IFR Guidance Requested

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IFR Guidance Requested

Postby brian.olson » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:46 pm

I'm looking at the wisdom of the group to help provide some guidance regarding IFR training/cert. I've spent the past several weeks thumbing through the archives, noting similar questions and their responses, but I'm going to take another swing at the question and look to your input with open ears and open eyes. First off, thanks for reading this, and I'll let you know ahead of time that I value each and every opinion. George H., your accumulated responses and perspective have been especially noted.

I acquired 62C in September and since that time have received my tailwheel endorsement, BFR, put 40+ hours on the plane, replaced the ADS, baffles, main tailwheel spring, etc. She's a wonderful plane - nice and stable, she's good to myself and my wife, a joy to take on trips, and an ever-present teacher. I am only just beginning to learn how to listen. Transparently, I am also a low-time pilot with approximately 155 hours total time (40+ of which, as previously mentioned, have been spent in 62C in the last six-ish months).

I'm interested in pursuing an IFR certification "at some point" (which realistically could be this summer, or next year). The driver of this is that we have had several trips cancelled (or in one case, had to drive home and return the next day) due to low ceilings. The second driver is that I am a constant learner, striving for precision, challenge and safety. My goal would be to fly in "light" IFR, being fully capable of complete IFR flight, departures and arrivals, but realistically using it to punch through layers to above- and below- VFR conditions (this, my research has told me, is the sweet spot of the 170 and multiple members of this group).

Here are my specific questions to the group. I'd love your frank and experience-honed opinions here.

1. Pilot: Let's just start with the basics - is it "too early" (i.e., at 155 hours) to even be thinking about IFR training?

2. Equipment: I've attached a photo of 62C's instrument panel for your enjoyment. Single KX-125 nav/comm and a localizer/glideslope head. Artificial Horizon, DG are off the venturi. Turn/bank is electric. Transponder in the photos has been replaced with a Stratus ADS-B, plus I fly with an iPad running Foreflight (note: I recognize this is for situational awareness only, and is not certified for IFR). The photo indicates marker beacons and a rudimentary audio "panel" (ok, they are switches) - these were hooked up to an old Narco radio that was removed in the mid-80s when the KX125 was installed and are currently inop. I do not have a DME.

3. Instrument Placement: I anticipate I'll need to have my shop move things around - too much time looking right, too much time looking down. If we number the top instruments from 1 to 7 (left to right), what is the optimal order based on your experience? I assume, with any re-order, that I'll need to move the glideslope head to the floating panel where the marker beacon lights currently are.

4. The gear-acquisition safety pilot part of me could imagine getting an IFR-certified GPS and sticking it in the lower-left. This could potentially give me an additional nav/comm, would allow RNAV and GPS approaches, would require an audio panel, cool lights, I would be incredibly broke with no money for gas, and my wife would probably leave me. I'd rather not go this route, and my research indicates I probably don't have to.

5. The airport I fly out of (KFFC) and nearly all surrounding airports all have at least one ILS approach, so the chances of getting home without a GPS (Foreflight for situational awareness) is excellent.

TO SUM IT ALL UP: Can I realistically expect to train for all aspects of IFR flying (read: hold myself to the standards of the certificate) in my own airplane, with no (or minimal) additional equipment purchase, but moving some things around a little on the panel, a single nav/comm and head - and expect to be able to fly "light" IFR (consisting of punching through layers as well as flying the system)? What am I missing here, if anything?

Again - I REALLY value everyone's critical advice and opinions.

Ok ... go.
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N5762C Panel.jpg
Brian
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Re: IFR Guidance Requested

Postby gahorn » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:10 am

Brian, .... it's never "too soon" to start your instrument training. Regardless of your experience level, you will only improve with good instrument training.

I too would re-organize the panel. I'd leave the Airspeed where it is, and move the Art. Horizon to the No. 2 spot (directly in front of you) and move the Altimeter to the No 3 position immediately to the right of the Art. Horiz.
I'd move the DG one-space to the right into the no 4 position, and the Vor/Loc/GS indicator immediately below it where your marker bcns are presently.
I"d move your T&B to the present location of that VOR/LOC/GS indicator.
That is all my personal preference if I were in your position...not necessarily what others might choose. My reasoning is to bring the panel at least to a semblence of modern layouts to increase ease of scanning. (Less importantly, I'd also move the VS to where the ammeter/clock is presently, move the amp/clock anywhere else convenient, and move the tach to where the VS is presently, and install a second horizon in front of the copilot when I had extra money.) The spot vacated by the tach might be where the ammeter/clock could go...but that's your choice, they may also fit in the extra space where the VOR/LOC/GS is traded with the T7B.

