Yesterday afternoon (and on into the evening!) and after almost 4.5 hours in the simulator, I passed my licence skills test. The test was conducted with my flying buddy, who flew for the first part and then I flew for the second. What is a licence skills test you ask? Here’s a quick summary:
The purpose of the LST is to establish:
- whether you have acquired the standard of proficiency necessary for safe operation in controlled airspace under IFR (instrument flight rules) conditions,
- are familiar with company SOPs (standard operating procedures) and checklists, both normal and non-normal,
- are competent to operate the aeroplane accurately in both normal and non-normal operations
- and whether you are able to use effective Crew Resource Management skills.
The LST contained various instrument approaches throughout and also some failures and emergency procedures. The most challenging flying is with an engine failure. We practised an engine failure on take-off which occurred above a speed called V1. At or above this speed there is no longer enough runway distance to stop on the runway and so the problem needs to be taken into the air. That’s what we did. We flew around on one engine while we did some checks on the failed engine and planned a landing with the one remaining engine. On the first approach the weather was too bad to land and so we went around for another approach – another interesting manoeuvre – a go-around on one engine! The second approach was successful and then we landed which was just about the end of the test. I like examiners who don’t keep you in suspense – as we were doing the shut down checks he said something along the lines of: ‘well done lads, you’ve passed the test.’ Off we went for a debrief and then a bite to eat at the local curry restaurant.
How often do we fly single engine? Not often. It’s a rare occurrence that needs to be dealt with right and so is practised in the simulator on a regular basis. Check out this video of an engine problem on take off at Manchester. The pilots did a great job and sounded far cooler on the radio than I did in the sim. This video shows almost the same exercise that we did during the test only these guys got to land off the first approach, were in a real aircraft and had a bunch of passengers in the back.
It’s great to have the LST done, as you are probably aware, every step of training has written or practical exams and sometimes both! The next step now is base training which is going to be next week – it will be the first time I take a jet aircraft into the sky. I’ll see if I can put on a bit about the simulator sessions, I was incredibly busy and as expected didn’t have the time or energy to write.