Tianjin Airlines – Pilot Reports


I wanted to take a little time to share my experiences while being evaluated by Captain Lv from Tianjin Airlines for a E190 Captain position.  Many pilots applying for similar positions have blogged about how difficult the Chinese evaluations are in comparison to US checkrides.  While my evaluation was challenging, it was not anything out of the ordinary we all face on a proficiency check or type rating.  In addition, I cannot over emphasize the importance of the cultural training VOR Holdings gives you throughout the interview process.  I wanted to take a little time to share my experiences while being evaluated by Captain Lv from Tianjin Airlines for a E190 Captain position.  Many pilots applying for similar positions have blogged about how difficult the Chinese evaluations are in comparison to US checkrides.  While my evaluation was challenging, it was not anything out of the ordinary we all face on a proficiency check or type rating.  In addition, I cannot over emphasize the importance of the cultural training VOR Holdings gives you throughout the interview process.

Do to a cancelation of another candidate I had a unique opportunity to participate on three interview checkrides. I served as a First Officer twice and a Captain for my own evaluation.
While good flying skills are critical, understanding the “Chinese way” is almost more important than your technical abilities in the aircraft.  Unfortunately, I was the only candidate of three to pass that evening.  I remained humble and respectful to the instructor.  Both of the other candidates in my opinion, lacked command authority and some leadership qualities the Chinese were seeking in their Captains.

For instance, the one individual was unsure of himself and did not keep a “cool head” when problems arose.  The other became “wishy-washy” with procedures and situational awareness.  Be the Captain of the ship, confident, but not in an arrogant fashion.  Work as a team, utilizing CRM, including communications with the cabin crew, ATC, company, etc.  Most importantly remain calm during abnormal procedures (i.e. refrain from emotion, almost like using a poker face).

Captain Lv offered a preflight briefing through his translator explaining his expectations on the check ride.

1. He preferred interviewee’s use Tianjin Airline’s SOP’s. He will allow you to use your company’s if you are not familiar.  At the very minimum show a little effort and utilize their SOP to your best ability.

2. Proper use of the QRH and Checklists.  A crew on the previous day experienced an elevator control jam, but ran the procedure for runaway pitch instead.

3. Use of proper CRM.  Crews should communicate with each other, but also realize what each person’s job is.  During emergencies, Tianjin Check Airmen expect the Captain to fly the aircraft, command the crew and communicate with ATC.  It is the First Officers job to operate systems, run the checklist items at the Captain’s direction.  (I also recommend communication with Cabin Crew).

4. Assume each evaluation starts with a “dark” flight deck; however, we only utilized the safety and power up procedures once to save time.

5. While he did not brief, expect gusty and strong crosswinds every takeoff and landing (around 30 knots).

6. Captain Lv also noted that a crash constitutes an automatic failure.

Ride One:

I served as a first officer during the first evaluation.  We started with a dark cockpit.  Captain Lv instructed us to complete the safety checks/power on procedure and prepare a flight from Beijing to a small airport near the coast. The first scenario included an external air start for engine two, followed by a cross-bleed start on engine one.  Ensure that you utilize the appropriate checklist for these situations.

After completion of the engine start procedures and checklist, the instructor placed us at the end of runway 36L in Beijing.  During the first takeoff, the first candidate experienced a V1 Cut.  Sadly, he probably sealed his fate with an aborted takeoff after reaching V1.  Captain Lv gave him another opportunity repeating the same scenario.

Upon reaching V1 the second time, engine #2 separated from the aircraft.  This can be noted by the lack of engine data on the EICAS.  Because this is considered severe damage memory items should be completed after 400 feet (if you are using Tianjin’s procedures).  The first candidate was unaware of a large peak just north of the field and never familiarized himself with single engine guidance procedures found in the Jepp pages.  The Captain asked for a runway heading (common at my company). Almost immediately, the EGPWS alerted, Terrain Terrain Pull Up.  This maneuver is a little more exciting with only one engine operative.

Finally, after completing the checklist’s we conducted an ILS approach to 36L in Beijing.  “ATC” informed us to go around (single engine) at approximately 100 feet agl.  We then made another approach to a full stop landing.

Ride Two:

During ride two, it was my turn in the hot seat and the third candidate served as my First Officer.  We completed the same flight plan and took off on runway 36L and at approximately 200 feet agl, we experienced an engine failure.  We followed engine out navigation procedures then asked ATC for a downwind back to runway 36L.

Even though you are in IMC conditions, Captain Lv expects you to maintain a comfortable distance away from the runway and compensate for crosswinds on your own versus getting traditional ATC vectors.  I made the mistake of turning to a heading of 180.  I slowly drifted very close to the runway (This was one of my debriefing items).  We attempted to restart the engine unsuccessfully, and then made a single engine ILS approach to 36L.  Once again, “ATC” called for a single engine go around maneuver, then returned for a to a full stop landing.  Once on the ground the instructor reset the aircraft for another departure.

