The medium and high altitudes at which turboprop airplanes are flown provide an entirely different environment in terms of regulatory requirements, airspace structure, physiological requirements, and even meteorology. The pilot transitioning to turboprop airplanes, particularly those who are not familiar with operations in the high/medium altitude environment, should approach turboprop transition training with this in mind. Thorough ground training should cover all aspects of high/medium altitude flight, including the flight environment, weather, flight planning and navigation, physiological aspects of high-altitude flight, oxygen and pressurization system operation, and high-altitude emergencies.

Flight training should prepare the pilot to demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of airplane performance, systems, emergency procedures, and operating limitations, along with a high degree of proficiency in performing all flight maneuvers and in-flight emergency procedures. The training outline below covers the minimum information needed by pilots to operate safely at high altitudes.

 

Ground Training

  1. High-Altitude Flight Environment
    1. Airspace and Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) Operations
    2. Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91, section 91.211, Requirements for Use of Supplemental Oxygen
  2. Weather
    1. Atmosphere
    2. Winds and clear air turbulence
    3. Icing
  3. Flight Planning and Navigation
    1. Flight planning
    2. Weather charts
    3. Navigation
    4. Navigation aids (NAVAIDs)
    5. High Altitude Redesign (HAR)
    6. RNAV/Required Navigation Performance (RNP) and Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring (RAIM) prediction
  4. Physiological Training
    1. Respiration
    2. Hypoxia
    3. Effects of prolonged oxygen use
    4. Decompression sickness
    5. Vision
    6. Altitude chamber (optional)
  5. High-Altitude Systems and Components
    1. Oxygen and oxygen equipment
    2. Pressurization systems
    3. High-altitude components
  6. Aerodynamics and Performance Factors
    1. Acceleration and deceleration
    2. Gravity (G)-forces
    3. MACH Tuck and MACH Critical (turbojet airplanes)
    4. Swept wing concept
  7. Emergencies
    1. Decompression
    2. Donning of oxygen masks
    3. Failure of oxygen mask or complete loss of oxygen supply/system
    4. In-flight fire
    5. Flight into severe turbulence or thunderstorms
    6. Compressor stalls

Flight Training

  1. Preflight Briefing
  2. Preflight Planning
    1. Weather briefing and considerations
    2. Course plotting
    3. Airplane Flight Manual (AFM)
    4. Flight plan
  3. Preflight Inspection
    1. Functional test of oxygen system, including the verification of supply and pressure, regulator operation, oxygen flow, mask fit, and pilot and air traffic control (ATC) communication using mask microphones
    2. Engine Start Procedures, Runup, Takeoff, and Initial Climb
    3. Climb to High Altitude and Normal Cruise Operations While Operating Above 25,000 Feet Mean Sea Level (MSL)
  4. Emergencies
    1. Simulated rapid decompression, including the immediate donning of oxygen masks
    2. Emergency descent
  5. Planned Descents
  6. Shutdown Procedures
  7. Postflight Discussion