These last two weeks were very exciting for me as I started my commercial multi-engine training. I’ve been flying the Piper PA-44 Seminole, which is a fairly common training aircraft that many other Part 141 schools use. I’ve gotten through six lessons so far, which have included one simulator session in the Red Bird and five actual flights with an MEI (Multi-Engine Instructor). We started out with basic maneuvers and handling practice, designed to help me become comfortable flying a more complicated aircraft. After that we did several cross-country flights, before jumping into asymmetric thrust.
I had to complete a day and a night VFR cross-country that each required a destination at least 100nm away. I was able to take a friend backseat for each flight, which made the trips more interesting. For one of the flights, we planned straight across the lake at 7,500ft to Milwaukee. For the other one, we went down south to Kokomo, IN. For me it was a good chance to become more familiar using the Garmin avionics, and to review navigational techniques and equipment. For the night landing we had to make it a full stop with a taxi back; even though the operating handbook gave us a landing length that was acceptable for the runway in use. Our school flight operations manual (FOM) has specific requirements that are often much more strict than what is legally required by the FAA, and the goal of these restrictions is to create a larger safety margin for training activities.
During the most recent flight, I was actually able to shut down and restart one of our engines. First we went through the touch drills and checklists with the engine just on idle, before actually pulling the mixture. I was surprised by the huge performance increase that feathering the prop caused. As soon as we got rid of the extra drag (by decreasing the propeller blade angle pitch to a fully feathered position), our airspeed increased about 5kts, and we were able to start a slight climb.
It’s been a great experience so far, and I’ll be working on a few more sims and a flight tomorrow. I also need to get up to speed on my ground knowledge as I continue studying for the upcoming Progress Check. Most of that will cover basic system information and aerodynamics related to single-engine flight.