I am the Greatest Pilot in the World – I Flew My Plane in Training for 25 Hours.

Twin Cessna Aircraft Accident

“I have 1,500 hours including 300 hours in a Piper Seneca. I just bought a 421C and took 25 hours in the plane instruction. I AM READY FOR ANYTHING!”

There is no way that a person can cover all the problems in a complicated pressurized turbocharged twin Cessna or any other pressurized aircraft through 25 or more hours in flight training alone. To have that idea is putting your innocent passenger and probably your family exposed to a dangerous situation.

Why do you think the insurance companies have tightened the qualifications concerning training in these airplanes? Because without a TOTALLY COMPETENT AND TOTALLY TRAINED PILOT these planes are dangerous. They are complicated. They have strange quirks. They do not follow the norms of maintenance and flight characteristics. And finally, some of them are pushing 50 years of age. Cessna never intended these planes to last that long. To bring a plane that is pressurized and turbocharge back to “original” condition (annuals require this) must be done by a professional twin Cessna facility. The idea that “my mechanic has worked on a couple of these” is not going to get you where you need to be.

First, you have to know the systems. The systems knowledge is the key to understanding what your problems really are. When do you shut down an engine? When do you not shut down an engine? Where is that 5606 A fluid coming from? That HYD PRES light, what is that? What is the manual gear procedure on an all-electric twin and why is it worded like it is in the POH? These and hundreds of other items are critical. Remember, you do not always have a co-pilot. Also, electrical items fail, autopilots, navigation systems, lights, motors, and others. We have seen hundreds of problems in these airplanes because we have trained hundreds of pilots who tell us the problems and did not know what to do. We also get emails and calls with problems from pilots we train asking us about “why is this doing this and how do I fix it.”

To continue, we are seeing problems creeping into certain of these airplanes related to old age. Brakes for one and the “undersized” tires on the larger aircraft. They put the same tire on a 421 as they do a 310 and yet there is 2,500 pounds of weight difference when they are unloaded. Cessna, for instance, got by with this. It is a dangerous mistake, but you are taking the manufacturers word it is safe, it is not. 

Finally, the way you were trained to handle an engine loss according to the FAA methods will NOT help you if you lose an engine in a “tight” situation such as a low altitude. The methods that the FAA came up with 70 plus years ago is and really was antiquated. It is teaching you a method that takes too much time and makes you get distracted from managing the aircraft. You must remember these aircraft are more complicated and heavier. They will be more difficult to handle if you have them loaded and in a dangerous environment like an instrument departure. 

The bottom line is that flying around in the airplane and doing some basic problems will NOT GET YOU SAFE. The airlines do not do it like that, and we should do not either.

Train hard and fly safe.

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