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-   -   Instrument Flying:How to "Stay ahead of the aircraft" suggestions? (https://www.pprune.org/professional-pilot-training-includes-ground-studies/458597-instrument-flying-how-stay-ahead-aircraft-suggestions.html)

737-fanatic 27th Jul 2011 00:16

Instrument Flying:How to "Stay ahead of the aircraft" suggestions?
Hi guys,

I'm currently half way through my IR. I have moved onto the routes mainly on the sim and practiced one of them for the first time in the aircraft today. I am just wondering if any of you have any tips of suggestions on keeping on top of everything that needs to be done in the aircraft, and sustaining a managed workcycle. I have been told that you must really be "one step ahead of the aircraft", however improvement by memorising procedures and practicing them in the sim isn't coming fast enough.Especially in the aircraft. This includes items such as:
- Speaking to ATC, Ensuring the correct nav aids ar set up, keeping out of restricted airspaces, changing from QNH-1013-QNH again, maintaing a fuel log, getting ATIS's etc.
Can anyone expand on the tip "keeping one step ahead of the aircraft". I understand that as with most aviation training e.g. VFR navigation, things tend to "just click" after a while, but if anything can be done to help along the way, then that would be extremley useful
Many thanks

PS. I am doing the IR in a DA42 with a G1000 which i'm slowly getting use to as well and have been told that this is an invaluable tool!

aviator_ 27th Jul 2011 01:03

The way I always done it during the IR and my take on the ''staying ahead of the aircraft'' .

Do your ground work like you said learning the plates / checklist the catches the approach might have or anything out of the ordinary.

Then once in the plane have nav aids/ ATC frequencies set up in advance so when it comes to the time you click the switch button and your not messing with paper and dials to change them.

Coming up to the approach have your briefing / checks and congfiguration all done before getting into the approach. Know your steps in the approach for different things like gear / or heights to be met.

So at the end of it when you get into the very very busy sections of IR flying you have a switch or a quick look at the plate and you have all your attention on flying that ILS perfectly.

Hope this helps. Good Luck

mad_jock 27th Jul 2011 01:09

To be brutally honest you are knackard untill you get some time under your belt and things get auto

The best thing I can advise is just keep thinking to youself whats next, whats next, Anything you can do now do it. When you get to the point that your waiting for the aircraft to get to a point when it triggers the next thing you have it nearly.

Thats for 100% normal trips as soon as someone throws you a special you will be instantly over loaded there isn't alot you can do about it.

the real trick to be honest is to realise that you will mess it up and then learn and move on.

The biggest hint though is trim the sodding aircraft and let it fly itself. Finger tips don't use your whole hand on the controls and don't chase needals just hold the attitude. Once your trimmed out you can just lightly cover the stick while doing admin to show willing.

Tinstaafl 27th Jul 2011 05:50

What MJ wrote. "What next?" should be your mantra. Anytime you sit there staring at the instruments you need to be thinking about the next few seconds, the next few minutes, the next few tens of minutes and the end of the flight - in roughly that order of priority.

If you're siting twiddling your thumbs then you've missed something.

Become *very* familiar with the avionics. The more efficiently you can get to whatever page/data entry you need, the better.

Similarly with the 'rhythm' of a flight. After take off 'these actions' need to be done, TopC 'these tasks', in cruise the things to prepare for the next leg/descent/approach, before TopD = ATIS &approach brief, prior to FAF for pre landing or pre approach checks etc. Those things are largely the same each flight and should happen as a matter of course.

During an approach I have two parallel thought processes: The next few seconds or leg, and where I am in the overall picture. For the next few seconds or minute I use 'T.A.A.' as a mnemonic: next (Track, Altitude, Aid)

* Track: current & next track or hdg + time/dist limit

* Altitude: Next target, next limit

* Aid: Flags away or NDB ident still present, approach mode/RAIM/WAAS for GPS

I do this as soon as I'm established on a segment. If you like, I focus on the current track/altitude only enough to maintain & keep under control but am really thinking about what happens next. In my mind I keep saying the mantra, over & over...


