All posts tagged 'fixed wing'

Commercial Add-On: Transitioning From Fixed-Wing to Rotary Ratings

One of the most common commercial rotary transitions is helicopter pilots wanting a fixed-wing add-on. This is seen pretty often with military helicopter pilots such as former Apache or Blackhawk crews. 

But, does anyone ever get an add-on from previous fixed-wing to rotary? It's not common but it's out there. Some do it for fun and some do it to add to their resume and expand their job opportunities. 

A good resource that can help with this type of transition is Veracity Aviation. I went here about a month ago at the Pearland, TX location to talk with some of the instructors, and here's a briefing of what I got:

The general requirements for a commercial add-on through a 141 program would be to 

  • Already hold a fixed wing commercial pilot certificate
  • Current FAA Medical Certificate
  • Helicopter Instrument Rating not required
  • No FAA Written Exam
  • Pass an FAA Oral and Practical Flight Test
  • 30 dual flight hours
  • 5 solo flight hours
  • 10 hours instrument hours

If you're looking to do a CFI add-on as a way to build rotary hours then you would be required to 

  • Hold a Commercial Pilot Helicopter Certificate
  • Must Read, Write, Understand, and Speak English
  • Hold a Current FAA Medical Certificate
  • Pass an FAA Oral and Practical Flight Test
  • Fixed wing CFI license
  • Complete 25 hours of flight time

as with any CFI rating as well, you must be 18 years old.

However, this posted above is for a part 141 program. Here's what the regs require for a part 61 program:

at least 150 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least: 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in helicopters.

  • 100 hours of PIC, which includes at least - 35 hours in helicopters, 10 hours in cross-country flight in helicopters.
  • 20 hours of training on the areas of operation listed in 61.127 (b)(3) that includes at least -
  • 5 hours of helicopter hood time/instrument maneuvers
  • One 2-hour cross country flight in a helicopter in daytime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure
  • One 2-hour cross country flight in a helicopter in nighttime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and
  • 3 hours in a helicopter with a CFI in preparation for the check ride within the preceding 2 calendar months from the month of the test.
  • Ten hours of solo flight time in a helicopter or 10 hours of flight time performing the duties of PIC in a helicopter with an authorized CFI on board
  • 1 cross-country flight with landings at a minimum of three points, with one segment consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and 5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern).

All of these requirements can be found in the FAR AIM under 61.129 helicopter rating. A 141 program can cut down testing requirements however to make the add-on even easier.

Who knows, the add-on may lead you to new career opportunities flying something like an Airbus H130. I'd say it's worth your time to get through those requirements and learn to fly a new aircraft. Join the "dark side" and comment below how it goes!

5 Mistakes to Avoid a Bad Steep Turn

Steep turns: you have to do them on every check ride all the way from private to CFI, CFII and MEI. So you might as well learn to get good at them. Here are some tips on how:

1) Becoming fixated on something

Okay, rule number one in aviation: NEVER BECOME FIXATED ON ONE THING. I put this in all capitals because it's a huge mistake I see tons of students make. They become too focused on one task or one instrument and everything else around it starts to suffer. 

When it comes to steep turns, there's a lot of things to focus on. Your fast changing heading, altitude, bank angle, and looking for traffic outside at a minimum. Keep those eyes scanning!!!

If you keep your scan looking outside at your reference to the horizon and back inside to all your instruments you'll catch something as soon as it starts to change, which keeps you from letting any problem become too hard to correct.

The rate of your scan should be like they teach in CPR classes, to the rate of Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees. I sing it in the cockpit if I have to when I teach, it engrains that rhythm and really improves your scanning method. Trust me!

2) Using the wrong visual sight cues

The key to being able to do awesome steep turns is knowing what to look for both outside and inside. Outside of the windshield, put your cowling right through the horizon as you enter the turn and keep it there. Remember that it will look slightly different on your left and right turns. Once you have the 45-degree bank established and can get the altimeter stable on your altitude take a mental picture of what it looks like outside and then work to maintain that picture. This will help TREMENDOUSLY.

3) Forgetting to compensate for loss of vertical lift

Okay, let's bring it back to basic aerodynamics here.

 

When you're flying straight and level, you have vertical lift (up and down). When you start turning the wings, that's transferred to horizontal lift (side to side). So, therefore you're losing vertical lift and will experience a small loss in altitude. 

