Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Holding....EFC 3-5 days

Still waiting to start IOE. I called the training department today. I was told it was 3-5 days from when I finish LOFT. That's only an estimate though. My day 5 is today.

I'm the only pilot out of the 6 of us who are transferring aircraft to have completed LOFT. I think I got lucky in that I live close and answered the phone when they called.

My main goal is to finish IOE before bidding closes for December. As is I will be at the top of the reserve list (along with the other 5 #6) when I finish IOE for the month of November.

On different note, a pilot I've been emailing with for over 2 years got a gig at my airline. He had to wait till he met all the requirements. He emailed me when he met them. I "walked" in his app along with a recommendation one day and he was called the next. I met up with him once on an overnight about a year ago. Now he just has to wait for a class date. Very happy for him.....and me...another guy under me on the seniority list!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Another career changer Regional pilot blog

Thanks to Dan (a reader of this blog) to tipping me off to another blog by a pilot who changed careers late in life. The blogger also works for a regional and appears to be just starting out. Great read and a lot more photos. He is a lot more open than me as he makes no attempt to hide whom he works for. Take a look

Monday, October 24, 2011

LOFT done

Friday I got my new SIC rating certificate. Saturday I finished LOFT.

LOFT is Line Oriented Flight Training. Basically it takes you from the training environment and puts you in the line environment. It's supposed to be a normal flight in real time.

This morning we flew from ATL to DCA. Short flight.

The Captain is a recent upgrade. He wore his full uniform to the event. I wore jeans and a polo. For a few minutes I thought I screwed up. I checked my company ops manual...nope no uniform required.

It was early...4:30AM on a Saturday. I was called at 5PM Friday afternoon to see if I was available. I thought about it....4:30AM....fine. I was looking forward to being done.

The briefing was supposed to last 90 minutes. It's designed for new hires. I've been around here for almost 4 years. After 25 minutes we were done.

Coffee and into the sim early. The sim is in operation from 6AM till 2AM nonstop. Between 2AM and 6AM the sim mechanics fix any issues. No issues to fix, we got in 25 minutes early.

The instructor gave us 45 minutes to get off the gate. Again, designed for new hires. Off the gate in 20 minutes...and that was after discussing a few things.

The Captain gave me an odd vibe. I know he is a new Captain, but he was being kind of an ass. Discounting some of my opinions and not giving me a chance to  think about something before doing it, such as having my finger hover over a button for a second while I thought about what I was going to do. Annoyed.

APU failed after the first start. I've been told the APUs have been having "issues" lately in the real plane...great.

My leg out.

I've flown into DCA several times. It's a challenging airport due to short runways and extreme proxiximity to prohibited airspace.

Normal flight. It was my first time to climb above 11,000 feet in the sim. During training it's all low altitude flight. We got one or two minor failures en route. Mostly to get the Captain used to writing up issues in the aircraft matainence logbook.

South flow into DCA. Given a crossing restriction.

Descending from altitude requires planning. There are several different ways to descend from altitude. Some like vertical speed mode (setting a specific descent per minute rate), some like speed mode (descending at a specific speed), other's like simple VNav (following an artificial glide slope) while other's like going down spiraling (not recoommended as it tends to precede paperwork ;-) ).

I used speed mode and put out the flight spoilers to increase the rate while keeping the speed the same. I looked at the crossing restriction, distance and ground speed, everything looked fine too me.

The plane leveled off 3 miles before the fix. Nice. So I thought.

Assigned the river visual to runway 19. I tuned in the DCA VOR and began looking for the river. There is no published missed approach for the river visual. My brief was, in the event of a missed, to climb to 3000 and follow the river southbound.

In real life the approach is a little challenging. In the sim it's harder as the visuals aren't great. Took me a bit to find the river as the ground is mostly 2D away from the airport.

To descend I simply used the 300 feet per nautical mile rule. Easy at an airport like DCA which is almost at sea level. Ten miles out I should be at 3,000 feet. Five miles out I should be at 1,500 feet. Three miles out I should be at 900 feet.

Additionally the wind was out of the west. I had to hug the west side of the river to avoid being blown into the prohibited area.

All hand flown. Once the plane is properly trimmed it's very easy. My new plane is much easier to hand fly than my last plane.

Runway 19 has two VASI's. The one of the right is set up so it can be used while on the river visual. Once making the jog to final the right one becomes unuseable and the left one becomes useable.

After passing over the Arlington Memorial Bridge I turned slightly left toward the Washington Monument. Over the George Mason bridge I was on approach speed and the VASI. I made a smooth turn to the right for final and made the best landing yet. Nice.

First flight done....80 minutes early! Again this flight is set up for a new hire who needs more time.

Break. While on break one of the FMS units went down. Not an instructor breaking it, the sim actually had an issue. Later it would be more of an issue.

Now it was the Captain's turn. He wrote up the FMS being down like he would do in real life. Done.

