Before I get into what it was like to train the British Airways pilots, a couple of paragraphs about the above photo.
The photo above was taken by a professional Lockheed photographer in a key spot of the Palmdale desert, catching the L-1011′s taxing by for take off. This particular photo was taken of the very first British Airways TriStar taxing out to make it’s very first take off.
Although I worked mostly as an FE instructor, George Hall would use me once in a while as a second production flying FE. Production flying always carried two flight engineers because there was so much work to be done in the cockpit and back in the cabin. Anyway, I was fortunate to be on this British Airways first flight as the second FE.
Although George hired me, as an instructor FE I actually worked for Glenn Fisher who was the FE Flight Training Manager. Recall that Glenn was the FE on the maiden L-1011 flight. Glenn had over 1,000 FE hours flying in ship #1001 alone.
British Airways Training
So the strangest thing about British Airways training was that the crews they sent to us for factory training included only Captains and First Officers. No flight engineers at all. So for BA training, I flew in the simulator and aircraft with a pilot crew and functioned as the flight engineer. Unlike all other 3 man crew training, with BA there was no FE/Pilot integration training, nothing. The training was only for the pilots. I had no idea how BA could train like that but they did.
I flew FE on a delivery flight to London with two BA pilots flying. It was just the strangest thing I ever encountered and I trained with a lot of BA pilots. I got a lot of FE flight time in the BA TriStars.
The other odd thing I noticed for the first time in the BA planes was that there was a ground steering wheel on the F/O side. I never saw that before. The wheel was still on the Captain’s side…the cockpit just now had two ground steering wheels. I asked an F/O why did BA have us add a second wheel on the right side and he said “Oh, Captains don’t taxi, they only fly the plane”. He said it with an air that made it sound like it was beneath a Captain to actually have to taxi a jetliner. That task must be done by a co-pilot. Well…I never!