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Cheating the Sim

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Cheating the Sim

Old 28th Apr 2022, 12:23
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Cheating the Sim

In both airlines I’ve worked for, detailed briefings of the simulator profiles have been circulated amongst the pilot community. On several occasions, the instructor notes themselves have done the rounds. Is this common to all airlines?

The LPC/OPC items are already numbingly predictable; something I feel the CAA should address. If the rest of the profile is known inside out, aren’t we just cheating ourselves out of the skills and confidence to deal with novel situations on the line?
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Old 28th Apr 2022, 12:36
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Originally Posted by flypaddy View Post
In both airlines I’ve worked for, detailed briefings of the simulator profiles have been circulated amongst the pilot community. On several occasions, the instructor notes themselves have done the rounds. Is this common to all airlines?

The LPC/OPC items are already numbingly predictable; something I feel the CAA should address. If the rest of the profile is known inside out, aren’t we just cheating ourselves out of the skills and confidence to deal with novel situations on the line?
A trainer will tell you it depends, If a test is a "valid" test, then knowing the contents of the test in advance, ensures the candidate prepares and demonstrates the correct response and the training objective has been achieved. The problem is creating a "valid" test.
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Old 28th Apr 2022, 12:46
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Originally Posted by flypaddy View Post
If the rest of the profile is known inside out, aren’t we just cheating ourselves out of the skills and confidence to deal with novel situations on the line?
You could always just not read it.

I ignore all the stuff that does the rounds about sims and barely pay any attention to the brief.

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Old 28th Apr 2022, 19:26
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Several times I was offered a copy of the TRE notes when I was at TUI.
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Old 28th Apr 2022, 19:30
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There are two aspects to recurrent training and testing:
  1. to demonstrate proficiency in manoeuvres - so take all the help you can get, it is the end result that counts.
  2. to enhance skill & knowledge, possibly about a lesser known problem - two takes on this: learn in advance, and the 'training' aspect is achieved; ignore the openly available 'cheat sheets', and use the experience of being surprised to deal with a novel situation. Both are valid.
Just my two cents...

What is (probably) criminal, is training departments keeping events 'secret' so they can be used for testing/trapping, and neglecting that the event may happen on the line to an unprepared crew.
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Old 28th Apr 2022, 19:50
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The system is broken. The time allotted for LPC/OPC sessions often is not enough to make the training/checking environment fruitful and it just becomes a box ticking exercise.

In my previous operator it was fairly common to have feedbacks from previous colleagues well in advance, and an instructor would also tell us during the briefing the exact profile of the upcoming sim profile.

Still, somebody managed to fail!
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Old 28th Apr 2022, 20:30
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Originally Posted by flypaddy View Post
In both airlines I’ve worked for, detailed briefings of the simulator profiles have been circulated amongst the pilot community. On several occasions, the instructor notes themselves have done the rounds. Is this common to all airlines?

The LPC/OPC items are already numbingly predictable; something I feel the CAA should address. If the rest of the profile is known inside out, aren’t we just cheating ourselves out of the skills and confidence to deal with novel situations on the line?
Given how the instruction is carried out, it does not surprise me.
Instructors calling out on very small details.. It's no wonder why people would want to protect themselves..
Originally Posted by awair View Post

What is (probably) criminal, is training departments keeping events 'secret' so they can be used for testing/trapping, and neglecting that the event may happen on the line to an unprepared crew.
I agree with what you're saying, however I had to read twice to be sure because this concept of secret events is entirely new to me.

Your message made me think about another matter.
There should be really surprising events in the sim. For example, an engine failure at takeoff should happen when the contents sheet planned a normal takeoff. A mountain should appear out of nowhere. The aircraft should stall or bank 110° magically.
Why ? Or at least why should we discuss it ? Because for a crew, engine failure at takeoff will happen without any notice. A mountain will appear with many notices, but if a crew goes up to the GPWS pull up warning, they ignored all these notices (MSA, terrain on ND, etc..) That day in the sim they did nothing wrong (the TRI should insist that they did nothing wrong after the incident is dealt with) but to train the brain to correctly answer under startle effect and under conditions in which they ignore notices, the crew should be put directly in the position where they get a GPWS warning without notice.

