Sunday, September 25, 2016

One week down in the simulator

Starting week two in the simulator for my new aircraft.

Partially because I have 5000 hours airline time and partially because I'm a geek....it's gonna very well.

My sim partner isn't having such a relaxed time.

My new aircraft, ERJ-175, is much more advanced than my last. At the end of the day an airplane is an airplane, but mastering the technology is a whole different story.

In the past I would fly a non-precision approach via the "drive and dive" method. It wasn't very accurate, and required a lot of work.....but well....it's how it was done.

The ERJ-175 has VNAV and can calculate a Flight Path Angle to have a constant rate of descent. Due to a myriad of issues I can only use the VNAV to the Final Approach Fix. From the FAF inbound I have to use FPA. Not terribly complex, but it must be done. I get it. My First Officer does not.

I feel bad for them, but they actually chose this aircraft. They could have gone to a more basic jet, but for whatever reason they chose the 175. The 175 is a lot of aircraft for a new hire being their first jet.

This week I have 3 simulator events then a Manuvers Validation then a Line Operating Experience ride. The MV is the actual "check ride" while the LOE is another phase check.

So far I'm feeling very well. There are some quirks to the 175 I don't like (I have to push down on the tiller to steer and the seat doesn't go back as far as the last jet), but overall it will be better than commuting.

More later.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Top of Descent

I'm halfway through my training for my new aircraft.

My First Officer is a new hire. Not the youngest but it's their first airline gig. Prior to my airline my First Officer flew corporate.

The new aircraft is much more sophisticated than my previous two. The new plane is a ERJ-175.

The new tech for me included coupled V-NAV, Auto-throttles a CCD (device like a mousepad used to control the screens) and emergency slides. There's more but those are the biggies.

I've taken the written exam and have my oral exam at the end of the week. After that it's off to a different city for simulator training.

I should be back on the line and in the air in October.

In August I attended my last job fair (I think). I'm done paying for them. I'm making good money, live in base and am a Captain. I might just hang out for a bit.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

My last dog and pony show....I think

Sorry for the lack of updates. Commuting makes me want to enjoy as much possible off time as possible.

I'm currently on vacation in the Outer Banks. When I get back I have 4 more days commuting then I hit long term training for a new aircraft.

Yesterday I left the vacation house at 4:50 AM, drove 90 minutes to Norfolk, hopped a ride to Chicago, rented a car, drove to the Westin, attended a job fair, drove back to the airport, hopped a ride back to Norfolk (ironically in the same tail number and same seat!) and pulled back into the vacation driveway at midnight.

I think that was my last dog and pony show.

I had a few minutes face to face with recruiters from Delta, United and American. There were other airlines there, but none that interested me.

Since I fly for free my total cost was $150 to attend the job fair plus another $100 for a rental car and gas.

Over the last two years I've spent more than $900 on job fairs.

In reality I don't want to commute the rest of my life. My family has a great house, my daughter has a great school and friends she enjoys. I can't see us moving just for my job. That means getting a job with my mainline partner since they have a base where I live. So all my focus will now be on getting a job with them.

I have about 150 hours of turbine Pilot In Command time. I should be flying again in October. Once I hit the line again I will be flying much more than I do now.

Back to vacation.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

No such thing as an easy commute

August 23rd...when my commuting will cease.

Until then I, like many flight crew members around the country (and maybe the world), commute.

Each day there are 11+ flights I can pick from to get to and from work. The aircraft seating capacity varies between 140 and 260+ seats. Most are between 140-160. Sounds easy...but most flights are full...and there are lots of commuters and dead heading flight crew.

I am getting more senior. In May I had 4 people under me. I now have 16. When I transfer next month I will have 30.

Being more senior I can get the "better" reserve trips. Trips that start later (allowing me to commute in same day) and end earlier (allowing me to commute home that day).

This week I had a 9PM sign in on day one and finish at 6:30 AM on day 4. I'm only on reserve 4 days.

Getting to work seemed easy enough. Per my contract I have to give myself two flights to get to work on time. This meant a 5:40 PM flight and a 6:30 PM flight. Both were very open.

Well there was weather. Delays. The 5:40 PM flight started with a 30 minute delay...then 45 minutes. I alerted crew scheduling. They said to keep them informed. The 6:30 PM flight was showing on time. I debated and felt the 6:30 PM flight (a 777) would leave before the 5:40 PM delayed flight.

They were in different terminals.

I rushed to the 777 flight...only to see passengers deplaning! They were now an hour delayed. Crap. I rushed back over to the 5:40PM flight which was suddenly boarding. I called scheduling and told them I would miss my sign in time by 25 minutes. To my surprise they were fine....as I was the only Captain available.

We left at 7PM and landed at 9:25 PM. My departure was 9:45 PM. I checked on the rest of my crew and they were very delayed.....not arriving until 10:45 PM. So much for feeling rushed.

They arrived and we left. Every leg so far (today is day 3) has had issues....mechanical or weather.

Today is one flight in and a deadhead to an overnight. Tomorrow is one leg to the hub.

As far as getting home the direct flight is almost full....I might two leg it on wide open flights.

Looking forward to August.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Two legger

I've had a lot of vacation recently. I spent a week in Paris at the start of the month and spent a week at home this week.

The day after my vacation ended I had 4 days of reserve. I am getting more senior (15 below me!) and was able to get an easy 4 day trip. I just had to commute to base.

Normally travelling on weekends is easy. The weekday flights are full of business travelers. Well with the booming travel industry today was hard.

I didn't have to report to my base until 3:50 PM. In order to get there I had to leave my house at 7:30 AM.

