Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Too hard for one leg

Today was my first day back to the line in a little over a week. I had a 11:15AM report time for my trip. Even though I live just 8 miles from the airport, I have to give myself 45 minutes to get through the security portal and sign in. Since I had to update my manuals I figured I would leave an hour prior to sign in.

I'm almost back to normal as far as my health goes. Just a light cough. I headed out the door at 10:09 and began loading up my car. By 10:12 I was done.

Over the last few days the Tire Pressure Monitoring System on my car has been going off. I finally traced it down to the rear driver side tire. I had planned on topping it off today and getting it fixed when I get back tomorrow. I figured there was a nail in it.

When I walked around to that side of the car I was greeted by a very deflated tire. I quickly grabbed the inflator and turned my car on. I then thought there must be a hole. I grabbed a bottle of fix-o-flat. I screwed it on and pumped it in. Then it happened.

As I unscrewed the inflator hose the entire valve stem just snapped off. Out went all of the air. Time 10:17. Crap.

I quickly called crew scheduling. I let the agent know that I would likely not make the sign in time but I should make the departure no problem. I could have simply burned another sick day and been done with it, but I plan on saving my sick time for when I have a second officer of my own...I'm sure I will need it.

The agent said to keep him updated. The departure was set for noon. I got to work changing the tire.

For whatever reason Mazda equips the Mazda5 with a ridiculously complicated jacking system. Ugh. I've only had two flat tires in my life (not bad for 18 years of driving and 8 or so different cars). The last time was on the inner lane of a 3 lane freeway with a 60 MPH speed limit. Not the smartest idea to pull over there. Three scraped knuckles later it was fixed.

Having a flat in the garage is much more convinenent. At 10:40AM I was done. Problem...the spare looked very flat. With a quick check I found it too be at 25 PSI! Normal is 55PSI. While filling it up I called scheduling and told them I could make a 11:30AM sign in and that the flight would still leave on time. That's all he really cared to hear..."leave on time."

I pulled into the employee lot at 11:12AM. On the bus at 11:15AM. Cleared the security portal at 11:23AM and signed in at 11:25AM. Not bad.

After stopping by the crew room for my manual updates I headed to the gate....18 gates away. I walked onto the plane at 11:35AM. Boarding had just started.

I knew the Captain. He was my initial sim instructor. I stashed my bags and did my preflight. All parts accounted for I took my seat.

I glanced at the overhead panel. Something was off...or on rather. The IDG (Integrated Drive Generator) #2 had a fault light. Not good. Captain noticed it about the same time.

A few minutes later a mechanic arrived. Stated we would likely need to deplane. APU running. We all knew that resetting the plane would likely clear the fault light. Problem is we can't have passengers on a plane with no power. Ground power wasn't available.

The mechanic began looking at the circuit breaker behind my seat. I was busy programming the FMS. Then it happened. Everything went black. He pulled the circuit breaker for the main battery bus. WTF?

He pushed it back in. All kinds of warnings and bells went off associated with initially powering up the plane. The Captain and I quickly reconfigured the overhead panel for an APU restart and he started it up. Sure enough the IDG fault light was gone, but a new more minor one was here.

After twenty minutes of discussion and writing we were pushing out of the gate 15 minutes late with one minor item MEL'd.

The Captain had been flying all day. He gave the leg to me.

During taxi my checklist calls for me to check the flight controls. In the CRJ there is no direct connection between the yoke and the control surfaces. Thus I am just making sure when I turn right that the Flight Control Synoptic page shows the right aileron going up and what not.

The controls felt fine and everything looked normal.

Cross-bleed (no APU) engine start complete it was my aircraft. At 124 knots I rotated the 59,000 pound plane with 29 adults on it into the air. Right away something didn't feel right. The controls felt jammed.

I wiggled the yoke a bit and the plane responded. I stated the controls felt very stiff. The plane had just come out of maintenance for having stiff controls. Not fixed. At 600 feet I called for the autopilot.

Thankfully the outstation was using a runway that allowed for a straight in landing. That combined with me flying a higher cruise speed meant I could make up most, if not all of the delay.

Somehow I made an incredibly smooth landing (light plane at 56000 pounds) while dealing with a decent crosswind.

While taxing to the gate a twin Cessna almost turned into the grass leaving the runway. Guess they were trying to make a certain

We pulled into the gate 1 minute late (still on time according to the Department of long as we block in within 14 minutes of scheduled arrival time).

Not my favorite overnight. There is a really good catfish place across the river. Hopefully tomorrow I will be off when I get back.

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