To me, training for GPWS, engine failure, UPRT, all things that can generate a large startle effect, should be done in two steps :
- warn the crew in advance, so that they can learn the correct movements with no surprise and implement them correctly
- surprise and startle the crew in a way that will generate a huge startle and make them confident that even under a complete startle effect they still apply the right procedure.

In my airline, we always warn the crew before an UPRT event. To me, this is only half the training, and not the most important half. Everybody will be able to get out of an upset if they are warned their aircraft will be upset.
What's important is that a pilot that's sufficiently unaware to let his aircraft go in upset, will still be able to recover from a situation he was not able to avoid ! This is entirely different to me.
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Old 28th Apr 2022, 21:08
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Only in aviation would someone be advocating making their job more difficult.
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Old 29th Apr 2022, 06:51
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On several occasions, the instructor notes themselves have done the rounds. Is this common to all airlines?
My previous airline circulated details of each seasons sim sessions in advance - not quite the instructor notes - but more than sufficient to build a pretty good picture. Some even practiced the sessions beforehand to give themselves the confidence to get through the stress of the session.
Then a new head of training was appointed who felt this system wasn't a true test and directed the checkers to "mix it up a bit" with suprise non-scripted events.

The result was a few "retirements" and a few "seat swaps" in the wrong direction
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Old 29th Apr 2022, 07:24
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This is exactly why we are experiencing perfectly flyable aircraft crashing into the ocean, seawall, or even overruning the runway on takeoff.


Thanks for opening the discussion.
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Old 29th Apr 2022, 10:22
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In the mid 60s, the RAF CFS (H) and, probably, the fixed wing version mandated that instructional techniques would be changed from 'Instructor' focussed to 'Student' focussed. We were duly processed through the GIT course and 'aims' and 'eliciting' became the watchwords of the day. These principles did not sit well with a number of 'old hands' and, as ever, the necessary support material was either under-funded or unavailable. In the late 70s, attending the JATCC course demonstrated that the Ground School worked (well) to those same ideas ... - but , the Simulators had retreated to the 50s ... and beyond !! An embedded "We are the Masters" environment. The subsequent 'real world' taking JPs 'down the wires' on PAR was child's play in comparison.
So what's the point I'm making ? Personally, I believe that helpful instruction is infinitely preferable to the over-bearing version; that encouragement and assistance should be available rather than inputs designed to shatter confidence and that the instructor's role is very much to help rather than criticise.
Wrinkly old git's memory.= probably apocryphal ...
Overseas visit by TCEU examiners.
Q. What methods are there to identify the Positive terminal of a battery ?
Usual obvious answers given ... size, marking etc.
....You've forgotten the 'potato' method............Potato method? ... Yes, pressing a potato onto a positive terminal will turn it black
Subject now Survival techniques
Q. What food sources are available to dinghy-borne survivors ?
A Fish and chips
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Old 29th Apr 2022, 10:54
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The LPC/OPC items are already numbingly predictable; something I feel the CAA should address. If the rest of the profile is known inside out, aren’t we just cheating ourselves out of the skills and confidence to deal with novel situations on the line?
Primarily the sim should be used as a confidence builder, giving pilots a chance to practise dealing with problems that they may encounter flying the line. So apart from the 'standard' OPC exercises (V1 cut &c) ad hoc (not pre-notified) items should be included if possible with non-judgemental assessment by the check pilot. The debrief after situations handled less than optimally could start with 'these are observations rather than criticisms'. If the assessor sets a positive tone then the pilots under check are more likely to be receptive to these 'observations'. Most pilots realise that professionalism demands acceptance of criticism when warranted. The following (apologies for re-posting) was written some years ago but bits of it may still be relevant:

How to do well in the sim
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Old 29th Apr 2022, 11:28
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Three issues:
  • instructor bias
  • test traps
  • Regulatory

Instructors are human beings just like us with good days and bad days and pet peeves.
Testing to a certain standard should be “standard” and not up to the individual trainer/tester to set the level of difficulty.
Standardization.

Test traps are to be avoided as well as compound failures that are not related.
This is training and testing with the purpose of creating a proficient and safe pilot.
Not to trap and fail.

Regulatory requirements well….they ‘require’ a fixed set of maneuvers and events to be tested.
Sometimes they change sometimes they stay the same for 40 years.
Failure of the most critical power plant, stalls…yadayadayada.

