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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

A Few Years Later....

Well, it's been a while...

I'm currently still happily based in Manchester working for Ryanair flying the awesome 737-800 aircraft. I'm just touching 2700 hours total time which means command is not too far away, which is exciting, but means I have had my head in the books again in order to prepare for the challenging upgrade process, which I'm likely to enrol onto after summer.

The flying out of Manchester is varied, 2, 4 or 6 sector days going as far as the Canary Islands and all over Europe within that range with no layovers and home every night which is fantastic.

I believe Oxford Aviation Academy has been taken over by CAE since I have left. This is a fantastic long term security net for the school and would certainly build my confidence when looking at which academy is best for me and my potential job prospects when graduating. This is because CAE have links with every major airline in some way or another and having this globally recognised name on the CV at an interview could only benefit you.
The only thing I am concerned about is how personal the academy is now that this huge company has taken over. When I was there it was certainly a 'family feel' when in for classes or flying and I just worry that this takeover has eradicated that somewhat... but I guess that's personal opinion and I haven't been back since graduation prior to the take-over, so I'm just assuming.

I guess my next post will be from the left hand seat, if all goes well.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Line Training and Getting a Permanent Base.

Once again I have to start off with an apology regarding the fact it has taken me so long to write another one of these, however, to tell you the truth, life has been hectic over the past few months, as I will explain...

Having completed my supernumerary flights, I was allocated a base in which to complete my 'line training', which is pretty much what it says it is, getting trained, on the line. This involved flying approximately 80 sectors with training captains who not only assessed and wrote reports on your performance based on each flight, but who also passed on various methods and techniques in which to improve general handling and knowledge of the 737-800 as well as being able to operate the aircraft operationally and commercially minded.

The base I was given was Bergamo (BGY), a city in the province of Lombardy, SE of Milan. I loved every minute of being based here as it made me learn fast, increase my operational proficiency and appreciate working in a different culture with people of all nationalities. BGY is one of the company's largest bases, with 15 aircraft allocated to it over the summer period and how the hours I built up and passenger loads proved that! The training once again was fantastic with all the captains being patient and supportive throughout all stages, helping me with any issues that I may have had and I can't thank them enough for that. The base roster pattern at BGY was 5/4, 5 days working and 4 days off, which meant I commuted home on my off days, which is what a lot of guys and girls do during training.

Having completed my line training in BGY, I was expecting to be allocated a new base, as me moving out would create new spaces for more training cadets coming in. So, the day came when I received the email, informing me that my new and permanent base would be Manchester (MAN)!

This was fantastic for me as not only is it commutable from home each day, but also it is a large scale international airport, it's busy, it's challenging with winds and weather and just a whole different ball game, compared to Bergamo.

So, bringing you up to date, I have now been based in Manchester for just over three weeks and will be working the last day of my 5 day week tomorrow on lates, flying to Beziers and Gerona. I absolutely love it and have flown with and got to know so many new and exciting individuals, been sandwiched on the approach by a 787 and an A380, not had to display my poor Italian language skills like I did in Bergamo and have been warmly welcomed by everyone.

 I have flown to so many new, weird and wonderful places, some I didn't even know existed, flown some non-precision approaches into some varied airfields in poor weather, dealt with horrific thunder storms in BGY and have had a fantastic experience so far!

I have another line check coming up later this month on a flight down to Murcia and then I am in the sim towards the latter stages of August, so it is going to be a testing few weeks that's for sure! I better get my head back into the books and get myself refreshed on theory, after so much of the past few months have all been hands on learning...


Thursday, 28 February 2013

Type Rating Completed - Onto the Line!

Since my last post, I have been through all the sorties in the simulator in order to complete the type rating requirements, passed the progress tests with good marks and passed my LST, meaning I am now type rated on the 737 series 300-900.

After passing my LST, it meant I could continue on to do my base training, which was to be flown out of East Midlands (EMA). Base training, for those that are unfamiliar with what that is, is demonstrating the competency to take off and land the aircraft a minimum of 6 times and generally just flying circuits at a certain aerodrome. I completed my base training out of EMA as planned on an empty 737-800 and it is safe to say, it's the most fun I have ever had, despite being elected to go first!

This is a screenshot of the Flight Radar 24 application, showing our aircraft doing the circuits at EMA, courtesy of my Dad, who was watching us on his iPhone up in Warrington!

All of the course has now completed the base training and have hopped over to Dublin and collected the new IAA licence.

The next requirement was to complete 12 observation, supernumerary flights (SNYs) which I was able to complete out of Liverpool. This is in place, I'm guessing, to show someone who has come out of a type rating course, which is fully undertaken in a simulator, that you need to be flexible and commercial on the line as things don't always go to plan!

