* A fresh and frosty -4°C at Bournemouth Airport. *
This post marks the first of frequent posts about the next stage of my training although there is an exception to this given Christmas is in the middle of it all, but nonetheless... the instrument rating phase has now well and truly begun. I'll tell you what's also begun though - the British Winter. I'm not usually one to moan about the cold anymore than the next Brit, however, with this being my third winter on the trot I can't tell you just how much i'm craving successive days of warm weather! Looking ahead, the next time that happens I'll have completed my entire training which is an odd thought! For now though, I've the beautifully fresh -4°C whilst my peers in NZ enjoy the mid-to-high 20s.
So, what did the first two days of Bournemouth consist of? Well... presentation after presentation of course mixed in between a tour of the facilities and a fair few coffee breaks. Given UK aviation is governed as part of the wider EASA organisation - to which New Zealand and the United States are not members - there were a number of differences to learn about or rather, remind ourselves of given we'd learnt some of this stuff back during the ATPL Air Law and Operations topics. Most of this was related to stuff you'd say over the radio but there were also adjustments to various instrument procedures too.
It was at this point a clear difference between New Zealand and Arizona trainees was recognised and this difference is associated to the up and coming learning curve. It's going to be a heck of a lot steeper for my US counterparts for the primary reasons that New Zealand's aviation authorities do things fairly similar to us folk in Europe and the DA42 aircraft are both the TDI variant versus the NG they use in Arizona. Thus, US trainees have to learn a new set of speeds, power-settings etc for the older variant of the Twinstar in addition to getting their heads around procedural and radio differences in a short space of time too. I don't envy them really and at this point whereby the IR is only 10 weeks in duration(ish) it makes all those cancellations I had for weather seem that slightest bit worth it. I sure wouldn't fancy having all of that on top of everything else to focus on and it just goes to show how aviation varies around the globe though eh! Mr Joe Bloggs down the back having a complimentary browse of the Daily Mail [BBC Come Fly With Me Reference] would be none the wiser to such variation the pilots handle on a daily basis from nation to nation.
* One of three DA42 Simulators used in Bournemouth *
The first few sims we complete here at Bournemouth are referred to as UK Orientation and given I hadn't flown for 6 weeks and my Arizonan peers close to 7, this provides us the opportunity to get back into the swing of things and practice the various procedures once again. However, new concepts as well as the UK's radio telephony and procedural differences are also thrown into the mix too. It'll certainly take a while to get my head around saying things in a different order, or not saying things at all compared to what I'm used to. UK Air Traffic Control is a lot more concise with less calls made during procedures compared with that in NZ. It's also a heck of a lot less wordy than that of the US where verbatim calls appear more the norm.
One of the major things I've noticed about Bournemouth is the expectation is certainly higher, which is good on both fronts. You certainly can't get away with turning up and winging it, not that i'd condone doing that in the first place... but without some solid prior preparation before each lesson you're setting yourself up for a fail. The focus is very much on "Read the syllabus the night before" and plan for it. Comparatively, the briefs from instructors are also, in my opinion, significantly more developed versus those in New Zealand. At least 30 minutes is spent prior to the simulator event going over things in quite granular detail. It certainly helps you out with your thought processes when you're flying.
This lesson essentially covered revision of:
- Full Start Up
- VOR Tracking
- VOR Holds - wind and no wind
- VOR Approaches
- Missed Approaches
- Re-teaching of ILS
- Vectors to an ILS
- IFR Power Settings
- Stable Approach to Landing
The main takeaways from this lesson for me were alterations to setting up the aircraft. Things are much more regimented in a way that makes sense compared to simply following a checklist. Pointers were also given to ensure my in-flight briefings remained effective, but much more succinct.
* It's nice to be using IFR plates for British airfields. This sim uses Cardiff & Bristol. *
Continuing with the theme of orientation this simulator moved on to recap flying with NDBs and also afforded more ILS practice. Considering we'd not had much experience of the latter at all in New Zealand it was quite useful to have more exposure to the procedures underpinning them. Flying with NDBs was more of a refresher for us Hamilton pilots but for the the Phoenix guys this simulator is designed more as lesson on NDBs in general. The reason behind this is simply down to the fact that the United States have pretty much decommissioned all of their NDB beacons and as such there aren't any out there to practice with. NDBs can be a pain to fly with if i'm honest but as the U.K. relies on them still we have to learn about and fly with them for our Instrument Rating test.
Having a different instructor for this sim compared to the first was useful as it provided me the opportunity to get their own perspective on flying. I tend to find each instructor has developed useful tips and tricks over the years to make flying by instruments that much easier and I'm very thankful for each little tip and trick I've received along the way. The pre-lesson briefing for this sim covered how you might perform a briefing of your fellow crew - again something not so much considered in New Zealand whereby their more concerned with teaching technique than the non-technical skills which is understandable. We then went on to discuss the pre-flight setup by focussing on the tuning of navigational aids in a sensible order that would then save me time in-flight. All in all this sim was very helpful.
The structure to this sim flight was:
- Brecon departure from Cardiff using NDB/VOR tracking
- VOR tracking towards Bristol
- Resulting weather meaning Bristol is not a suitable airfield
- Divert back to Cardiff, also with marginal.. but acceptable weather.
- NDB Hold and Approach
- Missed approach due to not being visual
- Requesting a vectored ILS approach
- Flying the ILS to land.
Most of the two hour lesson was spend re-capping NDB Holds.
This simulator builds on the second by making use of further departure, NDB and ILS practice. This time, however, engine failures are brought into the mix. Thus, shortly after our departure we are to be given an engine failure in the cruise and then handle an asymmetric cruise, descent, NDB hold, NDB approach, missed approach, and subsequent ILS to land. Unlike sim two we're actually able to make it to Bristol in this one. Having taken off from Cardiff, completed the departure procedure and liaised with ATC (a role played by my instructor) I then head towards Bristol. Unfortunately, not long after this the right engine power level started to become unresponsive to requests for power changes to the point which made continuing the lesson impractical. Sadly the sim was then out of service whilst it was looked at and my instructor simply said "Get home to your family, enjoy an earlier Christmas and we'll re-fly this one in the New Year". Considering i'd got about an hour into the sim this was unfortunate but hey, that's life. The equipment goes through so many hours and so many trainees it's understandable there be issues from time to time.
That's me done for Christmas now and I'll return back to Bournemouth on the 2nd January 2018. I hope all readers have a lovely Christmas and New Year and thanks so much for following along with my training throughout 2017.
All the best,