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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

The Time Of Giving!

 Christmastime Inspires the Gift of Giving! 

Following the success of "Beyond Haiku: Pilots Write Poetry," American Airlines Captain Linda Pauwels expands her literary wings to capture the soaring beauty and adventure captured in the words of 58 female pilots in her new book: "Beyond Haiku: Women Pilots Write Poetry."

Proceeds go toward flight training scholarships! 

I am a poet and didn't know it! In Beyond Haiku Women Pilots Write Poetry are two poems that I authored, and I even donated a little artwork, too. There are also 'surprises' in Women Pilots Write Poetry. Amongst the poems, Captain Linda Pauwels included never-before published poems by Amelia Earhart, with the assistance of Professor Sammie Morris and permission of the Purdue Research Foundation.

Because this is a historic book it was mentioned in a Washington Post article. It was also reviewed in Diario las Americas by journalist Grethel Delgado. You can read the press release here

Women Pilots Write Poetry is available on Amazon just in time for the holiday gift giving season! Please encourage friends and family to post genuine book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. This is very helpful for book sales, and Linda's goal is to donate proceeds towards flight training scholarships.

This is a much overdue post. But time flies while learning a new plane.  I had immediately purchased a book when it was first released with the intent to write a post, and then time got away. I just returned home from my first flight and found a gifted book from Linda in the mail with a note of appreciation. I now have two books. I want to give the one I purchased to someone who could use some light in their life. 

First: go to Amazon and get your copy of Beyond Haiku, Women Pilots Write Poetry. Remember to leave a comment! 


I'm certain we all know someone who would love this book as a gift. Leave a comment below and tell me why you would want to gift this book to a particular person. I'm going to pick the most heartwarming, love-filled story, or perhaps the funniest, and I will gift them my original copy. 

But also send me an email ( with Women Pilot Poetry as the subject, so I'll have your contact information if you win. 

Happy Holidays! 
And Enjoy the Journey
XOX Karlene 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Happy Veteran's Day

Take A Moment To Thank A Veteran 

When you see someone in a uniform, 

Someone who serves us all, 

Doing military duty, 

Answering their country’s call, 

Take a moment to thank them 

For protecting what you hold dear; 

Tell them you are proud of them; 

Make it very clear. 

Just tap them on the shoulder, 

Give a smile, and say, 

"Thanks for what you’re doing 

To keep us safe in the USA!"
 By Joanna Fuch

Saturday, November 6, 2021

AIRBUS A330: Understanding the Technology

A Higher Level of Understanding 
Improves Operational Performance

High Energy Approaches

The A330 has a very sleek wing and it's difficult to descend and slow down at the same time. Therefore, some carriers create techniques for high energy arrivals that keep the plane at altitude while it slows and then descend. The problem with this method is this technique is created in a cookbook fashion, and to work they require a sequence of steps to begin at a specific point in time, height, distance, weight, and environmental conditions. This works in a simulator but is unrealistic in real life. ATC often keeps us up high on arrival and the moment we might need this procedure ATC requires us to descend. Which makes this "stay at altitude to slow before we descend" not practical. 

Another other option is to go down and then slow down. Very effective, but you also need the experience to know how quickly this plane slows, and that too is dependent upon wind and weight, as well as ATC's ensuing speed requirements. 

Regardless, both options depend upon high situational awareness. In my opinion, the cookbook stay at altitude and slow approach is unrealistic because chances of being in the exact condition that was trained in the simulator, and ATC allowing you to stay at altitude longer than they want is highly unlikely. The descend and then slow is a great option, but not in every situation. Below is a real life it's going to happen scenario. Will you know how to manage the mass to accomplish the goal safely?

Manage the Mass

The airplane can descend and slow down if you understand the technology. The following is a technique based on systems knowledge and how to manage the mass when ATC is bringing you in on an arrival, and then decides to turn you on a short base for a visual and you become unexpectedly high. This is a far more likely situation in real life, and the need to understand how to get the plane down and slow down quickly is essential. 

