Practice Makes Perfect: How Pilots Train for Every Situation

At 36,000 feet over the Indian Ocean, it’s quite a view. Clear, pale blue sky reaches down from above until it meets the rich turquoise of the ocean below. Dabs of cottonwool cloud create tiny dark shadows on the water, giving the surface a speckled effect. Even though the air outside is a chilly -50 degrees Fahrenheit, in my pressurized Boeing 787 Dreamliner the environment is just like being on the ground on a pleasant summer’s day in Denver. Life is good.


What on earth was that?! Compose yourself. Breathe. Fly the aircraft. The whole flight deck shakes again with another bang. Assess. What’s going on? The left engine is surging. Ask the other pilot for the Engine Surge Vital Actions. Autothrottle Arm Left switch to off. Left thrust lever? Confirmed? Slowly reduce the power. The rhythmic bangs and engine instruments say it’s still surging. Reduce the power some more. Still surging. Bring the power to idle and finally it stops.

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