East Hill offers multi-engine training in our well maintained Beechcraft Travel Air. The Travel Air is a complex twin-engine aircraft with two 180 horsepower fuel injected Lycoming IO-360 engines. It cruises at 150 knots and burns approximately 20 gallons per hour. It is uncommon to train in such a nice aircraft.
The best way to approach twin training is first to be single-engine VFR and IFR current in the Mooney. The Mooney and Travel Air have almost identical power settings and speeds so getting comfortable here first saves half the money. To prepare for the twin, before each flight we calculate both its two-engine and one-engine performance. We want to know what it will do with both engines running, but also what it will do in a worst case scenario if we need to climb out on a single engine. Developing a suspicious regard for engine reliability goes a long way toward multi-engine safety. To be safe, you must carefully plan for every type of failure, brief the plan, and consistently be ready to accomplish the correct drills.
The first few flights in the Travel Air will be the "getting to know you" phase. You get familiar with there being more knobs and switches and where everything is located. In the next flights we dig deeper into systems and performance (still on two engines) and master the two-engine maneuvers required in the Practical Test Standards. If your instrument scan is slow or we otherwise feel the need, the club has a fully functional twin-engine flight training device to bring you up to speed in an economical fashion. The Multi-Engine practical test requires all the standard maneuvering you are already familiar with in single engine, so we practice all these to get comfortable and proficient first. After this comes engine and equipment failure training.
Single-engine maneuvering is necessarily the heart of a multi-engine training program. A lot of study and discussion reveals the true value and liability of having two engines. In the smaller twins, the plane has two engines because it really needs both engines to fly well. If you lose an engine you can make it fly level or perhaps even climb, but you must do everything correctly. "Doing it wrong" and getting too slow would approach Vmc and puts you in danger of losing directional control and rolling over. You learn to first regain control before you try to get some performance. When you lose an engine, even though you only lose 50% of the power, you actually lose 80 to 90% of the climb performance. This is why an engine failure in a twin is four times more likely to end in a fatal accident. You have to learn to balance control against performance, all while keeping things "greasy side down." You will learn why we "split the ball and raise the dead" to make things work out correctly. The new FAA Safety Web site has some fantastic articles on flying twins after engine failure that every pilot in training should read. Two essential resources for future twin pilots are the FAA Flying Light Twins Safely and the FAA Multi-Engine Safety Review. Knowledge, proficiency, and continual currency are required safety tools in any flying, but especially in twins.
In the last phase of multi-engine training you will learn to fly on one or two engines while controlling the plane accurately on instruments. Again, being single-engine proficient first is a very good idea. We use the Jeppesen training kit for the twin and suggest you read the first two chapters so you understand the basic principles before the first flight.
For more information, please email Chief Instructor Mike Thomas.