Once again, I must apologize for not keeping these posts more up-to-date; however, the B757/B767 training moved very rapidly and the intense schedule got in the way of writing blog posts.
Spoiler Alert: I passed ground and simulator training! Yeah! I am currently on IOE (Initial Operating Experience) and have already completed one trip to Milan, Italy on the B767-300ER. Stay tuned for a whole article on that flight! I took some great pictures and have a few stories from that journey as well.
For this blog entry I am going recap the full motion simulator training all the way to my checkride.
During my last blog post, I was nearing the end of my ground school training. A few days after that post, I took my Systems Validation (i.e. written test) and passed with a 97%. It was a 100 question test that covered areas of emphasis from almost every B757/B767 system. Here are a few sample questions from the test:
“When encountering moderate to severe turbulence, place the Engine Start Selectors (Both) to ____.”
The answer is CONT, or “continuous” ignition. The CONT position runs the selected igniters (1, BOTH, 2) continuously to prevent inadvertent engine flame-out due to the moderate turbulence.
Here is another:
“On the B767, WHAT DOES PLACING the Bulk Cargo Heat selector in the VENT position DO?”
The answer is it maintains the bulk cargo compartment temperature above 65 degrees F and, a vent fan draws cabin discharge air into the compartment. If the bulk cargo heat selector is set in the normal position, it can get extremely cold in the bulk cargo compartment. This is a problem if we are carrying live animals, which we actually ended up doing on my first IOE flight to Milan, Italy.
Here is one final question:
“On the B757, the stabilizer is powered by ____ hydraulic systems.”
This question is actually quite easy to answer, all you have to do is look at the stabilizer trim cutout switches on the throttle quadrant to find the answer. The answer is Right and Center systems.
Full Motion Sim Training
After Ground school, I returned to my home on the east coast for some much needed R & R, but I had to come right back for full motion simulator training about two days later. The beginning of each week in the simulator started with two very late night sim sessions, usually starting around 8 PM and concluding around 1 AM. As the week progressed, they made the show times earlier so that the final sim session ended early enough to allow for everyone to catch flights back to their home bases.
I got to the simulator training a little early on the first day so I could give a tour to a friend of mine who is joining our wholly-owned subsidiary carrier (he will be flying ERJs/CRJs). During the tour, I snapped a few pictures. Below you will see the new CAE full motion level D sims that use magnetic instead of hydraulic actuation. These machines are SUPER quiet when compared to their older counterparts. The Flight Academy has at least 4 hallways just like the one below, in addition to the single simulator rooms, which adds up to a total of about 40 full motion flight simulators!
My friend and I also visited the Integrated Operations Center (IOC for short). This is basically the real world version of SimBrief, except we have actual people watching each flight! Our dispatchers, crew schedulers, and mechanics are watching over every flight in operation. They are not only extremely valuable assets to have while conducting a flight, they are also required per the FARs (Federal Aviation Regulations). Notice how they always have the news on the main TVs, this is actually required so they know if any major event occurs that may affect flight operations. I was particularly interested in the north Atlantic desks because that is the region of the world I will be flying through the most.
SIM-Ps vs. Check Airmen
Like the FCTIs that trained us during ground school, SIM-Ps (professional sim instructors) are instructors hired by the company to train students during the first week and a half of full motion sim training. This saves the company a lot of money because they can pay SIM-Ps less money than they have to pay a Check Airman (someone who regularly flies the real airplane).
SIM-Ps are typically former military pilots or airline pilots that have aged out (65 is the mandatory retirement age per FAR 121 in the USA); in other words, SIM-Ps are usually really old individuals. In Dave and my case, we were assigned the most senior SIM-P in the entire company. His name was Jim (aka “Jimbo) and he was a pilot in the Vietnam Conflict who just turned 80 years old. Our first exposure to Jimbo was walking into the briefing room and seeing his 1980s briefcase (see image below). Dave and I knew at that very moment this training was going to be old school, although that shouldn’t have been a surprise.
