Visit to PTC – Waterford, Ireland

On 26th November I went down to Waterford to meet the team and tour the facilities of the Pilot Training College.  I also had a sim check as a final part of the assessment.  The purpose of the sim check is not to see how good you are at flying – it’s to see if you’re teachable.  The instructor gives you instructions: fly to this height and this heading and then you follow them.  They tell you everything you need to know in order to do that; after all, this is a course designed for those with very little or no flying experience.  We were in their FNPT II simulator – more info here.  The time in the simulator was fantastic.  The visuals were very good and the realism of the flight controls was impressive.  Even though it wasn’t a motion simulator it was a very realistic experience.

They were happy with the sim check so we had a look at the rest of the facilities.  The staff are all very pleasant and helpful.  Before committing to anything I decided I would go to the Oxford open day and take an assessment with them as well.  More details in the next few posts.

Assessment with the Pilot Training College – Ireland

While I was talking to one of their students, someone came across and said that they had a vacancy for an aptitude test later on in the day.  An aptitude test is where they test your abilities to see if you are technical minded enough to be a pilot (amongst other things such as personality, maths and physics skills).  I though it would be brilliant, I’ve always wondered what one would be like.  I thought it would be a mock but it was an official one with the possibility of being offered a place at the school.  Not wanting to pass up the opportunity I said I’d do it.

A couple of hours later there I was, sitting in front of a laptop with a joystick and some funky keypad used for entering answers.  I was told that the test would take two hours – and it did.  It started off with a very simple exercise where you had a cross-hair in the middle of the screen (wait, I can use visual aids!):

apt3

So there we go, that’s the basic gist of the first test.  All the red stuff stayed still but then the white bars slid around randomly and you had to keep them centred.  That was fairly simple, I’ve used a joystick before!  At the end of the test it popped up again and there were not one but two twists.  To see how good at multitasking you are they put shapes down the left hand side and then you would hear over the headset ‘blue circle’ and you would have to wait for one to appear.  When one did you would hit blue and then the number that was inside the circle.  I was quite good at that, it went well.  You had to watch out, they’d put up a blue square and a blue triangle and a green circle before you get your blue circle.  To add to the pressure (a simulated emergency) they would have you do the first two things (considering the fact that the shape, colour and number keep changing) while having you listen to a number sequence.  At the beginning of the test it would start at say, 800 and go down in 5’s.  As soon as the sequence changed, you had to click the trigger on the joystick and then follow the new sequence which would be counting down in 3’s or 4’s.  An interesting exercise! I managed to keep with it until that point and then started to slip.  In my interview afterwards I was assured that that was normal.  Below is an example of another test.

apt2

Fortunately this was just by itself.  You had to click on a shape when it was in the correct row and column.  Shapes would appear for five seconds and if it was correct, you had to click it.  If not correct, just ignore it.  The thing is, the rows and columns moved at random intervals so you were constantly looking all over the place!  Fortunately I was told to ignore the score to the right.  If you glanced at that for a second you’d loose focus and start to miss correct shapes – that’s what it’s designed to do.  Those two didn’t take up the whole two hours, the rest of the test was taken up with a basic sim test (incredibly basic), English, maths, physics and a couple of other things I can’t even remember.  The sim test was so simple, the funny cross thing is your plane and you had to fly through the boxes.  I got 10/10 on all three (show-off).

apt1

After all the tests were done I had a thirty minute break or so and was hauled in for a thirty minute interview.  I think the interview went well, first we looked at my results and then talked a lot.  I got 8/10 for the first part which according to them is very good.  The second part, the three-part multitasking task went well too. I was in the top 30% for the first two tasks but when the sequence thing came in I dropped into the top of the middle 40%.  Whatever that means.  The interview was actually quite enjoyable.

At the end of the interview I was told that I would receive a call during the week with more details.  The call wasn’t as detailed as I was expecting.  They have offered to put me on a course starting January 11th or the following course that starts in March.  I couldn’t believe it!  I’m not sure what to do, I didn’t expect to have an offer so soon.  Now I need to look at the school, I’ll be going over in a few weeks.  Oh yeah, I haven’t even said where it is yet: Waterford, Ireland.  They have offered to put me in a simulator too which is really good.  I’ll let you know how the tour of their facilities went in another post.