Up until this week we have managed to get quite a bit of flying in each week…. this week was completely different!
Monday we had a day off due to instructor availability. I decided to drive back from London early Monday morning and pop into school of my way. It was really lucky that I did because after only being in the building for a few minutes I was asked by one of the instructors if I wanted to backseat an Instrument flight going to Birmingham. The flight was conducted under instrument flight rules all the way to Birmingham, cruising at 9000ft and joining regular commercial traffic such as Ryanair, Flybe and Turkish Airlines. We then did an ILS procedure at Birmingham which ended with a go-around and engine failure procedure. We then flew back to Oxford under visual flight rules with some general handling and stalling practice on the way. The whole flight was on one of Oxfords brand new Seneca V’s.
On Tuesday the weather was bad so we were grounded. It was a great opportunity to catch up on some of the SOP’s and our essay for the foundation degree. We decided to go out into Oxford on Tuesday evening for a burger and a cocktail… we could have stayed out all night but we were very careful to observe the 8 hour flight rules!
The weather on Wednesday was a little better in the afternoon, however as I was a lesson ahead we ran out of time before I got to fly. I did get to backseat again so at least i had some airtime. Thursday was another bad weather day so after a brief for the next flight and a lot of waiting around we decided to call it a day and head home.
Finally the weather picked up on Friday and i got to fly! This lesson was the first part of stalling. After a smooth taxi and take-off we climbed to the north east at 4,000ft to carry out our stalling drills. Stalling is a very strange thing to experience because there is a point where you have basically lost control of the aircraft. I have been told by a few people that the sign of a good pilot is one who can regain control of the aircraft with minimum height lost… hopefully I managed to achieve this to a high standard and with a bit of practice will be perfect!
Hopefully the weather next week will be much better and ill get a few more hours of flying.
One part of the course at OAA that attracted me originally was the emphasis of training cadets to be a First Officer within a commercial airline environment. This week we started this training with the first of two weeks of First Officer Fundamentals (the second week happens after foundation flight training). The first week is based around flight safety, hence the week being renamed ‘Flight Safety Fundamentals’.
We started the week with an late start (13:00) with a general introduction to flight safety. This was followed by safety management systems and specifics of error reporting whilst flying at OAA. The system in place at Oxford is very much based around preventing accidents and learning from previous problems rather than assigning blame to a particular person or people. We finished the day looking at runway incursions which, surprisingly, seems to happen in aviation more often than we would like! The day finished at 15:30 giving me a whole evening to study for my Air Law re-sit.
Tuesday (and Wednesday morning) was our Bucks New University day, with lectures relating to our foundation degree. The foundation degree, in Air Transport Management and Operations, came from Bucks New University doing market research and finding airlines like pilots to have some industry awareness. Tuesday was a day of lectures finished off with a multiple choice test based on a paper about the EU-US Open Skies Policy. On Wednesday morning we were having a debate about whether a long haul low cost business model could work in the current economic climate. In order to prepare for this i met up with my group after school to do our research. On Wednesday morning we had our debate, which went very well – although I am not sure which side of the fence i fall on in regards to long haul low cost. The there half of the course had a debate on the proposed Heathrow expansion – I subject at the heart of British aviation at the moment.
After all of that fun we returned to flight safety in the afternoon looking at stabilised approaches (basically make sure the landing gear is down, you’re at the correct altitude and don’t fly too slow/fast!).
Thursday was our communication skills day lead by a SFO currently flying with British Airways. It was a day I was dreading as i usually find any kind of communication workshop can be quite cringe worthy… this was not.We looked at a major communication breakdown with an Air France crash at an airshow in the 1980’s – a great example of how not to plan a flight! We also discussed the role of a FO and what is expected of us as professional pilots (a lot of the talk was based around how to behave in Phoenix, although i think it applies to everyone). In the evening I packed up my room at Langford ready to move out on Friday – an exciting prospect after living there since January!
