That’s it! After 2 years, 14 theory exams, 6 progress tests, 2 flying exams, 175 flight hours, 41 sim hours and 40 hours in the Boeing 737, I have finished my training at CAE Oxford Aviation Academy and leave as a qualified Commercial Airline Pilot.
The final three weeks of training was the Multi-Crew (MCC)/Jet Orientation (JOC) training. This section of the course is flown int he full motion Boeing 737-400 simulator and is intended to introduce us the jet flying and operating as a two person crew (everything up until now has been flown as a single pilot).
The first week of the course is
ground school and covers crew resource management (CRM) and aircraft systems. The CRM section is relatively relaxed with lots of videos, many of which involving accidents that could have been prevented. The systems section of the week is a bit more intense, looking at the checklists, cockpit flow, quick reference handbook (QRH) and mass, balance and performance calculations. After 4 days in the classroom we are ready for our first mission in the 737.
Monday morning was an early start (as was the rest of the week) for MCC/JOC 1. Every day of the MCC/JOC course we are in the sim for 4 hours, split into two sessions. For one session you act as pilot flying and the other as pilot monitoring. The first week was mainly getting used to the aircraft with a few minor faults thrown in every now and again. Week 2 was much more in depth with full route flying with much more severe problems thrown in such as a rapid decompression and engine fires.
The two weeks of flying came and went very quickly and after an early flight on Friday 22nd January I had finished my training and graduated from CAE Oxford Aviation Academy. I have had an incredible two years which at times has been massively challenging but overall very rewarding. When I started writing this blog I intended to document my journey through my training, which is now complete. As I now begin the job hunt and secure my first position as a First Officer I will possibly keep this blog up to date through selection, type rating and initial training.
April and May have been another two busy months with moments of frustration (at weather delays) thrown in. Due to the nature of flying in the good old British weather my training has been slightly sporadic with several flights a day in some weeks and others weeks hardly flying at all. I now have over 100 hours in my log book so not too many more to go before I sit the CPL skills test.
Following on from my second progress test I continued to practice my navigation technique flying solo sorties around the UK. These flights included trips to the Isle of Wight, Exeter and Brighton. I also had a few flights where I landed at a different airport, one of these flights was to Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport. I also had a much longer navigation flight to Durham Tess Valley Airport, which is over 200 miles from Oxford. The flight was like a trip into my childhood as we flew up the east coast of the UK over many parts of Yorkshire that I grew up in. Hopefully this will be the route I will fly for my cross country qualifier in a few weeks time.
Just after my last progress test I began my night flying which ultimately will give me a night rating when I get my license at the end of the course. The night flying roughly breaks down as five hours in total; two hours dual circuits, two hours solo circuits and a one hour navigation flight. For the navigation flight we flew over north London which is an incredible sight at night. All of the London landmarks were clearly visible from the air.
The rest of my time flying has been preparing for my next progress test. PT3 mainly tests general handling with some basic instrument flying thrown in as well. I took my PT3 last week after waiting for almost a month and can happily say I passed first time!
The test started with a normal departure from Oxford to the north west. Once we were away from the airport i was asked to demonstrate a steep turn, a steep gliding turn and three types of stall each using different stages of flap. After that I was given the hood so that i couldn’t see out of the windows and asked to do some basic manoeuvres (climb, descend and rate 1 turns) using only the aircraft instruments for reference. I was then given an engine fire which turned into a practice forced landing in a field. We then headed back to Oxford and I was given a electrical failure followed by an engine failure. Finally when we got back to Oxford I was asked to demonstrate three types of landing; normal, flapless and glide. Once we had landed and shut the aircraft down I was told I had passed my PT3! The next step in my flight training will be PT4 which is an instrument flight and my cross country qualifier, both of which I hope to do within the next few weeks.
Outside of the course we have done quite a few things as a group including many nights out in Oxford, a trip to Thorpe Park and a trip back to Chequers Smoke House in Whitney. Chequers is the restaurant we went to at the beginning of our flight training to try the burger challenge, this time it was a hot dog challenge! Once again I was well and truly beaten by the share amount of food put in front of me.
Over the bank holiday weekend I went to the Bournemouth Air Museum, which is a great day out for any aviation fanatic. The museum has several general aviation, commercial aviation and military aircraft, most of which you can sit inside. The museum is run by volunteers and you can really see just how passionate they all are about aviation.
Another week gone and another step closer to my EASA re-sits on 7th July 2014.
This week was much more laid back than the previous week. I ended up with around 8 hours free on the timetable to keep myself on top of the exam preparation.
This week I could feel the pressure mounting for the whole course as we are now only two weeks until school finals (exams are in week 13) and this time I don’t get the week of study leave that I had with AP358. The end is in sight it a lot of subjects and (hopefully) by the end of week 11 we will have finished most things and we will be concentrating on revision lessons.
In Meteorology we covered a large section of the text book finishing of Fronts and Tropical Storms, we then moved onto Climatology and METARS. Next week we only have TAFFs and Weather Charts led to finish the course. In Aircraft General Knowledge we looked at fire and smoke detection and began to look at fuel systems. We also looked at gas turbine lubrication. In Instrumentation we started engine instruments, looking at ways of detecting pressure and temperature on either a gas turbine or piston engine. We also finished auto flight and even managed to squeeze in a revision lesson. Next week we begin Warnings and Recording, which is the final section of the instrumentation exam. Finally, in Principles of Flight we started to look at high speed flight, where you basically take any theory we have learnt so far and throw it out of the window!
On Tuesday evening I met some of my old course mates for a pizza in Kidlington. It was nice to have some time away from the books and to catch up with how phase 2 is progressing…. it sounds difficult!
After a lot of discussion at school I created a survey to see what aircraft people prefer – its basically an extension of the Boeing v Airbus debate. At the time of writing this (Sunday 8th June) just over 200 people had voted and the results were:
Airbus A380 – 43%
Airbus A320 – 22%
Boeing 777 – 17%
Boeing 737 – 9%
Other – 9%
Looks like Airbus are leading! The poll is listed below for an last minute votes!
Quite regularly around Oxford Aviation Academy I here the question – “What is the best Aircraft?”. I have created this poll to see what the general consensus is. The four most popular that I hear is the Boeing 737, Airbus A320, Boeing 777 or Airbus A380. Please add a different aircraft if you disagree with those four.