Hello everyone! I cannot believe it has been two years since my last post - time really has gotten away from me! However, the last six months have been a very productive time as I am preparing for the commercial pilot course as well as the flight instructor course! I will be training in the United States in July and August to complete these two major steps in my career and since January I have been studying and preparing. Also, I plan to document the training with plenty of video footage and regular updates so please bear with me and keep a lookout for new content!
Hello Wings of the World fans! Since the last post in August of last year, life has been pretty busy... I've made a holiday trip to the UK and Oman, my wife and I have had our second son in December and now things are finally starting to get on somewhat of a routine at our house!
Now is the time to get back on course with Wings of the World and continue the contributions to the aviation community and particularly those of you that are in flight training or thinking about earning a pilot license or certificate.
Over the next few weeks I will be updating the articles in the Ground School pages and adding new ones. You will see new videos uploaded every week showing different simulator and real-world flights with commentary and perhaps a lesson or two to accompany the video. The Wings of the World simulator has also been relocated to a more permanent location and received some upgrades over the last six months! I sincerely hope you enjoy reading and learning on Wings of the World as much as I enjoy sharing my experiences, ideas, and knowledge of aviation!
Today was a very exciting day in that I successfully passed a flight test at the Jazira Aviation Club and earned a Microlight Permit from the Jazira Aviation Club here in the United Arab Emirates! Captain Afaq and I met for what would be a fully action-packed hour of flying and fun in the Aeroprakt Model A-22LS registration number A6XSM. From last week's post you might remember Captain Afaq as the chief flight instructor at the Jazira Aviation Club and today he's with me to evaluate my flying ability of this airplane and also decide whether I am capable of flying these aircraft on my own.
This morning presented itself with inviting and kind skies and, dare I say, friendly winds. It was the kind of morning a pilot hopes for after a long week of crummy weather and busy life schedules. I arrived at the club around 0745 and found the conditions there were just as nice as when I left the house an hour earlier. Every windsock in sight - there is at each runway threshold - was lying peacefully calm with no apparent desire to shift, stand tall, or even produce a mild flutter.
Today's mission was to conquer the landing flare of the Aeroprakt A-22LS, commonly known as "Sierra Mike" at the club for the last two characters of it's registration number being "SM". It was built at the Aeroprakt factory in Ukraine and was designed by a former Antonov engineer named Yuri Yakovlev. The airplane is a two-place bird and is considered to be a certified light-sport aircraft. It is powered by a 100 horsepower Rotax 912ULS engine and has a three-bladed propeller. The A-22LS is also fitted with a ballistic recovery parachute, commonly installed on Cirrus aircraft, but we hoped to not need it today. Flying with me today was the club's chief flight instructor Captain Afaq who is a decorated pilot and a native of Pakistan and once flew in the Pakistani Air Force. I have flown with him only once before but that one flight was a memorable one because it was my first time flying the Aeroprakt.
In the past few weeks I have been exploring options for completing the theory and knowledge portion of the airline transport pilot license/certificate. While I teach most of the material on these exams during my full-time job, I have not yet taken the exams for my own pilot credentials. I've come across many organizations that offer the "distance learning" option, but they require the student to be in a classroom for at least 10% of the learning time. For the schools I've explored, this would mean flying from Dubai to the UK just to sit the course - not really an option to someone supporting a family!
So, I asked one of the schools to cite me the EASA regulation on this and they were kind enough to provide the following:
(a) An element of classroom instruction shall be included in all subjects of
modular distance learning courses.
(b) The amount of time spent in actual classroom instruction shall not be less
than 10% of the total duration of the course.
(c) To this effect, classroom accommodation shall be available either at the
principal place of business of the ATO or within a suitable facility elsewhere.
I have read this and I understand the importance of forming a professional, face-to-face relationship with a student. However, this can also be accomplished through modern means of the Internet and video conference programs like Adobe Connect and others.
I have therefore challenged EASA on this and sent the following email to them today:
I would like to pose this question regarding distance learning courses for an ATPL certificate.
