Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Good for another year

I'm good for another year before I have to fly the simulator again.

My training was different than in the past.

Until this month I was given one  sim session to get trained on things I do everyday and many things I don't. I've never lost an engine on takeoff (or any other time), had a fire, lost an engine on go around or stalled the real airplane. After that session I was given a check ride and tested on all of those items. It was a "bet your job" event as if a pilot fails more than once they could be let go. Seems kinda silly to be TESTED on things I never do.

The training department wanted to change things up. They wanted to test on things pilots do everyday and TRAIN on things they don't do everyday. Makes more sense eh?

One might think it's easier.....and it is if one flies by the book. If a pilot is sloppy and informal day to day then they will have problems. Things like turning the autopilot on by reaching for it versus asking for it to be turned on, not using checklists,  landing fast or improperly setting up the aircraft.

Before my  check ride I had an oral. I prepped for it like I always do...and yet somehow I've missed the same question the last 2 years. It's a simple question and I gave the answer that , according to the check airman, every pilot gives. Hopefully I will have it down next time.

Right after the oral another check airman poked his head in and stated the sim was "available early." This meant a crew failed the check ride.

The Captain I was paired with was waiting outside. I told him the oral was very straight forward and went to get a snack. I was told to come back in 30 minutes. I was back in 20 minutes and surprised to see the door open. The check airman and a FAA rep (who has been present at every step) were there. Apparently the Captain had a bad morning and was in no mood for the oral. Thankfully they were able to call another Captain to come fly with me in the sim.

The FAA rep stated the first 2 crews (there are only 5 crews in the new training program) had failed the check ride. My heart began racing.

"But don't worry, I haven't seen anything in you that would cause me to think you will have a problem." stated the FAA rep.

My heart just kept racing.

The flight was set up as a flight from Boston to LGA. I'm not familiar with Boston and only been to LGA a few times. To add on more stress it was winter...snow...slush....yeah great.

I could have elected to be the pilot monitoring but chose to fly.

The flight was to be treated as a real revenue flight. All emergencies and situations that come up must be dealt with unless the instructor interrupts. We had a few MELs to deal with including my FMS was inop (it was actually working, but for the sim we had to play along and comply with the MEL).

On climb out I noticed a fuel issue. Somehow we lost over 1000 pounds of fuel in 2 minutes.

I brought it up to my Captain. We discussed it and decided we didn't have enough to be legal for our alternate. Additionally we didn't want to continue the flight with a possible fuel leak. Right before I was going to announce we were headed back to Boston the instructor stated it was a simulator problem and to continue the flight. Okay.

Everything was real time. The weather at LGA was borderline good for an ILS to runway 22. After passing the Final Approach Fix RVR dropped to 800. Since we were inside the FAF we could continue. I knew this meant a go around was likely. Sure enough I heard  "Minimums! Minimums". I pushed the thrust levers up and began the go around profile.

Weather was not going to improve. Time to head to JFK which was our alternate. Due to congestion we were given holding instructions. Told to hold west on the DPK 270 radial.

This is what I had a brain fart on last year...a basic...basic...basic...hold. We were about 15 miles north of the VOR. I briefed the hold and asked the Captain to set it up in the FMS as a back up. Well he made himself busy with other things and said he would get to it. Not sure if he was told to not set it up or not beforehand.

I entered the hold manually. Once on the outbound leg we were broken off and given vectors for an approach into JFK.

Basic approach. Once on the ground a little confusion set in. I've been to JFK in the past....but it's been a long while. The Captain had never been there. A little confusion finding the gate and ramp procedures. Again this was a real flight so we had to do everything we would normally do.  Done.

I was the first to pass the new training program.

After a break we were back in the sim for advanced maneuvers. This is where we were TRAINED on things like CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain), Wind Shear (increasing and decreasing), Stalls and more.

One eye opening maneuver was the high altitude stall. While at 36,000 feet he had me idle the thrust levers and just wait. This was simulating descending from a higher altitude, leveling off and not adding power.

It was hard watching the airspeed bleed off. I was told to let it go to the pusher. Once the pusher activated I grabbed the yoke and pulled back and added full thrust. My first pull was too aggressive as the plane entered a secondary stall. I had to let the nose stay below the horizon and gently pull back. We lost 1600 feet during the recovery.

Another stall was the approach to landing stall while in icing conditions....and at MDA....a la Colgan 3407. Once level at MDA he told me to idle the thrust. Once again I cold recover during the pusher. We were just 500 feet above the ground in the clouds....with the ice protection on. Once the pusher activated I added full thrust and grabbed the yoke. This time we only lost 100 feet.

This sim session was very eye opening.

Once done I saw the next crew waiting for the simulator. I told them both the news about the first two crews and that I was the first to pass. Both were a little shocked.

I have a really good schedule this month. I was awarded a line with 19 days off. Due to training I have 20 days off. Not too shabby.


  1. Congrats.

    It does sound like a sensible training and check regime - enjoy your time off

  2. Your policy of not being sloppy and flying to standards pays off. Congrats.

    Also nice to hear that it's "check and train" rather than "test and fail".


If you are a spammer....your post will never show up. Move along.