Sunday, January 31, 2010

In case of any doubt....vacation is over

My vacation was awesome. Loved it. There was no chance of direct flights to and from Miami so my wife and I had to make a stop. No big deal, all worked out fine.

I had just one reserve day (today) before being off for three more days. I thought there wasn't much they could do to me with just one reserve day. Yeah about that.

I was assigned reserve at home with a call out. At 7:25AM my phone rang. I was assigned airport standby starting at 9:25AM. Welcome back.

My wife dropped me off and I used to time to update my charts. Two updates had come out since I had been at work including one beefy one. Once done two pilots who I went to ATP with joined me at my table as they had down time as well.

Around 11:20AM I was thinking I would not be used. Then at 11:30AM I was called for a 12:20PM flight. The assignment wasn't bad. One leg out and a deadhead back. I could do this. Then I saw who the Captain was......hmmm I might be able to do this.

The Captain I was assigned to fly with and I don't get along. It happens.

As I exited the crew elevator he was walking in. I headed to a cold plane and fired up the APU. He arrived and we both simply did our jobs. I had been out of the cockpit for almost 2 weeks. I was slower than normal and much more deliberate in my actions.

The flight was quiet. Just the required verbage was spoken. As we neared the out station a printout emerged showing our next assignments. I was still deadheading back on the next flight (same plane I was on). For some reason the Captain was deadheading on a later flight.

Once we shut everything down I went up to the gate to get a boarding pass. The Captain stayed back in the cockpit.

The gate agent was busy. I headed off the chat with the out bound First Officer.  The Captain I was with got his boarding pass first. I noticed I was no longer on the list. Something happened.

I checked my schedule. Now I was assigned to sit in this out station for 3 hours before flying one leg back. To make matters worse the plane I was waiting on was running very late. I started doing math.

My duty day started at 4AM (the time I had to turn my phone on). Under current regulations I can be on duty for 14 hours. Weather or mechanical delays can stretch that to 16 hours, but it can't be scheduled. As scheduled I would arrive back in base at 5:40PM and end my duty day at 5:55PM or 13 hours and 55 minutes after I started. Five minutes shy of being illegal.

I tried calling scheduling and tipped them off to the near 14 hour duty day and that the plane was running very late. They didn't seem to care. I then called a union rep. I've had his number in my phone for more than 2 years.....just in case. I discussed my situation with him and that I might end up calling in fatigued. He explained the process. Now it's up to me.

If I call in fatigued I will initially lose money. I have only flown an hour today. I am paid for almost 4 hours each reserve day. If I call in fatigued and  I don't fly at least 4 hours I lose money.  Thus I will lose about 3 hours of pay. Next up is getting home tomorrow. I have to arrange it all on my own.

There is a chance I can get my pay back by going through a union review board. Eh. I have two hours to think about it. I am certain I will go over 14 hours of duty today. Best case scenario I will hit 14 1/2 hours duty.

Here I sit. Vacation is over indeed.

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  1. What would happen if you arrived late and therfore flew illeagaly? would it be your fault or the airlines?

  2. I don't understand... are you really fatigued or just trying to prove a point, because you were annoyed at having to fly with the Captain you don't like, and because crew scheduling changed you at the last minute?

    You were on vacation... thus you should be rested. You weren't actually called until 7:25 AM, which is not particularly early, and had plenty of time to report to the airport which you live near. You had several hours to rest at the outstation - while maybe not the most relaxing depending on amenities, it's not like you were busy flying. Even if you don't get back until 7:30pm, that's still only 12 hours from when you were actually called. How tired are you really?

    If this is in violation of union or FAA regulations, I think you should bring it up through appropriate channels after the fact. But it's really kind of a low blow to do this to your passengers, captain, and cabin crew - especially at an outstation where it's difficult to replace you. I've followed your blog for a while and I realize the low pay and poor conditions regional pilots must endure, and why you might want to "work to rule" occasionally to prove a point. I just don't think this is the right time - leave it for a day when you really WERE up early (possibly from reduced rest) and actually FLEW all day long - that's the conditions the duty regulations are built for, and where a violation would truly cause an unsafe situation.

    If you truly are fatigued and flying would be unsafe, you must of course call in. But if I were you, I'd say, don't do it just to make management mad at you - save these situations for a time when it really counts.

    Just my $0.02, feel free to delete this if you don't like this kind of comment on your blog, but I did want to make it.

  3. I had been awake since 6AM as I am an early riser and typically get up early. From 9:25AM until 11:40AM I sat around (albeit updating charts....but still sitting around). I flew from 12:20PM until 1:10PM. Then from 1:15PM until 4:55PM I sat around. I then flew from 5:07PM until 6:15PM.

    Try sitting around the house then do something very busy for an hour....then sit around for a few more hours then do something to keep you busy again. The next day just stay busy for an equal amount of time. If you are like most people the sitting around makes you more tired than staying busy.

    The I would rather fly 8 hours a day than sit around an airport for 3 hours and fly one hour sit around an airport for 3 hours and fly another hour. The sitting around makes most people more tired than working.

    Airports are not places to feel rested especially at outstations. There is no where to rest....just hard plastic chairs. There are constant announcements and people moving about.

    I have never called in fatigued before. Knowing I had to sit around an airport for 4 hours put the potential for me being fatigued into play thus I prepared for it. I don't let outside pressures sway me into flying.....that's how accidents happen...."gotta get there itis" and "must complete the mission" ideology have caused many an accident.

    And just because I came off from vacation does not mean one is well rested. The same logic is used for current FAA rest requirements.....which are thankfully getting scrutinized.

    I welcome comments and criticism....which is why I have a commenting system.

  4. There is a maximum off time that I must abide by. This time factors in how long the flight should take as planned. As long as the plane is off the ground before the maximum off time expires then I am legal to finish the flight. If the plane lands for any reason prior to reaching the to the hotel.

  5. [...] In case of any doubt….vacation is over | Geek in the Cockpit [...]

  6. So which FSDO do you work at, jportzer? That, or you're in management. Which is it?

    Blows my mind how people that have absolutely no idea what they're talking about get on and criticize other's actions. Think about what you're saying here... he should be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed because he sat in a terminal for three hours? Give me a break...


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