Before I begin, I's just like to say that my aviation experience has primarily been in hot clear Florida weather with little or no concern for weather conditions apart from the occasional wind (Jan to April is typically settled over at KTIX!). I'm a 'nearly' qualified PPL(H) student with only my xcountry flight to complete in the 300CBi so I don't personally have any experience in IMC related weather conditions or situations (not in the air but on land and sea).
Anyways, back to the topic at hand. I've read through some of your comments, some of you with vast amounts of experience in flight training and flying commercially, others who have lesser levels of experience in flying but have inadvertently experienced conditions they shouldn't really have ended up in, through no fault of their own.
While my flight experience is not so vast (only 57.1hrs 300CBi, R22), my experience on the sea and also on the mountains has given me a great appreciation/respect for the weather, and how totally unpredictable it can be in certain climates. I must mention (although you've probably guessed from the Irish flag on the left hand side) I'm based in Ireland. Ireland isn't known for it's very stable weather conditions and we can generally experience the 4 Seasons, even 1-2 times in a day (I make no exaggeration about this!). Many a time it has happened that the weather conditions and forecast (and horizon) have looked more than ideal with very favourable conditions for a day long excursion or just a 2-3 hour trek up the hill or in the case of going out to sea, only going couple of NM offshore for diving, racing or pleasure tours, etc.
I have experienced whiteouts on both land and offshore with little or no indication of the onset. In the case of being that little bit too far off shore to return to the coastline in time and thanks to navigational instruments (primarily the trusty compass and also with the assistance of GPS in some cases) it was safe to return to the shore at a reasonable rate of knots. Obviously, things are different in a helicopter.. you can't saunter around a mountain for hours looking for a way off or throttle back in the event of having a powerboat if you're unsure of what lies in the water ahead.
Basically what I'm trying to say is that while we cannot be expected to risk IMC flight with only PPL level knowledge, I think it's fair to say that inderstanding an instrument that is in the aircraft is far more important should an unexpected situation ever arise where you had ended up in an exceptional circumstance, your life wouldn't be endangered simply because it was considered unnecessary to make you aware of the artificial horizon and/or other instruments and how to correctly use them, in the interest of your safety.
I guess it would be similar to teaching a learner driver how to use everything except the headlights, because they shouldn't be driving at night without an experienced driver.. but then a total eclipse occurs while they're driving on a road with other traffic and all of a sudden you have this moron in the middle of the road with no lights. Outrageous situation I know but it could happen. It's all in the interest of safety.
One situation where such an instrument saved a life and and aircraft is I came across an article somewhere one time that concluded that this single occupant in a fixed wing aircraft was flying under VMC, had his PPL(A) and was enroute to some airport on a short flight when all of a sudden his quality of vision completely diminished.. he was reduced to vision of only inside the cockpit and could not see or focus on anything outside of the cockpit - strange I know, but this apparently did happen (if I can find the article somewhere I'll link it up). Long story short, he reported he was in trouble, frantically looking for help. Radar was able to assist him in getting to near his destination and a military aircraft (I think it was a military aircraft) was able to join up with him and provide him with various altitude changes and banking angles to make in order to line up for a runway which had been made available to him. Granted he made several attempts at landing, he was able to be brought down to the ground - all with the help of the artificial horizon. One life saved by the instruments not fully intended for PPL use.
I'm by no means saying it's acceptable for a PPL student or qualified PPL holder to enter IMC, but should it ever happen (and it has happened as per some of the previous comments) you should be able to keep a level flight for whatever reason/situation you have been presented with. I'm glad that I've been given my 5 hours of Instrument appreciation as it gives me a little more knowledge SHOULD I need to use then for god knows whatever reason - it at least gives me a chance to arrive home in one piece, and not in a coffin.
It looks like my memory didn't serve me right at all!! Opps.. no mention of the use of instruments at all, I must have been mistaken unless it was mentioned in another article. Apologies if I have that all wrong.
Not looking to start a 'fight', rather merely curious, but what training input have you been given regarding:
Met interpretation? (consecutive METARS, TAFs etc etc). Not what books have you read, more what direct Instructor input/discussion?
Low level navigation?
Guidance on when to say 'enough is enough' and to make a precautionary landing rather than pressing on?
