In airline training, there are several kinds of actual training. Ground school, the simulator, emergency procedures, aircraft doors, et cetera, are all unique, with specific requirements.

In the simulator, training usually concludes with a checkride of some sort. Sometimes the checking event is a routine flight from A to B with a few minor mechanical issues thrown in to test your problem-solving skills. Other times it consists of items called “first look events.”

First-look events are items that a pilot is expected to perform such that they meet or exceed the established standards on the first try. A classic example is the V1 cut, which is the failure of an engine at the most critical part of the takeoff. It’s critical because an abort or a rejected takeoff is no longer an option; the crew must fly the airplane off the ground on one engine following very specific procedures.

There are a number of other first look items, such as certain approaches and maneuvers. They are called “first look” because the crew is not allowed to practice or rehearse the item during the training event, and the instructor is not allowed to help or coach.

As you might imagine, these events tend to be fairly critical skills, skills that need to be embedded in the memory and the muscle memory. A pilot is expected to have reviewed these items before showing up to the training center. There is a little wiggle room for error, and if the performance is not up to standards, there may be a way to train it again before a final evaluation is recorded—but the less-than-stellar performance will still be recorded for record-keeping and tracking by both the FAA and the airline (if the crew crashes, the ride is over). Most often, however, the expectation is that the minimum standard will be met. If it is, then a few more practice runs may be allowed just to sharpen the responses and the skill set.

Another set of maneuvers is the “train to proficiency” (TTP) maneuver. This is just what it sounds like: the pilots are given a thorough briefing on the maneuver, and they are allowed multiple efforts to show mastery. The idea is simply to gain proficiency on something new or on something that has not been emphasized in the recent training cycles. In the last couple of years, every airline has been required to put their pilots through upset recovery training. This been a global push, not just a U.S. one, and it has been brought to the fore by actual events throughout the world.

Data indicate that pilots of large transport equipment were using inappropriate or incorrect control inputs, so we all got a chance to recovery from a wide array of unusual attitudes at all altitudes. Because it was a new series of events, it was introduced as a TTP event. The goal was not to subject the pilots to the stress of a pass/fail event, but to introduce a new set of skills, a greater understanding of swept wing aerodynamics, and a new confidence in the humans as well as the machines.

TTP events are definitely more relaxed and more enjoyable, though no less intense. First-look items are a chance to show off your stellar airmanship. There are pros and cons to both. Both require study and preparation. Both ingrain and enhance skills. And both can save your life.-–Chip Wright  female wrestling