Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hello, hi, welcome, ahoy - i am still alive. I do apologise for a severe lack of posting of recent times, but it was due a few reasons, one massive problem, which i would rather not delve into on the online community, but overall, its been a fairly stressful few months, and finally, after almost 5 months since my induction, ground school, simulator training, i am finally - CHECKED TO LINE! (watch out unsuspecting captains)

So yeh, i haven't actually flown the line yet, had my first day of reserve and didn't get called in, which was a little weird as i was fully expecting it. It's been really nice weather in Sydney at the moment, CAVOK days, so i guess people aren't really dreading flying in challenging conditions and therefore don't mind working. It seems that everyone gets called off reserve when there are challenging conditions and delays at Sydney airport.

Although that brings me to an interesting point which airline flying has kinda challenged me in. And that is, the visual circuit into an uncontrolled aerodrome. It is probably the most dangerous thing we do, and that is decending through 10,000ft and entering the realm of VFR piston drivers, lots who don't tune up CTAF frequencies or have transponders. I actually had a TCAS RA on a line training flight. It's hard to know who was at fault, or whether our TCAS was faulty, or the pilot didn't turn is transponder on till the last minute, but all of a sudden we had traffic 1000ft below us, on our track, climbing through our level. Naturally, we turned out of the way and followed the TCAS instructions, and thankfully nothing came of it. But talk to nearly any captain on the line and they have all nearly had some incident involving traffic.

However apart from all the traffic we encounter, which just adds to the workload and maintain a vigilant visual look out for traffic, when its instrument procedures, it is often easier to plan a flight and manage the workload. What i mean by this, is when you have an ILS or an RNAV approach in marginal conditions, you have a defined set of rules and flight profile to follow.

For example, when we do an RNAV approach, there are defined altitudes to be at the final approach fix, the intermediate approach fix and the initial approach fix. At the initial approach fix, there is a set of speeds we also need to adhere to. So from top of decent we can plan in the FMS to be at a height and a speed at a certain space in time, and then commence the approach. By the final approach fix (usually a five mile final to the runway), we need to be configured for landing and speeds below 130kts. From there is it usually a decent to the minimum altitude and we decide whether we will land or do a missed approach for whatever reason.

I bring this up because when you brief plan for instrument procedures it somehow ended up being easier, having a set of rules and decent steps, with known speeds and 'gates' (aim points) to configure and carry out the approach. Most of my training had been in instrument procedures, partly due to training and partly due to the actual weather at the destinations, so all of a sudden we have really good weather and we were doing visual circuits and visual approaches, i was actually a little lost in what to do. Remember apart from circuit training, you actually practise very little visual procedures in the sim.

So anyway, training is complete, and i'm looking forward to flying the line. It's been a massive learning curve. I can't stress the difference in flying between my general aviation days and flying in a multi crew airliner environment.

Anyway i'll try to get posts a big more regular now with more photos. I have my first sim check as well in the next week, just in case i wasn't done with everything!


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