“Train the crew to make safety their highest priority when making decisions.”
I was just watching an episode of Mayday/Air Crash Investigation, and it made this important point. Though there has always been emphasis on this on every simulator training session I have had, the last training session in the simulator particularly focussed on this. The training sessions usually have three main elements – a briefing, the simulator session and a debriefing. The briefing mainly consists of reviewing the items that we will be practicing in the simulator, looking at & discussing case studies and crew resource management training. We then go into the simulator for about 4 – 5 hours, and get the opportunity to practice emergency and non-normal scenarios and we are also tested on them. The session can be tiring but it really does go very quickly despite the amount of time spent in there. Once the simulator session is over, we go over what went well, what we can improve on and what we have learnt.
The aim is always to feel like you’re a better pilot having practiced manoeuvres that cannot be on the line (unless there is an actual emergency), and ideally come out with more confidence in your own skills. However, this is not always the case – anyone can have a bad day in the simulator where they’ve not performed their best, leaving them feeling disappointed with themselves and as a result, less confident. How do you deal with that? You take notes and learn from your mistakes and use it as a learning experience to motivate you to do better next time. If I have the odd day where I’ve not performed well, I do look at what I haven’t done well and learn from it, however I also look at my performance over a period of time rather than a single snapshot to give me a better indication on how I am doing. We are humans and I don’t think it’s fair to judge someone based on one test, but rather look at a range of tests over a period of time and see what the trend is!
We have simulator checks every 6 months, so there’s always a chance to improve on the last check and there’s always something new to learn!