In my last blog post, I revealed my new aircraft type I will be flying in the near future. Currently, I am getting trained on a flight simulator of Lufthansa Aviation Training in Berlin. But what does the A300 type rating actually mean? In this blog post, I want to give a more detailed explanation and an insight view of my training.
My career as a first officer started six years ago on the Citation XLS+ business jet. During this period I gained a lot of experiences of operating a jet engine aircraft, I flew to many challenging airports and transported thousands of VIP passengers. In total, I have flown over 2000 hours on this private jet. As I informed you in my blog post “Big changes in 2017” I recently switched my employer. Since the new airline operates a different type of aircraft it was mandatory to undergo a so-called type rating to be able to fly the Airbus A300-600.
My A300 type rating
The theoretical phase of the type rating ended with a skill test about the systems of the aircraft. The entire December I read the manuals of the aircraft and studied with computer-based training (CBT). Do you know what the alpha floor protection means? This protection sets automatically maximum power when reaching a high angle of attack. The angle of attack is the angle between the relative wind direction and the wing chord line. Lift varies with angle of attack. Increasing angle of attack increases the lift coefficient up to the maximum, after which lift coefficient decreases again, leading to a stall condition.
I also had to attend ground courses about the performance of the aircraft. As a pilot, I am required to determine e.g. the take off performance to find out whether the runway is long enough for a certain take off weight and under certain meteorological conditions. Before the simulator training started, I was trained with a mock-up cockpit. This helps to familiarize with the location of the buttons and the operating procedures.
Full flight Simulator
I remember playing the Windows flight simulator when I was a kid and now I am flying the most realistic simulator I could imagine. Those full flight simulators (FFS) are built to exactly replicate the respective aircraft type with its performance. All the checking and training take place in those big boxes. This extends the life of the real aircraft and saves fuel, thus protects the environment.
From the inside, the simulator looks like the real aircraft cockpit with one additional seat in the back. From this position, the instructor can control the setup of the simulator. The whole simulator is built on a platform which can be moved by a motion system to any realistic attitude. When flying the simulator it is fascinating how real everything feels. From the vision, motion, up the acoustics, everything is build to imitate a real flight.
I was nervous and I was looking forward to my first simulator flight at the same time. The first three sessions consisted of normal operating procedures, after that we were introduced to abnormal procedures. All kinds of scenarios can be trained, which could not be replicated in real flight conditions. In modern flight simulators, up to 500 malfunctions can be programmed in the system, for every malfunction, there is a checklist with a special procedure to cope with the situation.
My training highlights so far:
- Reverser unlock: flight with one engine and asymmetric drag
- Both engine flame: Cockpit becomes dark and only standby instruments work
- Emergency descent: After a decompression of the cabin quick descent wearing oxygen masks
- Dual hydraulic failure: coping only with one hydraulic system remaining
- Slats and Flaps stuck: Landing without high lift devices the approach speed needs to be increased by over 110 km/h
- multiple engine failures: making a safe landing and handling of asymmetric thrust
Most of the malfunctions are not independent, which means the cause secondary failures. For example, a problem with the hydraulic system causes the flaps not to be operational and for the approach, the landing gear needs to be extended by gravity with a hand crank.
I have completed session eight and there are five more to come. Every session is basically a check flight, from which I learn. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be successful and not to make any mistakes. But this is almost impossible since you do most of the procedures and abnormals for the very first time. The Airbus is a complex aircraft and I am really impressed how advanced the system are, keeping in mind that the design is from the 1960s. I am not used to flying an aircraft with an auto throttle and an auto flight system with extensive modes. This gave me a hard time at the beginning of the training.
Practice makes perfect
Flight simulators are the best possible device to train pilots well in a most efficient way. The costs for an A380 simulator are about 1,8 Mio €. That is why the price for a type rating is in a range from 15,000 to 50,000€ depending on the aircraft type. The full flight simulator I am currently training at is almost as old as I am (check my FAQs for my age) and also quite historic. It used to belong to the DDR airline Interflug when Germany was separated between east and west.
I am looking forward to flying the real aircraft soon and I am already excited to let you know how it feels like to control a jet with a maximum takeoff weight of 170,5 tons. Check out my Instagram stories, where I give you an insight view of my training.
What is your favorite Airbus airplane?
Your Pilot Patrick