Tuesday, April 9, 2024

What's next?

 So what's next?

While I would love to start flying again I have a few more classrooms sessions AND another sim session.

On the 777 on 3+ pilot trips there will be times I sit in the Captain seat while the Captain is resting. Because of this the FAA is concerned about Widebody First Officers and new Captains making critical decisions in flight. I have a 8 hour classroom course to meet this requirement.

Then there's preparing to fly to Hawaii, over the Atlantic and to Far East Asia.

To prepare to fly to Hawaii I have 4 1/2 hour classroom course. For Atlantic crossings....just 2 hours. Why shorter? No idea. Far East Asia flying has a 6 1/2 hour course......classroom....inside a building. My least favorite place to be.

Once ALL that is done...I have a disgraceful 5:30 AM showtime for an Atlantic and Far East Asia sim session. This is a "no jeopardy" sim meaning it's just training for me to experience.

Then...and only then....and I free from the schoolhouse until a year from now for recurrent....I upgrade to Captain on the Airbus or the most likely event....I have to return because I didn't get my 100 hours of flight time in the 777 in time.

I miss airports.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Check Ride Day

 I've lost count on how many check ride events I have had in my career. I'm at the point now where check rides do not stress me out. 

Today is my MV....Maneuvers Validation day. 

Here's what must be accomplished...it is in my Sim Training Guide.

  • Takeoff
    • Rejected Takeoff (as a crew)
    • Engine Failure (1 per pilot)
  • Cat II/III Approach - One Per Crew
    • Cat II or III using the lowest approach minimums for the airplane. Can be to landing or missed.
  • Cat I Approach
    • ILS - 2 per crew. One as Pilot Flying and One Pilot monitoring to lowest minimums. Landing or missed.
      • at least one approach per CREW must be manually flown to lowest minimums
  • Non-ILS (2 per crew 1 Pilot Flying, 1 Pilot Monitoring)
  • Go Around/Missed Approach (1 per pilot at Pilot Flying)
  • Landing
    • At least 2 visual landings per pilot as Pilot Flying
  • System Emergency/Abnormal/Non-Normal 2 per crew
    • Flight Controls at least one of the following
    • Hydraulics (at least one of the following)
That's it. That's all I will be evaluated on today. 

I started preparing for this two months ago.

Yesterday was our second day in the sim with a Check Pilot (used to be Check Airman....ok now called Check Pilot).

Was I perfect? No. I made one error. 

During an ILS approach when I am not flying I am looking outside to see either the approach lights or runway. I am only supposed to saw these words; Approach Lights, Runway, No Contact. 

In the real world....for the average Cat I ILS we go as low as 200 feet and I've always seen the approach lights or runway. There's expectation bias.

We were in the sim and the reported weather was 1/2 mile and 200 foot ceilings. I was expecting to see something. My eyes were laser focused. I heard "100 above" and man I was looking. At minimums....I didn't say "No Contact!" The Captain still went around. There are safe guards in place thankfully.

Beyond that we had a great sim event. 

Though this portion of training is much better than classroom....I do miss airports. 

Unlike check rides for my first ratings...there is no oral exam. The system test takes place of the oral. I find that odd. I appreciate not having that extra layer of stress but....I dunno....I think it makes for a higher level of pilot knowing they have to prepare to answer system questions verbally.

I have a LOFT flight tomorrow which is a semi training flight in real time then a LOE flight on Sunday which is a checking flight in real time. 

Once done I have a bunch more classroom stuff to prepare me to fly overseas. and then another sim. Final day in the school house is right before taxes are due....which I still need to finish. 

Thursday, April 4, 2024

That was sporty

 There are no real surprises in training. All my training events are scripted. I get an outline of what the objectives are for each training event. 

Day 6 was the first simulator event with a Check Airman. Previously all events were with a Simulator Pilot. To review Simulator Pilots are trained on the plane but may have never actually flown it. Check Airman know the plane inside and out.

Part of long term training is resetting my dates for certain airline required training....such as security. So my day began with a 12:15 PM show time for an hour long security training course. 

Once done I had a quick bite in the Cafe and headed to my debrief at 2:00PM. 

Every briefing room has flight deck
posters used during briefings

Normally these last 90 minutes. The Check Airman stated we were the last to use the simulator for the day so there was no hurry. This briefing was over 2 hours. It was helpful. 

In the simulator the Captain was flying first today (we swap who flies first each event). All flying was out of Seattle. 

Takeoff on Runway 16C...10 knot crosswind. Normal RNAV departure then given vectors off the departure and some FMS work with reroutes. I will say putting in a reroute is easier than the Airbus. 

He then did Localizer approach to 16C to a missed approach. 

Taken when sim was paused.

Reset. Takeoff. Engine failure. Back around to land runway 16C ILS Cat 1 hand flown. In reality we would do an auto land. In the sim we have to check boxes. 

We were then repositioned to a 3 mile final with various wind conditions. First was 25 knot crosswind from right, then 25 knot crosswind from the left, a 25 gusting 38 knot crosswind from the right and finally a 15 knot tailwind. All crosswinds were from exactly 90 degrees off. 