  • Dial in the FAF altitude on the FCU, and pull for Open Descent. The thrust goes to idle, and the plane starts down. 
  • Select speed and dial in 170 knots. This is a speed that we can configure to flaps 3.
  • While selecting the speed, call "gear down" and pull for full speedbrakes. Both of which create drag. 
  • Select flaps on schedule as you slow: 240 flaps 1, 196 flaps 2, 170 flaps 3. 
  • When stable and on profile, press for managed speed and call "flaps full landing check." 

Understanding the Automation

The speed tape displays an amber hook (blue arrow below) which identifies VLS. VLS is the lowest selectable speed for the autopilot and autothrust. Autothrust won't allow you fly below the hook, even if you select a speed lower than VLS. Therefore, during a high energy descent if you get into the hook your thrust will increase. When high, this added power prohibits your goal. Situational awareness as to what your plane is doing is essential at all times.

Speedbrakes increase drag and will help you to descend and slow, but you must have the knowledge that thrust will increase if you get into the hook. If you're aware of this, then you'll know that you may need to come out of speedbrakes temporarily, if the hook raises due to your current configuration, as it continually adjusts. Understanding the technology will help you manage the mass for those non-standard situations. 

To learn more, I found a great Airbus Article on speed management: 

Training Update! 

I am finished with the simulator portion of training and now the goal is to retain what I learned, for when I get to fly the plane. It looks like I will be flying within the next 30 days! I can hardly wait. 

If you ever find yourself in the predicament of not flying and need retention, take the time to visualize a flight each day. It works! This will keep operations fresh in your mind. Thinking about your flight is excellent practice, and your brain does not know the difference.

Enjoy the Journey! 
XO Karlene 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Training the Emerging Pilot Workforce:

Does Generation and Gender
Influence Curriculum Development?

Yesterday I received an invite, via Curt Lewis and Associates, from Kurt Reesman, Retired Air Force Instructor, who is giving back to the aviation industry by pursuing a PhD with research in training development.  After taking the survey I wanted to learn more about the person behind the research. 

Kurt Reesman

In the Air Force Kurt Reesman flew the T-37, RF-4C and F-15E, and instructed and evaluated student performance in the T-37 and F-15E. He also served as an instructor and evaluator to the Royal Saudi Air Force in the F-15S. After retiring from the Air Force in 2005, he was hired to help Liberty University start their aviation program. 

During his nine-year tenure at Liberty, Kurt served as an associate professor, flight instructor, and National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) team coach. While at Liberty, he also represented the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) as a Safety Seminar presenter and Flight Instructor-Refresher Course instructor. Additionally, he was invited to serve as an industry representative for the re-write of the FAA Private Pilot and Instrument Rating practical test standards. Those documents were converted into the recently released Airman Certification Standards for the Private Pilot Certificate and Instrument Rating. 

After leaving Liberty, L3 Commercial Training Solutions contracted Kurt as the project manager for the Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program (ATPCTP) course creation. While at L3, he also served as their manager of curriculum development and quality control, redesigning their training curriculum, streamlining their training process and establishing a quality control process. In October, 2015 Convergent Performance contracted Kurt to serve as a certified instructor and quality assurance subject matter expert for courses taught during United Airline’s Leadership, Excellence and Professionalism (LEaP) Training Program that was given to every United pilot. 

A portion of this program focused on Convergent Performance president Dr. Tony Kern’s books “The Blue Threat” and “Going Pro.” (Both excellent books, that I highly recommend.) Most recently Kurt was a lecturer at Middle Tennessee State University in their professional pilot concentration. While serving at Middle Tennessee he made significant contributions to the revitalization of the Crew Resource Management course. 

Kurt Reesman brings a wealth of academic, 
flight and industry experience to the Department of Aviation


Calling All Pilots (and Non-Pilots)

I am a graduate student in the Department of Aviation at Auburn University, and I invite you to participate in my research study entitled Training the Emerging Pilot Workforce: Does Generation and Gender Influence Curriculum Development? where I seek to answer the following three questions: 

1. Do non-pilots and pilots have different learning styles or preferences? 

2. Do pilots in the Baby Boomer, Generation X, Generation Y (Millennials), and Generation Z generations have learning styles or preferences that differ from each other? 