Personally, I feel an IFR GPS is more useful in a 170 than a GS, but since you already have it, don't toss it. The marker bcns are tits-on-a-boar-hog.... don't spend anything on them, and consider tossing them if the space is precious. A GPS will take care of locating outer markers and DME.

While I don't have it on my own airplane and don't feel it necessary, ... a heated pitot is something you might want if you have money left over, but I believe good instrument lighting is more important.

Great plans! Go for it!
'53 B-model N146YS SN:25713
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Re: IFR Guidance Requested

Postby brian.olson » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:53 am

George - thanks for your thoughtful suggestions. A clarification question for you: if a GPS ends up being financially out of bounds, would you suggest putting a DME into the panel or just go with what's there?
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Re: IFR Guidance Requested

Postby hilltop170 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:33 am

Brian-
Congratulations on deciding to get your instrument rating, it will be a very useful tool if treated with respect. I have four "never do" items that I religiously follow when flying IFR: Never fly in ice, thunderstorms, fog, or into deteriorating conditions. That has served me very well for the past 39 years of instrument flying in single engine airplanes. Obviously I'm very conservative when flying IFR. I do not have to cancel many trips because of it but I have no hesitation to cancel if the conditions warrant it. And that includes if I just don't feel like flying IFR that day.

My opinion of when you should start instrument training is entirely up to you. If you feel ready, go for it. None of it is hard to learn, there is just a lot of stuff you have to learn and lots of different options on training methods.

Now, the airplane. I got my instrument rating in my 170 in 1979. Rebuilding my instrument panel myself to allow all the instruments needed for IFR took about 2 months. My college graduation present to myself was a new King Silver Crown radio stack which was 1) as good as I could afford and 2) just about the minimum required for IFR flight. It consisted of a KX170B Nav-Com with glideslope and a KI-209 ILS nav head, KR-86 ADF, KT76 non TSO'd transponder, KA-134 audio panel with marker beacons, and a Cessna Nav-Com 300 for use only as a backup since it would only receive a VOR within about 20 miles of the station and had very few com frequencies, I don't remember the spacing but it was a very basic radio (George would probably want it for his obsolete radio collection and it was obsolete when I was using it but it did work).

You can always wire-in an aux com antenna and headphone connections for emergency/second radio. I have a picture somewhere of my plane in the original IFR configuration I'll try to find and post it. It was very easy to get used to even though it was not a standard 6-pack. Idid my training, got my rating, and flew 150 hours of actual IFR with basic equipment so it can be done, you just have to pay attention more. Always know where you are and what you are going to do next. You'll be a better IFR pilot in the long run using basic equipment to start with as opposed to using the new Gucci stuff right from the start. You can always upgrade and transition to the new stuff later but learning and flying with just the basics will make you a better pilot. Having to continually have a mental picture of where you are and what you are going to do next will keep you very sharp. GPS can make you lazy if you let it.

You only have to have the equipment for the type of flying you are going to do. In your case airways and VOR/LOC/ILS. That will get you there but a moving map GPS would really be nice. Garmin 430s are all you would need and are becoming available as folks upgrade to newer units. You don't need a DME as long as none of the approaches you intend to use require them. DME is going obsolete along with the VOR system as GPS takes over.

Good luck in your training and keep us informed of your progress.
Last edited by hilltop170 on Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Richard Pulley
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1951 170A, N1715D, s/n 20158, O-300D
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Re: IFR Guidance Requested

Postby n2582d » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:14 am

hilltop170 wrote: I have four "never do" items that I religiously follow when flying IFR: Never fly in ice, thunderstorms, fog, or into deteriorating conditions. That has served me very well for the past 39 years of instrument flying in single engine airplanes. Obviously I'm very conservative when flying IFR.
Brian, as you gain experience you will find flying in thunderstorms challenging but doable in your 170 as it is very similar to the L-19. I'm not serious. But apparently Cessna or the Army was! Can you believe this advice? 8O Here's the clip from the L-19 Flight Manual:
Thunderstorms.jpg
TM55-1510-202-10 Chap. 2, Sec. IX, para 9-35, pg. 9-4
Last edited by n2582d on Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: IFR Guidance Requested

Postby N2625U » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:39 pm

It would seem 'common sense' dictates to dodge the Tstorms! :D Unless their definition of 'common sense' is different than mine...
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Re: IFR Guidance Requested

Postby gahorn » Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:24 pm

brian.olson wrote:George - thanks for your thoughtful suggestions. A clarification question for you: if a GPS ends up being financially out of bounds, would you suggest putting a DME into the panel or just go with what's there?