DCA back to ATL. North flow now out of DCA. Departure procedures require a quick left turn to avoid the prohibited area. Additionally airport information states that, in case of emergency, the takeoff alternate is IAD. Do not bring problems back to DCA. This is due to the prohibited area, short runway, tight airport with limited concrete and IAD has better food. Kidding about the food. But seriously do not return to DCA.

Climbing through 2500 feet we got a passenger door open indication. Additionally we were not pressurizing. Quick call to the "flight attendant" resulted in finding the door slightly misaligned. IAD here we come.

Total VFR. Told to expect runway 30...visual approach. The Captain wasn't ready on the first vector and needed a 360 degree turn. Landed uneventfully.

I thought we were done. Nope. Told the problem was fixed and to prepare for takeoff. Bleh.

Took of again. Enroute the Captain briefed the approach. We had one FMS remember. During the flight the ATIS changed. New runway.

I changed the FMS to reflect the new approach. The arrival is runway specific. I had never changed an approach with a runway specific arrival before. Once done I realized something was wrong. I thought about what I did and was getting ready to ask the Captain when he simply reached over and stated, "you messed it up!" and fixed it himself. Nice.

Given a hold 10 miles short of the airport. After entering the hold we got a fire in the baggage compartment. After shooting off the extinguishers it was still on fire. Declared an emergency. This is where things got hairy.

I declared an emergency and REQUESTED an immediate turn toward the airport. The Captain stated to tell ATC we need priority handling. I thought an emergency + request for a turn = get us down now. Nope. The Captain got on the radio and stated he wanted priority handling. Turned toward the airport.

Cleared visual to runway 28.

While 5 miles out I asked if he wanted full flaps for landing. The Captain came back with, "No, I already briefed the approach remember?" I stated that I believed flaps 45 is required for an emergency landing unless checklist driven to use less. He stated again, "I've already briefed the approach." That was that.

He landed fine...kinda long. Finished the emergency. Parked. Shut down the plane.

I immediately asked the instructor about the "priority handling" call. I've never heard of such a term combined with declaring an emergency. I was told that just declaring an emergency doesn't mean we are going straight to the airport. I should have declared + stated priority handling + stated we are turning toward the runway. Fine.

I then asked about the full flap landing being required. The instructor stated I was indeed correct and that I should have been more forceful with my offering advice. Full flaps results in a shorter landing distance which allows Crash/Fire/Rescue to arrive faster. I stated we were less than a minute out, not the right time to start digging through a book looking for text to back me up. The Captain was debriefed on this as well, but not as long as I was debriefed. I got the hint... I was "the new guy". The Captain had been flying the plane as a First Officer for 5 years. I had never flown the plane. It continued.

Once in the debriefing room the instructor let me know I descended from altitude in an odd way. He thought I should have used vertical speed mode to make sure I made the restriction. He also stated I should study up on the FMS operation more since I had "issues setting up an approach" . Never mind that during ground and sim I had never encountered a runway specific arrival and approach before. Fine.

The entire debrief the Captain was sitting 3 feet away looking at me and shaking his head in agreement with everything being said about my performance. I was extremely annoyed.

I don't mind being wrong. I learn new things every time I fly. What I mind is being talked to like I'm a child or incompetent. I just shook my head and stared at the instructor. Done.

I left the session with mental notes of how not to be a Captain. I've flown with several Captains who think First Officers are mindless bodies of jello there to swing the gear and talk on the radio. To them First Officers are incapable of making a correct decision.

The Captain then had the audacity to ask for a ride to the airport as he wanted to catch a flight home. Really? Fine. The airport was on my way home anyway.

LOFT is done.

IOE is next. Hope to get started this week.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Another SIC rating

My check ride was at 4PM. I had a 3PM show time to do the briefing.

Around 11AM I found out updates for my manuals came out last week and were effective yesterday. Thus I needed to update them.

While on the line I get emails about updates. While in training I am at the mercy of the training department to hand out updates. Bleh.

I got the updates. Not enough time to properly file them. I simply inserted them into the binders at the front of each binder. Legal. Yes. Proper? No.

The briefing began with a preflight of the aircraft using slides. It would have been nice to use the real plane...but not feasible.

I did fine.

The examiner was the same Check Airmen who gave me my oral two weeks ago.

After the preflight he told me what the check ride would consist of. It's all items I've been training for. Many can be combined such as a crosswind, instrument and normal takeoff. All can be done on the same takeoff.

He let me know the ride would be conducted in Memphis. I haven't done any training in Memphis since my initial training 4 years ago. An approach is an approach though...for the most part.

We would leave on runway 18R. I would shoot the ILS to 36L, GPS to 27 and ILS 36L glideslope out of service.

The non flying pilot during a check ride is always another check airmen. This way the examiner is watching me and not another pilot candidate.

I met the check airmen whom would be my Captain. Nice guy.

We started at the gate. All normal.

