Sunday, May 16, 2010


We've been very busy for the past week, so I apologize for not updating! Today was my first procedures training FTD after three wonderful days off.

Unlike in the systems integrated training from last week, this week's FTDs place emphasis on flows, checklists, call outs and approach procedures. Today my partner and I each performed an emergency descent, a RNAV approach and a NDB approach. RNAV and NDB approaches are flown almost exactly the same in the A320, using what's called the APP NAV strategy.

With the APP NAV strategy the aircraft actually uses raw data (i.e. the NDB signal) as a backup to GPS waypoints. Basically, the NBD final approach fix is treated the same as the GPS waypoint FAF on the RNAV approach. You monitor raw data while performing the NBD approach but rely on the airplane's GPS and IRS navigation to shoot the approach. Just follow the flight directors and VOILA, you're there.

Actually, we're taught the fly the whole thing on autopilot until the runway environment is in sight! Then you can click off the autopilot and land the airplane. If you don't see the necessary requirement to land before reaching the approach minimums, you initiate a go-around by moving the thrust levers to the TOGA detent. The A320 will do the entire go-around without any additional pilot input. If you wish to fly the published missed approach you press the heading bug to tell the autopilot you wish it to fly the missed and it will fly to the altitude, fix and hold right there until you tell it otherwise. Lazy? yes. Neat? TOTALLY.

Tomorrow we'll be concentrating more on the correct call outs and practicing the approach briefing. Call outs are crucial to following standard operating procedures (SOPs) and help with situational awareness for both crew members. The newest and most critical is the "stable/unstable" call out. More about that tomorrow!

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