What's a few of the first things you look at before flying an aircraft you're unfamiliar with. Do you look at emergency procedures, V speeds, or weight and balance. I'm just curious on what other experienced pilots have done in the past when approaching a new aircraft. Do you have your own system on what you look at first? I'm sure some guys and gals have made mistakes and have learned from it, so I'm just wondering if there was something you do particularly when in a new frame.
How to approach flying a new aircraft?
Find an instructor. Period.
Your instructor will, based on your past experience, guide you through the transition. For example are you going from Cessna 152 to 172? Or Cherokee to Cessna? Do you have experience with manual trim? Glass cockpit experience? These are just some examples. The process is so dynamic & variable that one cannot give a concrete answer here.
Say you have a PPL, and you want to exercise your privileges on this new aircraft. Your task is simple: demonstrate that you can perform what a PPL is supposed to perform if you were to do the checkride in that aircraft. You can expect to go through the entire PPL syllabus, only at a much faster pace because (hopefully) you understand every concept, it is just the matter of applying them to a new aircraft. Your instructor will not have to explain theories to you; it will be a lot more flying and a lot less ground school.
First off, unless you’re a seasoned test pilot under the employ of a large aircraft OEM to do experimental flight test - SEEK INSTRUCTION FROM AN AUTHORIZED INSTRUCTOR PILOT QUALIFIED ON THE AIRCRAFT YOU WISH TO FLY. It’s not only a sound piece of advice but in many cases, it’s also the law.
The basic process of transitioning from one aircraft type to another involves 1) a thorough understanding of the aircraft, it’s specifications, performance and limitations. 2) a thorough understanding of the onboard systems, how they interact, and consequences of failures of one system upon the others and to the safety of flight. 3) The handling characteristics of such an aircraft during flight operations. 4) Dealing with emergency situations. These are very general guidelines and the concrete implementation of them will depend on the specific aircraft.
As I said before the transition process should be done under the guidance of a qualified flight instructor following manufacturer approved literature for that specific aircraft eg AFMs, checklists, etc.. You will also have to ensure that the pilot certificate and ratings you hold allow you PIC privelages in the type of airplane you want to fly. Small aircraft will typically only require you to hold at least a private pilot certificate with ratings for the appropriate category and class of aircraft you wish to transfer into. Larger aircraft such as those over 12,500 lbs or turbojet powered will require a type rating, a specific training regiment of knowledge and and practical work culminating in a check flight and the issuance of a rating to fly this specific aircraft type.
Even when approaching changing between light airplanes, there are often performance differences between the two which can have disasterous - even lethal - consequences when not approached by following this philosophy, as these examples show.
A graphic example of why you should always seek out a proper transition program from a qualified flight instructor with experience on the make and model. Airplanes are not cars; there are often significant differences in handling qualities between two types.
Why a difference in airframe with performance and takeoff configurations recommended can have disastrous consequence if not fully understood.
Transition to a different aircraft with different handling qualities and avionics should not be taken lightly without a proper transition period.
Again, differences here in performance and handling qualities between two airplanes require time to get used to.