Thursday, April 19, 2012

The hardest part of the job

The hardest part of my job isn't flying through bad weather or memorizing flows and immediate action's getting through jet bridge doors.

Before and after every flight I have to preflight the airplane. Well not technically manual states the Captain has to make sure someone does it...but 99% of it the's me.

At my hub I can use a key or combination to get out to the ramp and back up to the plane. I carry the key at all time. The combination hasn't changed in years. Easy.

At outstations and other hubs....not so easy.

Most airports have electronic/mechanical keypads that I have to enter a combination into for the door to unlock. Every single airport uses a different combination. Some are 3 digits...some are 5. Some are press and hold two buttons and then press a third button. Others I have to have the rampers let me up and down (mostly at airports that are also military bases).

For flights where I overnighted at the airport the gate agents are pretty good about telling me the code before I head to the plane. If not it's on our flight release.

When doing a turn I have to look the code up myself. Most of the time I am able to hold onto the code for the few minutes it takes to inspect the plane. Every now and then...I brain fart.

Most of the time for early morning flights I am the only person on the ramp. If I forget I get to yell up to the plane for my cabin crew or Captain to look up the code and let me in or just tell me the code.


My two day trip was easy...but long.

First flight left at 9PM Tuesday. Very short flight. My co-pilot rotated at 9:14PM and flared for landing at 9:42PM.

I slept in Wednesday. Long overnight.

Five leg day. First leg was mine. Full load of passengers. Same short flight. I rotated at 12:39PM and greased it on at 1:08PM.

Quick turn....with a plane swap 18 gates away.

Next flight was a  longish 2 hours. Full load of passengers. Dodged a bit of weather. Rain. I shot an ILS approach to about 800 feet then visual. Greased it on.

Captain took the next two. Two hour flight back....then another plane swap.

The last turn was very short. Captain flew it out. Wheels off the ground at 7:49PM and landed at 8:13PM.

I had the last leg. Just 3 passengers. Very light plane.

Wheels off at 9:01PM. Being light the plane climbed like a rocket.

Now a word. For reasons I can't explain it is much easier to land a plane when it's heavy than light. I'm thinking a heavy plane just settles onto the runway easier.

The hub wasn't very busy. Normally we land on the outboard runway so that's what I briefed. Turning final tower cleared us to land on the inboard. Beautiful VFR night. I clicked off the flight director and lined up with the inboard runway. Calm wind...clear skies...light plane. What could go wrong?

I was right on approach speed crossing over the fence. I began reducing power slowly. It looked good....then it happened. Thud.

The mains touched slightly but I had a bit too much back pressure so we went up again maybe a foot....then mains skipped a bit...touching then not touching...touching then not touching. Finally down. Much more firmly. Bounced it on.

Bleh. Tired. Five legs, 7 hours of flight time. Done.

We were early because of the light load and nice weather. I was in my car when we were supposed to be landing.

I go back tonight for a 7:40PM departure. One leg to the overnight. Just three legs tomorrow.

Bidding closes soon for May. Finalizing my preferences.

1 comment:

  1. As ramp agents we spend a lot of time divulging the jet bridge code to pilots. Typically we see many pilots more than once (our airline runs a little differently) and we're a pretty tight-knit group on the operations side. We find that those pilots who regularly muck up our operations, or are rude or simply not very coherent in their directions, often get the incorrect code to the jet bridge. Oops. Call it a little tarmac justice but those pilots who really want their coffee in the morning find themselves stranded out with the rats.


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