Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yearly Sim Ride

Sim time is expensive. In order to get the most bang for the buck the sessions are often non-stop.

This was my third visit to the simulator. My first was my initial training. About a year ago I had my probation ride. This year I just had flight training.

I arrived at 10:30AM and met the Captain I would be flying with. This Captain is an IOE Captain that I flew with just once when I first started. Nice guy who has a true passion for the job.

The instructor then arrived. He let us know what the ride would entail. We would do the following:

- Low vis rejected takeoff

-Low vis takeoff involving a RNAV departure

- Stalls

- Two engine ILS

- Localizer approach

- GPS approach

- V1 cut

- Wind shear training

- Single engine ILS

- ILS PRM approach

- Anything else he felt like throwing in

The Captain was flying first. It took me a bit to get used to the visuals in the simulator. The simulator is full motion, but even then during turns on the ground people can get queasy. I am not immune.

During the first takeoff, just prior to V1, the speed stagnated....we had encountered wind shear. I called "abort, abort, abort" then pushed the yoke full forward while the Captain applied full reverse, max braking and steered with the tiller. I then notified tower that we were still on the runway. Textbook.

The next takeoff was normal. Standard RNAV. We then were vectored off for air work. The Captain did a departure stall with a 20 degree bank and an arrival stall with flaps 45. This was followed by steep turns. I then took over and did a departure stall with a 20 degree bank, arrival stall with flaps 45 and a clean stall. The trickiest stall was the arrival stall recovery as the plane was totally out of trim when the stick shaker went off. Lots of nose down force needed as the plane was trimmed for flaps 45 and thus nose up. When I added full takeoff/go around power it was quite a work out. This scenario is similar to how Colgan 3401 went down. If the Colgan 3401 crew had added full power....the might still be here.

We then headed to Memphis. Memphis airport is used a lot for training. Captain was flying. After approach advised vectors for ILS to 18L he continued and advised of a 747 nearby. I missed the call direction. Approach kept talking and said "Break Fedex 939 heavy cleared for the ILS 18L approach be advised regional jet 2 miles 12 o'clock." Just as I called back for the traffic the entire plane shook violently. We were in hard IMC. I looked down and saw that we were upside down and The Captain quickly idled the engines and turned the plane back upright. We had hit the wake turbulence from the 747. Wow. We were then given new vectors.

The first approach was an ILS to 18L. At 10 feet tower called the go around. After going missed we were vectored for a GPS approach to runway 9. GPS approaches require a little extra briefing than other approaches due to required RAIM. We went missed again due to a 747 taxiing out on the runway.

We were quickly vectored for a localizer approach to 27 with a circle to land runway 18R. This is a Captain only maneuver. Once he landed we came to a full stop. Time for a V1 cut.

Right at V1 we lost the right engine. Flameout. After I ran all the checklist (I think there were 3 total) the Captain then flew a ILS single engine. Done....for him.

My ride started with a reduced vis takeoff. During climb out...just 300 feet off the ground I hit wind shear bad.

I announced "Escape" and jammed the thrust levers full forward and then place both hands on the yoke. During wind shear the only gauge that gives accurate data is the RADAR altimeter. Airspeed, altimeter and VSI all get data from probes. Those probes are being fed a huge rush of air with changing pressure. The artificial horizon is also useless.

I pulled the nose up. The Captain then began calling out basic calls, "280 feet, sinking." I pulled up more. "280 feet, rising". I held it. "250 feet, sinking." I pulled up more. "320 feet, rising." I held the angle. "500 feet rising.......700 feet climbing.....1000 feet." By then we were out of it. It was a very violent maneuver. Really got my heart racing.

My first approach was a GPS to runway 9. At 20 feet the tower called the miss. The plane briefly touched the ground. I pushed the thrust levers up and announced I was going around. I pitched up and noticed something wasn't right. I forgot to hit the TOGA buttons on the thrust levers. Hitting the TOGA puts the plane in go around mode by raising the command bars, activating the missed approach in the FMS and (if applicable) disconnects the autopilot.

I hit the TOGA buttons. The rest of the missed approach was fine. I was quickly vectored for a localizer approach to runway 27. All approaches had a 15 knot direct crosswind.

The trick to a smooth approach in the CRJ is all about pitch. The weather was right at mins. Once at MDA the Captain called the approach lights. I then waited till VDP and disconnected the autopilot. Before looking outside I smoothly pitched over the nose to 1 degree nose down. I then looked outside. No PAPI/VASI was available. I pulled the nose up a bit much and had to quickly correct it to keep from busting stabilized approach and causing a go around.

The landing was a little long. I firmly put the mains down and stopped the plane.

Next up was a V1 cut.

Back when airline hiring was high I taught the ATP Regional Jet Course. During the course I taught many V1 cuts.

V1 is a speed where the takeoff can no longer be aborted. It's a must go speed. A V1 cut involves losing an engine right at V1.

In my plane the engines are fuselage mounted. The yaw created by losing an engine isn't as severe as wing mounted engines, but it does yaw.

Right a V1 there was a rumble quickly followed by flashing lights. An engine had failed.