Many organizations offer distance learning courses to students wishing to learn the required knowledge to pass the 14 ATPL EASA exams.
However, under these courses they require a student to be "present in a classroom" for at least 10% of the study time. One specific school sent me a copy of regulation entitled:
ORA.ATO.305 Classroom Instruction
(c) To this effect,
classroom accommodation shall be available either at the principal place of
business of the ATO or within a suitable facility elsewhere.
I have asked that specific school (who's name I will withhold for now) if the 10% rule could be met by means of video conference into the classroom over the Internet. As I live in the United Arab Emirates, I am an American
private pilot working towards my ATP licenses. I am taking the FAA ATP online ground school, and would like to pursue the EASA ATPL with a distance learning course. I cannot quit my daytime job which supports my family in order to attend full-time courses during the day.
When I inquired to the school about attending the 10% of classroom time via video conference, they replied saying it was not allowed. However, the regulation they cited says "or within a suitable facility elsewhere". Taken for a literal meaning this can be very vague. Who should deem the facility chosen is suitable? Do he or she or they have to inspect the chosen facility before it is used? If a facility is chosen that is different than the place of business for the ATO, wouldn't that be of a lesser quality than the intent of the rule? Would an ATO be meeting the requirements of the rule to a higher standard if both parties (ATO and student) are able to meet face-to-face
over video conference where identifications can be verified, and the instructor is working out of the place of business of the ATO?
I would like answers to these questions as I am an honest person intending to achieve this goal in my training. I'm willing to pay the money for an ATO to provide this training, but I'm not able to fly from my home in Dubai
to a European country just to sit in a classroom for a few days when the exact same level of training an instruction can be completed by modern technological means. In fact, I am currently using video conference to deliver lectures to my own air traffic control trainees here in the UAE whenever I'm on leave and a
substitute instructor is not available.
I am very much looking forward to a reply and wish EASA all the best in future endeavors.
Well, let us see what they say in a reply... and I will definitely post the reply on a future blog post!
I've realized that several days have gone by since my last post and want to catch up quickly but thoroughly. Last week I was named the ATC Training Director of the virtual Emirates Flight Information Region (FIR) on the Virtual Air Traffic Simulator (VATSIM) network! I've been learning a lot about online virtual ATC and enjoying it so far. I will explain more of my duties later in future posts but for now I am in charge of all training activities within the Emirates FIR! My first goals are to learn as much as possible and help the team any way I can.
Last Friday, before the weekly grocery shop, my wife was gracious enough to allow me an hour of flight time at the Jazirah Aviation Club in Ras Al Khaimah. I've been a member for almost a year now but time schedules have really been so full I've not had much time to get to the club and fly. I had a great time flying A6-XSM, an Aeroprakt model A-22LS, with Dinesh Prabhu. He is one of the instructors there are the club. My time is low in the A-22LS so we did some basic air work and a few touch & go circuits. You really have to keep your feet alive in the A-22LS as its a light aircraft with a 100 horsepower engine! Makes for some strong left-turning tendency!
That's all for now! Keep up with us on the Facebook page and look out for some video lessons coming soon!
Last night I flew N917YC (a Cessna 172S Skyhawk) from John Wayne-Orange County Airport (ICAO: KSNA in Santa Ana, California to Yuma, Arizona and the Yuma International Airport (ICAO: KNYL) which is also home to United States Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. The mission of the flight was to transport the aircraft from Orange County to our its new home base at Yuma. I've decided to make Yuma my home base in simulator flying for several reasons, the primary one being it's location relative to the other airports within the PilotEdge service area. Being at one extreme edge of the service area allows me to fly long cross country flights to all of the other airports and experience a wide range of terrain and weather.
