Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Time To Slow Down

I'm in an unusual situation this summer: there's a Cessna 182 I can borrow just about any time I want it!  Of course I have to pay for fuel.

And that's changed some of my thinking about speed, and slowing down.  Let me explain.

As an aircraft owner, well, my last two aircraft were a glider (no fuel concerns there) and a 1946 Taylorcraft (fuel costs were negligible).

As a professional pilot I was encouraged to go direct and go fast, and people made fun of me (behind my back, mostly) for doing things like trying to compute a minimum fuel route by taking advantage of unusual winds aloft.  Once on a long King Air trip I "diverted" 100 miles from the direct course to stay in the favorable circulation around a low pressure area.  This only took me a couple of minutes to figure out by playing with routes on DUATS, and maybe saved 10 minutes of flight time.  If everybody did that the company would be way better off, but instead I heard "How come you flew that funny route?"
I wrote an altitude optimization app for our Cessna 414 that nobody else used: analyzing the performance data led me to fly much higher than the other pilots, which was fine until it depressurized at FL260.   But that's another story...

As a renter, I use the maximum allowable power.  I also worry about taxi time, which costs as much as flight time.  I have actually picked fueling stops based on taxi time (Battle Mountain, NV is much better than Winnemucca).  Saving 0.1 hours of taxi time saves a lot of money in the long run.

But as a borrower I have learned to think in new ways.

First, the cost of taxi time is negligible.

Second, there is no need to firewall the engine and go fast.  I can fly that 182 at close to 140 knots, but if I slow down I use much less fuel and not much more time.

So I've learned to slow down.