Thursday, November 17, 2011

RVR 6000, 2000,500....boooo

Last day of IOE. Three quick legs and done.

I walked down to the front desk at 4:50AM. The hotel gives breakfast bags for early departures. I made my choices of items the day prior and picked a muffin, banana and orange juice and that's exactly what was waiting with my name on it.

Van driver was 5 minutes late. Eh.

Dropped off at 5:25AM for a 5:55AM departure. Breezed thru TSA. New departure time...6:05AM due to flow. Grrr.


I called VR at 6:11AM. Away we went.

We were slowed almost immediately.

Smooth flight. About 20 minutes out I got the ATIS. Sure enough low ceilings and vis due to fog.

On final I could clearly see the runway 5 miles out. I also saw the 737 ahead we were told to follow...for a bit. Once the 737 landed it disappeared into a fog bank covering the last third of the runway.

Since we are smaller than a 737 we used less runway and thus avoided the fog bank. The visbility went down to 600 feet at the departure end of the runway.

Due to construction at the airport taxiing around is a mess. Normally there are inner and outer taxiways. Due to construction there was only an outer...that had to serve both directions.

We waited for 20 minutes as planes taxied toward us for the other side of the airport. Then it happened.

The fog got much worse. Visibility was down to 100 feet. The other side of the airport was closed. Gridlock. The radio was full of pilots requesting to move even though there was no where to move. In addition there were several mechanics in planes trying to move around...and talk on the radio.

The ground controller finally gave up and stated no one talk unless spoken to. The ATIS reflected the same as there was now metering in effect.

When metering is being used planes call metering. Metering instructs pilots to monitor ground and then the metering guy lets the ground guy know where you are and where you want to go.

Forty minutes after landing we pulled into the gate.

We were supposed to do a 35 minute turn. Blocked in 15 minutes late.

Thankfully we were light both ways and blocked BACK out 20 minutes after blocking in. Blocked out 1 minute early! That's pretty impressive to turn an airplane in 20 minutes. Yeah I know Southwest does it everyday....but I don't work for Southwest. Most of the time I'm surprised when we do a 30 minute turn.

I called metering and we waited. Thankfully just 5 minutes and we were taxiing. Number 12 for departure. Single engine taxi it was.

Finally our turn. Four hundred pounds to go before min takeoff. RVR was 6000, 1500 and 600. Away we went. We took off 38 minutes after blocking out.

Now it's time for me to step on my soapbox.

Southwest Airlines pilots normally fly fast. Really fast. While at 6000 feet doing 250 knots I've been PASSED by a Southwest 737 at 8000 feet. Kinda odd when the max speed below 10,000 feet is 250 knots. Guess the winds are different up there.

On the way to the out station we were behind Southwest. For whatever reason this crew was flying slow. We were slowed to 270 knots.....220 miles away!

Enroute there were several planes holding for airports in the area closed/delayed due to fog. I was hoping it would be gone soon as I had just an hour to connect to my deadhead...and we were already 20 minutes behind schedule.

Southwest finally sped up to 280. They were eventually 20 miles ahead. Fine.

Descending into the area I heard Southwest being vectored for 29R. The same runway I picked. Ugh.

Surely being 20 miles ahead they would be on short final by the time I was being given vectors.

For whatever reason they were going really slow as they were still on downwind when I was on downwind. Abeam the runway I slowed to 200 knots and prepared for the visual....thinking Southwest was on final. Nope. They were still on downwind!!!

They flew 10 miles past the airport and turned back. Not a busy airport normally. Ugh. Finally turned final.

The tower controller seemed new and unsure of themselves.

Southwest was 2 miles ahead When I turned final. I quickly began slowing. Tower advised we were overtaking by 40 knots. Ugh.

Then tower came back that a departure would occur between us and Southwest. WTF? There was only a 2 mile separation. At best Southwest would clear the runway while I was at 500 feet...and they wanted to stick a departure in the mix. I don't think so.

Thankfully they didn't stick a departure in the mix. Arrived and blocked in 19 minutes late.

Another airline works the ramp for us at the out station. They have different procedures than we use. Even after 2 months of providing ground services, they still have issues. Thankfully they were minimal.

Nineteen minutes after blocking in we were being pushed back. Flow time. 12 minute delay.

The tower controller once again made a questionable call.

We were holding short of the runway and were number one. Our wheels up time was 11 minutes past the hour. At 10 minutes past the hour they cleared a plane for a touch and go. Then while it was on short final the tower controller issued a hurried and confusing go around instruction, "Cougar 22 go around, traffic holding has a wheels up time. Do not overfly the runway. Go around."

The Captain and I looked at each other...we were confused by the instructions. Tower then cleared us for takeoff. We didn't move.

The inbound aircraft was confused and initiated the go around...but straight over the runway.

Tower came back with new go around procedures and the aircraft turned away from the runway.

Away we went. Minimal delays.

The fog had largely burned off. Landed and blocked in 4 minutes early.

The Captain said I did a great job and I was officially done with IOE. I shook his hand and we parted ways.

After my post flight I headed to my deadhead. A few hours later I was sitting in the back seat of our car next to my daughter.


Tomorrow I have off and I expect to be on reserve Saturday.

Treating myself to a visit to the LA Autoshow. Anyone in?


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