It has been a while but now I had some time and energy to finally put something here. We have been here for about two weeks now and are almost halfway our training here in Madrid.
On Monday the 14th of May we had some sort of welcome briefing where we had some explanation about our training and some general briefing about the Airbus philosophy. We also got our bag from Airbus filled with traningmaterials like the FCOM's (Flight Crew Training Manual), trainingsylabus, DVD's with the CBT's (Computer Based Training) en some other stuff. All the equipment we need.
The first day wasn't so long en on Tuesday we starten with some warming up to prepare us for the more serious work, the MFTD sessions. MFTD stands for Maintenance Flight Training Device and is some sort of copy of the cockpit on same scale but on a few computerscreens with touchscreen. We can simulate almost everything like in the real aircraft. But the point of this procedure training is to study and practice procedures so that we can start immediately at the serious business in the Full Flight Simulator (FFS). The first three sessions were only an hour a piece and more introduction about how the MFTD works and some basic principles about how we do things in an Airbus cockpit.
After these three intro-sessions we had a day of performance course. The point of this course was to review and see how to calculate some basic performance factors we need for a flight. We use tables and graphs for this combined with a pen, some paper and a calculator to calculate some elements that depend on variables like weight of the plane, weather, wet/dry, length of runway,... These calculations use to be and are still done before every flight at many places like this. But a lot of companies switched over to computer software to calculate these items on a laptop before every flight. This is a lot more accurate, fast and of course less exhausting for the pilots ;). We can't work to hard... But we still need to be able to do these calculations the old fashion way using paper and pen for comparison to the computer values and to do them if the computer should fail, what still happens.
The kind of things we calculate are mostly certain speeds necessary for take-off, runway necessary for take-off, climb performance to meet legal standards,... Pilot stuff what most people don't know what it is.
The past week we had a 4h session in the MFTD per day with an instructor to practice the SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures) en to add new elements every session. Our instructor had a bit the principle to help us some more if we don't know it immediately but in the mean while keep on going faster en to do more stuff than necessary for that session. It is kind of a good way because although he still needs to help us now and we don't always have the time or energy to study it perfectly it does work.
The first session was "only" de preparation of a flight before takeoff (preparation,before startup, startup, after startup, taxi, before takeoff) and the procedures after landing (after landing, parking and securing). But that was already 3/4 of the normal procedures we needed to know. The second session was already a complete flight including the take-off, climb, cruise, preparation for landing, complete landing procedure and landing.
In the beginning we needed a lot of help but by doing the procedures over and over again every day and adding extra stuff about practical things we do in every flight we learn a lot of things on a very short amount of time. The high level and standards from SFA are really coming in handy now because even the instructors are sometimes amazed how some people already have a high performance for their first typerating.
It has been a few tough days because outside these sessions you still need to study for the next sessions combined with CBT's. That are some sort of presentations about all the systems of the aircraft and how they work, how pilots see that in the cockpit and how we need to interpret these systems and how to use them. A little bit like the book of your car but a little bit more expanded (like a lot!) and in some sort of powerpoint format with a computer voice that reads them. Interesting matter brought on a boring way, but a fast way though.
Next week we have four more sessions were we will introduce failures and how to interpret these and how to solve them in a dual crew, Ivo and me in our case. Outside of this we still have our normal procedures we need to know and use. Every day we have briefing at 6h30 so it will be a nice and early morning for us next week.
Friday we have two tests, the systems test and the performance test. If these go well we start on Monday with the Full Flight Simulator sessions, 9 sessions of 4h where we will learn to fly the aircraft and everything that comes with that. Every two days we have a day off to sleep and study.
A lot of time to be a tourist is something we didn't have except the day we arrived and one time we had dinner at the Hard Rock cafe. But that is not the reason we are here. We have some time after our Skill test go party and to relax a bit. But more of that in the next posts, this one is already long enough to read I guess.
If you check out the Dutch version of this post you can see some random pictures I took in my free time here. Not all of them are aviation related ;)
Till next time!