Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Downtime...and lots of it!

The IR is now in full swing and six lessons in the simulator have been completed out of a total of twenty.

They're coming along pretty well with little problems established so far. The ideology is something I'm really enjoying compared to visual flying where everything is so procedural and ordered that it almost makes navigating easy!

Over the past two lessons we've experienced an increase in the workload and an idea of what is to come. It is no easy task as a single pilot operating a commercial flight under instrument conditions and I think we're all starting to appreciate that.

Alongside the 'flying' in the simulator we seem to have a lot of downtime. It's very easy to say 'downtime' and associate very little with it but there is a significant amount of theory that we need to learn and in some cases seriously review before coming to the end of the training here with PTC.

Having said that the material is hardly something that gets the heart pumping and it has become quite difficult to just sit down and go through although slowly pieces are starting to come together.

This week the plan is to have another three simulator sessions before the weekend off and see what lies ahead next week. The first internal check ride tomorrow reviewing everything we have done so far including steep turns, stalls, unusual attitudes, NDB approaches and NDB/VOR holds.

I'll be sure to explain what all of that means in the coming weeks...

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Simulator

Within any establishment there are rumours, myths and general chit chat about certain aspects associated with that particular institution. At The Pilot Training College it is no different. During the later stages of training in Florida word is always being passed back from the eastern side of the pond related to the simulator here in Waterford.

Buried deep in PTC HQ the FNPT II has caused pain and suffering for many a cadet coming through the system. The 'sim' is a mock up of the Piper Seminole, an aircraft we have recently become accustomed to at the very end of our training in the states during the CPL stage. It is an analogue system encompassing all the relevant navigational instrumentation we will need to complete the Instrument Rating.

The problems so passionately described via the internet over the Atlantic are mainly focused around how difficult the simulator is to control with the lack of feedback and it's temperamental attitude to the controlling forces.

It was certainly an interesting experience the first time you start to play with it however after two lessons I do feel now that it isn't as bad as I've heard it being described. Although different from flying the real thing the idea behind everything we will be doing in it is pretty much exactly the same - the major difference being that the instructor is practically playing god with the ability to change almost everything! And apparently those horror stories contain no myths!

Having had the night shift for the first two lessons (21:30 until 01:30) it was quite tiring once the clock moved into the next day but enjoyable non the less. Two days off to revise and rest before starting another five days.

I have found Waterford to be a much more relaxed environment of training where they have found a balance of expecting high quality work from both instructors and students whilst nurturing that in comfortable surroundings.

Outside of the training there is nothing much really going on. The only point to note was in fact on the way to the PTC building for our first simulator session. We saw a plane on the terminal apron which seemed familiar to something we're hoping to be flying in only a few months time. As we got closer we realised it was in fact the Dash 8 from the afternoon Birmingham flight which had indeed 'gone tech' with a fuel leak and would be spending the night in sunny Waterford.

Hopefully I'll have all those wonderful problems to look forward to in the summer and beyond!