Prior to start, Jarocky hand-pumped the hydraulic system to build pressure before he pulled the parking brake. After engine start, we rolled out of the chocks. Braking action was very smooth. Engine driven pumps supply the 2,100 psi hydraulic system that powers the anti-skid wheel brakes, along with the landing gear actuators, nosewheel steering, roll control assist system, flaps and ground spoilers.
Cleared for takeoff on Runway 21 Center, Jarocky fine-tuned the power setting. Amber lights in the central warning display illuminate if takeoff torque, 2,080 prop rpm, gas generator speed or temperature limits are exceeded. With the wide flat-rating of the GE engines, the only practical limit is the possibility of exceeding maximum torque.
Initial rotation forces were pleasantly light. We retracted the landing gear with a positive rate of climb. Retracting the flaps resulted in a pronounced nose-down pitching moment. Make a note. Use electric nose-up trim during the entire time the flaps are retracting and nose-down trim continuously when the flaps are extending.
Engine power changes also produce noticeable thrust induced lift over the wings, requiring elevator and trim inputs. Using 1,900 rpm and climb power, we settled into a 500 fpm climb and then leveled off at 4,000 ft. We reduced prop speed to 1,700 rpm for cruise. Interior sound levels dropped considerably. At cruise power, the aircraft trued out at 200 kt on 800 lb/hr fuel flow.
Rolling into a steep turn, we noted that aileron inputs require heavy feet on the rudder pedals to maintain balanced flight. Pitch force is heavy at 1.4g in a 45-degree banked turn. But, the aircraft is easy to control and very honest in its feedback to the pilot.
Stall behavior is a strong suit. In clean, flaps 18 (takeoff) and flaps 42 (landing) configurations, stall is preceded by aural and audio warnings, plus aerodynamic stall warning buffet. Hold the yoke all the way aft, there is very little wing roll off if the ball is in the center at full stall.
Returning to Kunovice for pattern work, Jarocky advised using 90 kt as an approach speed at flaps 42 degrees. At our 12,000 lb landing weight, though, Vref actually was 77 KIAS at our landing weight of 12,000 lb. The aircraft is very easy to fly in the pattern and throttle response is quite linear. With full flaps, drag is high, so steep approaches may be flown with comfortable airspeed control. When flying normal glidepaths it takes moderate power to maintain the desired approach speed. It’s easy to get slow, if you don’t hawk the airspeed indicator.
In the flare, we floated because of the excess airspeed. The aircraft has trailing-link landing gear all the way around, plus large, low pressure tires, so touchdowns are very smooth on paved runways.
Our next two landings were on one of the two grass strips that parallel the paved runway at Kunovice. Again, the trailing-link landing gear and big doughnut tires make for small touchdowns and roll outs.