Ground school exams

This week we had the last few days of ground school before our exams.  We were studying the FMS/CDU that the Q400 has and the essential parts we will need to know to “get going”.

The Q400 is a strange aircraft at times, when I was a management consultant I came across numerous companies that had either customised their IT infrastructure or removed parts to make it cheaper, only to ten realise that they should have left it in.  I won’t say what has been left in or out on the Q400, but suffice to say it is basic model compared to other aircraft manufacturers and leaves you having to do a lot of the maths in your head that something like the 737-800 or the Airbus will do automatically for you and give you a nice picture of what is happening. 

The FMS is different and so it takes some getting used to, the line select keys are not used for waypoints, instead a list system is used in a smaller font and you type in the number of the waypoint you want.  This allows more waypoints to be placed on one screen which is a good thing, but I have to get out of the habit of using the line-select keys.  The screen is in a higher resolution and with colour which is a good thing, this makes it easier to read.  However, it is on the other side of the throttle quadrant, so these good things become less beneficial.

dash 8 alt sel

Coupled to the FMS is a quite extraordinary Mode Control Panel (Known as the Flight Guidance Control Panel in the Q400).  It is very user unfriendly in that the functions are on the opposite side to the way they are enunciated on the PFD and it has a major quirk in it where upon selecting an altitude with the autopilot, it will not level-off at the altitude unless the button next to it “Alt Sel” is selected (highlighted in yellow).  I would very much like to meet the person who designed this system to find out why he thought it was a good idea to have a button to select the altitude rather than having it automatically selected, for the life of me I cannot think why it is necessary to have a select button other than to save on software programming.  This button alone seems to be responsible for the Q400 to be at the top of the leader board for altitude busts, flying through a cleared altitude is not a good thing.  So within the company SOPs there are numerous procedures to ensure that we do not miss this important caption on the PFD annunciator.

So at the end of the week, we had our technical exams which went fine.  I got 1 question wrong out of the 76 questions and came out with 98%.  Next week is performance and mass/balance.


~ by globalste on April 13, 2012.

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