Road to the Right Seat 23 – Commercial Pilot
Story series: Road to the Right Seat
We've all had a crazy childhood dream and mine was becoming an airline pilot. Many young people who aspire a flying career are unaware of the content of flight training and the preparations which are needed. On November 23rd, 2015 I started my ATPL(A) training. Time to realize my childhood dream. I'd like to take you along on an adventure and I'll happily answer all your questions on the way. Let's do this!
Nov 23, 2016 – The CPL Skill Test: the last and most important test we have to face here in Arizona. After four months and two days, it was my turn to show what I’ve learned in the past 90 flights. Another day I will never forget. I left sunny Arizona for grey and rainy Belgium, but boy I’m happy to be home again!
The CPL Skill Test is divided into three different parts: a written exam, the partial panel test in a simulator and the check flight in a Piper Seminole.
The written exam consisted of 40 questions about Principles of Flight, Performance, Flight Planning and some more specific questions about the Seminole. The theory we studied in Brussels is and remains very important! Not too difficult, but we’re getting closer to passing the CPL exam!
I took the partial panel test on November 13. The test checked my knowledge of flying with basic instruments. No fancy glass cockpit with an overload of information, but simple analogue instruments you can hardly call accurate.
During the simulator session, we had to execute precise turns using only a standard compass. Depending on your location on earth (northern or southern hemisphere), you will have to make certain corrections. Undershoot North, Overshoot South. If you want to learn more about the so-called Compass Errors, click here.
Furthermore, we were asked to switch off the engine in-flight and restart it again. This is rather a matter of using the correct checklist and knowing which parameters you should keep an eye on. In addition to that, there were also the unusual attitudes. The flight examiner will bring the airplane in an unusual position which you will then have to recover from.
The real check flight took place on Wednesday, November 16. As usual, first some theory and then flying. The theoretical part was mostly a summary of the first three tests so not too many questions about that. We discussed the upcoming flight, after which I needed to prepare and give a briefing about the meteo, navigation and the airplane.
… Breath in, breath out… Let’s do this!
The flight began with the navigation, but it was soon interrupted with a diversion. I had to divert to a small airport in the desert. Fortunately, that went smoothly and soon we could start maneuvering. Some climbing, descending and turning using only the instruments followed by steep turns and stalls with visual reference.
We simulated an engine fire with the engine completely turned off and started diving nose down to simulate extinguishing the fire. I flew to Goodyear where I made some landings. A standard landing, one without flaps and then a simulated engine failure after where I had to land with only one engine. On the way to Falcon Field, I had to answer some questions about VORs and NDBs and then it was time for my last landing.
The flight took just over two hours and I had a good feeling. Some little mistakes, but the examiner was more than happy and finally gave me the good news. I passed the CPL Skill Test!
I still had to do the Upset & Recovery training before I could go home. Two very fun and rewarding experiences you will read more about in the next blog post!
If you have any further questions about my training, feel free to leave a comment below. See you next week!
This story is part of the series Road to the Right Seat