Earlier this month Carlo and I went into the simulator to fly the EuroFun tour we’d dreamed up, traveling from Graz, Austria (LOWG) to Milan, Italy (LOWI) to Lyon, France (LFLY) and then to Innsbruck back in Austria (LOWI). If you’ve read the report of that earlier session, you’d know that we had LOTS of problems, ranging from “What the F***K is it doing now?” moments to me getting completely confused and almost crashing. To see if we’d learned anything from the post session discussions, we decided to return and fly the same route, but this time to do it better. With such a low initial point, how could we not improve?
Once again on departure from LOWG we had a minor “WTF??!” moment as the autopilot played silly buggers while crossing the Graz VOR. Not to worry, we caught it and handled it very quickly, keeping us on track and everything moving smoothly. Tracking through the departure path and across to Milan went well. Our approach into LOWI went smoothly with the system locking onto the beams and taking us in for a beautiful CAT III autolanding. Nice.
I quickly reprogrammed the FMC and performed a manual take off, heading out from Milan through the SID and transition then on to Lyon. Once we were established in the STAR for LFLY, I switched to fully manual and got us on the ground in one piece, albeit with a bit of a bouncer landing. At least I was doing it all fully manual (throttles included) and the hassles I had were linked to getting the sight-picture right and getting used to the lag on the throttles (think: spool up time).
Once parked on the apron, we commenced programming the FMC for the run to Innsbruck and again hit a problem with the SID we wanted to use. The FMC had us going all over the place and nothing we did could fix it, so we dumped it and manually coded the departure.
Carlo flew us out of Lyon and we tracked over Switzerland heading back to Austria, going for an altitude record and causing me some concern when we lost all visuals at over 38,000 feet. Turns out we’d moved into layer of super-high overcast of some sort – not sure how Carlo managed to program that in.
I was the designated pilot for the descent and landing at Innsbruck (LOWI) which features a steep descent path over mountains followed by a tight, descending 180 before aligning with the runway for landing. Being the masochist that I am, I went fully manual again and my hands were busy with throttles, speed brakes and yoke while my thumb got a great workout on the trim control. We threw out the landing gear as I commenced the turn, cranking it around to a chorus of “Sink Rate,” “Bank Angle” and “Terrain” warning calls, then had the flaps at 30 degrees as I rounded out, hunting for the runway line. Carlo had programmed clouds so I was watching the magenta line on the map as well as outside to get into the right position. When we had the VASI lights sighted, I called full flap (yes, 40 degrees – hang it all out, dude!) and flew it all the way down, juggling it all until, once again, I ballooned slightly just before the flare and we floated a way down the runway, thumping down a little further than I would have liked. Fortunately the use of auto-brake, thrust reversers and manual braking had us slowed down with lots to spare.
So, another reasonably successful run in the simulator, some good landings in challenging conditions and a much better result than last time. Yay! Photos from the session have been loaded in the gallery.