3. Do male pilots and female pilots have different learning styles or preferences? 

You may participate if you are 18 years or older. I am asking that you take 5-10 minutes of your time to complete an anonymous, on-line survey that asks you to provide basic demographic information and then answer 44 questions that only have 2 possible answers each. These questions are from the Felder and Solomon Index of Learning Styles questionnaire. If you are interested and eligible to participate, click the link below to begin the survey. If you would like to know more information, or have any questions about this study, you can send an email to Kurt Reesman at

Thank You
Kurt Reesman
Ph.D. Candidate
Auburn University

Thank You for Your Participation!

Enjoy the Journey!
OX Karlene

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Become Unconsciously Competent

Automaticity and Adaptive Expertise vs Rote Memorization

Automaticity and adaptive expertise are essential for airline pilots to improve Situational Awareness (SA). Without automaticity and adaptive expertise, decision-making ability is limited, reducing the pilot's ability to deal with the unexpected. 

What is Automaticity and Adaptive Expertise?

Automaticity is when a pilot’s knowledge is at a level where he or she does not have to think about what to do and their response is automatic. Automaticity is achieved by over-learning to the point where the pilot becomes unconsciously competent, in that they can perform tasks without conscious thought. Adaptive expertise is where understanding and contextual-based knowledge, combined with motivation for problem solving, creates adaptive and flexible strategies for unexpected events. 

Performance in a changing environment demands a deeper level of understanding that will adapt to unique situations. Rote memorization, however, limits the pilot's ability to transfer task at hand duties tconscious thought that would be necessary to adapt to changes in the environment. The distinction between automaticity, adaptive expertise, and rote memorization is the level of understanding. 

Rote memorization does not guarantee the pilot understands the automatic response. Knowledge-based automaticity and adaptive expertise, however, imply a deeper level of understanding than simply memorizing. Adaptive expertise requires precise knowledge, in both quality and content, to be structurally organized in the memory, as well as required for metacognitive skills necessary for planning, monitoring, and memory. 

Becoming unconsciously competent is where knowledge is at the highest level of understanding. Automaticity and adaptive expertise further differ from rote memorization because rote memorization is associated with routine experience, whereas automaticity and adaptive expertise improve performance during novel situations. Rote memorization could result in limited understanding of memorized procedures that may not transfer to the aircraft or emergencies beyond events practiced and anticipated in the simulator.

Time And Place For Rote Memorization

With all this said, there is a time and a place for rote memorization. Practicing flows for example. I am an advocate of memorizing the procedures we call flows, or the processes, to configure the plane for flight during the many phases---preflight, before start, taxi, before takeoff, taxi, shutdown.... While we memorize where to go, understanding what we are doing while there makes the difference. 

This week I have memorized my flows and procedures, but I'm working to that higher level of understanding to achieve automaticity and adaptive expertise in order to become unconsciously competent. The best thing about this goal is that everyone can work toward it as it's a moving target because in aviation, it's not possible to know everything. Just when you think you're there, you get to learn something new. 

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene 

Saturday, October 2, 2021


Forward Movement Toward a Destination!

The MCDU even has a button for today!

The good news is, after all the flashcards and studying myself to the bones I finished my electronic test. While I was striving for 100% I missed four questions. In business they say, 

"It isn't what you know that counts,
it's what you think of in time." 

When your'e taking an electronic test, it's not necessarily what you know, but how you interpret the question.

Success is being done with the electronic test, having a through understanding the aircraft, and moving forward to the next phase of training. Before I do, I thought it would be a great idea to explain one of the most nonintuitive instruments on the Airbus: The brake pressure gauge.

