When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.

Erma Bombeck

It is almost impossible to teach two TR courses the same way. This is because the trainees arrive with varied levels of Knowledge – Skills – Attitude (KSA) and have different reactions to life inside the FFS. You will begin with the same syllabus and that will guide you but unfortunately the syllabus may not be set out in a logical order that complies with the norms of pedagogy. There is one simple principle you should follow – begin ‘easy’ and move on to ‘difficult’ in a progressive way.

I have no argument with the content of the current TR syllabus as a whole (given that the contents is largely dictated by the needs of the License Skill Test) but I do believe that the TR could be taught in a better way as the content and the sequence of exercises is less than optimal. The current syllabus I know is under review so I am looking forward to see what changes.

That line of argument brings me to my objections to the current ‘compliance based’ system and the need for a competence-based system called Evidence Based Training, (EBT).

Those malfunctions and manoeuvres that have proven to be difficult for the trainee should be left until last for at that stage of the course he/she will have adjusted to the simulator environment and is best able to deliver success. The current syllabus will make the task of teaching it more difficult than necessary for the new SFI if taken literally as it is written. The solution is to use it as a guide and to teach each lesson in such a way that you begin at the beginning and deliver success at the end of the two hours in the box. The aim is to walk out at the end of the lesson with a smile on the face of trainee and instructor alike. Remember, success will deliver confidence and with confidence comes motivation. You need motivated trainees to encourage them to put in the studying required to enable rapid progress rather than have a situation where you have to drag them through the course one strenuous lesson after another.

I firmly believe that every training syllabus MUST have a time-line for each lesson. It is impossible to achieve standardisation if you do not understand the lesson designer’s priorities. When the syllabus details ‘Use of FMS’ on each lesson how many minutes did the designer intend. If your trainees take 45 minutes to complete the start-up process is that normal? Is that expected? By the way, a designer’s ‘time-line’ is a guide not a schedule. The aim is to provide:

a. Proof that the lesson content can demonstrably be completed in the allotted time given an ideal trainee.

b. The main priorities of the lesson that should be completed if possible and the lesser priorities that may be sacrificed if you run out of time.

The bottom line is that you, the SFI, have the right and duty to adjust the sequence of manoeuvres in order to ensure that progress is maintained. To achieve that needs constant awareness of the trainee’s performance and when progress becomes stalled you will need the kind of skills that will allow you to work out why and then what to do about it.

1. The TR should always be taught to two pilots simultaneously. To teach ‘solo’ is a huge wasted opportunity for there are times when the PM actually learns more than the PF simply because he has the mental capacity to absorb more without the burden of flying the helicopter. Also it allows some expansion of the syllabus and/or lesson content because when both pilots are involved in one exercise (eg, engine fire) they will both gain equal benefit. When teaching two trainees the first sortie and the second sortie can be different, they certainly do not need to be identical in every way. The solo trainee receives a different (in my opinion very substandard) course experience.

2. One trick I learnt from a colleague is to allow the trainee to perform a single engine landing to a helipad as an integral part of teaching the correct approach Cat A profile and understanding what is required to deliver a safe arrival.

3. The conventional way of teaching autorotation is to do it from two or three thousand feet. This will provide approximately one and a half minutes of learning time. I have found that when you do the same exercise from ten thousand feet you provide more than four minutes of learning time during which the ability to control Nr, manage the IAS, maintain balance and experience the effects of turning on Nr can be experienced to a greater extent. To maximise the benefit of the time spent climbing to FL 100 I also include a PFL (Practice Forced Landing), with an EOL (Engine Off Landing).  When time permits a good revision exercise is to repeat the exercise through cloud. I normally set the cloud base at 4,000 feet and tops at 8,000 feet.

4. It is wise not to launch into delivering malfunctions without first getting a feel or the competence level of the trainee you are teaching. One example is the teaching of electrical failures. I try to teach the electrical failures during a flight around my local NAVEX route. The route starts at LIRF and is made up of three waypoints that are 10 miles WEST, NORTH and EAST plus LIRU and the destination LIRA. This facilitates emergency landings without wasting too much time as an airport is always nearby. The other essential is to do this at night. I cannot believe that we have a TR course without night flying. At night the impact of electrical failures is far more obvious and of course can be critical as a night environment may not be good VMC.

During the first flight, once we are settled on the way to waypoint ‘1’, I take responsibility for navigation and traffic separation and invite both pilots to study their QRH and Electrical Synoptic page whilst I ‘walk’ them through a series of electrical failures finishing with a Double DC Gen Fail. The Double DC Gen Fail is best demonstrated whilst in a HOLD. This is because it allows you to stay in roughly one place for the duration of this part of the lesson and will allow you to show the trainee that despite the amber arrow on his PFD the coupled functions are still operating OK. (this is what should happen but the CAE 3000 series simulators appear to have been designed using the QRH as a reference. The QRH contains lists of services supplied by each busbar but erroneously describes the FD1 and FD 2 as being served by these busbars without further explanation. These services are not in fact lost).

When the trainees have completed the drill in the QRH they should make an emergency landing at an airfield of their choice. This should leave you with one hour for the remaining lesson content.

During the second sortie with the other trainee I will approach that first hour of night flying in a different way. The objective is to verify that they trainees have learnt from the first lesson and also that they have a good technical knowledge and situational awareness. First I give them a 1 ENG CHIP that becomes further complicated by a loss of oil pressure and ten minutes or so later (in the hold), a 2 DC GEN HOT.

If they choose to stay with an overheating No 2 Generator then I give them an engine fire. If they completely fail to identify a double DC gen failure then all the displays are turned off after 17 minutes. Hard lessons focus their minds. After this lesson you will know for sure the calibre of the people you are teaching.

5. I try to create a situation that has at least a tenuous grip on reality when dealing with malfunctions that have serious consequences for you are hoping that the trainee is going to react as he would in the real world. Anything that ends in an autorotation or forced landing will benefit if you can get the crew in the right frame of mind. Accordingly, for the tail rotor drive shaft scenario, I prelude the malfunction with the baggage bay door coming open and telling the crew that I can see things falling out and trailing back towards the tail rotor. Maybe this will remind them that luggage and cargo should be secured in the baggage bay as well as provide a realistic scenario for them.

6. Always conduct your lessons with the ceiling light OFF. The attention of all concerned should be on the cockpit not on the ‘hinterland’ occupied by the instructor.

7. Never deliver lessons without headsets unless the cockpit has a functioning speaker system through which the audio warning systems can deliver their messages.

1. Sound – I remember how disappointed I was when I turned the Engine Mode Switch to idle for the first time and heard ….. nothing!! Only when the engine was running and the blades turning was there any notable sound. I then discovered that you have to crank the noise level over 75% before the noise of the Houchin Ground Power Unit is audible but at that setting it’s impossible to teach because the noise is too great. My solution is to set the noise level to 75% until the first engine is set to ‘FLY’ then I ease it down to about 10-15%.

8. Cabin Door opening can be signalled by simultaneously opening the door and cranking the noise up to 50%. It works very well for LOFT training and SAROPS.

9. When using the 3000 series FFS with projected visuals I use the ‘PILOT’ setting for normal VFR training and ‘CENTRE’ for IFR.  It is important to remember that if you expect the LHS pilot to look out for the runway lights at DA then he will be looking straight ahead. If you leave the visuals set at ‘PILOT’ then the runway will be way off to the right and may be out of his visual scan.

NOTE – Readers of this blog are invited to contribute your own tips and tricks so that we can share the benefits of your experiences.