Clearance was to climb runway heading to 7000 feet for RADAR vectors to the practice area. Current weather was 200 overcast, 1/2 mile visibility, winds 270@15, 1200 RVR, Temperature 20, Dewpoint 20, altimeter 29.92.

RVR is Runway Visual far one can see down the runway which is measured by transmissometers. RVR 1200 means one can see 1200 feet infront of them on the runway.

Due to the reduced RVR we could not return for landing as the ILS requires 1800 RVR. I asked for, and got a takeoff alternate, Little Rock...which was VFR.

The Captain taxi'd out while I ran the check list. A Fedex heavy took off right before we arrived at 18R. I started my clock...2 minute seperation.

The Captain lined the plane onto the centerline while I finished the checklist.

I've taken off with RVR 1000 before in real life and down to RVR 600 in the sim.

Normal takeoff. I was vectored east. I then briefed and performed the takeoff, departure and clean stall series. Once done vectored back to the airport via an arrival for ILS 36L.

Normal 2 engine ILS. At 200 feet the Captain called the approach lights. I kept descending. At 100 feet he called the runway. I went visual. At 50 feet I lost visual contact...must have entered a fog bank. Go around!

Given new missed approach procedures...runway heading 3000 feet.

Given vectors for the GPS 27 approach. I briefed it while the Captain flew the plane getting vectors. Once done I took the plane back.

Down at MDA I was still in the clouds. I passed the Visual Descent Point (VDP) and prepared to go around. At the Missed Approach Point I initiated the go around.

On the missed I noticed the oil pressure in the number 1 engine got very high. It failed while climbing out. Memory items and checklist done. Vectored back around for the same ILS I previously shot.

Single engine ILS. All hand flown. Same 200 foot "approach lights in sight" call. At 100 feet I went visual.

The transition from instruments to visual in the sim is pretty difficult as the depth perception just isn't there.

I got a "sink rate" call from the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS). I thought for a second and said, "correcting" as I could still make a safe landing in the touchdown zone.

I landed and was told to taxi to the end and prepare for another takeoff.

During the next takeoff roll I lost an engine at V1. I performed a very nice V1 cut profile. Once again memory items and checklist were preformed.

After level off we discussed the situation and decided it was safe to restart the engine. Thankfully it restarted.

Given vectors for the same ILS but this time the glideslope was inoperative thus it turned into a localizer approach.

I was vectored in tight. Briefing done. I began the approach. I delayed descending from MDA for about 3 seconds....why I don't know.

I blew past the VDP. I was high.

Runway in sight I tried to salvage the approach. "Sink rate ! Sink rate!"  again.

I looked at the touchdown way I could make it "safely". I got to perform an extra go around.

I announced I was going around. The instructor gave new vectors and then told me he brought me in tight to see if I would take charge and tell the Captain to begin the approach while I continued briefing.

Standard Operating Procedure is for the non-flying pilot to setup and brief the approach before the flying pilot. Thus the Captain was all setup.

If I had done that the plane would have been slowed earlier and I likely could have made the landing.

I understood.

On the next approach I was on my game. I was right at approach speed when I left MDA.

The visuals still through me off a bit. A tad high with one red and three white on the PAPI.

Over the threshold I reduced to Ref speed. Still descending I gave up the hope of a greaser and planted it onto the runway. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the Captain tense up a bit. Done.

Taxi to the end and prepare for takeoff.

At 100 knots (V1 was 124) a baggage fire indicator went off. Per profile I announced, "Abort, Abort, Abort. Tower Regional 9148 aborting on the runway, Standby."

The Captain took over control of the airplane. Crash Fire Rescue inspected the baggage area. No fire. We returned to the gate.

Checkride complete.

I went home and then went out with a few of the First Officers and new Captains for dinner.

So what's next? Well I'm supposed to have one more sim session which is a normal flight flown in real time. It's optional since I've flown the line before. After that is IOE. Training is backed up a I could have a few days...or weeks off...with pay.

Training for a new plane isn't easy. It takes a lot of hard work and self discipline.

I now have two SIC (Second in Command) ratings. They aren't type ratings. The SIC rating is somewhat new and is only needed for international flights as ICAO (International Civil Aeronautical Organization) requires it.

I'm looking forward to getting back in the air and being a fairly senior line holder. If things continue at the current rate I should be a Captain sometime in the next 12-15 months.

At which time I get to do this all...over....again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Check ride day

Last night was my phase check. Small problems corrected. It was more or less a check ride. I passed. This afternoon is the real deal.

I ate my Sausage, Egg and Cheese McGriddle for breakfast for good luck.

More tomorrow...or maybe tonight via Twitter.

Questions Answered: What is a V1 Cut?

Before I explain a V1 cut....I feel I should explain V speeds.

V speeds are specific defined speeds for certain segments of flight.

The first speed that comes up on takeoff is V1 followed by either V2 or VR depending on the plane.

V1 is the speed at which the takeoff should not be aborted. Aborting after V1 will likely be more dangerous (even with a shredded tire for example or an engine on fire) than continuing the takeoff and returning for landing.

