Monday, December 15, 2014

One of my top 10 worst days

It all started at 7:48 AM Sunday morning. The Captain I'm flying with this month sent me a message on Facebook that she was calling in sick, but just for the first 2 days. My report time was 12:15PM. Surely my airline could find a Captain to fill her spot in time for an on-time departure.

I walked down the jet bridge at 12:25 PM as the inbound aircraft was parking. Just ten minutes later all passengers were off and I was working on my preflight. By 12:50 all passengers and cargo were on board.....just missing the Captain.

The reserve Captain had arrived two gates down at 12:45PM. It takes some time to park, shut down the aircraft, pack up and move on. I made a PA concerning why we were late. The Captain arrived shortly after 1PM (scheduled departure time). We blocked out at 1:12PM.

Weather. The Captain was motivated as after this turn he was going to commute home to Seattle. His leg. Gusty crosswind approach. In and done. Normal turn as the station was slow and had a lot of new employees.

Blocked out 26 minutes late. Gusty crosswind takeoff for me. Up and away we went. I tried to fly fast but weather got in the way and we landed 31 minutes late as we blocked in at 4:16 PM.

The Captain commuted home, I had 3 legs left for the day.

I checked the computer and saw the next reserve Captain had arrived at 4:20 PM 30 gates down. Original departure time was 4:40 PM. The Flight Attendant and I made our way to our plane. Since the Captain was on the ground I figured it was okay to board.

After my preflight I returned to the flight deck and noticed it was getting stuffy. Boarding was well underway. I reached to start the APU when I noticed a MEL sticker. The APU was MEL'd.

I reviewed the logbook then made a call to operations for the external air to be connected. This was 4:45PM. I watched to temp of the cabin slowly rise. It's winter and cool outside, but when 50 warm bodies fill a confined space it gets warm. Five o'clock came and still no external air. I sprang from my seat and went down to the ramp to ask what was going on. The ramper said the hose was broken. I would have appreciated if he had come and told me this OR if he said a new hose was on the way. Instead he just said the hose was broken.

I made another call to operations with the threat that I would deplane the passengers if air is not connected to the aircraft. At the gate, with no APU or engine running, all that's blowing is recycled air.

Curious about the missing Captain I checked the computer again. I should have investigated further earlier as the Captain was arriving on an international flight.....30 gates away. This meant she had to clear customs, re-enter security and then make her way to the new gate. This was a 50 minute process at best. I advised operations of this new found data.

Two minutes later a ramper is looking at me giving me the hand signals to start the number 2 engine as they had connected the air start machine. I just shook my head. No engine can be started without the Captain.

Again I went down and explained there was no Captain on board and I needed pre-conditioned air connected. Again he said the hose was broken. I saw a ramp supervisor in a tug and told him I wanted a portable air cart connected now. He said the once nearby was broken but he was looking for another cart. I said they had ten minutes or I would deplane.

The temp in the cabin was a humid 74 degrees.

At 5:24 PM an airport facilities van pulled up and replaced the hose. Finally cool air was flowing into the cabin.

The Captain arrived at 5:35 PM. I had everything set up for her arrival. She reviewed the logbook and flight release promptly. We pushed back at hour an thirteen minutes late.

Everyone has different fly styles. This Captain peaked my interest with hers. A little on the "WTF?!?!" side. One leg to the outstation and it was my turn. I will wait to reserve further judgement until I see her fly today.

We hoped for a quick turn as we had arrived at 6:41 PM instead of 5:23 PM. It wasn't to be. Twenty-nine minutes after blocking in we blocked out....almost. The airport has two runways. One was closed last week but was open this week. The automated performance computer (works numbers for takeoff including weight, temp and V-speeds) was set for runway 17L but was showing it was still closed so no data came out. It took a few minutes but we were able to get data for 17R. I've never used 17R for takeoff (last week we used 35L, same pavement but shorter taxi). Tower was a bit confused but gave us 17R.

I flew fast and landed just 25 minutes after taking off. My attempts at transporting passengers to their next destination quickly were foiled when we were told there were no open gates.

We got in a line of 10 other aircraft all waiting for gates. The flight was blocked for 50 minutes. By the time a gate opened and we parked we had blocked 2 hours and seven minutes. We blocked in at 9:17PM. My flight to the overnight was supposed to leave at 7:55 PM. With a shortage of pilots the flight was just delayed.

I packed up and headed to yet another aircraft. Ironically the aircraft I would take to the overnight was the same aircraft I flew on my first turn.

Passengers in the waiting area were happy to see me when I confirmed I was their pilot. It had been a long day. Crew scheduling called to ask if I would take the 2 hour extension of my duty day (part of FAR 117). I said I would not take an extension but would complete the flight if we got out in time. My "bingo" time was 10:59 PM. If we were off the ground by that time I would have a 12 hour duty day.

Fatigue is a serious condition. Bad decisions are made when people are fatigued. Often people who are fatigued don't know they are fatigued. I've been fatigued before. I've also been able to project in the future and estimate if I will be able to complete a flight without being fatigued.

We boarded up quickly and blocked out a 10:02 PM. Tired, but not fatigued. I drank a good amount of water and felt better.

Vectored around weather. I perked up a bit when the controller stated there were reports of moderate AND severe turbulence between FL290-FL330. I've been through moderate but never anything worse. Severe turbulence reports require aircraft inspections. We were vectored 20 miles away from that are before climbing up. Just moderate. I flew fast.

Light winds out of the south in northern Kentucky. The airport was using runways 36C, 36R and 9. I picked runway 9 as I didn't want a tailwind and it would be a faster approach. It was an ILS to a visual. Even a little tired I managed an incredibly smooth landing. The wheels just rolled onto the runway softly.

Blocked in at 1:08 AM local time. Good morning. One of my top 10 worst days.

Today it's just two legs, tomorrow is four and Wednesday has three legs. Time to rest up.


No comments:

Post a Comment

If you are a spammer....your post will never show up. Move along.