27th Feb 2012, 07:55
This has been coming up a lot recently in the Terms & Conditions forum. Leaving aside the moral aspects, emotions and specific airlines for a moment I am keen to understand the operational and training realities of going from a narrow body command to a wide body command with no prior longhaul experience.
I fully accept that there is a lot to learn and a often times a very different operational environment but in reality is it really such a black art as some would have us believe?
27th Feb 2012, 16:12
Black art? No, but it's somewhat different.
Recent comments by long time n/b domestic Captain's that converted to w/b long haul -
I thought I'd be be bored. I didn't realize you could be that busy. IMO some of that's because it's just new.
What map are we on????
Where'd you find that? (chart/country pages/airport studying)
Have you been able to get him on the radio?
Who do we have to call? When? Where? 5 minutes? Any luck getting him?
Can't believe we spend hours keeping track of 'what's our alternate now and what's the weather'?
Drawing circles and lines on maps? What grade am I in?
If you're doing 'over the top' flying I like to say "every divert field, except for Anchorage, is an airport you really DON'T want to see." Oh, and unlike short haul flying it's going to take 2-3 hrs to get there. :uhoh:
Long haul non-radar, IMO, requires more decison making analysis about flying high and heavy. Is there weather ahead? What will the a/c weigh, and what will the relationship between our cruise level and OPT/MAX be when transiting the area(AF 447 CVR had several comments on this, SOP for long haul crews). It's not like domestic where you can change 20 minutes later, either you get it now or you might be stuck for hours(3 - 5, if not more) at a less than optimum altitude.
It's getting better but there are known areas of poor radio communication coverage. Newbie's can get excited but it usually can be solved with the passage of time, someone on 123.45 ("what freq are you on?") or digging through charts.
You communicate more with other flights for Pireps, what freqs is ATC using, etc, etc on 123.45 (worst case 121.5, hopefully not).
IMO long haul crews tend to work together because it's a 'scratch my back, I'll scratch your back' world when you're non-radar or just a couple of you off by yourselves somewhere.
You have to be a bit gentler with the airplane. They fly slightly different due to the mass. Slightly. You'll notice when you first change but it goes away fairly quickly. Transitioning from 737 to 777 and I wasn't a fan of hand flying the 777(roll, otherwise an awesome a/c) at first. It quickly becomes the 'new normal'. That mass issue also means you have to be fractionally farther ahead of the airplane. An observer won't notice it, until you're slightly late.
Oh, good luck with the sleep cycle. Saw a comment about the AF 447 crew and a SLF asking why the Captain was napping when he'd only been on duty a couple of hours!?!? What the worthless poster doesn't know is that you'll have some terrible sleep cycles. Sometimes you're great, and sometimes it's a drudgery. Double all nighter out of S. America? Second flight most of us get between 0-3 hrs of sleep before the flight. So the Captain was on break around midnight? You do OK on the flight but you pay for it when you get home. Three night sleep cycle? 1-2 on flight, followed by 2-5 hr nap on arrival, followed by 6-9 hrs second night, followed by 0-3 hr nap before flight, followed by 1-2 hrs on third night on flight home.
So it's different. At my company most guys who stick with it love it. Obviously guys who don't care for it switch back to short haul.
Oh, low on experience? You're not going to improve your skillset on long-haul. Do the 'ups and downs',figure out how to be an airline pilot, than transition to long haul where 1-4 landings per month is the norm.
27th Feb 2012, 16:26
While agreeing with the previous poster about some of the differences, it seemed to me much more relaxed than European short haul. Less fretting about slot times for a start.
Once you get used to the different en route procedures and r/t phraseology on the opposite side of the oggin from where you started, personally found life a lot easier.
27th Feb 2012, 16:42
Black art? No, but it's somewhat different.
Thanks for the examples. I suppose more pointedly my question is how long would it take, say a European short haul Captain, to pick up those differences during training and would they really be safe and up to speed at the end of their line training. Would it take an inordinately long time to train someone up to speed in these things?
It was mentioned on another thread else where but some of the apparently more experienced long haul bods dismissed it as being completely impossible and that their experienced long haul F/Os would need to spend a lot of time showing them the ropes.
The status quo is that you take someone with previous wide body experience but I am just wondering if it is possible from a safety and training point of view to do it or should you really have lots of long haul time already at least in the right seat.
27th Feb 2012, 20:03
Just hung with a buddy that did the n/b domestic to w/b long haul transition -
"First trip? I was lost."
"Over the top (Canada/Russia/China) took me about 3 trips to figure out. You're surprisingly busy."
How about feeling comfortable on the NATS? "Couple of trips."
Pairing rules (FAR) would ensure that at least one guy has about 100 hrs in type, or 4-6 trips, so it works out.
I had 4 legs(sectors) and was signed off. SOP in the U.S. I had prior NATS experience on different w/b. Buddy had no experience, we both got 4 legs and were signed off(20,000+ TT).
I read that EK used to require 18 legs (sectors) w/CKA and has dropped it to 10 before you're signed off. To me that's more than enough.
It's different, but it's not like learning a foreign language, drunk, while juggling bowling balls, while blind folded, so it shouldn't take forever.
Listen to the experienced guys and absorb their knowledge/inputs. :D
27th Feb 2012, 20:04
Different poster on different msg board -
flying overseas introduced me to things that I would most likely have to be a 10 year legacy 777 FO to experience.. Screaming into an HF radio over remote areas, weighing options for a medical diversion over central Africa, plotting escape routes over desolate western China, ETOPS, the baffling ATC of the Indian subcontinent, metric altitudes and heavy accents in Russia and other CIS, flying a freighter version with associated cargo ops, plus flying and working with dozens of nationalities and personalities I wouldn't have otherwise been exposed to.
Does all this make me a better/more competent pilot? Not saying that at all...