Losing an engine on most multi-engine aircraft will cause the plane yaw and have a loss of performance. Losing an engine at V1 means the pilot has to quickly identify the engine that has failed and correct for it. The plane will likely yaw into the dead engine. The yaw is corrected by applying opposite rudder force. So if the left engine failed the plane would yaw left. Right rudder would be applied with the right foot. The term "dead foot, dead engine" helps. Left foot isn't doing anything...that's the side of the dead engine.

Planes with wing mounted engines tend to yaw more than fuselage mounted engines due to the distance between the engines. There's a better term for that...but right now it escapes me.

Now let's prepare for takeoff.

When I brief my takeoff I include the following statement for MOST, but not all, runways.

"We will abort for any reason up to 80 knots. After 80 knots we will only abort for engine failure, fire, safety of flight item or if the plane won't fly. After V1 we will take the plane into the air and come back for landing. I will fly the plane, you run the checklist. "

Some shorter runways or runways with rain/snow/ice can cause aborts only to 80 knots and no aborts afterwards due to the inability to stop on the remaining pavement after 80 knots.

Assume the following speeds for my example:

V1 - 125

VR - 127

V2 - 132


VR is the speed at which rotation should's not the speed at which the wheels should instantly lift off the ground.

V2 is the speed which should be flown after takeoff in the event on an engine failure.

Got it?

I advance the thrust levers to takeoff power.

The 80 knot call is made and all is well.

At 125 knots the Captain calls, "V1"

Simulaneously the plane begins a yaw to the left.

I begin correcting immediately.

The Captain calls , "VR - Rotate" while I am correcting.

I use the rudder to keep the plane's nose on centerline. Done properly is takes just a few's done precisely and quickly.

A quick glance at my speed tape shows 130 knots.

I smoothly rotate the nose into the air, keeping the rudder pressure, accelerate to V2 and fly the profile.

Profiles vary signifianctly between aircraft.

Really powerful planes can climb non-stop up to a safe altitude, typically 1500 feel above field level, and run the checklist. Other planes require and intermediate level off to accelerate before climbing above 1500 feet AFL to run checklist. In addition to the level off, terrain avoidance and specific airport engine out procedures may exist.

That's the short and skinny. The V1 cut can be very difficult if the pilot doesn't smoothly and correctly fly the plane. If the pilot tries to rotate before the plane is under control it will be MUCH more difficult to fly once airborne. While still rolling down the runway the tires on the ground help stabilize the plane. If the yaw is corrected properly a fairly stable plane is brought into the air.

If the yaw isn't corrected and the plane is taken into the air, the moment the tires are off the ground the instability will only get worse. Things can get hairy fast as an unstable plane is just feet above the ground with less than optimal performance.

Hope that helps.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

The most unreliable jet in the world

Simulators are the most unreliable jets in the world. Engines will catch fire, gear will fail to extend, you will go around, thrust reversers will pop out in flight, flight instruments will fail and new Captains will swing the tiller way too fast.

My instructor gave us these words to live by last night : I will complete every takeoff to an abort. I will complete every abort to a V1 call. I will complete every V1 call to a V1 cut. I will complete every approach to a missed approach.

Words to fly by not just in the sim, but out on the line. Always expect and be prepared for the worst.

The last two nights have been busy. Friday night began single engine time. Yay!

The Captain went first. Normal takeoff. While climbing we got an engine fire.

It should be noted every airplane jet engine is designed to burn and FALL OFF the plane. Thus an engine fire alone isn't a life threatening event.

First were the immediate action items. We identified the correct engine, shut it down and then shot a bottle of halon into the engine after starving it of fuel and air failed to put it out. Single engine party time!

I ran a series of checklist setting the plane up for single engine flying. Very tedious. Once done we were vectored for an ILS.

Too bad for us the weather dropped. Missed approach.

This is where I had an "ah ha" moment.

The missed approach profile and performance of my new plane is easier and lower.

I felt like I had time to make and eat and sandwich in the time took to go from 200 feet AGL to acceleration altitude , 800 feet. The single engine performance leaves much to be desired.

We were vectored around for a GPS approach. This time he landed. Brought back for a takeoff. V1 cut.

Vectored around for another ILS. Full stop.

My turn.

I used to be a V1 cut king. I got compliments on my V1 cuts from check airmen and Captains on my last plane. In the ATP RJ course I had pilots performing to ATP standards after only there 2nd or 3rd attempt.

In the new

The trick to V1 cuts is to leave the plane on the ground until it and you are ready to fly. This means the plane has reached a safe takeoff speed with a single engine and you have full control of the plane.

At V1 the left engine flamed out. I applied right rudder to keep the plane on center line. At V2 I began the rotation. Once off the ground I over rotated a bit and blew through the flight director which was pitching for V2. I quickly corrected.

One of the hardest things for a sim to do is replicate yaw.