The A330 brake pressure gauge does not directly monitor normal brakes, it monitors the blue system alternate brakes and accumulator pressure. Normal brakes use green hydraulic pressure. Therefore when you see the break indicator sitting at zero pressure, this means you have normal brakes. While the top indication identifies accumulator pressure, if the indication on the bottom of the gauge increases it's either due to the parking brake being set (by blue accumulator pressure prior to engine start, or the blue system after the number 1 engine starts) or the loss of normal brakes.

Now, back to studying! Today is procedures training. Let the fun begin!

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

31 Ways to Position Your Bones

While in Training...

Last year on Halloween I posted a series of photos that my sister had taken daily.  "Where is the skeleton today". I had planned on doing the same thing this year at my house. However, early this morning I will be headed to Atlanta to begin training (Florida in a couple weeks) and then back to Atlanta to finish, with my checkride scheduled on Halloween night. I will be living out of a hotel and on a plane for the entire month of October, with only a few nights in my own bed. 

All best laid plans
Can still come to light
Especially in honor of
Halloween fright

I'm all about flexibility, which is also a secret to success. Besides, it's not the size of your bones that count, it's how you use them. Therefore, I have a mini skeleton that will be traveling with me on my journey. I will be posting words of wisdom regarding business strategies, flying, and A330 lessons learned throughout the month of October, and you get to guess where we will find the bones next. 

One of the most important keys to learning anything is to remove stress while doing so. Stress impacts the brain to a dangerous level of forgetfulness. During my A350 training I read a novel, and slept 8 hours each night. I was also in bed by 1400 my body clock to accommodate an 0200 body clock report time. How can anyone learn during those ungodly hours? Answer: Prepare ahead of time, and then make sure you get a good nights sleep. My strategy is to awaken early and exercise my brain while reading at the gym before I go to the simulator no matter what time the fun begins. It works. I'm also planning to read another Terry Pratchett book. Perhaps explain flows and systems to my traveling companion. 

Now I have to run... I have a plane to catch, and six hours of studying to accomplish on the flight. Systems evaluation tomorrow, and we'll see how much I retained after my hundreds of hours of studying.

Enjoy the Journey 
XO Karlene

Friday, September 24, 2021

If I Can't Walk I'll Fly

 CAF Giving Wings to Challenged Athletes 

Returned Kayla to her Passion

Kayla is my middle daughter, who has faced challenges that most of us could never imagine. We are so proud of her attitude, commitment to life, her appreciation for all she has and not focusing on what she's lost. She also has an overwhelming gratitude to those who have given her a new opportunity at a life she once loved. She went from being an athlete to being told she would never walk again, after scoliosis surgery. She proved them wrong.... for awhile. It wasn't "if" but "when" she would end up in a wheelchair. Now she is competing and embracing her best self, not being limited by her challenges. She is able to do this because of the Challenged Athletes Foundation

This is Kayla's story so I will let her share it.... 

Hi all, my name is Kayla and I’m a para athlete who has directly benefited from CAF.  When I suffered spinal cord injury in 2005, as a 21 yr old DIV I track and field athlete, my world was changed in an instant. At that time, I had no idea that parasports was a thing, or that there was a way to compete at an elite level.

This was one of the most difficult times of my life, and while in retrospect I’m so grateful for many of the things that have come out of this world shift, in the moment knowing there were groups out there to support athletics for those with disabilities would have been a game changer. 

After 10 years as a high functioning spinal cord injured individual – still on my feet and competing in triathlons, backpacking, surfing, etc. – I was diagnosed with a secondary issue called Syringomyelia. This is a cyst that is on the spinal cord, where spinal fluid accumulates and compresses the cord. My condition is degenerative, and the two spinal cord surgeries since 2016 have not been able to stabilize my condition. Its not MS, but manifests very similarly and that’s the group of people I relate to most regarding symptoms and symptom management. 

When I found myself as a wheelie, a local paratriathlete told me about CAF. A few meetings later and CAF had granted me funds to purchase my own hand cycle and had a racing wheelchair on the way to me.


