As the venerable Twin Commander ages gracefully, we are seeing some interesting changes in the pilot profiles of new owner-pilots. The traditional profile of mid-time, twin-engine pilots transitioning into the Commander is shifting to far more single-engine piston pilots who lack Multiengine or turbine, let alone pressurized aircraft time. This trend could be interpreted as a downside, but in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Most of the recent SEL piston pilots transitioning into Twin Commanders have extensive glass panel and PFD/MFD experience.
As more Twin Commanders worldwide are converted from steam-gauge six-packs to digital MFDs, we are seeing a gradual glass-cockpit standard evolve. While this is far from a standardized cockpit suite, it does speak to the fact that, increasingly, Twin Commander pilots are enjoying improved situational awareness—day or night. Most importantly, these new entry pilots are progressively more comfortable with the technology.
Thus, we now have glass-capable pilots who require twin and turbine transitions. These pilots make perfect candidates for in-plane training, and can then coordinate their transition via in-plane or SimCom initial ground and flight school. In some ways, you could say we’ve come full circle, from having transitioning pilots experienced in the airframe and powerplants struggling with glass cockpits to having pilots quite comfortable with the MFDs but challenged by the systems and engines.
The takeaway here is the ever-increasing importance of training resources capable of handling these diverse transitions both in-plane and in the simulator to constantly improve and enhance the initial transition and recurrent experience.
Every insurer requires Twin Commander pilots complete an initial ground and flight syllabus followed by in-plane or SimCom simulator-based recurrent training pursuant to the FARs to maintain currency. For transitioning pilots this training evolution takes on even greater importance. Depending upon their prior flight experience these pilots may require remedial work and initial orientation with a mentor pilot prior to the initial ground and flight syllabus. Depending upon the pilot’s experience, the underwriter may require from 10 to 100 hours total time in make and model after initial training before the pilot can fly solo or with passengers. Thus, a transition syllabus can vary greatly between pilots.
As always, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-635-80080 for vigorous debate, questions or comments. Fly safe, Commanders!
Dale Barnard manages the Twin Commander Insurance Program for Gallagher Aviation.