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Flights to nowhere a visit to British Airways Flight Training 747 simulators

Flights to nowhere a visit to British Airways Flight Training 747 simulators


Old Oct 8, 15, 11:16 am
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: YYC
Programs: BA bronze, Aeroplan peon
Posts: 3,685
Flights to nowhere a visit to British Airways Flight Training 747 simulators

The idea started last year with a visit organized by KARFA, and he kindly organized another visit this year. Details are in this thread: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...er-2015-a.html

I have never been in a simulator or a cockpit before, but was assured that no experience was necessary. It sounded like fun, so I put my name down on the list and started making preparations to cross the Atlantic to visit Heathrow.

I started by looking at business class, but for some reason it was very expensive for the dates I wanted to go. Even doing the usual trick of going to mainland Europe still didn’t bring it down enough to fit into my budget. Similarly, premium economy was close to what business usually costs, so I ended up in economy. As a consolation, I still have Silver status with British Airways, so have access to the lounges.

The lounge in Calgary is a third party lounge, also used by KLM and Westjet. It’s a nice lounge with a fireplace in the middle and views onto the airfield and toward the city and rocky mountains in the distance.

British Airways 102, September 29 2015
G-BNWI 767-300
World Traveler seat 18K

The YYC route uses a 767, in a 2-3-2 seating arrangement. It’s actually not bad, the pitch is much better than in the 787 that is coming to this route.

The gate was the usual scrum, at least it’s always gate A14 at YYC. BNWI waits patiently for us to board.

After takeoff, dinner was served even though it was a 22:35 departure. In WT the choice was chicken caesar or pasta with tomato sauce. I had the chicken. It wasn’t bad; the addition of a piece of cheese was nice. Dessert was a salted caramel chocolate mousse. Obviously the meals are done in bulk and frozen; mine had a label saying the production date was July 13, 2015.

It was a reasonably rough flight, lots of turbulence, so I didn’t get much sleep. About 1:30 before landing they came around with a snack box. I hesitate to call it breakfast.

Contents were a chewy multigrain croissant, jam, raisins, and a granola bar. I tried the croissant and gave up after a bite so just had the raisins and a cup of tea. Landing was close to scheduled time of 14:00 and I caught the tube to my hotel by Green Park and then had some real food.

Thursday's entertainment in true FT fashion was a mileage run over to Dublin and back. I needed another 2 flights to make the requirement to maintain silver status with BA, and Dublin happened to be a relatively inexpensive and convenient place to go. It also went from London City airport (LCY), an airport I have never been through.

British Airways 4464 LCY-DUB
G-LCYO E-190
Euro Traveler seat 14A

I liked the E190, the 2-2 arrangement gives some space and the pitch is good. A comfortable plane for the short hop to Dublin.

As I didn’t have an EU passport, I had to go through passport control in Dublin and talk to an officer. He hadn’t heard of a mileage run before and got a good laugh out of it. Seemed surprised I was staying in the country for only 1:15. Said he appreciated my honesty and didn’t figure anyone would make up such an unusual story!

BA would only let me book a return with a minimum of 2 hours on the ground and I didn’t want to spend that long, so I took a risk and booked it as two singles. After passport control it was to the BA counter to get my boarding pass. I could have done it on the app, but I like getting a paper boarding pass. After check in, it was through fast track security, and I decided to skip the lounge and head to the gate.

I was a bit uncertain as the boarding pass said gate 301, but it was really departing from 303. The agent at 303 said it was the right place.

British Airways 4469 DUB-LCY
Euro Traveler seat 13D

Back on the plane again, this flight was perhaps half full, whereas the flight from LCY-DUB was full. The seat beside me was empty, which was nice. Drinks came around after takeoff and I had another package of the shortbread. Arrival back into London was 17:52 and it was getting quite dark. Hopped on the DLR to go back to Central London to get some dinner.

Friday, October 2:
I took the tube out to Hatton Cross and walked over to the Hilton Garden Inn to meet up with the other participants in the evening’s trip to the simulator. After meeting up, we walked over to the BA Flight Training Centre and met our BA contact, who checked us in and got us security passes. Then it was over to the Technical Block A building in the Engineering complex where the simulators are housed.

What I’d be flying tonight! Sort of.

The simulator room.

The simulators have recently been moved to a new location and put together in one hall. It’s very impressive to see so many simulators together. Included are simulators of aircraft that BA no longer flies, such as the 757, as BA rents out the time to people from other airlines who may not be able to afford to have a simulator of their own. I was surprised that most of the simulators are made by a Canadian company in Montreal. Airbus and Boeing do not make simulators.

Our group was large enough to be split into two. 4 of us with no experience took one simulator, and the other 3 had been in simulators before and took the other one. “My” simulator for the night:

We spent 4 hours in the sim, with a quick break in the middle. Time goes quickly, it’s a very intense experience.

