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Getting familiar with a new type of aircraft
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Commercial pilots around the world are feeling the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aircraft operators are affected by the crisis and some are restructuring their operations, which can translate into fleet and pilot pool reductions. For some pilots, this may mean they’ll be assigned to another type of aircraft within the same company or will need to learn to fly a different type of aircraft with another employer. Here are some suggested steps for pilots starting fresh on an unfamiliar aircraft. 

1. Find an instructor familiar with the type of aircraft you are getting ready to fly

The best tips and advice will naturally come from pilots very familiar with the aircraft you will be flying. Instructors are very resourceful and will be able to point you in the direction of the right readings and tools to gain proficiency on your new aircraft. It’s their job to help and guide you through this process!

2. Get familiarized with the cockpit layout

Once you’ve met with an instructor, this should be your starting point. If you don’t have regular access to a simulator or the actual aircraft you’ll get to fly, use a cockpit diagram to help you locate its many elements.

Being familiar with the cockpit is the first step towards learning and reviewing systems, checklists and procedures. This step is not to be underestimated. For example, if you are transitioning from a round-dial to a glass cockpit, you might have to get familiarized with a new way to scan instruments. 

3. Read the Aircraft Flight Manual and/or the Pilot Operating Handbook

Get familiar with the various speeds, the aircraft’s limitations and performance data, normal and emergency procedures as well as various checklist items. Take notes of elements you might not fully understand and discuss them with pilots and instructions experienced on type.

It is essential to be self-aware and know how comfortable you are with a new aircraft before you take it up for a ride. If you don’t feel entirely confident, keep studying and, if able, jump in a simulator session or flight with a pilot that is experienced on type. Learning how an unfamiliar aircraft operates is challenging but very rewarding and worth the effort once everything starts flowing again.

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