On the 30 August 2018, I had my first instructional flight on the Diamond DA42 Twin Star aircraft in Oxford airport. I started with my Multi Engine Piston (MEP) Rating which is 6 hours of flight including: familiarisation, general handling, asymmetric flight and circuits plus a theory exam.
I am writing this, having completed the MEP (6 hours) and Basic Instrument Flight module (BIFM – 5 aircraft and 5 simulator hours). I am now on my last 15 flight hours to the commercial license skills test. So before the pressure starts to really build, I thought id give a reflection on flying a twin engined aircraft.
I’ve grown fond of the little Piper or Cessna darting around the UK and Europe, so how hard can a bigger, heavier, multi engine aircraft be? Well in short, its a hand full but incredibly fun.
So what is the difference?
- About twice the weight of anything I’ve flown before
- close to twice the power and up to 30kts faster in the cruise which means you have to think quicker
- an extra 3m of wingspan
- Electronic Flight Instrument Systems (EFIS) – I’d never flown with TV screens before
- Asymmetric flight (1 engine operations)
- Many parts of the aircraft are taller than me…. which is embarrassing doing the walk round checks and I’m still the uncool pilot carrying out a booster cushion.
Diamond is an Austrian aircraft manufacturer better known for producing gliders hence its long wingspan. As such, it takes a larger force to make it turn and to throw it about. Likewise, given the aircraft is close to 1.8 tonnes, taxiing can require more force than you’d think. However, not much prepares you for asymmetric flight, its great fun but after an hour my brain turn to mush. The slower you go the more force you need to apply to the rudder to maintain directional control and there is a speed at which no force you can apply will stop the aircraft yawing and rolling. Therefore, a power reduction on the live engine is required.
Now the real trick is getting used to the TV screens and the mass of information on them which can be overwhelming. Even after my first 10 hours I still click and turn wrong knobs and tap them when I should twist them. However, most things are logically laid out and there is a cyclical flow to check items.
Whilst the MEP is part of my commercial training, it is available to any private pilot and if I hadn’t chose to change career, I would of opted eventually to do the MEP. Highly recommended if you want to fly higher, faster, carry more and go further afield and of course have the safety net of an extra engine.
With any luck, my next post will be upon completion of my commercial skills test and starting on the Instrument Rating.