I smoothly used right rudder and aileron to correct the yaw and keep the plane on centerline. This entire time the nose is on the ground. Once the plane was stabilized I slowly rotated the nose off the ground and added a little more rudder as the friction from the wheel was gone. Once again I forgot a call out. I was supposed to announce to "set max power". The Captain backed me up and said it. I then climbed up and flew the standard profile.

Once all the checklist were done I was vectored in for a single engine ILS to runway 18L.

Single engine landings are done at flaps 20 instead of 45 (less drag). The auto pilot was on until glide slope intercept.

The pitch angle is much steeper (nose high) with flaps 20. When the runway was called in sight I looked outside and lowered the nose to what flaps 45 looks like. Wrong. Back inside I went and simply followed the glide slope until 100 feet and then looked back outside. Everything was fine till about 80 knots when I got a little crazy with the brakes and veered toward the side of the runway. It wasn't a smooth correction, but it was done.

We then headed to Philedelphia for an ILS PRM approach. An ILS PRM approach requires extra reading and briefing. ILS PRM approaches are required when two runways are closer than 4300 feet and both are used during IMC condition. During the approach I was given a descending breakout manuever. The breakout is called if another aircraft on approach gets too close. There is no profile for the breakout....just gotta fly the plane.

At roughly 2100 feet I head, "flight 393 breakout, descend and maintain 1800 turn left heading 270". I clicked off the autopilot and smoothly descended and turned. I had to ignore the flight director as it was still setup for the ILS. A little confusing. Once established I cleaned the plane up.

The instructor then said we were done.  He said both of us clearly did our preparation work and that most of the time he has to use every second in order to get the requirements done. Not needed with us. No one was coming in next so we were able to use more sim time.

We then got to do the "Miracle on the Hudson." Lined up on the same runway as "Sully" I took off and then flew the same departure. Weather conditions were the same as that day. Right at 3800 feet I lost both engines. Of course we knew this was coming. We then glided...for a long time. Same path as the Airbus. The Airbus has a much better glide performance. We made the same turns. Teterboro was right in front of us. We could have made it no question. Instead we made the same turn and followed the Hudson all the way down to the water. Nearly the same spot again. I'm not second guessing the actions of the crew. In the heat of the moment who knows maybe we would have made the same choice.

Next was a scary eye opener. We headed to Aspen. Aspen is an airport where crews must be specially trained to fly to and from. Even though the CRJ700 is quite powerful, up there it's not.

We lined up for takeoff doing something we would never do...max weight takeoff of 75000 pounds. We did start the APU so we could have max power to the engines. My takeoff. I elected to stand on the brakes and apply max takeoff power. A jack rabbit start. Didn't do much as the air was so thin that when I released the brakes we just started rolling. With 2000 feet left it was clear we wouldn't reach V1. I called the abort and literally stood on the brakes with the Captain. Even with max braking and reverse we went off the end of the runway. Wow.

We then discussed the session. I was dinged for missing two call outs. He did say that I flew the profile fine and took care of the situation, but the call outs were required. Beyond that he said I did very well. Both the instructor and Captain said my V1 cut was one of the best they have seen. Nice.

I am all done with the simulator for another year. Next year will be a real check ride. Going to prep a little more next time. I don't like making mistakes.


  1. How does an APU provide extra power to the engines during takeoff? Bleed air? I guess usually most jets take of with APU shut, is this to save fuel?

  2. Hi G,

    Great post - love the detail on the sim rides. I'm curious about your comments on the "Miracle on the Hudson" though. If you lost both engines at the same point as Sully's A320, and your plane has less glide performance than the Airbus, how could you possibly make Teterboro? All of the performance evaluations for US 1549 clearly show it would have impacted about 1-2 miles short of Teterboro, so shouldn't it have been even harder for you in the CRJ?

    Eagle Eye - with the APU on, electrical power, pressurization, air conditioning, etc, can be supplied by the APU's bleed air and generators, which I presume means less load on the main engines and hence more power available for thrust. I've got to think it's a pretty minor difference though.

    By the way, your new commenting system doesn't work in Firefox - I had to switch to IE. The formatting is also strange in Firefox.

  3. @Jeremy: Thanks for the answer :)

    @geekinthecockpit: I too had a problem with the commenting system... could not register an account.

    There seems to be some css style sheet problem... the text formation looks a bit strange and the page is uncomfortably aligned to left. I am using FF 3.5.5

  4. Well just prior to turning down the Hudson, KTEB was just 5 miles off the nose. We were at 3200 feet and traveling at 210 knots. It looked doable. If we were at that spot one would assume a better gliding plane would be higher. Of course we knew it was coming, so there is that.

    Eh...Firefox. I don't use it anymore...runs like crap in Mac OS X. Try Google Chrome. I will try and take a look at what's us with the CSS stuff.

    The APU puts out a whopping 7.5 pounds of ya helps (sarcasm). Sometimes when we are on a short runway or during hot and high operations, by running the APU on takeoff when can take a few extra passengers/cargo. This is because all power from the engines is used for thrust versus tapping some power for the packs.


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