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British Airways DEP Selection - THE lowdown Part 1

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British Airways DEP Selection - THE lowdown Part 1

Old 5th Oct 2004, 16:00
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Join Date: Sep 1999
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Post British Airways DEP Selection - THE lowdown Part 1

British Airways DEP Selection

I recently attended the BA DEP selection and before doing so, was surprised to find very limited information in PPRuNe. What I did find, appeared to be significantly out of date, therefore I’m pleased to present a comprehensive write-up I have just completed on what you can expect when you attend “The Rivers” at Cranebank.

Having spoken to the forum moderator (WWW) and taking his suggestion into account, I'll post this over several consecutive posts so that
the thread doesn't take ages to load page one for those on non-broad connections.
Firstly, unless you’re prepared to get up at stupid o’clock in the morning and run the risk of being tired for the long day ahead of you, I’d strongly recommend travelling down the night before and staying in a hotel. I stayed at the IBIS, which was quite reasonable but basic. Book online at Ibis Hotels .The main attraction being that it’s no more than a 5 minute drive away from Cranebank (although I understand that it can take up to 20 minutes during morning rush hour!). It cost £64.95 but they do offer a 10% discount on production of an aircrew ID.

Your BA documentation will tell you that there is no parking at Cranebank. Rubbish! As you enter the complex turn right at the roundabout, just before the security gates, is a multi-storey car park on your right. No barriers and no pass required either. This is about a 2 minute walk from “The Rivers”. You can access it in the evening too, so if worried, why not take a quick peak the night before?

On arrival at the reception, a receptionist will check your name from a list. At this point you will be asked to leave the necessary documentation so don’t forget anything! This will be licence, medical, logbook, 4 passport photographs and forms that you have completed for BA. You’ll then be invited to wait with the other candidates until a HR person comes to brief you.

There were 12 candidates on my day, but I’ve known it be as low as 5… Experience ranged from an Airbus Captain to somebody with the bare minimum hours quoted on the website. Most were similar to me – current Airbus/Boeing pilots with around 2-3000 hours.

At about 0840 a HR person meets you all and then conducts a fairly comprehensive brief of what the day will entail. The group of candidates will be split up to more manageable sizes (2 groups of 6 on my day) in which the various exercises will be completed. Although I have listed the exercises below in the order I did them, you may obviously complete them in a slightly different order. However, it appears that the Group Exercise will always be done first. At this point, you’ve only known the other candidates a very short time indeed so I guess the recruitment staff can observe your interaction more realistically.

1. Group Exercise

As stated previously, this seems to be the first exercise to be completed. As a smaller group you are taken into a room and sat around a table. There will be two HR people and one pilot who will sit in the corners of the room. Essentially, the task is to pretend that you are all BA managers having a meeting to discuss the viability of a certain route. You all have a booklet each giving detailed information and also a separate sheet each that contains different information to each other. You are all then given ten minutes to quietly familiarise yourself with the data. It’s about a route that is slowly making less and less money. First and Business class is fairly steady. Economy class is gradually weakening. Cargo revenue is constantly increasing. There are all sorts of other little tables and graphs to add to the situation. Additionally, there are choices of aircraft: B777 (current aircraft for the route), B747, B767 and A330. These all have different configurations and cargo capability so the amount of variables is enormous!

Following this ten minutes, it is then an open discussion for thirty minutes. The BA staff observing take absolutely no part in this. They merely watch, listen and make what seemed like constant notes! No Chairman is appointed. There will always be one person who will be the loudmouth and try to take over – don’t let it be you! Conversely, don’t be the person that sits and says nothing the whole time. I’d say being a middle-man is the ideal. We all briefed each other on the different information that we had and then the suggestions followed. Here’s the catch. You must make a decision by the end of the session. With around ten minutes to go just as a decision was close, a HR person will put an “urgent fax” in the middle of the table. This will completely blow all the planning and almost put you back to square one!

I won’t even hint at what decision our group came to as I wouldn’t want it to be an influence to you. There’s probably no correct answer and I’m sure the BA staff don’t give a damn anyway. But more so; how you discussed it; interacted in a group and put across you’re arguments. I’d suggest keeping a close eye on the time or even nominating a timekeeper who has a stopwatch at the start of the ‘meeting’. This person can than help to push the group towards a final decision once the time’s nearly up.

On completion of this exercise, with no de-brief, you are immediately taken back outside to the reception area to wait for the next thrilling instalment!

