Line Training Week 1

Having returned from a nice relaxing week in Marrakech, I had to start my line training.  Line training consists of 40 sectors flying with a Training Captain who helps ease new pilots into regular line flying.  I say ease with a pinch of salt though because really there is a lot of new information to take in and it is expected that you make the minimum of mistakes throughout.

My Line Training is split across a number of bases – Belfast, Manchester and Jersey.  This will have me flying to a variety of destinations all with different runway and approach types.

Belfast was first up and I hopped a morning flight across to Belfast, I decided to take my bike with me in the new bike box I had bought for an absolute bargain so that I could take in some of the sights of Northern Ireland while I was out there.  I had not been to Northern Ireland since 1994 and even then it was a passing visit on the way to Galway, the main thing I remember about Northern Ireland was a gloomy port waiting for a ferry and a heavily armed border with huge gates and walls when crossing into mainland Ireland.

My first training captain was a young guy called Andy, I gave him a quick call before I left Gatwick to let him know that I had 2 large bags coming with me and that getting them all into the crew room may prove to be a bit of a nightmare.  He kindly offered to place them in his car which would make things much easier for me.


I arrived into Belfast and time and met Andy who had a slight look of concern on his face regarding my luggage, “I am in my wife’s car which is a MX-5”.  Oh dear, this will definitely not fit into his car.  We head over to the ticketing desk and beg a favour to leave my luggage with them for a couple of hours while we are in the crew room, they fortunately obliged and I left my bike and luggage with them.


The first part of line training is explaining how all of the systems work, really this is the basics of getting flight plans, weather, NOTAMS, journey log and then calculating fuel loads and how to make requests to ground operations.  Additionally there are lots of useful tips given out on how to make managing time both pre-flight and during flight much easier.  With the day of “classroom” training completed, I retired back to the hotel to check myself in and unpack all of my stuff and quickly build up my mountain bike.  It was the Queen’s Jubilee week and I was quite surprised to see all the Union Jack flags and stalls being set up at the Stormont Estate across the road.

During Line Training there is a safety pilot flying with you for up to 2 days.  The idea is that he helps the Captain to do monitoring duties so that the Captain has more capacity to help with training of the new pilot, but in a tiny Q400, it also means there is a lot less room! 

The first day of line training and in particular, the first sector down to Southampton was something of a blur, the day was a Belfast-Southampton-Belfast-Southampton.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know what was going to happen, it was that everything happened so quickly with no ability to slow things down and it was the first time I was flying through busy UK airspace and to make it worse, London airspace which is the busiest in the world.  The chatter on the radio was literally non-stop and I was struggling to pick out the call-sign I had been given “Jersey 4-Echo-Foxtrot” amongst all the other Jersey call-signs that were flying around and the constant changes to clearances.  A classic example was the following, bearing in mind it is amongst lots of 2-way conversations happening with other aircraft:

ATC:  “Jersey 4 Echo Foxtrot descend altitude 4000ft and turn left heading 190degrees, report heading to London control on 118.375, good day”. 

I then have to read all of this back while changing the frequency on the radio box and then remember everything to report it to the next controller.  It sounds simple, but believe me, on my first day with everything else happening I was struggling to keep my head above water.  Thank goodness I had an instructor at FTE who constantly beat good RT into me!

I survived the first day in tact and I must have been doing something well because the Training Captain made a request to Operations that the safety pilot was no longer needed.  The safety pilot was however really useful for completing all of the paperwork at the end of the flight and helping to log the flight into the online journey planner.  One of the downsides to flying is that there is lots of paperwork and the quicker and easier one can do it, the more time can be given to other tasks.


~ by globalste on May 29, 2012.

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