Wednesday, 19 November 2008

2008/02 PCA Friedrichshafen

click on the title to see the video on DailyMotion

During our flight training we tried to combine the instruction hours with visiting a number of different international locations. In this trip Marijke and I flew together with Patrick to Friedrichshafen on the Bodensee (EDNY).

It takes about 3 hours flying to get there, and the weather on the way in was fine. Big parts of Germany were covered in snow. The scenary is a combination of hills with a once in a while a lake in between. Not to bad, but after some time not to interesting as well. Once we arrived in the neighbourhood of Friedrichshafen, this changes a lot. The Bodensee can be beautiful and the landing southwards on EDNY in the direction of the lake is really beautiful. EDNY is quite a substantial regional airport with a long asphalt runway.

After landing at EDNY and a lunch on the airport we still had time to make an additional local flight. Because the German/Swiss border is right in the middle of the lake we had to file a new flight plan that enabled us to fly to the other side of the lake where the very nice St Gallen airport is located parallel to the water. Directly behind this airport the Alpes really begin to rise out of the snow covered ground. Be careful of the wind direction and force, in case of southerly winds it might be tricky. In our case we experienced some turbulence but nothing to worry about. Flying over the white mountains is super. The combination of mountains and water is even better.

As you can see in the video, the only downside of the afternoon flight was the fact that the sun was setting 100% in line with the runway. We found out that the effects of the sun have at least as much impact as a lot worser weather conditions would offer. Use of the ILS approach indicators on the PFD where essential to stick to the right track and even then it is still difficult to judge the right height for rounding off and touch down. Resulting in an unelegant bump. Another lesson learned.
You can also see that it is not difficult to fly the DA40 from both positions. Using the back-up switch both the PFD and MFD change to a combined mode of primary instruments and engine monitors so flying from the right seat is not really different.

Staying overnight in Friedrichshafen is fun. There is a train direcly from the airport to the city center where there are enough places to stay.

The next day we had to remove the hoar frost on the plane before we could take of back to Holland again. The inversion, low clouds, and snow showers made the return flight a lot more exciting. Half way we had to divert to a local airfield, I think we were the only plane there that day. I can't remember the name of the field, will have to look it up in the log (EDFZ).

With some help of the very friendly occupant of the tower we were able to plan a new route following the river. Cloud height was marginal and without IMC experience we were glad that Patrick was there. I don't think we would have continued the trip if it would have been just the two of us.
On the other hand, situation like this help you build up a reference for future judgement of the conditions and the consequences. It also shows the power of the DA40's instrumentation. The terrain function helps a lot, especially if you manage to maintain more than 1000ft AGL. If you have to fly below that, the red indications of terrain with less than 100ft clearance don't give you a lot of margin. Adjusting regional QNH becomes vital.

We manouvred into IMC only once. All over sudden al visibility was gone and you find out how important it is to use the terrain function in combination with the autopilot on heading to limit the work load. Another very important lesson is that in situation like those constant anticipation is key for swift and accurate reactions on sudden loss of sight. You have to know constantly which would be the best direction to turn to when getting into trouble. In case of low margin we were learned that even if in IMC going up is most of the times a far better option compared to an even further descend to lower heights.

The last 1,5 hours where easy again. Passing overhead Dusseldorf airport whilst a SAS airplane was landing beneath us was interesting. ATC passed limitations to them in case of a go around, and we where allowed to follow our path without delay.

I personally loved the combination of practising the routines and procedures with the longer international trips. Of course the number of handlings on the longer trip per period of time is much lower; in every trip you encounter new unexpected events that help you build up your experience and actual references.

Pancake Airlines Crew is trained by Dwarf Powered Gliders ( and Wings over Holland ( Information on the PH-PCA Diamond DA40 can be found on You can click on the title link to see the video on DailyMotion.

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