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SPOTLIGHT: Multi Crew Cooperation Courses

Ireland's first ATR 72/42 aircraft full flight simulator, managed by Simtech Aviation

In order to pass their CPL and certainly the I/R flight test, a student pilot has to be responsible for every stage of a flight, working in a single-crew environment and juggling pre-flighting, planning, flying, cockpit checks, radio work and more. Once that coveted frozen ATPL is gained and a pilot moves on to their first job and type rating, the environment often becomes very different, with the pilot suddenly working alongside numerous flight crew and sharing the many tasks involved with a safe flight.

The Multi Crew Cooperation Course (or MCC for short) bridges this gap, taking the skills a pilot has learned in their training and adapting them to interact with other crew members. In the past twelve years, the course has become a necessity before taking your first type rating.

There are variety of courses offered through many FTOs, which range in content, length and cost, although all will most likely focus on teamwork, division of tasks and mutual supervision. Almost all will include simulator training, although again, the type of sim will vary, with pilots training on anything from an Airbus A320 to a Beech 200. (In regulator speak, the sim must be at least an FNPT II (Flight Navigation and Procedure Trainer, level II.)

As an example, we can look at an MCC course offered by Simtech Aviation, a training organisation based in the Dublin Airport Logistics Park. www.simtech.ie

The organisation provides a MCC/JOC course which also includes a Jet Orientation Course (JOC). This provides extra time in the simulator for a pilot to apply their new skills. The Simtech course also includes Line Orientated Flight Training (LOFT) exercises, which prepare students for the actual environment they will find themselves when employed with an airline. Some FTOs may offer this extra element to the course, which is designed to take the pilot a step further than the MCC and prepare them for assessments and the commercial world, possibly giving them an extra level of employability at the next stage. Some airlines may even require this extra Jet element as standard, Jet 2 and Whizzair to name a few.

MCC courses will vary in length depending on the FTO and will sometimes offer the option of residential courses. The course offered by Simtech Aviation is held over ten days, beginning with three days of ground school, then seven days in the simulator, which consist of four hours per day in the sim, plus an hour’s briefing prior to each session.

The first three days of ground school are used to explore the differences between single pilot and multi pilot flying. There is also particular emphasis placed on jet operations, the legal requirements that need to be fulfilled and the usual duties of a First Officer. The bulk of the ground school falls under the broad topic of Crew Resource Management. In brief, this is the interaction between the pilot and other members of the crew.

Days four to eight of the Simtech course cover the MCC (20 hours), with days nine and ten covering the JOC element (8 hours). In addition to normal and abnormal exercises, the Simtech MCC course includes TCAS, EGPWS and WIND SHEAR practical modules, which are intended to best prepare candidates for airline entry and assessment, putting emphasis on Airline preparation. Participants are paired up and they fly as a crew for each of the simulator sessions, both as pilot flying and pilot monitoring. While there is no flight test at the end, as with most MCC courses, students are monitored and evaluated closely throughout.

Different preparation techniques will be used, depending on your FTO. For example, during day three of the Simtech MCC ground school, student pilots are taken to the CPT – Cockpit Procedural Trainer (or as it is affectionately known by student pilots, the cardboard bomber!) – this is a photographic mock-up of the 73XJ cockpit, which is used to practice procedures and calls before getting into the simulator.

As for your own preparation, often there is nothing specific that needs to be learned prior to an MCC course (except cockpit calls and procedures), but students pilots will benefit from refreshing some elements from the Instrument Rating and ATPL theory exams. Weight and balance, loads sheets and diversion planning are all likely to come up in ground school, so it’s a good idea to have a look over these in advance, while cockpit calls, speeds and checklists will often need to be memorised before getting into the simulator. Simtech Aviation recommends knowing your calls and procedures in advance, as this will allow you to maximise your time and learning in the simulator.

Pilot Adam Truran completed the MCC course at Simtech Aviation in 2011, and said, “The course gives you a great insight into how airlines operate and puts you into a very different environment. It changes all your responsibilities, which is really challenging at first, but it’s a really rewarding course and it’s a brilliant introduction to the environment that you’re going to be in for the rest of your airline flying career.”

As there is no formal test at the end of an MCC course, it might be easy to drift through, ticking all the boxes but gaining very little from it. However, remember that these courses are essential for a reason and you will get a lot out of it but putting the work in. Knowing procedures before getting into the simulator will give you lots of capacity to learn the handling characteristics of the aircraft type. Participate in discussions as much as possible and share their experiences with the class, and remember that often, instructors are current Airline and Corporate Jet Pilots with vast experience on many different aircraft types, so ask questions and draw on their knowledge. All this will help you to get the most out of your MCC course and will stand you in good stead when it comes to a sim assessment or a future interview with an airline.