I looked at my slip/skid indicator and applied more rudder. Too much. I took some out. Too much. Hold on folks we were in for a ride.

After a few Pilot Induced Oscillations (PIOs) I regained control and got back on profile.

It's been noted than when a pilot is under stress they revert to burned in skills and actions.

I began calling out the correct profile calls....for my old airplane. Ugh.

Thankfully the plane is a poor single engine performer and I had time to correct myself.

Same memory items and check list done. Single engine ILS.

At decision height there was only clouds. Go around. GPS approach. Full stop.

I then had a normal an engine fire. Single engine ILS to a full stop.

The instructor debriefed us. I need a bit more control on the 1st segment of the V1 cut as I was over controlling the plane. I'm still getting used the difference in performance.

In my last plane it required quick and accurate movements to successfully complete a V1 cut. I have to slow my actions down to 1/2 speed in the new one.

I did better last night. Both my Captain and I are much more confident in our abilities and skills.

Tonight we do "specialty" training. Wind shear, terrain avoidance and dealing with weather. Tomorrow is a phase check where everything is reviewed. Tuesday is check ride day.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Better night in the sim

Same instructor. Different session.

Simulator's are incredibly complex machines. They mimic every part of the airplane. Much like airplanes...simulators can have issues.

Started in LGA. Winter operations. Snowing. On pushback I started the number one engine and then shutdown the APU which is standard ops...for summer. Because it was shutdown we would have to do a cross bleed as it's company requirements to taxi on snow with two engines running.

We had to do a cross bleed start at the gate. No biggie...except I got no rotation on the number 2 engine. I thought I was doing it wrong. Reran the cross bleed checklist. Nothing. The instructor then asked me to do it again so he could watch. I was doing everything right. For whatever reason bleed air wasn't getting over to the number 2 engine.

Restarted the APU. Tried again. It worked. Something was up with the number 1 engine bleed valve. No errors were posted.

We checked for circuit breakers and faults on the simulator operators panel. Nothing. Ignored it. Reduced visibility snowy takeoff. Captains leg. On climb out we hit icing conditions. Engine bleed 1 wouldn't open. I reviewed the procedures for flying in icing conditions with just one bleed. Again the bleed valve was a simulator issue not set up for the lesson.

Later in the climb out we got a total ant-ice failure....while in icing conditions. I ran the checklist and performed the required actions. Nada. Called ATC asked to descend into warmer air. We were advised it was solid icing conditions all the way to DCA (our destination). We'd have to divert....PHL was warmer but cloudy. Away we went.

Assigned ILS PRM 27L. PRM stands for Precision Runway Monitoring. In a nutshell it's required when two ILS approaches are being conducted to runways less than 3000 feet apart. A high update RADAR is used and a second communication frequency must be monitored. On the second frequency is a controller that will give a "break out" instruction if planes get too close. The second frequency is monitor only. Any break out maneuver must be hand flown as to get in completed as quickly as possible.

Descending through 2200 feet a plane on 27R veered in too close. The PRM monitor stated "Regional 491 break out, turn left heading 180 descend and maintain 1800".

The Captain turned off the autopilot and began the descending turn. I synced up the flight director and away we went.

Brought in for another approach. Missed again. Brought around for the GPS to 17. Short runway. Landed.

Took off again. The Captain did his air work consisting of steep turn, clean stall, landing stall and a departure stall. Brought in for a visual and done.

The instructor called simulator mantenance to fix the bleed valve issue.

Coffee break.

Delayed. They rebooted the sim. If they couldn't fix it my training would be delayed.

Thankfully they said they fixed it...but it ate into our session time.

Crosswind takeoff. I did the ILS PRM this time. Breakout with a climbing turn. Climbing into the clouds the bleed 1 valve failed to open again. The instructor warmed up the air to eliminate ice. We then ignored the bleed valve.

Air work. I nailed all three of my stalls (clean, departure and arrival). ILS 27L (but no PRM) again.

The instructor advised this would be raw flight director or FMS. Fine with me.

Brought in at a 90 degree intercept. Late turn. It was busy configuring while slowing in the clouds. I varied a bit, but never more than 1/2 a dot vertically or laterally.

I was expecting to land. I forgot the never land in the sim unless you're on fire or it's time to end the session.

Missed approach. I had the FMS back. Textbook missed. Vectored around for the GPS 17. Again I nailed it. Nice landing.

Took off again. On level off the flight spoilers popped out without warning. It took a lot of power and pitch to over power them. Captain ran the check list. Done.

Brought in for a visual to runway 13 at LGA. My best landing yet.

Off for two days. Back on Friday....for my first V1 cut.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My head hurts

Rough night in the sim. Different instructor.

I went first.

Departed from KPSP (Palm Springs) on 13R with the Cathedral 9 departure. Very busy departure with turns and climbing to avoid terrain. We briefed it using conventional (no FMS) navigation and how busy it is. On takeoff I was able to use the FMS but monitored the conventional nav as a backup.

