Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 5 - I was told there would be no math

Being an airline pilot is more than firewalling the throttles and flying from point A to point B then heading to the hotel. There's all kinds of performance issues to worry about.

In the old days weight and balance was done by the second officer. Later the first officer. Now more commonly it's done by a computer.

But computers sometimes break. When they do pilots have to know how to manually compute performance and weight and balance information.

There are a lot more variables involved in computing performance and weight and balance for an airliner than a 172.

I have to be concerned with accelerate and stop distances, climb performance on a single engine, landing on a single engine, aircraft mechanical state that might limit performance and so on.

When I was a new hire I was taught how to work a performance problem. My head hurt right away. I was told there would be no math! Well not really, but I didn't expect so much!!!

I learned, did my check ride and have maybe done it twice since. Needless to say I forgot.

Thankfully it's like riding a bike. After a few minutes it came back. The new hires though were just as confused as I was four years ago. It's hard to break away from general aviation/CFI ways of looking at performance.

New terms like V1, V2, First Segment Climb, Second Segment Climb, Climb Limited Weight, Runway Structural Weight and so on come into play.

They will get it. We will work several more performance problems over the next few days.

That was the morning.

Later in the morning we touched a bit on systems. This plane is a bit more automated than my last. Kinda annoys me a bit. Eh.

The afternoon was spent learning the FMS. Different instructor. I could tell the instructor wasn't used to teaching low time pilots as he went a little fast and expected the new hires to know more than they did. They will get it. Lots more FMS work to do.

During lunch I talked with a few of my fellow pilots and was interested to learn the most senior of our little group is just 20 numbers away from upgrading to Captain. In fact 4 of them are very close. I am about 150 numbers away from kinda close.

Late in the afternoon we bid on sim times.

Simulators run 24X7 at some airlines. My airline runs them 18 hours a day starting at 6AM. There is always a pre-brief 90 minutes prior so the first show time is 4:30AM for a 6AM sim that last until 10AM. Ouch.

I bid for, and was awarded, my first choice of a 4:30PM show time for a 6PM sim that last until 10PM. Fits with daycare. The crappiest choice IMHO was the 8:30PM show for a 10PM sim that last until 2AM! I had that last time!

Looking forward to the weekend. This Monday-Friday 7AM-4PM stuff is for "office people". Bleh.


  1. Is your "bid" for sim time awarded on your seniority number?

    Curious minds want to know.


  2. Yes! Forgot to mention that. All sim times are seniority based. The new hires mostly got 4:30AM shows and 8:30pm shows.


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