No, I would rather have a non-certified GPS than a DME. While it cannot technically be used for IFR flight, it is a dependable/useful item and I personally would have no qualms about using it for distance-measuring.
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Re: IFR Guidance Requested

Postby hilltop170 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:52 pm

He has Foreflight on his iPad so he already has GPS and Foreflight is much more detailed than most panel mount GPS units.

And to reinforce my refusal to fly into thunderstorms, many single engine planes over the years have exited thunderstorms in pieces vertically into the ground. They can easily be avoided nowadays with ADS-B-in weather, XM radar, and on Foreflight/other systems when in cell service areas. Ice and fog are more difficult to locate but that info is getting better too.
Last edited by hilltop170 on Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Richard Pulley
2014-2016 TIC170A Past President
1951 170A, N1715D, s/n 20158, O-300D
Owned from 1973 to 1984.
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Re: IFR Guidance Requested

Postby brian.olson » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:00 pm

Folks - really appreciate the feedback and insights. This is most helpful and encouraging.
Brian
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Re: IFR Guidance Requested

Postby flyboy122 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:56 pm

I just did my IR a couple years ago in my 170, and it was similarly equipped: KX155/CDI, Narco VOR, Audio Panel, Mkr bcn, transponder. It was adequate, but barely. Not being able to fly RNAV approaches, DME arcs, etc... really limits your options. Not having a second com was inconvenient but doable. I can't imagine not having a second VOR. I would recommend getting the instruments as close to the standard "T" as possible.

For training keep in mind you can now do up to 20 hours in the sim. Do that. I did 10 hours as that's what was legal at that time and it was by far better training than the plane. Yeah, the plane is different and at some point you have to fly, but the sim really exposes you to a lot and is so much more efficient. Plus this will give you exposure to the standard T, different approaches, etc...

I do not fly my airplane actual IFR. My intent was to only use it to punch a layer and get on top or in case of emergency, and that's still the case. I realize in the olden days when men had more hair on their chest and the women were prettier people flew IFR with less all the time, but without a GPS you are really limited nowadays. A lot of the VOR approaches are little airports are going away and being replaced by GPS. Plus you are more or less limited to flying the victor airways, and in slow range limited airplanes like the 170 that's just a PIA. Finally, my gyros are powered by a vacuum pump, and at a recent AOPA seminar they had a stat that something like 1/3 of vacuum pump failures in IMC are fatal. Given the frequency of pump failures that's just not good enough odds for me to file a protracted flight in the soup. If I had one of those new Garmin or Dynon electronic gyros I might feel different.

No, it's not to early. I had 1400 hours when I did mine and I might as well have had 140. It's learning to fly all over again. That's why it takes 40 hours. Get it now and reap the benefits. If I were you'd I'd probably tough it out in the 170, but use the sim as much as you can.

Finally, good luck finding an instructor! Tailwheel endorsed CFII's are becoming a rarity nowadays. (And they need to be legal in the plane to file your x-country training flight because you can't.)

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Re: IFR Guidance Requested

Postby KS170A » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:27 am

brian.olson wrote:1. Pilot: Let's just start with the basics - is it "too early" (i.e., at 155 hours) to even be thinking about IFR training?

Not at all.

brian.olson wrote:2. Equipment: I've attached a photo of 62C's instrument panel for your enjoyment. Single KX-125 nav/comm and a localizer/glideslope head. Artificial Horizon, DG are off the venturi. Turn/bank is electric. Transponder in the photos has been replaced with a Stratus ADS-B, plus I fly with an iPad running Foreflight (note: I recognize this is for situational awareness only, and is not certified for IFR). The photo indicates marker beacons and a rudimentary audio "panel" (ok, they are switches) - these were hooked up to an old Narco radio that was removed in the mid-80s when the KX125 was installed and are currently inop. I do not have a DME.

3. Instrument Placement: I anticipate I'll need to have my shop move things around - too much time looking right, too much time looking down. If we number the top instruments from 1 to 7 (left to right), what is the optimal order based on your experience? I assume, with any re-order, that I'll need to move the glideslope head to the floating panel where the marker beacon lights currently are.