The sequencing of events in training or testing determines the duration.
There needs to be a logical sequence of events, also to keep the test subject in “character”.
There’s nothing wrong with knowing the sequence of events, the testing big ticket items and the grading scales.
As a matter of fact this should be as transparent as possible.
Last but not least, don’t give a failed applicant any reason to sue.
Its all out there, study and pass.
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Old 29th Apr 2022, 11:33
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This could well be the elephant in the room, or the smoking gun.

Pilots of recent accidents and incidents have failed to perform really basic, fundamental things, such as; Correcting their decaying approach speed. Going around. Descending and slowing down to land.
And a crew recently almost failed to even take-off...............How fundamental is that?

Are pilots no longer being tested and selected for their ability to actually be a pilot? Are candidates being told the test content and what to do so they can pass the Sim without really knowing what they are doing?

Sim is a combination of training and testing. The training element should be known so that candidates can read-up and revise things possibly rarely used and improve their depth of knowledge But the testing should be real and not known in advance.

Because on the line in the real world, in the real aeroplanes, unexpected - or even expected - things happen, so we need pilots who are pilots. We should not need to invent reasons to excuse piss-poor performance.

I hope all pilots who are current and on the line, regularly flying, could sit down now and write out all their aircraft memory drills, and the actions for go-around, RTO, and loss of braking, etc, for both PF and PM without looking them up.
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Old 29th Apr 2022, 12:27
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I used to devour the instructor notes if I managed to catch a glimpse of them. I thought it would somehow help me get better. It doesn't. Time, experience, reading the books and understanding the systems does that.

Now I just read the training matrix and cover the general points/systems. I'll read the QRH checklists in that chapter, taking note of the blue bits, which systems you lose etc. That way you can make life easier and gain brownie points by for example selecting a different AP before shutting something down, or stopping climb before doing something relating to pressurisation issues etc..

But the EFATO, TCAS, GPWS, RNP approaches etc should be bread and butter stuff. Do you really need to know which engine you're going to lose? That can actually be counter productive given that the examiner can change it!
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Old 29th Apr 2022, 16:11
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Best training I ever had was from having to regularly flight test the Sim. Double engine failures on T/O in a 747, the dreaded single engined go-around with only the outer running, heavyweight departure with one flamed out and one on fire, etc etc. All events where you had to THINK about the failure because it wasn't a standard LPC/OPC item.

Just curious...how many engines actually fail at around V1? An engine failure at about 5kts on departure is far more interesting?
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Old 29th Apr 2022, 16:24
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As ‘blue up’ wrote.

I recall one memorable sim session when the F/O turned around to complain to the instructor that the sim scenario called for the gear not to lower follow the abnormal drill to lower it. Ha, ha when the left main folded up on landing, accompanied by complete shock and silence from my (now) right seat passenger.
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Old 30th Apr 2022, 02:02
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Originally Posted by roll_over View Post
Only in aviation would someone be advocating making their job more difficult.

Ha ! 34 years going on 36 if I make it..........never a truer word !
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Old 30th Apr 2022, 08:16
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The major issue in my opinion is that the pilots that have been entering the industry over the last twenty plus years have come overwhelmingly from the ranks of those who want to be pilots and have managed to fund it themselves rather than those who have been selected as suitable and trained by companies or the military.

Therefore aptitude has given way to financial resources and persistence. When this is compounded by airline policies that minimise training time and costs (why did we have the 737 Max MCAS issue? Because a major airline insisted that they did not want there to be additional sim training for the aircraft) and programmes such as Pay to Fly for junior F/Os is it any wonder that the quality and competence has dropped away?

As regards sharing notes - I recall many moons ago the base training captain issuing the annual technical questionnaire (multi choice) to all the pilots. Needless to say within the day there was an answer grid doing the rounds which most of us just copied...

Only to be carpeted the next time we came to work - the questions were the same on each paper but they were all in different orders. Ooops!!
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Old 30th Apr 2022, 10:34
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Originally Posted by common toad View Post
As ‘blue up’ wrote.

I recall one memorable sim session when the F/O turned around to complain to the instructor that the sim scenario called for the gear not to lower follow the abnormal drill to lower it. Ha, ha when the left main folded up on landing, accompanied by complete shock and silence from my (now) right seat passenger.
Ditto. A chum of mine put the wrong boot in on an EFATO leading to 359 degrees of an aileron roll. During the subsequent reset he complained that the script called for the outboard on the other side to fail!
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