Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Captain Check Ride - Satisfactory

It's done. Eight years, 6 months and 23 days after starting at my airline I've finally made Captain. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't hard.

The stress level was much lower since I had flown the aircraft before as a new hire. That was a double edged sword as I didn't study as hard as I would have if the aircraft had been new to me.

The check ride started with a pre-flight inspection via a slide show. I did very good except I had one error. It was satisfactory (the highest possible rating....only passing rating).

My First Officer was a check airman. He would be perfect, but could provide ZERO assistance. If I made a mistake he could not say anything. This is what annoys me about 121 check rides.

The ride started in JFK. I taxied out to the runway, low visibility takeoff. I climbed out and was cleared for air work.

Steep turns are something that is never done in the real aircraft. I only practiced them twice in the simulator. It's an odd maneuver as the aircraft warns of high bank angles by stating "Bank Angle!" over the speakers. A bit startling.

Mine last night were not perfect, but satisfactory. I was a little high...a little low....a little fast....but satisfactory.

I then did three approaches to stalls, clean, takeoff and landing. All done fine.

Our destination was suddenly closed and we were directed back to JFK. Low visibility operations were in effect, Category II approach.

My aircraft has no HUD so Category  II approaches are a little funky. The First Officer flies to approach while I look outside. If I see the runway I take over and land. If I take over and have to go around I fly the missed approach. If I don't see the runway he flies the missed approach. The ceiling and visibility were right at minimums.

Sure enough I saw the approach lights and runway right at 100 feet. I quickly stated "landing" and pushed the First Officers hands off the thrust levers. Done.

We were then zapped back out and flew the approach again. This time when I took the controls to land I was given a go around due to a truck on the runway.

On the climb out a bird entered the left engine. Checklist were run and we entered a hold. During the entry the First Officer was running the checklist and I failed to notify ATC of entering the hold, minor but I corrected it.

Emergency declared we headed back in for a GPS 22L approach into JFK on the remaining engine. Weather came up for minimums.

Short final another truck came on the runway (dang airport vehicles!) and we were sent around.

This is where I almost made a fatal error.

The missed for 22L is straight to one fix then a turn to another for a hold. A single engine missed is a little more busy than two engines. I forgot to call for lateral navigation right away. In the real world the First Officer would speak up. Last night all he could say was "well there goes Foler!". I thought "that's odd for him to say that."

I looked down and quickly called for nav mode. Thankfully I was within tolerances.

Vectored back in for a single engine ILS. Landed finally.

Taxied to the end for another takeoff. Had to abort due to some red light. Lined up for another. On this one the engine flamed out at V1. Climbed out and ran a came back.

Weather cleared and we were told to slow for traffic. Flaps failed. Final approach was a no flap landing.

In and done.

I was deemed worthy of Captain.

I now have a few days off. It's been a crazy week as Monday I got a nail in my car tire. Normally not an issue but my tires are unique (BMW I3...they make only 1 brand and model of tire for my car) and there are none in the entire state. It was a "nice" birthday gift as I also turned 39 Monday.

The day of the check ride I broke a huge piece of glass in the house and cut my finger. It all seemed small though as I was handed over my new license.

Next is one more simulator (line flight in real time) then I get to fly the real aircraft.

For the time being I will be a commuting Captain, but a bid just closed...and I should hold Captain in my current base.....but on yet another entirely new to me aircraft. Yep....collecting type ratings.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Smoked filled flight deck

Day 3 of simulator training. My First Officer is progressing well. The instructor is the same instructor I had when I was a new hire.

After each 4 hour sim session there is a debrief over what happened during the sim session. Thankfully the items I made mistakes on were very light. I credit the 8 years of being a First Officer and my 4 years experience on the same aircraft from the right seat. My First Officer has only been at the airline for a year. He is brand new to the jet.

Today involved emergency descents, DME arcs, and localizer approaches.

My first approach was runway 2 at KSGF with the glide slope inoperative. During the climb out from the missed approach (tower told me to go around AFTER the mains touched the runway) we got a cargo fire. It got busy as I called for the aircraft to be cleaned up, fire check list run and entering a hold. The holding fix was just 6 miles north of the airport.

ILS 2 chart

The First Officer had just finish running the cargo fire checklist when I crossed the holding fix. I declared an emergency and took over the radios. Right then the Flight Attendant called stating the cabin was filling with smoke.

The simulator has a smoke function. The flight deck began filling with smoke. We donned oxygen mask. We were then given the runway 14 approach glide slope inoperative with the SGF transition. How appropriate as that was the holding fix from the last approach. I had the First Officer run the smoke removal checklist.

ILS 14 chart 

We exited the hold and were quickly at the BVRLY fix to do a hold in lieu of a procedure turn. No time to hold and wait for the smoke checklist to be complete I turned final and began descending.

I told the First Officer to tell the Flight Attendant we are 3 minutes from landing, will be evacuating on the runway and the signal would be emergency lights on and seat belt sign off.

Runway in sight I was slightly right of course. I corrected and planted the aircraft on center line. Maximum braking and reverse. The instructor came over the radio and said "DO NOT EVACUATE". He knows me and knew I was going to take the situation to the end. Ah it was fun anyway. He cleared the fire.

I taxied to the gate and we were done.

Tomorrow is yet another adventure.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Oral passed

Passed my Captain oral yesterday. The day before that I passed the systems written with a 99. I missed one tricky question.

The oral went okay. I stumbled on two easy questions. During an oral exam the examiner will not acknowledge right or wrong questions. They just take the answer and move on....probing more if needed. As long as I kept talking, the event wasn't over.....just like as long as the sim keeps moving...the ride isn't over.

The examiner was satisfied with my knowledge. It is a double edged sword being in the right seat for 8 years. Over this time I filled my bucket with a lot of knowledge.  A few years ago I stated I was ready for Captain after 4 years. I was wrong.

Next up is the simulator. I have a 8:30 AM showtime. I'm looking forward to flying the jet I was first hired into....for now a simulator will do.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Kryptonite for Pilots

I haven't flown in a month.

Every weekday I've been in an office building from 7 AM until 4 PM. Being confined all day in a building if kryptonite for pilots. I left an office job to come here!

Ground school is almost over. Oral on Wednesday. I start simulator training on Friday. Looking forward to settling in to my new seat.

It helps lower the stress immensely that I've flown the aircraft before and am very familiar with the aircraft and systems. This whole systems ground school has been more of a review than an introduction.

The four other pilots in my class are all fairly new, been on property for barely a year. This is a lot more stressful for them.