Wednesday, 19 November 2008

2008/04 First IFR training PCA

click on the title to see the video on DailyMotion

On 25.2 I managed to get my PPL/SE license. I was not very proud on my performance during the exam, but apparently it was enough to pass.

Also in February both Marijke and I had started our ATPL theory course via Orbit Groundschool in Arnhem. Orbit uses the Bristol material in a distance learning program. The material is quite good and especially when using the Bristol practise databases as well (and putting in enough effort) it is not a real problem to pass the theoretical examinations.
But it really is a awful lot of material and you have to know the most ridiculous details about virtually anything. For ATPL you have to do 14 exams. Some exams are almost the same (e.g. VFR and IFR communication) and the examination costs at CBR are ridiculous (131 euro per person per exam per attempt).

In March and April we were that occupied with our theory lessons (first exams in april) that we did not find the time to fly. At the end of April after passing the first 8 exams we started our IFR training course.

The first IFR lessons for both Marijke and me was from Lelystad to Eelde and back again.
IFR flying in the Diamond DA40 is not that difficult once you master the capabilities of the G1000 in combination with the autopilot. In the new Diamonds the autopilot is even integrated in the G1000, we use the G1000 with a KAP 140.
If you understand the systematic logic of the IFR procedures it is easy to learn the appropriate functions of the G1000 that support the specific parts of the departure, en-route flight and the arrival and approach procedures.

Some air work, like steep turns, are even easier in IFR mode compared to VFR mode; just concentrating on the instruments.

IFR training is in my experience all about increasing handling speed and the workload capabilities. During the first couple of lessons it seems virtually impossible to combine flying the aircraft with ATC communication. You think you will never be able to do this but repetition does the job. I very much liked it to have only short time spans between the lessons. That way it is much easier to pick up the level were you were the lesson before in stead of partially starting over again.
The other very important element is building up a reference based on all kinds of different situations. In the beginning when you are about to think that you can do it, something happens that you did not anticipate for and you mess up completely.
Finally if you have encountered certain situations before you are able to respond in a more relaxed manner. The weather and related circumstances like visibility and turbulence do have a major impact on the general sensation during certain manoeuvres although the basic technical handling you have to demonstrate is the same.

Eelde airport is pretty busy, a lot of flight schools use it, and you see more and more commercial airliners and business jets as well. It helps a lot that local ATC is used to a lot of training flights, they always seem to be in control and are still very flexible to all kinds of training requests.
Strange feeling still, the first time you see a Transavia 737 waiting at the holding point during the approach in stead of the usual Cessna or Socata.

On the video (which is in HD from April 2008 onwards thanks to the super Sony HDR-SR12E I got for my birthday) you can see how the instruments support you on a manual ILS approach, and during a steep turn. The G1000 makes it easy, especially when you train yourself to perform maximum preparation of all potential next steps during the relaxed moments before or during the flight.

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 HD video on DailyMotion.

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