Sim Lesson 6 and 7

by Berck

This is the third sunny day out of the 10 I’ve been here so far. It doesn’t rain that much up here; I don’t know why people think it does!

My last couple of lessons in the simulator went pretty well. Lesson 6 was a sign-off for single-engine procedures. I forgot the occasional dumb thing, but my flying was solid and on track for Lesson 6.

Lesson 7 is the sign-off for special airports. We go to four airports in the Dash 8 that are special enough that the captain has to go there with a check airman and get signed off on it before he can go there by himself. Few airlines have airports like that. They are: Telluride, Aspen, Eagle County and Gunnison. You’ll note that all 4 of them are in Colorado.

In the simulator, they have us go to Aspen and Eagle and fly the engine-out procedures, balked landing procedures and a couple circle to land maneuvers. It’s all very tricky because in marginal weather you can’t see the rocks that will kill you if you deviate from the very complicated procedures even slightly.

Here’s some videos of what these approaches are like: Aspen, Telluride, Eagle County. As you can see, the terrain could be problematic, especially if it’s in the clouds. Those airports are also generally one way in, and one way out.

So that was my lesson last night. I had a new instructor, and one of the girls in the class who wanted some extra time flew with me. After practicing all the crazy engine-out departures, the circling approaches and balked landings, we did windshear demonstrations. The first one happened while I was still on the ground. We just noticed an airspeed hesitation, but weren’t really sure what to do about it. The end of the runway was coming up, so I hauled back and rotated for all I was worth. We cleared the lights at the end of the runway by a couple of feet. After that, I realized that we should have simply aborted the takeoff. I was worried about doing it because we were eating up runway, but having enough runway to abort is predicated upon getting to V1 in a reasonable time. I was reminded that we weren’t in a Jet, a Dash isn’t going all that fast at V1 anyway, and as long as we haven’t gotten there, I’m still legal to abort. We did it again, this time I aborted and still had a bunch of runway left. Lesson learned.

The next one was a huge tailwind shear right after lift off. I called for max power, pitched to the stick shaker and aimed for an angle of attack right below the shaker. I got the shaker again, dropped the nose too much, and it looked like ground contact was imminent. My nonflying shoved the power levers to the firewall (guaranteed to trash the engines, but still better than hitting the ground), and I held the nose high and rode the shaker. I was sure we were going to hit a fence. I’d never really noticed a fence in the sim before. Somehow we cleared the fence, and climbed safely. The sim instructor and my non-flying who’d done the lesson were both impressed. They said that at that level of windshear, most folks crash the sim. I think I just got lucky.

On one of the engine failure scenarios we committed a classic multi-engine mistake that kills people. We had a #1 engine failure with no uptrim and no autofeather on takeoff. It goes something like this. (I’ll do dialogue. K is my non-flying.)

Me: Set Max Power, Memory Items
K: #1 power lever, confirm and flight idle.
At this point, she’s pointing at the #1 power lever. I confirm that’s the correct one and say, “Flight idle” and she moves it to idle. We do the same thing with the condition lever.
K: #1 condition lever, confirm and fuel off.
Me: Fuel off.
K: #1 alternate feather switch selected, propeller has feathered.

At this point, the engine is secure with the prop feathered, so we concentrate on flying the airplane up to acceleration altitude, get the flaps retracted and then…

Me: Continue memory items
K: #2 fuel pull off handle, confirm and pull
I look up, she is indeed pointing at the #2 fuel pull off handle.
Me: Pull.

At that point I think, “Was that the correct engine? Well, it must have been, because the engine’s still—” And then it got very quiet as the other engine quit. We both felt really dumb because now we’re flying a complicated single-engine departure procedure out of Aspen with no engines.

My instructor: “All right Sully, what are you gonna do now?”
Me: Vectors to the Hudson?
K: I’m so sorry!
Me: Hey, I told you to pull it! Put it back in and and restart it!

Mercifully, I only lost about 800 feet while she got it restarted. The whole confirming thing is intended to prevent just this sort of stupid mistake. It was just as much my fault for confirming the wrong engine as it was hers for pointing at the wrong engine. In a lot of ways, I’m glad we made that mistake in the sim, because now I know how it happens, and I’m not going to do it in the plane.

I’ve got today and tomorrow off. Jonah’s flight landed in Vancouver an hour and a half ago, but I still haven’t heard from her. I’m sure she’s stuck in the many hour line to clear immigration. I hope she gets here while it’s still sunny!

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