Saturday, February 13, 2016
Go With The Flow
This is a 727 cockpit view you usually don't see. A simulator would look very much like this, except that there would be another panel in the right rear corner for the instructor to input his bag of tricks for the student.
This is a 727 flight engineer panel. You can see it is a busy place. In order to get students to understand how to deal with this panel, they are taught "flow patterns". I tried to find a picture of a panel with flow patterns depicted, but could not. The way they work is to go to a starting point and then flow from there to an adjacent point, then continue until you have completed the flow.
This makes it much easier to do what is necessary. For example, the engineer must check every switch, light, indicator and lever on the panel and other places in the cockpit. It is too much to remember, so we give them a starting point. Then they just move to the next item on the panel. The patterns have names like "big U" and "little U". Most indicators have color bands on them. Green = good. Yellow = not so good. Red = bad. It all takes time, but we spend lots of time getting it right.
There are flow patterns for just about every checklist, normal, abnormal and emergency. There are memory items for some emergency checklists that are immediate action items. These are kept to a minimum, but are pounded into memory. After accomplishing memory items, they are followed up by reading them on the checklist. Every step is read by a crew member and verified to be correct by another crew member, one of the pilots. The other pilot is assigned to fly the plane and concentrate on that. There have been several crashes, because every crew member was paying attention to the procedure and no one was paying attention to what the plane was doing. An L 1011 crashed in the Everglades, because of the failure of a gear down indication light. Those kinds of mistakes are non habit forming. Someone has to be flying the plane. That is a priority.