Friday, June 26, 2015

I don't like MGM

Finally done with a 4 day trip. I don't like 4 day trips.

This month I'm paired with a super senior Captain. He's number 14 in seniority and is 64 1/2 years old. He's been a Captain for over 25 years.

I've flown with enough 64 year old Captains to know I don't want to be a 64 year old Captain. This is generalizing but most are forgetful, very tired and are just here for the pay check. Customer service is very low on their list.

I slogged through the first two days just fine. Tons of annoying many to list.

Before we left for the overnight I mentioned there was a lot of weather in the area as I was looking at the RADAR. He wasn't concerned.

Descending into the area we were greeted with a wall of lightening out the front window and a sea of red on the RADAR.

He was flying. I switched to approach and overheard the approach controller telling another RJ about the gusting winds and the report of severe and moderate turbulence from an aircraft on final.

There was no way through the wall of red. We got vectored north. The Captain wanted to "give it a shot". I advised I was not comfortable with the weather and wanted to head to our alternate. He gave me a "really?" look and agreed.

The other RJ reported being beat up pretty good and decided to head back to ATL as they were low on fuel.

I checked the weather for our alternate. It was also bad with Thunderstorms. I then scanned the en-route chart for somewhere else we could head to that was in range and had our airline on site. Finally found one. Away we went.

My seat was busy coordinating the diversion with ATC, Dispatch and the station personnel. I worked up the fuel numbers and we had plenty. I advised my Flight Attendant and then made a PA to the passengers.

Landed fine. Once parked the Captain said he was done for the night as he didn't want to deal with the weather. It was only our second leg.

I checked the weather and MGM was clearing out quickly and there was nothing behind it.

The station personnel asked what the plan was. The Captain looked at me and said, "aren't you tired ? Don't you want to go to the hotel?"

I told him I was fine as it was just our second leg and, with the weather clearing out, I'd like to get the passengers home. He gave me another "really?" look.

He made a PA for the passengers to deplane and that we weren't going anywhere. The station personnel weren't happy as they'd had to stay very late giving out hotel vouchers and would have to move the aircraft as we weren't parked on our airlines gate.

I then asked the Captain if he would give it 30 minutes as the weather was indeed moving out (I showed him on my phone) and it would take over an hour to get a hotel anyway. He reluctantly agreed.

Sure enough the weather moved out. We boarded back up and eventually left.

Both our diversion and destination airport Towers had closed. Once we were close to MGM we heard the other RJ flight back. Landed fine. Tired.

We arrived at the hotel and given keys. We went to the rooms only to find they were occupied.  Our rooms had been sold to walk in guest. We all went back down and given new keys. Those rooms were dirty. All of them. We were then offered one dirty room, one smoking room and a suite. I gave the suite to my Flight Attendant. The Captain and I asked for a new hotel. Eventually given rooms next door. I hit the bed hard as it was 1AM. Van time was 6PM.

The next day the new hotel stated the original hotel would not pay for the rooms past noon. I was still tired. I left the original hotel know if they forced us to move we would have to delay or cancel the flight as it would interrupt my required rest. They eventually agreed to let us stay. This should have been the end of it. Later in the day the new hotel stated the old hotel wanted us to WALK over to be picked up for the hotel. There's no sidewalk between the two. I'd have to walk on a busy highway for about 200 yards to get there.

About 30 prior to van time I called back and asked to speak with the manager. I then  stated "this phone call is being recorded. I want to verify where you will be picking up the flight crew you left without hotel rooms last night?" The manager sheepishly stated they would pick us up at the new hotel.

I have never liked the MGM overnight. The best thing about it is the Hyundai plant tour.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Carrot is still dangling

I've been posting much less lately. No real excuse for it.

Every now and then my company updates the seniority list. The union does the same, but more often. Right now my seniority number is 1290. Two years ago that would have easily been a Captain position in base near the middle of the reserve list. Today it's a senior First Officer. Reason? Shrinkage.

Reason being pilots above and below me are leaving. The airline has parked or sent aircraft thus balancing the number of pilots to the number of aircraft. Very frustrating.

In the mean time I'm just doing my job. I did have an interesting and startling event a few weeks ago.

I was the pilot flying and had leveled off at 11,000 feet on the arrival to an airport. Departing aircraft climb to 10,000 feet. The TCAS screen showed traffic all around us which is normal.

A solid blue target appeared and showed to be climbing quickly. Within a few seconds the TCAS system turned the target yellow and announced "Traffic". We both looked out and saw the aircraft, a 737, climbing quickly towards us. We assumed it would stop at 10,000 feet. Moments later the target turned red and the TCAS said, "TRAFFIC, CLIMB, INCREASE VERTICAL SPEED!"

Instinctively I clicked off autopilot, pushed the thrust levers to the firewall and smoothly pitched up. During an avoidance maneuver the VSI arc will indicate the climb amount needed to avoid an impact with a green mark. It indicated over 2200 feet per minute. I pitched up until we were in the green. A few seconds, which seemed much longer, later it announced "clear of conflict." At that point I returned to 11,000 feet while the Captain advised approach we deviated due to a TCAS resolution advisory. They simply said ok and to contact a new frequency.

Our operating book states we MUST follow resolution advisories even if we can maintain eye contact with the offending aircraft. Better safe than sorry.

A few days later the Captain got a phone call asking about the situation, not from ATC, but from our own airline.

Most aircraft are equipped with FOQA computers. Flight Operating Quality Assurance computers monitor the flight and make note of anything out of the norm such as high approach angles, high speeds and odd maneuvers. The airline rep stated there have been a rash of RAs at this airport and they are looking to fix the issue.

I'm giving up predicting when I will be Captain. Instead all efforts are being focused on getting out and to a mainline carrier.