This week was the halfway point of ground school.
We've been flying the simulator every day the last week. I'm finding the ATR 72-600 a fairly easy aircraft to fly, when compared to the Dash-8 Q400. The systems are all very well thought out, and VERY easy to understand on the flight deck when things are going wrong, which makes things a lot less stressful.
Today we had a theory exam on the aircraft systems - 96%, thank you very much! After the exam we got to go on a tour of the ATR factory. I've never seen the inside of an aircraft factory before, it was very interesting. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take any photos. ATR is experiencing a boom in business recently, after a downturn during the GFC. This year they've sold over 90 aircraft, and next year they predict sales of between 95 to 100 aircraft.
We saw one of the aircraft that we'll actually be flying for Flybe in a few weeks time. It's going through the final phases of construction now. It's going to be so cool flying a brand new aircraft!
Not much else to report from this week. I've had my head in textbooks all week prepping for the exam and for the sims. Oh, we did get a bit of a treat at the training center, the canteen had it's annual Christmas lunch for all staff and students. It was nice, brought a bit of Christmas cheer into an otherwise intense and stressful week!
The only photo I could take today on the ATR factory tour - the guys crammed into the back seat of the smallest car in France taking us to the factory....yes, I'm glad I called Shotgun!
Now the REAL fun starts...
I arrived in Toulouse on Sunday night 2 weeks ago, after saying goodbye to my wife and kids for the next 6 weeks.
No I did not cry.
The airline organised the flights and hotels for me. I flew with Air France from Arlanda (Stockholm Airport) to Charles de Gaulle in Paris, sat around for 2 hours, then continued on to Toulouse.
It turned out that 2 other guys on my flights were also travelling to Toulouse for the ATR ground school and would be on the same course as me.
The hotel is ok. Not great, but not terrible either. I had to change rooms because the first one had no fridge, then only after unpacking in the second room did I realise the aircon was stuck at 25 degrees. Its ridiculously hot in here, but bearable with the window open.
We hit the ground running on Day 1. There was a quick introduction, then straight into classes. I've been pretty impressed by the ATR training facilities so far. They have these digital touch screen flight deck mockups, which are far better than the old paper-tigers we used at Qantaslink. The simulators are really good too, much larger than what I'm used to. And everything is all shiny and new!
We were all given a stack of manuals to read, as well as a new ATR flight bag. I thought that was a nice touch. I was going to have to buy a new flight bag since I sold my old one when we left Australia, now I don't have to. Plus, since it's issued by ATR, it'll be sure to fit on the flight deck!
So far we've had a week of classes combined with computer based training, and a week of procedure training using the touch screen mockups. It has been INTENSE...no days off for me yet!
Next week we start flying the simulator every day. I'm looking forward to that, it'll be harder, but more realistic.
One thing I don't like about it here is that the internet connection at the hotel is shite! I've only been able to Skype with my wife and the boys 3 times in 2 weeks, that's simply not enough. I hope I can get a good enough signal for a Skype call on Christmas, I want to see everyone opening their gifts :)
Right, time to get back to the books.
All images by Ryan Hills
Music by audionautix.com
My name is Ryan, and this is my blog.
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