Thursday, December 29, 2011

So close...but sick

Easy day trip. Flew with a Captain that was new to me. It was 5 hours of talking about planes, cars and kids....oh we each flew a leg as well.

Nothing exciting...which is how flights should be.

After getting home though I started to not feel so hot. Seems my daughter brought a gift home for me....a cold.

Had to call in sick tomorrow. First time calling in sick in months. I still get paid for my overtime trip. Hope to be better by Saturday.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011 with photos!

Today was supposed to be an easy trip. One turn. Easy. It's VFR. Easy. Bleh.

I had an 11:15 report time. My daughter wasn't feeling the best so we kept her out of daycare. My wife went to work early in order to get off early. How early? She woke up at 4AM. Yeah.

My wife met me at the terminal at 11:05AM. We made the swap and then I headed inside. Signed in and off for snack for the trip.

My initial gate was number 56. Then it changed to gate 59. Then it changed to gate 61...all in less than 15 minutes. Reason? Plane swaps.

The initial plane was at gate 56. We would have been on time. But then the plane at gate 59 broke and they were already late. They gave the crew at gate 59 our plane at gate 56. They then gave us the plane at gate 59 with a delay. I guess they realized it would be a while and instead assigned us the plane coming in to gate 61.

We were due out at 12:00PM. The inbound was due in at 11:49AM. Yeah so much for easy.

Finally onboard at 12:10PM. Problem...the cap for the potable water connection is missing....water is dripping out. Mechanic called.

Finally blocked out at 12:39PM with 11 passengers on board. We had an hour sit at the outstation scheduled. Most of that was gone.

My leg. Lots of turbulence in the area. So bad we descended from FL370 to FL290 to find smooth air. Thankfully we were tankering an extra 3500 pounds of fuel and were able to fly that much lower. Every now and then the dispatcher runs the numbers to see if it's cheaper to tanker fuel (take more than needed) than it would be to buy it at the outstation. For most airlines fuel is always cheaper in the Hub.

The outstation is in close proximity to a few mountains...I call them mountains...maybe they are just hills. Made for nice scenery.

[nggallery id=53]

Decent landing. Blocked in 26 minutes late.

Twenty minutes later (it seemed like much longer) and we were being pushed back for the return flight with just 30 people on board. We actually blocked out 16 minutes early.

Turbulence again at FL280 for the return. Descended to FL260. Thankfully the dispatcher planned for us to fly low so fuel wasn't an issue.

Busy at the hub. Assigned 22R initially. On about a 2 mile final tower asked if we could take 22L so a 747 could depart on 22R. Fine with us....except for the 737 taking the runway on 22L.

Cleared to land. Descending through 500 feet the 737 just started rolling. The 737 rotated just as we crossed the threshold. Close.

Landed 24 minutes early. Then it happened. Congestion on the ramp. Yadda ,yadda, yadda, blocked in 8 minutes late. Since we left early I went over block. All in I went 24 minutes over block time...not too bad on overtime.

Tomorrow I go back for another turn...hope it's easier.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Making money

Living in base and being a line holder gives me the ability to (almost) write my own pay check.

My line for December was initially valued at 83 hours. Of that 83 hours 22 hours involved a 4 day trip that starts on December 31st. I traded around and ended up with 65 hours before any overtime to be flown in THIS calendar month.

I picked up a lot of extra flying. I'm very picky on extra flying in that I won't do overnights as it takes away from my time at home. My wife works Monday-Friday. We pay for daycare 3 days a week whether we go or not.

Thru careful scanning I was able to add on overtime flying to the front or back of a few trips. Over the next 3 days however I was able to pick up a lot of extra flying.

My 4 day that starts on December 31st was changed as my mainline carrier changed the schedules for January. Every flight from January 1st on is different. Because I was already awarded a line based on certain flight times I get that pay, but will not have to do most of the flying. How much less? Well 18 hours less. All I do is one leg to the overnight on the 31st and one leg back the next day. I will fly 2.4 hours and get paid for 22 hours.

Over the next 3 days I picked up overtime day trips each day. Tomorrow is worth 4 hours, Thursday is worth 5 hours and Friday is worth 7 hours.

Now for math. I've mentioned in the past I failed College Algebra. My professor gave a me a "C' since I was a Journalism major....and literally went everyday. In 5 years of college I missed just 11 days. Not too bad.

Anyway as of today I will be paid for 128 hours of flying but only fly 92 hours. The difference is the 4 day trip on the 31st that was chopped up as well as a few flights that cancelled. This could be my best month ever.

Back of the napkin math shows I will be paid $5,120 before taxes and excluding per diem. I should have another $500 or so in per diem. If I can keep this going I could make a lot of money next year. I think it's a special case though. I DO hope to get paid for 85-95 hours a month though.

Note to self...take more photos while flying. I carry a camera every trip...I need to start taking it out.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My last reduced rest overnight? Maybe.....

My 3 day trip went well. Ended kinda funny.

The first overnight was at a very small outstation. How small? The tower opens at 9AM and closes at 9PM. We arrived 10 minutes early at 9:25PM and were scheduled to leave at 7:20AM. We are the only airline that serves the airport.

The original overnight was scheduled for 8 hours and 50 minutes. Let's take a close look at that.

We were scheduled to block in at 9:35PM so let's assume we were on time.

After blocking in our pay clock stops. We run the parking checklist as the passengers get off the plane. That normally takes 5-10 minutes depending on the load.

I then have to do a post flight inspection. That takes between 3-5 minutes.

My rest "started" 15 minutes after blocking in. So normally when I finish the post flight I am "resting".

We then ran the terminating checklist. Normally the Captain does this while I am doing my post flight.

After the plane was shut down we walked out to the curb. Thankfully the van was waiting.

The keys for our rooms were in the van. Saves time. Van time already scheduled for 6:25AM.

I walked into my room at 10:25PM.

Quick wind down and I'm in bed by 10:50PM.

Fell asleep around 11:20PM.

Alarm went off at 5:45AM.

Downstairs by 6:20AM.

In the van at 6:25AM.

Stepped into the airport at 6:35AM...which is the time my "rest" stopped.

In that 8 hours 50 minutes of rest I had about 6 hours of sleep...which is pretty good considering I normally don't sleep well on short overnights.

We blocked out right on time at 7:20AM. Ten hours and twenty minutes later (including 6 hours of flying) I was once again on "rest" for a decent 13 hour overnight.

Day 3 was originally just one leg into base. I added on four (that's a 4!) more legs of overtime. My duty day was scheduled for 13 hours and 15 minutes. Total flying was scheduled for 7 hours 50 minutes. Three plane swaps. Three different crews. Long day.

The flying went fine. A somewhat humourous last leg.

I had an hour break between the 3rd and 4th legs. I grabbed lunch and sat down near the gate. I saw a pilot in a First Officers jacket near the gate and assumed he was a commuter/jump seater.

After finishing my lunch I checked in with the gate agent to let her know I was heading down to the plane. The pilot in the First Officers jacket was still there with a flight attendant. The pilot introduced himself and stated he was the Captain, but left his Captain jacket in this crashpad. He lived locally but was based elsewhere. He was a very recent upgrade....and for the first time in my career....he was younger than me.

I can only imagine what it looked like for two "First Officers" to walk down the jetbridge. I'm sure most passengers have no idea what 3 or 4 bars mean.

The flight went fine. I had my first stiff crosswind on landing.

A crosswind landing in a Cessna 172 is flown much the same as in a regional jet. The biggest difference is that you don't "slip" a jet. You crab into the wind until the last 50 feet or so and begin to kick it over. It's a tricky maneuver in both a 172 and a regional jet.

In gusty winds I personally give up any attempts at greasing it on and just plant the mains onto the ground....which is what I did.

I'm off until next Friday. I picked up a 7 hour day trip on overtime. I then come back on Saturday (yup New Years Eve!) for a 4 day trip.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Apple's fault

I had a nice long blog post about my last four day. All typed up using a bluetooth keyboard and my Ipad. Then for whatever reason the app crashed...there is no autosave on the app. Blog lost. Blame Apple. Well maybe the Wordpress app.

I might rewrite it. Eh.

Right now I'm on day 2 of a 3 day. I traded into it in order to get Christmas off. It worked but I lost some hours.

My original trip was a 20 hour 3 day. The new trip is a 9 hour 3 day. Ouch right? Well I added on 4 legs on day 3 to bring it up to 17 hours. Not too bad.

For January I preferenced 3 day trips starting on Saturdays. I got exactly that. I wanted to work Saturdays to maximize my vacation. Next month I will preference partial weekends off.

The line I was awarded is worth 83 hours with 18 days off! Since I have vacation I have 21 days off. Not too shabby.

I am almost up to 100 hours in the new plane. I'm getting more comfortable. Still working on the landings. Everything else is fine.

Again the lack of a post over the last few days is all Apple's fault. Well I guess I could carry a to blame someone else.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Glad I don't commute anymore

I'm supposed to be in a Hyatt Place right now. That's my FAVORITE hotel for overnights.

My 4 day trip started yesterday. The trip is a 3-4-2-3. Meaning 3 legs the first day, 4 legs the second day and so on.

Captain took the first leg and I took the second. A little weather was in the area on the return. I haven't landed at night in this plane much. Flared a bit high....floated 3000 feet down the runway. Uncomfortable. Still getting used to the "site picture" at night. I have 68 hours in type so far.

Once on the ground we were advised our overnight cancelled. Of all the flights on the departure board...ours was the only one that cancelled.

My wife dropped me off earlier in the day, so she had to wake up  my daughter and pick me up. Not a big deal, but it's a risk we take when I don't drive.

This morning I was advised I would dead head out to where my overnight was and pick up my schedule from there. The dead head flight left at noon.

At 10;30AM as I was preparing to leave I was called and told a reserve was flying the outbound leg and they reassigned him to fly my leg back. Fine...more time at home.

I still get paid for everything. I could use the hours though. Eh.

So now I leave at 4:18 PM and do 3 legs. Tonight is a 9 hour a Hilton...nice hotel...but it's no Hyatt Place! Bleh.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2 days off

Finished my 4 day. Nothing terribly exciting...just lots of ups and downs. Only one mechanical issue. Last leg at an out station, a seat in front of the exit row reclined...and it's not supposed to.

