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What License Do you Need to Fly a Twin Blade Propeller Plane?

There are many questions to be answered when a pilot first begins to look at the training and certification process. Among those are the questions like where to take classes, what sort of license is needed for the pilot’s goals, and what sort of equipment they want to fly. For example, what kind of license would you need to fly a twin-blade propeller plane?

It may seem overwhelming to try to wade through all of the information available and all of the different options to pursue to become a certified pilot. Aspiring pilots need to learn the variety of available licenses and make the best judgment of what will best suit them while considering factors such as:

  • Investment of time
  • Cost of training
  • Availability of training in their area
  • Personal goals they wish to accomplish
  • Type of plane they would use or purchase

Aside from the initial cost of purchasing a plane, pilots should also bear in mind the relative costs of maintaining that airplane. Stockton Propeller, a full-service propeller overhaul and maintenance facility serving Northern California, can help you with your propeller repair, no matter what kind of plane you end up flying.

Types of Certifications

One of the first questions a trainee pilot must answer is what type of certifications are available for them to pursue? All beginning pilots begin their path to licensure as “Student Pilots.”After achieving this status and meeting other requirements, it is up to them to decide what they would like to pursue after this step. They may choose:

  • Private Pilot Certificate
  • Recreational Pilot Certificate
  • Sport Pilot Certificate

The distinction between these certifications may seem confusing at first, but pilots need to consider a few fundamental differences. Pilots should also bear in mind that if they achieve one level of certification, they can always continue on and gain additional certification if they want additional flexibility of the type of craft they want to fly, how high they would like to fly, or if they would like payment for their flying.

Pilot entering the cabin of a private plane with another pilot and the cockpit in the background

Private

This certification is the most popular of the three options. While it does involve additional hours of training as it takes 40 hours to achieve, it offers the greatest level of flexibility in what a pilot can do after gaining their license. This license may give students the greatest return on the investment of their time and money into training. The Private Pilot License will allow pilots to pursue further training that can lead to becoming a commercial pilot or even a flight instructor.

After finishing training, this license will allow pilots to pursue additional training to receive their Instrument and Commercial Pilot certifications. A multi-engine certification will let pilots fly twin-propeller planes that require special training in what to do if one of the engines breaks down.  The Commercial accreditation will also allow pilots to be paid for their flying, giving compensation for their time and expense of training.

Father and son in the cockpit of a small plane flying

Recreational

The Recreational Pilot License is considered a step down from the Private Pilot License. There are more restrictions placed on the pilot, in particular, no flying professionally.

A Recreational License prohibits pilots from flying aircraft with more than 180 horsepower.

This certification may appeal to some due to the lower level of required time in flight training at 30 hours. Less time required also requires a lower monetary investment.

One restriction placed on this license is that the pilot may only fly lower than 2000 feet AGL (above ground level) and that the aircraft flown by the pilot is not certified for more than four occupants.

The restrictions placed on this license may not be an issue for many pilots that choose this option. However, a pilot may later decide to continue their training and earn greater freedoms given by a Private Pilot certification.

Pilot with headphones sitting in an open air cockpit of small plane

Sport

What if you only want to fly smaller lighter craft? In 2004 the Sport License was created by the FAA in response to the growing trend of flying these innovative crafts. Pilots with this certification have greater restrictions on what sort of aircraft they can fly.

Pilots who want to fly planes with only themselves and perhaps one passenger on board should look into this license.

These planes are considered easier to fly, and the certification takes less training and less expenditure to achieve. Only 20 hours of flight training are required. This may appeal to pilots whose only goal is flying this sort of craft, as some of the additional training requirements do not apply.

Additionally, pilots who work toward this certification do not need to have a medical certificate as they would with other licenses. These lesser requirements may make this appealing to some flyers.

If pilots pursue this certification but then decide they would like to fly a greater variety of aircraft, they may continue their studies to earn one of the other certifications.

When To Seek Qualified Help and Repairs For Your Twin Blade Propeller Plane

As they continue the process of deciding which license to pursue, pilots need to consider many factors. One of those is what expenses they will incur when it comes to purchasing or renting a plane, as well as what associated costs are likely to be met with when repairs are needed.

It is important for pilots to thoughtfully consider where to have each aspect of their planes maintained and repaired. Because their very lives depend on the results of this maintenance, the choice of maintenance facility is a vital one.

Stockton Propeller is a full-service propeller overhaul and maintenance facility providing service to individuals, FBOs, and air carriers. So, no matter what type of pilot certification you have, we can assist with your governor and propeller repair and maintenance needs.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Propeller Terminology

Remember back to school days when you had vocabulary tests? Most students cringed at all those words where you had to memorize the spelling and definition. Quick: what is the definition of a variable pitch propeller?

