About a week and a half now since my last check-in. It’s gone fast, some would say it’s flown by… Fingers crossed I’m nearing the end, hopefully I’ll be doing the skills tests this time next week.
I’ve had plenty of flying over the last 10 days, amounting to about 20 hours in the aircraft. Lots of proper Instrument flying. Which brings me up to total of around 60 when the sim is included.
With the weather now getting close to and below zero degrees. We’ve now to add icing to our list of Things to Appreciate. Allowing ice to build up on an aircraft is extremely dangerous. There are two significant changes to the aircraft firstly, its weight increases and secondly, it plays havoc with the aerodynamics, which limits the ability of the aircraft to produce lift, which of course is what counter acts the weight of the aircraft. So, effectively your day is going to get exponentially worse, the more ice you let build up on your aircraft.
On larger aircraft, they either heat the critical surfaces to melt or prevent ice build up, or use pneumatically expanding “boots” to effectively kick off the ice build-up. Another less common method, which is optional on the DA42, is incorporate de-icing fluid system, which through micro holes in the leading edges, allows de-ice fluid to seep out at a controlled rate to prevent ice build up. The school aircraft doesn’t have that system, but the spare aircraft does. Using this system costs approximately an extra 100 euro per hour of use on fluid. So, naturally they’re not too keen to have to use it, even when in the spare aircraft.
So, we don’t have icing protection. To insure we don’t pick up ice, we simply don’t fly through through moisture, i.e. cloud when the outside air temperature is 0 or less. In some cases it can occur at higher temperatures if the aircraft is colder, i.e. after a descent from colder air at higher altitudes. But, the general rule is we except that water freezes at 0.
The main concern for us, is to be aware that we are vulnerable to this effect, if we are in cloud and the temperature is around zero, we must have a back up plan. Either descend to warmer air or climb/turn out of it. One rule of thumb, if you start to pick up ice, do a 180 deg turn and go back in the direction you came, as you know there was no ice there.
Yesterday, took me on another little cross country, to Malmo, then Halmstad and back to Kalmar. A nice flight, I probably would have got some great footage on the go-pro only my positioning gamble didn’t pay off. The disadvantage of a gopro, without a wifi-connection, is that you can’t see what picture it’s taking, until you put the memory card into the computer after you’ve taking the footage. But, I did manage to take a screen shot from the footage as I crossed the threshold to 34 at Kalmar, which has made for a funky new header. I also took this photo on my phone, of the sun hanging low over the Baltic sea. A beautiful morning flight with clear skies, life is good!
After a bumpy approach to and quick stop on the ground at Malmo, we headed on to Halmstad, a small airport about 30 minutes North. A relatively easy flight, one where icing was certainly a consideration. Flying at 4,000, we were right at the zero degrees level, and we in-fact managed to pick up some minute icing passing through the cloud as we skimmed their tops. Insignificant to the performance, yet still good to experience. At Halmstad, we did a procedure ILS, all went pretty well, but at 2,000 feet it was interesting to see 50 knot winds, that’s about 93kph or 58mph. When breaking out of the cloud it took me, what seemed like an age(probably 5 or 6 seconds), to find the runway. I was looking straight out, and of course with about a 35 knot crosswind component, it was about 20 to 30 degrees left of the nose.
After a another bumpy low approach to Halmstad, we headed back to Kalmar. We finished with an NDB approach to runway 16 and a circling to land 34.
One of the other interesting events of the past week was a trip to Ronneby, which is an air-force base to the South-West of Kalmar that allows civil traffic. The cool thing about Ronneby is that they allow civil aircraft to perform Precision Approach Radar(PAR) approaches. Something that will be rarely used in civil life, but really fun to do and you never now when the need might arise that you have to do one. The PAR approach is where an air traffic controller tells you exactly what to do the whole way down, i.e. fly up-down-left-right etc.
Between approaches we were given a delay, and asked to stay to the East of the Airport. So we used the opportunity to do some “aircraft familiarization,” and have a bit of fun. Which of course I made a little video of, so enjoy.