It was a sunny afternoon in the summer of 1996 when flight KL601 touched down on runway 24R at Los Angeles International Airport. My ‘new hire colleague and I enjoyed the flight as passengers seated in KLM business class from Amsterdam to Los Angeles. Both equally excited, very motivated, and eager to start our MD-11 Type Rating Course, we were pilots with different backgrounds. My colleague flew the F-16 in the Royal Dutch Air Force and I had just transitioned from the Boeing 767/300 ER.
First Stop: Long Beach and McDonnell Douglas
During training, we stayed in beautiful apartments in the picturesque coastal area of Seal Beach. This would be our “home away from home"" for the next 6 weeks. We drove a rental car to the McDonnell Douglas training center five days a week and also used it on weekends to visit the many tourist attractions in and around Los Angeles.
We completed the MD-11 systems CBT program (Computer Based Training) in the first three weeks. The theoretical course was followed by a thorough written examination, then by training on MD-11 procedures with Instructor Dave Slater, and the various scan flows in the Fixed Training Device (FTD). Without any visual or motion, these fixed cockpits prepared us for the Full Flight Simulator (FFS) sessions with Instructor Ray Russell.
In between simulator days, we completed the actual preflight training, extinguished fires, learned about all the flight safety devices on board, and got to go down the emergency escape slide, which was set up in one of the McDonnell Douglas hangars. The Performance and Flight Planning course was conducted by Instructor Dave Campbell.
Second Stop: Amsterdam and Martinair
After spending a relaxing week back home in the Netherlands with our families, we continued training with a week of watching VHS videotapes at the Martinair main office. These videos covered topics such as dangerous goods, cold weather, CAT II/III, security, weather radar, wind shear, and TCAS.
Third Stop: Helsinki and Finnair
Fully prepared to continue the next part of our training, we flew to Helsinki, Finland to complete the Full Flight Simulator sessions with several Martinair instructors. The training intensified, which prepared us very well for the MD-11 Type Rating Skill Test. Not only did we learn how to operate and fly the MD-11, but we also implemented the Martinair philosophy. After completing our MD-11 Type Rating Skill Test we flew back to Amsterdam to start our line training.
Final Destination: Amsterdam and Martinair
The Zero Flight Time training qualified us to start the line training without having to complete the visual circuits, takeoffs, and landings in the aircraft itself. This qualified us to be scheduled as active flight crew members (in training) on the line. Part of the line training included discussing many operational subjects. After a minimum of 12 stretches and at least 6 landings, I was scheduled for the line check, which qualified me as a First Officer on the legendary MD-11.
It was the start of my 23-year career flying the legendary MD-11 and acquiring over 12500 flight hours on the trijet. I flew her for three different airlines to every continent carrying either passengers and/or cargo.
At the time, Martinair had four MD-11CF’s in service. These convertibles flew cargo in the winter season and passengers in the summer season, giving us the opportunity to fly both passengers and/or cargo. In my next article I will write all about the MD-11 convertible version.
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