• August 31, 2021

Instrument Flight Training – Old Analog or New Glass

General aviation in the 21st century gives up on chasing the technology of its bigger and heavier cousins. Affordable computers and new technology have now bridged the gap between the GA aircraft avionics suites and the giants of the sky glass cockpit, and for the private pilot, it offers an exciting new dimension to flying.

There can be no doubt that such instrumentation offers additional protections with visual representation of the terrain, moving maps and courses, you name it, it’s all there at a glance. Everyone would agree that such instrumentation offers the VFR pilot a level of safety, never before enjoyed, and yet some would argue (myself included) that the temptation of a glass presentation could encourage the pilot to push into a situation every more deteriorated than him o He may not have considered pushing previously if his plane had been fitted with analog gauges. We must not forget that a VFR pilot with a thousand hours is still only a VFR pilot, and only trained at that level, and it is required to have a view of the natural horizon. With the introduction of glass cockpits in GA, there will be a natural tendency for those pilots to start spending more time inside the cockpit. VFR pilots delighted with their new modern avionics will find themselves relying more and more on it and may have more problems with it than if they didn’t have it in the first place. Without the correct training and orientation, the result could be disastrous, as the pilot will have lulled into a false sense of security thinking that they are equipped to deal with situations that are likely to get out of control.

There are many varied types of pilots, but we can reduce them to two types. Visual pilots and numerical pilots. Most of you will fall into the visual category, the rest of us are number pilots, and then there are the few who are experts in both. My friend and colleague is a visual pilot, but he is also a very accomplished IFR pilot. You use a visual image in your mind, but use numbers to confirm your image of situational awareness. I am a numbers pilot myself, to the end, and I don’t use a visual image at all, the numbers tell me everything I need to know. I think numerical pilots will generally be better IFR pilots than their visual counterparts. However, it is important to clarify, whatever type of pilot you are, neither one way nor another is right or wrong, ultimately, your training must be adapted to the way your mind processes information.

And so, we have come to the point and topic of this article. Adding IFR classification to your certificate, old analog or new glass?

As most of you know, GPS, EFIS systems employ satellites to calculate a position in space and present that information to you on a colorful logical screen, complete with terrain, intersections, and all kinds of tape-shaped numbers like titles, courses, altitudes and the list goes on. Essentially, you are presented with visual and numerical information. The currant ground navigation system for pilots usually takes the form of VOR and NDB. Although NDBs are being officially phased out, the VOR system will be with us for the foreseeable future and most GA aircraft use this type of navigation in conjunction with distance measuring equipment. (DME) So which system do you decide to use to acquire your IFR rating? Having spoken with a good cross-section of people, including DPEs (Designated Pilot Examiners), FAA inspectors, and other CFIIs, it seems that the general consensus of opinion is that it would be advantageous for the IFR candidate to learn the VOR-based system first. and acquire the qualification. and then move to a glass system. If you are flying an aircraft that has both the analog system and a Garmin 530, you will have to learn not only the analog system, but also learn how to use the GPS system, the rule states that you must be able to use the equipment that is on the aircraft. This will add additional training hours to your grade. If you are a renter and you want to rent an aircraft that has analog gauges and you decided to learn about a glass system, chances are that when you go to rent that aircraft, you will not be able to fly IFR with it. Simply put, you will be incompetent to blow up that system. The bottom line is that you are, and always will be, as long as the old system is present, an incomplete, substandard IFR pilot.

For example, a young airline pilot who visited Kona some time ago, wanted to rent a Cessna 182, without GPS of any kind, he could present IFR, no he couldn’t. Why? He learned at an EFIS and couldn’t fly IFR using the analog gauges, he even admitted it. I was willing to give it a spin though, I won’t bore you with the details, except to say it wasn’t much better than a VFR pilot. The simple fact of the matter is that not learning the IFR ground VOR system puts you at such a disadvantage, clearly detrimental to your IFR pilot skills. It will be much easier to advance to glass systems than to learn about a glass system and then go back, who goes back to the old systems when you have learned a new one? Remember, once you have your ticket in hand, you can easily transition to whatever glass system you want to fly. In today’s world, everyone is looking for instant gratification, ten-day instrument scores, basic minimum standards as outlined in the PTS, and basic minimum hours, as little as possible to study. If that’s the kind of IFR pilot you want to be, good luck, the fact is, you’ll probably end up in a government role like another FAA statistic, because you just won’t be ready to fly really solid IFRs when the time comes. , and one day it will. Any pilot with mediocre ability can fly IFR when all is well, that is when you have an instrument failure or two, it is IFR at night, the weather is bad, visibility is nothing and the only company you have is the strobes. outdoors and yourself, that’s when the true test of your instrument training will be revealed. The simple fact of the matter is that your IFR piloting level will be considerably higher after you’ve mastered an analog system first. One last note before concluding this article, if you have someone else on the plane with you, you are responsible for their lives, do you understand?

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