While Jimbo was an extremely nice guy, by the end of the first week and a half of sim training, both Dave and I were ready to be rid of him. Being able to teach is not something that everyone can do; it takes patience and the ability to recognize that a certain method, technique, or skill is not registering with your student. Jimbo didn’t possess these teacher qualities and as a result, I believe our training was a lot harder than it needed to be.
The second week went a lot better because we no longer had to work with a SIM-P. The second week of training was conducted with Check Airmen and they were great! They emphasized Threat and Error Management (TEM) principles in all their briefings and debriefings, they were energetic, they were patient, and overall it was a great learning experience. I guess that is why they get paid the big money!
X-Plane 11 Visuals?
During the first week of full motion simulator training, we were again back in the old B767-200 simulator that we used during ground school training. We actually don’t have any B767-200s on property anymore, so one might ask why do they keep the simulators around? I guess the idea is to use them in order to familiarize students with some of the older equipment that a few of our B757s still utilize. This includes things like the “round dial” airspeed indicator and the ADI (Attitude Deviation Indicator).
What was really interesting about this B767-200 simulator were the visuals. Even though the simulator utilized mirrors instead of the modern curved projector screens to display the visuals, the software they used was very up-to-date. It reminded me of X-Plane 11 graphics. I didn’t ask Jimbo what the software was, because I am sure he wouldn’t have known the answer, but at some point I am going to try to figure out what software they are using.
Sim sessions typically consist of a number of SPOTs (Special Purpose Oriented Training Scenarios). During a SPOT, the instructor re-positions you to a point in space with the purpose of demonstrating a maneuver, a non-normal checklist, or a full blown emergency. On this day, Dave and I were introduced to how to handle a rapid depressurization and also, in a separate SPOT, how to handle a V1 cut (engine failure on takeoff after the decision has been made to continue).
A rapid depressurization is when the cabin altitude increases rapidly above 10,000′ MSL due to the pressure vessel being ruptured. Typically this can be caused by a hole in the cabin or a failed outflow valve. Crews actually have memory items for this emergency because if you do NOT act quickly enough, you could pass out at the controls and the airplane would fly for hours on autopilot until it ran out of gas and crashed (remember Payne Stewart). Depressurization routes are routes that the company has come up with over high altitude terrain that allow crews to descend to an IAE (initial escape altitude) safely without hitting any terrain, and then continue on a route that safely allows a descent to 10,000′ MSL.
In the images below, you will see some IAEs (blue and red circles or “clouds”) over Mexico and the associated escape routing. The IAE for the blue clouds is always 17,000′ MSL and the IAEs for red clouds vary, but can be upwards of 21,000′ MSL.
So basically how this works is if you get a rapid depressurization when flying in these areas, you must immediately perform the memory items, which includes putting on your oxygen mask and establishing crew communications. Then, you must immediately start an emergency descent to the IAE for the type of cloud you are in. At the same time all of this is happening, you need to make a turn and go direct to your escape point (the yellow fixes below). Once established on a published route, you can descend to 10,000′ MSL.
You can see on the map display, I have displayed two escape fixes with 80 NM circles around them. This is how we orient ourselves to the depressurization charts while flying the B757/B767.
Single Engine Practice
The most important maneuver to master on a transport category airplane is the “V1 cut”. A V1 cut is when you lose an engine at or after V1 (decision speed) and continue the takeoff. This is a challenging maneuver because it requires quick action to ensure safety. The second hardest maneuver to learn is how to land the airplane on a single engine, but for the purpose of this blog we are only going to discuss the V1 cut.
To help our readers better understand a V1 cut, I am going to share what a typical takeoff briefing sounds like. Obviously there is often more to a takeoff briefing than just the paragraph below. Additions include what altitude you are initially cleared to by ATC, a discussion on any broken items on the airplane, etc.