My cabin crew didn't find this out until we got to the outstation. No one sat in those seats on the way out.

Twenty minute delay while the Captain filled out paperwork (I of course helped out by looking up MEL numbers and such). Blocked in base just 5 minutes late. Not too shabby.

Due to all of my trip trading I'm only off 2 days before my next 4 day. Originally I was off 3.

My next 4 day was supposed to go through the base I used to commute to. I was really dreading it as I had a 3 plus hour sit. Bleh.

I traded it away for a different 4 day trip. It starts later in the day so I have most of Wednesday off. The negative is it ends with an international turn. This means I have to clear customs before I can go home. Bleh.

After the next 4 day I have 2 days off before an easy 3 day trip. Then I have a lot of time off.

Very happy with my Bose A20 headset. Pretty sure they are a keeper. Over 40 hours of flight time so far on the original batteries.

Walked into my hotel room on the last trip...I liked the here ya go.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'll take that 4 day and make it 3

Today was supposed to be day 2 of a 4 day. Because of a 30 in 7 conflict my first day (just one leg to the overnight) was removed.

Day 2 was supposed to be one leg back to base then one leg to the overnight again. I joined the trip leg to the overnight.

I met the Captain at the gate. I flew with him 2 years ago on a different plane.

I'd been to the outstation before, but only on turns. The hotel is a 50 yard walk from the terminal.

Being a TRUE airport hotel...not a lot of food options.

The hotel is a Hilton. Very nice, but expensive for food options.

I walked back to the airport to scout for food. Nothing outside security. I asked a TSA agent if I could go through security and get dinner. My crew ID was in my pocket. No problem. Kinda.

The security line was short, but they were sending everyone through the "nudie" machine. I get enough radiation flying at FL370, I don't need anymore.

When it was my turn I stated I was opting out. The agent seemed confused and stated I would get a pat down. Fine with me.

They pointed me to the "public" screening area. No dice. I requested a private screening. If they are going to play these games might as well go all the way.

Private pat down done I grabbed dinner. Done.

Tomorrow is a 4 leg day. Sunday is just 3 legs.

After that I'm off for 2 whole days. My own doing as I trip traded a lot.

My next trip starts in my base but flies through another base that I used to commute to. I'm seriously debating trading that trip. I really hate the other base/airport. After that 4 day I'm off for 2 whole days and then start a 3 day. Once done with that 3 day I'm off for 9 days....which includes Christmas.

I'm really looking forward to Christmas with my family. It's my daughters first "real" Christmas as she was just 4 months old last year. I've already purchased way too many toys for her. I was spoiled by my parents, only passing it along.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Worn out

Day 2 of the three day was rough. It started off fine, but got worse fast.

As stated in the last post I had a 3 hour sit after arriving from the overnight so I went home and ate lunch. I then drove back to the airport.

Departed on time after dealing with minor maintenance. My leg. Long line of weather to fly through. Bounced around a decent amount.

Made my first direct crosswind landing in the new plane. Not too bad. Just different than my last.

Small out station. My Captain had not been there in a year or so. I had never been there before. We had no idea where to park as the ground crew was all contract so looking for our ground equipment wasn't an option. The ground controller was new and wasn't sure. Thankfully another airline crew pointed us to gate A3. Nice.

Twenty-six minutes later we were being pushed back for the next leg. Back through the same line of weather. It was way past old.

Weather at base was rainy and cold. Winds shifted 1000 feet off the ground. On final we had a 35 knot quartering tailwind. Once under the clouds it turned into a 15 knot headwind.

Blocked in five minutes over scheduled block time. Still 26 minutes over for the day and still 19 minutes over in order to avoid a 30 in 7 conflict.

One hour sit. Kept the same plane. Dinner.

Blocked out on time. We hoped to fly just block to pad my 30 in 7 conflict. It wasn't too be. We had a 136 knot tailwind! There was no hope of flying block...we would be early.

There was a small chance of having a long taxi if the runway we assumed would be in use due to winds was indeed the one being used. wasn't too be.

The Captain landed on the runway with the shortest taxi distance to the gate. Blocked in 15 minutes early. I had a longer overnight.

When we blocked in we had flown 7 hours and 41 minutes that day and been on duty for 12 hours 47 minutes. I had been awake for 15 hours.

Tired and cold.

I slept decently.

The next morning started a little late...which was nice. Because of the over blocking scheduling had to fix my 30 in 7 conflict.

I had hoped they would drop the last turn and I could go home early. Nope. Instead they pulled me from the first two legs of my next trip on Thursday.

That trip starts at 7PM with one leg to a reduced rest overnight. In the morning I was scheduled to fly back to base and then fly out to the next overnight.

Instead I start my trip on Friday afternoon. I still get paid for the first two legs. It's a win/win. Another night at home and 6 hours of pay.

The inbound plane was early. No snow. Blocked out 4 minutes early. My leg.

I hand flew till just over 10,000 then turned on the autopilot and relaxed a bit.

A decent windy and rainy landing. Blocked in 21 minutes over due to congestion and being slowed enroute.

Scheduled 2 hour 25 minute sit.

Delayed by an hour. The inbound was being ferried in. Crap.

I was supposed to finish at 8PM. My wife and daughter were flying in at 8:15PM. The plan was for me to get the car from the employee lot and meet them in baggage claim.

It was time for plan B. I moved the car from the employee lot and parked at the terminal. Expensive, but much easier on my wife and daughter.

We initially blocked out exactly an hour late. Then we noticed the parking brake system wasn't showing the parking brake being engaged. No bueno.

The Captain tried resetting the brake. No change. Time to call a mechanic.

Meanwhile we checked the weather at the outstation......

00000KT 1/4SM FG VV002 13/12 A3011 RMK AO2

Not good. Below landing mins. The Captain requested a second alternate.

Yadda,yadda,yadda....blocked out 1 hour 42 minutes late.

Decent ride. Long flight.

We kept an eye on the weather hoping it would improve. An hour out it was still 1/4 mile visibility. We discussed diversion options

Option 1 had the following weather:

18009KT 4SM -DZ BR OVC002 16/16 A3012 RMK AO2 P0000

Option 2 had this weather:

16006KT 10SM FEW009 BKN100 18/17 A3014 RMK AO2

Option 2 was better. On top of that the Captain stated option 2 had a better hotel.

The Captain briefed the flight attendant. She wasn't happy about it, but understood.

To make things more complicated there were 2 unaccompanied minors on board.

We decided we would plan on going to our destination for now. If the ATIS was still under mins 100 miles out we would hold or divert.

Somehow things improved...just barely. Twenty minutes out we pulled the following weather:

04003KT 1/2SM FG VV002 12/12 A3011 RMK AO2 SLP194 T01220122

Right at landing mins for the ILS. The temperature and dew point being the same means really crappy visibility.

Tower reported the RVR at 2400. We needed 1800. RVR is Runway Visual Range. The value means how many feet down the runway you can see.

The Captain called the approach lights right at 200 feet.

I clicked off the autopilot and kept my eyes on my PFD. At 120 feet he called the runway.

I looked up and saw the piercing bright runway lights shooting through the fog.

Smooth landing and the Captain took over.

Eighteen minutes later we were being pushed back again. RVR was down to 1800. We only needed 600 to takeoff.

Very slow taxi as it was very hard too see.

Thankfully arriving aircraft helped clear the fog off the runway. It was a beautiful sight seeing them break through the clouds at night and trial off water vapor as they landed. Would make a beautiful photo....but cameras aren't allowed during sterile operations.

Holding short we could no longer see the tower....or anything beyond runway.

Arrivals done, it was our turn.

It was very spooky accelerating and not being able to see more than 2000 feet infront of us.

Long flight back. Tired. Worn. At least it was smooth.

Arrivals into base were busy. Initially we were given the furthest runway from our gate. About 5 minutes out we were given the closest runway...but there was a catch.

In order to slip into the flow we had to fly fast.

The smooth and calm flight changed to bumpy and fast. Then came ice and thus cowl and wing anti-ice protection which hinders the ability to slow down while descending.

We broke out 1500 feet above the ground. Blocked 90 minutes late. That day we had flown 7 hours 49 minutes, on duty for 12 hours 40 minutes and awake for 14 hours 30 minutes.

Dead tired.

Over the 3 day trip I flew 22 hours 58 minutes. Originally scheduled for just 21 hours 20 minutes.

My wife and daughter were waiting outside the terminal in my car.  Very happy to see them.

This morning I woke up sore. I'm sure it was a mix of long working days, shortish overnights and I probably didn't drink enough water.

I have three days off thanks to my 30 in 7 conflict. Going to enjoy every moment of it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Working for a living

Forgot what it's like to work for a living. Ouch.

I fly a smaller plane now. Smaller plane = more legs per day...for the most part.

Doing a 21 hour 3 day trip. Day one was 5 legs including an international turn to start. First flight had a fuel readout MEL. We had to use measuring sticks to verify the fuel quantity. Time consuming.

Blocked out an hour late. And so it began.

Lots of weather. Bumped around most of the flight to and from. Heavy wind and rain during my landing. Cleared customs on the return leg. Takes time. My crew then had to change terminals. Due to being an hour late getting back we had only 45 minutes to connect instead of an hour and forty five minutes. Hungry.

I learned long ago to not rush and take care of myself first. I grabbed a sandwhich and headed to the plane. Raining.

Boarded up including a cockpit jumpseater. Closed up. Ding! The flight attendants phone got soaked with water and was inop. Delayed.

Blocked out 45 minutes late. More weather. Light to moderate turbulence the entire flight. Still getting comfortable in the plane and the avionics. I Dodged storms the best I could.

Another windy and heavy rain on approach and landing for me.

There were no passengers for the return leg so we had a very fast 20 minute turn.

Same moderate turbulence on the return leg. All the turbulence was wearing on us physically and mentally.

It would have been nice to keep the same plane to the overnight, but it wasn't to be. We parked at gate 56 and were leaving out of gate 55. Fine.

Swapped, boarded up. Then DING! a flight control malfunction posted. Delayed more. Yadda, yadda, yadda blocked out an hour and 7 minutes late. Short flight.

Still got knocked around. We blocked in having flown 7 hours and 21 minutes. Ugh.

