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Value for money in simulator sessions

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Value for money in simulator sessions

Old 24th Aug 2000, 09:45
  #1 (permalink)  
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Smile Value for money in simulator sessions

Since retiring I have been lucky to score an enjoyable job as a 737 simulator instructor on a casual as required basis. In my past life, simulator sessions were invariably grim occasionally career busting square-box ticking exercises with irritable check pilots hovering over one's shoulder and snarling at petty perceived errors of judgement or handling technique.

The scene was set in my very first session on the old 737-100 where my first experience of an airline check captain was this cranky old man snarling at me for adjusting the course indicator and the heading bug on the HSI with my left hand, instead of my right hand - or was it the other way around? And did it matter in the scheme of life, anyway? And shouting at me for not holding the thrust levers with my hand in a claw shape ready to abort - then re-shaping my grip differently when adjusting the thrust in flight!
At the end of the course he deigned to ask me what would I like to do for "fun" -such as flying under the Sydney Harbour Bridge or another flapless, maybe? Instead, I asked him could I give the first officer the take-off and get him to do a full scale abort at max take-off weight. You see, in those early days, the F/O never did an abort in the simulator because it was considered a BAD THING. The crusty old instructor was absolutely astounded at my request and said NO WAY would he permit my request as F/O's should NEVER be allowed to do an abort.

Decades later I am now in the back of the simulator, training pilots from many different cultures and a wide spread of experience - 250TT to 15,000TT. Sure, the syllabus squares have to be ticked to meet the regulations and ensure technical expertise. But I can always find half-an hour to let them relax and enjoy some fun exercises. Such things as barrel rolls, stall turns (which are really a cunning way of doing unusual attitude recoveries and thus there is a serious side to all this). We set a scenario of a raging cabin fire on lift off and the game is to carry out the fastest low level circuit ever, with timing starting at lift off and stopping the stopwatch when stopped on runway. Anything goes as long as you don't crash. Times vary from one minute and forty seconds lift off to final stop, to 4 minutes depending on personal practice and technique (flap use - speed and height control etc)
There is always a lot of laughter and ribbing at the time, and beers are bet - but the exercise has a deadly serious aim. And that is that hand-flying skills are vital for survival in some situations. We practice forced landings with all engines dead. First few are invariably cock-ups with landing a mile short or a huge overshoot. They improve markedly the next go. We play with full hard over rudder landings from 5 mile final. Best of all, we finish a fun session with single pilot circuits and touch and goes. The PNF is banished to the back of the sim cab and so am I - leaving the PF completely on his own. This simple exercise is the best confidence builder for a new pilot on type.

My own reward is at the coffee break afterwards, listening to the laughter and merriment of the students as they recall being upside down or whatever, and obviously happy after a hard days work.

So much better than the all to common sight of grim unsmiling unhappy faces that shuffle into the coffee room in my past life.

Can any of you suggest a few more fun sim exercises to soften the hard grind of box filling - yet with a serious purpose to them?
Old 24th Aug 2000, 13:47
  #2 (permalink)  
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Well done Centaurus. A few more sim instructors could learn a thing from your attitide.
(The mob I am with are pretty good.)

A Feral Animal.
Old 26th Aug 2000, 00:13
  #3 (permalink)  
alt sel
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I think my best time was 2 minutes - thanks and I'll never forget those sessions.....

Old 26th Aug 2000, 11:06
  #4 (permalink)  
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C,thanks for the post...good stuff!In 6 years
in the sim 73-4,i have only truly enjoyed a few of them..this is 4 sims a year x 6
=24 sessions.Wish my instructors would bring back the good old days of checkerboard approaches ...glide apps from x miles with dead donks.etc..they were enjoyable sessions with deadly serious applications..made sims not only enjoyable but real good learning....
Keep up the good work!Sorry i dont have any good stuff for u.After 20k+ hours very few tricks are not in that raw data brain of yours.
Old 26th Aug 2000, 12:52
  #5 (permalink)  
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Now that's what simulator learning is all about.
I can't think of a better exercise than the cabin fire LL circuit and stall turn scenario for bringing the whole handling thing together, raw data of course.
Lucky pilots who have had the experience and better more confident ones for it I am sure.
Keep it up.
Old 27th Aug 2000, 22:28
  #6 (permalink)  
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We share the same mindset. The required maneuvers must be taught/checked, but there is much more to be learned. You might try these-

Check the airspeed at the end of the touchdown lights on t/o. Unless very heavy, it's usually around V1. Gives a visual indication of the abort zone.