Guidance on making a precautionary landing? Has an Instructor ever simply said " Right the weather is closing in, you've to land right now. Where you going"?
What you theorise makes some sense. The biggest difference is that Met very rarely does the completely unexpected (IMHO), and that whereas during foggles training you know you started off 'stable' and with good ground clearance etc etc......................
Statistics show that as weather 'closes in' pilots tend to get progressively lower and slower. Stress levels rise, and that VMC to full IMC suddenly happens. At this point the pilot will be majorly stressed, lower and slower than during IF training and keeping straight and level and/or completing a level turn are only one issue. A better question is "what next"? What if you complete your 180 turn perfectly, and after 2-5 mins of reciprocal heading flight you still arent VMC? Can you accurately say where you are? Whats your new plan now?
Only food for thought, dont feel obliged to answer .
I stay firmly in the camp that says better actual weather training, inputs on when to land rather than press on, and practical precautionary landing experience are better safety tools. Avoid the IMC problem rather than try to deal with it in the air. I'm also a firm believer that the rules should be altered to allow (or insist) this IMC experience is to be conducted in an FNPT2 (simulator). Rather than foggles a student could experience visually a lowering viz and cloud base, a full grey view out the window, turbulence whilst fully IMC, and the subtle signs and consequences of icing. Cheaper and far more realistic
My experience with regard to decision making on the hill and out at sea is solid, I can vouch for a good number of years of experience on Irish mountains and rough seas - the weather is no toy to play with, it always bites back. My decision making always leans on the side of safety over purpose.
In relation to Met interpretation in Aviation, I understand how to interpret METARS, TAFs, mind you I'm probably a little rusty with some of the abbreviations but would never go risking a flight without conferring with someone, but that doesn't really have a bearing on this does it?
What you're saying is indeed true.. everyone should know each of all the above of what you said, there's no doubt about that and I don't dispute it at all. The more knowledge you are armed with the better equipped you will be with dealing with a situation and preventing entering IMC at all.
BUT.. is it not fair to say that in exceptional circumstances (accidents are exceptional circumstances, they can be prevented but never avoided), take a situation, god knows how you ended up in it.. but now you're faced with a loss of visual reference and no possible way of landing, because your instructor chose it was not worth enlightening you on the instruments, your life is now at risk.. perhaps you can, by some miracle chance evade certain death by help of a radar station who can help vector you by giving you basic turn information (I'm not suggesting flying IMC, but being in an IMC situation, you can be assisted out of it without spiralling out of control)..
I know that Met, in Ireland, does the completely unexpected, I don't challenge your experience at all, but everyone has different experiences of the weather and also different climates, but please don't get me wrong
As regards the stress levels etc.. I don't doubt that occurs.. The expectation that a PPL holder will only need to do a complete 180 turn in order to evade the IMC as indicated in all the books I guess is a simplistic way of explaining why it would be used - to get out of trouble.. not to get into it.
That's all I'm saying.
Regarding better training, decision making.. absolutely, and that comes with experience in all various fields, be it aviation, on the ground, out at sea, I couldn't agree with you more - but it you end up upside down due to uncontrollable circumstances, no matter how you got into them, don't you think a life is worth sparing? I guess that's the purpose of the training. If I'm wrong on that please correct me.
Rather than staring at the console wondering how to use a number of gauges you'd never been taught how to interpret, is it not safer to understand them at least..
(debates/discussions are good.. fights are not - we're not fighting though so it's all good). _________________ PPL(H), 100km xcountry and LST remaining..
(All provincial disclaimers apply - Instrument ratings appear to be much more expensive in Europe.)
If a person is a PPL/H with no intention of progressing further, I don't think that 5 hours of instrument time is going to help five or six years down the road, particularly in a helicopter where the pilot will only have seconds to recognize and respond to an unusual attitude.
I really believe a professional pilot should be instrument rated and make an effort at staying current.
I'm really torn on this one. I'm under no illusions that 5 hours of instrument training gives the average ppl any ability whatsoever to fly in IMC and, if you've got 5 hours training going spare, I'm sure there are more useful things it could be spent on - like learning when and how to make precautionary landings. But sometimes - for whatever reason - shit happens, and I wonder if that 5 hours might possibly make a difference.