Teardrop entry: inbound HDG aaa, next TRK bbb 1 min. Cleared 4500' MDA 4000', flags away.
(now on teardrop outbound): TRK bbb 1:00 (minor thought), next LEFT turn intercept TRK ccc. Cleared not below 3000', flags away
Now inbound after teardrop): TRK ccc (minor thought), next TRK ddd outbound, 1min30. 3000' until xxx DME then 2000', flags away
Procedure outbound: TRK ddd 1:30 (minor thought), next TRK eee inbound. Limit 1500' until est. inbound then MDA 600'. Flags away.
Inbound: TRK eee 'til aid, next TRK fff. MDA 600', missed CLB 3000', flags away.

...and so on.

Trim! It drastically reduces your workload. If you can't control pitch with *light* fingertip pressure then retrim. Not squeezing the column with thumb & 1st finger together but a 'push' or 'pull' with one or the other. For large pressure inputs then heel of hand or 2/3/4 fingers for as briefly as possible until trim can relieve what pressure you need. Remember: Don't squeeze! Push or pull, but not squeeze.

Eventually you'll have a series of well rehearsed task subsets that are somewhat automatic: At this point do these things, that point those things. When that happens you'll have a lot more time to relax & enjoy the flight. Until then you have to consciously orchestrate what you think about & do which leaves little to no time to much else.

Oh, and don't forget the aircraft's automatics either! Learn to use them to support your workload management. But don't use them as a crutch - you still have to be able to do the flight without them.

737-fanatic 27th Jul 2011 22:17

Instrument Flying Tips
Tinstaafl and co,
Thanks for the tips. Had a sim session today, applied your T.A.A technique and it worked out quite well. I was actually looking for something like that to point me in the right direction - and this is a start! And as MJ said, the rest is down to practice, reptition...and more practice and reptition - which is the way it goes in aviation I guess!
Anyhow, another route tomorow, so hopefully it all starts to sink in. If anyone else has suggestions then please add. I am finding RANT and the louismoneteiro.com software being quite useful.

limitedslip 28th Jul 2011 07:10

APP COURSE.................
VOR X RADL/ID................................................
MA VOR/ID/RADL...........................................
SET TIME/MRKS.......................
IAF ALT/MIN ALT..............................................
........................................................... ............
night: pilot controlled lighting........................
nav, beacon, strobe, landing lights
TURN...............[ ]
TIME................[ ]
TWIST..............[ ]
THROT TO ALT:.............
Paste this into openoffice and get the font sizes right, then print off a bunch. Fill each one out with the relevant frequencies/radials/altitudes for each approach.

Get one of these: IFR Flight File Chart Planner and Organizer - MyPilotStore.com

and put the approach plates across from your checklist plate for each approach.

Get one of these lap boards: ASA Folding Lapboard - MyPilotStore.com

and tuck your new organizer onto the left, and a pad of paper to write clearances etc. on the right.

Also recommended:
Erasable highlighter for your chart.

If anyone has any comments on this set up, they are more than welcome. I just got my IR in June and am still working on my CPL.

mad_jock 28th Jul 2011 09:07

I can't over state the importance of trimming properly.

Its scary the the number of FO's who have managed to get through all there training past every test including a type rating who can't trim properly.

You can see them drifting up and down all the time when ever they get distracted from their scan.

You show them what seems to be the black art as described by Tinstaaf and once it clicks you can see the work load slide off them. They are suddenly able to look out the window, select a radio freq, open a can of pop with out the VSI jumping into action.

Apart from anything else it just makes the whole aircraft feel as if its being flown by someone that knows what they are doing and stops the pax barfing in the back.

[email protected] 29th Jul 2011 19:06

I cannot stress strongly enough how much I agree with Mad Jock.


Oh... and then trim some more.


ford cortina 30th Jul 2011 08:00

Trim, that's the most important thing I learnt in my IR..
It was a old steam powered Beech Duchess, not a nice and modern DA40.

Don't get too impressed with all the bells and whistles on the garmin, stick to the basics.