The next flight was a more in common with our traditional LOFT training. We departed 36L from Beijing and climbed out on an RNAV departure.  Through approximately 12,000 feet, the autopilot failed on a climb to FL300.  Use appropriate checklist, notify ATC to stop climb before entering RVSM airspace.  Captain Lv allowed the autopilot to be re-engaged.  At FL200 a Pressurization Auto Fail Message appeared.  I elected to stop our climb until the First Officer could apply manual operation of the pressurization system as specified in the QRH.  Our next problem occurred during a climb to FL300. A Cabin Hi Message and rapid decompression took place.  Obviously, don oxygen masks, establish communications, and perform an emergency descent to 10,000 feet or MEA.

At this point, we were close enough to our destination to continue with the flight.  ATC cleared us onto an arrival transition to shoot a VOR/DME approach 28 in VMC conditions.  While you can use GPS data as a reference, the Chinese prefer you to navigate with raw data from the VOR/DME and NDB’s on these approaches.  During the approach to landing a Wind Shear warning forced a go around.  We then set up for a visual landing to 28.  During this time an APU fire started.  We were unable to extinguish the fire, made an emergency landing, subsequently evacuating the aircraft.

Ride Three:

The final evaluation of the evening started in similar fashion as the second with only a different destination.  Once again, our crew experienced a V1 cut.  After navigating to the downwind leg the engine magically restarted itself.  During the downwind EICAS message “Hydraulic 2 Hi Temp” appeared.  Just as we were running the checklist, Hydraulic 2 Over Heat popped in the screen.  Once the system was isolated, we made an approach back to runway 36L in Beijing.

During final approach, another wind shear appeared resulting in a missed approach with the gear stuck in the down position do to the loss of hydraulic number two procedures. Finally, on the second downwind leg we experienced our last abnormal situation that included an Engine

Two Fire.  We extinguished the fire and landed without further issue.
I hope this might provide some insight to your evaluation for future employment at Tianjin Airlines.  Good Luck!


Here is a quick description of my sim evaluation in Orlando Florida at JetBlue U.
E190 Chief Pilot Captain Qi from Tianjin Airlines conducted the sim evaluation.  Nice guy!

Here goes my simulator scenario (1hr as a PF)

First exercise:

Two engines running align for t/off MCO RWY 18L
Do a fast but consistent preflight preparation and most important take one or two minutes to brief what you are going to do.

Visual traffic pattern on both sides of rwys 18L Orlando international; (right hand circuit and left hand circuit (F2 /170kts)) with strong steady X-winds and gusts (up to 26kts). Do not get yourself lost between four parallel rwys that might confuse you when you try to control speed, altitude, heading, and asks for normal checklists with no AT/AP/FD. After touchdown, on command from instructor, re-trim the stabilizer, set go-around flaps and press toga button, reject landing and enter on the circuit changing side of visual traffic.
After two successfully VFR/VMC traffic, full stop landing.

Second exercise:

Prepare the airplane to perform a flight from Orlando to Miami (FMS)

Reject take-off with engine failure and all consequences…Do the theater until he says ok!
Another T/Off with severe damage performing recall items and checklists (be a captain and take positive decisions) apply all memory items timely and try to follow their standardization. They will accept variations because they know every company has its own, and so they tolerate as long as you know what you are doing and are consistent. Fly the airplane and maintain situational awareness where you are and be a positive captain. Perform all the memory items perfectly. Loss of hydraulic system one… He didn’t want us to run the Loss of hydraulic 1 check list, just to observe it on eicas…as a consequence of severe damage…

Another T/Off with engine failure soon after V1 and do everything all over (CRM and management, Control, Company, Cabin, Clients, prepare and brief…)

Returned to land in Orlando with single engine ILS Cat I, no AP/AT and no FD. Strong X-wind (26kts) and gusty conditions Thunderstorm around the airport. Be prepared for wind shear that never happened. Full stop landing…

Take Tianjin’s normal checklists on board and also MCO charts.
On the sim there were nothing, but I had my own charts and it seems that he liked.

I hope that I could be helpful! Good luck for everyone! See you in China!


Tianjin Simulator training and CAAC Check ride review.  The review is presented by an candidate that prefers to remain anonymous at this time since he is employed by another airline.


I arrived in Sanya on a Saturday night and had all day Sunday to relax in the hotel. The Hotel is a very nice resort in a very quiet area outside of the city of Sanya. There is not much around the hotel but Taxis are very inexpensive to get downtown. It can be difficult to get a Taxi near the hotel, but it is very easy to catch the number “7” bus which will take you to a busier area which is easy to find a taxi. The bus is between 1 and 3 RMB (I never figured out why sometimes I was charged 3 and sometimes only 1….but even at 3 RMB I didn’t feel too bad since this is very inexpensive).