Landing in a crosswind in every one of my previous aircraft (I have 5 type ratings) was similar. My preference is to land on the upwind (side where the wind is coming from) wheel then use the rudder to straighten the nose and land on the downwind wheel. 

That is not recommended in the 777....reason? There's more many more wheels involved and doing so can cause a lot of shudder. No more landing in a crab.

Wing low is the way. 

Once the Captain was done it was my turn. I still paused on the turning a radial around. I got it. Bleh.

I did more or less the same maneuvers. The Check Airman appreciated how prepared both of us were and how we worked as a crew backing each other up. Both the Captain and I have a habit of saying the wrong word during rollout on landing. 

Taken when sim was paused. 

When autobrakes are on the Pilot Flying is supposed to announce "Manual Braking" when they apply the brakes...well manually. The Pilot Monitoring is supposed to announce "Autobrakes off". There were many times we get the callouts backwards. We laugh and say hey we got all the words just the wrong order. 

We then had a 15 minute debrief. The Check Airman stated we are both ahead of where most pilots are in this stage. 

One more ride today and then the next 3 are more checking than training events. 

Ready to be done. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Fish and Chips....then Sushi

 London and Narita...those are my first two trips on the 777. 

I only need 15 hours of actual aircraft training and 4 cycles/flights. That's it. When I was new to the AIRLINE I needed 25 hours of flight time in the real plane and 4 flight cycles along with landings. Because I'm "old"....just 15 hours.

The first trip I will operate will be London.

Flight 50 DFW-LHR

Report 2:15 PM

Depart 3:15 PM

9 hour 10 minute block time

Arrive 6:25 AM (12:25AM DFW time)

24 Hours 45 Minutes Rest

Flight 51 LHR-DFW

Report 7:40 AM (1:40 AM DFW time)

Depart 8:40 AM

10 hour 15 minute block time

Arrive 12:55 PM

Total Flight Time 19H25M Time away: 47H10M

Not a bad trip overall. Starts in the afternoon....arrives late for my body clock time but similar to my old Bogota flights. I expect I will nap for a bit then explore London and try and stay awake until 8PM to go to bed to rest for the next day.

I will NOT be qualified for the flight. That flight is normally crewed by 3 pilots. There's a rule (I can't reference it) that for augmented flights there must be 3+ qualified crew on board. Because of this there will be 4 pilots on this flight. I suspect I will get a 3 hour break at some point, thus only operating the first 3 hours and last 3 hours. Not too shabby.

The next flight will be to Narita....not Tokyo...but close. My wife and I went to Narita in 2008. We stayed the first night in Narita before going to Tokyo and loved it! 

Flight 61 DFW-NRT

Report 10:45AM

Depart 11:45 AM

13 hour 15 minute block time

Arrive 3:00 PM (1:00 AM DFW time)

26 Hour rest 

Flight 60 NRT-DFW

Report 5:30 PM (3:30 AM DFW time)

Depart 6:30 PM

11 hour 45 minute block time

Arrive 4:15 PM

Total Flight Time 25H0M Time away: 54H0M

This will also have 4 total pilots on board as I will not be qualified. Much longer flight. This arrives at a similar time to London but leaves much later on the return. I have never had a flight leave at 3:30 AM Dallas time. This will be interesting. I suspect I will stay in Narita and explore the temples. 

Both of these trips a 3 day trips. On the Airbus an average 3 day paid 15H45M. A really good 3 day was 20 hours with 6 legs total. The LHR trip is fairly average while the NRT trip is very good and normally goes very senior. 

I finish training after bidding closes for May. This means scheduling will build a schedule for me....much less than ideal. I will have to dig and see if I have any choice. There is a six day London trip that does DFW LHR BOS LHR DFW. I know I will one day do it...but would prefer to not be on reserve 6 days in a row. 

The first time I will bid will be May 8-13 for June. 

On the Airbus I was in the top 11% in my status. For the 777 I will be in the bottom 2%. Time will tell if I made a bad choice.

Thank you for following along and have an absolutely wonderful day. 

Monday, April 1, 2024

Signed off the for the final stage

One thing about training...it is mentally draining. Let me explain.

Most of my flights are boring. This is a good thing. I fly point A to point B without any issues. If there is an issue, normally it is incredibly minor and is rectified in minutes.

In the simulator it is non-stop chaos. On the takeoff roll there's a cargo fire...reject. Run through the steps....ok great reset...you're back at the end of the runway, cleared for takeoff. On the next takeoff right when the wheels leave the ground...engine failure. Climb out..declare an emergency...run check list....no time to dump fuel....over weight landing checklist....single engine approach to minimums......no contact..go around. Stop. Back at a 6 mile final same condition...do it again....land. 

It can be confusing what state the plane is in and sometimes where you are. Rarely are you at the local (DFW in my case) airport. 

Day 5.

Started at the gate in LAX in a 777-300. First time in the 300 sim in training. There's a new button...external cameras. The plane is so long, there is a concern about taxiing. The camera can only be used on the ground during taxi. 

Max weight takeoff to London. Reject. Reset. Takeoff. Avionics failure...fixed. TCAS escape. Upset recovery, engine failure at high altitude, drift down....all in the first 30 minutes of flight.

