Friday, April 24, 2009

I almost feel like a real airline pilot

While sitting ready reserve today I was surprised to get a flight. Nothing great. It's a short flight with a short overnight. The Captain is a nice guy and with a short overnight I should be released in the morning when I get back. Flying twice in one week! It's almost like being a "real" airline pilot <insert sarcasm here>.

The plane had been down for maintenance earlier in the day. Nothing major, just a missing exit sign placard. The plane was sitting at the gate so I hopped on board.

The external power wasn't connected yet so the cockpit was dark and stuffy. I stashed my bags and went out for my pre-flight. I saw a ramper walking toward the plane and gave him the hand signal to connect the power.

While I rounded the back of the plane the ramper was connecting the external air to the plane to provide cool air to the cabin. Once back in the plane I patiently waited for the green light to turn on signifying the external power was connected. It never came.

The Captain showed up and let me know one of our flight attendants wasn't arriving until 6:33PM. We were supposed to depart at 6:45PM. She was arriving at gate 27 while we were parked at gate 5. There was no way we would leave on time.

We gave up on waiting for power and turned on the battery master. We then saw a problem.

[singlepic id=49 w=320 h=240 float=center]

The release only called for 8100 lbs of fuel. There was over 12000 on board. The plane was previously fueled for a much longer flight. Passenger count was on our flight was a full load of 70. There was no way we could take off with that much excess fuel and be under landing weight at our destination.

The Captain fired up the APU (we gave up on getting external power) and I called our operations to advise them of the excess fuel. Once I released the transmit button I saw an EICAS message relating to the fuel panel being open. Sure enough operations let me know we were being de-fueled down to the proper level. If I had only waited a few more seconds. No harm/ no foul.

The second flight attendant arrived at 6:55PM. We can't board unless they are both on board. We quickly boarded the plane and pushed out at 7:05PM.

The flight out was fine. A few bumps, but nothing major.

[singlepic id=50 w=320 h=240 float=center]

The overnight is very short. Our rest clock started 15 minutes after the cabin door opened at 8:18PM. So officially our rest started at 8:33PM. At 8:35PM we were in the hotel van. Thankfully the hotel is only 3 minutes from the airport. This hotel is one of the worst in the system for my airline. They ran low on rooms tonight and upgraded a few of us (including me) to a suite. So instead of a crappy room I get a crappy suite.

The departure tomorrow morning is scheduled for 5:40AM. We have a van at 5:00AM. Right now it's 9:30PM. I will probably get 6 hours or so of sleep if I am lucky. I tend to sleep very little on reduced rest overnights.

Since I get back so early tomorrow morning I will likely be released for the day and will be off until 2PM Sunday when I report for airport standby again. This is a great thing as my wife wants to go out with some friends tomorrow night. Here's hoping for the best.


  1. Hey, I've always wondered.... sometimes, I'm asked to provide power to a plane, usually as a set of services the a/c will require while on our ramp. As in, Dep: Ice, Coffee, GPU, Airstairs. So, I'll drag out the GPU and get it ready, but have always been hesitant to actually plug it in till the crew arrives and I confirm they're ready for power. My question is.... can you think of anything bad that could happen if plugged in before they arrived? I assume master power is always off, but if it was left in the Ext. Pwr position and ON, could say, the coffee maker start heating up if I plugged in?.... and no...wasn't me who TOTALLY failed you in providing power!.. :)

    Great blog by the way!

  2. At least on CRJ if the external power is connected and turned on, only a few lights inside will turn on. For everything to turn on the external power button must be pressed in the cockpit. No worries, most stations leave the external power connected all night as it lights up the cargo compartment so the rampers can load/unload bags, it lights up the cabin to allow to cleaning crew to clean and it lights up the navigation lights so vehicles don't hit the plane.


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