Do you know your memory items, with your eyes shut.. It helps to keep practicing them

CAT3C AUTOLAND 30th Jul 2011 15:36

There are some very good points of advice here.

As MJ says, lack of experience in all pilots in this stage of their career, makes it very difficult to manage your workload. But on saying that, the what next analogy works well, and being one step ahead using this technique works wonders. Also ATC, make them work for you, dont let them put pressure on you, this can increase your workload.

Developing these work load management skills will do wonders for you when it comes to flying jets. It all starts again when your brain goes from thinking at 2 miles a min to 8 miles a min :ugh:.

Enjoy the course.

attitudeFlying 30th Jul 2011 19:35

Thanks a lot guys :)
These are some valuable advice.

Denti 30th Jul 2011 19:49

The advice about trimming is invaluable and of course absolutely correct. However do not get into the habit to fly with the trim as primary input, that can lead to some very nasty surprises.

mad_jock 30th Jul 2011 20:08

Like having to update a EU wide 5 book Jepp set, which in my experence has a 100% cure rate.

737-fanatic 30th Jul 2011 22:37

Instrument Flying Tips
Right lads, some excellent points! So in summary:
- Trim, trim and trim some more!
- Ask yourself compulsively "whats next", and possible using tools as suggeste via links given by limitedslip, or the T.A.A method.

I have been told that cockpit management and the work cycle is something that comes with time and experience, and as mentioned its quite a lot without much experience, so hopefully as the hours build up...lets see.!
As CAT3C said, going from 3miles a minute to 8miles a minute is a big change! However the transition from 1.5 miles to 3miles a minute has proved to be quite a transition as well, however I guess the difference is the tools and flight management computers you have! I'm sure some of the more experienced guys on here can comment on this though working on jets at 500mph already.
Thanks for all the top tips.

Lightning Mate 31st Jul 2011 12:13

As has been said - TRIM

I'm sure some of the more experienced guys on here can comment on this though working on jets at 500mph already.

Or even over 1000mph (and I was only 21).

mad_jock 31st Jul 2011 12:31

Aye but you only had to do it for a few minutes before you ran out of fuel ;-)

And there is a whole raft of aircraft out there that don't have fancy gizzmos for doing the calculations for you. And even if you have the boxes of tricks it usually quicker and easier to just do it on the fly mentally without getting your head down to program the box.

When you first start getting put in the hold it is quite involved and not a little stressful. 1000 hours under your belt you will be hoofing into the hold at way above holding speeds with a guess at the wind from your inbound heading and ground speed. And some how your WAG intial heading works a treat. FO's quite often ask what calcs did you use to get your intial heading. In all honesty none I just know subconsiously what its going to be rufly then adjust while doing it. I couldn't even tell you how I know by how much to adjust its just experence. And this is in a auld heap of shite TP with the standard 6 and no autopilot and we do 160knts to 4 just like all the jet boys.

Lightning Mate 31st Jul 2011 13:08

Aye but you only had to do it for a few minutes before you ran out of fuel
Wot? Try an F6 full and fresh off a tanker........

mad_jock 31st Jul 2011 13:12

I really really wish I could try a F6 fresh off a tanker. BUt unfortunaely it will never be.

I will just have to stick to my 4 hour max sectors hand flying.

10W 31st Jul 2011 13:18

Wot? Try an F6 full and fresh off a tanker........
Probably about 25 minutes flying time to worry about then ;-)

Lightning Mate 31st Jul 2011 19:55

Probably about 25 minutes flying time to worry about then ;-)

Try photographing a Tu95 in the Icelandic or Faroes gap and unable to get home without finding your race-tracking tanker again.

I admit that was only at M0.9, which was slow, but that was our standard cruise speed.

Stay ahead of EVERYTHING..........................and I'm now 64!!!!!!!!!!

Your thread Mister Moderator!

mad jock,

I will just have to stick to my 4 hour max sectors hand flying.
What does hand flying mean please. In firty free yeers I have never had the experience of flying an aeroplane with any other part of my anatomy.

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