2. MicroPAT Testing

For those of you who have undertaken OASC at RAF Cranwell, these tests are very similar, but far more modern. We all seemed to agree on the day that these tests were more suitable for recruiting people with no flying experience ie. Cadet entry. Getting experienced pilots to use a joystick to hold a shaky cross over a circle doesn’t seem to me, a particularly good way of selecting someone if they have several thousand hours flying in medium/heavy jets! However, these are the hoops to jump through… There’s no real preparation you can do for these tests other than making sure your mental arithmetic is up to speed. However, I’ll list what tests I can remember so you can get a flavour of what to expect:

(a) ‘Friend or Foe’: This test comes in three parts and consists of identifying whether an aircraft is a friendly or enemy aircraft. Both aircraft look identical except friendly aircraft have a wingspan that is ever so slightly smaller. It appears on the screen and you have 1.5 seconds to decide whether to cancel firing (for friendly aircraft) or to fire (enemy). If you fail to press anything, it fires anyway. By the third test, the wingspan of the enemy aircraft is about one or two millimetres longer and ithe difference is barely recognisable.

(b) Suitcase man: A manikin has a suitcase and you have to say whether it is in his left or right hand. The picture is then shown upside down, back to front etc. All you have to do is continue to select left or right.

(c) Fly an approach: All you have to do is use the joystick to fly an approach. Pitch and roll is in the normal sense. There is also a throttle to control speed. You have to be lined up and at the correct speed by 50x (feet? It doesn’t give the unit). The deceleration is very quick, if you slow too early you run out of fuel. I slowed around 120x and the speed came back to the required 100 knots (? Again no units) by 50x. Incidentally, you get two practices followed by three ‘marked’ attempts.

(d) Subtraction: Fairly straight forward subtractions involving three digit numbers are displayed and you have to press the green button if the answer provided is correct and the red button if it’s wrong. However, your reaction speed is recorded and an average speed calculated. Here’s a tip to speed things up: before doing the whole sum look at the third digits to see if they make sense. Most didn’t. For example, if: 346 – 234 = 114 is shown. Why bother doing the whole calculation when you can quickly see that 6 – 4 does not equal 4! Your score is shown at the end and without bragging, I got 100% on these tests so I know this technique worked.

(e) Boxes and points: This one was quite weird. You have five boxes at the top of the screen. You control which box can have a line ‘growing’ down from it, they grow at different speeds depending on the box (slowest on the left, fastest on the right) that you have chosen. Boxes appear in the screen below that have a value on them which represents the points you are awarded if you can make a line touch it before it disappears. Double boxes carry double points. Your aim is to get the maximum points in each of the 90 second attempts. It’s quite confusing to begin with but soon makes sense.

(f) Orientation on a radar screen: You are shown a picture of a radar screen. North is marked on the top, East on the right and so on. The centre of the screen will always be the aircraft you are in. Instructions are given one step at a time such as 15 North; 20 South. You must remember these directions because they won’t be displayed again. After the directions are given you have to click on the radar screen where the airfield will be. It’s not that easy though because remember that the screen is based on where you are. A tip is to follow on the screen the opposite of the directions. The administrator warns you not to touch the screen with your fingers! Confused? It’ll make a bit more sense when you’re there.

(g) Capacity test: Initially, all you have to do is to use the joystick to control a shaky cross and make it stay in the middle of a group of circles. It’s fairly straight forward. Then you have to wear a headset – fairly simple subtractions are spoken at a fairly steady pace. If one is incorrect pull the trigger and you get a plus point. If you fail to recognise the error or pull the trigger when it’s actually correct, you get a negative point. All this, whilst you are still controlling the shaky cross! Finally, the voice says a shape and colour. For example, if “yellow square” is spoken, next time a yellow square appears on the left of the screen you have to press the yellow button followed by the digit that was inside the square. Sounds easy? Well, you’re still controlling the shaky cross and checking the sums at the same time. Fortunately this is the last test, because everyone felt like their brain was mashed after this!

3. Lunch

The documentation provided said that the timing of the day was really tight therefore the staff canteen facilities would not be available. This is quite bizarre because my group and many others I’ve spoken to had around one and a half hours! Anyway, you have to take your own food and about half-way through one or two of the pilot interview panel will join you. It’s fairly relaxed and they invite questions about lifestyle, pay and conditions etc. But I’m convinced that they’re still assessing and evaluating you even then. It’s a little false because everybody was on their best behaviour!

