Sunday, 30 October 2011

Module 2, one week down as Australia comes to a stand still

It seems only days ago that we travelled to the Annex on the bus to our very first ATPL lesson however I now sit here nine weeks on having completed our first week of the second module. The five subjects before Christmas cover General Navigation, Flight Planning, Radio Navigation, IFR Communications and VFR Communications respectively.

This module involves ground school over three days of the week and self study for the remaining four. The classes start at 9am and on certain days run through until 6.30pm in the evening. 

So far we have had General Navigation, Flight Planning and Radio Navigation as the two communication courses are much shorter in length than the other three and will come into the module in the coming weeks. The set up is exactly the same as previous. We have five weeks of ground school with weekly tests in each subject followed by one week of Consolidation exams, a revision week and then the real IAA exams. 

With a three day week we didn't begin proceedings until Wednesday which meant we had Monday and Tuesday off. Having seen Manchester United fall to the hands of the noisy neighbours quite emphatically on the Sunday morning I was very much looking forward to the flight on the Sunday evening.

Having arrived at the Flightline my instructor told me that he was to run out of hours before we would land back in Melbourne later in the evening. Therefore it was decided we would plan a shorter route north to Sanford, an airport north west of Orlando International and is mainly used by low cost and European charter airlines. 

The sun started to fall below the horizon as we departed waited for taxi clearance from Melbourne Tower.

"FIT 42, taxi Runway 5 via victor. Hold short Runway 5 at victor."

Pre take-off checks complete.

"Melbourne Tower, FIT 42 is holding short of Runway 5 at victor, ready for departure."

"FIT 42, cleared for take-off Runway 5, proceed on course to the north west."

We lined up with the smallest runway here in Melbourne. Part of the line up checks are to check that the heading indicator (HDI) is corresponding with the small compass placed midway up the cockpit window directly between the two pilots. With the Avadine glass cockpit that a number of FIT's aircraft are fitted with this isn't necessary as there simply isn't a manual HDI thanks to the many computers taking care of figures and representations we see on the screens in front of us.

"Ts & Ps are in the green (temperature and pressure gauges); airspeed is alive...55 knots, rotate."

The little Warrior lifted into the autumn sky as I pitched for the most efficient climb speed of 79 knots. She had recently been fitted with a new engine and the effects were quite noticeable as she climbed quite impressively, turning on course to our destination.

We soon left Melbourne's airspace as we powered on through 1900ft, aiming our sights on our cruising altitude for the thirty five minute flight of 4500ft. 

We made contact with Orlando Approach who guided us through to Sanford where we completed one touch and go before departing back to Melbourne. With a small amount of time remaining we asked to enter the pattern at the home airport and completed a few more touch and go's before calling it a night.

The flight to and from Sanford was my first flight in over a month but it was good to get it under my belt and get back into the swing of things. I wouldn't say the landings were anywhere near textbook but I was satisfied all the same.

The glass cockpit on board the Piper Warrior

Monday and Tuesday were spent relaxing and not having to think about anything to do with theory work however come Wednesday morning we were well and truly back into the swing of things.

General Navigation is very much focused on maths theory and we have been working this week on calculating changes in coordinates based on different factors such as speed and varying latitudes/longitudes - something I am finding quite interesting.

Flight Planning is pretty much exactly how it's named. We have so far covered basic map reading and different fuel requirements for different trips - something very relevant for future commercial piloting. 

Finally Radio Navigation, something I have yet to see the joys of. For me it is like picking the worst areas of high school physics and putting them into an intense course. This week has been very theory based however looking further into the course areas such as instrument approaches and navigation are covered which will hopefully ease the boredom that has started to creep in.

All in all a very good week in the classroom which I be matched with good results in the coming week's tests. We shall see I'm sure...

On another note, I started writing this at lunchtime yesterday (Saturday) and after reading the news it was quite shocking to see what is happening out in Australia, in fact unprecedented. 

For the national airline, a well known iconic airline to make such a move is outstanding and I'm sure it will do only damage to the name of company. Not good for the industry...

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