Sunday, March 11, 2012

This is a fairly intense video. First of all - everyone lives, so that's nice.

This is a skydiving flight, normal right up until the pilot accidentally stalls the aircraft while slowing to let the jumpers out. The aircraft then spins, and while hilarity most definitely does not ensue, at least the cheesy soundtrack helps keep the mood light.

Looks like the pilot wasn't familiar with spin recovery. For those of you who aren't, if you ever happen to be sitting up in the cockpit and your view looks like the view of the guys in the airplane, maybe do this:

1. Neutralize the controls, ie move the control column to the neutral position, wings level.

2. Apply full rudder in the opposite direction of the spin. If you are spinning to the left, stomp on the right rudder and hold your foot to the floor until rotation stops.

3. You may need to check forward on the controls a wee bit to break the stall.

4. Once rotation stops, level the wings and ease out of the resulting dive, reducing power if necessary once above stall speed. Remember to ease out of the dive rather than reefing back on the controls and risking a secondary stall or airframe overstress.

You may notice that the magic ingredient is basically opposite rudder - your ailerons aren't gonna work so hot because in order to be spinning in the first place, at least one of the wings is stalled - thus the aileron on that wing isn't going to be very effective.

One thing: Some planes don't recover from spins, so you have to focus on not allowing them to ever spin in the first place. Other planes have non-standard stall / spin recovery techniques, so please be sure of the requirements of your particular airbeast when it comes to stall / spin recovery technique. It's not that hard, but it can save your life.

While I'm rambling on about stall / spin recovery, one of the fun things we do during our recurrent simulator training sessions is that we stall the airplane at night when we are down to minimums on a circling approach. It's an easy scenario and in my world that's one of the few times when the risk of an unintentional stall / spin is higher than zero.

What that means is we set the plane up to circle around an airport when we are only a few hundred feet above the ground, and we put our landing gear down and our flaps mostly down, just like they would be when we are landing. Then we fly parallel to the runway (downwind) and set the throttles to 50% or so, then wait. After a few seconds of deceleration, the plane stalls and it's up to us to get her flying again before we contact the planet a few hundred feet below us. The simulated planet that is - we would never try out a scenario like this in a real airplane. Anyway, stall recovery is a lot more visceral when you see buildings right below you than when we are at 5,000' (the normal minimum altitude for practicing stalls / spins) and it certainly motivates me to act quickly. The sim hasn't killed me yet, but it can certainly raise the hair on the back of my neck when the operator feels like loading me up to watch me sweat.

In our Citations we recover from most stall scenarios by just adding power, but with the gear and flaps down the plane is generating a lot of drag, and it takes a few seconds for the engines to kick up enough power to overcome it, so we can still lose a few hundred feet on a complicated stall recovery. I've had the radar altimeter in the sim call out "Ten" (feet above ground) on a recovery before, which certainly adds an element of intensity to the procedure.

If you have access to a flight sim, try stalling when low to the ground and then recovering. After all, isn't that when prompt and proper stall recovery is most important. Obviously nobody sane would ever do that in real life - simulated earth is a lot more forgiving than the real thing. I feel like a dope for even writing that, but I would hate for someone to read this post and then decide to do low altitude stalls on the basis of it and then have their next of kin sue me.

Taking our new plane out for a long run on Monday and Tuesday, so that will be cool.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Our new machine!

Main external differences between the 560 and the 550 Ultra are one extra window and the wing root on the ultra is swept back a wee bit. It's an entirely new wing actually, and it goes faster. New MMO is Mach 0.755 (vs 0.705 for the 550), or 292 KIAS (vs 262 KIAS for the 550). Engines are each 3045 lbs of thrust (vs 2500 on the 550) What that means in real life is the 560 Ultra can climb up to 40,000' right after takeoff, and it cruises about 90 knots faster.

When you walk in the door, you see a single seat now, instead of a 2-seat divan.

The galley is upgraded, and has lots of extra storage for snacks and drinks.

The seats are a new design. The cabin is 20 inches longer, which adds about 7 inches of extra legroom for each passenger.

Foldout tables, wheee! There's also a flitephone in the cabin, and audio controls for a CD changer in the back.

Because there is more space, even the rear seats have enough space for their own tables.

The lavatory / rear storage area has doors instead of a curtain!

The lavatory. It works. It also has a seatbelt and if we needed to, we could legally put a passenger there. Not too likely, but it's possible.

Coat hangars in the rear lav storage area. We also have a baggage compartment in the nose of the plane, and an extended baggage compartment in the tail, which can hold skis or golf clubs etc.

Here's the cockpit. The avionics are Primus 1000, with a GNS-XLS FMS (Flight Management System), which is the brains of the plane. I'll do some posts on the avionics. We also have some extra goodies, like a passenger briefing system - I press a button and a soothing voice comes across the speaker telling the pax to get ready for takeoff / landing etc.

But how does it perform? Here's 430 knots at FL410 (also known as 41,000' above sea level). When she was heavy she went to 425 knots, and after a couple of hours she was up to 436, which was bumping right up against her Mach 0.755 speed limit. Down below 40,000' I had to pull back the throttles to avoid overspeeding her. //Giggles like a schoolgirl.

Thinking about descending down to 28,000'. A quick shot of the panel in front of me.

Lunch in the air. Yeah, I'm Canadian :p

I used a panorama app on the iphone to take these next pics. Note that the picture stitching isn't 100% - we don't really have 2 overlapping panels on the copilot's side.

We took the plane to Teterboro NJ, which is where all New York corporate jets go into. The panorama app makes the wing look bendy, and the nose look stubby. I just wanted to show how many amazing corporate jets are in Teterboro on any given day - this is only a few of them.

We are taking the plane on a big trip next week, going from Toronto to Texas, Arizona and California, so that will be a great opportunity to stretch her legs and get more acquainted with her long-range performance. More to come!