So what's this mean to you? The more bank you add, the more back pressure you will need to add to compensate for that loss of vertical lift so you don't lose altitude. On a check ride your altitude on a steep turn is limited to +/- 100 feet of your starting altitude. To keep yourself from even getting close to that margin, the SECOND that you add a lot of bank and your nose starts to fall, pick it back up. Don't let the problem get worse and worse before you fix it, fix it right then and there. That's one reason you have to demonstrate steep turns, there's a lot of multitasking and flying skills that go into the maneuver itself. 

4) Being uncoordinated

This one speaks for itself. Don't be uncoordinated. Keep that ball centered on the turn coordinator always. In steep turns, you're closer to the margin of stalling (read why on the next bullet point) and remember that if you're uncoordinated and you stall, these two factors are the ingredients for a spin which you WILL begin to enter unless you counteract it properly. 

Whether you're flying a Cessna 172 that is approved for spins versus a Piper Cherokee that's not approved for spin recovery....don't even get near that area. Be a good pilot, add some rudder and keep that relative wind at the center of the prop.

5) Accidentally entering an accelerated stall

With any amount of bank, especially anything past 30 degrees, your load factor increases and therefore so does your stall speed. I think of it as the plane being more sensitive, so I need to have good controllability and be smooth (not aggressive) with my control inputs. 

I'm harping on load factor because being in 45 degrees of bank you have a higher load factor and your nose can start to feel heavier, so it's very easy to lose altitude. If you lose a lot of altitude then try to hurry and yank the nose up, you'll likely hear the stall warning system start to go off. This is an automatic failure in steep turns because you're not performing a stall, therefore you shouldn't get near one. 

So go back to bullet point one, keep your visual scan moving and catch an altitude loss before it becomes too big. And if you feel the nose is too heavy and you can't stop the descent...take out some bank! That's what made the nose feel heavy in the first place. Take out bank, bring your altitude back up, then add it back in. Magic!

Hopefully, these tips help the next time you perform steep turns. Remember to get better at something keep practicing and practice diligently, use a good method for performing maneuvers and come up with your own tricks too if that helps. Study the maneuver on the ground (don't expect to learn everything in the air, you're flying so your brain can't take in as much as you'd think) and then go try and fly it. And if you're having a lot of trouble with it, take a break for a few flights then give it a shot the next time. You may have reached a learning plateau and just needed to break away from it for a bit. 

Keep flying and happy landings everyone! Happy Fall!

How to Determine Your Pivotal Altitude

Whether you're working on your commercial certificate now, going to be, or already have then you'll find this useful.

As part of the Commercial ACS, we as pilots have to learn Eight's-on-Pylons. This is a maneuver in which the plane flies around two pylons maintaining a visual sight reference with each one in relation to the lateral axis of the airplane. Drawing the plane's ground track, it looks like a figure 8, thus the term Eight's-on-Pylons. 

Picture from the Airplane Flying Handbook

One of the most important concepts to take from this maneuver is pivotal altitude.

So what is it?

Pivotal altitude is the altitude at which, for a given groundspeed, the projection of the visual reference line to the pylon appears to pivot. Simply put, it's what the plane keeps coming back to each time you're able to maintain the pylon off the wingtip and hold it. 

This is also something that is calculated before the maneuver is begun using the airplane's groundspeed. It's the groundspeed squared divided by either 15 for miles per hour or 11.3 for knots. 

Some things to note about pivotal altitude is it does not change with the angle of bank, given that it is not steep enough to affect the groundspeed (but if you do the maneuver and correct for wind properly you shouldn't have to over-steepen the bank where this happens). 

Pivotal altitude can be noted very easily while flying around the pylons. All you have to do is get the plane stabilized where you're holding the pylon off the wingtip with no pitch up or down correction, then look at your altimeter and note the altitude! This is what the plane will keep coming back to. 

You should also enter and exit the maneuver at the pivotal altitude; how close or far you are from it when exiting can exhibit how well the maneuver was performed. 

If you're needing help with commercial maneuvers, or just want to pursue a commercial certificate, take a look at our Aviation Training Directory to find somewhere near you to train.

Best of luck with your Eight's-on-Pylons and happy landings!

-Addi

 

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