Launch the Fleet!
The first few weeks of 2014 saw the conclusion of my ground school examinations. It'd been a challenging 6 months with some 39 exams across 14 subjects, and 720 hours of classroom lessons. With great relief I can now say that, along with my seven easyJet coursemates, we have completed our ATPL ground school. It was a huge relief to be safe in the knowledge that I'd passed each subject first time, and had achieved an overall average of 96%. In June last year, when I began my training, I genuinely would never have thought I'd be able to say that. I've learned that with enough dedication, motivation and teamwork, even the tallest of mountains can be climbed.
My course is now three weeks into the next phase of our training, the Core Phase, which will consist of 85 hours of airborne flight training. The majority of this will be completed in the Cessna 182T fleet owned by CAE Oxford Aviation Academy, which are complete with Garmin G1000 "glass-cockpit" flight instrumentation (similar to those used on modern airliners, and shown below). Some airtime will also be gained from UART (Unusual Attitude Recovery Training) in the Zlin 242L aerobatics training aircraft, and from asymmetric flight in the twin-engined Piper Seneca PA34. All of the training within the easyJet course is to be completed within the UK, and will be mostly based in Oxfordshire.
Our fellow coursemates from AP351 (the course we joined with for groundschool) have now left the UK to continue their training with six months in Phoenix, Arizona. They'll enjoy a similar training atmosphere, with both single- and multi-engined aircraft to learn to fly, but with the added bonus of a 30°C average daily temperature and 20mm average monthly rainfall! All the best guys, we'll try not to be too jealous!
Fortunately, the weather here in the UK has been relatively kind to us so far, with each of us averaging around 9 hours of flying over the first three weeks of the Core Phase. Our main threats at the moment are rainfall, low cloud bases, and strong crosswinds. Any one of these can suspend an entire day of flying, resulting in us focusing on other aspects of the course for the day such as computer-based theory training. At this time of the year weather delays are to be expected, but fortunately the team organising our training at Oxford have built in contingencies to ensure these delays are minimised, and that time to catch up is available in excess. I remind myself that Spring is just around the corner, and that the days are becoming ever longer at this time of year; meaning even more flying!
With around 40% of my course already completed, this year should be one of my busiest so far with the simulator and type rating phases to follow this flying phase. It also means that, all being well, I will be flying an Airbus for easyJet in less than 12 months time.
I'm aiming to keep my blog up-to-date through monthly updates, although as always I'll happily reply to messages at any time through my Contact page. Hopefully my next blog update will include details of my first solo flight in an aircraft, and my first progress test. Stay tuned!