Thursday, April 27, 2006

Back to School

Today it was my turn for that yearly ritual of airline pilothood, recurrent ground school. The FAA mandates that FAR 121 pilots participate in a minimum number of hours of recurrent ground training; most airlines pack it all into one big three-day boredom fest.

It wouldn't be so bad except that the FAA micromanages exactly what must be covered and how long it must be studied. Some subjects that are fairly boring and can be briefed well rather shortly are given an entire hour or more; other topics that are potentially more useful, and therefore more interesting, are skimmed through at breakneck speed to fit it all in. The required "formula" changes little from year to year, so the presentations seldom change. Often they are taught by the same instructors, and occasionally I catch them telling the same jokes they told last year.

Woe be unto him who falls asleep during recurrent ground school; copious amounts of coffee are drunk in the interest of remaining conscious. Frequent breaks also help, and the better instructors make an effort to revive flagging interest with activities, scenarios, and role-playing exercises.

There actually was one rather interesting class today, which was new because the TSA started requiring it in the last year. Of course, given TSA's involvement, it was security related, and therefore I can't write about it. Drat.

I am looking forward to the review of Megawhacker aircraft systems. That's a subject I generally enjoy, plus I'll be taking my proficiency check soon so the knowledge is sure to come in handy. Unfortunately, less than a day is devoted to that subject, so each system gets little more than a quick runthrough. Ask too many questions, and you'll be extending class past 5PM - a surefire way to get the "stare of death" from your classmates!