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From the Logbook: Transitioning to a Twin? . . . Are You Ready For Twice as Much?

' Jim Trusty 2006

If you are, you're over-prepared! Most twin engine aircraft are easier to fly because of the extra equipment and avionics they generally include. The manufacturers know that anyone who can afford cabin class comfort and performance does not wish to fly without auto pilot, GPS, radar, HSI, and a host of other costly goodies that make flying this particular airplane a joy, not a job.

The other thing that this transition should include is training before you take off on your first journey and a continuing course of training every six months with an instructor who is familiar with your aircraft and familiar with what you like to skip over and even sometimes forget altogether. Most pilots at this level file every trip, shoot every landing as though it were an approach, and talk with ATC before they do anything in the air. They actually put themselves in the class of the airliners and rightly so. They are entitled to every service that is available to the biggest airliner flying, and if they learn how to use the system in the air, they will not only have a better, smoother flight, it will also be easier on them as a pilot. It will also be much safer.

Where do we find this great training? I would have it in place before buying the airplane. It would be available on the day I took possession, and it would be on board when I flew that bird home. Just the instructor and me on that first flight. No need letting anyone else know what we know and don't know.

Buying a new airplane? Training is most likely available right at the dealer, and they will probably insist on using their recommended trainer. The insurance company is going to give you a very nice present if you can convince them that training is important to you on a regular basis and that will be a lower rate. Not important, you say? Take a look at the rate difference between those that set up a regular training session and those that never get around to it. An airplane, unlike any other tool we might purchase, will hurt you faster and more severely and cost you more money if you don't know how to handle it. It's sort of like dating triplets'there's always something expensive to buy.

Those who are making this step up are also doing a lot of the flying themselves, and they really want to be good at what they are doing and be recognized by everyone else as a skillful pilot. The fun of a great flight ranked next to the dangers and hard work of a bad flight will drive most twin pilots out of the game or cause them to hire a pilot. This decision of whether to fly your own aircraft or ride in it is one that you have to make in advance. Most real pilots like to fly, and they want to do it precisely and safely while others just wish to get to their destination. Which are you? There is nothing wrong with either one, but it is a decision that will affect your training habits. Most decide, even if they do have a pilot, that it would be a lot safer and also more fun to know how to fly this particular aircraft.

I hope that you are a pilot who wants to know all there is to know about this very expensive investment, and that you are also a pilot who is determined to stay current on a very regular basis. Before you get too far into discussing money, take some of these facts into consideration and have a heart to heart with yourself before committing to anything. Some of the questions you need to answer: Can I fly this airplane? Would I be considered a safe and competent pilot of this aircraft? Am I willing to make the necessary commitment of time and money to maintain this aircraft in an airworthy condition, and can I afford to do this on a regular basis? Do I know someone who can provide the necessary training I will need to remain current, and can I afford to stay current?

If your answer is "no" to any of these questions, you might reconsider this purchase and get back to flying the "biggies" or a corporate charter. But if your answer is "yes" to all these questions and "yes" to a hundred more that you have thought of and you have factored in the pleasure of owning and flying your very own twin engine airplane, then welcome to a growing part of the aviation population'being a pilot/owner of a cabin class aircraft.

This tool of pleasure and business that you own and fly needs the same dedication of time that any other investment will need. Don't get behind on anything, training or maintenance, and if it turns out that you might have overbought for any reason, add up your total costs, have a talk with your accountant, and sell it. This is why I keep calling it a tool of your business. I really hope you had a little talk with your accountant long before you took your test flight.

Manufacturers know that you are moving up and dealer incentives make it possible for you to make this purchase with the greatest of ease. I've noticed lately that more and more dealers are building in trade-in factors at the time of purchase just in case you decide that you need something a little smaller or even bigger. Whatever you have already decided, I'm sure this article is not going to have much impact on you, but I'm glad you're stepping up and that you are interested in recurrency training because I'm a Certificated Flight Instructor, Multi-Engine, and can always use the extra work. Our job as instructors is to get rid of those bad habits you picked up in that little bitty trainer years ago, as you are aware that whatever you used to do badly you can duplicate in a twin. Now think for a minute, very quietly by yourself, do you remember what you used to do? Even that can be cured, with proper training.

I'll see you at the airport! Always remember that accidents are caused and therefore preventable. . .

Jim Trusty, ATP/CFI

Lrn2Fly@Bellsouth.Net