Flew to LAX. Seavu Two arrival to ILS 25L. The ILS 25L has a ton of step downs. I've flown this approach several times over the last few months in real life. Piece of cake. Down to mins. No runway, diverting.

Headed to our alternate...KSNA.

I was at 5000 feet and cleared direct to the Seal Beach VOR. The FMS was now "inoperative"....old fashioned conventional navigation.

On the way to Seal Beach we were told to expect the Localizer Back Course Runway 1L approach.

I briefed the approach.

Crossing the VOR I will  descend to 3000 and track the 105 radial outbound to MAAGG which is 11.3 from SLI (Seal Beach). I have tuned in MAAGG NBD as a backup. I plan on flying 200 knots so I will turn 2 miles early to track the localizer outbound heading 194. (One mile per 10 knots works well for a 90 degree turn. )

After heading 194 I will fly outbound to 4.5 DME (NEWPO intersection) then begin a procedure turn and descend to 2000 feet. Once back inbound I will descend to 1700 feet until recrossing NEWPO then descend to 500 feet (MDA 480, we round up to the next 100 feet). I will then fly to 1 mile DME  which is the VDP (visual descent point) hoping you see the runway end identifier lights (no approach lighting system). If not I will  go around. The go around is climb to 800 feet, left climbing turn to intercept the 120 degree radial back to SLI.

That was the briefing. Took way longer to type than brief. Note if I shot the full approach and went missed there are two different frequencies and two different radials involved.

In a Piper Seminole I would use Nav 1 for SLI and Nav 2 for the localizer. In a jet Nav 1 is normally used by the Captain and Nav 2 by the First Officer. We would each monitor our own radios.

Crossing SLI I forgot to descend right away, caught it. The approach was going great. Made the procedure turn, descended to 2000.....then 1700....then 500. Runway in sight.

Short final an aircraft pulled onto the runway, "Go around".

Now when I was a CFI....and even when I was a student I was told to "fly the damn plane".

I announced, "Go around, set thrust, flaps 8, positive rate gear up" and began the maneuver. I saw the Captain complying with my request.

At 600 feet the instructor started talking to me in my headset asking why I wasn't calling for things.

At 800 feet I began my turn to the left and replied, "I'm flying the airplane first and giving the Captain time to catch up, rather than overload him with request."

The instructor kept talking stating I should have called for the heading mode and autopilot on while climbing.

I was still flying the missed.

Once level I called for the autopilot.

The instructor didn't like how I handled the missed. He felt I should have called for the autopilot at the first possible chance, then I could have turned the heading knob and swapped my own frequencies.

I agreed that I could have called for the autopilot, but I wanted to fly the plane first. He disagreed. I understood what he was saying, he didn't get what I was saying.

Next approach was the LDA to 19R.

Given vectors. Briefed the approach. Another busy missed.

There are multiple step downs.

The approach plate states if GAUER is able to be identified the MDA is 480. If not the MDA is 880. GAUER is 2.0 DME out or identified with a crossing radial. We had DME.

Normal approach. Half a mile before GAUER the Captain called the approach lights. I was fixated on descending after GAUER thus I didn't click the autopilot off right away.

That moment would come back to hurt me.

I saw the runway and began descending. I was high. On the way down I got a "sink rate" as I was descending too quickly. No way to land, go around.

Once again he hated my missed.

Here's my thinking.

When I was a CFI and even now when I teach the ATP RJ Course I give the student room to mess up. If I see them making a mistake that's not life threatening I let them work through it to see if they can correct it. If not then I ask them to level off and I either take the controls or pause the sim. Once they take a breath I discuss the situation. This way they aren't trying to fly the plane the way they planned while I am trying to correct them. I have found that when I interrupt OR when I am interrupted things go badly.

When I am interuppted and being instructed while trying to fly a procedure I shutdown. I become a puppet and will do whatever you state just to get through the moment. Reason being you are giving conflicting information to what I previously briefed (thus the other guy is expecting ME to do). In real life if something isn't right after beginning and approach....I am going to abandon the approach, climb and then discuss it.

During my missed he hated how I was flying through the flight director instead of calling for things to be done. With his talking in my ear I began to shutdown. I blew through my altitude by 120 feet. He paused the sim.

I totally understand what he wanted. I could have called for the autopilot early on and then been able to be more percicse. I am going to have to get out of my mindset of "flying the airplane first".

The biggest issue I had problems overcoming last night was not having the FMS. Going missed using the FMS is a one stop shop. The FMS will command all the turns at the right time. Yep.... I was a child of the magenta. I haven't done a full conventional navigation approach in a jet.......ever. In a Seminole yes. Jet. No. That's not to say I shouldn't be able to perform, just that I was rusty.

Simulator resumed. Back to a VFR approach. Done for me.


The Captain then shot the same two approaches. It was a bit easier since he knew what to expect and has 3000+ hours in the airplane.

The Captain then did a circle to land approach at a different airport.

