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 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 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'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. 

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