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* The L3 team @ Pilot Careers Live, London *
Wahooooo!!!! --- All the stress of the past year or so is totally worth it when the most expensive book i've ever owned landed on the doorstep this week. At the time of writing I've yet to actually see it in person given I'm in Southampton completing my AQC course, but it's incredibly exciting nonetheless. This little book, along with my AQC completion certificate which I aim to obtain in the next fortnight is all I need to then apply for positions with airlines around the globe. It's mad to think that I could soon carry out a job of dreams. An airline pilot, at any one of the EASA licence accepting airlines (he hopes). Fingers crossed the time between graduating L3 CTS and sitting in that right seat doesn't take too long. Will I fly the Boeing 737, Airbus A320, Dash 8, Embraer or perhaps some other aircraft? We'll see. I'm honestly not picky - the dream is to fly.
* Familiarising ourselves with the general layout of the Boeing 737 family of aircraft *
AQC Introduction & Aircraft Specifics
Frequent readers of my blog will have noticed I usually split up the week into day-by-day breakdowns. This week however doesn't really warrant such an in-depth explanation as it's somewhat followed the same trend: Classroom Sessions. The first two days focussed on the transition to jet aircraft and their major differences. My AQC course consists of eight cadets, five of which have already found themselves luck to be placed with British Airways. Irrespective of a cadets destined aircraft, our specific groups' course is to be delivered on the Boeing 737-300. There are some courses which are delivered on the Boeing 737-700 or Airbus A320 but it ultimately comes down to the luck of the draw. Importantly though, the type of aircraft you complete AQC on doesn't really matter as despite my previous thoughts, it's more about how you work together as a crew versus how well you can fly. Those beady-eyed aviation fans reading might have noticed the above photo is of a 737-700 and not the 737-300. Don't worry though, I didn't get the naming wrong! Only the 737-700 simulator was available for the orientation session!
Despite what I've said above about aircraft knowledge, jet aircraft are complex beasts of avionics and an underpinning appreciation for system operation is still essential. Thus, as cadets we're provided with documentation on operating the aircraft prior to starting our AQC course. With 69 switches / checklist items to complete prior to even starting those engines it's somewhat important we memorise a fair amount of them. This memory exercise has taken up a considerable amount of spare time during my days / evenings both prior to and during the course itself. When on the course, however, you have the benefit of working with your course partner to do this. Ultimately the expectation is that during the first simulator session you'll be able to get in, prep the systems, start the aircraft and taxi to the holding point inclusive of all briefings within 40-45 minutes. Of course, no one will be perfect during their first time in the sim, but there's a substantial amount to go over.
Crew Resource Management
The second half of the week focussed on what we call CRM, which stands for Crew Resource Management. As a group we initially expected these three days to be death by powerpoint but each of us were pleasantly surprised when its' delivery was far more interactive. Moving from topic to topic we were encouraged to have open discussion and healthy debate about our views / opinions. Our two instructors for this course both held aviation backgrounds with the first being a former British Airways HR / Recruitment staff member and before that a teacher - hence the use of flip-charts, etc, and the second being a Captain at easyJet. All in all the true value of CRM in the flight deck environment came to light and I left with the newfound knowledge of frameworks for use throughout the AQC simulators in the two succeeding weeks and the remainder of my career.
For those wanting more detail, CRMs description is:
Crew resource management grew out of the 1977 Tenerife airport disaster where two Boeing 747 aircraft collided on the runway killing 583 people. A few weeks later, NASA held a workshop on the topic, endorsing this innovative training. CRM courses deliver set of training procedures for use in environments where human error can have devastating effects. Used primarily for improving air safety, CRM focuses on interpersonal communication, leadership, and decision making in the cockpit of an airliner.
Interestingly, the aviation industry's use of CRM concepts have since been introduced across the NHS!
My sim partner and I will complete our first session on Monday afternoon. According to the syllabus we are to take the Boeing 737 from its cold-and-dark state at the gate all the way up into the air to practice a jet takeoff using auto-thrust. We'll then reset the sim on the runway and takeoff flying an instrument departure. After this I believe it's just a bit of general handling to get used to the jets characteristics before planning a descent back into Gatwick. For whatever reason we will be unable to get into the airport and thus practice a two-engine jet Go-Around. From this point we'll come back in for a landing. After that, we switch seats and repeat the exercise. I'm looking forward to seeing how different the multi-crew dynamic is, I feel I'll very much enjoy it.