Due to the overtime I picked up on Friday that went 30 minutes over block,  I was now in a 30 in 7 situation.

I can only fly 30 hours in a rolling 7 day period. When I blocked in Saturday night I was scheduled for 29 hours and 57 minutes. Close. If I went over I would be removed from flying but still paid for it.

Nine hour overnight. I was exhausted mentally and physically.  Was supposed to be 10 hours 30 minutes.

This morning we blocked out 7 minutes early. It looked like the 30 in 7 wouldn't be an issue.

Another gusty and heavy rain landing for me. Due to weather the ramp was clogged. And then it happened. We went over block by 18 minutes. I was now scheduled for 30 hours 12 minutes.

Scheduling advised they would keep an eye on me as I still had 3 legs left. I could still under block enough. Hmmm bet it won't happen.

I have a 3 hour sit. Since I live close I came home for lunch. Great perk of living in base and close to base.

Working for a living....still love my job though.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Well played indeed

By the time I finish this blog post I will have completed my reserve stint.....having flown zero reserve hours.

This is in stark contrast to the last 4 years when I was on reserve. I was abused....errr used constantly. Lots of dead heads. Lots of ferry flights. Lots of sitting around. I was the bottom guy.

Being near the top of the reserve list,  life is much better. I can control when I work or if I work...for the most part. I was on call each's just that my phone never rang.

If I use Enron math I made $140 per flight hour this month. How? I flew 22 hours during my training on the new plane, yet I'm paid for 75 hours a month for being on reserve. I did state it was Enron math.

I'm looking forward to flying out of my base again. I haven't flown locally in 8 months. All the frequencies I had memorized are gone. It's almost like starting all over again. I'm sure it will come back quickly.

My wife and daughter are flying out to see family for the weekend. Would be nice to join them....but duty calls. This will be my one year old's 31st and 32nd flights.

My Bose A20 headset arrived. I tried it on in the living room. The passive noise cancelling is MUCH better than my Telex ANR 500 and QC15s. Once I turned on the ANR I could no longer hear my TV which was being played at a very reasonable volume through a 5.1 surround system. I'm looking forward to trying it out tomorrow morning.

Beyond is good. Ready to start flying again regularly....and driving to and from work regularly. Commuting is done....for now.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Being a senior First Officer has it's privileges

I'm on reserve until Friday. I've flown zero hours during my last 7 days of reserve thus far. Being senior has it's privileges.

I'm in the top 1% of the First Officer reserve list at my base. I'm the last person to get called when flight assignments need to be covered. My phone has never rung.

It's been nice. Kind of a paid vacation. Seven days on reserve....full pay. If only I were productive with my time.

With all the time off all I've done is play blocks with my daughter, play "weee" with my daughter (the sound she makes on the slide I bought for her), and mall walk with my daughter. Guess I have been productive eh? Way more fun than updating my logbook or manuals...both of which I broke down and did today. I only have about 5 more months and my logbook will be current. I save all the print outs of my flights digitally each month. I still use Logbook Pro. I might spring for the mobile service since I can use it on my Ipad, Kindle Fire or Thunderbolt phone.

I'm off tomorrow then two more days of reserve and then I have another day off. Due to short staffing my airline is paying a very high premium for pilots to pick up extra flying. I put in to fly a 7 hour day trip on Friday which would net me almost $500 after the premium pay. Would be nice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New headset on the way

So I have a few pilot headsets.

I have a Telex ANR 500, Bose Qc15/UflyMike and a Telex 750.

The one that got the most use is the Telex ANR 500. TSO'd, lightweight, great ANR and clear communications. The Bose QC15/UflyMike combo is great.super ANR, crystal clear communications and light weight. My issue was with the the whole TSO requirements.

In order to comply with TSO requirements I have to wear specific ear buds UNDER the QC15. The ear buds don't have to be in my ears, just under the Bose headset. Reason being if the batteries fail on the QC15 I won't be able to hear. Chances of that in flight are very low seeing as there is a long low battery warning light. But still a lot of cables. True I could "risk" it...but I'm a professional and don't take unnecessary risk.

The Telex 750 was used for 1 day. No where near enough ear protection for RJ's. I bought the 750 for $40 on eBay.

Where am I going with this? I got a new headset.

My new plane is a bit louder than the last. The Telex ANR 500 is no longer able to compete with the noise level in the cockpit.

I thought long and hard about going back to the Bose QC15/Uflymike....really long and hard. Decided to go full Bose.

Bose offers discounts to pilots who fly for my airline. Can't disclose the amount....but it's a good chunk of change. The discount brought the new Bose A20 within stones throw of the Bose QC15/UflyMike combo.

The Bose A20 is TSO approved and is the successor of the Bose Aviation X.

The Aviation X had issues of durability which were supposedly corrected with the A20. It arrives next Monday. I should have a review of the performance within sometime mid-December.

Careful what you ask for

Bids closed. I got what I asked for...but not what I wanted.

Everyone has priorities when bidding.

I wanted the following:

Maximum Days Off

No Two Day Trips

Monday and Tuesdays off

Maximum Pay (high hour line)

Christmas Off

Those were my prefernences in order....and that's where I screwed myself.

Because I weighted pay OVER Christmas off....I'm working Christmas. Additionally I weighted maximum days off over Monday and Tuesdays I'm working all weekends.

What I wanted was day trips...OR 3 or 4 day trips starting on Wednesdays. That way I would have Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off. What I got was a mix of 3 and 4 day trips working all full weekends except for one Saturday.

Pretty bummed. Going to see if I can trade trips around.

My line for December is worth 85 hours and I have 15 days off. Since I no longer commute I didn't care about start and finish times.

My schedule does work for day care which is nice.


Beyond that I'm on reserve till next month. The first 2 days I sat at home on long call. Never was called.

I was off today and yesterday, back on tomorrow....for 5 days.

I'm near the top of the reserve list, but because of so many sick calls there aren't too many pilots under me tomorrow. Hopefully I won't be called, but I will pack my suitcase to be gone for 5 days just in case.

Looking forward to being a line holder again.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Bidding closes soon. I am going to preference Day trips first....then weekends off.....then 3 day trips with weekends off....then four day trips working weekends. Lots of days off is important as well.

Day trips are horrible for commuters but great for those who live in base and want to be home every night. Day trips start in the morning in base, fly 2-4 legs and finish in base that night. No overnights. The bad part is it's like an office job in that you drive to and from work everyday. I set up my preferences to start the day trips after 7AM so that I can take my daughter to day care and my wife can pick her up.

Next up is 3 day trips. Three day trips are a normally non stop flying and short overnights. The idea is to get 4 days of flying done in 3 days. It's hard for a 3 day trip to be commuteable on both ends as the trip is designed to be nonstop flying. I was never able to bid 3 day trips when I commuted for the very reason that they start early and end somewhat late.

Four day trips are the norm for most pilots/flight attendants. These are the most flexible in construction as it can be designed to be late start on day one, heavy flying on days two and three and light flying on day four. Or the line could be light on all four days...or any mix. I did almost exclusively 4 day trips when I commuted.

There is one other type of trip that I thought I wanted, but maybe later when my daughter is in school. The 2 day back to back.

The 2 day back to back is like it sounds, two 2 day trips back to back. For example the first 2 day would start at 9AM on Monday and finish at 6PM on Tuesday. The pilot/flight attendant goes home for the night. They come back Wednesday at 11AM and start the next 2 day trip finishing Thursday at 8PM. The advantage is the pilot/flight attendant gets an extra night at home.

I'll know my fate on Monday.

I'm pretty sure I will hold Christmas off....which will be nice.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

RVR 6000, 2000,500....boooo

Last day of IOE. Three quick legs and done.

I walked down to the front desk at 4:50AM. The hotel gives breakfast bags for early departures. I made my choices of items the day prior and picked a muffin, banana and orange juice and that's exactly what was waiting with my name on it.

Van driver was 5 minutes late. Eh.

Dropped off at 5:25AM for a 5:55AM departure. Breezed thru TSA. New departure time...6:05AM due to flow. Grrr.


I called VR at 6:11AM. Away we went.

We were slowed almost immediately.

Smooth flight. About 20 minutes out I got the ATIS. Sure enough low ceilings and vis due to fog.

On final I could clearly see the runway 5 miles out. I also saw the 737 ahead we were told to follow...for a bit. Once the 737 landed it disappeared into a fog bank covering the last third of the runway.

Since we are smaller than a 737 we used less runway and thus avoided the fog bank. The visbility went down to 600 feet at the departure end of the runway.

Due to construction at the airport taxiing around is a mess. Normally there are inner and outer taxiways. Due to construction there was only an outer...that had to serve both directions.

We waited for 20 minutes as planes taxied toward us for the other side of the airport. Then it happened.

The fog got much worse. Visibility was down to 100 feet. The other side of the airport was closed. Gridlock. The radio was full of pilots requesting to move even though there was no where to move. In addition there were several mechanics in planes trying to move around...and talk on the radio.

The ground controller finally gave up and stated no one talk unless spoken to. The ATIS reflected the same as there was now metering in effect.

When metering is being used planes call metering. Metering instructs pilots to monitor ground and then the metering guy lets the ground guy know where you are and where you want to go.

Forty minutes after landing we pulled into the gate.

We were supposed to do a 35 minute turn. Blocked in 15 minutes late.

Thankfully we were light both ways and blocked BACK out 20 minutes after blocking in. Blocked out 1 minute early! That's pretty impressive to turn an airplane in 20 minutes. Yeah I know Southwest does it everyday....but I don't work for Southwest. Most of the time I'm surprised when we do a 30 minute turn.

I called metering and we waited. Thankfully just 5 minutes and we were taxiing. Number 12 for departure. Single engine taxi it was.

Finally our turn. Four hundred pounds to go before min takeoff. RVR was 6000, 1500 and 600. Away we went. We took off 38 minutes after blocking out.

Now it's time for me to step on my soapbox.

Southwest Airlines pilots normally fly fast. Really fast. While at 6000 feet doing 250 knots I've been PASSED by a Southwest 737 at 8000 feet. Kinda odd when the max speed below 10,000 feet is 250 knots. Guess the winds are different up there.

On the way to the out station we were behind Southwest. For whatever reason this crew was flying slow. We were slowed to 270 knots.....220 miles away!

