Another week has passed in the company’s effort to make an A-330 pilot out of me. I have now completed the Procedures Phase of training and have entered the Full Flight Phase. There were some changes to my class this week too. I was scheduled to complete this course in a class with two other pilots, a captain and another first officer. I was paired with the captain and the other FO was going to go through as a single. By the middle of last week, however, the other two pilots were back in their homes trying to recover from whatever flu-like viruses they had contracted. I talked to our training scheduler last Friday and both will be returning to training on Monday(tomorrow). They left training at different times and will complete the Procedures Phase individually but will pair up and complete the Full Flight Phase as a crew of two.
Full Flight is the term that is used for the simulator phase of training. It is broken down into two parts. The first part is covered in four simulator sessions. Our progress is evaluated during the fifth session, referred to as the Maneuvers Validation or MV. As a First Officer I take this first portion of the training in right seat. Since I am now a crew of one a ‘seat support’ pilot occupies the other seat and performs the duties of the captain. The individual providing seat support is either an A-330-qualified pilot or a simulator instructor with a free training period. I have completed two simulator sessions and I have had one of each type of support pilot.
It is taking some time to get used to the combination of the side stick controller and the control laws of the computers that are translating my stick movements into aircraft control surface movements. This is definitely not a big Boeing. The first simulator session is intended to get you used to the airplane and how it feels to hand-fly it. Most of the flying was done without the aid of the autopilot and with and without the use of the flight directors. I also had a chance to control the airplane with all 5 of the flight control computers failed. Yes, it’s a computer-controlled airplane, but even without the computers operating it is possible to control the aircraft. The backup control is intended to be used to keep you right side up long enough to convince at least of one the flight control computers to start working again. Apparently one of the simulator maintenance technicians has practiced flying with these backup systems to the point that he can fly a complete precision approach without any of the flight control computers operating. I can see how it would be possible, but I’d rather not be put in the position of having no other option.
My second simulator session consisted of non-precision approach practice (VOR, LOC and RNAV), crosswind takeoffs and landings (90 degrees off heading at 20 knots) and a couple of precision approaches with degraded flight control computers. At the end of the session I got to practice a few engine failures just after v1 speed. Yes, fun times were had by all.
I have two more training sessions on Monday and Tuesday and the MV on Wednesday morning. Then I get a break for our Thanksgiving holiday and will go home for four days. I’m REALLY looking forward to that.
I’ll try to publish a Part III between helpings of Turkey and dressing.
Have a great one!