Safety Publications/Articles

From The Right Seat

A Scan Plan

There are probably as many ways to scan instruments as there are lighters at a rock concert. Here's a version that may not be so overwhelming to your primary students during their first introduction to the subject.

Starting from straight-and-level flight, cover up five of the six main instruments. Leave only the attitude indicator (AI) uncovered. Have your student imagine that the AI is a miniature window to the outside world. Flying straight and level is simply a matter of keeping the miniature airplane's wings aligned with the horizon line.

Introduce the turn by having your student bank the AI's miniature airplane until it aligns with the first white diagonal line shown below the horizon line. This is the 15-degree bank line. This line makes it easy for a student to roll into right or left turns without having to look at the sky pointer. Now introduce additional instruments, one at a time.

Start by uncovering the altimeter. Have your student scan back and forth between the AI and the altimeter. Have him make small pitch adjustments (perhaps one-half to one bar width) to keep the altitude constant. Try the same thing while making right and left turns. Your student will be amazed by how easy it is to maintain altitude with these two instruments.

Next, cover the altimeter and uncover the heading indicator (HI). Show the student how to make slight changes in heading by lowering a wing just below the horizon line on the AI. For larger turns, have your student bank the airplane to the first diagonal bank line (15 degrees of bank). Instruct him to lead all heading rollouts by 10 degrees.

Cover the HI and uncover the airspeed indicator (ASI). Demonstrate the proper attitude for a climb and descent, as well as the appropriate power settings for each. Your student only needs to remember three pitch attitudes (climb, level, and descent) and three power settings (climb, cruise, and descent). Have him scan back and forth between the AI and ASI. Practice making small pitch adjustments on the AI to maintain the desired airspeed while climbing, cruising, and descending. Don't forget to mention trimming for each attitude, either.

Finally, uncover all of the instruments except the turn coordinator and VSI. For an initial lesson on instrument scanning, I find it best if they don't even think about these two instruments. Leave them for a future lesson.

I've had great success with this method. The secret is to not overwhelm a student with too many instruments at one time. I hope you find it useful.

By Rod Machado

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