Enroute there were several planes holding for airports in the area closed/delayed due to fog. I was hoping it would be gone soon as I had just an hour to connect to my deadhead...and we were already 20 minutes behind schedule.

Southwest finally sped up to 280. They were eventually 20 miles ahead. Fine.

Descending into the area I heard Southwest being vectored for 29R. The same runway I picked. Ugh.

Surely being 20 miles ahead they would be on short final by the time I was being given vectors.

For whatever reason they were going really slow as they were still on downwind when I was on downwind. Abeam the runway I slowed to 200 knots and prepared for the visual....thinking Southwest was on final. Nope. They were still on downwind!!!

They flew 10 miles past the airport and turned back. Not a busy airport normally. Ugh. Finally turned final.

The tower controller seemed new and unsure of themselves.

Southwest was 2 miles ahead When I turned final. I quickly began slowing. Tower advised we were overtaking by 40 knots. Ugh.

Then tower came back that a departure would occur between us and Southwest. WTF? There was only a 2 mile separation. At best Southwest would clear the runway while I was at 500 feet...and they wanted to stick a departure in the mix. I don't think so.

Thankfully they didn't stick a departure in the mix. Arrived and blocked in 19 minutes late.

Another airline works the ramp for us at the out station. They have different procedures than we use. Even after 2 months of providing ground services, they still have issues. Thankfully they were minimal.

Nineteen minutes after blocking in we were being pushed back. Flow time. 12 minute delay.

The tower controller once again made a questionable call.

We were holding short of the runway and were number one. Our wheels up time was 11 minutes past the hour. At 10 minutes past the hour they cleared a plane for a touch and go. Then while it was on short final the tower controller issued a hurried and confusing go around instruction, "Cougar 22 go around, traffic holding has a wheels up time. Do not overfly the runway. Go around."

The Captain and I looked at each other...we were confused by the instructions. Tower then cleared us for takeoff. We didn't move.

The inbound aircraft was confused and initiated the go around...but straight over the runway.

Tower came back with new go around procedures and the aircraft turned away from the runway.

Away we went. Minimal delays.

The fog had largely burned off. Landed and blocked in 4 minutes early.

The Captain said I did a great job and I was officially done with IOE. I shook his hand and we parted ways.

After my post flight I headed to my deadhead. A few hours later I was sitting in the back seat of our car next to my daughter.


Tomorrow I have off and I expect to be on reserve Saturday.

Treating myself to a visit to the LA Autoshow. Anyone in?


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It had to end at some point

Another early morning show. The Captain I am flying with bids early morning that's what I get.

No big deal as after a cup of coffee I'm good to go.

Full plane plus a jumpseater. The jumpseater was from mainline and agreed to take the jump versus a cabin seat so the gate agent could get her daughter on as a nonrev.

Normally not a big deal. However due to an alternate we had more fuel on board. It looked like it would work at first and we closed the door in preparation to push.

The station had a problem. We were 95 pounds over weight. We weren't over max takeoff weight, but max estimated landing weight. Ninety-six pounds over weight.

The Captain requested the ramp fuel weight being used to be dropped by 100 pounds as we would burn it during taxi. Fine....except our alternate weather dropped and the new alternate was closer...thus it needed less fuel. Ugh.

Ten minutes later we coordinated with dispatch and the station and were 5 pounds under....done.

Captains leg. During the climb we noticed the tailwind was greater than estimated and we would be 200 pounds over max landing. lower and climb at a lower rate.

Instead of flying at FL360 we leveled off at FL300. Instead of climbing at 290 knots we climbed at 310 knots. Lower cruising altitude + shallow climb rate = burning off the excess fuel.

Landed just under max weight.

We were supposed to have an hour sit. The next turn was delayed. The weather was 1/8SM visibility. No good.

We took that time to make sure all my IOE paperwork was in order. My Captain also confirmed I qualified for reduced IOE since I was transitioning and not a new hire. I only needed 15 hours and 4 landings. Once I heard that I said, "That's it I'm done flying. I'll swing the gear and talk on the radios."

I was joking of course. My Captain came back with, "You only have 14 hours 45 minutes." Doh!

Finally pushed an hour late. My leg. Interestingly high number of offline jumpseaters at 4.

Weather was up to 1/2 mile. By the time I was vectored for final it was up to 1SM and 2000 foot ceilings. Non-event.

Greased it on. Twenty-five minutes later we were headed back to the hub.

Busy approach. Afternoon rush in effect. Blocked in an hour late. Two hour sit.

Since I've flown through this hub a lot I know where the good food airport.

The Parking Spot has a location close to a place I really like to consume food. I took off my uniform pieces and headed out of the airport.

Ten minutes later I was eating lunch. Sufficiently full of grease I headed back.

I walked back into the crew room with an hour to spare.

New flight attendant. Nice lady who questioned me a bit as I was a new face (again small base) and had a SIDA badge from a different airport. She knew the Captain did IOE. "Please don't float me or jam the plane onto the runway."  she joked. I let her know I'd been around a while and would do my best to keep her happy.

Floating the flight attendant can be an issue. It happens when pilots abruptly level off curing a climb or go from level to a quick descent. Flight attendants have been injured from such, normally, unnecessary maneuvers.

My leg. A little windy.

The out station had clear skies and calm wind. Visual approach. I was enjoying the scenery a bit too is common when there are clear skies and calm winds.

My greaser landing streak ended. Not jarring, but I hopped at least once...maybe twice. Eh.

The overnight is in a business park. Across the street is a huge shopping center. Normally that means lots of food options. Not this time.

The shopping center is an Asian shopping center. REALLY Asian.

I love Asian food (Chinese, Thai and Indian are my favs). The problem is almost every sign is in Asian. Very few English signs. I tried Yelp to find food. No help. I walked around hoping to find something. It wasn't to be. Back to the hotel.

I paid $23 for a pizza and a coke. Eh. Per diem covers it.

Tomorrow I have 3 legs then dead head home. The legs are all non-stop (meaning same plane with 30 minute turns). Once I get home I plan on eating dinner with my family and hopefully hitting the LA Autoshow on Friday. After that.....reserve.

I'll be placed on reserve for the rest of the month. I will be in the top 1% so I shouldn't be abused too much.

I'm going over my bidding strategies for December. I am hoping for day trips, two day back to back trips or at worst three day trips. Getting Christmas off should be easy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Forgot how much walking was involved

Day 2 started early.

Six AM van ride.

Four leg day. I used to do 4 legs all the time. It's been a while though.

Captain's leg. Blocked out 2 minutes early at 7:03AM. Since it was still somewhat early we didn't have to deal with any flow restrictions.

Smooth ride. An hour later he greased it onto the runway. My after landing flow was much better, didn't forget anything as I ran the check list.

We were fortunate to keep the same plane all day. Blocked in 3 minutes early. Forty minutes later we were being pushed back for the next flight.

My leg. Severe turbulence was reported above FL240 so we were filed for FL230. Not too bad of a ride.

I'd been to the outstation on my previous aircraft. The airport is bordered by mountains/high terrain on two sides including the departure end of the runway I was to land on. The missed approach procedure is a climbing 180 degree turn for a downwind. It's easy to see why once you're there....planes and mountains don't mix.

Descending a jet aircraft is similar to a prop. Tip the nose over and reduce power. It takes some mental math to figure out how fast to descend including airspeed and descent rate. It takes experience to know where you should be. I'm pretty good at it.

Coming in from the west it was a fairly straight in approach to runway 8. We were number two behind Southwest who was on a base leg.

We saw them 3500 feet below. We were kept high for separation.

For some reason the 737 blew right through center line. Big time. Way out. They then came on the radio reporting the localizer wasn't working. Tower came back with, "Yes sir it is NOTAM'd to be out of service." Ooops. I was hand flying and thus had not tuned in the localizer. Of COURSE I read that NOTAM about the localizer as well....cough , cough.

The 737 corrected and we were told to follow him. Being very high I had to dirty up the plane in order to descend and land in the touchdown zone. The 737 was 5 miles ahead and 3000 feet below. Steep descent.

All the flaps were extended as was the gear. I made another greaser landing in the touchdown zone.

I'm really liking this new plane. It floats much less, easier to hand fly and much easier to grease it on without eating up a ton of runway. My last plane was a handful on landing. It was very hard to get a great landing without floating a while.

Quick turn. I did have time to buy a snack. It'd been 5 hours since I left the hotel. Hungry.

The severe turbulence was supposed to have dissipated and we were filed for FL240 for the return leg.

The ride sucked. Constant moderate chop. The ride above FL280 was supposed to be good. We climbed up to FL320 and it was like glass. Nice.

Back in base 20 minutes early.We then had an hour till the next flight. Grabbed lunch and relaxed.

My leg to the overnight. Starting to get a little tired. Short flight. Made a firmish but not hard landing. Off to the overnight.

This overnight was interesting. The hotel was across the street so we all walked. The rest of the crew had been there before and talked bad about the overnight all day. I saw why. No elevator and no food around.

Our contract states we can not stay on the first floor (security concerns). Thus we all had to lug our bags up the stairs. Annoying. My kit bag alone weighs 26 pounds. eh.

I opened up Google Maps to find food. Nothing close. A 15 minute walk later I was at a fast food place. I could have eaten in the hotel, but eh I needed to walk.

Today is day 3. Another early start. Departure was at 5:55AM. I walked over to the airport at 5AM. Grabbed coffee and a bagel and headed to the gate.

I saw the plane parked off to the side but didn't think much of it until the gate agent brought me through the boarding door....and to a flight of stairs. What's up with no elevators!?!?!?

Small out station. Only one gate for the airline and it was being used for mainline. Down the stairs I went again. Two trips to get all 3 of my bags (suitcase, kitbag, computer bag) since I had coffee.

The Captain was already on board. He let me know he did my pre-flight. Nice.

Full flight. Mainline jumpseater in the cockpit jumpseat. Short flight. My leg.

Slight delay for flow. Off we went.

An hour flight. During the arrival we were assigned one runway and I briefed for it. Just prior to getting vectors we were assigned a different runway which was closer to our gate.

Since I've been around for a bit it was a non-event. The Captain set up the plane and then I quickly briefed the differences. Greased it on and done.

