B-777 Simulator Training Complete

I am happy to report that I successfully completed my B-777 training and check ride at the Boeing simulator center in Miami.

Inside view of a Boeing 777 flight simulator

Cockpit view of a Boeing 777 flight simulator

The check ride lasted 2.5 hours. As Southern Air First Officers have to serve as International Relief Officers during portions of Oceanic flight while the Captain rests, new First Officers took this check ride in the left seat with a Boeing instructor performing co-pilot duties in the right seat.

The simulator flight was challenging but went well. Very happy to be complete with that portion of training and have a new type rating added to my pilot certificate.

After the check we had two more simulator sessions. One on LOFT (Line Orientated Flight Training) covering Oceanic crossing procedures to include radio and datalink check in, position reporting, weather diversion, equal time points, etc.

Nice picture of a World War I Spad aircraft at the Joe Nall flying field

Nice picture of a World War I Spad aircraft at the Joe Nall flying field

The next simulator was on Category II and III landings. The B-777 has an autoland capability that, depending on FAA permissions, allows us to land in weather as poor as 300 feet visibility. As you can imagine there are detailed procedures on how to safely accomplish this demanding task.

I am home now for a few days with plenty to study for upcoming OE (Operational Experience) flights. OE is a normal part of any airline check out. OE procedures are detailed for each airline and allow a specially trained Captain to ensure all of the “real world” line flying knowledge is successfully passed on to incoming First Officers.

Picture of radio control aircraft at the Joe Nall fly-in

Picture of radio control aircraft at the Joe Nall fly-in

I will start my OE training on April 9th flying from Cincinnati to Bahrain, around a 14 hour flight. After Bahrain stops will include Hong Kong, Anchorage and Los Angeles. It will be interesting to see how things work out on the line.

Once I am complete with OE and have a more regular schedule I am looking forward to finally getting back to building and flying radio control model airplanes.

One event on my calendar is attending, for the first time, Joe Nall Week (in nearby South Carolina) 13-20 May at the world famous Triple Tree Aerodrome. Triple Tree is just a 2.5 hour drive from my house. So no matter what my flying schedule turns out to be I should be able to get away for a day to check out the flying at this world class event. More to follow!

Boeing 777 Simulator Training

B-777 training for Southern Air has been going well. Our entire class is busy.  The instructors here at the Boeing Training Center in Miami are top notch and are all subject matter experts.  Just a lot to learn in a relatively short time period.

Student study session

Student study session

We recently completed out Flight Training Device instructional periods. The FTD is basically several very large touch screen computers that have the entire overhead and center panel displays graphically depicted.  The flight, engine and control instruments act realistically.  While that are no real buttons on the screens, the various levers, covers, switches, etc. all move in the correct direction when touched on the screen.

In short, the FTD is a perfect training aid for learning check list flows and procedures, while not worrying about actually flying the aircraft. In the FTD, the computer automatically flies the “aircraft” at whatever speed, heading and altitude you set in the autopilot.  The entire purpose of the FTD is to train in these fundamental procedures without using the very costly full motion flight simulators.

Computer workstations for academic lessons

Computer workstations for academic lessons

As part of the FTD training we all prepared for the FAA oral examinations. Oral exams are between you and the examiner.  A weight and balance calculation is first accomplished.  The examiner then takes the next two hours and goes over every switch and control in the cockpit, asking questions and systems issues as needed.  In short, a very effective way to ensure we all get into the books and learn the various B-777 aircraft systems.  My oral was completed last Sunday afternoon (the training center runs 24/7).

We are just beginning the Full Flight Simulator phase of training. The YouTube video at hyperlink shows just what a takeoff looks like.  The FFSs are large devices on hydraulic legs that tilt in various directions to provide a sense of motion.  The interior of the simulator is a completely accurate reproduction of the B-777 cockpit.  The sim has a graphic display that shows the runway, visual landmarks and the airborne environment.  Any sort of weather can be dialed in by the instructor.  The results are 100% convincing.  You are immersed in the experience and truly are “flying” a Boeing 777 jetliner.

I completed FFS number 2 yesterday. The ride went well with a great sim partner and superb instructor.  More to follow as I prepare for the check ride on March 22nd!

