Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lest I forget....I am a First Officer

The last day of the trip was just three legs. At 5AM the crew climbed into the hotel van and left for the airport.

The first flight of the day has all of us preforming various checks associated with the first flight of the day. One of these checks failed.

The flight attendants tested the lavatory smoke detector...and it failed. The books state that if the smoke detector is inoperative...so is the lavatory. Being the first flight of the day, most passengers sleep anyway. The gate agents made several announcements that there would be no lavatory on board. We left the gate just 6 minutes late.

Rewinding a bit. Before I left the hotel, I checked the weather on my laptop. There was a line of weather from the outstation to base. I saw a way around it by back tracking about 80 miles and flying around the backside of the storm.

After lining up on runway 4 the Captain applied takeoff thrust and away we went. As we climbed up we both switched on our weather radar.

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ATC advised that is we turned right heading 210 we would avoid most of the weather. The our flight plan had us flying a heading of 090. The Captain looked out the window...then his radar and told me to convey that we would be deviating left and right, but on the current heading. He wanted to pick his way around the storm. I mentioned that going around the back side of the storm wouldn't be a bad idea. He had his mind set. ATC came back again advising to head south. The Captain replied that he wasn't going to let ATC control his plane.

The ride through the storm was rough. With all the bumps, precipitation, and cold air involved I had turned on the continuous ignition (in case of a flameout), wing anti-ice (to keep the wings clear), cowl anti-ice (to keep the cowls clear of ice) and turbulence mode on the autopilot (to reduce the corrections made by the autopilot due to the turbulence.) Lightening was lighting up the sky all around us. After about twenty minutes we finally were in the clear.

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After getting back to base I called up a mechanic to take a look at the lavatory smoke detector. They didn't have time to fix it and just MEL'd it. Once they left I noticed a yellow EICAS message that normally isn't there....ICE DET FAIL.  I tested the Ice Detection system before we left this morning. I know it worked fine. It was likely a glitch. I tried turning on and off the windshield heat and probes....the message would go away...then come right back on. Another call to the mechanics. Once they arrived we simply did a CTRL,ALT, DELETE maneuver and the message was gone. Basically we powered the plane off and back on. Simple glitch.

The storms were now between us and our next turn. ATC was giving radar vectors to track a radial outbound. Eventually we turned north. I was able to find a 3 mile wide hole to sneak thru. Once clear the ride was nice.

The weather at our next outstation was VFR. Clear skies, calm winds and unlimited visibility.

I made a better than average landing after having to slow way down to keep from overtaking an ERJ ahead of us. I was trying to keep my speed up as we were running very late and I knew the passengers (and me!) needed to use the restroom.

Thirty minutes after arriving we were headed home. The Captain flew at Mach .83 the entire way. We were initially filed to go more than 350 miles out of the way due to the storm. The storm had since moved out of the way. If we didn't fly fast (and thus burn more fuel) we would have been over max landing weight. As we were being vectored for final we were right at 66,980 pounds....just 20 pounds shy of max landing weight.

I was exhausted after getting on the employee bus to go home. This four day trip was rough on me. I was so tired I went to bed at 9PM last night and didn't get out of bed till 8:30AM today.

Tomorrow I am flying to Vegas for the day. I am driving down to Golden Valley, AZ to look at a slot machine. Should be a fun day.

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