737 Training, Phase Three

As a reminder, United splits training into five phases, they are as follows:

  1. Systems
  2. Procedures
  3. Maneuvers
  4. Line type experience in the simulator
  5. Operating experience in the actual jet.

Last night I finished the maneuvers portion of training. This consisted of four simulator training sessions focusing primarily on flying the aircraft, with an emphasis on single engine procedures, various types of Instrument Approaches and Upset Prevention and Recovery Training.

While a simulator does not handle quite like an airplane, it is a way to get a good feel for how the real airplane handles. We spend some time just doing normal takeoffs and landings, then move onto flying approaches. Approaches are mostly flown with the autopilot, but that is not as easy as it sounds. Using an autopilot does not simply mean pushing the big red “easy” button. There are a whole host of procedures that must be employed to get the autopilot to do what you want it to do. We primarily practice Instrument Landing System (ILS) approaches, RNAV (GPS) approaches, and auto land approaches.

After those basics are mastered, we move onto single engine work. Most modern airliners have two engines, so that means that we must always be prepared for the possibility of an engine failure in any phase of flight. The most critical point where an engine can fail is at the point right before the aircraft begins to rotate off the ground, but past the point where the aircraft can stop safely on the runway. We call this point, defined as a speed, V1. We practice many of those scenarios, along with flying the airplane back around and landing safely at the airport. We also practice single engine go-arounds (rejected landings) because things happen and sometimes you are not able to land when you intend to.

The last portion of our maneuvers training is upset prevention and recovery training. This is largely a result of the Colgan 3407 crash where the pilots obviously had issues flying the airplane appropriately and responding correctly to the aircraft being at an unusual attitude. It possible for an aircraft. to become displaced from the intending flight path due to many reasons, including wake turbulence, mountain wave, temperature inversions, pilot error, system failures, spatial disorientation, wind shear, etc. We practice a common strategy that will work to evaluate and respond to any of these situations.

In the middle of all of this we also accomplished our annual emergency equipment training. This training focuses on the cabin equipment such as fire extinguishers, portable oxygen, emergency locater transmitters, life vests and life rafts.

The fifth day is an evaluation, this is where the pilots need to demonstrate their skills and fly to within certain standards. I finished my evaluation last night and am now on an airplane headed home for a few days. Next week I will start the final simulator phase of training.

737 simulator with the loading bridge down

737 simulator “in flight”

hydraulic support legs of 737 simulator

Briefing room. Also has a large TV for reviewing material

757 escape slide / life raft

757 escape slide / life raft