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Flight Profiles for IFR Cross Country

by Darren Smith, CFII/MEI
IFR Checkride Reviewer, May 2007

IFR Navigation:   General Info Instrument Rating | Instrument Rating Lesson Plans | 7-day IFR Rating IFR Adventure | Instrument Ground School | Safety Pilot | Holding | IFR Risk | Trip Reports | Flight Profiles | Rating Requirements | After the IFR Rating | Checkride Reviewer | Visi-Hold | Are you  ready?

Flight Profile Series: Introduction | Improving Safety | Instrument X/C | Commercial X/C

Two years ago, I wrote 2 articles in this series: Introduction to Flight Profiles and Improving Safety Using Flight Profiles. During these past two years, I've come to a new kind of thinking about integrating this into the required (dual) IFR and Commercial cross country flights.  We're really missing the boat when it comes to teaching our students during these two learning experiences.  The most obvious missing piece is that we do not really teach phases of flight.  Sure we teach checklists and students learn what triggers a checklist.  But we don't teach specific skills and events by phase of flight. Instead we teach whatever comes to our mind and whatever happens to come up during the flight.

For the IFR cross country this instructional tactic is important because we're trying to impart structure to the student.  Afterall, isn't the entire IFR system based on rigid structure and procedure?  Then why aren't we teaching these discrete skills and events within the structure of Phases of Flight?  For the commercial cross country requirements, a student obviously wants to earn a living by flying so we should expose them to the rigors of structured flight. The airlines have been doing it this way for years.  We should be exposing our commercial students to it as well.

How do we do this?  Over the last two articles in this series, I'll break out specific learning objectives by phase of flight.  You'll be able to use this as a checklist to plan and complete your lesson plan. 

Obvious note:  all skills are within PTS standards, +/-50 feet, +/-10 degrees heading, standard rate climbs & turns, proper crosswind control takeoff & landing and course tracking, complies with all clearances, complies with FAR/AIM, verbalizes checklists or they're assumed not completed, and completes all maneuvers smoothly, safely, and in a stabilized manner.  After all, the student should be ready for his checkride.

Trigger/Starts With
Is Able To Perform...
1. Preflight/Engine Start Walking out to the aircraft.
  • Prepare an adequate flight plan
    • Fuel
    • Terrain
    • Routing
    • Weight & Balance
    • Aircraft performance
  • Conducts flight plan briefing
  • File the flight plan
  • Obtain a weather briefing
  • Reviews aircraft logbook for AV1ATE
  • Reviews aircraft documents for ARROW
  • Properly sets up the cockpit
  • Aircraft Preflight
  • Conducts briefing for flight
    • PAVE checklist
    • Alternative ways to complete the flight
    • FOTA Briefing
  • Passenger Brief
  • Before aircraft start checklist
  • Starting engine checklist
  • Program the GPS
2. Taxi/Takeoff Movement for the purpose of flight
  • Before taxi checklist
  • GPS Preflight Check
  • Obtain IFR Clearance
  • Obtain ATIS
  • Obtain Taxi Clearance
  • Instrument Cockpit Check
  • Taxi Checklist
  • Before Takeoff Checklist
  • Takeoff Checklist
3. Departure(Climb) Aircraft departs the runway
  • Obtain Takeoff clearance
  • Line up checks
  • Perform takeoff
  • Maintain crosswind drift control
  • Check in with departure control
  • Complies with ATC Clearances
  • Departure Checklist
  • Cruise Checklist
4. Enroute Cruise Level off at altitude
  • Cruise Checklist
  • Properly manages fuel
  • Monitors flight plan for timing and fuel usage
  • Monitors engine health
  • VFR Lost Communications
  • IFR Lost Communications
  • Maintain visual scan in VFR conditions
  • Manages autopilot properly, if equipped
  • Enroute Emergency & Diversion
    • Oil temp climbing
    • Engine Failure
  • Oxygen requirements
  • Request altitude change
  • Complies with ATC Clearances
  • Top of Descent Checklist
5. Descent Instruction to descend from cruise
  • Obtain ATIS
  • In-range or approach checklist
  • Approach Briefing
6. Approach ATC approach clearance
  • Complies with ATC Clearances
  • Manages a gear failure
  • Executes a hold
  • Use DME if equipped
  • Flies a stabilized approach
  • VOR, LOC, ILS, GPS approach
  • Missed approach to another approach at same airport
  • Autopilot coupled approach, if equipped
  • Missed approach to another airport
  • Circling Approach
  • Obtain Clearance to land

  • Recognizes engine failure
  • Uses checklist to properly secures the engine
  • Declares an emergency
  • Performs a single engine approach to 200 feet AGL
7. Landing Runway in sight, stabilized position to land
  • IFR to VFR transition
  • Crosswind landing
  • Normal landing
  • Emergency Shutdown & Evacuation
  • After landing checklist
8. Taxi/Shutdown Movement for the purpose to park the aircraft
  • Complies with taxi instructions
  • Shutdown checklist
  • After shutdown checklist
  • Secure the aircraft
  • Prepare flight paperwork

After Flight Review
  • Did flight go as planned?
  • What errors were present?
  • What changes would be indicated?
  • Would you pass an Instrument Checkride?

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