“This will be a right seat takeoff off of runway 35L. All rejected takeoffs will be performed by the Captain. Prior to 80 knots, we will reject for any EICAS (caution or warning) message that illuminates. at or after 80 knots, but prior to V1, we will only reject for critical items such as engine failure, any fire indication, or a perception the airplane cannot fly. At or after V1, we will continue the takeoff and perform any company created special single-engine departure procedure (if not specified, then we will fly runway heading). We will climb to the minimum safe altitude, perform the necessary checklists, and either return (under or over weight) or continue to our takeoff alternate if specified. If everything goes well after V1, we will continue on the SID as cleared by ATC.”
On this day we practiced a lot of V1 cuts and we also practiced single engine approaches into John F Kennedy International Airport (KJFK). This sim was a B757-200, round dials, with a different ADI than the B767-200.
Hot, High, and Heavy
In every simulator course I have ever taken, there has always been a “hot, high, and heavy” day; it typically is the most interesting of all the sim sessions because it can either go really well or REALLY poorly. It is on this day that the instructor can start to gauge whether a pilot is ready to move forward to the Maneuvers Validation (i.e. the first sim test).
The goal of the hot, high, and heavy day is to demonstrate the capabilities of the aircraft under various atmospheric conditions and your ability to handle it if an engine is lost. The instructor loads the airplane to max gross takeoff weight, positions you to a high altitude airport, and increases the SAT (static air temperature). In our case, we were positioned to Denver International Airport in Colorado (KDEN) where we performed an number of V1 cuts. It is important to demonstrate that the airplane has enough power to still liftoff the ground and climb to a safe altitude on one engine under these intense circumstances.
This may be hard to believe, but the B757/B767 performs very much like the Beech 1900 during an engine failure; it requires a significant amount of rudder towards the operating engine. Because of this similarity and my experience flying the Beech 1900, I didn’t have much trouble mastering the V1 cut on the B757/B767; however, Dave did struggle a bit. If you recall, Dave was a First Officer on the B777 for a number of years and the B777 has an automatic trimming feature that will trim the rudder in the direction of the operating engine automatically during an engine failure. His dependency on this system, combined with the fly-by-wire features of the B777, made the B757/B767 challenging for Dave to master. Dave was tail-striking during the V1 cuts and the airplane was getting out of control on liftoff. As a result, the instructor decided Dave needed a little more practice and did not recommend him for the Maneuvers Validation.
Maneuvers Validation – Checkride Part 1
Captainless, I moved on to the Maneuvers Validation solo. The company provided me a seat-fill, which happened to be another SIM-P. The seat-fill basically assumes the role of the Captain and Pilot Monitoring so that the APD (Aircrew Program Designee, aka the “examiner”) could test my skills in a two crew environment.
I performed a number of maneuvers including a crosswind takeoff and landing, rejected takeoff, V1 cut, two-engine non-ILS approach, single-engine ILS approach, windshear escape, go-around, etc. All the maneuvers met the required standards and I passed to the next phase of training which was the LOFT.
Line Oriented Flight Training (LOFT)
The LOFT is basically when you perform a full flight and various “threats” occur that you have to successfully handle. Examples of threats include broken items (MELs) such as the APU, runway changes, noise abatement takeoff procedures, reroutes, non-normals, non-ILS approaches, etc. The LOFT consists of two flights with a break in between. The sole purpose of the LOFT is to prepare the student for the LOE (Line Oriented Evaluation), which occurs the next day.
Line Oriented Evaluation (LOE) – Checkride Part 2
The LOE is the final test and is the point at which you receive your type rating on the aircraft. The idea of the LOE is to prove to the APD that you can handle various threats that may occur during routine line operations. The APD wants to see effective use of the Threat and Error Management (TEM) safety model. He/she wants to see you build barriers, trap errors, and use resources such as your Pilot Monitoring effectively. Here is an example of what NOT to do on your LOE:
After handling a few non-normals during my LOE effectively, I was done. My checkride went very well and I don’t recall there being any debriefing items we needed to discuss afterwards. When we finished the checkride, the APD walked me to the IACRA (Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application) room which is where they generate the digital temporary airmen certificates for the FAA.
It was actually quite funny, because my APD couldn’t figure out how to get IACRA system working, so he just said “screw it” and wrote me a temporary certificate by hand. I later received my temporary certificate by email though.