That's what the Fixed Base part of the simulator training is all about.
The first 5 sessions were designed to learn and practice normal SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) on A to B flights. All the rest of the training is focused on systems failures, emergencies or non-normal situations, different types of approaches and decision making, on top of the usual SOPs work. The Full Flight sessions will bring the opportunity to practice again some of the situations we've been through before, but it adds the motion, more realistic airline environment (talking to Ops for example) and our required self-performance is set much higher. Yet the fixed base part feels really tough as every session brings more new stuff. The instructors let us make the mistakes and we learn from them.
It is undoubtedly much more intense than the Instrument Rating (IR) of the initial airline pilot training (which wasn't easy either).
Some of the failures and situations covered in the last five fixed base sessions include:
- APU (Auxiliary Power Unit, used to provide power and bleed air mainly when the engines are not running) Fault, i.e. not working,
- Bleed trip off (bleed air is compressed air taken from the engine compressor stages or from the APU, and is used to provide pressurisation, air conditionning and equipement cooling),
- Soure off (when a power source is no longer supplying energy as it should),
- Aborted engine starts for all kind of reasons (wet start, hot start, hung start, ...),
- Landing gear stuck in the up or in the down position,
- Loss of System A and Loss of System B (those are 2 of the 3 hydraulic systems (the third one is the standby system), driving flight control surfaces but not only, thrust reversers, landing gear, flaps and slats, brakes, spoilers, etc...),
- EEC Alternate mode (Engine control),
- Engine failure, Engine shutdown in flight,
- Engine Overheat,
- Engine Fire,
- Engine severe damage,
- Auto Speedbrake failure,
- Double FMC failure (resuming conventional navigation, manual calculation of speed references),
- Rapid depressurisation followed by:
- Emergency descent,
- Flight deck Window overheat,
- Rejected take-off,
- Passenger evacuation,
- Display failure,
- Stabiliser out of trim,
- ... and a few more.
There is a course of action for each of them, almost all systems are redundant and none of those conditions should develop in an uncontrolled situation. That's if we apply the correct procedure, and those simulator sessions are here to train to do exactly that.
Some of those situations require memory actions (Boeing refer to these as memory items) and a lot of decisions are to be made.
During Full Flight simulator sessions, some of those failures will be practiced again and lots of new failures will be introduced. There will be occasions when several failures will happen at the same time with procedures requiring to do opposite actions, resulting in the crew having to make a (correct) decision.
But the training is not only about failures and emergencies. We have to practice all kind of approaches on each flight, as well as go-arounds, take-off and approach briefings, and all normal checklists.
Amongst approaches we've been flying so far, other than the usual ILS Cat I, we did a few non-precision approaches (NPAs) such as LOC (Localizer only) approach, VOR-DME approach, NDB-DMEs, and circle-to-land (visual circuit after breaking off from the approach on one runway, to land on the same runway in the opposite direction, probably the most interesting type of approach).
There are two ways to fly NPAs, using VNAV (the FMC creates a vertical guidance based on DME, GPS and IRS position) or VS (Vertical Speed) as we would fly an approach on a Cessna.
Airborne life continues...