endorsement"?

I understand that in the UK, there is specific training and an endorsement for flying variable pitch propeller planes? Would a learned person please describe to me what's in the training, who does it, and what "endorsement" is applied to the candidate's license upon completion?

I'm doing some design approval work which will involve a different powerplant and propeller operating characteristics, and would like to familiarize myself with other authority's training and licensing requirements in this regard. In Canada, there is no requirement for variable pitch/constant speed type training, read the flight manual, locate the blue knob, and go and fly. That's not to say that some training is not a good idea, it's just not a licensing requirement here....

Thanks, Pilot DAR
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Old 6th Jan 2022, 17:45
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The UK and EASA require 'differences training' when moving to a different twin-engine aeroplane or to a single-engine piston aeroplane fitted with a number of different systems such as: VP prop; turbo-charging; retractable gear; single-lever power control (FADEC).
Differences training requires training in the aeroplane or a suitable training device delivered by an appropriately qualified instructor. There is no official syllabus and so it's down to the instructor, or the club/school they're working for to decide what is necessary. For a VP prop I'd expect a few hours groundschool and a flight or 2. The instructor then signs-off the difference in the pilot's logbook. For single-engine piston aeroplanes, differences training is valid indefinitely, otherwise it's valid for 2 years from the last time you flew that type.
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Old 7th Jan 2022, 04:38
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In Australia a manual pitch propeller control (MPPC) design feature endorsement is required. The endorsement requires training and sign off by an instructor with design feature training endorsement. Usually and hour or two on the ground and an hour or so flying. It is then written into your licence. CASA have issued the following manual of standards, I would much prefer the Canadian way.

1 Unit description

Manual propeller pitch control

This unit describes the skills and knowledge required to control an aircraft and operate a propeller fitted with a manual propeller pitch control on the ground and in flight during normal and abnormal and emergency situations.

2 Elements and performance criteria
  1. 2.1 DFE3.1 – Perform pre-flight and pre-take-off checks for manual propeller pitch control
    1. (a) perform propeller pre-flight checks ensuring the serviceability of the following:
      1. (i) propeller;
      2. (ii) spinner (when fitted);
      3. (iii) backing plate;
    2. (b) CSU control rods and cables are checked to confirm they are intact and secure (when visible);
    3. (c) perform propeller pre-take-off checks, including the following:
      1. (i) oil temperature and pressure within limits;
      2. (ii) function of propeller pitch control at specified RPM;
      3. (iii) function of propeller feather system when applicable.
  2. 2.2 DFE3.2 – Operate manual propeller pitch control during ground and flight operations
    1. (a) operates manual propeller pitch control on the ground within the limitations and conditions

      specified in AFM and POH, ensuring:
      1. (i) idle RPM within limits;
      2. (ii) propeller RPM responds appropriately to throttle;
      3. (iii) engine RPM is within limitations when take-off power is set;
    2. (b) operates manual propeller pitch control in flight within the limitations and conditions specified in AFM and POH and:
      1. (i) sets RPM is set as required;
      2. (ii) monitors RPM remains within specified limits;
      3. (iii) synchronises engine RPM using propeller control on multi-engine aircraft;
      4. (iv) avoids oil congelation in cold weather operations by cycling engine RPM.
  3. 2.3 DFE3.3 – Manage abnormal and emergency procedures for a manual propeller pitch control
    1. (a) identifies abnormal or emergency operations of manual propeller pitch control or CSU;
    2. (b) maintains control of engine RPM;
    3. (c) performs appropriate abnormal or emergency procedures;
    4. (d) feathers and unfeathers propeller.
3 Range of variables
  1. (a) activities are performed in accordance with published procedures;
  2. (b) day VFR in variable weather conditions;
  3. (c) approved aircraft fitted with tail wheel or conventional undercarriage;
  4. (d) single- and multi-engine aircraft;
  5. (e) piston or diesel engine;
  6. (f) featherable or non-featherable propeller;
  7. (g) CSU with or without counterweights;
  8. (h) simulated abnormal and emergency situations;

page131image1624570576Authorised Version F2016C00540 registered 30/05/2016

Page 205 of 664 pages

Schedule 2 Part 61 Manual of Standards

Competency standards

page132image1623918864(i) simulated hazardous weather.

