One assumes that the civvy sector doesn't have quite the same "flexibility" as a mil sim session where you get an hour or two to try something extra curricular?We switched to annual sims 9 years ago. I can say this with certainty because the sim programme for this year is called ATE 9 - Annual Training Event 9.
The change was made after about 5 years of very detailed data collection and analysis and a great deal of persuading the CAA. Basically it was all about analysing which bits people consistently did less well.
What the data revealed is that about 5% of pilots are bastards; they were born to fly and everything was easy. Raw Data Single Engine NDB Approach was always fun, these guys would say “hold my beer” and do it single crew, inverted. Another 5% are at the other end of the scale and struggle, career FOs, multiple repeats etc etc etc. The remaining 90% are all pretty much the same, pretty good but they have to work hard to get there and stay there. It was done on a 1-5 scoring system over something like 100 elements per check and the Aces were averaging 4.8, the Numpties around 2.5 and The Rest around 4.1.
Its a really good system IMHO because I used to do something and get “Yep, fine, Pass, right, ext exercise”. Now I get a really detailed run down of both the practical and the soft skills, knowledge etc and guidance on improving.
When we first started it was 4 days of 3 hours a day in the sim with no mid sim break. It then changed to 3 days of 4 hours with a break mid sim and a 90 minute brief before and 90 minute debrief after.
All Day 1 is set piece checking Licencing items but they are woven into a real time scenario as much as is possible. There’s a 3 year rolling programme of stuff that has to be covered so one year you’ll have an hydraulic issue, the next an electrical issue etc. Same goes for various manoeuvres so one year it’ll be a TCAS (collision avoidance), the next a Terrain Escape etc. Every year you’ll do an Engine Failure on Take Off, a Single Engine Approach, Go Around and Landing and a Two Engine Go Around as well as a variety of Approaches. On the 787 we also have to do a HUD Take Off in 75m visibility. That doesn’t sound too drastic but it’s the kind of viz that brings motorways to a standstill so doing 160 knots only seeing one runway light ahead of you is a bum twitcher.
Half of Day 2 is more of the same but more on the Operator side of life so LVOs, RNP, Right Seat check for Capts, Cruise PIC checks for FOs etc. The other half of Day 2 is a Line Orientated Exercise where basically you are given a flight, something happens which usually involves a diversion with complications thrown in and away you go. The more experienced FOs usually get to lead on it to develop them for Command and the Capt plays Competent FO. There are usually 5 or 6 scenarios, sets of weather, routes etc of increasing difficulty and the TRE picks one s/he thinks will best suit the crew so they are stretched but not broken and get to learn loads based on his / her assessment of the crew in the previous set piece stuff. It works really, really well.
Day 3 is pure Training and often run by a TRI. It covers off stuff that’s been identified in all the data that the Head Shed feel is stuff that people need to polish up on or from trends in Flight Data, Safety Reports etc. We also do new stuff for changing types of operation or new kit on the aircraft so for example, last year we trained up on RNP (Approval Required) Approaches. Boeing have just (finally) published guidance on Baulked Landings (a Go Around from in the runway) so that’s in this year.
Sometimes it can be serious, like we've tried reenacting the Leicester stadium to see if anyone could not get the red screen of death vs slightly more fun, pinnacle landings on the Statue of Liberty or engine off onto an offshore rig.