It is because of CAF I got to compete in my rookie season of the paratriathlon in 2021. I’ll be there racing in October in full support of CAF and their programs.

What I ask of you today...

Please join me in empowering individuals with physical disabilities around the world through sports. The mission of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) is intricately tied to the challenges of our time - a global health pandemic, a devastating financial crisis, and ongoing social injustices. These challenges create even greater barriers for individuals with physical disabilities. To change this reality, it will take all of us.

Your donation to my fundraising goal will help provide challenged athletes in financial need with adaptive sports equipment, coaching, and training expenses. Additionally, your gift will support virtual and at-home resources that help challenged athletes of all ages and abilities stay active and motivated, at a time when sports and physical activity are needed more than ever.

Our efforts will help ensure that the most vulnerable population won’t be left behind. We’ll be creating opportunities for challenged athletes to be involved with adaptive sports, fitness, community connections, and inclusion in society’s health and wellness activities.

As a CAF supporter, I believe in the power of sport to empower lives, heal individuals and unite the world, especially in these times of crisis and conflict. My fundraising goal is $10k because that is just under the amount they've donated directly to me for the handcycle and racing chair I'm getting this winter. So I'm very much trying to replenish funds they've given me to date.

Please join me in helping Kayla to change the world. and inspire those who have had their lives altered. They are living their life to the fullest, despite daily pain and limitations. I'm asking for you to please donate to CAF, via Kayla's fundraiser, where all proceeds go directly to CAF. 


I know that these are challenging times for many. If you are facing hardship and can't donate, you can still help by sharing this post on your social media sites and with our friends. We can educate everyone about the wonderful resources available to help our challenged athletes. CAF is doing amazing work by giving a life back to those who may believe theirs was over. 

Thank you! 

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

How To Get out of Trouble

When you Inadvertently Wipe out Everything... 

Wiping out all the waypoints is not unknown to any Airbus pilot. Either you have been there done that, or you will. Below is a little tip to get out of trouble.

Situation: If you’re being vectored toward an intercept and the pilot monitoring plans to clean up to the PPOS, but accidentally deletes one too many points you will lose everything. You will be looking at PPOS, a route discontinuity, and blank, blank, blank. The approach is gone. 

Recovery: Type ABC over the route discontinuity. Select lateral offset over ABC, and then select New Destination. Reinsert the approach, and delete the ABC, and you’re good to go. 

Systems Note: The reason you must type in ABC is because you cannot lateral offset off a PPOS. 

Have a thorough understanding of when you need to delete the PPOS to save yourself grief. A good example of what can go wrong is provided in this post:  What Can Go Wrong? Go Wrong? Go Wrong?

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Monday, September 20, 2021

A330: Clearing the PPOS

Evaluating When Something Went Wrong

If you missed the prologue to this post, please take a moment to read "What Can Go Wrong? Go Wrong? Go Wrong?" Then join me for the analysis.

A330 and Navigation

To navigate, the A330 needs a "TO" waypoint a "FROM" waypoint and a line in between. The line between is the route. When ATC takes you off that route by giving you a heading, you are flying in heading mode. The route is still on your map and in the MCDU, enabling you to return to it. 

Now imagine you are off your route and flying on a heading and ATC tells you to fly direct to another point. Remember, the airplane needs a point it’s flying FROM and a point it's flying TO, so the magic creates a point at your Present Position (PPOS) to anchor your position as a "FROM" point. This enables the plane to navigate FROM a point TO another point.  


A330 pilots are taught to clean up to the PPOS in order to clear the map and the MCDU of unnecessary waypoints not being used because they are on the portion of our route behind the plane. There are benefits to this process, in that the pilot is now able to see the lateral distance in mileage to what is in front of the plane not including what is behind.

Because we don't need all those other points behind us we “Clean up to the PPOS.” Meaning, we can clear out all the points that we're not using (behind us) up to the present position (PPOS). However, before you ever push any buttons... it’s imperative to know that in the Airbus world, there is a time and place for everything, and good CRM dictates you crosscheck with your fellow pilot. 

