One of the club’s aircraft (G-MEGS) has a G1000 glass cockpit – this means that instead of the ‘analogue’ instruments that most aircraft have, which look a bit like this:
It has two big LCD screens on which the information is shown (together with a few standby instruments in case they fail), like this:
While I’ve flown G-MEGS a few times during training, so it’s not entirely new to me, as I didn’t do my skills test in it, officially I need to get differences training and a signature in my logbook from an instructor, before I can fly it solo. I decided to get this done because more often than not G-MEGS is the only aircraft available for solo hire (as most students prefer to fly on one of the traditional aircraft as they’re more used to it).
I’d been given some information to read up beforehand, covering how to work the system (to the level I’ll need anyway). When it came to the first lesson slot I had booked the weather wasn’t good enough to fly, so instead we did a ground lesson where we both sat in the aircraft with the engine idling and went through all the functionality we could on the ground. This did result in one amusing moment whereby the driver of a fuel truck started trying to get our attention and pointing madly at the tiedowns (which we had deliberately left on), thinking we were about to try and move off with them still attached!
The first actual flight was planned to go into the local area, and look at some of the key differences such as the instrument scan if flying solely by instruments (while I should only ever do this if something has gone wrong and I’ve accidentally ended up in cloud, that’s obviously not the time to be thinking about it for the first time!), use of the navigation features (both traditional radio navigation using VOR / ADF and also the GPS). I was a bit all over the place on this flight – I think due to concentrating on the ‘TVs’ too much, rather than focusing on the actual flying (a good lesson in the importance of Aviate, Navigate, Communicate!). We did a couple of circuits, which I was really unhappy with (while both safe, the first was well off the centreline, and the second one I flared quite high on).
On the second flight I focused much more on the core visual flying, and it was much better, which built my confidence back up. This flight was covering some of the emergency situations (such as a failure of one or both of the two LCD screens, and how to identify failure of some of the instruments etc), together with some circuits for practise. After this the instructor was happy to sign me off.
I decided to do a number of solo circuits before offering to take up any passengers, just to make sure I was happy. I ballooned slightly on my first approach, and while I could have rescued it, I decided I hadn’t done a go around in a little while so it would be good practise. Due to instrument traffic backtracking on the main runway I had to do one of the touch and goes on the grass, again something I’d not done in a while, so good practise (the touchdown on this one ended up very nice which was good). After a couple more circuits I decided I was happy enough and so called it a day.