Welcome to my Blog! Here’s what I’ve been up to the last few days.
Did you know, that every 6 months, Commercial Pilots must go in a Simulator to train so that they maintain their License privileges? This is exactly what I’ve been up to the last few days..
I did a 3 day recurrent training course which consisted of a day of Groundschool with a written test at the end of it, two days of Simulator training and then an LPC/OPC check which is a practical exam done in the Simulator at the end of the third day. LPC stands for License Proficiency Check and OPC, Operator Proficiency Check. What does this really mean? Allow me to explain.
License Proficiency Check – Whichever Pilot’s license you have, it is issued by the in country authority which in my case is the UK Civil Aviation Authority or CAA. For any aircraft that you fly Commercially, it must be accredited to your License as a “Type Rating” and each aircraft “type” is assigned a type code. The Aircraft type code EMB550 is the type I currently fly and is supplemented to my license. In order for the CAA to allow me to fly it Commercially, i must pass a number of requirements in the Simulator so they deem me competent and above all safe to transport passengers. This means having the ability to deal with all kinds of scenarios and events such as technical faults, failures, fires, Engine Fires, Engine Failures, Control problems, Approach and Landing on two engines, Approach and Landing to Go-Around on One Engine, the list goes on but ALL Pilots must pass this if they are allowed to exercise the privileges of the Type Rating. This is what the License Proficiency Check covers, the bottom line core requirements to hold the Type Rating.
Operator Proficiency Check – This Check is largely Driven by the Operator or Airline and they assess the Pilots based on their internal SOPs or Standard Operating Procedures and protocols. The OPC can be scenario based and allows the Operator to watch how Pilots respond and deal with scenarios based on criteria such as leadership, communications, CRM (Crew Resource Management), Decision making and Problem solving. At the end of it, a Pass or Fail is given and additional scoring given by the Examiner against the Operators criteria. All this is then kept within the Pilot’s training records which helps identify strengths, weaknesses and areas for development. Every First Officer dreams of one day becoming a Captain so this process helps develop/prepare Pilots for Command.
So, enough about the Licensing stuff, what about the Simulators themselves ?
Well, all I can say is that they are extremely life like and expensive pieces of equipment. They fundamentally operate around the clock 7 days a week to accommodate Crews training from all parts of the world. They can cost anywhere between £8-25m pounds and in a lot of cases, cost more than the aircraft themselves. Built up of up to 10 Computers, they are able to replicate the precise characteristics of the actual aircraft so that Pilots can train the many Emergency and Abnormal scenarios presented to them in life like realism and accuracy. The Instructor sits behind the Crew and observes whilst he presents various failures to the Pilots throughout the flight. (See below)
The Simulator is a lot of fun, it allows you to train, repeat and practice all kinds of scenarios and failures and also allows you the ability to train procedures at certain more challenging Airports. Above are screenshots of me operating in and out of London City which Pilots must be approved to fly into due to the very steep approach in there.
At the end of the training, comes the final test which allows Pilots to renew their ratings for another 6 months. This is usually a scenario based test with a City Pair like Amsterdam – Brussels, a given Passenger and Baggage load, and weather which will allow them to determine their decision making. This flight is unlike any other as it is packed with all kinds of technical issues which will need to be resolved carefully and methodically in order to pass. Once the check is done, the license is signed off for another
12 months and then you can return to the line! Simples!!!
Take a look at the images to see the type of routing you’d expect on one of these checks !
So, a couple of things should be familiar here. Firstly, the loadsheet (far left) shows where the Centre Of Gravity sits at Departure and Landing. The next image shows the route of flight from Amsterdam to Brussels, and the last two images illustrating the SID (Standard Instrument Departure) from Amsterdam and STAR (Standard Arrival) Route into Brussels. These are the worldwide accepted charts that the majority of Pilots use and created by a company called Jeppesen!
That’s it for now ! Stay tuned for the next one !