Seneca – Twin Engine Flying

My flight to Faro was my last on the single engine aircraft.  All my flights now involve dual instruction on the multi-engine Seneca with another instructor.  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!  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.  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.  What I found really helpful was to just sit in a Seneca cockpit on the ground and go through the checks on my own.  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.  The next two simulator sessions involved a bit more flying – steep turns, stall recovery, climbing/descending, etc.  After 3 simulator sessions, I had my first flight in the Seneca!  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.  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!  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.  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.   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.  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.  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.  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.  The last two flights dealt with asymmetric flying – so engine failures, shut-downs, restarts, etc.   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.  It was slightly unsettling to see one of the engines dead!  However, the Seneca was able to fly, albeit, at lower performance, on a single engine.   On a single engine, the Seneca cruises at around 120kt and can climb at around 200 – 300 feet per minute.  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.  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.  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!  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!

Faro – Night Landaway

After checking the notams, weather, and getting the relevant information from the AIP, I started planning my route.  This was an instrument flight to Faro, followed by a visual dual instruction flight of circuits and a solo flight doing circuits at night.  My route started out by heading North, climbing to at least 6000 feet before I turned west, since there was a restricted area to clear below us.  Once heading West, I headed directly to a reporting point and joined an airway, coming off it at another reporting point.  From there, we were vectored and given descent instructions for a VOR approach to runway 28.  The flight was a pleasant, smooth one with beautiful views!

South-west coast of Spain – heading towards Portugal:

Over the Atlantic and some cloud (land on the other side)!

Once we arrived in Faro, we had around half an hour to stretch our legs, waiting for the sun to set, before we could start with circuits.

Me taxying to the Apron:

Parked up, waiting for the sun to go down and re-fueling in the meantime:

Portugese, not surprisingly, has some similarities to Spanish, airport terminal:

Once the sun set, we went up for a dual flight for about 40 minutes and then I went up on my own to do some night circuits to practice my night landings.

Quick shot of the runway at night whilst I was waiting for clearance:

Everything looks so pretty at night!  However, it’s quite difficult to judge when to flare above the runway at night.  You can suffer from the “black hole” effect, where you feel higher than you actually are and end up flaring late or not at all, or if you don’t have the correct picture in mind for the flare when using the runway lights as a reference, you can flare too early.  For me, the problem was the black hole effect, so as you can imagine, the first landing wasn’t so smooth!  However, I managed to adapt from the first one and the rest of them were much more easier on the landing gear!  It’s even more important to look towards the end of the runway to judge when to flare, at night and it’s much easier to look in the immediate vicinity since the landing light attracts your eyes.

Once we were done flying for the day, we passed through security, took a taxi to the hotel, quickly freshened up and then walked to an indian restaurant for a curry.  I was really tired by then, so despite being hungry, my appetite wasn’t great, nonetheless, I still enjoyed the food!  And everything is paid for by the school!

The next morning, we flew back to Jerez, and this was my last flight in the PA28 warrior, and with my single engine instructor, and so I thought going to Faro was a nice way to finish off my SEP flying.  On our way back I managed to catch a photo of the FIR and international boundary between Spain and Portugal – the river.

PT 2 Passed!

Passed my progress test 2.. which concludes my single engine flying – for the most part! I just have a night flight to Faro left now, which has been delayed and pushed back a few times due to various reasons.  PT2 is different from PT1 in the sense that it is treated as a commercial flight and that must be kept in mind during planning, pre-flight and the flight itself.  For example, a passenger brief must be given, the flight must be expeditious and on time, passenger comfort must be thought of – so no steep turns during the navigation leg!

The navigation route took me to a town just north east of Seville, however I was diverted from a check-point just before the end of the route to a town called Algondales. We passed directly over Moron airbase at 7500 feet, which made a fantastic check-point, and then reached the town, which is just behind a peak, which makes it difficult to see till you get there. Once the navigation part of the test was done, we did some general handling, just east of Jerez. This involved more instrument flying than PT1 – such as limited panel flying and unusual attitudes. Limited panel flying being when the attitude indicator, RMI and the directional gyro being covered, which simulates a suction failure and failure of the main references for heading/direction.

I’m looking forward to flying the Seneca – we got the notes a while ago and noticed how many more checks, speeds and power settings and flap combinations we’re expected to remember and use as appropriately, compared to the warrior! I’ve also heard from other students that it’s much nicer to fly and more stable than the warrior. I’ve got a few days off now between my first Seneca sim, so I’ll be memorising the checks and reading the POH! CPL inbound now!

CPL Cross Country Qualifying Flight!

This is the flight where you fly 300 miles between 3 airports.  I set off from Jerez to Granada, to Sevilla, and then back to Jerez.  This was one of the most enjoyable flights I had done!  The weather was perfect, started out with no cloud and great visibility, and hardly any wind, which made things much easier.