Took off again. While level we lost all hydraulics. He flew the airplane while I ran the checklist. Emergency gear extension. Busy.

We discussed what would happen on touchdown. I would takeover the yoke for wind correction while he used the parking brake to stop (since we had no hydraulics we had no regular brakes).

It was very hard keeping the plane on the runway. It took us 9000 feet to stop. We drifted off to the left even though I had full right rudder. Done.

Tonight we practice ILS PRM approaches and GPS approaches with the same instructor. Off Wednesday and Thursday.

Good because my head hurts.


Monday, October 10, 2011

There's precision and well.....not

Day 3 was somewhat easy. Precision approach day....errr night.

When I arrived the sim was down. It had been down all day. The previous crews were now a day behind. We did our briefing hoping it would be fixed. Literally 3 minutes for our sim session it was fixed. Nice.

APU fire at the gate. We went thru the checklist and the mechanic MEL'd it. Bottle start.

Captain took off. Normal takeoff. Climbed to 11,000 feet and he did he airwork.

We both have to do a clean stall, takeoff stall and arrival stall. Only the Captain does steep turns.

Of course we don't fully stall the plane. We do approach to stalls. At the first sign of a stall we recover. The first sign is a buffet, stall clacker or pusher.

I was kinda glad he went first. I'd been reviewing the stall profiles but seeing them demonstrated helped a lot. One good thing about this plane...the stall profiles are much easier than my last.

After his maneuvers we were vectored for a STAR. Once in the area we were vectored for an ILS.

One great thing about the sim. The same approach can be shot over and over again.

The first was a coupled approach with the autopilot on. The instructor took a snapshot of the sim 3 miles before the FAF.

After going missed the instructor snapped us back to the snapshot. Much faster than flying back around.

The Captain then did a coupled approach hand flown then a total raw data approach.

He shot the same approach at least 5 times. Finally went missed. Held. ran low on fuel and had to shoot an approach to mins with 1800 RVR. Break.

My turn. My first two stalls were awesome. On the takeoff stall I had a brain fart on the recovery and had a very nose high attitude and gained 300 feet. Bleh.

Same kind of approaches. I'm still getting used to the site picture. I'd be spot on during the approach until I went visual. I had a tendency to pull back on the yoke and level off when I looked outside. That momentary level off, literally 2 seconds, resulted in me going nearly full scale deflection on the glideslope.

Subsequent approaches had me doing the opposite as I would push the yoke forward then look outside...being low. My final landing was the best. I decided that when the Captain called the runway in sight I would lock my right arm in place and then look outside. Since the plane was already on glideslope I shouldn't move anything. It worked.

Two more nights of sim then I get two days off. My check ride is next week on Tuesday.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fire, Smoke and Missed Approach

Day 2...err...Night 2 in the sim was a little better.

Started normal. Captain took the first leg this time. Leveling off at FL330 we had a rapid cabin depressurization. On the mask went. The Captain inititated an emergency descent while I reached for the QRH (Quick Reference Handbook) to run the required checklist. Noisy.

The oxygen mask in the cabin came down. I communicated with ATC about our issue and asked for the MEA.

ATC advised the MEA was 7000. That was our goal. Once leveled off we were vectored for an approach. Landed.

We were fixed and set up for a new takeoff. My turn.

On climb out we got a fire in the baggage compartment.

The Captain pushed the baggage fire button which shot off the extinguishers. All was fine for a moment then we got a lavatory smoke indication.

It was likely the smoke from the baggage seeped into the lavatory.

We asked a flight attendant to investigate the fire. Sure enough the lavatory was on fire and he was attempting to fight it. On went the mask again.

There have my aircraft accidents/incidents where fumes from a fire, no where near the flight deck, seeped into the flight deck and incapacitated the pilots.

I briefed the GPS approach. An ILS would be have been best...but only GPS was available.

Since the incident happened so close to the airport "ATC" didn't descend us quickly enough. The FAF altitude was 3000 while the MDA was 1700. We started at 5000 feet. I put the flaps and gear down and tried to descend quickly.

We passed over the FAF at 3500 feet. There is a limitation of 1000 feet per minute on an approach below 1000 feet AGL. I had to reduce the sink rate.

No chance of landing stabilized. Go around.

Quick vectors for the approach.

Broke out 800 AGL. My site picture was still off.

In my last plane it was nose down or level with the horizon until over the runway. The around 30-50 feet a light flare was initiated.

The new plane is the opposite. The nose is kept above the horion the entire time. See the problem?

I was pitching the nose down to the horizon when going visual. This caused me to go below the VASI. I landed firmly.

Later we did more approaches. My next landing was better. I forced myself to keep the pitched attitude up. I'll get it eventually.

Tonight we will work on precision approaches and stalls.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

First Day in the sim

Day one in the sim was last night. Went well overall. Arrived at the simulator site (my airline doesn't own the sim, we use an outside company) at 4:15 PM for a 4:30PM show.

