Monday, July 14, 2008

Basic Instrument Proficiency through Practice

You can expect to make many of the following common scanning errors, both during training and at any subsequent time, if you fail to maintain basic instrument proficiency through practice:
  1. Fixation, or staring at a single instrument, usually occurs for a good reason, but has poor results. For instance, you may find yourself staring at your altimeter, which reads 200 feet below the assigned altitude, wondering how the needle got there. While you gaze at the instrument, perhaps with increasing tension on the controls, a heading change occurs unnoticed, and more errors accumulate. Another common fixation is likely when you initiate an attitude change. For example, you establish a shallow bank for a 90° turn and stare at the heading indicator throughout the turn, instead of maintaining your cross-check of other pertinent instruments. You know the aircraft is turning and you do not need to recheck the heading indicator for approximately 25 seconds after turn entry, yet you cannot take your eyes off the instrument. The problem here may not be entirely due to cross-check error. It may be related to difficulties with one or both of the other fundamental skills. You may be fixating because of uncertainty about reading the heading indicator (interpretation), or because of inconsistency in rolling out of turns (control).
  2. Omission of an instrument from your cross-check is another likely fault. It may be caused by failure to anticipate significant instrument indications following attitude changes. For example, on your roll-out from a 180° steep turn, you establish straight-and-level flight with reference to the attitude indicator alone, neglecting to check the heading indicator for constant heading information. Because of precession error, the attitude indicator will temporarily show a slight error, correctable by quick reference to the other flight instruments.
  3. Emphasis on a single instrument, instead of on the combination of instruments necessary for attitude information, is an understandable fault during the initial stages of training. You naturally tend to rely on the instrument that you understand most readily, even when it provides erroneous or inadequate information. Reliance on a single instrument is poor technique. For example, you can maintain reasonably close altitude control with the attitude indicator, but you cannot hold altitude with precision without including the altimeter in your crosscheck.
Tag: Flying instrument, instrument flight, aviation, piloting, instrument rating, instrument flying training, instrument flight rating, instrument rating requirement, instrument rating regulation, aircraft, aero plane, airplane, and aeronautical knowledge.

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