My first commute attempt via a direct flight was a bust due to a mainline jump seater. The next flight was a bust due to a coworker getting the jump seat (jump seat procedures vary by airline....thus is complex). At this point it was 10:05 AM. I had a back up two leg commute which I didn't want to take....but it was my only viable option.

As luck would have it the two leg option left just a few gates down. It seems several non-revs were using this route as the standby list was quite long. I was given an exit row seat along with several other crew members.

Up and away we went. Quick 90 minute flight.

Leg two was leaving at the gate next to my arrival gate. The flight originally had 35 open seats. It was down to 13 as revenue passengers were being routed through here as well. I was number 14 on the list.

The last seat left was the most upright, thinly padded seat on the airplane...the flight deck jump seat. It happened to be on the same aircraft I currently fly.

I settled in and was thankful it was just an hour and ten minute flight.

Once in I had lunch and took a moment to type this up.

The trip is a 1-2-2-1. It was originally 3-2-2-1 but another pilot sliced the first two legs off and flew them as overtime.

Speaking of overtime I made an effective $222 an hour this week.

On one of my vacation days I picked up 7 hours and 30 minutes worth of flying. It was a little nutty as I left home at 5:20 AM, commuted up on a 6:50 AM flight, flew 3 legs, deadheaded back to base, then commuted home on a 10:30 PM flight. I pulled into my garage at 12:45 AM. It will be great when I am paid for it. I made as much in one day as I used to get in 15 days as a First Officer.

Time to go be a Captain.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Still a baby Captain

Two months later and I'm still a baby Captain.

I did use some of my new Captain money to take my family to Paris. That was my kiddos 3rd time to Europe...and she's only 5.

As far as being a Captain it's about what I thought it would be. The worst part is dealing with being a low seniority pilot commuting to reserve. Commuting kills quality of life...add in reserve and it's that much worse. Thankfully I knew this going in and will only be commuting until mid-August at worst.

Right now I'm sitting in an airport in Ohio waiting for an aircraft to be fixed. Once it's fixed I have to do a functional flight check to make sure it's really fixed (it was grounded for stiff ailerons). Once it's fixed I am supposed to fly it back to my base.

The flight was originally supposed to leave at 8PM....then 9PM....right now it's 9:30 PM but the mechanic stated the aircraft won't be ready until 10PM. Yeah...Left hand and Right hand aren't in agreement.

I think in reality the aircraft will be ready at 10:30 PM. We will do a functional flight check around 11PM....return by 11:30PM. If it passes the aircraft will be fueled up and maybe signed off around midnight. At best I will get to a hotel room by 1AM. The only solace will be I will be illegal for reserve tomorrow....so there's that.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Yeah....I'm a bad commuter....and I hate it...but we already knew that

Oh commuting....is bad. Commuting to reserve is worse.

Readers who've been around for a few years (like 5+) may remember I was a forced commuter for 5 months straight...and hated it. I swore I'd do everything to avoid it....yet here I am....commuting. At least I'm being paid better.

This week I had to do something I really didn't like. I had to commute up the night BEFORE reserve.

My 5 day reserve block started on Friday. Thursday evening my daughter had her belt test for her Martial Arts class. I didn't want to miss it. The test was at 6 PM. The last flight I could catch was 8:15 PM. My report time was 7:15 AM. The earliest I could get a direct flight in the morning wouldn't put me on the ground until 7:30 AM. I had to go in the night before.

She earned her orange belt at 6:35 PM. I hugged her, congratulated her and headed to the airport. The flight was oversold and I was planning on sitting in the jump seat. Thanks to the TSA and their inept screening process  I was able to get a real seat! I feel bad for passengers, especially those with children as the lines are the worst I've ever seen.

I got to my hotel room at 11 PM. The 7:15 AM show time came quickly.

Thankfully it was just one leg to the overnight. The overnight was actually to the airport I flew out of as a passenger many times as a kid. It was very cool to by the Captain of an airliner flying into the airport I first flew out of as a kid.

What made it more special was seeing my wife and daughter waiting in the window of the terminal. They flew down as I had a 20 hour overnight.

I told my crew I'd meet them at the plane in the morning. I joined my family and headed off to a rental car.

We had a great dinner and visited the Johnson Space Center for the day. A bit of weather moved in. This caused a flight to cancel...which caused the next days flights to get full. My family was going to have a problem getting home.

Thanks to the TSA again my family got on. All of us have TSA Precheck so they zoomed through while I used KCM.,

Day 2 of my trip was long but easy. It was 3 legs with the last being a dead head on the same aircraft I flew in to an out station.

I arrived in base at 4:00 PM. Normally scheduling has the next day assignments done by then. There was nothing for me. I called and asked if they had any open overnight flights ( to avoid possibly having to pay for my own hotel in base). They had nothing, so I headed to a hotel.

As I was checking in I saw my assignment for the next day....a 6:15 AM deadhead to my old base (also where I live!). If I had known that I would have just gone home that night and slept in my own bed. It was 5 PM...I was tired. I checked the direct flights and they were all full...I just checked in to the hotel.

This morning I woke up way too early. The deadhead left one time. The lines for security at 5:30 AM were ridiculous. Lots of passengers missing their flights.

Just one leg to the overnight again. I have two flights tomorrow and two the next. All are in and out of my old base.

I can deal with the commuting for now as it will be short lived. In August I go back to training to train on another jet to be based at home again.

Commuting is not for the faint of heart...or those that have busy families. When I get a job at a major I will either move to the new base if there is no hope of being based at home. It's just not worth it to be a lifetime commuter. I can handle it for 3 months.