The Dream & Flying Training
Like most, my dream to become a pilot started young, and it never wavered. From playing Flight Simulator every day after school to joining the Air Cadets at 13, my goal was always to fly for a career. I started my PPL in the summer of 2017 at ACS Flight Training at Perth Airport. I was there 5 days a week flying twice a day where possible in order to complete it before the winter weather arrived. In the December I started the ATPL theory course with Pathway Pilot Training in Rosyth, whilst continuing my hour building in Perth. Being able to fly whilst studying helped keep me motivated and it was really helpful to put some of the material I was learning into context. Once I finished all 14 ATPL theory exams, I began the MEIR course at ACS flying the DA42. This was a big step up from the PPL course as the expected level of knowledge and flying ability were much higher. This was definitely the most challenging course during the training, and required constant study and practise to ensure I was getting the most out of each lesson. Next came the CPL course which was definitely the most enjoyable course. Getting to fly around Scotland again navigating visually was a nice change of pace from the IR, even if I was being worked hard with diversions and ‘simulated’ problems. Before I knew it my unforgettable time training with ACS was complete and I was on my way to Dublin to complete the 16 day APS MCC with Simtech. The APS MCC was another big learning curve as it was the first time I was flying in a “multi crew” environment, even if it was in a simulator. Learning scans and flows every night, along with vital actions and preparing for the next sim was great preparation for a future type rating and I enjoyed every second of it. Once I had completed the APS, I was ready to apply for jobs.
“Getting to fly around Scotland again navigating visually was a nice change of pace from the IR, even if I was being worked hard with diversions and ‘simulated’ problems.”
The Big Day
The day I got back from Simtech with the course completion certificate in hand, I applied to any and all First Officer positions that were open for applications and I waited (not so) patiently for a response to come back. Thankfully I received an email from Loganair shortly after inviting me for an interview the following week. I was extremely excited, and equally nervous. The interview and simulator assessment are held at Dundee Airport, so I booked an hour in the simulator that Loganair use for the simulator assessments in order to get familiar with the handling and layout, something I would recommend to everybody to do before any assessment. The interview and assessment went well and I was extremely pleased to be offered the job at the end of the day before going home. I was later told I would be flying the Embraer 135/145 from Glasgow and that I was due to begin a week later.
Photo by kind permission of Allen McLaughlin
First Day & Type Rating
The induction held at Loganairs’ head office in Glasgow was the first time I met the rest of my type rating course, and an opportunity to be introduced to different people within Loganair. The week consists of some training such as an introduction to SOP’s, how to use different apps on the iPad such as weight and balance and performance, fire and smoke training and CRM. The following week we travelled to Burgess Hill to begin a six week type rating course with CAE. The APS MCC gave me a taste of what to expect but I was still not fully prepared for how much there was to learn in such a short space of time. I spent most evenings sitting with my sim partner going over all the checklists, SOPs, vital actions, normal profiles and much more. The first two and a half weeks was mostly theory, learning about all the systems on the aircraft and it concluded with an online exam. The final 3 and a half weeks was when I entered the full motion simulator and began to learn how to operate the aircraft, whilst also beginning to handle emergencies and abnormal situations. Each session lasts 4 hours, with a swap of seats and a quick break halfway through so we both got an opportunity to fly from the right hand seat as I was paired with another First Officer. Every simulator session is graded and there is a debrief at the end which was a great opportunity to learn from each other’s mistakes and give our own feedback, particularly if there was an item we’d like to do again in the next simulator session. At the end of the type-rating there is a skill test where my sim partner and I had to demonstrate that we could safely operate the aircraft in various scenarios in front of an examiner.
Does the Training Ever Stop?!
Once we got back from the type-rating course, there were more items of training to be completed such as Dangerous Goods and Ditching (jumping in a local pool and inflating the life jackets). This is followed by Base Training, this was the first opportunity to fly the aircraft which consisted of 6 take-off’s and landings – I don’t think I could wipe the smile off my face for weeks after it. After base training I was then ready to begin Line Training. This is approximately 40 flights with a training captain, flying passengers across the network beginning to gain experience in a real world flying operation. During line training I experienced bad weather, technical delays, airport delays, busy airspace and different types of approaches such as non precision, precision (the most common) and on one really nice day, a visual approach. There are a lot of items that need to be covered so it is very busy, even in the cruise. There was no time for conversation as the training captain was expecting me to go through the vital actions or explain how a technical system works – while I’m still battling to keep ahead of the aircraft. It is another steep learning curve, but hugely rewarding to see the progress as the days pass. After four weeks of Line Training I sat and passed the Final Line Check, releasing me onto the line to fly with other Captains.
“…battling to keep ahead of the aircraft. It is another steep learning curve, but hugely rewarding to see the progress as the days pass.”
The Day to Day
From Glasgow we fly a lot of varied routes, one of the shortest flights being to Stornoway, and the longest being to Dusseldorf – both presenting their own individual challenges. Flying to Stornoway is the most enjoyable route for me, as the flight can be as quick as 40 minutes, which means there’s always something to do in the cockpit. Loganair have a very positive attitude toward hand flying, so every reasonable opportunity is taken to disconnect the autopilot and fly visual approaches, especially into airports in the Islands where the views are spectacular. Loganair is mainly a “Regional Airline” but due to the diversity of services Loganair is able to offer, I have operated into 23 airports in 7 different countries at the time of writing. This has included a weekend operating between the Isle of Man and Manchester/Liverpool carrying PPE and later this month I am scheduled to carry essential workers from Aberdeen to Riga. Normally we fly a two to four sector day beginning in the early hours or early afternoon and on the Embraer, we rarely do nightstops unless we are operating away from our home base.
“Loganair have a very positive attitude toward hand flying, so every reasonable opportunity is taken to disconnect the autopilot and fly visual approaches, especially into airports in the Islands where the views are spectacular.”
I have just returned from a period of furlough, I am extremely lucky to be able to continue flying month on, month off during these tricky times. I wish everyone the best and I sincerely hope we all get to share the skies together again soon.
Are You At the Beginning of Your Pilot Journey?
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