When you board an aircraft, rest assured that every possible preparation has been put in place so that you arrive at your destination safely. Capt. Lim Khoy Hing explains what is done to ensure you fly with peace of mind.
If you drive a car, do you check if there is sufficient engine oil before your journey? As far as I know, not many drivers do. However, if an overheated engine eventually catches fire on the road, the driver can make a quick exit and get to safety. This luxury, however, is not possible while flying.
As you can see, checking a plane’s engine oil is equally critical, if not more, and is only one of the many items that must be scrutinised prior to every flight. The reason is simple: The pilot doesn’t have the same luxury a driver has in the event that the plane’s engines overheat. He certainly cannot be getting out of the cockpit to check the engines midflight!
Meticulousness in pre-flight inspection is part of a pilot’s job to ensure that your flight is as safe as possible. This is just a tiny part of a pilot’s role in ensuring that passengers are transported safely to their destination without any mishaps.
That said, I’ll explain the processes that illustrate how pilots are trained to analyse and manage emergencies safely.
In the airline industry, all pilots are required to go through ‘base checks’ or Check Rides at least once every six months. This includes demonstrating the pilots’ handling skills, as well as procedural and system knowledge. Such Check Rides in a simulator are usually programmed to run between two to three days.
Each Check Ride consists of four hours of exercises on stress and anxiety management, and emergencies that can range from engine failure, fires, to flight control problems and loss of electrical power, amongst others. Although it is possible to simulate all the aforementioned emergencies one after another during the Check Ride, in general, most of the major ones not performed will be programmed in the following Base Checks in the ensuing six month or later. Nonetheless, in a three-year cycle, a pilot would have undergone testing on all the major failures.