The past week has been manic and I've not stopped since returning after New Year. In the time since my last post the technical study has continued with us covering the following topic areas:
We've also sat two internal progress tests too - which I passed. The next test is only in a few days time which happens to be the real technical exam. Unlike the progress tests of 20 questions in length, the real deal has over 100 and is about 2 hours long. I suppose I best get studying then!
On top of the technical study we've also been into the VFDs to brush up on procedures and actually put the theory into practice. It's all well and good talking about how the fuel system behaves in a classroom environment, but being able to see how the aircrafts various computer systems respond to certain scenarios and how said scenarios present themselves to us as pilots is really beneficial. By the end of groundschool I will have had roughly 20 hours of instruction in the VFDs and around 16 hours of our own time spent in them too. Hopefully that additional time will help my sim partner and I memorise the many different procedures in our heads. It seems to be going in okay in at the moment though which is good!
* Centre pedestal of the L3 A320 fixed-base simulator in Nursling *
Being almost 25 years old and born in the year '94 I'm certainly not shy to technology - I grew up with it. I've even a degree in the field of I.T too, but having studied the Airbus A320 over the past couple of weeks the complexity; yet elegant simplicity of the thing is simply astounding. The A320 was the first aircraft of its kind within commercial aviation - the first aircraft to be "fly-through-computer", or more commonly "fly-by-wire". What constantly shocks me about it is the sheer fact it was developed in the late 70s, launched in the 1984 and had it's first passenger flight around 1988.
Let's just think about that for a moment...
Those of you who are old enough to remember the 1980's - which isn't me given I'm a 90s baby - can probably remember the technology available at the time. Here's a few things that launched in the 80s:
Some of those things are revolutionary, especially the wider adoption of the personal computer, but for the most part enterprise computers still filled rooms. Despite that though airlines were presented with an incredibly sophisticated, well-engineered and up to 180 seat aircraft which was the first of its kind and a direct competitor to Boeing's 737.
Given that Airbus's first aircraft - the A300 - sold less than a thousand times, I'm not sure Airbus could ever have predicted their success with the Airbus A320 family. To date well over 8000 have been built across four variants of differing passenger capacity. In fact, more recent advances in engine technology has seen the A320 relaunched as A320neo (standing for New Engine Option). Given the longevity of modern airliners this somewhat safeguards my training investment which is good news!
It was Airbus's shrinking of the A320 - to create the 156-seat A319 - which caught the attention of easyJet in the late 90s/early 2000s. The airline took delivery of their first A319 in 2003 which went on to replace the ageing Boeing 737 fleet. 16 years later easyJet now operate 125 A319 aircraft, 168 A320s, 20 A320neo and more recently have introduced the larger A321neo with 3 of those in the fleet. With further aircraft orders in place to replace the now ageing A319 aircraft easyJet is now the 2nd largest A320 operator in the world.
I won't bore you all with the technicalities of this aircraft and why I think t's great, as that could take several blog posts in itself! But yea, I guess what I'm trying to say is it's an aircraft that was way ahead of its time back in 1984 and its still going strong today. If you can't tell by now, I can't wait to start flying these things!
I suppose I best go and crack on with some more revision now for that upcoming technical exam.
I hope you enjoyed the blog post and I'll post another update soon.
All the best,