Friday, 12 June 2015

My career begins...

The last few weeks have been extremely busy and exciting for me - I have now had my first passenger flights! But more on that later... first, base training.

Back on the 19th May two of my friends from CTC and I were given an A321 to play with for the day. We left from Manchester Airport with a Training Captain and a Senior First Officer and headed down to Chateauroux Airport for our circuits. Base training is the first time a pilot flies the aircraft type, so as you can imagine we were all extremely excited (and nervous!). We need to fly a minimum of six safe, on target landings in order to tick the box leading to us being licensed on the A320 family. The flying was all done manually, with only auto thrust being used. We were hoping to get a manual thrust circuit in, although due to the weather not being that great it was decided that it wasn't appropriate to do so. Of my six landings, three were full flap landings, three were flap 3 and then the final one was also without any ILS guidance/PAPI lights. It was an incredible day which we will never forget and we are lucky the three of us were rostered to do it together.


Just a bit bigger than a DA42!
Once base training was complete I moved up to Newcastle in preparation for starting work. I have been able to do some jumpseating going to places such as Lanzarote and Corfu; these have been fantastic as it is great to pick up all of the knowledge from the pilots on the line, as well as see everything I have been training for in action. The aircraft based up in Newcastle are brand new; they are the sharklet models with built in electronic flight bags (EFBs) and upgraded computer systems. This upgraded system is slightly different to the one I had been using in training, so getting to grips with it without the pressure of flying at the same time was definitely a bonus.

On the turnaround in Lanzarote
Tuesday was the day I have been waiting for as long as I can remember - I had my first ever passenger flights!
G-TCDZ, the aircraft used on my first line training flight
Line training began and I flew TCX2192/3 between Manchester and Kefalonia. It was crazy sitting in the right hand seat, seeing all of the passengers board through the jetbridge - a feeling of real accomplishment and pride! Rotating off of 05L at Manchester, I think I had the biggest grin on my face that the world has ever seen (and was still chuckling to myself about making the "Cabin crew prepare for departure" PA, which felt odd!). This was the first time I have ever had a full flight in the Airbus, as we don't actually practice "line flying" as such in the simulator; both the Training Captain and Senior First Officer were great for helping me along and giving me a nudge in the right direction when it was needed, and they definitely helped put me at ease for the day in such a new environment. Once we landed in Kefalonia it was time to pick up a new set of passengers, then rocket back to Manchester and do it all again; due to the quiet airspace I was lucky enough to get to fly the entire departure manually, which was simply incredible! We landed back on 05R just under four hours later and taxied back to the stand we had departed from. All in all a day so amazing I cannot really put it into words. I just cannot believe this is actually my job! I want to say thank you to everybody who helped me get to where I am today, as I am a very lucky guy to be saying I am living my dream.

This is sort of the end now, which is a great shame. I have really enjoyed sharing my journey with everyone and I sincerely hope you have enjoyed coming along with me. There have been ups, downs, side to sides and this blog has in many ways helped me get through it all. The past few years have been an absolute blast and I am so excited by what the future has in store. Keep your eyes peeled - there may be a few updates every now and again!

Thanks so much again,


Arrived in Kefalonia!

A friend coincidentally arrived on the island that morning and was kind enough to get these photos of our approach 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Employment so far!

Photo from
Hey, sorry for gap between this and my last post - it has been a very busy time for me! Since then, I have:
. Completed the A320 family type rating LST
. Had an induction at Thomas Cook
. Had an Airbus A321 differences course
. Had some simulator sessions with Thomas Cook, leading to the LPC/OPC (Line Proficiency Check/Operator Proficiency Check)
. Had a base training sim
So first things first! The LST for the A320 type rating was done at CTC with a CAA examiner. It included things such as:
- Full start up from cold and dark
- Departure for given route (EGPH - EGNT)
- Engine issues, leading to a diversion to EGPF
- Single engine ILS and landing
- Raw data ILS
- Non precision approach (I was given an NDB/DME full procedural approach)
- Minor/major failures (a few of each), to show ECAM discipline, situational awareness, technical      knowledge and decision making/cooperation with the other crew member
- Single engine go around
- Rejected takeoff
- Full shut down
Once the LST was complete we then commenced our initial low visibility operations training with the examiner. We did 4 approaches each, including go around as well as full stop landings. It is very strange just sitting there as you get closer to the ground without seeing a thing...
7 of us new recruits!
 We finished the LST on a Friday, before heading up to Manchester for our Thomas Cook induction on the Monday. This was in Thomas Cook's HQ (it is a huge hangar on the airfield with Thomas Cook written all over - you can't miss it!). Here we had a presentation about the company, met some of the senior management, wandered around on a brand new A321 and got our uniforms! That week we also had some training, which was primarily to do with A321 differences and new technology in the aircraft. Whilst up in Manchester I had to go and visit the famous airport viewing park! 
 The Avro RJX, which unfortunately never entered major production or service
One of my favourite historical aircraft - the Trident! 
Just a bit different to the A320 flight deck I have gotten used to...
The flight engineers panel
There have been a few sims also, leading to the LPC/OPC. This was pretty similar to the LST, although was done with a Thomas Cook training captain.
Yesterday I had my base training sim, which was basically two hours of circuits in the Airbus. I did some full stop landings, some touch and goes, a 20 knot crosswind circuit, a night circuit, and also a night go around. Was great fun, and was the first sim in a very long time which hasn't been malfunction after malfunction!
I am going back to Manchester next week for the SEP (security and emergency procedures training) and base training will hopefully be in the coming weeks. Stay tuned! 
I was up in Newcastle last week exploring my base!
Not long now!
Millenium Bridge
There's been a fair amount of commuting recently!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Type rating so far

