You will require a suitable aircraft for your IR training.
There are several desirable characteristics that make IFR flight training easier:
- A fairly large, non-turbocharged engine. This means the ability to reach FL80, the level typically needed for airways entry quite quickly. Lower powered aircraft may well need to climb in an ad hoc en-route hold in order to enter an airway in level flight. The reason for a non-turbocharged engine is better ability to sustain the mild abuse which is implicit in stalls and unusual attitude recoveries.
- Retractable undercarriage and variable pitch propeller. Actually lowering the undercarriage to initiate final approach descent is in some ways easier than a power reduction and our standard power settings are designed to minimise RPM changes.
- A low wing, two doors, a roomy cabin and a large fuel capacity make the aircraft comfortable and easy to operate in this advanced training role. Other configurations are perfectly acceptable.
- Gear, flap and crosswind limits that do not restrict us in the intended role.
- Suitable limited panel screening, typically as circular rubber with suction mounts but sometimes involving a custom fitted panel.
- Avionics: An HSI, either mechanical or glass, is pretty much essential. Obviously an IFR-approved GPS with a current database is required for flight in Class A airspace, and SBAS availability has significant advantages over non-SBAS despite the current UK loss of LPV lines of minima. RNP-APCH and other RNP approvals should be stated in the flight manual or supplement. Good clear radio and and intercom reception is essential, as is DME. ADF with an RMI presentation is much easier to use than an RBI. If an autopilot is fitted, it is expected to be used in all modes on test except NAV and APPR. In practice this means using it for the airways en-route section in HDG and ALT modes. A fuel totaliser makes fuel planning much simpler. A second altimeter is essential for terrain clearance and for cross-checking. An engine monitor is helpful particularly for long climbs into controlled airspace, a USB charging point for the instructor’s iPad will allow him or her to monitor progress and provide data for debriefing.
- Plenty of stowage helps keep the aircraft tidy.
Obviously this has the benefit that you are familiar with its characteristics.
It must fulfil a few non-negotiable requirements if it to be used for a test.
- It must be legal for IFR in UK airspace. This implies an ADF, DME, VOR, an approved GPS with a current database, 8.33kHz radio and Mode S transponder.
- Dual brakes.
- The flight manual and its supplements must be up to date, any IFR restrictions in the manual complied with
- If non-EASA registered (e.g. N reg) it may need a permit for flight training.
- It must be insured for flight training and the skill test
- The last maintenance must have been signed off by a licensed engineer (i.e. no pilot maintenance for the previous 50 hour check)
Strongly recommended aspects:
- An RMI rather than a fixed card presentation for the ADF.
- An autopilot which works in both altitude hold and heading modes.
- Low gear and flap limiting speeds.
There is no longer any requirement to fit screens; a simple hood or foggles will suffice for both training and the skill test.