Sunday, 30 October 2011

B737NG Type Rating - Part 2.1 (CBT, FMS)

CBT or Computer Based Training is our self-paced method of learning the technical side of the Boeing 737 Type Rating.

There are a total of 50 subjects to be reviewed as part of the CBT.

They are grouped into main topics, these include:

- Air Systems (Bleed air, pressurisation, air conditioning),
- Airplane General,
- Anti-ice equipment,
- Communications,
- Electrical,
- Engines and APU,
- Fire Protection,
- Flight controls (Primary and Secondary),
- Flight Instruments and Displays (Autoflight, VNAV, LNAV, Flight Directors, Standby instruments),
- FMS (Flight Management System) and Navigation (ADIRU - Air Data Inertial Reference Unit),
- Fuel systems,
- Hydraulics,
- Landing Gear,
- Warning Systems (Warnings, EGPWS, TCAS, ...).

The CBT program is actually very well designed and allows you to manually make inputs into the different systems and see their effects.
The CBT self-learning sequence is spread over two weeks, along with classes and reviews with flight instructors. It is supplemented by the FCOM (Flight Crew Operations Manual) which we have to know thoroughly, and which is in fact much more detailed.
The CBT however is a Boeing-based program, not airline specific.

An example of how detailed it gets would be the Landing Gear warning activation:
- The horn will activated when the flaps are between 0 and 10,
- Below 200ft RA (Radar Altitude),
- With one engine failed,
- 1 thrust lever less than 20°,
- All gear not down,
- With Flaps between 15 and 25,
- 1 thrust lever less than 34° with 1 engine failed,
- or 1 thrust lever less than 20° with both engines operating,
- Flaps 25 or more.

For every alert or warning light, there can be many different causes and many different actions to be taken, or even combination of warnings that lead to a different condition.
If the ZONE TEMP light illuminates amber, then CONT CAB indicates a duct temperature overheat or failure of the flight deck primary and standby temperature controls.
ZONE TEMP for FWD CAB and AFT CAB (Foward and Aft Cabin) indicates a duct temperature overheat.
If ZONE TEMP illuminates during Master Caution recall, then CONT CAB indicates a failure of the flight deck primary or standby temperature control.
Either FWD CAB or AFT CAB indicates a failure of the associated zone temperature control.

It can easily get confusing with hundreds of different warning lights in different locations.

We also started learning the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) in the Procedure Trainer, which I'll explain in the next post.
Finally, we spent a couple of hours in the FMC trainer to have a go and practice all the things this fantastic system has to offer.

So far, this aircraft looks absolutely fantastic!

Airborne life continues...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Boeing 737NG Type Rating - Part 1

The Type Rating started off with an introduction and welcome into the airline. There are a lot of things to take onboard, such as the rostering system (basically, your work schedual), commuting, duty hours and limits, aircraft manufacturer's amendment to existing procedures, etc...
And paperwork, again.

The next few days were focused on CRM (Crew Ressource Management), accidents studies, SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures) and their use and situational awareness. The lecturer was well experienced and made it all clear and interesting. Hats off.

Then came the safety and emergency training. The theoretical part covered Cabin Crew and Pilot's security and safety drills, cabin crew's flight routine, dangerous goods and law, normal and non-normal procedures.
Finally, it was completed by the practical training:
- Ditching drill in a swimming pool,
- Doors mock-ups,
- Fire drills,
- Evacuation from the aircraft slides.

We had to sit several exams.
Quite enjoyable overall.

Airborne life continues...

Last photo is Nice (NCE) airport as seen shortly after takeoff)

Friday, 21 October 2011

Transiton and B737 Type Rating program

Glider towing was a very good experience.
Figures-wise, this represents some 1300 tow flights, on a 6 days on / 1 day off pattern, up to 14 consecutive flying days on some occasions.
I had the chance to do tows up to FL120 (12,000ft) for the National Test Pilots School (EPNER in France, equivalent of the British Empire Test Pilots School or the USAF Test Pilot School).

Figures stay figures, however it taught me a great deal of experience. I have had one engine failure on take-off (towing a heavy loaded two-seater glider), one occasion where the glider had its spoilers/speedbrakes stuck in the out position giving us a negative rate of climb on the initial path, several cable breaks, etc...
We operated in some serious weather conditions, with winds up to 40 kts, CBs forming all around on a daily basis, ...
When the airfield was flooded after heavy rains, we were to used the paved runways only.
Landing on the South-East side of the field, the Landing Distance Available was 120m (390ft), not much for this sort of planes.
Overall, an enjoyable and very valuable experience.

As always, good things come to an end, but yet the next step is one of which I have dreamt for years. Hired by a European airline, I started the Boeing 737NG Type Rating a few weeks ago and I should be flying the real aircraft around Christmas, first flights with passengers in January.

Type Rating program:
Week 1: Introduction, which covers topics such as our company's culture, CRM (Crew Ressource Management), SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures), Safety, Emergency Procedures, Survival and ditching training, Dangerous Goods, Fire and smoke drills, Operation of doors, ...
Weeks 2 to 4: CBT - Computer Based Training (Aircraft general knowledge and systems), FMS training (FMS simulator), SOP's training (cockpit mock-ups), Performances calculation, Mass & Balance, RVSM.
Weeks 5 to 10: Simulator training (60h of fixed base and full flight (full motion) simulator, and a further 20 hours as observer) and briefings.
LST: Licence Skills Tests (1 day),
Simulator Circuit Training (1 day),
Base Training (6 to 10 circuits on the actual aircraft, flown without passengers).

Airborne life continues...