Yesterday (Friday), we were down to go for ditching training at the Emirates training centre in Dubai. I was really looking forward to this as it would be the first time I’ve ever been part of operating crew, yes we were only dead heading however, we were in uniform whilst air side and for me that was exciting enough!
We arrived at the technical building at the airport, received our boarding passes and proceeded to the aircraft in one of the crew transport buses. Ironically, whilst I am type rated to fly the A320 family (A319/320/321), I’ve never actually been inside one… not even to go on holiday. Today our chariot was an A321 and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to get a quick photo with it. Unfortunately you can tell it’s a quick photo but never mind!
For some reason, every photo of me that day, my tie wasn’t straight!
The crew were a very friendly bunch and it made for an even more enjoyable flying experience. The flight to Dubai would only be around 45 minutes from take off to landing and at a cruising altitude of 31,000 Feet, it meant that as soon as we were in the cruise, it was pretty much time to descend. During that short duration we were given a bolognese and cheese wrap and some chocolate biscuits that I managed to get on my shirt. Fortunately a wet wipe was able to scrub it out and I’m just glad I didn’t spill the orange juice down myself!
On take off I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take a photo of NDIA (New Doha International Airport). It’s an absolute monster of an airport and I’m very much looking forward to operating out of it. The approach into NDIA, right besides the water, is going to be amazing and the actual design of the airport itself is set to be quite spectacular. It’s due to open in December so not long to go! You can check out the development on http://www.ndiaproject.com/.
Taken during the arrival into Dubai Airport. Sadly we didn’t go over the Burj-Al-Arab or at least not from my seat anyway.
After landing we were able to use the immigration counter for crew which meant that we were out of the airport within a few minutes whilst others were made to go through the normal immigration process. I had a nice chat with the Amiri crew who were along with us for the ditching and with the Spanish pilots who we’d done most of our inductions with and found that we had a really good group with us.
The Emirates training centre is a very unique building, i’ll post this image and allow you to see why.
Inside the part where we were to be doing our ditching were various fuselage’s from the Emirates fleet surrounding a swimming pool. The A330 is the one we were sat in for most of the time, allowing the cabin crew to practice their drills and also allowing us to try out the slides to see what they were all about. Apart from the A380 fuselage, the others all had motion and monitors in each window so you could see and feel what phase of flight you were in. The cabin crew did various smoke and fire procedures, as well as ditching and crowd control.
So for the actual ditching, we were told to put on life jackets, inflate them and get into the rubber slide/life raft you can see in the A330 image. We were then asked to erect the protective canopy, which takes some effort, and then asked to jump into the water. I didn’t hesitate to jump in however upon breaking through the surface I was in mild shock as the water was quite cold! Also my life jacket came off…
After jumping in people were asked to climb up the side to get out of the pool and into the raft using the red handles you can see on the left hand side. There was a big rush for people to get out so I just swam a few laps of the pool whilst I waited, completely forgetting that I would need my limited upper body strength to pull myself out. When it came to my go, the first time I slipped off and the second time I was actually able to get in so, fortunately I was able to save myself a fair bit of embarrassment.
On the way back, I quite enjoyed walking through Dubai Airport in my uniform, I couldn’t have felt prouder of my achievements so far and where I was. I enjoyed a nice cold Iced Tea from Costa and sat around chatting to one of the Spanish guys about training and flying related things. I hope that I continue to achieve in my career and that my base training goes well, whenever that may be.
The flight back felt a lot quicker than the flight to Dubai, I took a couple of photos of Dubai at night however as my iPhone is the only camera I have, they didn’t come out as well as I wanted. The flight was extremely full and I ended up waiting until we were nearly pushing back to be able to find an over head compartment for my flight case. During that time I had a nice chat with the crew on board and eventually having my first food since the morning flight there.
Don’t you just love the hustle and bustle of the airport! (air side at least). To think, the last time I was here was in 2009, having just completed my training in New Zealand. It’s great that the next time I should visit, I’m actually in my dream job. The first time I came to Dubai I was stood down in the middle of those shops, just next to the counters on the right, with my course mates chatting about the future. It’s incredible just how quickly time goes.
Dubai at night on the departure from Dubai Airport.
On the apron at Doha, home sweet home! The end of a really fun day, the next thing now is base training, hopefully another fun day!
In the mean time, keep your aircraft dry – don’t land in water!