I set off from Jerez and navigated to the north-east, avoiding the mountain range and then south east.  On my way, I passed the Moron military base and turned south east just before Cordoba, which was clearly visible in the distance.

Moron – the runway is clearly visible:

Just west of Granada:

It took about an hour and 20 minutes to get to Granada, which is pretty fast!  It took us just over 3 hours to drive there by car when I went there with my family!  ATC were great – initially I was in contact with Seville, then with Malaga Approach, who then handed me over to Granada Tower once I was cleared to the visual reporting point – town just north of the airport.  More photos as I was closing in on Granada airport:

As you can see the views were breath-taking!  Unfortunately, as much as I would have liked to, I didn’t take many more photos, as my workload in the cockpit soon got too high to safely take even quick snaps as I was doing.

I was soon cleared to proceed to join the circuit pattern, and since I requested “direct base”, I was given clearance to go directly to the base leg and then onto final to land.  One thing that I had to keep in mind was that the elevation of Granada was quite high compared to Jerez, so to maintain 1000 feet clearance above ground level, I had to be at 2860 feet above sea level (which was indicated on my altimeter).  I landed with 45 minutes to spare, so I reported to the AIS office to gain a security pass and check the latest weather at Sevilla and enroute.  After lunch, I made my way back to the aircraft, eager to depart before the two commercials, so I didn’t have to wait around for them.  They were still boarding, so I had plenty of time.

Since there was no wind, I was given the choice of direction for take off, I chose to take off in a westerly direction – runway 27, since that was the direction my route was taking me.  I hit a bit of turbulence on the way up, but soon reached smoother air at 6500 feet, and away from the mountains.  As I got nearer to Sevilla, I could see cloud had began to form just below me, I was still 1000 feet clear, but decided it was best to be 1000 feet below it, in case it built up.  So I decended to 4500 feet, into a more turbulent layer of air.  This didn’t bother me since I was close to my destination and would soon be descending anyway.  Once I was in Sevilla, I refueled and started up again to depart.  I managed to take a quick snap of the runway whilst I was waiting to avoid wake turbulence.

Refueling the PA28:

Lined up on runway 27:

The trip back to Jerez seemed very short compared to the large legs I had done to go to Granada and Sevilla.  At the end of the trip, as expected, I was quite tired, but it was a very successful cross country flight!

Flat Tyre & Radio

Unfortunately I found a flat tyre this morning, which I changed and then drove the car to the garage to get the tyre fixed – they replaced it and at the same time I got a radio installed. It took quite a while, so I ended up taking a long walk to pass the time, since it was a nice day. The whole thing took more or less half of the day, and then I went to Hipercore to get the car cleaned.

I’ve got my Progress Test 2 profile tomorrow and then a night flight. I had to cut my navigation exercise short since there was a lot of cloud where I was going, and flying below it would mean I’d be below my minimum planned altitude. We have to stay clear of cloud by a 1000ft and 1500m horizontally when flying VFR.

Car’s back!

Finally got my car back after 2 weeks! I really missed it. There are so many times I use my car to get out of having toast because I missed dinner due to my flying schedule or whenever I don’t feel like having canteen food. I went into Jerez on the bus today, just to take a walk in the city – something I’ve not done often whilst I’ve been here. The weather’s not been great today, however I’m not too bothered, as it’s my day off from flying. I am hoping for good weather tomorrow though, since I have a solo VFR navigation exercise and then I’ll be doing my CPL qualifying cross-country flight. This usually goes from Jerez to Granada to Seville and then back to Jerez.

LEMG, Malaga – IFR Landaway

We set off at around 6pm local time to Malaga. I knew this was going to be a great experience and also a difficult flight with the busy environment at Malaga. The route planned was a standard departure from Jerez and then direct to the Malaga VOR, joining into a standard arrival and then a VOR approach to runway 13. During the pre-flight briefing, I mentioned that we can expect runway 13 due to the wind direction at Malaga, given and predicted by the METARs and TAFs. Planning an IFR flight involves checking the weather, NOTAMs, studying the appropriate instrument plates, filing the flight plan and a pre-flight briefing. The pre-flight briefing is where I basically go through all my planning, highlighting key points such as any weather that may affect us, NOTAMs relevant to us and plate briefs.

Once the brief was done, we checked and signed the paperwork and went to the aircraft. Before startup, clearance for start up must be requested and then taxi and IFR clearance follow afterwards. Avionics management is something that takes a bit of getting used to at first – having to set and identify all the frequencies in use by morse code and having them ready to be used. This is something I’ve started to plan on the ground now so that I know exactly what frequencies I need and when, without too much thinking in the air, leaving me free to do other tasks. I’ll also usually draw the route on my VFR map, just to give me some reference to terrain if I need it at any point.

