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Another week down, it seems time is really flying by. #terriblepun

Yet another week of the sim, but it’s getting very close now, to getting back in the airplane. The course comprises of 80 hours total, which breaks down into 40 hours simulator, 37.5 hours dual instruction in the aircraft and the remaining 2.5 hours are for the skills tests.

The sim sessions then break down further into 30 lessons of approximately 1 hour each, and the remaining hours are used to cover anything that may need extra practice. This remaining time is also used for going above and beyond the requirements of the course, and can include more complex approaches, that would usually require special training, like mountainous airports etc.

So, today I finished lesson 28. Once I’ve 29 and 30 completed(hopefully tomorrow), the aim is to get back in the aircraft and start working my way through the remaining aircraft time, while keeping those remaining sim hours, for when the weather isn’t flyable.

So to break down the 30 sim lessons further. 1 to 10 covers basic instrument flying skills, 11 to 20 goes into more detail on departing, holding and approaches at airports, and 21 to 30 covers the en-route while generally combining everything together. It’s hard to explain, but everything seems to fall into place over time and the structure of the lessons has lent well to that gradual learning curve.

While instrument flying, you use a number of different navigation aids. In descending order, by ease of use, you have GPS, VORs and NDBs, you also have DME for distances and ILS for landings. There’s some others, but the above are the main systems, and the ones I’ll be primarily using for my training.

The GPS, similar to your car, is extremely accurate, but kind of creeps pilots out, I guess if America decides it doesn’t want you playing with their toys(satellites), they can take them off you at any moment.

As for VORs and NDBs, a good way to compare their quality, is to look at the difference between listening to FM radio, and LW or MW radio. This is not a coincidence, because the respective technology is very similar. Both VORs and NDBs are in fact radio stations that transmit energy that, in simplistic terms, give us a bearing to the station.

How is one different from the other you ask? Well the VOR is a relatively newer, more accurate technology. To a pilot flying a VOR, it points fairly consistently, in the direction of the ground station. The NDB however, could be likened to an old man waving his walking stick somewhere in the general direction of the ground station.

When it comes to landing in an instrument approach, there’s two types of approach. The precision, which gives you vertical guidance and lateral guidance. Then there’s the non-precision approach which gives you only later guidance.

The ILS or Instrument Landing System, gives you both, so it’s a precision approach. These are relatively easy once you’ve got the knack of flying on instruments.

The other benefit of this type of approach, is that you are allowed to descend much closer to the ground before becoming visual with the runway.

More challenging, are the non-precision approaches, which give you lateral guidance, but you must control without guidance your decent. Normally this is a 3 degree glide slope to the runway. To make sure you follow this glide slope, you aim to descend at a certain rate of feet per minute. That however depends on your speed over the ground. You can then check how it’s working out, by checking your height at reference points given to you on the approach charts, and make corrections as required.

Naturally, the most taxing approach is the NDB. Today’s sim sessions were spent flying in and out of Bromma Airport, in Stockholm. Bromma has a pretty tricky NDB approach, where you use two NDBs on the approach with 20 degree change in direction over the second one.

The tricky thing about this, is that you can only select a single frequency at a time, so as well as trying to do everything else, you have to play around with changing frequencies too. Thankfully you can set it as the standby frequency, so it’s a fairly simple swap over. However, if you have to go around, that procedure requires two new NDBs to be tuned, so in that case things begin to get very busy.

NDB Approach Plate for Bromma. Not as bad as it looks, I assure you. :)

NDB Approach Plate for Bromma. Not as bad as it looks, I assure you. 🙂

It’s great practice though, and keeps the learning curve steep. Tomorrow doesn’t bring any let up either. The final two lessons are based out of London City. London City airport has a quite tricky departure and arrival procedures. They’re complicated due to trying to limit noise pollution, and also due to the busy nature of Londons surrounding airspace. It should be a fun challenge though.

Well, I haven’t being doing a whole lot of flying lately, but the guys ahead of me certainly are. There’s been a number of trips to the continent lately, with Poland getting a visit, and also a few trips to Germany.

One of the guys here, also asked to borrow my gopro a week or two ago, he got some great footage, so I decided to make a bit of a video of it. A nice taster of what I can expect myself, in the coming weeks hopefully. Those who have like the facebook page, may have already seen it, as I posted it a week or so ago.

DOHH! Most have underestimated the crosswind for the last frame.

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