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.