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Flying a new aircraft is one of the exciting experiences a pilot can have. Transitioning to a new make or model aircraft can bring new adventures and new challenges. The transition to flying a different aircraft than you’re used to, the best place to start is on the ground. There aren’t all-encompassing steps or guidelines to go through when switching to a new plane, because each aircraft is unique in its design and systems. But there are a few helpful tips to get you started. Before taking off, here are some of things a pilot must do to ensure safety and smooth sailing.

Get to know the new aircraft’s systems

The worst time to look for a button is in the air. Although some systems may be similar, every aircraft has its own design. Before taking off, gain an understanding of your new aircraft. Become familiar with it’s aerodynamic qualities, how the engine works, and the avionics of the system. Make sure you know how to correctly turn on the engine and how to properly apply throttle/mixture/prop controls. Most importantly, learn to work the comm/nav equipment and how to understand the navigation information it provides.

Understand safety procedures

To ensure safe travels while airborne, know and understand all safety procedures. Emergencies can happen at any time and often when least expected, so it’s best to know what to do in these situations ahead of time. There are general procedures you probably know from flying your old aircraft and there will be new safety precautions for handling an emergency in your new aircraft. The best place to start is to memorize the safety procedures that come with the new aircraft for critical emergencies you could be faced with.

Practice before taking off

Before taking to the air, practice on the ground first. A great way to get familiar with your new aircraft is to go through a simulator or “chair-flying”. By chair-flying, you can run through the procedures in your head the same way you would if you were flying. You may be surprised that your crosscheck can change. With the new technologies and designs of these updated aircrafts, going through a simulation will help you become familiar with the new crosscheck.

Following these tips is a great way to get you started and get you off the ground. For more detailed information regarding safety procedures and learning new systems, AOPA is a helpful resource. Getting to know your new aircraft and its systems is great experience and offers helpful challenges to build your expertise in the sky. The transition to a new make or model aircraft is a learning process, with many precautions and guidelines to follow, but it can also be a lot of fun and offers every pilot the chance of new adventure. Safe travels!