I departed John Wayne Airport at about 1030 local time under visual conditions and soon got on course to the first checkpoint, French Valley Airport (F70). The altitude planned and flown was 7500 feet MSL and later 9500 feet MSL to clear the mountains. Here is the route that I planned:
Today is Friday morning (first day of our weekend) so let me catch up on the last couple of days. The last post was on Tuesday, so starting from Wednesday... Things are really starting to culminate and wrap up on my current course. On Wednesday we performed the final lab session of the quarter while flying from Bakersfield Municipal (L45) to Meadows Field (KBFL) and flying the ILS approach to runway 30R for the third time this week. On this particular session I increased the cloud cover from a broken layer to an overcast layer with the bases at 500 feet above the ground. It made for a very interesting approach!
Yesterday, which was Thursday, was mainly a day of paperwork that I've fallen behind on all week! A boring day really but good to get things finished for the quarter and academic year ending. Next week is examination week and after that a four week break until the beginning of the next academic year starting in September. One important task completed yesterday was the presentation of the second research project by one of my graduating students. His project topic was Human Factors in ATC and he did a very good job of presenting the history of human factors studies in aviation and then demonstrated a few basic concepts such as human error, fatigue, and performance. This project was divided into two areas: a research paper written in APA style, and a PowerPoint presentation.
Today (Friday) I plan on flying all of my simulator aircraft out to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma and begin using that airport as a base of simulator operations. Yuma is a dual-use military and civilian airport where there are four landing strips providing eight designated runways. One of these runways is primarily used by the Marine Corps squadrons flying AV-8B Harrier jets. The airport is within Class D airspace and provides a good geographical location for long cross country flights into the SoCal (Southern California) airspace.
Here is the airport diagram: MCAS Yuma
This snapshot was taken from the VFR Sectional Chart:
So, a good work week has come to an end and now Pilot Mike is going to get started on some simulator flying and adding some improvements to Wings of the World!
I am currently mentoring two students in air traffic management that are nearing the end of their diploma program. Today, one of the two presented her final research project! It was titled Future of ATC in the United Arab Emirates and I was impressed at the new software and products that are soon approaching control towers and radar facilities in the near future! Traffic density has continued to increase and every piece of helpful equipment or software can help ease the burden!
Another student completed an instrument flight lab, too - ILS 30R at KBFL.
No flying for me tonight! Spent most of it organizing lesson pages!
It has been over ten years of aviation involvement, and even a longer period of time a technologically-always-connected-to-the-Internet, and just now I am proud to finally present this as my first blog entry. I do not intend to bore you the visitor with mundane irrelevant topics such as what I had for lunch or how hot the weather is in Dubai during the summer. What I will present though for your amusement (and hopefully true amusement with insight) is a daily snapshot of my teaching and training activities. So, seat belts fastened, engine primed, master switch on... let's clear the prop area and ignite!
Today there was one simulator lab session for the private pilot ground school. In fact, it was the last lab session for the student as this is now the last week of the quarter before summer holiday. We performed some basic attitude instrument flying and then concluded with an ILS approach to 31R at KBFL. I realize this activity might be more suited for an instrument student, however, all three students have performed admirably over the past ten weeks and I wanted to give them a challenging new experience before the long break. These students are part of the diploma program in air traffic management and hopefully will make fine air traffic controllers sometime next year.
This evening I flew approximately a half hour in Prepar3D and executed (and passed) the I-1 Rating Test on PilotEdge. This consisted of an IFR flight from KSNA to KSNA and flying the ILS 19R IAP. I received radar vectors from SoCal Approach during this flight and did not use the GFC700 AFCS (autopilot). The approach was therefore flown by hand... and boy it was a tricky one! I had practiced the approach the day before and had no issue, but today was a different story as the wind shifted directions 180 degrees left and right on final! The G1000 was reporting 6 knots from the left, then 6 from the right, then 5 from the left again. I found myself just trying to hold a steady heading and not let the needles deflect too much. At 200 feet from minimums everything smoothed out for an uneventful landing.
I realized also that I had not remembered to start the timer at LEMON INT/glide slope intercept - something to remember for next time!
Daytime Hours: 0.5
Approaches: 1 (ILS 19R KSNA)
Thinking Points: Timer from FAF, Checklists & Flows