Systems Note: A significant difference between Airbus and Boeing is that on the Boeing FMS, the pilot is able to input a selection and enable the other pilot to confirm the input and results prior to selecting "execute". There is no execute button on the Airbus MCDU. What you input, is what you get. Therefore, confirming with  the other pilot is essential. 

A KEY A330 Learning Moment

Systems Note: When you clear to the PPOS, it clears the points behind you that have not sequenced. However, the A330 knows that you have cycled past a point if you pass it within five miles. If the point sequences, you do not need to clear it. 

Back to the Shanghai Approach

Think about “where” we were on the approach in Shanghai. We were being vectored inside the Final Approach Fix—approach armed, and shortly thereafter we captured the localizer, and the glide-slope was just about to capture when he decided to clear the points behind us, and cleared one too many. 

By clearing on too many points he wiped everything out on the Map. But, because our approach was armed the plane knew where it was, and knew it was flying the tuned ILS.

We Did Not Need the Map. 

The runway had been selected, tuned, identified, and the approach was armed. The localizer had just engaged... until pilot intervention. The plane was flying the approach programed into the MCDU and it was armed. Therefore, the first error of wiping out the map was not necessarily a problem other than a distraction. An effort to fix a non problem became the problem. 

The Chain of Events

Humans make errors. The key to safety is to have procedures in place to avoid errors, but also to mitigate them when they occur to avoid an accident. Like most situations, it takes more than one event to cause an issue. The proverbial chain of events. 

Sequence of Circumstances

Shanghai ATC vectored us “inside” the outer marker. How often does that happen in instrument conditions? Well, maybe in China. A good note to brief in the future.  

We had been trained to clean all those points behind us. My Captain did not have a clear understanding of why we were doing that, it simply became a step in the process. Wiping out the map and his need to get it back, identified a second hole in his systems knowledge. 

His actions to “Fix the problem” when we didn't have a problem, at a critical phase of flight, is what created a problem. We did not need the MAP. Without an understanding of what would happen by removing the approach while on the approach, caused us to lose everything. Despite the late hour, fatigue, instrument conditions, meters, an unfamiliar environment and lack of understanding he did know how to reinsert the approach quickly. 

Learning Moments
  • Understand your airplane’s navigation system.
  • Maintain heads up at a critical phase of flight. Not heads down programing the MCDU.
  • Button pushing needs to happen at a safe altitude.
  • MCDU selections must be confirmed by the other pilot.
  • If it's not broken, don’t fix it. 
  • If a stabilized approach can’t be continued to a safe landing: Go Around.

With highly automated aircraft, abundance of traffic, runway changes, etc, we find ourselves programming the MCDU at lower altitudes more than ever before. Pilots become reliant on the automation. However, if your company doesn't have a firm altitude where you should be heads up, then make your own guidance. The more systems knowledge you have to avoid errors, the better off you'll be. But always crosscheck with the other pilot to confirm inputs before you do something that could impact the flight. 

If you have been cleared for the approach and accepted the approach, then you should be able to fly it with the information you have programmed and verified. If you have the skills to fly the approach manually, without the data in the box, then do it. If you don't, then go-around. The most important aspect is to know your plane. Knowledge improves safety. 

At my 7th airline, the top of the 747 checklist stated:
Those are words to live by!

There is also a difference between clearing "to" the PPOS and actually clearing the PPOS. Wednesday I will provide a tip on how to get our of trouble if you inadvertently wipe out your approach.

Enjoy the Journey, 
and Fly Safe. Fly Smart.
XOX Karlene

Thursday, September 16, 2021

What Can Go Wrong? Go Wrong? Go Wrong...?

Knowledge: The Path to Safety

Many years ago both my captain and I were new to the Airbus A330 and were flying into Shanghai. We were displaced Boeing pilots in an environment where feet was converted into meters and unfortunately nobody spoke English over the radio. The night was late and fatigue tugged at our your eyelids. Dozens of planes freckled the Nav Display (ND), and we could hear pilots talking to ATC but we had no idea of the ongoing clearances. Targets were buzzing around our aircraft like a swarm of bees. 

