Premium on Safety - Issue 33, 2019 - 6


Moving Up, Down, Or Sideways
A Studied Approach To Transitioning Into
A New Airplane And Avionics
I'm flying right seat in a
beautiful Beechcraft Baron
in crowded south Florida
airspace for a mid-week lunch
fly-out. John Coe, the pilot
and owner flying the Baron, is
an A&P mechanic with IA who
has two Stearman rebuilds
under his belt and a couple thousand hours flying them. He picked
up the Stearmans after flying Pitts Specials in competition aerobatics
on his days off from flying with UPS, where he's logged more than
20,000 flight hours. But none of that experience comforts John
on this flight. He is in his newly acquired Baron with dual Garmin
G1000 displays, which John and his wife, Diane, bought in Southern
California and ferried back to Wellington, Florida (FD38), just a few
days before our flight.
Both John and Diane, also a UPS captain with more than 18,000
hours, insisted on a checkout and an instrument proficiency check in
their new Baron. They alternated pilot-in-command legs for the ferry
trip home and kept the CFI on board for half the trip. They again
alternated legs for the remainder of the flight home, which included
flying in instrument conditions and some approaches in low ceilings,
breaking out near minimums. Both decided they wanted more time,
more training, and, most important, more proficiency with the new
panels before flying hard IFR single-pilot.
On our flight, John was a bit timid in the Baron. He's used to mastering
his work. The Garmin displays, though, are new to him. He had about
80 percent of the interface and controls down, but he had to think a
few seconds longer to update flight plans, add an amended clearance,
or proceed direct to a fix with an altitude restriction.
Wellington (FD38) to Bartow, Florida (BOW), is barely 100 miles.
Miami Center was busy. The controller was short with pilots who
miscued. My instinct was to forget picking up an IFR clearance and
head in VFR using ADS-B for traffic avoidance and pick our way under
and around the scattered to broken clouds at around 5,000 feet.
Yet this busy flight was exactly the scenario John wanted: A
complicated situation for GA IFR flying. So we launched out of a
nontowered field adjacent to restricted airspace and, while handflying a complex, high-performance twin, he picked up a clearance
airborne, modified on-board navigation, set and confirmed the
autopilot, worked radios-all in a new airplane with unfamiliar
avionics. Add in flying single-pilot in instrument conditions and it
becomes a heavy task that demands proficiency. John wanted the
practice while in visual conditions with an experienced pilot in the
right seat-a good example for all of us. A high-time pilot, highly

qualified in multiple airplane categories and clearly confident in
his skills, is respectful of the challenges of transitioning to a new
airplane and new avionics.
In transitioning to new airplanes, small things can cause a pilot to
get behind the airplane or lose situational awareness. A notepad
may be in a different pocket than where you kept it in the other
airplane. Or a Direct-To function on the nav panel requires a
different button sequence than you're used to. There's no time to
fumble for those when ATC is spewing an amended clearance while
you're clipping along at 180 knots. The effect is exacerbated in
single-pilot IFR flying.
On our flight, I didn't fully lock the cabin door, which is on the right
side in the Baron. I checked it, as did John, because the locked
indicator wasn't completely visible. Hmm, oh, well, we both decided,
looks locked, feels locked, can't see daylight, must be the indicator
isn't quite calibrated. No, we learned once airborne, the door was
shut but not locked and the wind noise was a distraction all during
the flight-a little thing that causes annoyance with missed coms and
diverted attention.
John consistently referred to his checklist; we discussed the nuances
of a Baron runup and before-takeoff sequence. We paused for a pretakeoff briefing, verbalized the VMC speed, then called our takeoff
intentions and turned toward the runway, just as another aircraft
lifted off from the opposite direction. The other pilot was at the far
end and we were still clear of the runway, so there was no runway
incursion or collision potential, but it bothered us both that we didn't
hear him. Why? New airplane, new routines, distractions with a new
before-takeoff procedure, and an unfamiliar right-seat pilot.
John's stick-and-rudder skills were evident on our flight. His
comfortable and astute radio coms exposed decades of flying
in a professional environment. He hasn't mastered the new
Baron panel to his desired level of performance, and I admire
his approach. ln the safety business, it's difficult to measure
the accident that didn't happen, but if more of us took John's
methodical approach to transitioning to new airplanes (or
avionics), we'd surely prevent a few more accidents.

Go fly!





Premium on Safety - Issue 33, 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Premium on Safety - Issue 33, 2019

Premium on Safety - Issue 33, 2019 - Contents
Premium on Safety - Issue 33, 2019 - 2
Premium on Safety - Issue 33, 2019 - 3
Premium on Safety - Issue 33, 2019 - 4
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Premium on Safety - Issue 33, 2019 - 6
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