Monday night very late, I had the simulator training session. To say that it is a training session is probably not really an accurate statement. It is more of a warm-up session for the Check ride. The training session is just like the CAAC check ride only with maybe a couple of extra items thrown in and with fewer people in the simulator.

The aircraft was set up on the runway at Tianjin. The instructor wanted to see pre-departure CRM so we did full briefings as if we were at the gate and ran all checklists but it was hard to play the part because you don’t really taxi to the runway. So It’s a little strange but you just have to adjust. The first take off we encountered severe wind shear at about 400 feet. Just follow SRS guidance and the difficult part is coming out of the wind shear because the aircraft will be climbing very fast. You must remember to get the flaps up and not overspeed. Any overspeed warning triggered is an automatic failure on the CAAC check ride. We had a severely injured passenger so it warranted an immediate return to the airport. Remember to keep everyone in the loop: first officer/support pilot, ATC, flight attendants/purser, company, medical personal, and anyone else you can think of. The approach was an ILS to minimums with 25 knots gusting to 30 direct crosswinds. The next take off we experienced a dual hydraulic system failure, Green and Blue system. Of course this is hand flown and the procedures direct to turn auto thrust off but flight directors are still available. This is a very extensive procedure and warrants a review before you go to the SIM. Again, CRM is important so remember to keep everyone in the loop.

The approach is hand flown auto thrust off but with Flight Directors. Again, the approach was to minimums with strong crosswinds. The next take off was an engine failure at V1. The failure was catastrophic so no re-light. Airbus procedures dictate that climb is continued until the engine is secured at which point V/S is pushed for level off and clean up. The auto pilot was failed so this approach is also hand flown with flight directors and auto thrust available. Again, approach is to minimums with strong crosswind…I think 20 knots gusting to 28 or so. Remember CRM of course and to brief everything. The next take off was a Non precision approach….VOR I think.

They vectored me onto the approach. I am not sure whether they desire to see constant flight path technique or “dive and drive”…I asked but I am not sure the Check Pilot understood what I was asking. The approach has an offset VOR so when the runway is in sight, it requires a bit of a side step to the left to land. Make sure to maintain a gentle descent all the way to the runway.

The last Take off was a visual pattern flown at 2000 feet. Weather for this one was CAVU so the runway could be seen at all times. The auto pilot was failed on the crosswind so hand flown pattern, but auto thrust was available. Use timing abeam the numbers of the Runway for determining base turn. Of course, 25 gusting to 30 knot crosswind. All flights were Flaps 2 take offs at 62 tons weight.

The CAAC check ride was very similar only somewhat abbreviated. We had the wind shear and then the hydraulics failure in the same flight. I heard from one other pair of candidates that they were given Green and Yellow system failure, but I had the Green and Blue again. The next t/o was engine failure at V1 and return to land. Finally, I had the visual pattern at 1500 feet. All take offs were Flaps 2 at 62 tons. All landings were gusty crosswinds between 20 and 30 knots.

Things I found important:

CRM and calmness are very important….remember to keep everyone in the loop and to brief everything thoroughly but don’t waste time…..the Dual hydraulics failure shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes and the engine failure shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes (the Chief Pilot/Check pilot told me this) so accomplish ECAMS and subsequent briefings purposefully…. not rushed, but move forward with purpose and get the job done.

There may be as many as 4 people in the back of the simulator during the check ride: 2 check pilots, a company representative, and the CAAC inspector. They will talk to each other loudly during the check ride so it can be very distracting. Just be aware of this and try to ignore it. I assumed they were not necessarily talking about me….but I really don’t know. It was actually very difficult to concentrate with a non sterile cockpit but the distraction must be mitigated however you can.

It is so important to be a gracious applicant. I was genuinely happy to be there and genuinely thankful for the opportunity and let the Tianjin people know this in my own way. I was very genuine, not fake, in my appreciation. I also tried to embrace Chinese culture. I have tried to learn a few words every trip to China and I use them whenever possible. I try to be aware that I am a guest in China and it is not for me to decide how they want to run things….only to adjust as best as I can so as to most enjoy the experience. Be a positive person and things will go better.

Remember to follow the glideslope even after breaking out visually and acquiring the runway. They want a nice smooth descent to the runway.

And finally, the simulator in Sanya is the most pitch sensitive A-320 simulator I have ever flown (and I have flown several different 320 simulators over the last 10+ years). Be very careful to use extremely small corrections or don’t touch it at all. Almost all of the applicants in my group were in agreement on this. So be aware…..it’s difficult, but not impossible.

