LFT brings pilots from trainer directly into a four-engine A340
Eighteen young Chinese have gone straight from basic pilot training to the copilot`s seat in an Airbus A340. They were trained for China Eastern Airlines under a program specially developed by Lufthansa Flight Training (LFT).
After three months of training, in mid-May the final group of six student pilots successfully earned their type rating on the Airbus A340 full-flight simulator in Frankfurt.
The young pilots had begun their basic training ab initio (with no prior knowledge or experience) at a U.S. pilots` school in Florida, where they earned their ATPL (airline transport pilot`s license). In basic training, copilots usually acquire some experience in a two-man cockpit and then some professional experience flying twin-engine short-haul aircraft. However, these Chinese had been trained on the single-pilot principle. Moreover, they were to be assigned immediately to the four-engine A340 without the previous flight experience that long-haul pilots have normally accumulated.
So LFT designed a training program tailored to this special group. It consisted of an “Advanced Cockpit Skills” (ACS) course newly developed in Bremen, combined with broadened type-rating training involving an additional basic jet module and subsequent progress-review lessons as repeated tests of the skills being learned. The students` learning progress was thus continuously monitored so that any changes needed in the curriculum could be made immediately.
The various modules of the ACS course gave instruction in such subjects as cockpit communication, human factors, air-traffic control (ATC) and the handling of documentation. The course included training in intercultural communication and practical radio telephony. The ACS courses were coordinated with the ensuing type-rating program and ended with a performance-assessment flight graded by the A340 instructor. Initially a Piper Cheyenne PA42 simulator was used to train the students in crew coordination in a modern two-man cockpit and in essential standardized cockpit procedures so that the much more expensive training time in the big A340 simulator could be reserved purely for A340 familiarization.
What was completely new was that the PA42 simulator was used solely for training in communication and operating procedures without imparting any basic knowledge of the Cheyenne system. This enabled the Chinese pilots to concentrate on the essentials. It also saved the considerable amount of time and money that familiarizing them with the Cheyenne system would have cost.
All eighteen students then easily earned the demanding type rating itself, in the training for which LFT`s training captains had devoted much attention to the group`s unique requirements. The check captains pronounced themselves very satisfied with the students` performance level. Type ratings in hand, the checked-out A340 copilots flew back to Shanghai in mid-May, where at the China Eastern base they reported for duty in that airline`s A340 cockpits.