Photo from
So it has been an extremely busy few weeks! I have now completed the A320 technical groundschool and have flown 2 of the 12 simulator sessions.

The groundschool is learning all about the systems of the A320; fuel, hydraulics, powerplants etc, with a final exam at the end. There is an awful lot to cram into the two week course, meaning for the duration my head was stuck in books 24/7!

The sims are now underway which is very exciting. 6 of them are motion off, 6 motion on and all are at the Nursling training centre - where my journey through pilot training began! We pair up with another person on the course and have 4 hour sessions, each split in half to make sure we get time as pilot flying and pilot not flying. I am loving the A320 so far and cannot wait to get into an A321 for real in just a matter of weeks!

The first sim involved a flight from Gatwick to Liverpool, the second Gatwick to East Midlands, both with a full start up and shutdown. The first few are more of a familiarisation to the aircraft - it is later on that we begin dealing with failures and abnormal scenarios. We spent a lot of groundschool time learning the SOPs, and it is beginning to all come together nicely.

Sorry for the short update, but there is lots to be doing! Until next time...
During groundschool we prepare for the sims using virtual flight decks

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Beginning: part 2!

Photo from
I am so proud and excited to say that I have recently been offered a job flying for Thomas Cook. After being in the hold pool for a short while I received an email asking if I would be interested in this fantastic opportunity and just a few weeks later I was at an assessment with the airline; this was done at Gatwick and consisted of an interview with some pilots as well as a sim check in the B757 testing both pilot flying and pilot monitoring skills. I will be flying the Airbus A321 (a slight upgrade from a Twinstar!!!) out of my base, Newcastle Airport. I begin my type rating with CTC on the 23rd February and will try to continue updating my blog through this exciting journey, so watch this space.

Sunday, 14 December 2014


Friday was CTC's event of the year - the pilot graduation 2014! All pilots who graduated this year were invited to attend, though unfortunately a lot of the guys and girls can't attend as a result of being in airliners at 36,000ft...

The first part of the day involved an open morning at Nursling, with opportunities to show our friends and family around the training centre and perhaps get the chance of having a go in the sims (it is amazing how many parents show up their pilot child when it comes to landing an A320 or B737...).

After this CTC had coaches take everyone to Dibden Manor for the graduation ceremony. Before this there was an opportunity for a catch up with coursemates over some champagne and lunch! The ceremony itself always involves a guest speaker from the aviation industry; this year was Willie Walsh, which was very exciting! After Rob Clarke's (Group Chief Executive Officer of CTC Aviation) speech, Willie took centre stage and gave a talk. He gave us an insight into his background and his own experiences through pilot training and how he progressed through the industry.
He was very funny and also extremely nice! Each pilot was then called one by one to go up on the stage to be presented with their graduation certificate and a commemorative ornament engraved with each persons name, CP and graduation date by Willie and Rob. At the end of the ceremony, there were group photos taken of all of us graduates and then some with the senior management of CTC and all of the airline representatives. This marked the end of the afternoon's proceedings!

Caught unawares - photos were being taken all over the place, naturally!!

The evening was the part we were all looking forward to, the famous black tie ball. This year it was hosted at Dibden also, in a big marquee that had been constructed for the event. There were drinks, a band, a DJ and a very nice meal. The senior staff were all there too and it was great for whole 'CTC community' to get together and have such a lovely night together celebrating the completion of our training and the beginning of our very exciting careers. Thank you CTC, it was great!

No party is complete without a photobooth!