Time To Get Typed
Earning a Citation Mustang rating
Eric and I met a day before class began to outline the entire type-rating process and go over the important items, like personal time. Depending on the aircraft type, the process can be long and tedious. Usually, the bigger the plane, the longer the process. For instance, a type rating on the Citation Sovereign takes three weeks, while it takes five weeks in a Boeing 747-400. That’s a lot of time for two guys to be paired up together as “sim partners.” So I find it important to say at the outset, “Anytime you need some alone time, just let me know, and I’ll do the same.”
FlightSafety International’s Cessna Learning Center, in Wichita, Kans., operates its flight simulators 24 hours a day.
Our classmates for the course were Brian Robling and Tim Wehr from Kimball International (they fly a Falcon and Citation Excel, respectively). Call time was 8 a.m. Eric and I then got the painful news that our days would start at 4:30 a.m. This meant we had to get up at 3:30 a.m., which would prove to be very difficult for the first couple of days. Like the airlines, FSI runs their simulators 24 hours a day.
At 4:30 a.m. on a dark and blurry Tuesday, we met our sim instructor Monika Mayr. As Randy Burke, the program manager for the FSI’s Citation program told me, the goal was to improve on the normal training regime and have the ground school precede the simulator session so that it would be fresh for the next sim session. “If our ground school was on electrical systems,” he notes, “you can bet the next morning we would have single- and dual-generator failures in the FTD and then in the simulator. As the airlines have done for years, the Mustang team at FSI decided to go with an actual FTD. The Mustang FTD is the actual cockpit with the real working Garmin G1000. The control wheel doesn’t move and there are no rudder pedals, but everything else works, so we fly the FTD by autopilot. This allows us to shoot approaches or practice a stall series to get a feel for the way the actual aircraft will behave. The FTD even has a speaker system with the same aural sounds the sim makes. We found the FTD to be an invaluable part of the training.”
The first sim sessions expose you to steep turns, stalls and unusual attitudes. One of the great tips for steep turns is to change the flight director (F/D) from single-cue “wedge” to crosspointers. This way, when you take the F/D out, it leaves a small yellow box known as a cue in the middle of the PFD. When performing the steep turn, all you have to do is keep the cue right in between zero and two to five degrees nose up, and everything falls into place. For the stall series, I put the F/D back to “wedge.”
By our third sim session, Eric and I made a team decision that I would go first in the simulator, allowing Eric to observe and soak up everything I did. Then at the hour-and-a-half break, we’d swap seats and I’d be his copilot. This proved extremely beneficial for him. As an instructor pilot, when I was doing my detail, I’d talk everything out so he could see and hear the method behind the madness. Then he’d simply get in the left seat and be given the exact same thing, but now he’d know exactly how to react to it as pilot in command. It worked like magic.
As our first week came to a close, and since FTD #2 had just come online, I scheduled eight hours in FTD #1 on Saturday. The ability to position the FTD at any airport, on any runway and in any conditions—and program malfunctions at any time, place or even altitude—was a big help. After shooting tons of approaches, I was able to get my flows and checklist usage ingrained. More importantly, I had the aircraft configured at the exact speed I wanted and was able to fly all my approaches stabilized at the ATP/type rating PTS. By the evening, I also had my single-engine approach to landing and go-around procedures in the bag.
On Thursday, with our checkride 48 hours away, Eric and I would have our LOST exercise. Referred to in the airline community as LOFT (line-oriented flight training), LOST (line-oriented simulator training) would have us conduct a flight from Dallas Love Field (KDAL) to Houston’s George Bush International (KIAH). Along the way, we’d encounter wake turbulence, heavy rain and thunderstorm avoidance. If this wasn’t enough, we would have to shoot the approach down to minimums.
Friday, was checkride prep. Later that evening, each of us would have our separate oral exams with TCE Kelly Allender. Eric went first in the late afternoon, and I went in the early evening. Allender is what I refer to as an evaluator’s evaluator. He put the plan of action on the board, allowed me to gather my thoughts and never rushed me. He threw me an engine failure on the runway, an engine failure after takeoff, followed by hand flying an approach and having an airplane pull out on the runway, and then losing an engine right as I went missed. Two hours later, the checkride was over, and as I brought the aircraft to a stop, a smile appeared on my face—I knew I had passed. Mission accomplished, right? Nope, not yet. There was still Eric to go, and it was my job as his copilot to offer him the good CRM (crew resource management) that would keep him on top of his game. Sure enough, Eric passed too. I left with a great deal of respect for FSI’s Mustang program. All the instructors and staff were energetic and top-notch. I’m looking forward to flying the Mustang with Eric and taking him back for his single-pilot type rating in a few months. He’s even thinking of upgrading his private certificate to commercial in the Mustang sim. I’ll always look back on my Citation Mustang training as one of the highlights of my flying career.
J. Robert Moss is an instructor/mentor pilot based in Santa Monica, Calif. He specializes in single-pilot jet instruction and mentoring on the Citation 525 (CJ1/CJ2/CJ3), Citation 510 (Mustang) and the Eclipse 500. Learn more about the author at www.flyinglikethepros.com.