Initial 121 Training

For those that saw, I made this post in my biography section a few months back. However, since then I’ve heard and seen so many questions about what to expect for initial 121 training. So here it is…

(Disclaimer, this was my experience at Skywest. Every regional has their own training footprint but at least this gives you a good idea…)

I started Indoc virtually on July 26th on the CRJ. In 4 short days we covered the whole FOM (Flight operations manual). It covers all sorts of things from FARs, weather limitations, responsibilities of dispatch, MX write up protocols, etc. One day was dedicated for leadership/CRM training and one day on the Op Specs. Day 6 was the first validation testing our knowledge of all of it. The validations are used as checkpoints. Pass and continue on. We finished on a Tuesday and had to the following Monday to finish over 40 hours of System CBTs and get to Salt Lake City for ground training.

Ground School
Ground school was focused on the SOPM (Standard Operating Procedures Manual), basically how we operate all phases of flight from preflight to shutdown. In the morning session we had FMS lab and the Matrix (learning our flows on touch screen cockpits). In the afternoon was classroom sessions. One day was dedicated to emergency training, opening the overwing exits, using the fire extinguishers and going out the cockpit escape hatch… which was all was pretty fun. On days 8, 9 and 10 of ground school was three days of consecutive validations: FMS, Flows and ground validation (written exam). The FMS validation mirrored a typical day on the line providing 25 mins from receiving the pre-departure clearance and the weather to getting the cockpit ready: loading in frequencies, programming the “box” (FMS), computing a manual manifest and loading the takeoff data. The Flow validation consisted of a captain seat sub sitting in with you and asking for three randomized flows to perform from any phase of flight. The ground validation was a written exam covering all topics in the SOPM.

Procedures Training
My sim partner and I had one day off and we jumped right in to the next phase of training: Procedures. This included an upgraded version of the cockpit. Still all touch screen and fixed base but we had thrust levers, yokes and rudder pedals and we actually got to fly it. This phase was incredibly quick, just 3 days putting it all together in preparation for sims. We flew gate to gate trips with different kind of malfunctions from start malfunctions, MX items discovered at different phases of flight and abnormal ATC requests. This was more CRM, teaching us how to prioritize when to do things and how based on the SOPM. On day 4 we had… you guessed it, a procedures validation! Last one in Salt Lake City! After completion of that, my class split off into four locations for sim training: Salt Lake City, Denver, Cincinnati and Atlanta. I was lucky enough to get Atlanta and a few days off to rest before a short drive from Charlotte to start sims the following week.

Sim training is broken down in to two stages: Maneuvers and LOFTS. Maneuvers is first and consists of 6, 4 hr sessions covering all sorts of things: Takeoffs and Landings, Crosswind takeoffs, Crosswind landings, Windshear, EGPWS escape maneuvers, TCAS RAs, Stalls to the shaker and the pusher, Upset Recovery, Engine failures at V1 and of course all the different kinds of approaches Cat I and Cat II ILS, GPS Non-precision, VOR circle to land and missed approaches in all sorts of configurations. Plus LOTS of malfunctions. On day 7 was the maneuvers validation (regarded as the most difficult and most notorious for failures). It consisted of a 2 hour session with a very efficient profile that covered pretty much everything I just explained above except a few things. When my sim partner and I came out of that victorious, that was a huge relief. We relaxed for one day before heading in to the final push: LOFTS. Lofts stand for Line Oriented Flight Training, basically putting it all together. Gate to gate flights with a few malfunctions sprinkled along the way. This is where my prior jet and 135 experience helped me quite a bit. Jet start malfunctions, MX write ups, deferrals and MEL procedures plus difficult SIDs and STARs with crossing restrictions and speed restrictions were all things I had seen and practiced doing the last year flying with Flyexclusive. My classmates coming from 1500 hours in a Cessna struggled a lot more. Many with little to no experience flying a departure or arrival procedure at all. I recommend for anyone who is reading this to try and get some right seat time in a jet before going to initial 121 training. Even if you can’t log it, the experience you receive flying in the flight levels, working the FMS and flying those SIDs and STARS will help you more than you realize. Anyway, after 3 days of LOFTS (standard day, hot wx ops and cold wx ops) the big day was finally here. The grand finale of a long 2 months of training: the LOE and KV (check ride).

The KV (knowledge validation) is the oral portion that happens before the flight. It was relatively quick and simple covering memory items, limitations and emergency procedures. After that I met the Captain seat sub I’d be flying with and we hopped in the sim. This was again, another gate to gate flight putting it all together. The scenario was a standard turn, so Point A->Point B. The captain flew the first leg so I was being evaluated on my Pilot monitoring duties. Then we switched and I was pilot flying from Point B->Point A. As you can imagine, the flights included a fair share of malfunctions and typically in the midst of already high work load environments. This was it, the time to prove to yourself and show the examiner that you have a mastery of the aircraft, understanding of its systems, applying the SOPM in all phases of flight and using CRM to make good timely decisions. Walking out of that sim session, I had such confidence in my ability in the aircraft and appreciation for all the training that molded me along the way.



I hope you are doing well at SkyWest! This was a great read and a lot of insight into the part 121 training we should expect at a regional. I did notice in the sim portion that you mentioned that people with little to no turbine experience initially struggled with typical jet operating procedures, SIDs, STARs, etc… In particular, instrument flying specifics that we aren’t exposed to as much as GA pilots/instructors. How would you suggest preparing for this type of material/flying without actually having that right seat experience? I imagine there is only so much we can learn by reviewing approach plates/departure and arrival procedures vs actually flying them with ATC clearances. Is there any specific material that you suggest reviewing (videos, reading, etc…)?



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