A friend and ASF donor took me to lunch in his brand new Eclipse yesterday. As you’ll read in the August issue of AOPA Pilot, Editor-in-chief Tom Haines also earned his EA-500S type rating. I have three observations after the ride.
1. The FAA and Eclipse do not give away the ratings – it is a thorough and rigorous process involving simulation, lots of ground training and mentoring on actual trips until the experienced mentor jet pilot in the right seat thinks you’re ready. My friend is multi-thousand hour Baron pilot and has a Citation type rating but no real jet time. He is a meticulous and cautious engineer – a perfect mind set for this and he agreed with Haines that his plate was full.
2. Higher Power Aviation, who does the training for Eclipse, follows a well-defined process to prepare customers for the check ride. In flying fast airplanes the profile is everything. Plug in power settings, and configuration and shazzam, the aircraft falls into predictable performance on the descent, on the ILS, in holding etc. However, to make the speed differential less daunting and to get people through the type ride, the training profile bears little resemblance to what real world ATC needs.
As it is currently being taught, fly the approach at Vref plus 10 knots from the final approach fix inbound. Try that any busy airport with appreciable jet traffic and you’ll hear words you never heard in the bible as controllers and the pilots behind you try to resolve the ensuing traffic tie-up. In the real world, it’s often 150-170 knots to the marker. To be fair, this how the airlines teach their new hires and then when everyone gets on the line, the realities take over. The mentor pilot for my friend gently explained how things were and proceeded with his reprogramming. Seems to me, even if it takes a little longer, we should teach real world profiles right from the beginning. One set of numbers to remember and more practice in getting right.
3. Despite the marketing claims to the contrary, at least with early versions of the VLJ, it looks much like jet flying to me in terms of single pilot workload. Not too bad in low density airspace or at altitude and really intense on short legs or in high density. It’s good they don’t give the type ratings away.