I was the pilot flying. ATC descended us to 600 meters. A quick check—2000 feet. We were issued an intercept heading that was well inside of the final approach fix, which was 2900 feet. Unbeknownst to me  my captain decided to help me by clearing the PPOS. (Present Position). Timing is everything.

Before I could yell "stop", and quicker than the glide-slope could capture, bells screamed, lights flashed, the autopilot disengaged and my instant thought was— is the missed approach still in the box? During the moment of chaos the glide-slope dropped below us. I had to make a decision. Go around not knowing if we still had a programed missed approach and fly into an environment with too many planes and no knowledge of what they were doing? Or should I try to save the approach in which we were now high?  

What was the safest course of action 
based upon the situation? 

Thankfully all those thoughts happened at once because there was no time to reflect on each concern and project the choices into the future. The green line on my map, that had been pointing to the runway, was also gone.  The only green line remaining was in front of our plane but jetting off to the left. Decision time.

After the autopilot disconnected, I had immediately re-engaged it to assist while I assessed the situation. I knew precisely where I was, made an instant decision, and used vertical speed to fly down and re-capture the glide-slope.

I said, as I confirmed with my instruments, "Course locked on, glide-slope captured, auto-thrust is engage, and our decision altitude is…" It was gone. But I remembered and said, “213 feet.” The captain had reinserted the approach quickly, but not the minimums.

Within seconds runway lights reached out through the fog. There were no automatic call-outs. The captain stated, “Runway in sight," and I glanced at the altimeter—300 feet. I disconnected the autopilot and landed.

Before we ever exited the runway, the captain said, "Why'd it do that?"  

What went wrong with this approach? 

What can we learn from it? Was this an Airbus issue? ATC issue? A lack of understanding issue? Procedural issue? Share your thoughts, and on Monday I'll provide the explanation that I shared with the captain over a cold beer that night.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Monday, September 13, 2021

A330 Training Underway

My Training Schedule has Finally Arrived! 

I was awarded the A330 many months ago and I am finally headed for training, to begin on October 1st! I actually started studying back in May because my original start date was August 1st. Then September. Then one thing lead to another and I have been delayed yet another month. No time is  ever wasted. 

Because most airlines require at-home self-study followed by an electronic evaluation, pilots may not receive as much knowledge as they would from an instructor in a classroom and an aural evaluation. My doctoral research identified that one of the greatest threats to aviation safety is lack of knowledge. Therefore, I've decided to bring to life some of my A330 notes to help all those new-to- Airbus pilots with yet another resource of information to increase knowledge. I want to thank Airbus for providing manuals and photos online, and to all my Airbus friends who share your wisdom and your systems manuals. Today is all about the basics. 

The Brains of the Computerized Airplane:

A330: FMCEG, MCDU, and FCU 

The Flight Management System, FMS, is comprised of 2 FMGEC—Flight Management Guidance Envelope Computers. Inside each of the FMGEC computers are the operating systems that manage our A330. 

FMGEC: Flight Management. Flight Guidance. Flight Envelope Computers.

FM: Flight Management. This is the on-board computerized Dispatcher responsible for flight planning, performance, navigation, and communicating data via the PFDs, NDs, and MCDUs.

FG: Flight Guidance. This is the on-board, computerized pilot responsible for commanding the autopilot, flight directors, and authothrust.

FE: Flight Envelope. This is the on-board, computerized Flight Engineer, responsible for computing the flight envelope, maneuvering speeds, reactive windshear detection, and gross weight and CG computations and warnings.

Under normal operations the two FMGECs work together. Data entered into either MCDU (Multipurpose Control Display Unit) is shared with the other computer. While they work together, just like other glass planes, there is a master. The selection of the A/P or A/T (first on) will determine which FMGEC becomes that master. If one FMGEC has a problem, the other can handle the operation. However, the pilot must switch control on the Switching Panel. There is no automatic switching of an FMGEC computer. 