4 Underpinning knowledge of the following:
  1. (a) effects of loss of oil pressure to the CSU;
  2. (b) effects of loss of oil pressure on the pitch of the propeller (if applicable);
  3. (c) effects of counterweights on engine RPM (when applicable);
  4. (d) the function of oil pressure on the CSU fitted to the aircraft;
  5. (e) the function of the fine and coarse pitch stops;
  6. (f) the effect that failure of the fine pitch stops may cause in the aircraft type flown;
  7. (g) the effects of the use of carburettor heat on an aircraft fitted with a CSU;
  8. (h) propeller over-speed in an aircraft fitted with a CSU;
  9. (i) indications of engine ice in an engine fitted with a CSU;
  10. (j) indications that carburettor ice has been cleared in an engine fitted with a CSU;
  11. (k) effects on manifold pressure of reducing engine RPM in a normally aspirated engine below full throttle height.
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Old 7th Jan 2022, 09:01
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locate the blue knob, and go and fly.
I ferried a French aircraft the other day (a TB10). There were 4 levers sticking out; one red, two black one blue. One of the black levers turned out to be the prop, the blue one was carb heat! Apparently manufactured that way. At least the mixture was the red one. I never did find the park brake. However, I did recall the French love of locating the alternator/generator switch in a remote location from the master, so got the battery charged. The gauges on this aircraft are appalling.

Although I had informally flown retracts, turbo and VP prop, some years ago I did a proper course on a PA28R-201T and a checkride with an examiner, so ticked all those boxes, before giving instruction on these. Generally, now, people come who just want the VP prop endorsement. I'd say max of 2 flights, the second being in the circuit including handling a go-around. is usually good enough, then logbook signoff. What ISN'T covered anywhere and is important is handling of cowl flaps...

TOO
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Old 7th Jan 2022, 10:27
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Within the UK and EASA land differences training is very basic and covers: VP (constant speed) prop, turbo charging, retractable undercarriage and tail wheel/tricycle undercarriage as appropriate. It is not a certificate or a rating. There is not a requirement to have a signature in the logbook other than to demonstrate that you have undertaken the training. Those pilots who had the experience prior to the rule are required to do nothing further and will not have a logbook endorsement by an instructor. It will be obvious to any authority, hirer or insurer however that they have the prior knowledge and experience from noting the aircraft they had flown previously.

Usually all or any one the above requirements will have been met during the conversion or familiarization training when one or all of the above is applicable. As already said there in not a syllabus nor at any time a requirement to do more, even should the differences be more complex on a later additional type. Of course I agree there is a lot more to do in many cases but this will hopefully be part of the training onto type. Even so only if the pilot is required to do additional training by the authority, hirer or insurer or chooses to do so.

An example is the TB10* which is very simple: max throttle to the top of climb with an adjustment to the prop on the way up, which will probably do later for the cruise. then fine for the landing. No further training in constant speed propellers is required by regulation however complex a later type may be.

* the parking brake is applied by applying the toe brakes, pulling on a black knob on the dash board,and then letting go. This is usually more reliable than the C150 parking brake.

Last edited by Fl1ingfrog; 7th Jan 2022 at 14:11.
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Old 7th Jan 2022, 15:00
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Thanks for the replies, very useful information for what I'm doing.

Thorughout the design requirements, the phrase "must not require unusual pilot skill and attention" is used. But "usual" is never defined, and I think it's changed over the decades. So now, "usual" means awesome at navigating a touch screen, but perhaps ham fisted on a control. The pilots who trained me were hands and feet artists, one of whom I'm convinced could not read and write. I recall the occasional: "Hey, go easy on that!" when I moved something. On the other hand, about a year ago, I was assigned right seat PIC to a test pilot, and witnessed more than one prop RPM exceedance due to too rapid power lever movement. I protested, but eventually, simply guarded the lever itself instead. The problem was he was testing stalls (so as to confirm to himself the outcome I have witnessed in the 50 or so I have flow in it the month earlier), so power was going up and down a lot. When I was trained in the Caravan many years ago, the training pilot pointed out a little white square annunciator light on the instrument panel. She said: "If you're too quick or careless with the engine, that light will flash, and it won't stop until our maintenance guy has a look at the plane, so don't do that. I was too afraid to look careless, so I was careful, and never made the light flash. The Caravan I was "monitoring" last year had advanced trend monitoring, so I had to report to the operator that prop RPM had been exceeded, 'cause they were going to notice anyway. A quick discussion with maintenance, and no harm done, but I was still embarrassed.

