by David Long


The recent repatriation of VH-EBA has taken me back through the memories that are contained in one’s logbook entries, and I have often been struck with the amount of air-time one accumulated, (and the costs involved to the operator), in gaining one’s cherished endorsement for the licence.

This was my experience being typical of us all, unless transferring across as an established Captain from the previous mainline type. In which case, move straight on to the 1st Class endorsement.

With no previous multi-jet time, one spent some time gathering exposure to the type in route operations, crewing as a ‘Second Officer’ following a ‘2nd Class endorsement, B707-138B’.

To arrive at this point involved

  • 2 months of ‘nut n bolts’ classroom study, (chalk and talk).

  • The following month involved 10 periods of 3 hours (30 hrs) of ‘fixed base’ simulator… nowadays termed a systems trainer, but in its time it was leading edge stuff. Whilst the landing fidelity was hardly realistic, everything else was spot-on. 4-engine; 3-engine; 2-engine circuits.  ILS, Back-beam approaches, VOR, ADF, all the program being generally shared with one’s ‘crash-mate’, as is still done today.

  • Next, 2 quick sectors, out and back to Nadi in my case, as a Technical Observer, viewing the finished product.

  • Then, off to Avalon, and the real thing.  I see that I participated in 3 sorties, some 3.30 hours in all. (The second in the lovely VH-EBA). These consisted of 11 day and 4 night circuits; one of which was conducted on 3 engines, another on 2 engines, two flown with the stabilizer manually operated (much cranking on the large trim wheel at one’s knee) and a ‘jammed stab’ to finish it off. This is where the stabilizer was deactivated at a reasonably fast forward speed, and the aircraft re-trimmed for the slower landing speed by ‘splitting’ the flaps. (Inboards and Outboards at differing settings). Very rewarding when done well. An ADF letdown was all that was extended to we lowly ones, as it was sufficient to activate the 2nd Class Instrument Rating.

Life then consisted of the normal crewing requirements of long-haul operations, with little handling practice unless on the ‘landing list’, when an occasional benevolent Captain would take pity and permit one to demonstrate his skills in the landing manoeuvre enroute.  Should this not occur during a finite period (90 days?) then one’s list currency was withdrawn and one waited until the next 6 monthly licence renewal to start all over again.

However, sometime in the future would come promotion, and the need to update to the 1st Class endorsement for one’s 1st Class ATPL.

Back to the simulator, now very much improved, 6 axis of motion, and rudimentary visual systems, either moving model over fixed scenic landscape, or fixed model over endless scenic belt; which came first I now forget.

  • 6 more 3 hour periods (18 hours) shared with a ‘crash mate’ of all the usual procedures, mainly ‘non-standard’, then off to Avalon as before.

  • 2 sorties amounting to 3.10 hours, 17 circuits in all, of which 6 were cross-wind operations (limits being 23kts for T/O and 27kts for landing)

And that was that.

I have summarised my activities during endorsement on the 138B at Avalon, and they are as follows.

TAKE OFFS   (117 in all). (Not necessarily followed by doing the landing)

4-engine x 53 day and 24 night.

3-engine x 19 day

4 x followed by the deactivation of the electrical stabilizer trim, requiring Manual Stab.

7 x cross wind

LANDINGS  (95  in all)

4-engine x 14 day and 24 night

3-engine x 10 day

2-engine x 11 day

10 bad weather circuits (at less than 500’ I recall) day and night

5 approaches and landings off very high offsets

3 approaches off broad lateral offsets

7 x jammed stabilizer (i.e. ‘split flap’)

2 x manual stabilizer

1 x inoperative spoilers

1 x flapless

6 x 4-engine and 1 x 3-engine cross wind

and on the instrument side of things,

3 x ADF approaches

7 x ILS approaches

3 x 3-engined ILS approaches

And 1 x auto coupled - autopilot ILS.  (NOT AUTOLAND, just coupled to minima.)

And all in the aeroplane. How much must all of this have cost per 1st class endorsee? The aircraft were taken out of productive service during all of this, and were exposed to hull-loss in the event of things going pear-shaped.

No wonder we have simulators.

David Long  

712 hours B707-138B
3, 933 hours B707-338C

February 2007



Original issue.