Southern Air Training

Things remain on track for my departure this weekend for Southern Air B-777F training.

I’ll head up to Cincinnati airport and attend one week of indoctrination lessons. This is normal class room instruction for any new airline pilot. Subjects include various FAA regulations and particular airline operations.

Inflight shot of a Southern Air B-777F

Inflight shot of a Southern Air B-777F

After indoc will be computer based training on B-777F aircraft systems. After that I will head down to Miami and attend Boeing simulator training. Will be a busy few months ahead.

Since my last flight at Mesa Airlines on Dec 19th I was not able to do any radio control modeling to speak of. There is a ton of very useful B-777 study materials out there and I took advantage of this time between jobs to prepare as much as possible for Southern Air training.

Of note to me is the incredible advances with computer simulations. The results of today’s computer and flight simulation programs are truly stunning.

YouTube has a number of videos that show folks demonstrating various airline simulation programs. A good example is Nick’s B-777 sim video showing the incredible cockpit detail, typical systems start up and a hand flown flight around the his local airport.

Screen capture of a YouTube video of a B-777 computer flight simulator program

Screen capture of a YouTube video of a B-777 computer flight simulator program

A second source of computer simulation instruction is a very new website at Airline2Sim. This site offers “cadet instruction” for various airliners. In my case I purchased the B-777 course for $40. The narrated videos contain around 20 hours of instruction on everything from the aircraft walk around and pre-flight to all cockpit checks and flight performance.

The neatest thing about Airline2Sim is that the videos are narrated by a veteran United Airlines Captain with 12 years experience flying the B-777 around the world. The videos are the most detailed and useful aviation instruction I have received in 42 years of flying. If you have any interest at all in this aspect of flying, the course is well worth the price.

That’s it for now. Plans and TurboCAD training video is available while I am away. I will post as able regarding my Southern Air training. And of course, lots to look forward to with radio control flight once I am complete!

CRJ-700 Simulator Check

CRJ-900 in flight

CRJ-900 in flight

My training to become a First Officer flying the CRJ-700 for Mesa Airlines is progressing nicely.  I achieved a significant milestone this past Sunday when I passed my simulator evaluation to earn an FAA type rating for the CL-65 aircraft.

CL-65 is the official FAA designation for the Canada Regional Jet (CRJ) 200, 700 and 900 series of jet transport aircraft.  A new First Officer requires the type rating on their Airline Transport Pilot certificate in order to act as a Second in Command (i.e. a First Officer) flying the aircraft.

CRJ-700 flight simulator

CRJ-700 flight simulator

The simulator rides were challenging and at all sorts of start times (think a flight between 11:00 pm and 3:00 am).  The Mesa instructors are superb and all the students learned a great deal.  The majority of the sim sessions were in Toronto, Canada with the last two held in Phoenix.  While the simulator check ride was stimulating and lasted just over 90 minutes, I was well prepared and the profile went well.  Happy to get the call from the evaluator “Congratulations on becoming a pilot for Mesa Airlines.”

Mesa First Officer wings and epaulettes

Mesa First Officer wings and epaulettes

We next require four observation flights in the aircraft.  I’ll do these trips tomorrow with regular scheduled legs from Phoenix to Long Beach and back, then Phoenix to El Paso and return.  I will sit in the cockpit jump seat and observe a line crew perform these sorties.  These should be motivating events as I’ll see everything from the preflight, taxi out, take off, cruise flight and landing at the destination.

Integrated Procedures Trainer for the CRJ

Integrated Procedures Trainer for the CRJ

After the observation flights is the final segment of my training, Initial Operational Experience (IOE).  I do not have my IOE schedule yet but it could be here in Phoenix or one of several other Mesa crew bases.  I will advise once I have the timetable for these important flights.

IOE should be complete within three weeks, and then to Washington Dulles Airport and regular line flying.

Once I am done with Mesa training I am looking forward to getting back into radio control model airplane design and construction.  I have more than a few projects in mind!

Back in Training!

I returned to Phoenix and am continuing my ground training to become a First Officer flying the CRJ-700 regional jet with Mesa Airlines.

