Simulator unfit for training
Today has finally made me submit a report due to the inoperative A/C in the simulator. It could not be controlled and went as low as 13°C which is against health and safety guidelines for working indoors. We resorted to wearing jackets, hats and scarves to complete the training, which is not acceptable. This has been flagged to training management who appear to be ignoring the problem with one even telling me he could lend me his hat if needed (not funny and shows the disdain held for the trainers). This is on top of numerous faults being carried in the simulators which have not been working for months and I can’t believe it is considered as acceptable to use them for training let alone testing. We are all very good at adapting in order to complete the task but it just seems we are not being heard and nothing is getting done which will ultimately impact the quality of the training.
The simulator is operated on behalf of [Airline] by [third-party operator]. They meet all the regulatory requirements for certification and ongoing maintenance of FSTD [Flight Simulation Training Devices] for both UK and EASA certification. It’s the responsibility of an instructor to enter defects into the electronic defect reporting system provided for each FSTD. Those defects are investigated and cleared by [third-party operator] within agreed time frames and this process is not only governed by the appropriate regulator, but also the airline. There is also a clear process to ensure that the device is declared ‘AOG’ for critical failures. Furthermore – through the equivalent of an MEL process, the airline empowers instructors to declare a device ‘AOG’, should they believe training cannot be delivered effectively.
Simulators are checked once a year and issued with a certificate of compliance; within this, environmental temperature is one of the things that is checked by CAA FOIs. Irrespective, simulators still have to be ‘fit for purpose’ if something goes wrong between annual inspections, albeit there are permitted limitations provided they are still suitable for the task.
Environmental temperature is something that should not be compromised because it not only has wider health and safety implications but can also lead to cognitive decline as temperatures reduce. Noting the airline’s comments about instructor responsibilities and empowerment, CHIRP is heartened that they will re-emphasise these during instructor recurrent training but the issue remains that in the incident described it appears that the third-party simulator operator had not responded to fault reports in the past. Whilst less than desirable, and subject to MEL requirements for specific training activities, we suggest that instructors faced with similar conditions should stop the training detail until MEL requirements are met; that will soon get the attention of both the airline and the third-party operator when the airline subsequently asks questions.