I am able to share some good, but also some bad news with you! The good news is that I passed another important step in becoming a captain, but the bad news is that I don’t know when my next flight will be! How can that be? In this second part of how I become a captain, I inform you about all the steps it requires and I give you insights about my training. At the end of this article, I have a little, but special give away for you.
What has happened so far
- In September 2018 I applied as captain with my airline
- My application was reviewed and accepted
- In November 2018 I passed the assessment in the simulator
Depending on the demand and if I am expandable from the flight operation, my training to become a captain would start. In the meantime, I continued flying as First Officer on the A300. The last flight on the right side came earlier than expected. Already on the 31st of January 2019, it was my last flight, which took me to sunny Tel Aviv. I recapped my time as First Officer which were 8 years in total and I could not believe that a new era would start soon. Check out part one if you want to find out more about the requirements and the selection process.
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Upgrade to Commander course
Beginning of February the UTC (upgrade to commander) training started. The first part was a ground course which lasted one week. From this point onwards I was not allowed to fly as First Officer anymore by regulation.
This ground course took place with six other colleagues who were also in the process of becoming a captain. I thought I would be one of the youngest among them, but two other colleagues of mine were even younger than me.
Topics which were covered in the ground course:
- Laws and regulations
- Low visibility procedures
As a commander, I will be responsible for the aircraft, the crew, the passengers and the cargo on board. When operating the aircraft I have to consider all laws, regulations, and procedures. CRM (Crew resource management) plays also an important role in the safe operation. CRM is a set of training procedures for use in environments where human error can have devastating effects such it is the fact in aviation. It is used primarily for improving air safety, CRM focuses on interpersonal communication, leadership, and decision making in the cockpit. Human error is still the greatest factor for accidents in aviation.
One of my biggest goals is to become a captain at the age of 30 and as it looks right now it will most probably happen
After a free weekend, the training continued in the simulator. I prepared my self as good as possible because I wanted to show my training captain and myself that I am the right candidate for the left seat.
The simulator sessions took place in Berlin which was convenient for me since I could stay at home. The training consisted of six missions and a final check. Each session focused on a different subject. One session was primarily to train the procedures for engine fires and failures. Another session was to practice the low visibility procedures and flight control malfunctions. All had in common to improve the non-technical skills from the left seat. Non-technical means: the flight management, prioritizing tasks, decision making and the communication with the crew. In the beginning, I had to get used to fly the aircraft from the left seat. This was a little awkward because buttons and levers were now on the other side. It was a little bit like driving the car from the right seat.
A lot of flight maneuvers and SOPs (standard operating procedures) were new to me on the Captain’s seat. Like the rejected take off and the engine fire with evacuation on the ground.
Up to the speed of V1 (Decision speed), the captain decides with the call “STOP” to aboard the takeoff. After this speed, the takeoff has to be continued because with a higher ground speed the runway would not be long enough to brake the aircraft anymore.
In case of an engine fire on the ground, two checklists have to be read in a structured and coordinated way. In the end, it is the captain’s decision to evacuate the aircraft or not.
One duty session lasts six hours in total. One hour briefing before, four hours flying and one-hour debriefing. The simulator was intense with all the emergencies and abnormals, but it was still a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it.
Check flight and ATPL skill test
End of February I had my simulator check flight which was combined with an ATPL skill test. As a commander, you need the ATPL license (Airline Transport Pilot license). To hold this license you need a CPL (Commercial Pilot License) with ATPL theory credit and a minimum of 1500 flight hours.
During my check flight in the simulator, it was the first time that I flew with a First officer, who was new on the fleet. This was the first time I really could demonstrate my role as commander because the simulator sessions before were flown with a captain aspirant with a lot of experience.
Waiting time is next. Currently, I am waiting on my new license the ATPL, which will be issued by the authority. Once I receive it I will continue flying, but then as Captain. Not yet with four stripes, since the training continues on board of the real aircraft. The first 25 sectors/flights will be under the supervision of line training captain, who is seated on the right.
Soon I do not need my three stripes anymore. That is why I will pass the epaulets on to one of my Aviators with a personal note. They accompanied me for a long time, but now it is time for them to follow someone else journey. Maybe you are becoming a pilot and need them or you just want them as a lucky charm.
To join the giveaway
- Like this post (heart symbol)
- Leave me a comment below this article mentioning #PPstripes and answer: What is in your opinion the most important characteristic of a captain?
- Watch the full YouTube video in this article
- Like the video and leave a comment mentioning #PPstripes
I will randomly choose a winner 24th of March 2019. Good luck!
Stay tuned for part three!