Saturday, March 31, 2012

Reduced Rest, Line Check and a lot of legs

Last trip kicked my rear.

Day one wasn't too bad. Just 3 legs with a total of 7 hours of flying. The first two legs were a total of 5 1/2 hours....with a 30 minute turn in the middle. Five and a half hours is a long time to not eat....and sit in the flight deck.

Captain was a reserve Captain, line Captain called in sick. I took the first leg. Traded at the outstation.

I snacked on a GoPicnic meal on the way there....but it wasn't enough. Grabbed a box of breadsticks from Pizza Hut during the turn. It helped.

Captain took the next two legs.

Going to the overnight the tower at the airport was closed. Another regional was headed to the same airport. Since there was no tower it was one at a time. Whomever was second had to wait until the first plane cancelled IFR.

Thankfully we were first. Once we were sure we were lined up with the correct runway I called to cancel IFR. They landed soon after.

First overnight was long....16 hours long.

The hotel was in the middle of nowhere. The ONLY food was a Dominos Pizza inside of a gas station next door. Bleh.

Day two was just two legs. Total of 2 hours 45 minutes. Quick and easy. Since we started at an outstation both legs were mine.

The second overnight was interesting....the hotel was also a casino. Yeah it sounded neat at first.

Beautiful night approach. Flew right over the hotel during final. This overnight was a reduced rest overnight....just 8 hours 40 minutes between when we left the AIRPORT and when we had to be BACK at the airport. Blocked in at 8:32PM...8 minutes early. Our departure was scheduled for 6:20AM.

Very nice rooms. Walked into my room at 9:05PM. I quickly changed clothes to blow $20 in the casino.

Fifteen minutes later I was up $40. Done.

Back in my hotel room by 9:50PM. Called my wife and then got ready for bed. Tossed and turned a bit. Still up at 11:20PM. Then the bad part about being in a casino reared its ugly head...errr voice.

Drunk people and kids in the hallways and rooms close by. The noise went in and out for about an hour. Finally fell asleep a little after midnight. Turns out my Captain and cabin crew also had problems sleeping due to noise.

My alarm went off at 4:55AM. Quick shower and out the door by 5:22AM. In a hotel limo at 5:30AM. A limo to work  SOUNDS cool....but it's a casino limo. It was VERY smoked in. My Captain did have fun playing with all the lights and buttons in the back though. Tired. Very little sleep.

Five leg day. Captain took the first leg to base.

Plane swap at base.

Hour sit. While walking around I saw a Captain that looked familiar walk by....but I couldn't place him.

When I arrived at my gate he was waiting a few feet away. Ding! He gave me my last cheek ride....and would be giving ME a line check today. Surprise line check at that.

Captain took the leg out. Check airmen was in the back. I spent the hour reviewing a few of the "right" way to do things that I might do during the flight back to base.

When flying the line...."line contamination" is big. You learn to fly by "the book" while in training. Once on the line...things can be a little more relaxed. Nothing unsafe mind you just relaxed.

For example briefing an approach.

Before every approach the flying pilot briefs the non-flying pilot on the approach. The "book" way is to transfer controls to the non-flying pilot first. The way MOST pilots brief the approach is during level cruise when we pull up the ATIS. During level cruise flight....not a whole lot is going on. It's not a critical moment of flight. It's easy to knock out a briefing. For the most part it's a 1 minute affair. It's not rushed. Here's a typical briefing I give for a VFR approach into our hub.

"This will be a visual approach to runway 10 backed up by the ILS. Localizer frequency is 111.80. Inbound course 102. Touchdown elevation is 998 feet. Runway is 11,000 feet long and I need 5400 feet to stop. VASI on the left. I plan on taking the H5 high speed exit to the right. No hot spots exist between the runway and the terminal. If we have to go missed it will be tower instructions or at a minimum 2500 feet pattern altitude and runway heading. Any questions?"

There are rarely any questions.

Anyways I reviewed the "right" way to do things.

Once at the out station we deplaned and the check airmen came up to the flight deck. After reviewing our certificates and medicals we just chit chatted. I was tired and not really looking forward to being observed.

Normal takeoff. Enroute our ACARS software failed. My Captain wanted to do a line trick to get it back up and running....but with a check airmen in the seat he just got the ATIS the old fashioned way and also called operations over the radio the old fashioned way.

Once he had the ATIS I asked if he was ready for an approach briefing. He was.  I said, "Ok we are descending to 14,000 feet using VS mode and I'm holding a speed of 280 knots. The autopilot is on...your aircraft."

I then briefed the ILS to runway 10. Clouds were 800 overcast.

We both made all the call outs by the book.

Vectored in. I left the autopilot on until about 500 feet. I then managed a very nice landing.

Line check done.

Two legs left. Already flew 3 hours 20 minutes. Two hours thirty minutes to go.


Flew fast the next leg. I wanted to be done. This was leg 4 for the day.  Greased another one on. Done. Very tired. The short overnight and long day was catching up with all of us.

Quick turn and we left 10 minutes early. Captain flew fast as well. Ready to be done with this trip.

Landed 20 minutes early and blocked in 10 minutes early. We shook hands and I headed to my car.

I non-rev'd my mother in law up to watch my daughter for the weekend. We have no family in town so it's a little tricky to find a baby sitter we trust (we have never used anyone but my mother in law). The only flight we can for surely get seats on to Vegas tomorrow is the 7AM that's the one we will take.

I haven't had a reduced rest overnight in a long time. It really screws up my whole day as I don't sleep well as I'm worried about over sleeping. It's sad that my overnight was 8 hours 40 minutes while I was on duty for 9 hours 50 minutes the next day. I had less rest than duty!!

Even if I had tried to go to bed RIGHT when I got to the hotel room I maybe would have had 7 hours sleep as travel time to and from the airport is considered rest. In reality the most sleep I've ever had on a reduced rest overnight is 6 hours. It takes time to get from the airport to hotel, check in, relax, get ready for bed, fall asleep, get up in the morning, shower, get dressed, EAT and out the door to ride back to the airport.

But that complaint is for another blog. For now....time to pack. Vegas baby.....Vegas.



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