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Ab initio on a complex aircraft

I’d like you opinions if the above is a good idea. Think Piper Arrow IV turbo or TB20GT.
Not for a trajectory to ATPL, but for private use.

Private UL field, Mallorca, Spain

Hi aart the main issue, other than the additional complexity in circuits, is the PFL and glide approach exercises where even some CPL students struggle with the ability to make the landing field once the gear is extended. Starting off in an Archer/Warrior or TB10 until the nav exercises might be sensible? You will also need an instructor who is familiar in instructing on type (so usually a CPL instructor).

Enstone (EGTN), Oxford (EGTK)

It would be interesting to know if there are any actual regulations stating that an ab initio PPL cannot be done in say a TB20 or a Seneca. Or a King Air

Historically there have been various PPL training ops around the world which used TB20s. A lot of TB20s were sold to those schools, notably Malaysia IIRC. But that is not JAA/EASA-land.

It may be something like the stuff about doing an ab initio FAA PPL in Europe. You cannot do this because the solo portions are done on the US Student Pilot Certificate but this is not valid outside the US. So you have to embark on an EASA PPL and do the solo bits within that regime, and then abandon that and continue on the FAA regime.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

There were UK integrated schools that used TB10 and TB20, although the TB20 was used for the CPL portion. This is around 5-10 years ago.

Enstone (EGTN), Oxford (EGTK)


any turbo airplane is a very bad idea. Students are not known to treat engines kindly and this will break a turbo like in the Arrow IV easily.

As for other complex ones, it will add to the flight time needed for sure, but otherwise, it’s been done with some ab initio training since ever. E.G many military initial trainers are complex.

It’s the student’s money but I’d say it is an expensive idea to say the very least. Start out with a non-complex and go complex for the 2nd part of training and do the check with it could work. But it is certainly a rather expensive solution.

LSZH, Switzerland

aart wrote:

I’d like you opinions if the above is a good idea. Think Piper Arrow IV turbo or TB20GT.

It depends of the scope. As standard in a flight school, I don’t think it’s a sensible option as operation is more expensive than on basic trainers (C150, SD4, Sonaca, Katana, Aquilla, etc.) and it doesn’t add too much value.


For a student pilot learning on his own aircraft, I don’t see a problem at all. Soloing might take a bit more time, but you will get proficient on your systems right away.

Inside the sky.
EDXE, EDXF, Germany

There is no general yes or no. It depends on many factors. A basic aircraft allows you to focus on learning to fly. They are slow, nimble and forgiving to handle. A complex aircraft includes more stuff like prop control, gear, avionics etc.. to be managed. And, some of them are not forgiving. Then it depends on who is trained by whom, the training environment and the location (short field, regional airport etc…). A fulltime pilot student flying everyday and learning theory every night is different to someone who is learning to fly after work.

With the right setup and people involved it’s possible and can make sense. See for instance Lufthansa in Phoenix (Cirrus SR20 as first training plane the students ever fly – before that they however do know and have built up capacity to perform every SOP and every switch and when to switch it with precision).

has a Beagle...
LOWG Graz Austria

I think learning on a simple aircraft is better, obviously because its cheaper but also because in some simpler types you have a greater opportunity to learn flying the wing as opposed to flying the procedures. That said, Italian Air Force pilots have learned from nothing in SF260s for many years, a complex fast piston type.. I’ve stood on the fence at Latina Air Base a couple of times in springtime and watched them attempting their first landings. It’s entertaining but somewhat hair raising

Last Edited by Silvaire at 15 Apr 17:15

When the Piper Malibu was first introduced, the factory had an ab-initio, from scratch to PPLIR, in one hundred hours. So I see no reason this wouldn’t work in the planes you consider, as long as you do it with an instructor who knows and respects the type.

There’s great benefit in training in the aircraft you will be flying, especially emergency training. PFL exercises can be done respecting the engine, you don’t have to bang to full power at 100 feet. And if you ever have an actual emergency one day, you’ll be glad to know what the sink rate is at idle with gear down.


Silvaire wrote:

That said, Italian Air Force pilots have learned from nothing in SF260s for many years, a complex fast piston type.

The Swedish Air Force has done all its basic flight training on the SAAB 105, a twin-engine jet, for some 30 years…

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden
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