4. Verbal & Numerical Reasoning

There are two elements to this test. Firstly, you have 25 minutes to complete the Verbal reasoning (50 questions). Forget some of the examples BA send out. This test is purely comprehension. Therefore, look at the Verbal Test section of the ‘Management and Graduate Item Bank 2004’. You are presented with a short passage followed by approximately 5 statements. You have to say whether each statement is: ‘True’, ‘False’ or ‘Cannot Say’. Sounds easy but it’s quite easy to get confused, as it’s a bit unclear as to whether you can make assumptions based on the text or take the text literally. Practice, practice, practice. There are more practice tests on the internet: SHL Group. Go to candidate helpline, and then choose example questions. It’s worth registering (free) as you get quite a few more questions to try out too.

The second portion of this test is the Numerical reasoning. You have 12 minutes to complete this test of 25 questions. Again, it’s worth putting plenty of practice in beforehand. I found a couple of good books to prepare for this – details at the end. The questions given in the examples BA send out are fairly typical. No trick questions. Expect normal arithmetic, algebra, area, fractions and percentages. Again, the ‘Management and Graduate Item Bank 2004’ Numerical Test Questions on page 4 is fairly typical. Also, Test 6 (Numerical Reasoning) of the Technical Test Battery booklet is good too.

All the other tests such as numerical tests based on graph and table interpretation, verbal comprehension, visual estimation, mechanical comprehension, technical understanding, fault diagnosis and spatial recognition do not feature at all so it really isn’t worth wasting your time. Also, nobody finished the tests, I think that’s the idea. From talking afterwards most people seemed to get to about question 30-35 for the verbal reasoning and question 17 or so for the numerical reasoning. The test invigilator gives a very comprehensive brief before the tests begin. You are also allowed to complete about 3 or 4 practice questions. During the briefing, one of us asked if negative marking was in place but she was not allowed to answer that question. The instructions do specifically state though, not to make "wild guesses" so I didn’t take the chance of guessing those I couldn’t finish… Come to think, nor did anybody else – not worth the risk really! I used several good books to help me with this preparation, I’ve listed them at the end.

5. Interview

I thought that this interview was awful! If you’re old enough to be cynical, this will make you even worse. The session lasts about an hour and is with one Pilot (can be a Captain or Senior First Officer) and a HR person. You will be met by the pilot who will collect you from the reception area and take you to one of the many, small interview rooms. The three of you sit around a small table, so it’s not quite as formal or daunting as sat in a big room across a big desk from them! Although they try to appear a little informal and its slight relaxed, don’t be fooled! I wouldn\'t exactly have described the two that interviewed me as the friendliest people I\'ve ever met either...

In the whole hour, I reckon I was asked about very few ‘normal’ questions:

1. Why do you want to work for British Airways?
2. What do you know about British Airways?
3. Why BA? How does it differ to other large UK airlines such as Virgin?
4. What major events have happened to BA on a European level in the last 12 months?
5. Is there anything you think you should have told us?

The large majority of the questions were all competency based and fairly similar to the style you will have completed on the application form. They were all asked in the form, “Give us an example of/when/how....”

1. You have influenced others
2. Dealt with cultural diversity
3. Made a bad decision
4. Made a good decision
5. Taken a risk
6. Dealt with confrontation
7. Define CRM. Example of when you have seen or used good CRM.
8. You have improved customer service.
9. Bent the rules to meet an objective
10. Delivered sensitive news to someone
11. Showed compassion and empathy
12. You’ve made a professional mistake and what you’ve done to overcome it
13. Made a team decision that others haven’t liked
14. How do you share you plans and mental models with others?
15. You’ve made a big decision
16. Others in a team have made /implemented a decision that you disagree with. How do you deal with it? How do you adapt?
17. Done something well
18. Diffused conflight
19. Dealt with an awkward situation
20. Could have done something better

I’ve tried to remember as many as I can but I’m sure you get the idea of the style and can prepare answers accordingly. At the end of the interview, your licence, logbooks, passport etc. are returned and that’s all elements of the selection process completed. Once checking with reception that you are free to go, that’s it. No goodbye, or de-brief. Most people seem to finish approximately 16:30.

6. Preparation Books

In preparation for the selection day I used several books which I believe to be an invaluable resource. Even if you’re not successful with British Airways, they are the sort of useful books to keep on the bookshelf for any other applications in the future.

I’ve also provided links to these books on Amazon (where I bought them). Just to clarify, I’m in no way affiliated with Amazon so I’m sure you could shop around if you wanted to buy them.

