Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The green line

I start a 5 day reserve stint tomorrow. I thought I would get airport standby, but was pleasantly surprised to see I was assigned a Reserve Availability Period from 4AM to 7PM. This means I have to be available for contact from 4AM until 7PM.

My last trip was pretty good. I had pitch issues though. The CRJ7 is very pitch sensitive. During landing the plane is flown nose down until at least 5o feet. From memory I believe it's 2 1/2 degrees nose down (I will have to remember to remember next time I fly).

While on approach for my most recent two landings I tended to raise the nose early. Both landings were at night and were done visually. I had the glideslope tuned in, but kept my eyes outside. Both times around 100 feet I pulled the nose up and added a little power. I would then have to pull power and lower the nose. The momentary raising of the nose caused roll out to be longer which caused the plane to eat up more runway before kissing the ground.

After the last landing the Captain mentioned that I did the same thing the night before. Odd. I landed in the touchdown zone quiet nicely both times, but ate extra runway. This is an easy thing to fix.

Something else happened on the trip worth discussing. While landing Thursday night we had a little confusion in the cockpit.

We were kept high for crossing traffic below us. After clear we were cleared from 10,000 feet to 3000 feet. I had just 3 minutes to get down. Nothing major, but the 3000 feet was also the altitude at the Final Approach Fix....4 minutes away. I slowed to 220 knots first, then called for flaps 1 then flap 8. With the flaps at 8, I extended the flight spoilers fully and briefed the approach. Whenever I extend the flight spoilers I leave my hand on the lever so I won't forget to retract them.

The plane leveled at 3000 feet 2 miles from the FAF. I began to stow the flight spoilers. The approach controller advised to slow further as we were 40 knots faster than the plane ahead. No problem I called for flaps 20. In order for the Captain to reach the flap lever, I had to move my hand off the flight spoiler handle. The approach controller then advised he would vector us through the localizer for better separation. No biggie. We had the airport and the traffic in sight.

I clicked off the autopilot as we were cleared for the visual approach. I called for gear down followed by flaps 30 and finally flaps 45. I then called for the before landing checklist. The Captain told me to watch my speed. I looked down and saw that I was right on approach speed. He asked where should the "green line" be.

Ahh the green line. There is a green floating line in the CRJ that is a FAA stall advisory speed. The line is set 1.27 times the stall speed in the current configuration. The line normally bounces around a little below our approach speed. During high level cruise we are sometimes just above the green line. The green line is advisory only. this doesn't mean the plane is about to stall (again it's 1.27 X stall speed...so at least 30 knots away even at approach speed).  Sometimes when the plane is light the green line is right at approach speed.

I concentrated on flying the plane before answering him. I stated it's advisory only and sometimes it's right on approach speed. Looking down I was right on approach speed. I then called for the before landing checklist again. "Landing gear three green" he said...."Landing gear three green" I responded. "Thrust reversers armed" he challenged. That's when I saw the problem. Right above the thrust reversers armed status message was the message that the flight spoilers were still deployed. When I moved my hand to have the Captain lower the flaps to 20, I wasn't done stowing the flight spoilers. They were only out two clicks. Once they stowed the green line went below the approach speed. Problem solved.

The approach phase of can be very busy, especially in busy airspace. Until that approach I had never taken my hand off the flight spoilers without re-stowing them. We were never in danger as again we were at least 30 knots above a stall and were in calm wind conditions and 2000+ feet above the ground. The next item on the before landing checklist after "thrust reversers armed" is "flight spoilers retracted". So even if I had not seen the status message, it would have been caught then. This is why we have checklist.

And now some random shots......

[singlepic id=184 w=320 h=240 float=center]

[singlepic id=183 w=320 h=240 float=center]

[singlepic id=182 w=320 h=240 float=center]


  1. Really like the last pic!

  2. Ya i always wondered about how pilots use spoilers in jets because i always forget to retract them in flight simulator. that is until im about to fall out of the sky. of course im not monitoring airspeed as well as i should :)

  3. I just have one question that has always been on my mind. Why do they still have a "No smoking" button? why dont they just make it an automatic light that comes on when you turn the plane on?

  4. I have seen on some newer planes that the "no smoking" is a sticker on the overhead in the cabin. They then have two lights, one for the seatbelt and the other for "electronic devices". I have been on a few planes as a passenger that simply had stickers for no smoking. Of note...we do have ashtrays in the cockpit.

  5. Hahaha Thats funny. I thaught CRJ's were newer aircraft. How old are they?

  6. The CRJ was designed in the early 90's. Although much has been improved, it's still behind the times in a lot of ways.


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