V1 cuts with the hands on the control column, (not the yoke), no aileron allowed. Proves V1 cuts are a rudder maneuver, not an aileron. Don't *walk* the rudders.

Engine failure just after the gear comes up, IMC. (V2 cut). Pitch 15-20 degrees. MUCH harder than V1 cut because of no visual clues.

Steep turns at FL 310. Proves the a/c won't fall out of the sky. Got to be gentle with the control inputs, tho.

Engine failure at altitude with the autopilot engaged at cruise. (Driftdown). I've seen some weird responses to this one.

Static system leaks and pitot pitot system blockages (not together). Got to return to basic pitch and power.

Contaminated fuel. Engines repeatedly flameout and relight/surge in no set pattern.

Explore all the buttons in your simulator, and see what they do. No matter how many you have, the airplane has thousands more.

Old 28th Aug 2000, 13:38
  #7 (permalink)  
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Quid. Thanks - good hints there. The instinctive use of aileron to correct roll with lift off engine failure is common - as you know. Your advice to get the student to nullify this by putting his hands around the control column (for the purpose of demonstration only, of course)is the answer. I'll give it a go next time. Re dead stick landing practice. Assuming that you have positioned nice and high early downwind leg around 6-8000ft, I am always in two minds whether to advise student to get the gear down early in the peace and adjust flight path to allow for increased rate of descent - or to remain clean for as long as possible. This assumes that the engine driven hydraulic pumps are windmilling fast enough to get pressure into the gear down line.
Any ideas?
Old 31st Aug 2000, 07:57
  #8 (permalink)  
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I haven't really addressed the windmilling gear down issue, since ours will free-fall in about 30 seconds. That's only about 500-800 feet of altitude loss on final. I'd save the drag until landing is assured. I would recommend later rather than earlier, tho.

I don't spend much time on engine out patterns, 'cause when we lose two, we've still got two left. <G>

Old 1st Sep 2000, 01:04
  #9 (permalink)  
Buffy Summers
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Centaurus, can you come and do my sim sessions? Please?
The company I work for have a huge long list of things that the instructors feel they have to cover, and it is impossible within the time. This list is in addition to the standard things we have to do (like single engine stuff and approaches). We never have time to do any fun stuff.
We do work in real time though, which is more realistic but eats the time up.
We do monitored approaches if weather is poor, with FO flying "inside" and Captain "looking outside". Incapacitation of the FO after one of the first calls, perhaps followed by a failure, leaves some Captains continuing to look outside and waiting for the next call, without realising what has happened.
A good Airbus one is failure of the PF's sidestick at rotate.
Personally I like to try out stuff on sims. I like the visual circuit one.

Old 1st Sep 2000, 16:33
  #10 (permalink)  
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Buffy. Some sim instructors will shy away from anything that smacks of "non-standard".
Yet the simulator is a fantastic tool in the right hands. Real time, as you rightly say, is a time-waster (in my view, that is). I recall an excellent article in a flight safety magazine where a pilot wrote in and complained about the play-acting that was a required part of each sim session - particularly on LOFT exercises. He stated that he had never trained as an actor and found it difficult to make up his lines when talking on the sim intercom to ficticious ATC, cabin crew members and ground staff attached to the lead below. An interesting point.

If you would like to do a single pilot split-**** circuit or some other fun/serious but awfully non-standard (shudder) flying sequence that is not in the official syllabus, then simply ask your simulator instructor. Hopefully he will say go ahead.
Old 2nd Sep 2000, 06:44
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 1998
Location: Ex-pat Aussie in the UK
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"Fly as you train, train as you fly"
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Old 4th Sep 2000, 09:13
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A sim instructor pal of mine NOTAMed volcano activity and at FL31 blanked the screen and flamed out all four as the incident a few years ago.............B*gger

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