Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A tale of three Captains

I flew with three different Captains last week. Each one was unique.

The first Captain, I will call him Brian,  is the most junior Captain on my plane in my base. I am the most junior First Officer on my plane in my base. So there are many times that we get assigned the same flight.

Brian has a personality that I just can't get a handle on. He is very polarizing as he can be funny and sarcastic at 2:00PM and a total ass at 2:00:05PM. For that reason I don't talk much when we fly together. I just do my job.

On the leg out we were an hour late. During the taxi out the next flight to the outstation was right in front of us. That flight was on another airline and flown by a ERJ-145.

That flight took off 3 minutes ahead of us. Brian wanted to out climb and hopefully get ahead of the ERJ. We were full. No idea how full the ERJ was. I watched the TCAS during climb out.

At 6000 feet the ERJ was at 8500. We were always 5 miles entrail. By 12000 feet the ERJ was at 12200. When we reached 16,500 feet the ERJ was at 16000. By 18000 feet the ERJ was just crossing 17100 feet. Crossing 19,000 feet left the ERJ at 17,800 feet. I gave up as we reach FL250 and the ERJ was just reaching FL200. I love the CRJ700. We ended up arriving 5 minutes ahead of the ERJ.

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On the return leg Brian and I had a "discussion" after a trip.

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During the arrival we were in hard IMC from 11,000 feet until 400 feet off the ground. The temp outside was below freezing. For this reason I had the Cowl and Wing Anti-Ice on. On the CRJ the N2 gauges turn white when the amount of air coming from the engines is below what MAY be required to keep the wings clear of ice. In my head it would be best to keep the thrust high enough to keep the N2's in the green. This can be a challenge when assigned 200 knots and to descend from 11,000 feet to 4,000 feet. In order to accomplish this I have to add drag to counteract the increased thrust. No where in my training was I taught this technique. Failure to keep the N2s in the green MAY cause a caution. In my head why not avoid a caution?

Brain had a problem with my technique. I had the flight spoilers out while descending with the power up (flaps were at 8). I left my left hand on the flight spoiler handle as to not forget I had them out. After lining up for the ILS I retracted the flight spoilers as I had enough drag from the flaps and gear hanging out. After parking at the gate we discussed what I did and basically agreed to disagree on my thinking. When I left the cockpit I met up with the next First Officer ,Paul,  who I knew from ATP. He has been here for almost 5 years. I explained to him what I did. He agreed with me and my thinking that by doing what I did, I COULD have avoided a caution message. On my way out the door I left my Zune in the cockpit. Thankfully the First Officer dropped it in my mailbox and I got it the next day.

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The next Captain, I will call him Steve, is very senior. He's in the top 1% of seniority at my airline. Steve has been here long enough that he has a son who works here as well. His son is very junior and has been bounced around a bit between bases and aircraft. In a few months he will be flying my plane which is the same plane that Steve flies. The relaxing of the age 60 retirement rule helped Steve stick around. He is now 61 and one of the oldest Captains at my airline.

Steve and I simply had a quick turn. We chit chatted each way. Some First Officers have issues with Steve. Each time I have flown with him has been a routine by the book flight. Routine is good.

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The last Captain was Kevin. Back when I first started I somehow held a hard line and Kevin was the Captain. Flying with Kevin was always enjoyable. It was always like we were going out on a road trip. Kevin is very diplomatic. He did his best to include me in as many operations as possible. Kevin is laid back and extremely knowledgeable when it comes to my aircraft and airline. Kevin is just one position senior to Brian. It's amazing the difference one position makes.

After parking at the gate I met up with Paul again. He was flying the plane after me.  He called me as I was on the way home and bragged about this awesome Bose headset he found. Yep, I left something behind again. I met up with him at the gate several hours later as he had long turn. Not sure what's going on in my head lately with being so forgetful. I blame it on getting old. I will be the big '33' this week.

Just enjoyed a very interesting podcast while typing this blog. I listened to "The Crew Lounge" podcast over at UPGRD.com . This was the first podcast and had lots of information about crew rest, crew parking and more. The members of the podcast all worked for different airlines which gives a really good view about how different airlines handle benefits.

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