Anyone who thinks 5 hours instrument training actually equips them to fly in IMC - and does it deliberately - probably deserves to be removed from the gene pool
Haha fair point Jen.. I think deliberately engaging in IMC flight with such limited training would be suicidal! _________________ PPL(H), 100km xcountry and LST remaining..
You'd think so, wouldn't you? I've heard a story of a ppl who was known to deliberately fly imc (in an R44, I think), explaining that the mist would have burnt off by the time he got to his destination
With regards to Met interpretation, what i was getting at was more an ability to look at a number of consecutive Metars and or Tafs and formulate a pattern or expectation of the next one (harder now the met office forecast so far ahead i concede). As opposed to being able to simply read an individual metar or taf.
Alternatively looking at a low level weather synoptic chart and having a good educated guess at what a metar or taf may well likely show as the various fronts and air masses move.
The figures escape me but have been covered within the helicopter safety evenings, but frontal position accuracy is to within something like 100nm and cloud base readings to within +/- 500'. So an ability to formulate a likelihood would help in my opinion.
I'm a gambling man and I bet within your ppl you were only ever asked to look at an individual metar or taf. If not, then your ppl was different to mine.
I'll take small issue, purely for discussion, with the instrument interpretation arguement, and heres why:
A basic ppl is taught to fly visually. From the outset a student is taught to relate their control inputs to the horizon ahead of them, and then to merely glance at the gauges (gauge watching in the early stages having a negative impact on proficiency). Throughout 99.9% of a ppl a student will probably never use an artificial horizon. However to confirm a speed, or speed change they'll use an ASI, to confirm a height/altitude or even a change in height they'll use an ALT and for a rate change a VSI, heading from a compass or a DI. If visually you fly (view wise) horizon - speed - horizon- alt- horizon - heading etc etc you effectively have a scan that focuses on aircraft attitude being a pivotal factor. They even attach a balance string to the windscreen so you still look outside
So just about every gauge is covered in a ppl otherwise you'd never know your height, heading or speed.
So the only one not covered in any detail is an AH. In principle that mirrors your out the window view. So would understanding that really take five hours?
The five hours is to attempt to get a student used to using the AH as a primary attitude indicator and to attempt to show how a purely instrument based scan would work. They then ask you to fly S+L and complete a level 180 turn. The input more than likely wont cover any other issues - icing (airframe, blades, pitot, static take your pick) and the instrument based warning signs of its onset. Your ppl wont cover identifying if your pitot becomes blocked for example. It also wont cover in much additional detail any radio nav - a tool that 99.9% of ppls wont ever use.( this list is by no means exhaustive)
I accept to a small extent that having a go purely on instruments may help should a student subsequently find themselves IMC. However would one hour be enough to show what needs to be done, how tricky it can be, and therefore be at significantly less cost? On a minimum course duration of 45 hours, 5 for something you should never use accounts for 11%
More input on deciding when weather is worsening in flight and what to do once that opinion is formed is in my view a better use of a students training budget. Flying is easy, its the Command decisions that may be more difficult. For a flight guaranteed to involve IMC flight or likely to involve IMC flight the planning is (should be) far more thorough than a straight forward VFR trip. So if you find yourself unexpected IMC you're behind from the outset.
Also bear in mind that a new FI teaching you this life saving simulated IMC may well have less than 20 hrs of Sim IMC experience themselves.
Search for Jens post on IMC flight if you'd like to see how a little knowledge can be dangerous. I hasten to add I imply Jens old FI IS the one with a dangerous piece of little knowledge NOT Jen.
Further reading that may aid your viewpoint would the AS365 from Blackpool that lost control IMC and crashed about two years ago. AAIB report quoted a matter of seconds from loss of control to impact, and that was in an IFR certificated aircraft with a qualified, current and experienced crew.
Simply more food for discussion. As you'll be gathering my view is that it is better to have remembered to drain the swamp, before you are up to your arse in alligators.
If you get the opportunity try a proper FNPT 2 sim.
