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Ryanair Mentored Cadet Blog – Hugh Maguire (Part 3)

Hi all, welcome back. Following a highly enjoyable few weeks completing my PIC module (Pilot in Command), my next stage is SEIR (Single Engine Instrument Rating). SEIR is where we learn to fly the plane almost entirely without looking out the window. We complete departures, cross country navigations, approaches, etc. all with reference to the instruments in the cockpit. In AFTA we have two types of cockpit in the Cessna’s, the conventional and the glass cockpit, Garmin G1000, both shown below. For those of you worried, take off and landing are still completed visually.

We have several instruments available to us when flying to allow us to navigate safely. The most well known of which would be the GPS, but further to this there are several ground based radio navigation aids available to us, each with their own unique features. We call them navaids, and they come in various shapes, sizes, and costs. With that in mind, airports will choose what is most suitable for their needs. In Ireland we are extremely fortunate to be able to avail of several different navaids, and learn the intricacies of each of them.

Local instrument approaches at Cork (Photo: Keith Suter)

For me, my favourite lesson of the whole set was the local approaches lesson. This is where we stay near Cork airport, and do what looks like a figure of eight between the runways, while completing the different instrument approach types available. Take a look at the picture to see a typical track. Note that an instrument approach is not done on autopilot, in AFTA we fly them all manually, this makes for a busy cockpit environment. All the instrument approaches will have a defined point at which you must be able to see the runway, or else you must initiate a go around. It’s a great feeling breaking out of the cloud to see the runway nicely lined up in front.

The biggest challenge I felt in SEIR was managing the higher workload. During the training we speak about having “your bucket full” while flying on instruments. This is the feeling of when your mind is so full of information that it cannot take any more until what it has has been processed. In AFTA, the instructors will actively try to reach this point with you, to test your limits, and then allow you to expand those limits. It’s a strange feeling when the “bucket” is full, but when you realise in the next lesson that your “bucket” has grown, that changes to a great feeling of accomplishment. SEIR really made me feel that I was transitioning away from a recreational private pilot, towards an airline pilot. And that is what I signed up for, so I loved it.

I’ve now moved aircraft to the Piper PA-34 Seneca. This is a twin engine aircraft that I’m using to work towards my Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL). It’s new and exciting, but presents its own challenges. Find out more in the next one. All the best!