Friday, December 4, 2009

"In the box" Day 1 in the sim

A320 simulator #2. Note the "old" Air Canada colours.
It replicates FIN 201, our oldest A320 (over 20 years).
Now that I'm on the A320 fleet it is all AQP (Advanced Qualification Program). Because we flew the A340 and A330 Transport did not allow AQP. Everyone thinks AQP is far better and I have to agree although some claim "it's still a wolf in sheep's clothing."
Day. MTV-D I have to get used to these new acronyms. MTV stands for
MANOEUVRES VALIDATION TRAINING. You see, even the acronym does not jive.
Captain (Moi)
It's a summer scenario so we don't have to worry about contaminated runways, temperature corrections, deicing. All the flying is out of CYVR (Vancouver). First leg CYVR- CYYC (Calgary). The airport is deemed mountainous so in the real world we must use the EGPWS (Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System) but we can't in the sim because there is none. It's a wet runway. What is my crosswind limitation, oh yeah, 20 knots?
Weather is low so I may need a take off alternate. Take off alternate is predicated on the approach in use. For an ILS it would be needed if it goes below 2600 feet (1/2 mile) but it's an NDB on 26 left. Good catch on my part, but instructor asks distance required for take off alternate. That one is easy, think A340 i.e 340 nautical miles. And of course all departures out of CYVR are VNAP Alphas (Vertical NAV Procedure) so we must modify our acceleration altitude by an extra 1500 feet. Are you still with me? During departure we get a FUEL L TK PUMP low pressure fault. We call dispatch to link us with maintenance. MOC another acronym standing for Maintenance Operations Control request we land back in YVR.
We are cleared to the VR beacon to hold. Holds on an Airbus is a two button operation. I love Airbus for that. Must back the hold with raw data i.e tune in the VOR and appropriate radial as mandated by Transport Canada. Not necessary on a glass airplane, but we plane the game. Once we show how to program a hold and enter it it's time for a NDB 26Left approach. I get the F/O to "set me up" i.e program the airplane. We must add 50 feet to every non-precession approach from the Jepps charts which is also mandated by Transport. We are told we can't use all the Airbus magic i.e a "managed approach" we will be "selected, selected" meaning we tweak the tracking and tell the airplane to descend. Doesn't sound like much but Airbus makes it be a near "pan, pan, pan." We use FPV (flight path vectors) with the "bird." Of course we won't be landing. We get an engine fire (no engine failure) on the go around. It's busy! Must remember to level off to clean up the airplane i.e get the flaps up and call ECAM ( Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitoring) actions. Basically it tells the other pilot to read what the airplane wants done. The instructor watched our "ECAM" etiquette. They want the verbiage verbatim. (I remember one captain telling me many years ago, it's like a play, everyone is to remember their lines but if someone forgets their line, stutters, says the wrong thing then things take on a different scenario - oops I'm digressing). The F/O does a good job cleaning it up, but I must go into my ABCOT procedure.
A (ATC) talk to ATC, declare an emergency including souls on board, fuel and whether we have hazardous material).
B (Back-end) (Flight Attendant) I can't call using the chime button but via the P.A."Will the in-charge flight attendant report to the flight deck" in my authoritative voice. Yes, the P.A works in the sim. I brief the F/A using yet another acronym
TTTBAD (Type of landing, Touch down (water or hard surface), Time for landing, Brace for landing commands, I forget what "A" is but D is whether to Displace passengers.
C (Company) tell dispatch, and if we are diverting, send datalink code for diversion.
O (Overweight landing?) Many pilots are overweight, but that's a Jenny Craig issue. :)
T (TCAS) With an engine out, the RA (Resolution Advisory) does not work too well. i.e. the aircraft won't be able to climb all that well on on engine to get out of the way.
I must give a long winded Air Canada briefing, but I must first remember to give him control stating our heading, speed and altitude.
We get radar vectors for the ILS 26 left. Oops, almost forgot the one engine approach QRH checklist. In a nut shell, it says if you have to level off while on approach then maybe you should think about a flap 3 landing instead of a flap full landing. If you forget this, you'll get your wrist slapped.
We land and stop on the runway for inspection by "red command". I must remember to make a P.A "Remain seated, Remain seated" again in my authoritative captain voice.
Now visibility is reduced setting the stage for rejects and V1 cuts (engine failures on rotation). Another transport Canada mandate. I often wonder what will happen if the engine quits a few hundred feet above, or it doesn't quit entirely. How well will pilots will handle the drill? Oops, I'm digressing.
Low visibility take off. I must need a take off alternate, does the runway meet the criteria?
Below 1200 RVR I must do the take off. Also, I must consult a bulletin where some genius from Transport concocted "level of service" at the airport I legal for take off? You may think I'm being condescending but I'm certain if I ask ATC, pilots, and Transport I would get a different answer every time. Plus, we must identify the runway so as to avoid another incident which happened to Singapore Airlines departing on a closed parallel runway in the pouring rain.
I get an engine failure entailing a high speed reject. I bring it to a stop, set the park brake and call ECAM actions. Plus make a P.A, "remain seated, remain seated" in my authoritative captain voice. I have to remember to consult brake cooling tables to be legal for take off.
The RVR is now down to 600 feet (three runway lights). I need a take off alternate plus runway centerline lighting, high intensity runway lighting and centerline markings. The planets must be lined up for this take off.
I get an engine failure at V1 and it rotates slowly. I trim the rudder, get the autopilot on, select heading above four hundred feet, established in a definite climb and call ECAM actions!
Now it's time to get re-certified for CAT II and CAT III landings. Low and behold we get the engine back and must do a CAT III approach onto 26 left. This is flown by the captain and requires a specific briefing. Part of the briefing is consulting the low visibility taxi charts. On the approach we get an autothrust fault. "GO AROUND, FLAPS!" bellows in the flight deck. Can I do a CAT II landing with no autothrust? A CAT III I can't, but yes, a CAT II no problem.
We land. Set the park break and take a break. Now it's the F/O's kick at the cat.
I forgot to mention, since CCAA (bankruptcy protection) all of our training is done for free - seven days of it a year. (four simulators, day of annual recurrent training, and two medicals). Well I lied, we signed a 22 month concession a few months ago and were given a thousand dollars or so for a years training. Sure it bites, but there are many airlines around the world in worst shape. I know one thing, I'm getting tired from typing. I'm a two finger speed demon typist.
P.S I'm trying to insert spaces between paragraphs using "enter" but it doesn't work. Sorry for that. Anyone out there able to help an Airbus pilot ratify this?


