Flight Deck Training Update
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Well into its trial period, the Flight Deck Training (FDT) program is off to a great start.
NATCA National Training and Professional Standards Representative Garth Koleszar said the program is “going incredibly well with very few hiccups.” The FDT office has more than doubled its staff to handle the large amounts of requests which hit 1,000 the week of Nov. 28.
Koleszar reminds those interested in the program that FDT is a training program and not free travel or a means to get out to visit family.
“Don't call the FDT office and tell them that you really need to know if you are approved because you are going to a wedding,” said Koleszar. “Don't tell the crew that you are taking the weekend to see family. Please make sure that when you access the Flight Deck, you focus on the importance of this training program and the value of that training to you. Focusing on anything other than the intent of this program will work against its continuation.”
Koleszar also said that those involved in the program need to make sure they accurately complete the request form and take the time to complete and learn the required training.
“This will go a long way in making sure that your request will be processed and that there will be no issues when you participate in this training program,” Koleszar said.
MIA NATCA member Vanessa Shinners provided a summary of her recent FDT experience.
“Dearest NATCA Brothers and Sisters,
Many of you have asked about how my FDT experience went. I have to say, if you have never flown in the cockpit of an airplane before, it is well worth the experience. I learned a lot from the pilots, aircraft performance, etc. The pilots in turn asked me many ATC questions and they were all friendly. They welcome the program and think it's a great idea that we fly with them.
I flew direct from MIA to SEA. Checked in two hours before the flight, which I recommend because it takes the ticket agents a little bit of time to process the boarding pass. They are new to this program as well so patience is needed on both sides. I received my boarding pass, went to the front of the TSA line, and checked in with the gate agent. I flew a B737; it's a bit of a tight squeeze for a six-hour flight.
On the way back however, not so smooth. I had to connect in DFW. I was there for 7.5 hours getting bumped off of one flight to the next by crew members trying to get to Miami for Veteran's Day. Finally, I made it on the second to last flight out of there on a B757 (much nicer than a B737). I was up at 4 a.m. and got home at 1:30 am! If you're not willing to go through this, you may not want to fly coast to coast.
"All in all, I would do it again, but smarter this time. Other than getting bumped, it was a great experience! Some advice I would give:
1. Avoid connecting if possible. Most airlines connect in one of their hubs. That's where you will run the risk of getting bumped by crew/staff.
2. Bring comfortable shoes and eat beforehand. Normally, they only offer you a drink.
3. Don't fly during peak/holiday seasons/weekends! Very important!
4. Pack your patience; you're going to need it!
I hope this helps. Good Luck and Bon Voyage!”