The week ended (on Friday) with a talk on the single pilot cockpit and a general overview of the training environment we are abut to enter. This was followed by collecting our study guides (another 2 text books), our headsets and logbooks. We finished around lunchtime so after handing over the key to my room at Langford I drove back to London for a few days of studies before my re-sit next week!
Throughout my training at OAA I have made weekly posts, however due to the work load over the last two weeks I didn’t get chance to post. Therefore this post is two weeks in one!
Week 11 was study leave for our phase 2 EASA exams. We finished school on Thursday of the previous week which gave me a full 10 days of studying ahead of the exams. I split my day into four sections to ensure that I covered every subject over the course of two days to make sure every subject stayed fresh in my mind. By the end of the week I felt confident with most subjects and ready to face a week of exams.
This is the week I have been gearing up for over the entire of phase 2. The exam schedule was pretty good with two exams a day over the course of four days in total. Monday was Mass and Balance and Flight Planning, both of which went smoothly. Tuesday was Performance and Operational Procedures, Performance was tricky and I wasn’t feeling too confident when I left the exam room. Wednesday was Air Law and General Navigation and we finished the week with Radio Navigation on Thursday. After the final exam we were called in to a meeting with OAA’s centre manager – i will explain more about this later.
That evening we all went in to Oxford with some of our instructors – it was great to see everyone relaxed having finished all of our ground school exams… now we just had to wait foe our results!
On Friday i didn’t have to wait long for my results as they started coming through at 8.30am. Unfortunately i didn’t pass all of the exams… I failed Air Law which was the hardest exam. I passed everything else with an average of 86%. I phoned OAA immediately to discuss my results and was given the opportunity to resit the exam during my week of leave and therefore it will not delay my flight training.
After our exams we had a meeting with OAA’s centre manager to discuss a few issues that had arisen with our flight training. Due to unforeseen circumstances the flight training centre in Phoenix is experiencing severe delays to flight training and in order to relieve some of the pressure OAA have asked for 14 volunteers from my course to complete all of the flighting training in Oxford. I have therefore decided to complete my training in Oxford!
Next week is the first step of our flight training with Flight Safety training.
After possibly the most intense 8 months of my life I am finally reaching the end of ground school. This week was the final teaching week of phase 2 which means next week we will start our final exams. As we had finished most of the syllabus the week was centred around revision (as well as finishing mass & balance).
In Performance and Flight Planning we worked through a few practice tests, which gives a great indication as to the work that needs to be done before the EASA exams in a few weeks. In every other subject it was a case of focusing on the weakest areas ready for next weeks school finals.
Beyond studying this week not a lot else has happened. I am hoping that once the exams are finished I will have a life again! Over the weekend I have tried to devote a bit of time to each subject, however with only a few days it has been quite difficult!
The schedule for next week is pretty intense with all 7 exams being sat between Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday we will have our last day of ground school – it is tradition to wear fancy dress for the last day. Im sure I will have an interesting picture of the last day in my next post!
Another week done and another step closer to exams! This week has been pretty intense as we charge towards the end of phase 2. Over the week we finished all but one subject with only revision left before we sit our school finals. Once again the workload stepped up a notch this week and I have started to feel more and more tired as the week progressed – looking forward to a week off in 5 weeks time!
This week in Performance we finished looking at the specific performance aspects of the medium range jet, focusing on the descent and landing stages. In Gen Nav we have mainly been doing revision with a practice exam paper thrown in on Thursday. The content of the Gen Nav exam is pretty straight forward (as long as you know the techniques), the difficulty is in answering all of the questions in the allocated time! In Radio Nav we studied GPS, which was the final segment of the syllabus.
In Law we did 5 practice papers, which is really useful as you get to see which questions appear regularly. In Flight Planning we finished the flight plan and also looked at point of equal time and point of safe return. Both PET and PSR seem difficult at first but with a bit of practice are actually straight forward. In Mass and Balance we looked at the load sheet which is probably the most relevant part of the subject and the piece of paperwork ill be using everyday of my flying career. As we have finished everything (except for a few hours of Mass and Balance) we were hoping for some study leave next week, however the school have scheduled us for a full week – 7 hours a day!