I will try to update this if I can think of anything else. But this is how I remember it one week later. I wish you good luck! I’m leaving my name and present employment as well as my experience off of this write-up intentionally because I’m still employed at another job and I’d prefer it if they didn’t know I am looking elsewhere. Have a great trip to China.


My Tianjin interview and sim ride was a two day affair.

Day one was a China orientation conducted by VOR Holdings that was very useful for getting my head into the right mindset and was very useful for understanding the culture. Something that was appreciated by the Tianjin staff once we made first contact on day two.

Day two consisted of an interview, which was nothing more than a video presentation by Tianjin on the origins of the firm, followed by a review of our credentials. It was a group “interview”, dress was business casual, and the emphasis was more group, than interview.

There were no questions like the familiar, “tell me about the time”, or the likes of “why do you want to work for Tianjin”, type questions.

None of that, just your credentials. My observation was that while it was important that you had PIC time in the 145, else they would probably not have invited you, it seemed like a lack of recent 145 PIC flight time was discounted as long as you were flying some kind of jet in a PIC capacity.

Much of my check ride experience was posted on the first sim review post but I might add a couple of observations. You don’t have to waste time learning the Tianjin call outs on their profiles published in their SOP, this is not what they are testing.

If you can get together with you sim partners before the sim check and go over your call outs, whatever they are, then it’s one less thing to worry about. If you are fortunate to be paired with someone from your company or you know each others call outs and profiles, so much the better.

The real test is how you fly the plane. This is what is important. The first sim ride post gave the exact maneuvers to perform. You probably wont complete everything. Most challenging was flying an NDB hold on raw data using backup instruments during an electrical failure followed by an ILS approach. Thankfully, we did not get to hold but it was a challenge nonetheless. Make sure your hand flying skills are up to snuff, that you remember how to fly NDB approaches, that you remember how to hold at an NDB with crosswind and that you know how to use the RMU to do the above.

The ride is a challenge and these guys are absolute professionals, they demand that you fly at ATP standards and give you little wriggle room.

During the debrief they indicated that CAAC demands are even more stringent, if you can imagine that.

If nothing else, the sim ride will give you a good idea of where your skills are and whether intended or not, is a very humbling experience.

Good luck to all.


The following information is related to my own experience with Tianjin Airline Simulator Check ride for foreign Captains took in Beijing.

Once I reached the building, the Chief Pilot and the Foreign Pilot Recruitment Manager, Mr. River Liu, were waiting for us.

Other two Captains from Austria and Vietnam join me in the simulator.

The briefing was just about a personal introduction and We had then the chance to ask few questions about the sim check and to take a look to the company checklist and QRH: they use Airbus standards so there are no differences I need to point.

The aircraft was set up on the RWY 34L at Tianjin. They want the Captain to do all the preflight checks and they don’t have special requests about departure briefing.

All the WX conditions (250/25G30 V800mt QNH 1015) and Aircraft weights (ZFW 55.0T MACTOW 30.0 TOW 8.0T), were just according the documents I received from the agency.

No MELs, no start up faults.

During the first T/O we experienced an ENG FAIL with no damage but the Inflight Start didn’t work. There is no Engine Out Procedure, so just follow the SID and ask Radar Vectors to came back. Keep everyone in the loop, show a very good CRM, it’s very important!

Everything was just as always in the simulator, just the wind direction and speed with huge and large change that makes very hard to keep the speed which sometimes was increasing of more then 30 kts or decreasing below the Green Dot so you need to temporary set TOGA thrust again. Pay very attention when extending the Flaps, because I needed to use the Speed Brakes to avoid a overspeed! (As we moved the flap lever to 1 the speed trend strongly increased reaching 231 kts!)

Even during the approach, with no windshear, the wind speed changed from 60 kts xwind at the IAF, 25 kts by the OM, then again 55 kts by 500 ft when you get the RWY in sight and 25 again at 200 ft. I didn’t expect anything like that, so I couldn’t make the landing and I performed a Go Around. Then I requested new radar vectors and I made a second approach and a nice flare landing as they like.

The second T/O we encountered a Severe Wind Shear at 400 ft and then we made a couple of visual traffic pattern at 1500 ft, still with 30 kts xwind.

Then I moved to the right seat and the other Captain did exactely the same scenario and, I will say, even the same performance.

Let me point your attention to CRM, standard operating phraseology and callouts. They wanto to see how you manage the plane and your crew, and your handling skills. Do that and you will pass it.

Let them know you are happy to be there, be friendly but show them they are the “boss”!

Good luck and enjoy your Chinese experience!

Any other information you need, just let me know, I’ll be very happy to share my experience.

Captain RIVETTI Davide from Alitalia

Leave a Reply