Are you due to go to a simulator assessment soon and worried about how to pass it? We spoke to TRE Andy Thornton on the tips to help score those points to get you your next position.
I do, my first time in a simulator was during my type rating course. My first type rating was with a company who were too small to do simulator assessments, but my first assessment in a simulator was with BMI Regional. The assessment was on a 737 simulator, which for a guy coming off a turbo prop, was quite daunting. There are a lot of differences between flying a turbo prop and flying a medium-size jet, so it was quite a daunting experience, but it was an enjoyable one and one - I remember in quite good detail.
It was with Logan air, on the Saab340. It was out in Stockholm, and it felt like such a long period of time, being stuck in a hotel for 5-6 weeks learning about the Saab340. From a new guy straight from school, into flight college and then to a real airline job it was a great experience, but quite hard work.
I have to say I love the A320, the aircraft I fly at the moment. The Embraer was great for lots of reasons the Saab was great to fly as a pilot’s aircraft, but I have to say the A320. It amazes me for an aircraft that was designed so long ago but still seems so modern, it seems so natural to me. I know there are pilots out there who say there is nothing natural about flying a computer like the A320, but to me, it all seems very logical - it just seems to work with the way my mind works.
As a student it was about 600-700, I think, and now I have time as an instructor and examiner and that is probably about 300-400 hours as well, so quite a long time. All the 4-hour sessions add up over 20 something years to quite a long time.
Every mistake that people make, whether it be in an assessment or LPC or Type rating course, is because people are tense and nervous. You can see when people get established or comfortable within an assessment or sim ride of any description they start to relax, and when they start to relax the basics come back. People forget, even in a complex aircraft like the A320, where it does a lot of things for you, there is still a necessity to scan instruments, so everybody is taught the basic instrument scan. You see when people forget the scan, and then things disappear, the height keeping is lost or the speed control is lost etc., and as I said, that’s even applicable in the A320, the scan is the key, and that comes back when people start to relax.
Yes absolutely, closely followed by people dwelling on the mistake they made, you need to put it behind you and say it’s done. Move on and make sure you don’t do it again. You can tell the people who beat themselves up over the mistake they made and the ones who say right, ok let’s not do that again. What the instructor or assessor is looking for is for you to not do that again, so they don’t want you to dwell on that, because obviously in a real aircraft situation we don’t want you dwelling on a problem that occurred earlier on. We want you to deal with what is happening now, what is in front of you. That would be one of the most common mistakes and it makes a big difference to the outcome of that session.
If the airline or agency has sent you information about how they want you to fly that particular aircraft, even if it's not the way you would usually fly it in your last job or your other aircraft, make sure you do that. They have sent you that for a reason, they want you to fly it that way. The other great tip is if you can, I know it’s not always possible, but if you can, go and find another simulator of the same type as you’re going to be assessed on, try find a buddy that can go with you or somebody who can share the cost positionally, if you can get in that simulator, even just to fly a few circuits, it will give you the confidence to understand how that aircraft is going to react. A lot of simulator assessments are done without autopilot, so if you can just fly say a 737 when you are on a turboprop like the fact you can understand what happens with the pitch trust throttle when you apply the trust, what happens you apply that and feel what it’s like in the simulator prior to the assessment, then its one less thing for you to worry about.
Don’t use that briefing as a way to think you can score points, at that point they are looking for you to absorb the information you are being given, take suitable notes - take note of what you are being told and then be able to replicate that in the Sim. It is not the opportunity for you to score easy points or try and impress them with what you think you know about that aircraft or about that company, they are not interested in that at that point and there are no points usually allocated for that pre-briefing behaviour. It's all about what you do in the simulator, so use that to the best of your advantage which is just concentrate on what they are saying, and if they have given you a tip make sure you do it, cause that’s what they are looking for.
If you don’t have any then don’t ask any, don’t make questions up for the sake of it, there is stuff they won't be able to tell you like the exact profile, but if there is something that has been said and you’re unsure get clarity on that. If you are unsure of something from the notes that have been given to you previously, make sure you get clarity on that, and also make sure you understand the simple things. Understand what it is that you are being expected to fly, profile wise, if they have told you who is going to fly first or what seats you’re going to sit in, so it’s the basic information that you want to establish so when you get into the simulator or aircraft itself, that you understand what is happening. If you don’t know something, then that’s the time to ask the question, not when you are seated in the simulator.
It's very airline-specific, different parts of the world will look for different qualities. In my experience, which covers a lot of the world in fairness, everybody is looking for good CRM, everybody is looking for good communications and everybody is looking for safe operations. So don’t forget your MSA, don’t forget your speeds, but also use the guy next to you, do not use that guy to score points against, you are there as a team you are being assessed as a team and you need to utilise that guy or girl to help, you just like you need to help them when it will be their turn to fly. Now that’s not applicable to everywhere, some airlines will provide you with the partner for the simulator and if that is the case then they may not be as helpful as you might want them to be, but it is all about trying to build that team, and build the CRM and try work together as a team.
It is difficult to tell, the simulator centres and certainly us at CAE are putting in place measures and provisions to deal with the social distance element of covid-19 the factors that affect covid-19. Simulators are enclosed places, there are going to be 3 of you in there probably, so there will be provisions in place, but the assessment itself probably shouldn’t or won’t alter much from the standard airline session or as a simulator provider or as an airline themselves. The operators and the Sim centres will have provisions in place. We still need to see the same things, we still need to see the pilots flying, you still need to be in the simulator to do that. Technology is good and is coming on, CAE have great technology in the pipeline to essentially remove the need of the examine/instructor in the SIM, but that’s still well away and I don’t think we will be seeing that in simulator sessions any time soon.
welcome aboard the new airside
We took our community to the next level with an elevated look, innovative features, and new tools.