- How to Pass Numeracy Tests

- How to Win at Aptitude Tests

- Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions

This isn’t an exhaustive list, merely what I believe to be the best pick of the books I used. That said, I’m sure all books similar to this carry some value in helping you prepare.

7. Success?!

If you are successful on this first day, the next stage involves further aptitude tests and a simulator assessment (BAC1-11). Having finished today, there are three different methods in which they will contact you.

Firstly, if you have been successful and have met all their criteria, expect to receive a telephone call between 1800 and 1900 whilst you’re on your way home. They normally try and get you to come back the very next day to complete the next stage.

If you don’t get the phone call, all is not lost! The selection committee have a meeting every Friday and discuss everybody who attended the selection centre. If you were weak in certain areas but met their criteria for other areas, you may very well get a call. This will be the Friday immediately following your assessment day.

Finally, if you have not met any of their criteria and have therefore been unsuccessful, expect a letter within seven working days.

That’s it. I really hope my experiences are useful and paint a picture of what you can expect when attending Cranebank. Comments are gratefully received but remember – I only wrote as best as I could remember from the day. So can’t really guarantee the accuracy.


Good luck!

Last edited by Localiser; 5th Oct 2004 at 16:24.
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Old 5th Oct 2004, 16:46
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Thumbs up

Wow! Thanks for that. We haven't had one of these since some other member wrote a long expose of BAs selection day (cough) in 1998!

I shall descend into the dungeons of PPRuNe HQ and have the relevant minions copy this for posterity - the stuff we had on the non-forum site was very very out of date.

Many thanks for taking the time to write such a thorough and readable piece. It is much appreciated.

Cheers

WWW
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Old 5th Oct 2004, 20:33
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Excellent info, Did you get to play with the bac1-11...is that the next instalment...?
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Old 6th Oct 2004, 19:33
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Join Date: Apr 2003
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Dear Localiser


I wish there were more people like you in the aviation world who show commitment to other people who are envolved,believe me i have come across some really nice guys before getting a job and soon as they have anything lined up or something in the pipeline they turn into Gremlins.

My belief is whats for you is not going past you. I hope it helps me in the future as I am still in the starting phase of getting the foot in the door.

Thanks and all the best in the near future.
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Old 6th Oct 2004, 20:10
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Hi there,

Yeah thanks Localiser for the lowdown on the BA selection.

I must say, I was shocked to see the amount of tests BA put you through. It's quite scary to go out and spend >£40K and 2000-3000hrs later get nocked down at the selection. I don't think they even gave as many tests for the trainee CEP scheme.

What percentage of pilots are successful at this selection?

Do BA consider each test as the same level of importance. For instance, would they say the MicroPAT test more important than the verbal/numerical reasoning tests and possibly the interview as the most important?

I would understand BA giving these tests to 18-28 year old sponsored cadets but not to guys who have went out, spent the money and proved they can fly a boeing /airbus!
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Old 7th Oct 2004, 02:48
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Thanks for the kind words guys. I'm really glad my time and effort will be useful to others... So, to answer some questions and comments:

the bac1-11...is that the next instalment...?
Sorry, I've done my bit over a really busy time for me too and as you can imagine, it's taken ages to write. How about somebody else helping us out and doing a write up of day 2?


What percentage of pilots are successful at this selection?
Absolutely no idea sorry. Although, I do know personally about 12 people who have attended the first days selection. Only 4 got through to day 2. Only 2 have been accepted into the hold pool and then no guarantee of a job don't forget!!


Do BA consider each test as the same level of importance?
Somebody asked this question on the day I attended... All elements of the day carry equal weighting was the answer.

Hope that answers what you wanted... Good luck to anyone who'll be attending in the near future.
Localiser is offline  
Old 13th Nov 2004, 13:41
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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BA Sim Check

Localiser,

Thanks for a great post. I'm going for a DEP LH interview at the end of this month and the info is very helpful.

I notice that no-one has mentioned the second day in any detail. Does anyone know what the BAC1-11 sim profile is? I'm happy about the additional interview/s but may be able to find some sim time to practise a profile.
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Old 14th Nov 2004, 08:14
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Sim Profile

Day 2 Sim check and more Micropat
You will report to Cranebank and come across your partner in the welcome centre. The tester will then collect you both and take you to the briefing room. The sim check is carried out on a dated BAC1-11 sim. The instruments are all old fashioned; HSI. RMI, ADI. The brief was very good and covered all aspects that we needed to know. You operate as a crew and are given a route to fly procedurally. E.g NCL to MAN. You will fly a SID, Airways, STAR. You may hold, you may divert en route, you may do a non precision approach. Stay flexible and work with the other bloke. It’s not just flying the aircraft, but how you manage the workload. Good CRM is essential. You will have been given pitch and power settings and a small brief on day 1. Learn the pitch and power settings. You could even have a small crib to refer to.