After we parked the Captain said he was happy I'd been around a while. He stated with most of the new hires a runway change is a huge ordeal and he ends up having to deny the runway change or take the plane.

I understood. When I was new it took all of my brain cells to fly the approach I briefed. Changes?!?!!? Well crap. Again it all comes with time.

Plane swap. My leg again as I need X number of landings to finish IOE. Just one leg to the overnight.

My Captain is a great guy but very behind the times for technology. He doesn't own a cell phone, no IPAD, no netbook. Nada. Much the opposite of me.

He was annoyed that the company didn't have print outs available of something he wanted to review during the 19 hour overnight. I told him to use the hotel business center and print it out. He said it was too complicated. Hmm.

The outstation was busy with construction and military traffic. The runway was shortened by 1000 feet with construction being done on the arrival end. Kinda odd flying over people on short final. Once again no localizer/glideslope.

Beautiful day. I turned off the flight director and simply looked outside and flew the plane.

Nice landing. Done.

Staying at a DoubleTree for the night. After check in I went with my Captain to the business center and showed him how to print out the documents he wanted.

Nineteen hours long. Nice hotel but again food is a bit of a walk.

Tomorrow I have 3 legs, a 3 hour sit and then 1 leg to the overnight. The normal line is just 3 legs. My Captain picked up over time and the training department simply stuck it on to my schedule. Eh. More flying.

I'm not worried about being signed off from IOE......I'm certain my Captain knows how to send the message to the training department that I'm done.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day one....not too shabby

I had a 5:30AM report time. Left the hotel at 4:40AM as I wanted to eat breakfast first.

I've been to this airport several times so I know my way around. It helps reduce the stress factor. I remember my first day of IOE 4 years ago. New job + New airport + New airplane = major stress. This time it was just a new airplane.

I headed over to the crew room. The Captain was waiting at the door.

It's a very small crew base and I was easy to spot as the "new guy". He was happy to see I wasn't a new hire as it's much less work on him.

He went over my paperwork, license and medical and then we headed out for a preflight.

Detailed preflight done it was time to get started.

This plane is very different from my last but the operations from an airline stand point are the same. I had to do the same thing I did on the last plane, but just in a different way.

Since it's been 3 weeks since my last simulator session I was a bit rusty. I got through it.

First leg was mine. At 6:20AM I pushed the thrust levers up and away we went.

At VR I was very surprised at how much more effort was needed versus the simulator. Just different. Up, up and away.

Longish flight at 2 hours. Being winter we went through a good sized cloud layer that necessitated the need for anti-ice.

Smooth for the most part. My Captain pointed out a few things on the plane and taught a bit then he remembered I wasn't new. He relaxed. He's had nothing but new hires for a while so it was hard for him to shake the normal routine.

Landing north at the out station. I'd been there once before so I had an idea of the airport layout. ILS needed as it was 2SM and 1000 OVC.

Broke out at 1200 feet. Slight crosswind.

What came next was my best landing in any airplane. I was shocked. Nice way to start IOE.

My after landing flow was rusty but I worked through it. Thankfully the snow hasn't started yet and we were able to get back out in 30 minutes.

The Captain took the next leg. Gave me time to get more comfortable. He gave a few more tips and then we settled in with the normal pilot talk.

We pulled into the gate 10 minutes early. Nice as the turn was supposed to be 35 minutes with a plane swap. The extra time meant I had time for a snack.

My leg again. A few MEL's to deal with. Out on time. Slightly complicated departure. Away we went.

Short flight. Another greaser, but I floated more than I wanted to. Eh.

Overnighting where my sister in law lives. She's heading over now with her spouse to pick me up. Nice way to end a first day, being able to go out with family!


Saturday, November 12, 2011 there's that

I spent 2 days packing for my first trip in 2 months. I went over everything I thought I needed. Still forgot stuff.

My wife was driving me to the airport (great perk of being married!) when I realized I forgot to pack shorts. I get bored on overnights and exercise. Eh.

I stopped by the crew room to pick up some updates for my manuals when I realized I had left a charger behind. Doh!

It was 20 minutes till boarding started and my wife had just pulled into the garage with my cranky daughter. My daughter had not had a nap yet. I confirmed with my wife that my charger was where I left it. Crap. I'd have to buy one on the road.

My dead head flight was fine. I took some time to review flows and profiles.

I truly hate dead heading...or flying as a passenger at anytime. The average passenger is just rude and disrespectful. Many leave their phones on after being told repeatedly to turn them off. Others ignore the seat belt sign. I've noticed many will take off their seat belt the moment the plane turns off the runway after landing. These are the same idiots that will sue when they are injured if the plane makes a sudden stop or turns fast. Eh.

Because I'm not on a normal overnight I'm not staying at the normal overnight hotel.

I arrived and checked in. They were confused as I was in uniform but my airline doesn't have a contract. After explaining the reservation was likely in my name I had my key. Tons of teenagers here on some conference. I forgot how annoying I was when I was a teenager.

I tossed my stuff in my room and used Google maps to find an Office Depot. About 2 miles away. I then used Google Maps to get transit instructions. I love Android!

Forty bucks later I had my charger and found dinner.

It's 7:30PM now. I have a 5:30AM show time. I plan on arriving around 5AM to give myself a little extra time to get situated with the new plane.

Tomorrow is just 3 legs worth 5 1/2 hours of flying. Over night  near my in laws.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dusting off the eppalutes

In a few days a NOTAM will be issued.

NOTAM - Due to extensive flight training by a pilot who's been on the ground for more than two months, all pilots should use extreme caution in the vicinity of the following:



Finally had my schedule loaded into my profile today. I did have to remind the training center I was still waiting for IOE.

The group that schedules IOE is always busy and it's a small group thus it's easy for pilots to fall through the cracks. Sometimes pilots take advantage of this for the extra time off. I've been off for almost 3 weeks since I took my check ride....I'm ready to get back in the air.

I think.

I have no idea where my full uniform is. I know where pieces of it are.

My suitcase has been sitting in the guest bedroom for 2 months. I have to go back through it and think about what I need on the road.

I lost my windscreen for my headset (currently a Telex ANR 500). I bought a new generic one's really big. Eh.

My trip starts with a dead head on Saturday. Nice 12 hour overnight. It's a 5 day trip. Long. Rare.

The first true overnight is a city where my in laws live. With 17 hours of rest I told them they have to pick me up from my hotel.

All the overnights are decent length. Nothing less than 12 hours with the longest being 19 hours! Fairly unproductive.

I return home on Thursday and will have flown an estimated 23 hours in the cockpit. IOE should be done at that point.

Since I will be "working" for 6 days straight I have to be off Friday. My plan is to hit the LA Autoshow. I've gone every year for the last 3 years.

The blogs will soon be interesting again!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

IOE Scheduled....2 weeks away

Hanging out a lot with my daughter during my wait for IOE. While out and about today I got a phone call from the training department.

My daughter is 14 months old....almost 15 months. She has associated holding anything to your face with saying the word "Hi" over and over again.

Once I answered the phone she started in "Hi, Hi, Hi!" Cute...but it can make it a little difficult to have a conversation.

Thankfully the lady calling has kids and understood. She kept it short and to the point.

She asked if I minded completing my IOE from a base other than my own. I told her I didn't care where, just wanted to get done ASAP. She was happy with that answer. I can request to do IOE in my own base. There are advantages to it, but since I've been based here from day one, I know how things operate.

My IOE starts with a deadhead on the 12th. My actual trip starts on the 13th and finishes on the 17th. Appears to be a 5 day 24 hour trip. She stated I "should" be able to get back home on the 17th. I will have to wait till the trip is loaded into my profile to see the nitty, gritty.

Beyond that not a whole lot going on.

I did take a trip with my family over the weekend. Simple day trip.

Going through security I had a "discussion" with TSA.

I was wearing my crew ID but business casual clothes. My family travels light. Diaper backpack, adult backpack, and a car seat on wheels.....that's it.

My wife brought my daughter through and was sent through the metal detector. I put the items through the Xray machine and was directed to the body scanner. I asked if I could go through the metal detector as it was my understanding crew are exempt from the body scanner. The agent stated that's only if I was in uniform. I then stated I refuse to go through the body scanner.

I was then sent through the metal detector and told to wait. At first I was confused. Then I realized what was going on.

A agent directed me to the side and stated I would be patted down. In my head I yelled, "Cut!" (as in stop the show).

I stated I had no problem with their silly pat down (my words exactly), however I wanted all of my items (car seat and backpacks ) given to my wife.

My wife was about 20 feet away with a "WTF did you just do?" look on her face. She thought I was being detained.

I then stated I wanted my pat down to be a private pat down. The agents were now really confused.

Allegedly they were all new to THIS checkpoint and did not know where the private area was. I waited. They discussed in a huddle...literally.

Finally I was brought to their break room where I was patted down.

Once done I asked for the supervisor. There wasn't one available, but there was a "lead" (supervisors have 3 bars, leads have 2). I questioned her a bit on the whole screening. Her answers are inconsistent with what I've been told in the past. I will have to follow up with a supervisor next time I head up to the airport.

Pilots are extensively screened. There are so many checks and roadblocks to becoming an airline pilot that it becomes unnecessary for additional screening. I won't go into details about airport security and flight crews, but I feel changes are needed. There is so much inconsistency that it's frustrating.

And with that...I wait.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Holding....EFC 3-5 days

Still waiting to start IOE. I called the training department today. I was told it was 3-5 days from when I finish LOFT. That's only an estimate though. My day 5 is today.

I'm the only pilot out of the 6 of us who are transferring aircraft to have completed LOFT. I think I got lucky in that I live close and answered the phone when they called.

My main goal is to finish IOE before bidding closes for December. As is I will be at the top of the reserve list (along with the other 5 #6) when I finish IOE for the month of November.

On different note, a pilot I've been emailing with for over 2 years got a gig at my airline. He had to wait till he met all the requirements. He emailed me when he met them. I "walked" in his app along with a recommendation one day and he was called the next. I met up with him once on an overnight about a year ago. Now he just has to wait for a class date. Very happy for him.....and me...another guy under me on the seniority list!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Another career changer Regional pilot blog

Thanks to Dan (a reader of this blog) to tipping me off to another blog by a pilot who changed careers late in life. The blogger also works for a regional and appears to be just starting out. Great read and a lot more photos. He is a lot more open than me as he makes no attempt to hide whom he works for. Take a look

Monday, October 24, 2011

LOFT done

Friday I got my new SIC rating certificate. Saturday I finished LOFT.

