So, I didn’t in fact fall off the face of the planet a week before my flight test. For anyone who may have been following the blog, I apologise profusely for not giving you the last chapter.
On the 23rd of November, after a worrying spell of weather during the previous days, I managed to pass my CPL and MEIR skills tests. It was a big relief at the time as the 24th was my last opportunity before having to return to Ireland.
But, with panic widely averted in the end, I passed CPL followed by IR skills tests on a beautiful winters day in Kalmar. The examiner was great, a really nice guy who didn’t give you any cause for unnecessary alarm. This was good, because at the time I was dealing with enough of the inevitable, yet irrational, self-induced heebie jeebies.
In the end though, that self-induced stress seemed to focus the mind and I flew both tests quite well. No major screw-ups and overall the examiner seemed happy with my level of flying ability and signed on the dotted line.
What a great feeling! Done and dusted!
Well nearly, just an Multi Crew Co-Operation (MCC) course, find a job and do a type course. Personally, I’m not going to call “done”, until the first paycheck has cleared.
So what was my lazy ass doing when I should have being finishing off what I’d started. Well I’ve done quite a bit in the preceding months.
So, I did take a bit of time off. My sister was home from New Zealand visiting, which was great, but too short. Then, on the same day my sister left to take the long road back to New Zealand, I was on the first day of my MCC course.
Yep! Not only did I not tell you about finishing my flight training, I also went ahead and did my MCC course without typing a word.
In my defence though, the MCC was intense. I did the course with Simtech Aviation in Dublin, it was ten days in total, incorporating 2 days theory and with remaining days incorporating 4 hours of sim sessions, each proving a significant learning curve from the preceding day.
At Simtech they use the fixed base “737NG” simulator, I use the comma’s as it’s not actually a 737NG, but an FNPT-II based loosely on the 737NG. This is something I wouldn’t get hung up on when considering an MCC, as it’s everything you require for the course. I’m sure flying a full motion sim would be great, but it’s a novelty.
The sim however does apparently fly very similar, to the B737, which I have to admit, gave a bit of a rude awakening. I won’t say I felt invincible, but I was certainly felt confidence in my flying abilities after 80 multi engine hours in the space of 7 weeks. I’d been greasing pretty much all my landings in the remaining weeks in Kalmar. I knew it would be different, but it’s a completely different beast flying the bigger jet and I hadn’t quite prepared myself mentally for that.
The 737 operates on the same basic principles as the DA42, but pretty much every factor gets multiplied. Speeds, mass, climb rates, power etc. While it’s all happening much quicker, the aircraft’s reaction to pilots inputs is much slower, in part due to the higher inertia involved, coupled with the delay in jet engines spooling up and down. Your scan of the instruments becomes absolutely critical if you are to have any chance of maintaining the flight profile you want.
You quickly realise how important the pilot monitoring is. A simple task like changing an altitude or heading bug could distract you for as little as 5 seconds, but could see you drifting off course or climbing/descending unintentionally.
It does however take a bit of getting used to flying as part of a crew. You have the adage; if you want it done right, you do it yourself. This doesn’t apply to a jet for the reasons given above, but after flying 250 odd hours single pilot, it’s hard to shift from that mindset.
It’s very much studying and practicing the SOPs, knowing what’s your job when you’re the pilot monitoring and the pilot flying and then actually doing it when you find yourself in the sim.
By two or three sessions though, flying the aircraft falls into place and the procedures become more and more natural, eventually leading to a smooth and efficiently run cockpit.
After my MCC course, I’ve been pretty much non stop working after starting a new job(s) pretty much straight after finishing the MCC. Got to pay back those debts somehow. Anyway, I suddenly find myself back where this whole debacle started in Shannon, Ireland. Which leads to exciting prospect of rejoining my old flying club.
Hopefully that will lead to some touring around Ireland, and possibly beyond. Which I’m sure will be very blogable.
I’d like to finish off, with a hats off to the instructors in both Diamond and Simtech. I think it’s fair to say, I’ve been incredibly lucky with the quality of instructors I’ve had during my training. No spoofers, just genuine guys and girls looking to pass down their experience and knowledge to the next batch.