Andrew said...

Shift Enter possibly?

Ian said...

Hello Doug:

I am grounded unexpectedly as you might have seen from my blog, and currently back in Scotland with my sisters - Susie who lives in Ancaster near you who headed over on last night's Speedbird from CYYZ to EGLL.

As you know, Europe has woken up to the fact the recurrent training based on the age of the B707 and the like is no longer relevant - finally.

So the Advanced Training and Qualification Program is being rolled out, essentially, across the JAA, with a number of "majors" in the vanguard - including BA.

The exercises that have to be statutorily trained and tested are only run once a year, leaving more time on the six-monthly recurrent simulator sessions for the crews to be given practice at the type of exercises that operational flight data monitoring indicates they need to polish up.

Half of all the training we receive in B777 land involves manual flying, including things like pure visual approaches and circling to land.

Because this training is aimed at equipping us to handle non-normal situations, but not necessarily the abstruse sequence of multiple technical failures designed to see if we are real "Malboro men", we're much less likely to be able to guess what's coming along.

The focus is of course highly polished CRM, ability to work in real-world high workload situations, intimate acquaintance with SOPs, and our ability to take the unexpected in our stride. All done in programmatic and tailored manner.

The Prague conference from 2009 on the changing dynamics of flight training and the future for both experienced crews and ab initio entrants sheds light on a quantum leap forward both on the aspect of ATQ and MTP (Modular Training).

I was particularly impressed with the IATA delegate's view of things, as well as the enlightened view of FlyBE plotting the knowledge gain from novice to professional aviator.

I will find a link if anyone is interested.

Sounds like you did just fine Doug!

Cheers. Ian

Aviatrix said...

Coincidence that you're in the sim while I'm blogging simming. Don't you wish you could open a door in the back and jettison all the passengers instead of having to land in that weather?

From the Flight Deck said...

Thanks Andrew, I'll give it a try on my next post. Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Aviatrix. Sometimes I wish IO could jettison the instructor/examiner. :)

From the Flight Deck said...

Ian. You mention a SIX month recurrent. Our AQP is every 8 months which is why the company thinks it's a good thing, saves money. Our AQP (Day 1) always include a V1 cut, CAT III autoland, rejects, holds, non precision approaches. Day II is either a LOFT or an LOE (Line Orientated Evaluation).

But all this is miniscule as to what you are going through at the moment.

All the best.


Aviatrix said...

I use

tags to delineate paragraphs. I don't recommend you do that, though, because Blogger will strip them out if you use the Compose tab.

If shift-enter doesn't work (I haven't heard of that one)
will. Put it anywhere you want a line break. Put two if you want a blank line. Put them right up against the period at the end of the paragraph, or else you might get a two line gap.

You may find it simpler to adjust the settings under post options (at the bottom of a new post) to "convert new lines to

From the Flight Deck said...

Aviatrix. Thanks for the info. Actually Andrew's (comment #1)suggestion "shift, enter" works fine. I see minus 26 C temperatures will be there to greet me in Edmonton late tonight which you've been experiencing for quite a few days.Yuck.

Capt. Doug

P.S Thanks for including my blog link on your VERY popular blog. Over 750 visits a day, I still can't believe it.

Chris said...

Your last comment about the training costs puzzles me - does the airline expect you to pay for your own recurrent training?

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Chris. Prior to bankruptcy protection pilots were paid four hours salary for each sim session. Even though the first day is actually six hours (1.5 hours pre-briefing, 4 hours sim, .5 hours de-briefing), which was considered adequate even though we did this on our scheduled days off. All of that is gone (again with our newest concession we get $1000 for all training). I don't know of too many
jobs where employees go to work and train for free. Again, it's the most stressful part of our job and to add salt to the wound we do it for next to nothing.

The pilot group also agreed to 10% less pay for sick days.

In a nut shell, the airline does not expect us to pay for recurrent training, but they expect it to be done for peanuts.

Welcome to the new aviation world. My blog is not intended to be political but most pilots are getting worn out from concessions.
I think Capt. Sully's book touches on the topic.

Thanks for the post


Chris said...

That is a shame, but better I guess than the company going under - and you guys can hold your heads up and say you are doing your bit, too.

I'm sure you've already heard every argument for and against, so I'm not going to rehash that here - I just hope things get back to 'normal' real soon - whatever 'normal' is nowadays.

From the Flight Deck said...

Chris. Valid points and right to the point giving today's economics. Yes, a return to normalcy sure would be nice, but like you said, "define normalcy."