My roster showed 4 flights a day from Wednesday to Friday and the flights were:

Wednesday- Barcelona then Dublin
Thursday - Knock then Warsaw
Friday - Londonderry then Oslo

All the crews I completed these with were fantastic and let me take part in the operations as much as possible, such as the paperwork which, isn't covered during the type rating and also the real world ATC which, I haven't done since the IR at Oxford.

I am now waiting to start line training, which should last 2/3 months, flying passengers whilst being assessed. I am expecting a slight delay to start this however, as there is a slight backlog due to the quiet winter months and promotion within the company taking priority over us newbies. I hope to get going soon and I also hope that everyone who has been waiting to get going over the last few weeks, can get in the air as soon as possible and enjoy the busy summer schedule ahead.

I would also like to thank everyone on the course (FR1220) that I went through the type rating with as they were a fantastic group of people and I wish them all the success with their careers!


Saturday, 5 January 2013

Type Rating So Far...


On the 19th November I began the start of my type rating course on the 737-800 at East Midlands Training. The first week involved lots of admin, therefore more paperwork, days in the classroom being taught procedures for safety and evacuation, carriage of dangerous goods, normal procedures at the airline and smoke and fire equipment training, which was all very serious but interesting at the same time.

Safety and Equipment Procedures training
Once this week was complete, it was onto the two weeks of CBT (computer based training), covering all aspects of the Boeing 737 aircraft and concluding in a technical test at the end of the fortnight. Despite being extremely interesting and great to study the aircraft I am learning to fly, I would be lying if I said it wasn't slightly monotonous at times!

CBT Room - Everyone Enjoying Themselves....
Following the technical test, we then had a classroom day the following week, which was to review the company SOPs (standard operating procedures) and you guessed it, this was followed by a test. All very simple and very well taught which meant it was passed and we all kept moving forward.

The final hurdle to the ground school was the performance exam, which involved studying how to manually calculate pre departure and inflight performance for certain flights with varying conditions. Again, two days in the classroom and very well taught.

I am extremely impressed with the standard of training at EMT and couldn't have asked for anything more from the instructors that are there to help.

I am now onto the sims and have finished my first 4 fixed base, non motion simulator sorties, generally going back and to between Dublin and Stansted. There is a staggering learning curve that requires a great deal of extra curricular study in order to keep up with what is expected of you, but like most things, the more practice, the easier it gets!

I have my first progress test in the sim on Tuesday, but I am told it's just a routine lesson which does involve some tuition, just to a lesser degree than a normal simulator session.

Hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year and I will keep this up to date as much as possible!


Wednesday, 26 September 2012


Hello all!

So since my last blog post, I have been to interview workshops at OAA and had an assessment at Ryanair.

I applied to Ryanair directly through OAA as they are now owned by CAE, who deal with all of Ryanair's applications. I received an email exactly a week later, informing me that I had a date for assessment down at Stansted, which was set as12th September. This allowed me to prepare for the assessment over three weeks and using skills and techniques which I acquired at a 'careers day' that OAA offer to their integrated students, I feel I had prepared to the point of almost having a melt-down.

The careers day is a post graduate facility, which an integrated student at OAA can attend and have someone who is in the airline, either as a pilot or recruiter, who has been through the system with a few airlines, guide you on what the airlines are looking for in a cadet applicant. I found the presentation, all the booklets/handouts and group exercises given to us were spot on. Everything given to me on that day, I felt was of great benefit to guide my preparation for my Ryanair interview and it certainly helped me with my practice HR questions, some of which, I would never have even thought they would ask me.

I arrived at my assessment at Stansted at 9am and was first in the sim with another applicant. I flew first which involved flying a SID, basic handling, emergencies, procedural NDB, go around at MDA, engine failure on the go around into a circuit to land off a visual approach with both engines functional, all of which I felt went quite well. It was my turn then to be the pilot monitoring (PM) whereby I called my flight partners deviations, whether it be on altitude, speed, heading or configuration. Again, it was challenging, however it was everything that I had already done in the MCC/JOC phase on an earlier type (the B737-400 as opposed to the 737-800) and just flew how I had been taught previously!

I was then next into the interview which was extremely pleasant and light hearted, but involved serious HR questions and some tech questions on the 737 systems and engines. We shook hands, I thanked my assessor for his time and headed back up to Preston on the train, recalling and analysing my efforts from the day all the way home.

It has been an agonising wait over the past two weeks, but I am happy to say I got the call from Ryanair on Tuesday (25th September), informing me I had been successful on the assessment! I am due to start my type rating at East Midlands Training on the 19th November (day after my mum's Birthday and day after I passed my driving test in 2008 - just so you know) and then look to start flying passengers early in 2013!

The adventure and dream continues.....

