For once, I’m able to sit outside with a cup of tea and my laptop and relax. The weather isn’t exactly warm, hot or sunny; it’s pleasant and even that is a rare thing here. I’m currently staying in Winchester whilst I complete my type rating on the Airbus A320 in Nursling and besides studying and going in for lessons, I haven’t really been able to get out much so it’s a nice way to spend the afternoon after a simulator lesson.
D day approaches… that said, there are a couple of “D days” in the up coming weeks. I have my licence skills test for the A320 on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th of May, although I’m not sure what we will be doing on Saturday as we aren’t doing any low visibility operations and that’s what that particular simulator session is supposed to be for.
There is also the approach of my departure date for Doha where I’ll be leaving the familiarity of the UK and off on my adventures to the middle east where there will be many fun, exciting and surprising things in store for me. I’m really looking forward to getting out there and starting flying. There will be a fair few extra training bits to complete before hand but I think by the end of next month I should be flying in the right hand seat on my first ever commercial flight with passengers. A little bit scary but very exciting!
So onto the subject of the day, full motion simulators.
Took this just before entering my own sim, not sure what phase of flight they are in, it’s quite a high nose attitude.
Today’s detail consisted of a raw data ILS approach, manual go around, another ILS approach so that we could have a go at intercepting a glide slope from above as is common in some countries and some time bashing the circuit in an A320.
I’ll start by saying this, the motion did not do wonders for my head, I felt so disorientated and really had to work hard on scanning the instruments to ensure I was following them instead of the seat of pants feel. Despite having flown in very rough, turbulent weather in the Twinstar, I have never felt the leans (a type of disorientation caused by motion of the aircraft giving you false indications of what it’s actually doing) as badly as I did in the sim. Whilst taxying around the apron I also felt slightly motion sick because the sim jerks around a fair bit. Once we were airborne that feeling went and I was able to battle my case of leans without fear of being ill.
Today was intended for us to get to grips with the feel of full motion and practice manually flying the aircraft in thrust and pitch/roll. It was a really fun detail in all, the circuits themselves gave me some much needed practice at landing the Airbus and with the motion on you could actually tell you had touched down as well which was a bonus! I’m happy to say I only did one slightly positive touch down in 7, the rest went quite well. We went out of the circuit for a bit to practice some general handling and it felt good to really get to grips with flying the Airbus. It was nice to actually feel something representative of what the aeroplane might feel like as opposed to watching a screen for the reaction of the aircraft. Of course, in the simulator there aren’t any G forces (unless you do a hard touch down, then you feel it) so it isn’t as accurate as the real thing but it’s still nice to have some sort of tactile feedback.
In normal operations on an aircraft such as Airbus or Boeing, you will fly in reference to two green bars, one horizontal and one vertical, called flight directors. These are displayed on the Primary Flight Display as shown in the photo.
Where these flight directors cross over, is where you should aim to have the pitch dot at all times (I say at all times because if you aren’t using them they should be turned off to avoid confusion). On an ILS approach they will show you where to fly so that you can the approach as accurately as possible. Raw data, in this aircraft, means to get rid of the flight directors and fly in reference to the magenta diamonds that you can see on the bottom and right hand side of the artificial horizon.
Flying a raw data approach can be quite tricky so you need to quicken up your scan and make accurate corrections to the flight path to achieve a stable approach. The Airbus has a feature on it called the “bird” and this makes flying a “raw data” ILS approach a lot easier as it gives you your flight path vector (your lateral track and vertical profile through the air). The bird can be lined up with the final approach track to achieve accurate lateral navigation and the bottom of it can be lined up so that you achieve a 3 degree glide slope (most commonly used descent profile into airfields that provides a comfortable rate of descent for pilots and passengers alike) coming down the ILS.The only problem with the bird is that, unlike the flight directors, it can take a little time to catch up, especially if the wind is bouncing around and you are over controlling the aeroplane.
Throughout all of my instrument training I have been told to never intercept a glide slope from above, doing so can mean you intercept a false glide slope and end up descending at double the rate you should be. With public transport operations this changes and it’s quite common in certain parts of the world for you to be kept high on the approach and then told to descend later than what is published on the approach plate. We were basically shown how to go about programming this into the autopilot to successfully capture a glide slope after you’ve gone above it.
A really enjoyable lesson, it was nice to have no failures and to get a chance to improve on my manual handling. The instructor threw in a rejected take off for fun at the end and when the auto brake kicks in at it’s maximum it really does fling you forward! Tomorrow we are back to abnormal procedures so I really need to do some reading up and prepare for tomorrows detail.
Just looking at the word count, I really do go on, I’m sorry for that… I know it puts people off reading the full thing but it’s hard to cut down on the word count.
Doing it inverted –