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SimCom training pirep.

10 Posts

My insurance wanted me to do type training when I upgraded from liability to full coverage. They didn’t accept the training I’d done with my instructor, as he wasn’t “approved” by them. We tried to get him approved, but because he didn’t have a dedicated ground training manual, they couldn’t. So my choice was to go see another instructor in Ohio in my plane, or do any of the sim approved trainings for the Commander. Even though my 680V doesn’t have that much in common with the later 690A/B, 840, 900, 980, 1000 models, any training in a sim for those would satisfy the insurance company. So I thought I’d try to learn something new and train in the 840 model, as well as go the sim route which I’d never done. And should I ever upgrade to a newer Commander, the 840 is the most likely one I could afford, so that’s why I chose that.

So off I went on a last minute weekly to SimCom in Orlando.

I’m on my 4th day at SimCom now, one more day to go. I have a good instructor, Juan Rodriguez, who flew Commanders in the Colombian Air Force before he moved to the US. He knows them really well and is also a working pilot and CFII ME Goldstar Instructor etc in real life, which is good. I’d recommend him. Some instructors here are just ground and sim instructors, with no recent flying experience, so it’s always nice to get a real CFII who actually still flies for a living.

Unfortunately, the training for the 840 takes place in a 690B simulator, so it’s a little schizophrenic – we talk about 840 systems in the class, but what the checklist and what I’m actually flying is a 690B. And it’s a really old sim. Motion is not very good, display isn’t very good (only displays on one screen right in front of you, nothing in the others, so no peripheral imagery), all steam. Another very annoying thing is that the sim A/P doesn’t have ALT hold, so your workload goes up exponentially in the emergencies. Having to chase the altitude when you have a million other things to do is kinda annoying. But I suppose it’s good learning – that could happen in real life.

Mainly done a lot of engine emergencies, looking to do electrical and avionics today. And yeah, I have crashed a couple of times. In an engine failure after takeoff, I managed to shut down the wrong engine, even though I correctly identified the right one. I did everything way too fast and that’s when mistakes happen. I just reached for the wrong switch and shut the working one down… Better here than in the air! But the good thing about this is that it has taught a good habit – don’t rush things. The aircraft has enough power to keep climbing a little without you rushing to feather it and shut it down. The Commanders have a NTS system, Negative Torque Sensing, which will initiate a feathering procedure if the output shaft and turbine shaft differs in RPM too much. So there’s no huge rush, just a slight urgency, to shut it down. Take the time to get it right!

The other crash was on a single engine go-around at 300ft minimums. That’s a pretty tight margin and I was slow in raising the flaps and lost directional control. Another good lesson actually – you probably don’t want to do a SE approach in minimums. Find a field with better weather minima if that happens – now that you have twice as much endurance and can fly longer!

All in all, it’s been good learning and I think this was the right thing for me to do and I’ve gotten something out of it. I don’t think sims are training tools that can replace real training in the aircraft and real flying, but you can do things here you simply can’t do in the air. Also, since I haven’t flown for 7 months, it’s good to knock some of the IR rust off and get fresh currency and IPC. My main complaint is I just wish the sim was better and it cost less. $8900 is a lot of money anyway you slice it.

Last Edited by AdamFrisch at 06 Jul 19:25

AdamFrisch wrote:

And yeah, I have crashed a couple of times.

Good that you went for the simulator training! Good that you picked an insurance company which mandated this. Everybody who has done type ratings both on type and on the simulator will never fly again with somebody who has not been in a sim…
A simulated engine failure in the plane at some safe altitude is worlds apart from one in the simulator at 50ft. And there are plenty of scenarios (hydraulic failures, electrical failures, smoke removal procedures) which you can really only experience in a simulator. No matter what quality the motion system and video systems are. The latter you only need for the decision land/go around anyway. And maybe for low-visibilty training but from your description I doubt that it is approved for that.

NB: In our company, crashing in the simulator is treated exactly like crashing in real life. It will be the immediate end of training and the termination of one’s work contract. One colleague got “sacked” last year after losing control on a single-engine go around. He had been flying as captain in our company for over ten years. When in the sim, fight for your life just as you would on the real plane!

EDDS - Stuttgart

the simulator is treated exactly like crashing in real life. It will be the immediate end of training and the termination of one’s work contract.

Easy way to get rid of older pilots earning too high salaries …
Did you know that you as simulator instructor / TRE can let everyone crash? It only depends on the number of failures you feed in …

Last Edited by nobbi at 06 Jul 21:57
EDxx, Germany

In our company, crashing in the simulator is treated exactly like crashing in real life. It will be the immediate end of training and the termination of one’s work contract. One colleague got “sacked” last year after losing control on a single-engine go around. He had been flying as captain in our company for over ten years. When in the sim, fight for your life just as you would on the real plane!

Is that the case for LPCs and other “official” simulator work, only?

I had a 1hr session in a 737 sim a few years ago, with an instructor. I didn’t crash it but there were a few occassions when I got the “sink rate” warning and each time he took over and went to full power to recover it. He said this was normal, even when messing about in the sim, otherwise one might lose that instinct.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

nobbi wrote:

Easy way to get rid of older pilots earning too high salaries …
Did you know that you as simulator instructor / TRE can let everyone crash? It only depends on the number of failures you feed in …

Yes. Very common practice 20 years ago. I remember one examiner who would greet us with: “Just to remind you: For me it is easier to fail you then to let you pass. So better be kind to me!” (by that he meant that he didn’t want to hear complaints about the cigars he was smoking all the time), But there have been quite a few lawsuits of pilots who were discarded that way since those days. Anyway, since JAR and now EASA, the rules for checkrides have become quite strict. The examiner must brief in advance which abnormal and emergency situations may be happening and he can no longer “throw them at you” all together.

