My flight to Faro was my last on the single engine aircraft.Â All my flights now involve dual instruction on the multi-engine Seneca with another instructor.Â I remember taking a look at the study guide, checklist and syllabus a couple of weeks ago before I started on the Seneca and felt so overwhelmed with all the new speeds, checks, procedures and power settings that I had to memorise and learn!Â The warrior, in comparison, seems so simple and basic – there’s only one engine to worry about, no propeller levers and relatively less instruments to look at.Â I began preparing myself by first taking a quick look through the checklist to get an idea of the figures and checks I’m going to be working with and then delved into the multi-engine study guide which supported the computer-based training presentations I had been going through.Â What I found really helpful was to just sit in a Seneca cockpit on the ground and go through the checks on my own.Â This really helped me learn some of the checks that required to be memorised and also allowed me to familiarise myself with the cockpit, which gave me a nice start for my first few simulator sessions.
The first simulator session was just a familiarisation, which necessitated going through the checklist and doing the checks, from start up to landing, which incorporated one circuit.Â The next two simulator sessions involved a bit more flying – steep turns, stall recovery, climbing/descending, etc.Â After 3 simulator sessions, I had my first flight in the Seneca!Â The first thing I noticed when sitting inside the Seneca was how much more roomy it is compared to the warrior, which means I have more space to organise and place items such as my kneeboard or map, and it’s generally more comfortable.Â By now all the speeds and power settings were sinking in, so things didn’t seem as scary as when I first opened my Seneca manuals!Â Unlike the Warrior, I could feel the acceleration as I was speeding down the runway for take-off, in the Seneca!
Once in the air, I could immediately see how different this aircraft felt – the controls were much heavier, things moved at a much faster pace due to the aircraft speed and the aircraft itself is much more stable than the warrior, which makes it nicer to fly.Â The increased inertia of the Seneca was also demonstrated, as it took much longer to slow down and took a while longer for speeds to settle than the Warrior. Â Turbulence that would throw the warrior around won’t have its way as easily with the Seneca! There are many more things going on, but since the aircraft is more stable, it gives me the capacity to handle the more complex systems.Â The Seneca rotates at 79kt, and the warrior at 55kt, and the initial take-off climb is at 100kt, and we usually climb at 80kt in the warrior.Â Whilst the warrior cruises at around 105kt, the Seneca cruises at 150kt, so the speed is immediately apparent and as a result everything happens at a faster pace.Â However, I’ve found the Seneca much more pleasant to fly – it’s easier to trim and once trimmed it will stay.. and I love the electric trim button on the yoke, leaves one hand free for multi-tasking!
I’ve now had 4 flights in the Seneca and 5 simulator sessions.Â The last two flights dealt with asymmetric flying – so engine failures, shut-downs, restarts, etc.Â Â These were practiced in the simulator first and then in flight. One of the flights involved a full engine shut-down, which is a requirement for the multi-engine rating.Â It was slightly unsettling to see one of the engines dead!Â However, the Seneca was able to fly, albeit, at lower performance, on a single engine. Â On a single engine, the Seneca cruises at around 120kt and can climb at around 200 – 300 feet per minute.Â So having only one engine is a huge performance hit, as it can climb at over a 1000 feet per minute and cruise at 150kt with both engines.Â Nonetheless, a forced landing is not required, as would be with a single engine aircraft upon complete engine failure!
My next flight is a one hour circuit session, giving me the chance to practice and perfect my landings in various configurations – normal, flapless and asymmetric.Â I’m finding the Seneca much more difficult to land than the Warrior at the moment, and can see that it’s quite nose-heavy… so this lesson will be a great opportunity to polish that off!Â Unfortunately I didn’t get to fly today due to ATC not allowing circuits and the temperature being too hot to fly – it was 37C!