All joking aside, in the flying world, it is essential to have a basic understanding of the terminology used in the industry.

At Stockton Propeller, we have a passion for flying and everything that makes it happen. Call us if you have any governor, or metal and composite propeller, overhaul or maintenance needs.

Why learn terminology?

While it might seem somewhat elementary, understanding the basic terminology is essential to understanding the field. When you interact with other pilots or artisans in the aviation world, it is critical everyone is using the same language.

However, one of the best reasons to learn basic terminology is the ease of business. Imagine taking your machine to a mechanic and finding out you speak different languages! It can feel similar to that when both parties don’t adhere to the same definitions.

When you need maintenance or repairs, it is much more convenient when you understand everything the mechanic is talking about, and you can clearly describe the issues or problems you have noticed.

If you need another reason, how about the joy of learning new things? A lifelong student is always learning up to date and helpful information. You never know when you will learn something that will be important down the road.

Now, on to defining some terms and learning a little more about them.

Propeller terminology word cloud
Propeller word cloud

Major propeller components

Hub: The main housing that attaches to the engine output shaft and holds the blades and pitch change mechanism together.

Blade: Two to seven blades are held in place by the hub, which connects to the engine through an output or crankshaft.

Pitch Change Mechanism: The assembly that converts hydraulic energy to mechanical motion to rotate the blades.

Feathering springs: Continually push blades toward a high pitch.

Counterweights: Also move the blades toward a high pitch or feather angle when there is a loss of oil pressure.

Spinner: The spinner dome is positioned over the propeller hub and creates an aerodynamic cover that assists in engine cooling and streamlining the airplane.

Spinner Bulkhead: This component connects the spinner to the rest of the propeller assembly protecting the pitch change mechanism and hub.

Other terminology

Governor: Oil pump with flyweights that controls the engine speed or RPM by changing the blade pitch.

Propeller Pitch: The propeller blade pitch is the angle the blade presents to the rotation of the propeller.

Fixed pitch propeller: The angle of this propeller is set at installation and cannot be changed while the aircraft is in flight. It is a compromise of best take-off and cruise performance.

Variable pitch propeller: The pilot can adjust the angle of a variable pitch propeller during flight to optimize the efficiency for take-off, climbing, and cruising.

Constant speed propeller: Like a variable pitch propeller, the blade angle of this propeller can be adjusted during flight. However, this propeller automatically adjusts its design pitch to maintain revolutions per minute (RPM).

Propeller control systems: There are two main kinds of control systems you should be aware of: single-acting systems and double-acting systems.

Single-acting systems utilize oil pressure to change the blade pitch in one direction and aerodynamic forces and a spring, or blade counterweights and a spring, in the opposite direction..

Double-acting systems utilize oil pressure to change the blade pitch in both directions.

Orange Green and Red engine with propellersA few more key terms

Flat pitch: The blade angle with minimum torque, usually around 0 degrees. The blades are flat, facing the direction of travel. If an angle is below 0 degrees, the pitch is considered reverse.

Reverse thrust: The pitch angle can be changed to the point of producing reverse thrust. This helps stop an airplane upon landing, or backing it up as needed. This is very helpful on seaplanes for backing away from the dock.

Coarse or high pitch: The maximum in-flight pitch available for reducing rpm and gaining cruise speed.

Feather: The angle that results in slow or no rotation when the engine is not running. This angle is just under 90 degrees and used to reduce drag on a “dead” engine on a multi-engine airplane to allow the plane to be more controllable.

Blade Twist: For the propeller to achieve optimum aerodynamic performance, blades need to be twisted at specific angles. To understand this angle best, you need to consider both the plane’s forward speed, which is constant, and the propeller’s rotational speed, which increases as you move from the root of the blade to the tip.

The blade twist creates this disparity of speed along the propeller, which will get you the maximum amount of lift along the blade.

Thrust: Thrust is the force that moves the craft. Propellers create this thrust similar to how wings produce lift. As evidence, propellers somewhat resemble wings. Air flows over the wing, forming a pressure differential, creating lift.

In the case of the propeller, air flows over the blade at an angle that causes a similar pressure change, producing lift. This created lift in the propeller makes the airplane move forward instead of vertically.

Vintage Airplane with close up on propeller

Partner With Stockton Propeller Today

While this is a simplified list and only enough to get you started, you now have a basic understanding of terms that will help you going forward. When you need to speak to a real propeller terminology expert, contact Stockton Propeller.

We have experts in blade overhaul and reconditioning, as well as experts that can repair damaged blades to specification, or modify experimental blades to achieve an extra percentage of performance.

Whether you are flying with something as simple as a fixed-pitch metallic propeller, trying to keep your warbird flying, or fine-tune your experimental aircraft, contact us for a free quote on your repair or maintenance needs today.