Our BA instructor setting up the control panel to determine what situations we would see.

We have a runway! With the simulator powered up, the controls and displays were explained to us.

First up in the hotseat was GDOCP:

We took off, did a bank to the north and circled around London and then came back to LHR for a landing on 27L. The scenery is modeled amazingly well, Canary Wharf is there, as is LCY. Coming into LHR the traffic moving on the M25 is also modeled. It’s very realistic.

Video of landing:


We all did very well, nobody landed the plane on the grass, which our instructor said was fairly common with people new to the simulator.

Hey, where did the instructor go?

Next up was Matthandy, here waiting for takeoff clearance:

Video of Matthandy landing:

After a few take offs and landings, it was the turn of FastTrak2Elite:

Finally, it was my chance to fly the 747:

I even managed to stay right on the centerline when landing:

Lining up for 27L at LHR. The red and white lights to the left of the runway are glidescope indicators. If you see all red, you’re too low, all white is too high.

The simulator is mounted on hydraulic rams to produce the motion. To simulate the feel of braking it tips forward, and when combined with looking at the projected horizon really feels like braking. It’s important to be strapped in, and not leave cameras etc on the floor, as they can get tossed around just like in a real aircraft. Here is some heavy braking:

Simulator in action:

Our final exercise was to take off, bank right, straighten out and go far enough past the airport to bank again and line up to land on the same runway we took off from. Our instructor said that a real pilot who knows the plane well can do it in about 2 min 30 seconds. The first person of our group did it in 3:49, the next two crashed on landing due to being too high a sinkrate and too fast, and I did it in 3:55. Honourable mention for being the smoothest, which I was rather chuffed about.

After our 4 hour session was up it was time to say thanks to our instructors at BA and head back. Most of the others were staying close by at the Hilton, but I was staying in Central London, so had to catch the tube in before the last one:

The next day I was back to being a tourist and went out to Marble Hill House, in the very pleasant riverside town of Richmond:

The next day it was time to return home.

British Airways 103, October 4 2015
G-BNWM 767-300
World Traveler plus seat 10F

I got lucky! I was guested into the Concorde Room by one of the other participants in the simulator session who was also going home at the same time I was, and I also scored my first ever op-up on BA.

I asked about buying one of the airport upgrades into Club World, but it was expensive. At first I was quoted 649, then when they saw I had been upgraded from WT to WTP the price rose to 749. I decided that was a bit expensive for me, so stayed in WTP. That cabin was full, as I assume WT was or else I wouldn’t have been upgraded.

Before I met the fellow FT’er, I went into the Galleries Club lounge. It’s kind of disappointing, as it was time for “afternoon tea” which means the only food available was cakes, sandwiches, crisps, soup and some fruit. If I had paid the $9000 a Club World ticket would have cost me to do this trip, I would have been quite disappointed.

The meal in WTP was better however, the choice was plaice or beef. I choose the fish:

The second meal was afternoon tea. Again! BA does love serving afternoon tea. A half sandwich and a tiny scone. At least there was cream and jam, which is more than there was in the GC.

And finally home. Thanks to KARFA for organizing it, it was a very fun few days in London for me.

Last edited by Jagboi; Oct 8, 15 at 2:43 pm
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Old Oct 8, 15, 12:56 pm
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: BDL/BOS
Programs: DL PLAT, IC AMB
Posts: 182
Great report, thanks for sharing! I hope to do this one day soon!
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Old Oct 8, 15, 3:50 pm
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Leeds, UK
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Thank you for coming all the way from YYC Jagboi

Glad you enjoyed it, and nice TR. If any wants to see more photos and videos there are some in the thread http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...-2015-a-9.html

I should be adding mine later this evening.

photos from matthandy http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/25516657-post116.html
my photos and videos http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/25539708-post123.html

Last edited by KARFA; Oct 9, 15 at 6:11 am
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Old Oct 9, 15, 11:29 am
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: YYC
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Once thing that surprised me was how realistic everything was. When I was flying and looking at the flight director to maintain my course and altitude the movement of the sim was starting to me make me slight motion sick. If I looked out at the horizon and flew the plane visually I felt much better. Guess I couldn't be a pilot who had to fly at night by instruments.

Looking out the window instead of at the Flight Director made for smoother landings though!
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Old Oct 10, 15, 5:00 am
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: London
Programs: BA Gold, VS Silver, SPG Gold
Posts: 134
Great stuff you guys. I have told my family that I am definitely doing this next year. I have read all your reports, viewed all your photos and videos, and am now going to purchase a calendar I can start marking with big red X's until the next flight sim excursion. If I can finagle a TR in there as well it will be all my Christmases come at once!😀

Very enjoyable reading and viewing everyone. Sincere thanks for all the effort you put in to make it "real" for the rest of us! And thank you to KARFA for organising - you will no doubt have quite a number on your hands next year!
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