Monday, 16 July 2012

Multi-Crew Course with Jet Orientation

With the news in Ireland still full of stories concerning the future of PTC and it's deserted pilots we continue to plough on with our training.

The unique nature in which we're due to complete the training means we had to swap two parts of our course. The general progression is to complete the training in the twin-engined Seminole and then head to Dublin to learn to work as a team during the MCC. This has been the process for many years across the majority of flights schools within the European curriculum.

However, due to the problems arising with the school in Waterford and the availability of resources it was decided that we move to the capital first before heading to another college to complete the flying stage of the Instrument Rating. This was done to increase the chance of us meeting the magic date of the 29th July - the day before the start of the type rating.

We arrived at Simtech eleven days ago to begin the course. As said in the last post, the idea of the ten days is to introduce the theory of working as a team to a set of procedures set out by the airline which have been agreed by the manufacturer and authoritative body. It it designed in essence to reduce pilot error as well as create a consistency within company and industry.

It is something that has evolved over the decades with the enhancement in technology coupled with lessons learnt from events gone by. Today when you jump on board your aircraft to far flung destinations or even short hops to nearby cities you'll be taken care of by at least two crew members who will be working seamlessly to their company's procedures. For me, it's something very reassuring when I travel as a passenger.

We initially spent three days engaged in ground school with a significant amount of time spent in the simulator becoming familiar with the system we would be operating for a week.

The 'sim' is based on the world famous Boeing 737 with the most modern cockpit creating a very ergonomic and eye pleasing environment. Spending thousands of hours in such a flight deck wouldn't be the worst place to call "the office."

Over the seven sessions we covered many different scenarios that could be faced by a crew in a modern aircraft ranging from rapid decompression of the fuselage during cruise at 37,000ft (over six miles above the ground) to engine failures on the ground and in the air. With four eyes, four ears and two brains all being susceptible to the flashing lights, horns, sirens and flickering screens it is very easy for 'newbies' to come to terms with the problem they face within seconds so you can imagine how satisfying it is to know that two highly trained pilots who know the aircraft extremely well are facilitated with such fantastic warning systems.

We have always been told that safety is the number one concern for everyone and this past week has really put that into perspective.

Along with learning about teamwork we have also had a little insight into operating a jet aircraft, something with a lot of power and that boasts extreme performance levels both with one and two engines. To add to this the superb instructors (many highly experienced captains) were on hand to offer tips, advice and stories into the daily operations of a commercial aircraft.

So, having learnt a lot and had a fantastic time we are now in Cork with the small matter just ahead of completing the Multi-engine Instrument Rating (MEIR), one of the biggest hurdles on the road to the Airline Transport Pilot's License.

It's going to be intense coming to terms with a larger and more powerful aircraft over the coming days but it's a challenge we're all relishing, but not as much as getting a few days at home with friends and family. Something I think we're all overdue...