Monday, April 23, 2012

Squeezing in

My last two day trip was easy.

Again one leg to the overnight.

When I signed into the computer a message popped up that my co-pilot was "restricted". Hmmm K.

This normally happens when the Captain is new to the plane. They are considered "baby" Captains until they get some time under their belt.

I was first to the plane. Cold and dark. I was happy about the cold part as it was fairly warm outside, but the ground crew connected the pre-conditioned air so the cabin was very comfy.

The rest of my crew arrived. The Captain was indeed new.

He just finished training and IOE on this plane. He had been a Captain on another fleet type. Several years ago he flew my current plane as a First Officer so he knew how everything normally worked.

I could tell he wasn't really wanting to fly (he had been off 9 days, when I'm off that long I want to "watch" the first leg as well) so I offered to fly the first leg.

The cabin was full of paying passengers. There was a company pilot wanting to go home...a really tall new First Officer.

I'm almost 6 foot tall and don't enjoy sitting in the jump seat of my plane...or any regional jet. The new First Officer was a good 6 foot 5. He squeezed himself into the seat. I felt bad for it was a 2 1/2 hour flight. He wanted to go home...and the jump seat was the only way to get there that night.

Up, up and away. Once at cruise I broke the silence and asked how long the First Officer had been with my airline. I was guessing about a year. I was way off...he was hired just 4 months ago. He was one of the most junior on the seniority list.

We all talked about the state of the industry, upgrade prospects and the normal flight deck topics.

I programmed the VNAV function of the FMS to have me level at 10,000 feet, 30 miles from the airport. My normal setting. The closer we got to the airport, the higher the required rate of descent.

Due to traffic enroute the required descent rate was higher than I felt comfortable doing. Normally I won't go higher than 3500 feet per minute (unless in an emergency) as it is just uncomfortable beyond that. When we finally got clearance to descend the VNAV was reading out a 5000 foot per minute rate to meet my 30 miles out at 10,000 feet. No thanks.

I just set 3500 feet per minute, idled the thrust levers and popped open the flight spoilers.

Told to expect runway 5R so that's what I briefed.

Dark, moonless night which made it a bit of a challenge to find the runway even on a VFR night.

We were approaching FROM the south. It would be a right turn to line up with 5R. I had the ILS frequency tuned in and waiting.

We were cleared to 2500. While descending at 3500 feet per minute with the spoilers out we were still indicating 290 knots...which is 40 knots too fast for below 10,000 feet.

I leveled off at 10,000 feet and bled off speed. Once at 220 knots I started the descent again. I could have started at 250 knots but I like having a buffer in case of gust or if I need to descend faster I have room.

I had the airport beacon in sight...we were cleared for the visual...and I thought I saw runway 5R...but it was on the wrong side of the airport. I was looking at 5L.

Autopilot was off...I was hand flying.

The jump seater hipped me to about where runway 5R was...finally saw I flew through centerline.

Wide turn as I overshot final. Back on centerline. Wet runway. Greased it on...which is typical when the runway is wet.

The jump seater unfolded himself. The passengers deplaned. My crew headed out to find the hotel van as none of us had been there before. We waited in the right spot. Nothing. I learned long ago to not wait too long. I called the hotel. "We already told you to take a taxi." was what I was told. I politely stated no one told me or my crew and advised we would find a cab. The cab was contracted through the hotel so we didn't have to pay out of pocket. The driver was clearly annoyed as it was a set fare. He drove like he was being chased by the cops. No tip for him.

Away we went. Long overnight.

The next day was easy. Three legs. I hoped to finish early as the last two legs are heavily over blocked. I used to fly that turn all the time in my old plane and would arrive 15-20 minutes early without trying. It wasn't too be.

At the outstation we were ready to go 10 minutes early...then it happened. We were waiting on a passengers bag who was connecting...from another airline. Bleh. Blocked out 5 minutes late. Arrived on time.

I was off for the weekend. We all flew over to see my dad. Almost drove. Eh. It was my daughters 47th and 48th flight. She did fine.

My next trip is a low 13 hour 3 day trip. Same one I did two weeks ago. Long boring overnights. Can't wait!

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