Very Light Jet Training Guidelines

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NBAA Training Guidelines for Single Pilot Operations of Very Light Jets and Technically Advanced Aircraft

2. Areas of Greatest Risk

Due to the operating regime of very light jets, an assumption must be made that very little distinction might exist between a VLJ weighing 10,000 pounds or less and heavier corporate jets. The VLJ will weigh less than many popular turboprop cabin-class twins yet will be capable of operating near the upper limits of civilian airspace as well as being integrated into the traffic patterns of America’s high-density airports. The Air Traffic System and the owner-operators must recognize the vulnerability of these lightweight and high-performance aircraft.

The manufacturers of VLJs have started to look at the unique risks that exist for their products. Any training proposal put forth by the manufacturer or vendor must include an understanding of these potential problems and the intent to address them in all phases of the training plan. The following is a list of issues discussed and brought forward during VLJ manufacturer visits:

  • Wake turbulence encounters
    • At altitude and in the traffic pattern
    • In-trail spacing and profile adjustments
    • Best recovery configuration
  • Convective weather encounters
    • Preflight weather analysis
    • Alternate route identification
    • Contract flight planning and/or dispatch interaction
    • Circumnavigation fuel capability
  • Microburst/windshear encounters
    • Area entrance rules or philosophy
    • Preflight weather analysis
    • Condition definition
    • Best recovery methods
    • Alternate airport identification
    • Alternate fuel capability
  • Clear air turbulence/jet stream core or boundary encounters
    • Preflight weather analysis
    • Contract flight planning and/or dispatch interaction
    • Aircraft configuration in various levels of turbulence
    • Lower/higher altitude cruise capability
    • Fuel burn impact
  • High-altitude upset
    • Performance capability
    • Coffin corner education
    • Recovery methods from low-speed/high-speed stalls
    • Straight/swept wing aerodynamics, as appropriate
  • Mountain wave encounters
    • Thrust and speed adjustments
    • Preflight weather analysis
  • Inadequate knowledge of high-altitude weather
    • Winds aloft millibar charts
    • Tropopause levels
    • K index and lifted index chart
    • CAT forecasts
    • Icing levels
    • Severe weather charts
  • Physiological effect of high-altitude operations
    • Altitude chamber or nitrogen simulator training
    • Personal health issues
    • Medication interaction
  • Jet blast damage behind larger jets during ground operations
    • Proper spacing on taxiways
    • Advise/educate ATC
    • Close proximity operations in icing conditions
  • Low-fuel arrivals trying to stretch range
    • Cruise chart education
    • Identification of maximum range and maximum endurance speeds
    • Identification of suitable intermediate airports
    • Altitude selection to reduce fuel consumption
  • Incorrect/less-than-optimum cruise altitude selection
    • Contract flight planning and/or dispatch interaction
    • Cruise chart education
    • Wind/altitude trade capability
    • Rule-of-thumb or toolkit approach to altitude/range/fuel burn predictions
  • Inadequate preparation for high-rate/high-speed climbs
    • Course/altitude overshoots
    • Excessive airspeed below 10,000 MSL or below Class B airspace
    • High deck angles and reduced traffic vigilance
    • Thrust-controlled vertical rate
    • Toolkit approach to thrust/speed/rate control
  • Inadequate crosswind takeoff/landing preparation
    • Speed adjustments for steady and gust components
    • Roll and pitch airframe limits
    • Flap selection criteria
    • Maximum crosswind and gust limits
  • Inadequate “land and hold short” (LAHSO) preparation
    • Minimum pattern size and programmed drag profile
    • Advise/educate ATC
  • VLJs misunderstood by ATC (pilot mitigations)
    • High speed in terminal airspace
    • High speed to final approach fix
    • Lack of respect for single pilot operation and associated work load
    • Improper spacing behind heavier traffic
    • Unreasonable requests for configuration or climb/descent performance
  • Single pilot adherence to checklists
    • Overcoming old habits
    • Patterns of discipline not developed
    • Complacency resulting from simplicity of VLJs
    • Degradation of systems knowledge
  • FMS programming and autoflight vs. manual flight control
    • Reluctance to abandon autoflight/reluctance to use autoflight
    • Inadequate FMS and/or autoflight skills
    • Inadequate manual flight skills
    • Raw data/manual flight and FMS/autoflight training
  • Inadequate exercise of “command”
    • Inclusion of captain development training in program
    • Inclusion of CRM/SRM training in program
    • Inclusion of LOFT or scenario-based training in program
    • Inclusion of judgment contrast debriefings in program
    • Inclusion of command modeling in program
  • Recognizing single pilot “red flags” (as an alternative to below)
    • POPE, which stands for:
      • Psychological (overload, inexperience, emotional)
      • Operational (aircraft-mechanical, weather, fuel, performance)
      • Physiological (fatigue, medical, pharmaceutical)
      • Environmental (time, external pressure, business)
  • Lack of pilot self-evaluations
    • Use of available tools/personal minimums checklist
    • PAVE, which stands for:
      • Pilot
      • Aircraft
      • EnVironment
      • External pressure
  • Winter operations
    • Airframe contamination
    • Airport contamination
      • Takeoff
      • Landing
    • Decision making