In any case, my upcoming project may involve different yet powerplant operating characteristics, and risk of exceedance of RPM or torque with causal use of powerplant controls. So I'm forming in my mind what will be acceptable expectations for a "usual" pilot, who has received only the minimum training. I see C 172 PPL types taxi into position, and just ram the throttle in to the panel, as I shudder in horror to think of accelerator pumps, and crankshaft torsional stress, but this seems to have been thought to be okay for them, until I suggested that easing the throttle open was so much easier on everything. Similarly ramming in the prop control on downwind, to hear the engine surge, and the RPM touch the redline. When I was trained in helicopters, it was easier, "open the throttle so as to not exceed x torque as the rotor accelerates", that, I can work with, and describe to someone else quantitatively.

There have been so many types, I just jumped into, read the POH and flew, particularly in my ferrying days. I suppose that old style engine handling skills generally carried over from one type to the next, so even the POH's really did not say much about how to treat the engine gently. The first odd engine I flew, again, self check out, was the Theilert DA-42, but it seemed acutely simple. I'm trying to stay a step ahead of new technology, and how both new and old pilots will assume that those planes and powerplants should be operated, if they are not getting type training....
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Old 7th Jan 2022, 15:52
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In the UK at least, differences training is also required for pressurisation.
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Old 8th Jan 2022, 03:12
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Out of interest DAR what is the aircraft type and engine project you're working on? Unless it's secret squirrel stuff of course.
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Old 8th Jan 2022, 08:13
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Originally Posted by MrAverage View Post
In the UK at least, differences training is also required for pressurisation.
Also for glass cockpit I believe?
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Old 8th Jan 2022, 12:14
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Yes. And that introduces a grey area with regard to items like the G5.
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Old 8th Jan 2022, 12:36
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Originally Posted by Pilot DAR View Post
Similarly ramming in the prop control on downwind, to hear the engine surge, and the RPM touch the redline.
Managed "correctly" there will be no rpm increase when the prop is set fine before landing. Perhaps a level of finesse that is seldom taught but that's the way I fly my CS prop. (Correctly is in quotes because someone is sure to say that if the aircraft is flown as specified in AFM/POH there will be an rpm increase).
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Old 8th Jan 2022, 14:32
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Managed "correctly" there will be no rpm increase when the prop is set fine before landing.
I certainly agree Exdac, just a nice relaxed engine settling into a new, lesser power setting gently! There are a few things about powerplant management and finesse which I think that inexperienced pilots may not be being taught well, depending upon the experience of the instructor on that class of aircraft. My ten years working at an engine overhaul shop, and also doing a lot of very remote flying in the north, taught me that anything you can do as a pilot to be gentle to an engine will be worth it both that day, and over the long run too. The fact that an engine will tolerate mishandling does not mean it should be mishandled! It was memorable when I was being checked out in a Bellanca Viking in the late '70's.. They're rather sleek planes, and slowing down planning is a good idea. As we entered downwind, with the engine more or less at cruise flight power settings, my check pilot said "let me show you something...." (a phrase, which since then, puts me on guard), and he just jammed in the prop control. The blades went to fine, and the engine oversped, but I agree that the plane did slow down! Memorable, and never, ever again! Colossally abusive! During testing, I sometimes to have to abuse a powerplant, and it just pains me to do it. But, I know that someone else is going to do that as a matter of course, so I best assure that it's not going to quit or explode as a part of certification testing. That's the part of testing I enjoy least!