CRJ-900 regional jet at Phoenix Airport

CRJ-900 regional jet at Phoenix Airport

Happily, my fingerprints cleared the mandatory TSA review and I am cleared to start simulator training.  Sadly, however, not much for me to report in the way of radio control modeling until I am complete with training.  I should finish up by the middle of May, we’ll see how the schedules work out.  Always a lot of last minute changes in the world of airline training.

Another bit of good news is that I did get my first choice for a domicile (home airport with Mesa) at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).

Checklist procedures trainer for the CRJ-700 regional jet

Checklist procedures trainer for the CRJ-700 regional jet

I recently started simulator training for the CRJ-700.  The flight training simulators are a FAA Level D (essentially the highest in terms of fidelity) which means that I can take my actual check ride in the sim.  In other words, the sim is good enough that a flight is not required to obtain a CRJ-700 type rating on my pilot license.

The sims offer full motion so the sense of flight and motion inside the sim, with a full set of visual computer graphics displayed through the windshield, is complete.  You can even feel the bumps in the taxi way as you head towards the runway, simply amazing.

I’ll head to Toronto on April 4th for the majority of my simulator sessions.  More to follow as I get started with this most challenging phase towards becoming a regional airline pilot.

RealFlight for the Apple iPad!

I ran across something the other day that will interest anyone who flies radio control model aircraft. And best of all, this item is free!

 

Screen shot of RealFlight on the iPad.

Screen shot of RealFlight on the iPad.

RealFlight is a computer programs that allows an RC pilot to fly a wide range of aircraft and realistically practice all sorts of aerial maneuvers on their computer with a hand-held “transmitter” (plugged in via a USB) that exactly mimics a regular radio transmitter. The visuals and flight behavior of the model are extremely realistic. The RealFlight simulator can assist new as well as experienced model aircraft pilots with increasing their flight skills in the comfort of their own homes.

It turns out that RealFlight offers a free version of their simulator program for the Apple iPad! I had no idea of this. Upon learning of this development, it was a simple matter to search for the RealFlight simulator in the App store on my iPad and download the app. This took all of one minute, and I was ready to give it a try.

Simple setup screen for RealFlight on the iPad, showing the airport and plane.

Simple setup screen for RealFlight on the iPad, showing the airport and plane.

The free version includes a grass strip flying field and a choice of two aircraft. One airplane is a trainer and the other is a PT-17 Stearman biplane. The transmitter controls are the sticks in the lower left (throttle and rudder) and lower right (elevator and aileron) corners of the iPad. As with everything on the iPad, the control sticks on this virtual transmitter are moved as needed by touch finger movements on the screen.

Image of the Stearman getting ready for takeoff. Note RC controls at bottom left and right, just like a normal transmitter.

Image of the Stearman getting ready for takeoff. Note RC controls at bottom left and right, just like a normal transmitter.

There is a launch button, and your airplane takes off. I have an iPad Air, the newest version, and the graphics are impressive, as is the sound of the airplane flying around. While the iPad update of RealFlight is not as versatile as the version for a home computer, it makes for a handy and easily used addition to your computer aids for RC flight. And you cannot beat the price.

There are additional sales available within the program, to include new flying fields and additional aircraft. These are very reasonable in cost, ranging from 1-3 US dollars. Not a bad deal overall, and there is no need to purchase anything if you do not wish to.

X-Plane Simulator for iPad

The X-Plane flight simulator is a very useful addition to your collection of RC flying aids.  X-Plane is an adaptive program that can be run on a range of computers, from multi-screen desktops to iPads and even smartphones.

X-Plane is one of the few consumer flight simulators to use blade element theory to replicate flight performance.  Blade element theory bypasses the need for lookup table to fly the aircraft in the simulator.

Lookup tables are acceptable for an existing aircraft layout.  But for design work or experimenting with changing moments and airfoils, X-Plane is the way to go.  The program is capable enough to even demonstrate the impact of aircraft quirks and design flaws.

I downloaded the app for my iPad.  The cost was incredible for under $10.  You “fly” the aircraft by tilting the iPad.  This results in a surprisingly realistic flight experience.

See a more detailed discussion of the X-Plane flight simulator here. This remarkable program is a fun, affordable and useful addition for your RC modeling experience.

X-Plane flight simulator cockpit view showing realistic scenery

X-Plane flight simulator cockpit view showing realistic scenery