OAA Skills Assessment – Day 1

Snow in West Yorkshire

Fortunately all the snow in December/January didn’t cancel the much anticipated skills assessment with OAA.  The roads had cleared up somewhat when I traveled down on 11th January.  The journey down was good, it took a steady four hours with a thirty minute break.  I was really happy to find out that the service area where I would be staying the night also had a Burger King.  I checked into my room, threw my things down and went back out again and walked over to the Burger King.  You can imagine my horror when I found out that it was closed.  I have to confess that I did a fourteen mile round trip to go to another one.  In my opinion it was well worth it, I most wanted the shake and this other place had a shake machine.  I’m surprised and disappointed to find out just how many Burger King’s don’t have shake machines.  It should be standard procedure in every single one.  Even the tiny one in Leeds station has one, the rest have no excuse.

The first day of the assessment was the most intense.  I was hoping to do the Compass tests first and get them out of the way but I had my simulator check in the morning so Compass would be in the afternoon.  What’s Compass you ask?  Let me tell you…

Computerized Pilot Aptitude Screening System
COMPASS consists of six tests which have been developed to test some of the key aptitude areas for the pilot profession. Flying experience is not required to perform well in the tests.

The tests include:

Control – A compensation task looking at basic hand / foot / eye co-ordination.
Slalom – A tracking task looking at hand / eye co-ordination.
Mathematics – A test of basic applied mathematical understanding and speed.
Memory – Accuracy of short-term memory recall and ability to ‘chunk’ information.
Task Manager – A test of the candidate’s ability to scan the screen and manage two concurrent tasks accurately and quickly.
Orientation – Instrument interpretation, comprehension and spatial orientation.
Tech-Test – Technical comprehension test (physics test).

As stated earlier I had the simulator check first.  This began with a debriefing teaching you all about the primary flight display and how to read what’s on it.  We were told the basic maneuvers we would be doing and how to do them.  Don’t sweat, you don’t have to know how to fly a jet to do this!  I really enjoyed it even though we didn’t have the visuals switched on.  Everything we did was on instruments and all the ones we used were on the primary flight display.  All we were asked to do was to climb or descend to specific altitudes and turn to specific headings and sometimes both at once.  It took a while to get used to the sensitivity of the simulator and to how soon you needed to level off so as to not to overshoot the assigned altitude or heading.  It was really good though, I liked it.  Shame I won’t see it again for another year.

The Compass tests were fairly intense but not so intense that you want to smash the computer in.  They really make you focus hard which is quite draining.  I came to realise that I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the simulator so much had I just come out of the Compass tests.  There isn’t much to add to what’s written above about them.  If you really want to know what it’s like head over to Oxford for one of the open days.  You get a sneak peek there but it is a tiny peek for obvious reasons.

There were four others in my group and during the day and our much varied conversations I found out that one of them was staying in the same hotel as me so we decided to grab some dinner before calling it a night.  There were three options:  Little Chef, Burger King or nothing.  I was hoping he would suggest Little Chef because I had Burger King the night before but he wanted Burger King.  Not wanting to be unsociable, I went with him to Burger King and waited patiently for him to finish his meal before going to the Little Chef by myself.  Yeah right!  I had another Angus burger.  Proceeds to hang head in shame.  After the meal we called it a night and went our separate ways.  I brushed up on the latest news and browsed highly sophisticated forums such as pprune.org and airliners.net.  I also managed to convince myself that I’d failed the assessment by reading about other peoples experiences online.