Simulator Training

Once the groundschool phase is over we move over to the simulator phases in order to complete our Line Skills Test.  The Line Skills Test is basically an 8hour flying test in the simulator to assess that we are safe to fly the actual aircraft, it consists of various profiles, failures and emergencies that the pilots must successfully negotiate.  In short, it is like taking you driving test.

There are 9 simulator sessions, each lasting 4 hours.  After the simulator sessions there are 2 LST sessions allocated, the LST itself uses up around 6 hours and then the last 2 hours are spent flying using Low Visibility Procedures (LVPs), which is assessing if we will be permitted to fly at Category II approaches once on the line. 

I have not been in a simulator since March and even then, that was a 737-800 and was not full motion.  Now I must climb into a full-motion Q400 which is almost completely different inside and has a totally different FMS which I must get my head around.

Before we start the simulator sessions, we are actually allocated 2x2hr Cockpit Procedure Training sessions.  These are to get us familiar with the aircraft and the SOPs and how everything should flow, it also gives us a bit of time to ease into the actual simulator training sessions and work our way around the differences from when we did our JOC course in Spain on the 737-800.

Dash 8 Q400 simulator cockpit

The simulator sessions build up each day into more and more complex scenarios with more and more severe systems failures occurring.  Simulator session 8 is probably the most exhausting, this is a short hop between 2 airports where a hydraulics failure occurs, followed by a fire requiring an emergency descent, followed by an engine failure requiring a single engine landing, followed by a single engine go-around.  It is exhausting for both Pilot flying and Pilot non-flying due to the intensity and the thought process that must go into assessing the situation, including potential stakeholders and resolving the problem to give a safe outcome.  I am really hoping that the LST is not like simulator 8, if it is then I am going to be on my knees by the time I get out.

During our training we are going to have 2 instructors, they are both from very different walks of life.  One has been with Flybe for about 10 years and knows the Q400 very well, the other originally came from the RAF and has flown some 8 types of aircraft before becoming a type rating instructor/examiner on the Q400.  Both have their loves and hates and it then becomes up to us as students to take on board what we feel will add value.

Flying the Q400 is not as difficult as I thought it would be, however it is definitely more twitchy than the 737-800, in particular when we have to do full-flap landings on short runways, the plane seems to roll all over the place from so much as a tickle of the steering column.  One of the main things that is different to the 737-800 is that the Multi-function Displays (MFDs) – the 2 screens to the inside of the steering columns – only shows heading and not track made good.  This was a god-send on the 737 because it made you very aware of what was happening with the aircraft, the Q400 instead has a small red triangle and it takes a bit of thinking to understand exactly how to move this triangle to where you want it to be.  I am sure though, that those who have not flown the 737-800 will not find this a problem at all.

I find the programming of the FMS a bit illogical and it is frustrating that there are no generic FMS programmes out there that allow us to practice when out of the simulator.  When we were on the 737-800 we had the advantage of a basic FMS programme we could use and I also had the PMDG 737-800 programme which I found a godsend for being able to efficiently execute programmes required.

One thing that does feel very strange at first is the motion of the simulator on the ground.  It can actually give you quite a spinning head and a few of my colleagues have felt a bit ill for the first couple of days due to the movement.

The checklists that we were performing in Spain now make much more sense, the things we were calling out (but were not available) for the 737-800 in Spain are actually there in front of us now and it actually makes things much easier.

So we have 2 CPTs, followed immediately by 4 simulator sessions, then 2 days off, then another 5 simulator sessions, then 2 days off, then 2 days of LST.  So basically we will go from zero to LST in less than 2 weeks!

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~ by globalste on May 2, 2012.

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