We then diverted back to Lax and jettisoned fuel over southern California. 

Single engine auto land on 25L.

Reset. My turn. Heavy takeoff....once the wheels leave the ground...engine failure. Climb out, clean up, reset.

Captain does the same. Reset.

Zapped up to 35000 feet and given a climb to 39000 feet. All 3 airspeed indicators go out. We revert to the charts for pitch and power. Descend and land using only charts. Break.

We then did terrain (GPWS) escapes, flight control issues and more NON-ILS approaches. 

I was mentally drained. This was the 5th day in a row of 4 hours in the simulator. 

We passed this stage.

Next up is 2 sim sessions with a Check Airman then 3 checking events. Happy to have a few days off. 

I am having an easier time with training as I have done this so many times before...I know what to study and how to prepare. My first type rating was extreme stress, confusion and concern. This time around....it's completing the task and looking forward to the end. No real stress. No real concern....just being tired of being in training.

Being home so long...is odd. Not just on me...my family notices it as well. My suitcase is just sitting in the corner confused. I haven't been to the airport in almost a month. 

I'll post about my first two trips tomorrow. 

Thank you for following along. I am working on a way to get back to live videos again. They will almost certainly not be on Tiktok. I am thinking Instragram or Youtube or Twitch.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Almost done with training....checking is next


At my airline there are several types of instructors. The initial instructors are all trained on the airplane...but may have never actually flown it. 

My current instructor is a pilot...but has never flown the 777. He knows the simulator and then systems of the airplane, but no real world experience. He trains us only on the lessons at hand. As long as we meet the standard...we move on. 

Day 4 was a nice 2 PM start. Normally great but remember day 3 ended at midnight. That's 14 hours between events. I am not a robot. Falling asleep takes time and I naturally wake up around 6AM. I did take a nap before the event. Felt better than a 6:15 PM start. 

Most of training is preparing for things we will likely never do. Engine fires, rejected take offs, engine failures, NON-ILS approaches and....auto lands. 

The event started as a DFW-Tokyo flight. My leg. Heavy load takeoff, storm avoidance, ATC reroutes, conflicting air traffic avoidance followed by upset recovery, depressurization, emergency descent, fuel jettison and diversion to Denver.

In the training world many things are scripted. In emergencies there's only one or sometimes 2 airports we can opt to divert to. It's playing the game.

In my 17 years of being an Airline Pilot, 6 1/2 of those years were at mainline with auto land capable aircraft. In those years I have only used auto land in ACTUAL conditions 4 times. It's rare. People think we auto land all the time. Not the case.

Auto lands are a Captain ONLY procedure. Why? Because. I am still very much involved. On the 777 we can land without having to see anything outside as long as the runway and approach support it. 

Why does the runway and approach matter? Because of safety. The runway needs the appropriate lighting systems. The approach needs highly accurate localizer (lateral) and glideslope (vertical) radios. The airplane needs highly fault tolerant systems as well. The crew must be trained to monitor and be ready to respond to deviations. 

The airplane is traveling 160 MPH into blinding conditions...if things aren't perfect, disaster can easily occur.

For the 777 the auto land is similar to the Airbus and MD80. As a First Officer my eyes are inside for the entire approach, landing and rollout. 

During the approach I watch and scan my Primary Flight Display for airspeed, altitude, localizer and glideslope issues. Once below 300 feet if anything looks off....I just say, "go around!" without explanation. Once on the ground I verify and announce the speed brakes extended. I verify BOTH thrust reversers deployed, I watch and callout the deceleration as 80 (begin thrust reverser reduction) and 60 (thrust reverse at idle). All this time the autopilot is still on....I am watching for ANY deviation on the localizer. If something looks off...I call out centerline and have the Captain takeover using the high intensity centerline runway lights. 

Once at a taxi speed, low visibility operations take over.

That's what we did for the first 90 minutes...various kinds of auto lands.....go arounds....single engine auto land....auto lands. Kinda boring for me. 

Finally it was my turn. Visual approach to landing (I kept waiting for something bad to happen), Takeoff with an engine compressor stalling, single engine localizer approach, lots of flight control issues, hydraulic issues, fires,  raw data (no autopilot, flight director ) approach and of course evacuations after landing. 

There is a lot going on. On the final event we were in the air and just needed to land. My leg and the flaps were jammed between 5 and 20. We were being vectored for runway 16C in Seattle. The Captain joked "we should just land at Boeing Field and return the plane as it's broken (because the flaps broke). The instructor said "I don't care...just land somewhere". 

I turned the autopilot and flight directors off. It was fun to just land a plane. I was high so I put out the speed brakes and dropped the gear. I made the smoothest landing to date on 14R. Now I was really fast (because of the reduced flaps)....and it's only a simulator...but we couldn't feel the wheels touch. 

Landing a sim smooth is liking kissing your sibling on the cheek...it's nothing exciting or to gloat over.

I have one more training simulator event then my next 5 are with a Check Airman. The first 2 are training/verifying while the last 3 are checking only events. 

Almost done.