Peter wrote:

Is that the case for LPCs and other “official” simulator work, only?

We’ve had both. One direct entry captain (captain according to his CV) was sent to the simulator with a first officer for a three-day recurrent training and OPC (operator proficiency check – required before any crewmember can fly in a commercial operation). In the evening of day 1 the first officer had already phoned our operations manager to tell him that he will not fly with this “captain” outside the simulator. On day 2 he crashed in the simulator and the training session was suspended. The training provider called the company and asked what they were supposed to do? Continue training with an extended training scheme, continue training but for right hand seat only, or send him home. “Send him home” was the answer. He tried to get a check ride on his own expense so that he would leave with a current type rating but the provider refused.

The other guy crashed during an LPC (licence proficiency check) after losing control in a “normal” single-engine go around with no other complications. This is an instant fail in such a checkride. In our company he would have had the right to do another checkride at his own expense but they told him that whatever the outcome was they would not let him fly in the left hand seat any more and he preferred to leave instead. AFAIK he since quit flying and resumed his previous profession, something he should have been doing long ago, considering the long list of incidents and reports he had collected over the years.

Last Edited by what_next at 07 Jul 14:04
EDDS - Stuttgart

what_next wrote:

NB: In our company, crashing in the simulator is treated exactly like crashing in real life. It will be the immediate end of training and the termination of one’s work contract. One colleague got “sacked” last year after losing control on a single-engine go around. He had been flying as captain in our company for over ten years. When in the sim, fight for your life just as you would on the real plane!

That means that you can only train situations in the simulator where a competent pilot is virtually guaranteed to make a safe landing. Situations where it is not guaranteed that you make it but where you can improve the odds by training can’t be trained. Is that really a good thing? Failure of all engines is something that comes to mind.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

I certainly can see the value of sim training. In fact, I’ll make it a point to get some of that training in the future occasionally. For those that have not flown in a simulator, all I can say is that they’re crazy sensitive. So if you can keep things level there, chances are you’ll do fine in the real world where you have tactile feedback.

I managed to squeeze in a high altitude endorsement as well, so that was extra useful. Now all I need is an 840…

Last Edited by AdamFrisch at 13 Jul 05:47

what_next wrote:

NB: In our company, crashing in the simulator is treated exactly like crashing in real life. It will be the immediate end of training and the termination of one’s work contract.

I’d say that a policy like that severely limits the kind of training you can do, particularly during the training and not examination process. In the sim, you should be able to explore the limits without fear of retribution if it goes wrong. The sim is there to stress you out and to show you what can happen if things go wrong.

As you state in your later posts, both of the people your company sacked because of sim crashes already had a history of incidents or incompetence. So the failure in the sim was the final straw, not a one – of incident.

In a training environment, crashes are rare but by far not unheard of, particularly during demonstrations of critical flight parameters such as V-mca exercises and the likes. Only that normally, the instructor won’t let you crash in the first place but freeze the sim before it hits the ground to save time and a costly reset.

I’ve never yet crashed a sim but it could have happened several times during different training I’ve done. But I have also experienced an environment where people were booted out after unsatisfactory “training” lessons in the sim and I in retrospect am glad I don’t work for one of those. In most cases I’ve seen, the sim was misused to get rid of people they for some reason did not like but had no other means of firing. This kind of practice gives the whole training a very bad rep which is not helpful. Training is important and should allow for possible failures to be used as learning experiences, not as a late selection tool. Climates of fear in airlines or any other enterprise usually does not increase safety but rather encourages hiding of incidents and people trying not to stand up for what they have done. So it does set the stage for repeat scenarios which, with an open safety culture, could have been avoided.

Last Edited by Mooney_Driver at 13 Jul 06:41
LSZH, Switzerland

In the sim, you should be able to explore the limits without fear of retribution if it goes wrong.

The problem with that is that the simulator is based on test-flown data of the real aircraft. These data do not go very far outside the envelope. Especially scenarios which lead to crashing are (obviously) not based on real data. Exploring this corner of the envelope turns the simulator into an expensive video game, nothing more.

EDDS - Stuttgart

Well, a sim which does not properly show stuff like Vmc(a) e.t.c. is pretty darn useless. And that is stuff you can’t ever do on the airplane yet everyone should experience it at least once. It often leads to loss of control, that is why you do it and that is why it is so important to demonstrate it. The two prop sims which I flew both were very well capable of demonstrating that. In Adam’s case, it will be a life saver if he does this training properly.

The other bit is, there is not only an airplane envelope, there is also the human performance envelope. It is useful to train at some point to the point of going onto the limit of that, to show the student that these kind of scenarios can happen and that it is very important to timely invervene and not let it get that far.

A final one is that some airplanes have “gotcha’s” which need to be retrained from time to time. None of them can or should be done on the airplane. And this does lead to situations where you can get gear up landings or similar things. In no airline I know of was a candidate fired because he fell into that trap but rather left the training (and repetition) with a better knowledge of this scenario so it would not happen in the ernest.

I just think that it would be very bad if a company would per se decide that a crash in the sim will automatically mean dismissal, disgrace and end of career. A lot of factors have to come together to justify that. The big question is rather how do they deal with that kind of event and how do they come out of this. Most people will learn and be better pilots for it. Those who are not or who will start disputing and quarreling are rightly disposed of, but it is far to general to assume that a training event has to mean end of the story.

LSZH, Switzerland
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