The second day of training consists of “Line Operating Experience” or LOE. LOEs mimic an actual flight, but usually have some sort of emergency en-route. For example, this year we flew two flights, one from Newark to Cleveland and a second from Cleveland to Chicago. During our first flight our Thrust Management Computer (TMC) broke en-route.
That meant that we had to calculate the engine parameters manually and make sure that the engines did not exceed those parameters. It also meant that our auto throttle system were inoperative. While auto throttles are certainly not required, they definitely make our job easier, so not having them adds an extra bit of challenge. After dealing with our TMC issue, we executed a non-precision approach into Cleveland. Being that this was a simulator event we did not see the runway at the required height and thus had to perform a rejected landing procedure. After we leveled off, we discussed our fuel situation and decided that we had enough for one more attempt in Cleveland and would divert to Detroit if this attempt was not successful. Fortunately, the simulator weather had improved and we were able to land in Cleveland. Just as with an actual flight, we taxied to the appropriate gate and parked the ‘airplane’.
The second flight was flown by the other pilots in training. This time, it was my turn at the controls. Enroute to Chicago, we experienced a failure of the right air data computer which led to all of my instruments displaying erroneous indications. We ran the appropriate checklists and were able to restore instrumentation to my side of the cockpit. In Chicago, we executed a non-precision approach, which is more difficult than our normal approach. To add an additional challenge, the instructor managed to place a computer generated fire truck on the runway, which led to another rejected landing. This time we had plenty of fuel so it was an easy decision to attempt another approach into Chicago. On this approach, the truck had cleared the runway and we landed safely, taxied to the gate, and shut down our virtual airplane.
My simulator partner and I passed our check rides successfully and were cleared to fly for another year. While we most likely will experience very little of what happened in the simulator on actual line flights, it is necessary to always be prepared and ready for the unexpected. Certainly, Capt. Sullenberger and First Officer Skiles did not begin their work day thinking that they would end it on the Hudson River. However, their training and years of experience enabled them to safely ditch an inoperative airplane and save the lives of everyone on board. While experience can only be purchased with time, thorough and proper training enables us all to be prepared for whatever emergency might come our way.
© 2011 by Christopher P. Carey
The views expressed here belong solely to Chris Carey and are in not endorsed by Continental or United Airlines.