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.

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