I echo what George has said about instrument placement. I have my VFR-only airplane set up very similar to that. My ideal package would be to have a Garmin GTN650 for Comm/Nav/ILS/GPS coupled with a Garmin G5 attitude and G5 HSI combo. At first, I thought this was way overkill (and it probably is) for a "light" IFR 170, but after flying this package in a 1979 C172, I became a believer. For one, it does away with all gyroscopic instruments (so you can ditch the weight and ice-accumulating characteristics of the venturi). Second, it allows so much more information to be presented in a very small space (read: small scan area). Third, as they are all-electronic (with standby batteries included), you don't have to wait for airspeed to power up your gyros, thus allowing you to safely depart into IFR conditions with the confidence the indications are accurate (instead of the gyros just starting to spin up). I'm going to duck for cover as soon as I post as I'm sure the 170 purists will flame me for suggesting these! :twisted:

brian.olson wrote:4. The gear-acquisition safety pilot part of me could imagine getting an IFR-certified GPS and sticking it in the lower-left. This could potentially give me an additional nav/comm, would allow RNAV and GPS approaches, would require an audio panel, cool lights, I would be incredibly broke with no money for gas, and my wife would probably leave me. I'd rather not go this route, and my research indicates I probably don't have to.
5. The airport I fly out of (KFFC) and nearly all surrounding airports all have at least one ILS approach, so the chances of getting home without a GPS (Foreflight for situational awareness) is excellent.

With RNAV/GPS appproaches with LPV minimums now outnumbering ILS approaches, and the number of smaller airports with those LPV-minima approaches, I'd rather have a WAAS IFR GPS in my airplane.

brian.olson wrote:TO SUM IT ALL UP: Can I realistically expect to train for all aspects of IFR flying (read: hold myself to the standards of the certificate) in my own airplane, with no (or minimal) additional equipment purchase, but moving some things around a little on the panel, a single nav/comm and head - and expect to be able to fly "light" IFR (consisting of punching through layers as well as flying the system)? What am I missing here, if anything?

You absolutely can! And when you win the lottery and can put in all that fancy Garmin stuff, you can also put in their GFC500 autopilot and really enjoy IFR flight!
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Re: IFR Guidance Requested

Postby DaveF » Tue Feb 20, 2018 2:26 am

Space behind the panel is limited, so you may not be able to move things around as you'd like. But George's suggestions are a good goal.

You're equipped to do what you want. I have approximately the same equipment, including the Stratus and iPad, but without a marker. I've flown quite a few hours of actual IMC and several actual ILSs down to about 700 agl. Simple is good, don't add equipment because it might be useful someday. The pilot flies the airplane, the equipment doesn't.

Before making any changes, take some instrument instruction and learn to use what you've got and the feel of the airplane under the hood. Learn to use the iPad, which can cause disruption in your scan, looking at it, then back at the panel. The 170 is lighter on the controls than most airplanes used for instrument flying, so like flying a tailwheel airplane, it'll make you a better pilot. In my opinion.

You have two instruments running on one venturi? How much suction do you get in cruise? On takeoff? At approach speed? That last one is important.
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Re: IFR Guidance Requested

Postby gahorn » Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:24 pm

No argument from me about the virtues of electronics which are approved to replace mechanical gyros... but thinking it's a good idea so you can launch into low IFR because of reduced gyroscopic-capability should give you pause to reflect on what you're gonna due because of reduced engine capability with such low viz/ceiling...

I've got venturiis that are ice-proof (because the airplane is not approved for icing... I don't fly in icing conditions. The venturiis are the least of my concern when it comes to ice.)-- non-purist :mrgreen:
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Re: IFR Guidance Requested

Postby brian.olson » Mon Nov 19, 2018 2:04 am

Circling back on this one. Although it has taken awhile to get to this point, today I finished my first in-flight IFR lesson and had a great time. Between my first posting many months ago and now I've reviewed several equipment upgrade possibilities and dragged my feet quite a bit, ultimately deciding to hold off on any changes to the panel. All it took was finding an (independent) instructor who replied "wow - that will be so cool to go old-school for a chance" when I challenged him with intent to learn IFR and a D.P. who stopped by the hanger one day to admire 62C and remarked "no issues at all passing the practical in this plane - call me when you are ready" to set things in motion. I'll keep you updated as my training progresses.

Once again, I appreciate all the input and support of the folks on the forum.

More to come -
Brian
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