LOFT is Line Oriented Flight Training. Basically it takes you from the training environment and puts you in the line environment. It's supposed to be a normal flight in real time.

This morning we flew from ATL to DCA. Short flight.

The Captain is a recent upgrade. He wore his full uniform to the event. I wore jeans and a polo. For a few minutes I thought I screwed up. I checked my company ops manual...nope no uniform required.

It was early...4:30AM on a Saturday. I was called at 5PM Friday afternoon to see if I was available. I thought about it....4:30AM....fine. I was looking forward to being done.

The briefing was supposed to last 90 minutes. It's designed for new hires. I've been around here for almost 4 years. After 25 minutes we were done.

Coffee and into the sim early. The sim is in operation from 6AM till 2AM nonstop. Between 2AM and 6AM the sim mechanics fix any issues. No issues to fix, we got in 25 minutes early.

The instructor gave us 45 minutes to get off the gate. Again, designed for new hires. Off the gate in 20 minutes...and that was after discussing a few things.

The Captain gave me an odd vibe. I know he is a new Captain, but he was being kind of an ass. Discounting some of my opinions and not giving me a chance to  think about something before doing it, such as having my finger hover over a button for a second while I thought about what I was going to do. Annoyed.

APU failed after the first start. I've been told the APUs have been having "issues" lately in the real plane...great.

My leg out.

I've flown into DCA several times. It's a challenging airport due to short runways and extreme proxiximity to prohibited airspace.

Normal flight. It was my first time to climb above 11,000 feet in the sim. During training it's all low altitude flight. We got one or two minor failures en route. Mostly to get the Captain used to writing up issues in the aircraft matainence logbook.

South flow into DCA. Given a crossing restriction.

Descending from altitude requires planning. There are several different ways to descend from altitude. Some like vertical speed mode (setting a specific descent per minute rate), some like speed mode (descending at a specific speed), other's like simple VNav (following an artificial glide slope) while other's like going down spiraling (not recoommended as it tends to precede paperwork ;-) ).

I used speed mode and put out the flight spoilers to increase the rate while keeping the speed the same. I looked at the crossing restriction, distance and ground speed, everything looked fine too me.

The plane leveled off 3 miles before the fix. Nice. So I thought.

Assigned the river visual to runway 19. I tuned in the DCA VOR and began looking for the river. There is no published missed approach for the river visual. My brief was, in the event of a missed, to climb to 3000 and follow the river southbound.

In real life the approach is a little challenging. In the sim it's harder as the visuals aren't great. Took me a bit to find the river as the ground is mostly 2D away from the airport.

To descend I simply used the 300 feet per nautical mile rule. Easy at an airport like DCA which is almost at sea level. Ten miles out I should be at 3,000 feet. Five miles out I should be at 1,500 feet. Three miles out I should be at 900 feet.

Additionally the wind was out of the west. I had to hug the west side of the river to avoid being blown into the prohibited area.

All hand flown. Once the plane is properly trimmed it's very easy. My new plane is much easier to hand fly than my last plane.

Runway 19 has two VASI's. The one of the right is set up so it can be used while on the river visual. Once making the jog to final the right one becomes unuseable and the left one becomes useable.

After passing over the Arlington Memorial Bridge I turned slightly left toward the Washington Monument. Over the George Mason bridge I was on approach speed and the VASI. I made a smooth turn to the right for final and made the best landing yet. Nice.

First flight done....80 minutes early! Again this flight is set up for a new hire who needs more time.

Break. While on break one of the FMS units went down. Not an instructor breaking it, the sim actually had an issue. Later it would be more of an issue.

Now it was the Captain's turn. He wrote up the FMS being down like he would do in real life. Done.

DCA back to ATL. North flow now out of DCA. Departure procedures require a quick left turn to avoid the prohibited area. Additionally airport information states that, in case of emergency, the takeoff alternate is IAD. Do not bring problems back to DCA. This is due to the prohibited area, short runway, tight airport with limited concrete and IAD has better food. Kidding about the food. But seriously do not return to DCA.

Climbing through 2500 feet we got a passenger door open indication. Additionally we were not pressurizing. Quick call to the "flight attendant" resulted in finding the door slightly misaligned. IAD here we come.

Total VFR. Told to expect runway 30...visual approach. The Captain wasn't ready on the first vector and needed a 360 degree turn. Landed uneventfully.

I thought we were done. Nope. Told the problem was fixed and to prepare for takeoff. Bleh.

Took of again. Enroute the Captain briefed the approach. We had one FMS remember. During the flight the ATIS changed. New runway.

I changed the FMS to reflect the new approach. The arrival is runway specific. I had never changed an approach with a runway specific arrival before. Once done I realized something was wrong. I thought about what I did and was getting ready to ask the Captain when he simply reached over and stated, "you messed it up!" and fixed it himself. Nice.

Given a hold 10 miles short of the airport. After entering the hold we got a fire in the baggage compartment. After shooting off the extinguishers it was still on fire. Declared an emergency. This is where things got hairy.

I declared an emergency and REQUESTED an immediate turn toward the airport. The Captain stated to tell ATC we need priority handling. I thought an emergency + request for a turn = get us down now. Nope. The Captain got on the radio and stated he wanted priority handling. Turned toward the airport.

Cleared visual to runway 28.

While 5 miles out I asked if he wanted full flaps for landing. The Captain came back with, "No, I already briefed the approach remember?" I stated that I believed flaps 45 is required for an emergency landing unless checklist driven to use less. He stated again, "I've already briefed the approach." That was that.

He landed fine...kinda long. Finished the emergency. Parked. Shut down the plane.

I immediately asked the instructor about the "priority handling" call. I've never heard of such a term combined with declaring an emergency. I was told that just declaring an emergency doesn't mean we are going straight to the airport. I should have declared + stated priority handling + stated we are turning toward the runway. Fine.

I then asked about the full flap landing being required. The instructor stated I was indeed correct and that I should have been more forceful with my offering advice. Full flaps results in a shorter landing distance which allows Crash/Fire/Rescue to arrive faster. I stated we were less than a minute out, not the right time to start digging through a book looking for text to back me up. The Captain was debriefed on this as well, but not as long as I was debriefed. I got the hint... I was "the new guy". The Captain had been flying the plane as a First Officer for 5 years. I had never flown the plane. It continued.

Once in the debriefing room the instructor let me know I descended from altitude in an odd way. He thought I should have used vertical speed mode to make sure I made the restriction. He also stated I should study up on the FMS operation more since I had "issues setting up an approach" . Never mind that during ground and sim I had never encountered a runway specific arrival and approach before. Fine.

The entire debrief the Captain was sitting 3 feet away looking at me and shaking his head in agreement with everything being said about my performance. I was extremely annoyed.

I don't mind being wrong. I learn new things every time I fly. What I mind is being talked to like I'm a child or incompetent. I just shook my head and stared at the instructor. Done.

I left the session with mental notes of how not to be a Captain. I've flown with several Captains who think First Officers are mindless bodies of jello there to swing the gear and talk on the radio. To them First Officers are incapable of making a correct decision.

The Captain then had the audacity to ask for a ride to the airport as he wanted to catch a flight home. Really? Fine. The airport was on my way home anyway.

LOFT is done.

IOE is next. Hope to get started this week.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Another SIC rating

My check ride was at 4PM. I had a 3PM show time to do the briefing.

Around 11AM I found out updates for my manuals came out last week and were effective yesterday. Thus I needed to update them.

While on the line I get emails about updates. While in training I am at the mercy of the training department to hand out updates. Bleh.

I got the updates. Not enough time to properly file them. I simply inserted them into the binders at the front of each binder. Legal. Yes. Proper? No.

The briefing began with a preflight of the aircraft using slides. It would have been nice to use the real plane...but not feasible.

I did fine.

The examiner was the same Check Airmen who gave me my oral two weeks ago.

After the preflight he told me what the check ride would consist of. It's all items I've been training for. Many can be combined such as a crosswind, instrument and normal takeoff. All can be done on the same takeoff.

He let me know the ride would be conducted in Memphis. I haven't done any training in Memphis since my initial training 4 years ago. An approach is an approach though...for the most part.

We would leave on runway 18R. I would shoot the ILS to 36L, GPS to 27 and ILS 36L glideslope out of service.

The non flying pilot during a check ride is always another check airmen. This way the examiner is watching me and not another pilot candidate.

I met the check airmen whom would be my Captain. Nice guy.

We started at the gate. All normal.

Clearance was to climb runway heading to 7000 feet for RADAR vectors to the practice area. Current weather was 200 overcast, 1/2 mile visibility, winds 270@15, 1200 RVR, Temperature 20, Dewpoint 20, altimeter 29.92.

RVR is Runway Visual far one can see down the runway which is measured by transmissometers. RVR 1200 means one can see 1200 feet infront of them on the runway.

Due to the reduced RVR we could not return for landing as the ILS requires 1800 RVR. I asked for, and got a takeoff alternate, Little Rock...which was VFR.

The Captain taxi'd out while I ran the check list. A Fedex heavy took off right before we arrived at 18R. I started my clock...2 minute seperation.

The Captain lined the plane onto the centerline while I finished the checklist.

I've taken off with RVR 1000 before in real life and down to RVR 600 in the sim.

Normal takeoff. I was vectored east. I then briefed and performed the takeoff, departure and clean stall series. Once done vectored back to the airport via an arrival for ILS 36L.

Normal 2 engine ILS. At 200 feet the Captain called the approach lights. I kept descending. At 100 feet he called the runway. I went visual. At 50 feet I lost visual contact...must have entered a fog bank. Go around!

Given new missed approach procedures...runway heading 3000 feet.

Given vectors for the GPS 27 approach. I briefed it while the Captain flew the plane getting vectors. Once done I took the plane back.

Down at MDA I was still in the clouds. I passed the Visual Descent Point (VDP) and prepared to go around. At the Missed Approach Point I initiated the go around.

On the missed I noticed the oil pressure in the number 1 engine got very high. It failed while climbing out. Memory items and checklist done. Vectored back around for the same ILS I previously shot.

