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Going Twin: Multi-Engine Training

In the not too distant past, a multi-engine piston (MEP) rating was a logical step after completing a Private Pilot’s License (PPL) – but as aircraft aged without replacement designs, and fuel costs soared, the number of multi students drastically reduced. Happily, new aircraft designs are now again putting twin engines within reach of the private pilot. Here, we look at the benefits of going twin engine….

Multi-Engine Training

You’ll need at least seventy hours total time under your belt to start an MEP rating, which requires at least six hours of flight training, plus ground exam and flight test.  Much of the training focuses on EFATOs (engine failure after take-off).

Since virtually all twins have wing-mounted engines, a failure at low airspeed will produce a sharp yaw to one side, as the working engine now induces an unbalanced sideways force. Since the amount of control available to a pilot increases with speed, a failure at low speed requires prompt and correct action before the aircraft slows below a critical speed.

The reduced altitude (and therefore margin of error) just after take-off means that the majority of your twin training will centre on building sufficient skill to correctly handle the aircraft, and safety climb away, during an EFATO at relatively low speed.

Going Twin: Multi-Engine Training

More than one engine will increase redundancy, and prevent forced landings after engine failure; a source of considerable relief during water or inhospitable terrain crossings! This extra safety traditionally came at a high price; twin engines generally required a larger, heavier airframe, with more powerful engines, burning extra fuel. This tended to lead to increased cruise speeds and range, in turn requiring extra equipment to fully exploit; such as retractable gear, weather radar, anti-icing systems and more instruments. Larger aircraft could often also carry more payload.

This firmly placed twins into the “expensive long range touring” category for private pilots; those who need to make regular water or mountain transits, or travel very long distances, found that the extra payload, speed and safety outweighed the considerable cost (often three or sometimes four times that of a single-engine tourer).

Recently however, new and emerging twin designs have combined the lower cost of traditional single-engine tourers with twin safety. They do this by utilising very aerodynamically efficient and lightweight airframes, coupled with new fuel-efficient diesel engines, or by combining smaller engines with a smaller airframe. These new types don’t carry quite as much payload or cruise as fast as traditional twins  – but they do provide twin safety and reasonable payload, at more or less the same cost as a traditional single touring aircraft (or new ones, come to that).

Whilst many traditional twins remain, and provide larger payloads carried faster across long distances, the new crop of twins have made significant inroads into both the commercial and private pilots spheres, bringing twin safety back within range of the private pilot. After completion of your license, you may well wish to double up into the world of multi-engine flying, and reap the benefits!

Happy twin aviating!

Ben has been committing aviation ever since he joined the Air Cadets two decades ago, and has no intentions of stopping any time soon. He currently divides his time between instructing for the Private Pilot’s License/Instrument Rating and being an aeromedical evacuation captain, at a regional airport at a secret location somewhere in the UK. In his previous lives, he has flown paradrop, charter, aerial survey and cargo aircraft. Over his years (he won’t tell us how many) he has accumulated over two thousand five hundred hours of flying time, over twenty types of aircraft flown, one first class Honours degree in Aviation Studies, and an as-of-yet unexhausted number of flying anecdotes and stories, nearly all of which are true. His ambitions include aviating around the world in his own light aircraft; some of his most memorable aircraft types flown (so far) include the Cessna Bird Dog, the Piper Chieftain, and the mighty De Havilland Tiger Moth.

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