Around the Pattern

Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Tag: Airbus A-330 (Page 2 of 3)

Training Complete

I have finally finished my airline’s Airbus A-330 qualification course. I started training on November 1st and completed my Operating Experience (OE) and Line Check on December 19th. Fortunately not all of that time was in training. I had a 5-day break over Thanksgiving and I had a had a 7-day break between my type rating evaluation in the simulator and my OE trip in the aircraft. Even so, it felt like it took forever.

My OE trip consisted of four flight legs between the U.S. and Europe. The normal crew of three pilots, a Captain and two First Officers, was increased to a crew of four for this trip. That was required because when I occupied the right seat in the cockpit, the Captain instructor had to be in the left seat overseeing my performance as a First Officer not yet fully qualified to conduct revenue flights. The other two First Officers on the crew replaced the Captain and I when we took our mandatory breaks in the middle of the flight.

The trip went well and I became more at ease with the operations with each leg. International flying in any airplane is largely the same, however equipment capabilities and procedures will change the operation with different aircraft fleets. For instance, this was the first time I had any experience using CPDLC/ADS during a flight. It wasn’t a huge change, just different and something new to learn. The simulator phase of training introduced this equipment briefly, but the bulk of the training on it’s operation is conducted on the OE trip.

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Flight Training – Part III

Sorry about the delay in getting back to you. Time got away from me when I came home on a Thanksgiving break. It’s amazing all the things that can pile up when you leave for five weeks. A-330 simulator cockpit

Let’s see, when I left off last I was in the Full Flight (Simulator) phase of training and had completed the first two sessions.  I had two more practice sessions and then the ‘Maneuver Validation.’   These simulator periods aren’t really ‘practice.’  Each session introduces some maneuver that you have not accomplished in a previous period.  In addition to the obvious precision (ILS) and non-precision approaches (LOC, LOC B/C, VOR, RNAV), crosswind landings and go-arounds/rejected landings we also practice windshear recoveries, EGPWS escape maneuvers and TCAS resolution advisories.  The sessions are extremely full each day. The Maneuver Validation consisted of at least one of everything I have listed above (only one type of non-precision approach). It went well and I headed home for the turkey feast.

I returned to training the following Monday and had simulator sessions Tuesday-Friday and had the check ride scheduled for early Saturday morning. Up until this point my simulator sessions had been flown from the right seat, my bid position for the airline. Now I was shifting over to the left seat for the remainder of the training.  Since I would be awarded a full type rating at the end of the course, the check ride was to be conducted with me operating as a captain. It is an additional hassle for the co-pilots going through training, but a full type rating rather than one with left seat privileges only at cruise when flying for this carrier is worth the extra effort required.

The simulator training now shifted to operational flights rather than ‘pattern rides’ practicing approaches and maneuvers. If my memory serves me, the first  session was  a flight across the Atlantic using the NAT Tracks with their requisite clearance requirements through Gander and Shannon. It also covered contingency operations should something happen that required a deviation off the tracks and to an alternate airport. Subsequent sessions had flights across the Pacific with a diversion to a Russian alternate airport and a flight within Asia with a landing in Beijing. Those completed, I was finally down to the last simulator session.

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Flight Training – Part II

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. A-330 simulator cockpit 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!

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