Single engine ILS. All hand flown. Same 200 foot "approach lights in sight" call. At 100 feet I went visual.

The transition from instruments to visual in the sim is pretty difficult as the depth perception just isn't there.

I got a "sink rate" call from the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS). I thought for a second and said, "correcting" as I could still make a safe landing in the touchdown zone.

I landed and was told to taxi to the end and prepare for another takeoff.

During the next takeoff roll I lost an engine at V1. I performed a very nice V1 cut profile. Once again memory items and checklist were preformed.

After level off we discussed the situation and decided it was safe to restart the engine. Thankfully it restarted.

Given vectors for the same ILS but this time the glideslope was inoperative thus it turned into a localizer approach.

I was vectored in tight. Briefing done. I began the approach. I delayed descending from MDA for about 3 seconds....why I don't know.

I blew past the VDP. I was high.

Runway in sight I tried to salvage the approach. "Sink rate ! Sink rate!"  again.

I looked at the touchdown way I could make it "safely". I got to perform an extra go around.

I announced I was going around. The instructor gave new vectors and then told me he brought me in tight to see if I would take charge and tell the Captain to begin the approach while I continued briefing.

Standard Operating Procedure is for the non-flying pilot to setup and brief the approach before the flying pilot. Thus the Captain was all setup.

If I had done that the plane would have been slowed earlier and I likely could have made the landing.

I understood.

On the next approach I was on my game. I was right at approach speed when I left MDA.

The visuals still through me off a bit. A tad high with one red and three white on the PAPI.

Over the threshold I reduced to Ref speed. Still descending I gave up the hope of a greaser and planted it onto the runway. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the Captain tense up a bit. Done.

Taxi to the end and prepare for takeoff.

At 100 knots (V1 was 124) a baggage fire indicator went off. Per profile I announced, "Abort, Abort, Abort. Tower Regional 9148 aborting on the runway, Standby."

The Captain took over control of the airplane. Crash Fire Rescue inspected the baggage area. No fire. We returned to the gate.

Checkride complete.

I went home and then went out with a few of the First Officers and new Captains for dinner.

So what's next? Well I'm supposed to have one more sim session which is a normal flight flown in real time. It's optional since I've flown the line before. After that is IOE. Training is backed up a I could have a few days...or weeks off...with pay.

Training for a new plane isn't easy. It takes a lot of hard work and self discipline.

I now have two SIC (Second in Command) ratings. They aren't type ratings. The SIC rating is somewhat new and is only needed for international flights as ICAO (International Civil Aeronautical Organization) requires it.

I'm looking forward to getting back in the air and being a fairly senior line holder. If things continue at the current rate I should be a Captain sometime in the next 12-15 months.

At which time I get to do this all...over....again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Check ride day

Last night was my phase check. Small problems corrected. It was more or less a check ride. I passed. This afternoon is the real deal.

I ate my Sausage, Egg and Cheese McGriddle for breakfast for good luck.

More tomorrow...or maybe tonight via Twitter.

Questions Answered: What is a V1 Cut?

Before I explain a V1 cut....I feel I should explain V speeds.

V speeds are specific defined speeds for certain segments of flight.

The first speed that comes up on takeoff is V1 followed by either V2 or VR depending on the plane.

V1 is the speed at which the takeoff should not be aborted. Aborting after V1 will likely be more dangerous (even with a shredded tire for example or an engine on fire) than continuing the takeoff and returning for landing.

Losing an engine on most multi-engine aircraft will cause the plane yaw and have a loss of performance. Losing an engine at V1 means the pilot has to quickly identify the engine that has failed and correct for it. The plane will likely yaw into the dead engine. The yaw is corrected by applying opposite rudder force. So if the left engine failed the plane would yaw left. Right rudder would be applied with the right foot. The term "dead foot, dead engine" helps. Left foot isn't doing anything...that's the side of the dead engine.

Planes with wing mounted engines tend to yaw more than fuselage mounted engines due to the distance between the engines. There's a better term for that...but right now it escapes me.

Now let's prepare for takeoff.

When I brief my takeoff I include the following statement for MOST, but not all, runways.

"We will abort for any reason up to 80 knots. After 80 knots we will only abort for engine failure, fire, safety of flight item or if the plane won't fly. After V1 we will take the plane into the air and come back for landing. I will fly the plane, you run the checklist. "

Some shorter runways or runways with rain/snow/ice can cause aborts only to 80 knots and no aborts afterwards due to the inability to stop on the remaining pavement after 80 knots.

Assume the following speeds for my example:

V1 - 125

VR - 127

V2 - 132


VR is the speed at which rotation should's not the speed at which the wheels should instantly lift off the ground.

V2 is the speed which should be flown after takeoff in the event on an engine failure.

Got it?

I advance the thrust levers to takeoff power.

The 80 knot call is made and all is well.

At 125 knots the Captain calls, "V1"

Simulaneously the plane begins a yaw to the left.

I begin correcting immediately.

The Captain calls , "VR - Rotate" while I am correcting.

I use the rudder to keep the plane's nose on centerline. Done properly is takes just a few's done precisely and quickly.

A quick glance at my speed tape shows 130 knots.

I smoothly rotate the nose into the air, keeping the rudder pressure, accelerate to V2 and fly the profile.

Profiles vary signifianctly between aircraft.

Really powerful planes can climb non-stop up to a safe altitude, typically 1500 feel above field level, and run the checklist. Other planes require and intermediate level off to accelerate before climbing above 1500 feet AFL to run checklist. In addition to the level off, terrain avoidance and specific airport engine out procedures may exist.

That's the short and skinny. The V1 cut can be very difficult if the pilot doesn't smoothly and correctly fly the plane. If the pilot tries to rotate before the plane is under control it will be MUCH more difficult to fly once airborne. While still rolling down the runway the tires on the ground help stabilize the plane. If the yaw is corrected properly a fairly stable plane is brought into the air.

If the yaw isn't corrected and the plane is taken into the air, the moment the tires are off the ground the instability will only get worse. Things can get hairy fast as an unstable plane is just feet above the ground with less than optimal performance.

Hope that helps.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

The most unreliable jet in the world

Simulators are the most unreliable jets in the world. Engines will catch fire, gear will fail to extend, you will go around, thrust reversers will pop out in flight, flight instruments will fail and new Captains will swing the tiller way too fast.

My instructor gave us these words to live by last night : I will complete every takeoff to an abort. I will complete every abort to a V1 call. I will complete every V1 call to a V1 cut. I will complete every approach to a missed approach.

Words to fly by not just in the sim, but out on the line. Always expect and be prepared for the worst.

The last two nights have been busy. Friday night began single engine time. Yay!

The Captain went first. Normal takeoff. While climbing we got an engine fire.

It should be noted every airplane jet engine is designed to burn and FALL OFF the plane. Thus an engine fire alone isn't a life threatening event.

First were the immediate action items. We identified the correct engine, shut it down and then shot a bottle of halon into the engine after starving it of fuel and air failed to put it out. Single engine party time!

I ran a series of checklist setting the plane up for single engine flying. Very tedious. Once done we were vectored for an ILS.

Too bad for us the weather dropped. Missed approach.

This is where I had an "ah ha" moment.

The missed approach profile and performance of my new plane is easier and lower.

I felt like I had time to make and eat and sandwich in the time took to go from 200 feet AGL to acceleration altitude , 800 feet. The single engine performance leaves much to be desired.

We were vectored around for a GPS approach. This time he landed. Brought back for a takeoff. V1 cut.

Vectored around for another ILS. Full stop.

My turn.

I used to be a V1 cut king. I got compliments on my V1 cuts from check airmen and Captains on my last plane. In the ATP RJ course I had pilots performing to ATP standards after only there 2nd or 3rd attempt.

In the new

The trick to V1 cuts is to leave the plane on the ground until it and you are ready to fly. This means the plane has reached a safe takeoff speed with a single engine and you have full control of the plane.

At V1 the left engine flamed out. I applied right rudder to keep the plane on center line. At V2 I began the rotation. Once off the ground I over rotated a bit and blew through the flight director which was pitching for V2. I quickly corrected.

One of the hardest things for a sim to do is replicate yaw.

I looked at my slip/skid indicator and applied more rudder. Too much. I took some out. Too much. Hold on folks we were in for a ride.

After a few Pilot Induced Oscillations (PIOs) I regained control and got back on profile.

It's been noted than when a pilot is under stress they revert to burned in skills and actions.

I began calling out the correct profile calls....for my old airplane. Ugh.

Thankfully the plane is a poor single engine performer and I had time to correct myself.

Same memory items and check list done. Single engine ILS.

At decision height there was only clouds. Go around. GPS approach. Full stop.

I then had a normal an engine fire. Single engine ILS to a full stop.

The instructor debriefed us. I need a bit more control on the 1st segment of the V1 cut as I was over controlling the plane. I'm still getting used the difference in performance.

In my last plane it required quick and accurate movements to successfully complete a V1 cut. I have to slow my actions down to 1/2 speed in the new one.

I did better last night. Both my Captain and I are much more confident in our abilities and skills.

Tonight we do "specialty" training. Wind shear, terrain avoidance and dealing with weather. Tomorrow is a phase check where everything is reviewed. Tuesday is check ride day.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Better night in the sim

Same instructor. Different session.

Simulator's are incredibly complex machines. They mimic every part of the airplane. Much like airplanes...simulators can have issues.

Started in LGA. Winter operations. Snowing. On pushback I started the number one engine and then shutdown the APU which is standard ops...for summer. Because it was shutdown we would have to do a cross bleed as it's company requirements to taxi on snow with two engines running.

We had to do a cross bleed start at the gate. No biggie...except I got no rotation on the number 2 engine. I thought I was doing it wrong. Reran the cross bleed checklist. Nothing. The instructor then asked me to do it again so he could watch. I was doing everything right. For whatever reason bleed air wasn't getting over to the number 2 engine.

Restarted the APU. Tried again. It worked. Something was up with the number 1 engine bleed valve. No errors were posted.

We checked for circuit breakers and faults on the simulator operators panel. Nothing. Ignored it. Reduced visibility snowy takeoff. Captains leg. On climb out we hit icing conditions. Engine bleed 1 wouldn't open. I reviewed the procedures for flying in icing conditions with just one bleed. Again the bleed valve was a simulator issue not set up for the lesson.