The flight started out slow and easy, and around 15 minutes before arrival, I obtained the ATIS information, which indicated runway 13 was in use, as expected, and other information such as the weather and QNH. Since we had some time, I gave the approach plate brief to my instructor after obtaining the ATIS – we were expecting to do the VOR approach to runway 13, so that’s the one I gave and set the avionics up for that. I also set up the avionics for the ILS as a contingency. Everything went smoothly, and soon we were given permission to descend and so completed the initial approach/descent checks and complied with the instructions. Malaga approach vectored us directly to intercept the 314 radial for the VOR approach. Unfortunately I couldn’t see anything outside since the screens were up… till my instructor let me have a quick peek outside – the view was amazing! I don’t have any photos yet, since my instructor has them, so I’ll put them up when I get a hold of them.

Just as we were established for the VOR approach, the wind suddenly changed to the opposite direction, and so ATC changed the runway in use! So, the controller made us carry out a missed approach and gave us vectors and to climb to an altitude of 5500 feet. Now they were vectoring us for runway 31. The environment was incredibly busy – we were number 6 to land, meaning there were 5 aircraft in front of the queue to land. All the avionics were set for runway 13, so everything had to be changed around for runway 31. The workload was quite high since we were being constantly vectored as well. We decided to go for the ILS approach in the end and did a relatively high speed ILS approach to runway 31. This is the first time I have ever flown an ILS for real – I’ve done it in flight simulator, so that helped a little! Once we were at decision height, I cut the power and let the flaps down once we were in the safe operating speed for flaps operation, to loose the speed, and touched down in Malaga.

The Tower instructed us to exit the runway at the next taxiway on the right and change to the ground frequency once we were clear of the runway. We then taxied to the general aviation apron and were greeted by a “follow me” vehicle. We then had one hour to reflect on the flight, de-brief and have something to eat! Time went by fast and we were soon in the aircraft again calling up clearance delivery for our IFR clearance back to Jerez. The SID we were given and requested was a relatively complicated one – the JRZ1C from runway 31 since many nav-aids had to be used and required slick avionics management, something that I’m getting used to. Nonetheless, it went well, and ATC soon vectored us off the SID, to give us a shortcut, directly to a fix and then from there to the Jerez NDB for the NDB approach.

The scenery on the way out was amazing – the sun was setting and the view was breath-taking. However, I couldn’t enjoy the view too much, as it was an IFR flight and so had to have my head down in the cockpit monitoring the instruments and flying the aircraft. My instructor kindly took a few photos for me to share here, so those will be up soon. As night set in, we switched on the navigation lights and the instrument panel lights. On the way, we practiced fix-to-fix navigation and plotting a fix on the map. Once we got to the Jerez NDB, we practiced a few holds and then were cleared for the NDB approach. This was a night landing and though people tend to flare high at night, I tended to flare a little flat! This is probably because of people telling me that I may have the tendency to flare high and so over-compensating slightly. I’ll have plenty of practice with night landings when I go to Faro soon!

Unfortunately I didn’t fly today due to the weather, which is holding all of us behind a little at the moment. I’m hoping for some improvement today so I can complete an IFR flight to Seville and a night flight that I must complete before being allowed to go to Faro!

Phase 2 Exam Results

We finally got our exam results today, and I’ve passed all Phase 2 groundschool subjects and topped my previous mark, which I’m pleased with! With all ATPL groundschool subjects passed, I can now concentrate fully on the flying and aim to pass all flight tests first time! I’ll be flying again on Saturday, and I’m hoping for the weather to improve by then.

Eustation Tubes!

Still a bit clogged but getting better.  Went to the doctor today to get some antihistamines for my hayfever – I managed to remember the ones I used to get prescribed in UK which were really good and gave me no side-effects, so I got the same ones.  Looks like I’ll finally be flying on Saturday and will be doing 3 events a day or so to catch up – the usual being two events.  It will be tiring but much more fun that the last few days have been, sitting in my room recovering from a cold.

I went to the Apron today to practice some checks in the warrior again.  I think I’m going to try and do this at least once a day – practice all of the emergency checks and the avionics checks.

We’re still waiting for our groundschool exam results.. maybe they’ll be here tomorrow!

Cold

Unfortunately I contracted a cold since Sunday.. which means no flying for me till I get better.  I’m feeling much better today than I was yesterday, but I still can’t fly till my ears and nose have cleared up.  This is really frustrating.  I was really looking forward to the land-away in Malaga, and to experience a busier environment and the VFR night flight.  In the meantime I’m getting plenty of rest.  The weather’s not been too great, so I don’t think I’m missing much, other than my IFR land-aways, which I’ll catch up on once I’m back flying.