Discussion is good. Thats why Gary and Mike deserve medals for starting the safety evenings
You're right about the individual metars, but I must admit once I got used to viewing them on the monitor, I used to look at at least 2 of them depending on the day or time of day (lifting fog, strong winds and cloud) to see how they were progressing just to get a good idea - but I wasn't instructed to do this as, but at a minimum I was expected to just review the current Metar and expected conditions in the TAF.. conditions were typically settled so it wasn't TOO much of a problem in FL.
5 hours, of the 45 in the requirements is "probably" a little steep alright, I'd tend to agree with it, from a weak standpoint, obviously I'm not able to be critical on that as I don't know enough about flight training to judge that really. For someone who has a PPL in progress near completion, I have to say though, as much as I would never consider myself knowledgeable of IFR flight by any stretch of the imagination, I think if I somehow, inadvertently (due to lack of experience) ended up in an IMC situation, I'd like to think that I know how to keep the spinning side upright and skids low..
As regards the level of detail of using IFR instruments like the VOR and all that.. well it was shown to me, but I wouldn't dream of using it at this stage - I don't think I have remotely enough need to understand it or use it at this point. I guess this backs up your statement about the 5 hours being necessary? I don't know.. I guess some of them are vital, while a couple are perhaps not as necessary as other training elements of the flight training programme.
I'd love to try out a proper FNPT II Sim, I hope to get get in one soon!
I'll look up Jen's previous posts now. _________________ PPL(H), 100km xcountry and LST remaining..
flingingwings - I'm sure there are plenty of websites that publish a recent history of METARs (and SPECIs, not that we use them here), however the official source (Met Office) doesn't. Would it be useful, do you think, for the Met Office to publish the last couple of hours of METARs(/SPECIs), when using the search tool? _________________ J.
I'm not alone in believing that PPL tuition (particularly in the UK) doesnt quite go far enough in certain areas. The problem is many fold: No legislative requirement, some students just aren't interested, some instructors don't know the stuff themselves, and some who do arent willing to teach the extra stuff as they are only paid per flying hour (so why give groundschool for free).
Most PPL courses cover little to nothing on an instructor led weather input. Little to nothing on 'when to land' as weather closes in, and probably no input in landing off airfield (because strictly speaking a training flight cannot land at an unlicensed site - and at least one school I know of tried to discipline an instructor (for Gross Misconduct) whom they believed was landing off airfield). Factor in many schools allowing some aircraft owners to fly regardless of the weather conditions et voila.
I'm a firm believer in " Monkey see, Monkey do". If a pilot (purely for this discussion) sees another pilot do something (fly in poor viz or low cloud) this industry/hobby tends to create another 'monkey' willing to copy what they've seen
Again simply for discussion:
Page 1 of this thread a poster comments about sea fog at Shoreham and that despite the fog ATC were still giving take off clearances. Is there a reason they shouldn't give clearances? Or is the fly/no fly decision ultimately down to the aircraft commander?
Your last post - " inadvertently due to lack of experience end up IMC"
We're back to my first suggestion. 5 hrs of Sim IF is but the smallest taster of IF flying (and its not an accurate one at that), and it is little more than a 'stickey plaster' used to possibly prevent an arterial bleed.
What situations do you feel may lead you (or any other pilot for that matter) to find themselves inadvertently IMC?
Would the current 5 hours be better spent (cash wise) in insisting that as part of a ppl students attend an IMC awareness type day with one of the many FNPT2 operators? A day that discusses weather etc and that ultimately culminates in a Sim session where viz and cloud base are steadily reduced and rather than a pilots practical skills being tested, their command skills are challenged. Through lack of experience or guidance will a student in the Sim push on for too long and go full IMC? How will they cope? The Sim having the wondeful ability to pause and rewind, reviewing the point where a decision to land could/should have been made. Throw in a brief go at S+L and a 180 turn and the jobs a 'Good 'un"
I'm merely suggesting improving experience and awareness is perhaps a better option than giving a very small intro to something you should never use, and probably wouldn't have used for a significant time if you ever needed to use it for real. IF flying is a skill that fades very rapidly.
Putting on my cynic hat - It would be a good idea IMHO. But it wouldn't get used those who habitually follow the Met wouldn't need it, and getting some students and instructors 'up to speed' would in some cases be an up hill battle for lots of reasons.
Quoting Veeany (shamelessly) " You dont know, what you dont know" and thats the start of the solution
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