Later in the climb out we got a total ant-ice failure....while in icing conditions. I ran the checklist and performed the required actions. Nada. Called ATC asked to descend into warmer air. We were advised it was solid icing conditions all the way to DCA (our destination). We'd have to divert....PHL was warmer but cloudy. Away we went.

Assigned ILS PRM 27L. PRM stands for Precision Runway Monitoring. In a nutshell it's required when two ILS approaches are being conducted to runways less than 3000 feet apart. A high update RADAR is used and a second communication frequency must be monitored. On the second frequency is a controller that will give a "break out" instruction if planes get too close. The second frequency is monitor only. Any break out maneuver must be hand flown as to get in completed as quickly as possible.

Descending through 2200 feet a plane on 27R veered in too close. The PRM monitor stated "Regional 491 break out, turn left heading 180 descend and maintain 1800".

The Captain turned off the autopilot and began the descending turn. I synced up the flight director and away we went.

Brought in for another approach. Missed again. Brought around for the GPS to 17. Short runway. Landed.

Took off again. The Captain did his air work consisting of steep turn, clean stall, landing stall and a departure stall. Brought in for a visual and done.

The instructor called simulator mantenance to fix the bleed valve issue.

Coffee break.

Delayed. They rebooted the sim. If they couldn't fix it my training would be delayed.

Thankfully they said they fixed it...but it ate into our session time.

Crosswind takeoff. I did the ILS PRM this time. Breakout with a climbing turn. Climbing into the clouds the bleed 1 valve failed to open again. The instructor warmed up the air to eliminate ice. We then ignored the bleed valve.

Air work. I nailed all three of my stalls (clean, departure and arrival). ILS 27L (but no PRM) again.

The instructor advised this would be raw flight director or FMS. Fine with me.

Brought in at a 90 degree intercept. Late turn. It was busy configuring while slowing in the clouds. I varied a bit, but never more than 1/2 a dot vertically or laterally.

I was expecting to land. I forgot the never land in the sim unless you're on fire or it's time to end the session.

Missed approach. I had the FMS back. Textbook missed. Vectored around for the GPS 17. Again I nailed it. Nice landing.

Took off again. On level off the flight spoilers popped out without warning. It took a lot of power and pitch to over power them. Captain ran the check list. Done.

Brought in for a visual to runway 13 at LGA. My best landing yet.

Off for two days. Back on Friday....for my first V1 cut.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My head hurts

Rough night in the sim. Different instructor.

I went first.

Departed from KPSP (Palm Springs) on 13R with the Cathedral 9 departure. Very busy departure with turns and climbing to avoid terrain. We briefed it using conventional (no FMS) navigation and how busy it is. On takeoff I was able to use the FMS but monitored the conventional nav as a backup.

Flew to LAX. Seavu Two arrival to ILS 25L. The ILS 25L has a ton of step downs. I've flown this approach several times over the last few months in real life. Piece of cake. Down to mins. No runway, diverting.

Headed to our alternate...KSNA.

I was at 5000 feet and cleared direct to the Seal Beach VOR. The FMS was now "inoperative"....old fashioned conventional navigation.

On the way to Seal Beach we were told to expect the Localizer Back Course Runway 1L approach.

I briefed the approach.

Crossing the VOR I will  descend to 3000 and track the 105 radial outbound to MAAGG which is 11.3 from SLI (Seal Beach). I have tuned in MAAGG NBD as a backup. I plan on flying 200 knots so I will turn 2 miles early to track the localizer outbound heading 194. (One mile per 10 knots works well for a 90 degree turn. )

After heading 194 I will fly outbound to 4.5 DME (NEWPO intersection) then begin a procedure turn and descend to 2000 feet. Once back inbound I will descend to 1700 feet until recrossing NEWPO then descend to 500 feet (MDA 480, we round up to the next 100 feet). I will then fly to 1 mile DME  which is the VDP (visual descent point) hoping you see the runway end identifier lights (no approach lighting system). If not I will  go around. The go around is climb to 800 feet, left climbing turn to intercept the 120 degree radial back to SLI.

That was the briefing. Took way longer to type than brief. Note if I shot the full approach and went missed there are two different frequencies and two different radials involved.

In a Piper Seminole I would use Nav 1 for SLI and Nav 2 for the localizer. In a jet Nav 1 is normally used by the Captain and Nav 2 by the First Officer. We would each monitor our own radios.

Crossing SLI I forgot to descend right away, caught it. The approach was going great. Made the procedure turn, descended to 2000.....then 1700....then 500. Runway in sight.

Short final an aircraft pulled onto the runway, "Go around".

Now when I was a CFI....and even when I was a student I was told to "fly the damn plane".

I announced, "Go around, set thrust, flaps 8, positive rate gear up" and began the maneuver. I saw the Captain complying with my request.

At 600 feet the instructor started talking to me in my headset asking why I wasn't calling for things.

At 800 feet I began my turn to the left and replied, "I'm flying the airplane first and giving the Captain time to catch up, rather than overload him with request."

The instructor kept talking stating I should have called for the heading mode and autopilot on while climbing.

I was still flying the missed.

Once level I called for the autopilot.

The instructor didn't like how I handled the missed. He felt I should have called for the autopilot at the first possible chance, then I could have turned the heading knob and swapped my own frequencies.

I agreed that I could have called for the autopilot, but I wanted to fly the plane first. He disagreed. I understood what he was saying, he didn't get what I was saying.

Next approach was the LDA to 19R.

Given vectors. Briefed the approach. Another busy missed.

There are multiple step downs.

The approach plate states if GAUER is able to be identified the MDA is 480. If not the MDA is 880. GAUER is 2.0 DME out or identified with a crossing radial. We had DME.

Normal approach. Half a mile before GAUER the Captain called the approach lights. I was fixated on descending after GAUER thus I didn't click the autopilot off right away.

That moment would come back to hurt me.

I saw the runway and began descending. I was high. On the way down I got a "sink rate" as I was descending too quickly. No way to land, go around.

Once again he hated my missed.

Here's my thinking.

When I was a CFI and even now when I teach the ATP RJ Course I give the student room to mess up. If I see them making a mistake that's not life threatening I let them work through it to see if they can correct it. If not then I ask them to level off and I either take the controls or pause the sim. Once they take a breath I discuss the situation. This way they aren't trying to fly the plane the way they planned while I am trying to correct them. I have found that when I interrupt OR when I am interrupted things go badly.

When I am interuppted and being instructed while trying to fly a procedure I shutdown. I become a puppet and will do whatever you state just to get through the moment. Reason being you are giving conflicting information to what I previously briefed (thus the other guy is expecting ME to do). In real life if something isn't right after beginning and approach....I am going to abandon the approach, climb and then discuss it.

During my missed he hated how I was flying through the flight director instead of calling for things to be done. With his talking in my ear I began to shutdown. I blew through my altitude by 120 feet. He paused the sim.

I totally understand what he wanted. I could have called for the autopilot early on and then been able to be more percicse. I am going to have to get out of my mindset of "flying the airplane first".

The biggest issue I had problems overcoming last night was not having the FMS. Going missed using the FMS is a one stop shop. The FMS will command all the turns at the right time. Yep.... I was a child of the magenta. I haven't done a full conventional navigation approach in a jet.......ever. In a Seminole yes. Jet. No. That's not to say I shouldn't be able to perform, just that I was rusty.

Simulator resumed. Back to a VFR approach. Done for me.


The Captain then shot the same two approaches. It was a bit easier since he knew what to expect and has 3000+ hours in the airplane.

The Captain then did a circle to land approach at a different airport.

Took off again. While level we lost all hydraulics. He flew the airplane while I ran the checklist. Emergency gear extension. Busy.

We discussed what would happen on touchdown. I would takeover the yoke for wind correction while he used the parking brake to stop (since we had no hydraulics we had no regular brakes).

It was very hard keeping the plane on the runway. It took us 9000 feet to stop. We drifted off to the left even though I had full right rudder. Done.

Tonight we practice ILS PRM approaches and GPS approaches with the same instructor. Off Wednesday and Thursday.

Good because my head hurts.


Monday, October 10, 2011

There's precision and well.....not

Day 3 was somewhat easy. Precision approach day....errr night.

When I arrived the sim was down. It had been down all day. The previous crews were now a day behind. We did our briefing hoping it would be fixed. Literally 3 minutes for our sim session it was fixed. Nice.

APU fire at the gate. We went thru the checklist and the mechanic MEL'd it. Bottle start.

Captain took off. Normal takeoff. Climbed to 11,000 feet and he did he airwork.

We both have to do a clean stall, takeoff stall and arrival stall. Only the Captain does steep turns.

Of course we don't fully stall the plane. We do approach to stalls. At the first sign of a stall we recover. The first sign is a buffet, stall clacker or pusher.

I was kinda glad he went first. I'd been reviewing the stall profiles but seeing them demonstrated helped a lot. One good thing about this plane...the stall profiles are much easier than my last.

After his maneuvers we were vectored for a STAR. Once in the area we were vectored for an ILS.

One great thing about the sim. The same approach can be shot over and over again.

The first was a coupled approach with the autopilot on. The instructor took a snapshot of the sim 3 miles before the FAF.

After going missed the instructor snapped us back to the snapshot. Much faster than flying back around.

The Captain then did a coupled approach hand flown then a total raw data approach.

He shot the same approach at least 5 times. Finally went missed. Held. ran low on fuel and had to shoot an approach to mins with 1800 RVR. Break.

My turn. My first two stalls were awesome. On the takeoff stall I had a brain fart on the recovery and had a very nose high attitude and gained 300 feet. Bleh.

Same kind of approaches. I'm still getting used to the site picture. I'd be spot on during the approach until I went visual. I had a tendency to pull back on the yoke and level off when I looked outside. That momentary level off, literally 2 seconds, resulted in me going nearly full scale deflection on the glideslope.

Subsequent approaches had me doing the opposite as I would push the yoke forward then look outside...being low. My final landing was the best. I decided that when the Captain called the runway in sight I would lock my right arm in place and then look outside. Since the plane was already on glideslope I shouldn't move anything. It worked.

Two more nights of sim then I get two days off. My check ride is next week on Tuesday.