Sunday, December 4, 2016

Heavy Snow

I'm currently enjoying the homeless shelter AKA one of our crew rooms. I am supposed to be flying a bunch of passengers back from Omaha, Nebraska right now.

This is day 4 of a lovely 5 day reserve assignment.

Ironically I had an overnight in the base I previously commuted out of. Today started with a 1:40 PM departure to Omaha. It's also the first real snow of the season.

The aircraft had just come in so the light snow that was falling was just beginning to adhere to the aircraft when boarding started. By the time boarding was complete the ATIS was reporting regular snow, not light snow. We got in line for deicing.

After about 40 minutes everything lined up and deicing started. Then a new ATIS came out....heavy snow. There are no FAA guidlines for holdover times for heavy snow. A holdover time is the time he aircraft should be protected by the anti-icing fluid. Even though an aircraft can LIKELY take off after being sprayed with deicing and anti-icing fluid, there are no guarantees.

Once I saw the heavy snow I called the deicier and told him he should stop and save his fluid. I made a PA to the passengers explaining in plain language the situation. They had been on board for over an hour at this point. The next update from the airport wasn't due for another hour. After discussing the situation with my dispatcher, company operations and my crew it was decided we would deplane the passengers (passenger bill of rights folks you're welcome).

After about 30 minutes the decision was made in operations to cancel the flight. About 20 minutes after that....an ATIS came out....light snow.

The flight could have been reinstated, but it wasn't. Instead I had a 5 hour break until my flight to the overnight. It should still go as the snow is getting lighter. The problem operations wise aircraft and crews are all over the place. My aircraft is supposed to arrive at 6:30 PM. Or departure is 8:05 PM. The problem is the aircraft has been sitting at an outstation delayed for 3 hours. Not sure when that crew will time out.

Winter is definitely here.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Better...and worse...but mostly better

I'm settling in quite well to driving to work again. I don't miss commuting at all.

It's nice to not have to stress about what assignment I will get which would directly affect when I would have to leave home to catch a flight. Now I can just drive. No matter what I get....I can drive...just 15 minutes away.

That said my current base is growing. I would have been more senior if I had stayed commuting. This is a temporary pain. By next March I will have 50+ pilots under me. For now...I work Thanksgiving.

The flying has been fine. I've flown to both Canada and Mexico so far. No emergencies or major issues yet. I'm still disgruntled with my company....but there are very few regional pilots that love their company.

I passed my 9th year last month. I got a decent pay raise. I'm currently at $84 an hour. It sounds like a lot....but a good friend at Delta on the 717 gets over $200 an hour as Captain...and his plane holds maybe 20 more seats.  It's still a lot of money.

Next March I hit the big 4-0. Forty years old is a big deal as I have to get an FAA medical exam every six months instead of every year. I can skirt the rule by getting a medical BEFORE my 40th birthday and thus can wait until my 41st for my next one. The rule is roughly any medical AFTER turning age 40. Hey I can save $70.

I'm flying with a lot of new hires. My airline has majorly increased new hire pay.

My first full year as a new hire I made $31,000 all in. Now new hires make $60,000. More than double. Good for them....but man they will never know the struggle.

I will make another "How much does a regional pilot make after xxxx years" at the end of the year. This will be a hybrid year as I began getting Captain pay back in April.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Aim to exceed

I'm currently in the Motor City on my second (and should be final) IOE trip.

The first trip was just under 10 hours. I need at least 15 to finish as I am a transitioning Captain. When I was a new Captain I needed 25 hours.

The first trip was fairly easy. I was thrown to the wolves right away with a 28 knot gusty direct crosswind landing. I am happy to report crosswinds in the 175 are much easier than the CRJ.

I was quite nervous when I went through my initial Captain flight in April. Now it's just natural.

The first IOE Captain said I was doing very well for how little time I had in the plane.

This new IOE Captain said he'd sign me off after just the second flight, but I only had 12 hours total. It's a great feeling to exceed expectations.

I won't say I'm an excellent pilot, I just prepare well and have a well thought out way of flying.

Tomorrow it's one flight to the HUB and then to Baltimore. I plan on taking a series of buses and trains to the National Mall in DC. It's a 20 hour overnight and I don't plan on spending it all at the airport hotel.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Another Type Rating

Back at home. Simulator training complete.

The training wasn't "easy". I didn't feel stressed until the check ride (Maneuvers Validation in AQP world). It was normal, but odd to feel relaxed until that point.

The training was very different than my previous two. The training was NOT set up for new hires. A lot is skipped over and is assumed. My partner struggled the entire time, but also passed.

While in training a pilot I met up with many years ago (thanks to this blog!) was also there. Turns out he is an instructor for the same aircraft, but a different airline. Aviation is a small world. Nice chance meeting. I'm sure we will cross paths again.

For now I have two weeks off! Normally this would be great, but after being on the ground so long, I really want to fly. The timing works out well though as my wife has to travel next week for work. Since we have zero family in town, we both can't travel at the same time so it's nice that I'm off until the 14th and she comes back on the 13th.

In theory this should be my last new aircraft until I get picked up by the majors. Hopefully.

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.