How Lowtime Pilot Training To Fly a Jet Really WorksSome of the more successful among us want to learn to fly, and to fly jets - which means lowtime pilot training to fly a jet. We live in a wonderful country where anyone who wants to work hard enough can earn a lot of money or build a successful business. Many of these individuals want to experience the good things in life, and as pilots we know learning to fly and owning an airplane is one of those good things. But are they, really? On December 29, 2016 a fairly lowtime pilot departed Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport after spending the evening watching a Cleveland Cavaliers game. He had his family with him; a total of 6 people on a new CJ he had just recently purchased and was learning to fly after owning a Citation Mustang. One would imagine he had some good experience and had a good understanding about night flying, flying over water and IFR conditions. And, that he would also be well prepared and comfortable to hand fly the aircraft in those conditions.
The TrainingAs I read the NTSB Accident Report I was surprised to find out how lowtime pilot training to fly a jet worked. It seems that the primary means for flying such an aircraft really consisted of learning how to engage the autopilot! Fail that, fail properly engaging the autopilot and disaster will strike!
An Excerpt From The NTSB Report:
Location: Cleveland, OH
Accident Number: CEN17FA072
Date & Time: 12/29/2016, 2257 EST
Aircraft: CESSNA 525
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 6 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation
The airplane entered a right turn shortly after takeoff and proceeded out over a large lake. Dark night visual conditions prevailed at the airport; however, the airplane entered instrument conditions shortly after takeoff. The airplane climb rate exceeded 6,000 fpm during the initial climb and it subsequently continued through the assigned altitude of 2,000 ft mean sea level.
The flight director provided alerts before the airplane reached the assigned altitude and again after it had passed through it. The bank angle increased to about 62 degrees and the pitch attitude decreased to about 15 degrees nose down, as the airplane continued through the assigned heading. The bank angle ultimately decreased to about 25 degrees. During the subsequent descent, the airspeed and descent rate reached about 300 knots and 6,000 fpm,respectively.
The enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS) provided both "bank angle" and "sink rate" alerts to the pilot, followed by seven "pull up" warnings. A post accident examination of the recovered wreckage did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction.It is likely that the pilot attempted to engage the autopilot after takeoff as he had been trained.
The Flight Profile
However, based on the flight profile, the autopilot was not engaged. This implied that the pilot failed to confirm autopilot engagement via an indication on the primary flight display (PFD). The PFD annunciation was the only indication of autopilot engagement. Inadequate flight instrument scanning during this time of elevated workload resulted in the pilot allowing the airplane to climb through the assigned altitude, to develop an overly steep bank angle, to continue through the assigned heading, and to ultimately enter a rapid descent without effective corrective action.
A belief that the autopilot was engaged may have contributed to his lack of attention.It is also possible that differences between the avionics panel layout on the accident airplane and the airplane he previously flew resulted in mode confusion and contributed to his failure to engage the autopilot. The lack of proximal feedback on the flight guidance panel might have contributed to his failure to notice that the autopilot was not engaged.