On Friday night I won tickets to go and see Elbow perform at the Camden Roundhouse as part of the iTunes festival. They were incredible! The band were supported by Nick Mulvey, who I wasn’t as familiar with, but he was also brilliant. The whole evening was a great way to keep my mind off of the looming exams and have a well deserved evening off!
The rest of the weekend is revolving around work… today (Saturday) I have concentrated on Performance, Gen Nav and Law and tomorrow ill be working on Radio Nav and a bit more Gen Nav. Only one week of teaching to go!
This week was probably the shortest week I have had whilst studying at OAA, Monday was a bank holiday and Friday was our Visa trip to London. I would have thought with only 3 days in school the week would seem a little less intense, but I was very wrong! The school didn’t schedule us for Air Law, Ops or Mass and Balance which are the easier subjects and therefore we ended up having the 4 difficult subjects (Radio Nav, Gen Nav, Performance and Flight Planning) every day. We Also covered a massive amount in each of the subjects in a very short time.
In Gen Nav we finished looking at the polar charts and moved on to grid navigation. Grid is the final part of the ‘charts’ section of the syllabus which feels like a massive chunk of the course. We also started looking at time, which for a pilot flying round the world is quite important. In Radio Nav we finished the work on radar and moved onto DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) which is a radio aid that uses the same principles as radar. We also moved onto the FMS (Flight Management System) which we have already studied in Instruments during Phase 1. In Flight Planning we began to work our way through the Jeppesen, starting with charts. Ultimately this is very simple, however in an exam situation I can imagine finding locations on a massive map will be time consuming. Finally in Performance we finished working our way through the MEP (Multi-Engine Piston) sections of the CAP, which now leaves us with the MRJT (Medium Range Jet Transport Aeroplane).
Friday was my visa interview so I drove back to London on Thursday night. My appointment was at 9.30am so a nice easy start to the day with a typical London commute on the tube. The interview was pretty straight forward – I was only asked one question then told my application had been accepted and I will receive the visa next week. I then headed back home and decided to go shopping! The rest of the weekend was centred around studying, with the exception of going in to London on Sunday afternoon for a friends engagement drinks – you know you’re getting older when you have lots of weddings/engagement drinks happening regularly! Next week is looking pretty intense with full 7 hour days most of the week… Only 3 weeks of ground school left!
We are only 4 weeks into Phase 2 and the exams have started! This week we had Test 2’s (progress tests) in both Radio Nav and Law. Although it is important to perform well in these test they are actually used as an indicator of what you need to focus on going forward. Also, for certain exams, it give you a good indication of how the questions and presented in the EASA exams and how accurate you need to be with calculations and the (many) graphs. Both exams went smoothly and I am performing exactly how I want to be in both subjects but with room for improvement.
The rest of the week was either continuing the syllabus or going over what we have covered so far in revision sessions. In Gen Nav we looked at the Mercator Chart, which is one of four charts we look at. This includes looking at how the chart is constructed, its scale and basic navigation techniques. In Performance we finished the general principles section of the course, looking specifically at landing. This included looking at factors that effect the lading such as weather, runway surface and runway contamination (i.e. water!). In Mass and Balance we looked at the legal side of the subject, which includes the laws on how much luggage you can take on board and how you determine the weight of passengers. In Flight Planning we finished the MRJT section of the CAP, looking at non-standard flying, including with an engine inoperative or with the landing gear in place.We didn’t cover anything new in Law or Radio Nav due the exam and the debrief that follows.
This week I was a little bit more sociable then i have been over previous weeks; on Wednesday I went up to Upper Heyford for a game of Tennis and on Thursday I went to Newbury to see Fred and Kat fresh from honeymoon!
The weekend was full of revision, however i did manage to take Saturday evening off and me and Amy went to the Canary Wharf Jazz Festival and had a nice dinner out.
Next week I have another 4 test 2’s including Gen Nav, Flight Planning, Ops and Mass and Balance…. the fun doesn’t stop at OAA!