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'The Turbine Pilot's Flight Manual' updated

The airlines are on a pilot hiring binge but, ironically, there’s a scant amount of comprehensive reading material aimed at pilots aspiring to fly turbine-powered airplanes.

Photo by Chris Rose.

The first such book, The Turbine Pilot’s Flight Manual, by Gregory N. Brown and Mark J. Holt, was published in 1995. At 192 pages, it was a sparse book that emphasized the basics of turbine aircraft systems.

Now The Turbine Pilot’s Flight Manual is in its fourth edition, which entered publication in December 2019. At 386 pages, it’s much improved and more complete. Like its predecessors, the book is organized rather like a pilot’s operating handbook. After extended discussions on training, turbine engine components (including auxiliary power units/APUs), and operational theory come chapters on aircraft systems. Special emphasis is placed on pressurization, environmental, electrical, and pneumatic systems. If you ever wondered what the difference was between an air cycle machine and a vapor cycle machine, here’s your source. (Hint: vapor cycle uses refrigerant, air cycle relies on a heat exchanger.)

Flight manual-inspired chapters address the familiar sequence: Limitations; Normal Procedures; Emergency/abnormal procedures; Performance; Weight and balance; and Airplane handling, service, and maintenance. But owing to the book’s focus on general aspects, you won’t find type-specific information. Instead, the authors paint with a broad brush. So, the chapter on normal procedures talks about crew coordination, crew resource management, briefings, checklists, and callouts—not the procedures you’d use in, say, a certain type of Cessna Citation, Dassault Falcon, or Boeing jets. Similarly, the chapter on performance discusses the use of takeoff and landing cards, calculating braking performance, and the use of electronic flight bags. In the airplane handling, hazard avoidance, and operational information chapters, there’s plenty of basic information about IFR operations, airborne weather radar, and traffic alert and collision avoidance systems, plus ground deicing and holdover times.

There’s also a chapter dedicated to navigation. Here, the material dwells on the intricacies surrounding the use of flight management systems, flight directors, area navigation/RNAV, head-up displays, and even controller-pilot datalink communications and selective calling for company communications. Yet another chapter offers rules of thumb for fuel planning, calculating visual descent points, descent planning, and stabilized final approach strategies. There’s even an 18-page spotter’s guide listing specifications and features of popular corporate and air-carrier turboprop and fanjet airplanes.

In all, the authors (Brown is a master flight instructor; Holt is an airline captain) do an admirable job of covering the topics you’re most likely to encounter when stepping up to turbines. They provide the groundwork for more in-depth learning of the sort imparted during training for a type rating. Many large-format illustrations round out the coverage, as well as a glossary of turbine terms and updates required for completing an airline transport pilot certification training program.

The Turbine Pilot’s Flight Manual (available in a variety of formats from $54.95) is published by Aviation Supplies and Academics Inc.

Thomas A. Horne

Thomas A. Horne

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
Topics: Jet, Training and Safety

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