At last! I’m an Instrument-rated Pilot!
Well, it has been some time since I had my last blog entry, but this time I have an excuse. I have been working hard at getting my instrument rating over the last several months. Every spare moment I have had has been dedicated to getting this done. As many of you know who have received an instrument rating, it is a very intense and challenging endeavor. I am happy – actually excited – to report that I received my rating this past Wednesday, January 11!
I did all of my flying in my 3-display Aspen DA40 and really got to put myself and the system through its paces. I also made heavy use of my iPad during my training. All of my instrument training was in the Southwest primarily in the Albuquerque area where, as you all know, is surrounded by mountains and high altitude terrain. The combination of the availability of Nav Map, synthetic vision, geo-referenced approach charts, redundancy, ease of use and flexibility of how to display the information on a 3-display Aspen system really gives the safety and situational awareness to safely fly instrument procedures in the heaviest workload situations.
I believe the key to this is to have a plan laid out in how to configure the displays and use them in both normal and emergency situations. That way, when you are flying, you can transition to the different displays quickly when you need them.
Having the MFD1000 installed to provide full redundancy for the AHRS, and air data information as well as the battery backup, is critical when the need arises. I also think that having the AHRS and air data information in one of the small windows of the MFD when flying in normal configuration to crosscheck provides a continuous redundant check on what I am flying so I can detect any anomaly early is a real plus.
During my training, I used the iPad to brief my approaches, but used the geo-referenced charts on the Aspen while I flew the procedures. I believe strongly that the ability to have a geo-referenced chart and nav map in my primary view lessens my workload when flying instrument approaches. It also provides a backup to the iPad.
For example, during my instrument checkride, I had briefed the RNAV 22 at Double Eagle Airport on the iPad. As I was transitioning into the approach, I wanted to double check my minimums as we were doing a circle-to-land approach and I wanted to make sure I had entered the right minimum altitude into the PFD. Unfortunately the display on the iPad locked up and I could not see the minimums. I was able to quickly look up at the Aspen to get the data instead of having to reset or figure out what I had done to the iPad. The redundancy aspects within the Aspen and with other devices and sensors increase my safety and confidence in flying.
I would be very interested in hearing how others are using the Aspens in instrument conditions and flying scenarios. While I am not quite “ready” to go flying in the clouds right now, I will continue to gain confidence through practicing in simulated conditions until the time comes. Please share with us your experiences with using the Aspen in your instrument flying, so we can all become safer and more aware pilots.
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