Monday, June 8, 2009

June 06, 2009

Hi everyone! Hubs here. As my beloved may have mentioned already, I'm a commercial pilot and flight instructor at the Danbury airport. This past weekend, me and "pops" had the fortunate opportunity to travel down to the Continental Airlines Pilot Training Center in Houston Texas to check out the facilities and try out some of the training goodies. As the name suggests, this is where all pilots for Continental Airlines (and some other random nutjobs like me) go to receive initial and recurrent flight training. The facility is open 24 hours a day, 364 days a year (closed on Christmas Day. How nice of them.)

June 6 was Day 1, and we spent most of the time with Detroit-based FAA inspector Wayne Phillips inside the "Human Factors" classroom learning about the ins-and-outs of the Boeing 737 systems and cockpit instrumentation. Human Factors, which seems like a strange name for a classroom, refers to a broad range of subjects ranging from crew communication to medical issues to the study of the causes of pilot error and aircraft accidents. They also use the room to teach General Subjects. We commondeered this room for the day to discuss the B-737.

Below is a shot of the sign on the outside of the room. Not pictured are the 3 large canisters of coffee which kept us all awake inside that room for the 10 hours we were in there.

In the airline world, FTD stands for Flight Training Device, not the place that delivers flowers. In this device, Continental pilots learn the general layout of aircraft flight decks, review ground procedures, and can hone their "instrument" flying skills. Below is a picture of me standing in front of a Boeing 737 FTD.

The inside of the FTD is an exact reproduction of the inside of a Continental Airlines Boeing 737 cockpit. During simulations, all instrument indications are exactly the same as would be found in a real 737 Cockpit. However, in these devices, there is no view out the window. It's perpetually "cloudy" out.

During FTD sessions, an airline trainer sits behind the captain & first officer and runs through various scenarios, including normal procedures and simulated emergencies. As for me, First Officer Connor and I used this device to simulate a rapid depressurization emergency (as flight attendants would say, "sudden loss of cabin pressure") at 29,000 feet. The trainer sat behind us at a computer the whole time, essentially controlling the entire aircraft environment, including the simulated failures, with a mere push of a button. Here's what the inside of the FTD we used looks like:

After a full day of classroom training followed by some time in the FTD, everyone was just beat. We retired to the nearby Sheraton North Houston hotel for a good night's sleep and an early 3:00 Am rise the next morning.

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