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ARM505

The Tinmouse panel and how it helped me: RL story, Part...

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Hi all,This is going to be a *really* long post, with some more to follow! Bear with me, I hope it will make an interesting read. It concerns real world flying, and the small yet significant part that the tinmouse panel played in it for me.I am a B732 F/O, flying for a company in South Africa called Nationwide Airlines - http://www.flynationwide.co.za/ We operate B732's (ten or so), B735's (two), and one B763, plus B727's (two or so). The B737 fleet operates on the domestic (FACT, FAJS, FAPE, FADN, FAKN, FAGG) and regional route (FAJS-FLLI). The B763 flies internationally (Johannesburg to Gatwick).I was at the end of my tether - I had been flying on contract for the United Nations and the Red Cross for just over two years, on the DHC6 Twin Otter and B1900C & D, with no end in site, no chance for progression it seemed. Two long months away from home, one short month back, with some upsets of course, normally not favouring the time at home naturally! And of course the UN and the ICRC don't fly around in holiday spots, either. It was really getting both my wife and I down. Midway through what was to become my last tour, I emailed home base and told them I'd had enough - they need not bother scheduling me for any other tours. I was going home, and this time I would stay.I knew I was taking an extraordinary risk - aviation (especially in South Africa) is not a place where jobs just fall into your lap, not by a long shot. I knew the risks of not having any income, but I was just 'gatvol' (an Afrikaans saying that means you've had enough) I had some friends at Nationwide, and they were keeping my CV on the boil there - I also knew the company was desperately short of F/O's, and that they would be interviewing when I got back. I was gambling that I would be called. It was risky.Luckily, I was called. I studied for the interview. I'm sure you can imagine how hard! I made the interview, and was called for the simulator checkride. They emailed me the profile to be flown - Take off RWY 21R at FAJS in the B732 simulator, wx is IMC at night. Maintain RWY centreline by using the ILS for RWY 03L. Climb and maintain FL100. Perform some basic handling checks, steep turns, etc. After being repositioned at random in the FAJS area, establish your position using available navaids. Be vectored for an ILS RWY 03L, and perform a go around at minima (reason unstated, in my case the wx was below minima). Climb to 8000', passing 7000' turn left for vectors back to the ILS. They didn't mention the next part in the profile, which is where they cut one of the engines. Control the aircraft, return to fly a single engine ILS to completion and land.Now, I had never flown any kind of jet before. I knew it was an adjustment - and that I would be facing competition from my fellow interviewee's, some of whom did actually have jet experience. I read all I could about the basics of jet handling. 'Handling the Big Jets' is *still* the bible, even after all of these years! But that wasn't enough for me - I knew I needed something to get me used to the pace of the whole experience. I knew I'd be under pressure, and I wanted something that could give me perhaps not the handling skills, but at least the right visual cues, approximately correct thrust settings, and just the 'right' feel.Enter the tinmouse panel, at that time in an unfinished state. It took a little bit of a search to find it, but I could see that it was a diamond in the rough, and it had everything I needed - they weren't expecting me to operate the aircraft systems, so the overhead panel wasn't missed, and I was not allowed to use any aids such as autothrottle, autopilot, or even the flight director. The tinmouse panel had everything I needed, even in its so called unfinished state. In retrospect, even the basic EPR/N1 settings were pretty much in the ballpark!I flew the profile over and over again, cementing it into my head. All the while throwing in surprises where I could - I tried to remain flexible, tried to keep the ability to field whatever they could throw at me. I only had a few days to prepare, but when the time came, I felt I had done what I could.Come the big day, we all got herded into the briefing rooms at Airways Park next to Johannesburg international, head office for South African Airways, whose B732 simulator we would be unleashed upon. The two Captains (One was the fleet Captain, the other the training Captain for the B737 fleet) who would be assessing us briefed us for about an hour on the profile to be flown, approximate power settings, pitch attitudes etc. I was glad I had had a chance to see all this before, there's no way to remember everything they said when the pressure was on! The order for us to enter the simulator was drawn up. We could choose amongst ourselves what order to proceed in - I chose third, of the seven or so who were there. And the waiting began.Each session was supposed to take half an hour, but naturally took slightly longer. After the first guy came out, he looked like he had been run over by a train, to me at least! He walked off, shaking his head, clearly upset with himself. I never saw him again. He did tell us they would fail an engine though, something not mentioned up until then, which was valuable information. Not that it helped, none of us knew that much about what would happen (we knew it would roll rather than show too much yaw, but thats it!) We discussed this amongst ourselves, and I decided to just catch the roll, then squeeze in the rudder needed to get the yoke level. As it turns out, pretty much what is required in that situation! Next up was a lady (who would make it, and eventually become my partner during the simulator training). This time, I stood by and watched the full motion simulator pitch and buck around as they flew. My turn. The first impression upon entering the simulator is how dark it is! It's simulating night time of course, so it takes a little while to get used to it. Next, just how 'busy' and complex the cockpit seems. Nowdays it feels like a home from home for me, but then it looked like it was just *bristling* with switches. And then (on to the practicalities!) was 'How do I get into the seat!' They had given us the choice of what seat to fly from. I chose the left seat, having just been flying the 1900D as a Captain. I'm nearly 2 metres tall, 105 kg's, and there isn't tons of space between the centre console and the seat to move your legs in. After some shuffling around, and an explanation of how to adjust everything, I was strapped in and expected to just push the thrust levers forward and go! The runway lights stretched out before me, and the two Captains looked expectantly at me. I took the chance to give a quick briefing of what I wanted from my psuedo-copilot (the other captain sat next to me, acting as a 'dumb' co-pilot - they had explained how this would work in the briefings, and more importantly, how the 'dumb' co-pilot may or may not do everything he was asked to do!)With that out the way, I had no excuses left. Crunch time had come.I smoothly pushed the thrust levers to the vertical. The faint whine of the engines spooling up was beautifully done by the simulator. Observing stable EPR at about 1.4, gauges showing 'good to go', I called for Max Thrust.Continued in Part Two.....unless you're all asleep by now or something!

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well,i enjoy reading it,so please do continue!i knew tinmouse was good :)cheersJP.

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yes, please continue. A pleasure to read !Mike

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