For the powerplant change project I'm working (sorry Megan, 'can't say yet), I'm anticipating powerplant operating characteristics which may differ from the original type. As CS prop training is handled pretty casually here in Canada (for better or worse), I wanted to become familiar with other more defined powerplant training expectations. My objective will be to assure that the powerplant operating characteristics of the modified plane are within what an "average" pilot can handle. At some point, "sensitive" powerplant operation goes outside the "must not require unusual pilot skill and attention" criteria, but that's not really defined well. And, I expect that when that standard was written, basic pilot skill was different than today. I think from easy (Theilert DA-42), to difficult to the point it's not really trained at all (the standby power lever on the Caravan), knowing that I want to approve on the easy side of that band of skill demands.

I remember how I was trained over the decades, for better and for worse, and try to take only the best of that going forward. I apply that to the findings of design compliance I make too. However, I also need to allow for variation in basic pilot skill and knowledge, as newer pilots have not been trained as I was - what I think is basic knowledge may now be more advanced, and specific training appropriate.

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Old 8th Jan 2022, 15:53
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In USA there is, to the best of my knowledge, no requirement for any training or endorsement for a CS prop. Pilots used to get that training working for a Commercial rating when a "complex" airplane was required.

My first CS prop experience was in a Arrow during commercial training but later I flew the C-182 that required a "high performance" endorsement. I require no endorsements to fly my tailwheel CS prop airplane. Anyone not "grandfathered" would only need a tailwheel endorsement.

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Old 8th Jan 2022, 16:43
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Anyone not "grandfathered" would only need a tailwheel endorsement.
I suspect that it's commonly grandfathers flying tailwheel anyway!
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Old 8th Jan 2022, 20:03
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This may be of interest to all `wobbly prop` operators,more specifically those with `big round engines`...
Attached Files
File Type: pdf
WarbirdNotes.pdf (868.6 KB, 36 views)
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Old 8th Jan 2022, 20:09
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DAR,and gr-grandfathers too....
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Old 8th Jan 2022, 21:03
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Wow Sycamore, there's a lot of old time wisdom there! I've got some reading to do..... Thank you!
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Old 9th Jan 2022, 11:10
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I go back to my first car, a Morris Minor Traveler. No need to prime but the choke setting was critical. It was important to know your car because the setting would vary to that days conditions. Eventually I would get it right 90% of the time. It had no starter so the hand crank had to be used always. That too had its best unique technique which you would quickly need to learn or suffer from it.

My modern turbo diesel always starts first time and requires no engine management whatever the weather or atmospheric conditions. Whilst pilot engine management is required to prevent; fuel flooding, carburettor fires, over leaning damage, rich cuts, propeller over-speed, shock cooling and over boosting, we will continue as now. The automation technology exists but comes with a high price tag and weight and drag penalties, much too high for small aeroplanes. The car world is producing smaller engines with increasing power and are much cheaper to buy Are aircraft engine manufacturers going to invest vast sums in improving its polluting suck, squeeze, squash and blow engine technology and at half the price. With electric engine development temptingly on the horizon, and when all the above can be resolved, I doubt it?

Last edited by Fl1ingfrog; 9th Jan 2022 at 11:27.
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Old 11th Jan 2022, 19:02
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Originally Posted by Fl1ingfrog View Post
I go back to my first car, a Morris Minor Traveler. No need to prime but the choke setting was critical. It was important to know your car because the setting would vary to that days conditions. Eventually I would get it right 90% of the time. It had no starter so the hand crank had to be used always. That too had its best unique technique which you would quickly need to learn or suffer from it.
I assume there was something wrong with the Traveller (or your pocketbook at the time :-), even the series MM had a starter. My Model T on the other hand, now that really requires differences training, and not just for starting!

FWIW we're very similar to UK/AU here in NZ, wobbly prop, retract, etc all require training and sign-off. Not sure now if it's actually mandated by the CAA but as each type requires a rating, and you want your students + a/c to survive, it comes with the territory.
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Old 12th Jan 2022, 12:53
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Cars vs. Aeroplanes. Starting my petrol Audi Q5 is easy; just press the key,

Starting a DA-20 Katana C1 with a Continental IO-240 much more difficult involving a prime pump as well as the normal fuel pump and amongst all the usual moving of the throttle and mixture control. Not easy..

Last edited by Dave Gittins; 13th Jan 2022 at 12:17.
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