I’m 7 hours into an assessment day with one of the UK and Europe’s biggest airlines. I’ve completed the interview, the group exercises, and the hours of sitting around making nervous, friendly small talk. Tiredness is starting to set in as we’re taken to a simulator training centre for the final stage of the process – a 1 hour simulator assessment.

We’re briefed on the profile, an hours flying and an hours monitoring in the 737 classic – doesn’t seem too bad. Throw in some NDB tracking and holding and an approach – it’s starting to sound a little more challenging. There’ll be no automatics or flight directors – ok great. And here are the profiles you need to fly, the pitch and power settings you’ll need to set, the calls you’ll need to make. Thank God I took notes. We’re paired off with each other and given some time to prepare. My partner is looking rather nervous and suggests that we sit down and talk through the profiles and the calls we’re going to make. He begins trying to recall the power settings, ‘60 and 6 for 210kts clean, is it 65 and 5 for 250kts, or 4?’ I’m feeling considerably more comfortable – I already have a pretty good idea of the profile, and the pitch and power settings are already burnt into my mind.

Before attending the assessment day, I’d completed a Simulator Assessment Preparation session with Aviation Insider. Alongside a TRI, I’d sat in the 737-300 simulator a couple of weeks before and together we’d flown through various exercises designed to make me feel comfortable with flying the aircraft. We’d also flown a profile similar to the one I could expect in the assessment, created based on feedback from previous candidates. In a comprehensive briefing, I’d learned the takeoff and approach profiles for the 737 and been taught various tips and tricks for flying the aircraft – we’d even covered the various briefing techniques used by the airline.

Was it necessary? There’s an argument that says that spending money on Simulator Assessment Preparation isn’t needed. The assessment is designed to test for a positive learning curve, as well as handling and multi-crew skills, and flying capacity – they’re not expecting perfection. But it’s the last point which is important. When you’re placed into a new, unfamiliar aircraft flight deck, it takes a large chunk of your capacity in order to safely and accurately fly the aeroplane. Your mind is concentrating almost completely on the pitch and power settings, trimming the aircraft and following the flight profile. You’re left with very little spare capacity with which to demonstrate your airmanship, CRM and notech skills – the skills which set you apart from everyone else. If you’ve overcome this initial phase in an assessment preparation session, you’ll use less of your capacity on flying the aircraft, and really be able to shine in the real assessment.

Of course, it’s important to choose the right provider for your Simulator Assessment Preparation. There are many companies who provide various levels and standards of training on various levels of simulator. Aviation Insider only use full motion, level D simulators – the same simulators as the airlines will use. Aviation Insider’s instructors are all currently operating airline pilots, with experience of airline recruitment profiles. The standard of support and training you get from Aviation Insider is second to none. They also provide Assessment Preparation guides which is compiled from feedback from previous clients as well as handy tips on flying the aircraft.

If youre intersted in simulator preparation, find out more about Aviation Insider’s Simulator Assessment Preparation here