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Oxford Aviation Complete: Bring on the Airlines!

So my time at Oxford is now done, with everything signed off, licence in hand and an interview at an airline lined up already.

I'd just like to thank all the people I met along the way through the course, whether it be staff at Oxford, all of the students from various courses, flight partners (Dutchies and Finchy), the instructors and most importantly my family. I really couldn't have done it without all their support along the way both motivationally and financially and I hope to start repaying them in the not too distant future!

Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog from start to finish, everyone who has sent me questions enquiring about certain aspects I highlighted and the people who have recognised me at open days and mentioned the blog and how it's helped them with many questions they had involving getting onto the flight training route and how it's helped them make an educated choice.

I've had almost 10,000 hits over the last 18 months, which shows how popular the topic of flight training and in particular, how popular OAA is as an FTO. I've had hits in Japan, China, South America, Canada, USA, Afghanistan, Bahrain, most countries in Europe, Russia and loads of other weird and wonderful places in the world.

I will continue the blog over the next few months/years with updates of, what I can hopefully call, a successful aviation career.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, 24 June 2012


Before you can sit and fly your Instrument Rating flight, you need to have already gained your Radio Telephony license and pass a mock exam named 170A (don't ask me why it's called this as I have no clue). I did the above, luckily both first time of asking which was a great relief! My 170A route was Oxford to Bristol Filton and back, which wasn't my greatest flight but I passed it nonetheless and took the examiner's advice on areas to patch up before my IR which was a great help.

On 13th June 2012, I had my Instrument Rating Test (IRT) which was Oxford - Cardiff (EGFF) - Oxford, a big flight and apparently the hardest test I will probably do in my whole career (so they say anyway)! I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous beforehand, however, I knew I was ready to take it as the training I received at Oxford was fantastic throughout the whole IR phase.

My route was a weird one, as nobody that I know of, had been to Cardiff on their IRT before, so there was no one to consult on handy hints or tips for the route. The flight to Cardiff was absolutely fine, the route down was nice and smooth and the controllers at the airport were fantastic and a great help. My call sign for the day was 'EXAM18' so in the control tower, they knew I was on my IRT, so knew to give me plenty of attention. My ILS procedure was the best I have ever done as was my engine failure after take off drill. Once you go around at the destination (EGFF) you then request a procedural IFR diversion back to Oxford (or wherever your diversion is, can often be Gloucester on Oxford routes). This was where my flight got a bit tricky. Cardiff handed me over to Filton radar as I was going to have to enter their airspace for my diversion. They then made me fly over their NDB (OF), circle and depart to the NW, which I found weird. I didn't have the frequency for the NDB on my planned route, so had to scramble and find it on my VFR chart. Once this was completed and I was on my way out to the NW Filton told me that they had lost their radar, so to 'free call' Brize Norton. This 'free call' is a call whereby you have to include all your details (callsign, type of aircraft, route, diversion, altitude, position, QNH etc...) which is a pain but it's all part of the job. I was identified by Brize Norton and received a traffic service (they can provide me with information about traffic in my vicinity over the radio). Route, ILS, general handling and everything up to now had been going great... then Brize informed me that they had had a major power failure, so free call Oxford. This really wasn't helping me out, but again all part of the job. I free called Oxford and got told there was a 20 minute delay, so orbit out to the NW of the field, just south of Morton on the Marsh. Finally, I was able to make my way into Oxford to enter the hold and shoot the NDB procedure (on one engine), do an asymmetric (one engined) go around, into the visual circuit and then land and give a big sigh of relief. Like most of the flight, this all went really well and once we had touched down, the examiner took control and told me that I had passed. I have never felt so much pressure and stress lift off me at any one moment as much as I did then, the best feeling in the world!

The IR was definitely a difficult phase and needed lots of study, extra practice in the elite sims at night and dedication. However, when you get the A5 sheet of paper with PASS in every section, all that seems like nothing and so, so worth it.

For anyone in the IR phase reading this, just stick at it each night as the rewards are tremendous.

Next stop for me and my flight partner Ash, is the MCC/JOC phase, more three letter abbreviations to explain (Multi Crew Co-operation and Jet Orientation Courses). These are not exams and tests thank goodness, but a certification to say you can safely and efficiently work as a team on the flight deck of an airliner, something the airlines themselves regard very highly. This means the work is nowhere near over yet at OAA, as this phase is just as important as the last. The report from the MCC/JOC phase outlining how you work in a multi crew environment is just as important as, it is this environment that hopefully I will be working in for the rest of my life and the airlines want their new recruits to be able to work with safety and efficiency in mind as it is these aspects that greatly affect the company's success.

I will update the blog once I have started on the 737 sims and keep you up to date with how things are progressing!