Flight Stimulation: A Week In the Life of Recurrent Training
I don’t know of many professions where you literally put your career on the line twice a year in exchange for keeping the right to practice your craft for-hire. Take a high-level journey with me on such a week.
The process starts very benign. You set in a company classroom and listen to various lectures and presentations on subjects including: safety, regulations, risk management, service, and internal company updates.
Day 2 is all about the airplane, you go over various systems and discuss scenarios. It’s all about understanding the machine in the name of safety. Topics range from all or part of the systems on the airplane to automation control and management. This year technology took a key role with the advent of the ipad as our EFB (electronic flight bag).
Subsequent days are devoted to both class time and simulator. These ‘sessions’ are sometimes akin to water-boarding, with a period of breaking you down and making you feel like a novice and a gradual building back up to peak at the checkride. The footprints do vary somewhat at companies and training vendors, but that is the general philosophy.
Flight simulator training has been around for almost as long as airplanes, with the 1st one dating from 1909, and each year it gets more advanced as technology improves. I am still amazed at how well they work with banks of super-computers flanking what looks like a small apartment on stilts.
Once you are bolted inside, the experience is very real and as you get into the heat of battle you sort of get lost in it – illusion complete!
Of course, simulator training provides a huge cost and safety advantage versus actually training in a jet; I have done both and the sims are better, trust me. Amazingly most simulators cost about the same as the airplane it is replicating. At least in small and mid-sized corporate jets.
My experience this week was typical; a sense of excitement and dread blended with a touch of cockiness.
As usual it worked out fine and as my colleagues would likely echo; I feel better crawling into the real machine knowing that I have been pushed and tested to the limit and always rising to the occasion – plus the real airplane don’t break this much!
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