In the example below, the number 2 FMGEC failed and the pilot selected both on 1, and now the First Officers MCDU interacts with the number one FMGE

The Big Picture

MCDU: Pronounced the McDoo, is your Multipurpose Control Display Unit, which is called a CDU (control display unit) on the Boeing. The long-range goal is to get to the destination, and this computerized airplane can do that itself, with a little help from the pilot. By programming the MCDU, the pilot can set the plane for success to takeoff, climb, manage speed, level off, descend, and fly an arrival to an auto-landing at destination. Flying the plane in this automated manner is all about utilizing Managed Guidance—where the operation is fully automated and the computer is directing the aircraft. Remember, you still have to manage the mass and plan for configuration changes.

(Airbus) MCDU is a CDU (Boeing)

FCU: The Flight Control Unit is nothing more than Boeing’s MCP (mode control panel). This is where the pilot intervenes to deviate from their original programmed plan. ATC requests you slow, turn to a heading, or gives you an unexpected level off, this is how you'll manage the flight. Or, if the pilot just wants to fly the plane. When we intervene, we use Selected Guidance—where the pilots is commanding the aircraft. 

(Airbus) FCU is a MCP (Boeing)

Normal operations you want to fly the plane with a combination of both managed and selected. Many pilots rely on the managed guidance. Smart pilots take control and disengage the autopilot to maintain proficiency with their flying skills. 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Remembering 911

Ensure that it will Never Happen Again

911: The Day Aviation Changed

Twenty years ago today I was working my second job in Dallas, training Sun Country pilots at American Airlines Training facility. Today I am in Seattle studying A330 systems. My training finally begins October 1st. But I cannot start the day without a prayer for those who lost loved ones during these horrific attacks.  

Twenty years ago was the "day" that changed aviation. That day altered our freedoms. And each year we memorialize the lives lost. We cannot bring them back, but we can ensure that terrorism by aircraft will never occur again. 

Never Again! 

After 911 became a reality we figured out how to keep the terrorists out of the flight deck with heightened security, barrier doors, and operational procedures. But how will we keep them out of the ground-based warehouses, or prevent minimum wage employees from being bought off, or prevent them from hacking into automated systems? 

Imagine if we allow automation to operate our commercial airliners instead of pilots. If we remove pilots from airline operations, every plane in the sky will provide an opportunity for terrorists to take control and fly those aircraft into buildings. We will live this horrific experience again on an unprecedented level. We need pilots on the aircraft to ensure that doesn't happen. 

I pray the public will not allow FAA administrators, aligned with profit centers created by airline management and promised lucrative positions upon retirement, to create legislation allowing pilots to be removed from the aircraft they fly. Not even on the freight operators. Those aircraft will have the same impact. 

Today we have a corporate induced pilot shortage because of the decision to allow thousands of pilots early retirements. Was this decision due to mismanagement and shortsightedness? Or was this simply long-range strategic planning because the current FAA administrator is in place to ensure legislation to remove pilots, and a shortage was the first step? 

The first pilot shortage was due to the FAA's 1500 hour flight time requirement, which was aligned with an anticipated fully operational NEXT GEN industry. However NEXT GEN was behind schedule due to security, so automation was unable to take over at that time. Pilots remained. The second pilot shortage is due to airlines using the pandemic to provide early retirements. What happens next? It's not a conspiracy if it's really happening. 

Please, do not allow another 911 event to occur. If we lose our pilots you can be assured that hacking into our aircraft systems will be the next level of terrorism.  

As long as we don't give up, always strive to be better today than we were yesterday, and work toward improvement we can create a positive change.  This change will lead to a better world. But the change of removing pilots is not a positive step. Do not blindly follow those leaders to a path of destruction. 

Today, take a moment to remember. Then, in honor of all those we lost, do not allow the next level of terrorism to take over. 

Take steps to ensure this won't happen again. 
Do not remove pilots. 
They are your last line of defense. 

Enjoy the journey
XO Karlene