Long before showing up for sim training, it's advisable to contact the training provider's aircraft model manager for the type of aircraft you're flying, in order to fine tune the training program to meet your requirements.
“Simulator training is expensive. We want to make the most of it,” said Chuck Reeves, Qualcomm's chief pilot. “We call the training manager at the sim center to coordinate our training. We treat the training manager as a partner. We ask what other flight departments are doing at the training center. We ask about best practices. After the sim sessions, we ask about what we could do better. We also provide feedback about instructor performance.”
Reeves said that most recurrent training requires a warm-up or practice sim ride followed by a proficiency check ride. After the mandatory requirements have been completed, he requests additional sim sessions to ensure pilots are up to speed on procedures specifically used by the company.
Qualcomm, for instance, occasionally flies its long-range business aircraft to Russia. Most instrument approach procedures in the CIS usually are based upon setting altimeters to QFE so that they indicate height above airport. Most western nations specify QNH altimeter settings for instrument procedures so that they read barometric altitude. Reeves wants his pilots to demonstrate proficiency while flying approaches using either QFE or QNH.
Reeves also uses the sim to practice edge-of-the-envelope performance maneuvers that are too dangerous to practice in actual aircraft. This “extreme exposure” helps build both crew proficiency and pilot confidence in the aircraft's maximum capabilities. Engine failures on takeoff are practiced on relatively short runways on which accelerate/stop and accelerate/ go performance is critical. He also wants crew to experience the effects of runway contamination on braking performance. Any average pilot can stop a business jet on a 10,000-ft. dry runway. His crews train to a higher level of proficiency.
Inflight engine failures in the sim often are flown into or out of landing facilities in mountainous terrain and in low visibility. These exercises demonstrate the need to extract the best possible OEI performance from the aircraft while precisely complying with missed approach procedures or departure routes to avoid CFIT.
Right-seat landings are another sim training requirement. This helps the crew prepare for a left-side EFIS failure, a delaminated and crazed left windshield or left-pilot incapacitation.
Qualcomm's Gulfstream G550 now have Certification Foxtrot upgrades that enable the crews to fly RNP authorization required and WAAS GPS LPV approaches. Cert Foxtrot also provides transoceanic Controller to Pilot Data Link (CPDL) Communications, enhanced synthetic vision and XM radio weather. Reeves coordinates with FlightSafety G550 model managers to ensure his pilots undergo comprehensive advanced avionics training. They must demonstrate proficiency in the sim before they are allowed to use these capabilities with passengers aboard.
Conversely, sim training centers also have recommendations for clients. The time to bone up on systems is before you show up for recurrent sim training, says Greg McGowan, FlightSafety International's vice president-Operations. FlightSafety now uses “operational day flow” training programs that teach systems in the context of checklist use, knowledge-based decision making and risk management. Virtually all of FlightSafety's ground school course materials are available on line in PDF form. McGowan recommends that clients take full advantage of those resources.
If clients study systems in depth, it accelerates the learning process. Otherwise, the entire class has to wait for the instructor to explain system basics to pilots who haven't done their homework.
McGowan said it's essential that clients understand their specific operations for risk areas where they need improvement. They should identify risks and then request training to mitigate the problems.
It's essential for the client and sim training center to agree on the use of a flight department's standard operating procedures. That enables pilots to train as the fly and fly as they train.
And finally, clients should come to sim training with a positive attitude that compels them to seek the most learning with challenging scenarios to boost proficiency rather than just passing a minimum requirements checkride.