Undaunted by the prospect of a program full of shake, rattle and roll, FCS’COO Thomas Wede and Training Manager Markus Buensen, began a new chapter in FCS’ pilot training and accepted the challenge of getting turned upside down by the experts at Ultimate High in Goodwood, UK.
As part of our continuous evaluation and improvement processes, FCS decided to revamp and expand the training program of our pilots comprehensively from the beginning of 2019. One of the main drivers behind this change was in the impending induction of our new calibration aircraft D-CFMF, with its new cockpit architecture, the all-new ProLine Fusion. This necessitated a change in the simulator for our annual recurrent training and FCS turned to a leading provider of aviation related training solutions, Flight Safety Inc. in Atlanta, USA, to meet our requirements.
At the same time, FCS had to respond to new, expanded legislation and regulations from the main two aviation Regulators, EASA and FAA. One of the cornerstones of the new regulations, now in effect since December 2019, is the mandatory training in recognition of, and recovery from, unintentional attitudes, more commonly known as Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT).
Accident statistics of the past 20 years prompted both Regulators to take action in this direction. Their review indicated a trend that aircrew, due to the high level of automation which has found its way into the cockpit environment over the last decades, have lost their “stick and rudder” skills needed to manually fly an aircraft, notably when recovering from unexpected, unusual attitudes, caused by, for example, windshear or wake turbulence.
UPRT addresses these deficiencies through a three-layered approach, breaking the training down into a Basic, Type-Specific and Advanced module, with Basic and type-specific training completed in a suitably qualified simulator.
Indispensable as simulators are for professional training, for UPRT they come with a number of drawbacks: in a highly dynamic, non-linear environment like a stall or upset, these training devices simply have physical limitations such as not being able to move freely around all three axes. Furthermore, the simulation of positive and negative accelerations has physical limitations. However, one of the most important aspects that is missing is psychological: knowing that you are sitting in a simulator will never illicit the same amount of disorientation, ensuing moments of surprise, confusion and fear (the so-called Startle-Effect) in a pilot when compared to flying a “real” aeroplane. As every pilot reacts individually to this effect, there is no suitable training alternative other than to experience this in a suitably qualified aircraft, under professional guidance of an expert.
Having mastered Basic and Type-Specific Modules during simulator training for the new calibration aircraft D-CFMF, the final Module, Advanced UPRT was on the agenda for October 2020. For this, FCS selected Ultimate High from Goodwood, UK. Since 2001, Ultimate High is a leading provider of aerobatics training, covering all levels from Beginners, through Advanced up to Unlimited. Turning towards UPRT was an obvious expansion of Ultimate High’s portfolio and to that end the company’s fleet includes 5 aerobatic aircraft ( 3 Slingsby T67M Firefly, 2 Extra 300). In addition to this impressive background in advanced training, the main driver for FCS to choose Ultimate High was the profoundly professional and experienced staff. Founder and owner Mark “Greeners” Greenfield has a background as fast jet pilot with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and a distinguished career as the leader of the renowned Empire Test Pilot School in Boscombe Down, UK. Steve “Jos” Johnson also had a distinguished career within the RAF, including a number of tours on the Harrier Jet as well as with the renowned RAF Red Arrows aerobatic display team -acting as the leader of the solo pair crowned his tour with this world-class aerobatics unit.
All other instructors at Ultimate High feature similar qualifications and experience. Within minutes of starting the training, the quality of this profound knowledge and experience was evident: highly competent in delivering both the necessary academics as well as the practical instructing, the quality of this training was immediately obvious to FCS.
In light of FCS’ high training standards, the value of this advanced UPRT course cannot be over-emphasised. Our mission profile inevitably takes us into densely populated airspace around busy airports, an environment all too well known for wake-induced upsets. Having found a highly qualified training partner for UPRT means these hazards can be effectively managed in our daily operation, helping FCS maintain our high standards for a safe and professional flight operation.