To practice, do as much raw data flying as you can. Airbus blokes who may not be used to using thrust levers should practice without autothrust if they can. You must work together, use the PNF to set powers, read the plate to you, to call mythical speedbird ops! Again I must say that CRM is the key! You will hear within a few days your fate.

Day 2 Micropat. Similar to day 1 with a few omissions. I think this may be to compare the old system with the new one and is carried out using more dated software.
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Old 14th Nov 2004, 09:22
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Hi Jemy,

Thanks for the 'heads-up'. Raw data flying - not a problem in my 40-yr-old workhorse! Interesting that the sim is done between 2 interviewees and not the usual 'instructor in the LHS'.

Right, time to book the company sim!
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Old 2nd Dec 2004, 09:18
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At what stage, if at all, do you have a technical interview? Anyone?
Wanabee,Gunnabee,Am is offline  
Old 2nd Dec 2004, 09:26
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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BA Technical Exam

Hi Wanabee,Gunnabee,Am

I was at BA last week for my interview and even made it to the sim the following day. BA do not have a technical exam. The sim check covers some areas of JAR-Ops but that's it. Everything else about the 2 days was as described in this thread.
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Old 2nd Dec 2004, 11:22
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So are you now in the pool? Do you expect any more assessments/test/interviews before you are?
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Old 2nd Dec 2004, 12:07
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MAX
 
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Localisers brief is spot on.

A few other questions I encountered:

Give a brief career outline?
Felt you have fallen short on something?
Explain a complex situation you have encountered?
What challenges have you overcome flying with xyz?
How do you see your career progressing with BA?

Everyone at BA and the fellow applicants were great but it is a very long day and by the time I reached the interview was struggling to keep playing the game.

Good luck.

Last edited by MAX; 2nd Dec 2004 at 12:27.
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Old 2nd Dec 2004, 13:13
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asssessment day

max or wannabe

hello everyone, i am going for assesssment next week and was wondering if you could elaborate a bit more about the numerical reasoning test ie is it fractions and simple calulations stuff and on the micropat tests describe the radar display test


thanks
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Old 2nd Dec 2004, 17:50
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Join Date: Jun 2000
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akiki,

As much as I am for helping those out who are going for jobs (and have done myself often in the past); I think BA are just going to love you for posting that much detail !!

Is there not a reason you are not given that until Day One ?

Best of luck to all the candidates....
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Old 2nd Dec 2004, 19:16
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Akiki.
Great post.
What SID/Star did you fly?
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Old 2nd Dec 2004, 23:28
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Post 'The Rivers'

Hi Wanabee,Gunnabee,Am

To the best of my knowledge, once you have completed the sim check, BA board you on the previous weeks sim candidates on the following Friday. A successful candidate should then be put in the Pool and then offered a course date in turn. in between, there is a medical questionaire/declaration and, if successful, instructions to get a 'basic declaration' for security clearance.

Rumour has it that the Pool is not very big and the course dates are in early 05. I wait to hear in my case!!


'round midnight,

There are a number of sim checkers and from what I can tell they each have their own scenarios (within HR constraints). A number of mates have had differing departure airfields, routes, diversions, approaches and arrival airfields. You've just got to manage the sector as it comes. Get the autopilot in asap and leave it to do the work whilst you manage the bloke(ess) in the other seat.
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Old 7th Dec 2004, 17:40
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Join Date: Dec 2004
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Angel

Just what i was looking for

im 12 years old at the moment an badly want to become an airline pilot. i would like to become one for british airways.

Fantastic work localiser i couldnt have done it better if i were in your shoes

but im not sure if i would be able to do the test with the enemy aircraft doing the sums and touching the box that appears
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Old 9th Dec 2004, 09:11
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MAX
 
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A word of advice for anyone staying at the IBIS. If you choose to use the hotel's taxi company they seem to be running approx 15-30 minutes late all the time! They then turn up with a load of other pax and even tried to go to the terminal before dropping off at Cranebank. Heated discussions follow. Not a good start to the day. The drivers excuse was they dont have enough cars. Well they shouldnt have taken the booking!

So book a lot earlier than planned or use another firm you can trust.
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Old 9th Dec 2004, 16:47
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Join Date: Oct 2004
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MAX,

How'd it go?
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