I passed another pilot and inquired if he was my Captain. Sure enough he was.

He has been on the plane for 5 years as an FO which is equal to how long he's been at the company. I let him know I'm new to the plane but have been here for 4 years this month. We met the instructor. He was the same instructor I had for FMS training.

At 4:30PM we got down to briefing what would be done. It was the Captains first time in the left seat, my first time in the right seat. We'd do a normal flight. Start at the gate, taxi, RNAV departure, RNAV approach to a missed, come back to a localizer approach and land. Simple.

The instructor was happy we weren't both new hires as things go faster. When he has two new hire FO's together (happens sometimes due to lack of Captains) it takes then an hour to an hour and ten minutes to get off the gate! None believe it takes that long, but for many it's their first time in a simulator. It's most pilots first time in the "real" plane after having spent two weeks behind a cardboard mockup.

I'd been in the jump seat of this plane a few times commuting so I ad an idea of how things looked and sounded.

It took me a bit to figure out how to get into the seat. Different handles than my last. I took a few moments to get orientated then got down to business. Even with a few questions on my part we got off the gate in 20 minutes. My questions were mostly, "so this is how that works?" and "ah now I get it.

The Captain taxied a bit rough, it was his first time using a tiller. Taxi checklist done I went through my before takeoff flow as the Captain lined the plane onto the runway centerline.

My takeoff. At VR I pulled back on the yoke and immediately noticed more effort is needed than my last plane. Decent  climb out.

Total VFR flight at night. Vectored for the approach I rattled off a briefing. Still getting used to the PFD and FMS. Decent approach. On the missed I didn't hit the TOGA buttons just right. Caught it on the PFD and pressed them again. Localizer approach was fine. Landing was a thumper.

The site picture on final is VERY different than what I've seen the last 4 years.

Captains turn. He got used to flying with his left hand. I got used to using the FMS. Things went fairly well. The instructor helped me out a bit with the FMS. Four hours went by quickly.

Tonight is another simulator session.

Tonight we will have a normal departure, smoke in the cabin, non-precision approaches and as always a few missed approaches. There are no surprises in the sim. Every session is in my training folder.

Overall this plane is much easier to fly than my last. Hand fly anyway, I just need to master the automation.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

I give good oral

The title should increase my hits.....ha!

Those who have been reading this blog for a while know I have one superstious ritual on check ride day. The McDonalds McGriddle. I've eaten one each check ride day and have yet to fail an event.

Of course this month I've been eating fresh food. I seriously debated not eating a McGriddle. The sound of one made my stomach turn.

I dropped my daughter off at day care and....went to Mc Donalds.

I ate it....bleh.

Back home. Studied for a bit. Felt good. I then watched a video podcast and left the house 40 minutes prior.

I'm required to bring ALL manuals to checking events. My kit bag was crazy least 30 pounds.

On my way I passed a waiting room where a new hire was waiting. I talked to him for a few minutes. Apparently not all of them were passing. One guy failed that he knew of. From the story it seemed like the examiner WANTED the new hire to use his manuals to find an answer. The new hire simply started guessing at answers. I told many of them if you're not sure say, "I think it's this, but let me look it up," and then reach for a manual. Most of the time the examiner will say, "good enough" and move on. This new hire didn't. Retraining and delays for him as he was supposed to start sim tomorrow.

A buddy who is in my class (also changing planes) sent me a text that he just finished his oral with the same examiner I had. Piece of cake. Nice.

The oral started like all orals. He examined my credentials (FAA license, Medical, Company ID) then got down to business.

We were in a room with a cockpit mockup. He asked questions about memory items, limitations and systems. He threw in a few curve balls to make sure I had more than rote knowledge. Done.

He then asked a few company procedure questions. I got hung up on one question and had to look it up. Learned something new.

Finally a performance problem.

Realize I failed college algebra. Failed. The instructor gave me a C. I still remember his words, "You are a journalism major. This is the highest math you need. You came to class everyday. You tried.  I give you a C." I was grateful.

Back to the performance problem. I'm glad the instructor on this plane taught them everyday. I "get it" now. My first time around when I was a new hire was terribly confusing.

He left the room while I worked the problem. Thirty minutes later he returned, checked my work and said I was done.

He thanked me for coming in prepared. I will see him in 12 days as he will be giving me the check ride.

Tomorrow starts sim.  Time to go over the profiles. They are similar to my last plane....just tweaked a bit.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

One third the way to the flight deck

Passed my written today. I had to make an 80%. I missed one question.

The question I missed was on the fuel system and transferring fuel. If I had been in the real plane I could have seen what would happen in the scenario presented. Eh.

The entire class passed....yes including the new hires. A few made one made 80% or below.

I have tomorrow off then my oral exam is on Thursday. Going to relax tonight and study a little. Tomorrow will be spent making sure ALL of my manuals are in order as my kit bag is up for inspection.

Sims start Friday.

One third the way there....should be flying for real by the end of the month.