Wednesday, April 3, 2013

There are lots of ways to skin a cat...and fly a plane

Day 3 of a 4 day.

Today started with a 3:30AM wake up...early.

My Captain for the month has been around a while. Fifteen thousand hours + of flight time. I have about 3500 hours.

There are many, many, many ways to fly my airplane well inside the parameters set forth by my airline. For example I can climb using vertical speed mode, indicated airspeed mode or pitch mode. My choice. Most of the time I climb at indicated airspeed until 10,000 and then vertical speed mode above 10,000. I keep it simple.

My Captain likes to fly in pitch mode. Fine. I feel it's more work, but to each there own. Some like Pepsi....others like Coke.  However he commented on me flying in vertical speed mode as it wasn't as "efficient". Eh. I was well inside the envelope.

He also didn't care for my intercepting the localizer about a mile before the final approach fix (on a VFR day) rather than just head for the final approach fix. There were a few more items. He is a micromanager. I learned long ago as long as I'm safe and operating within the boundaries of my flight's fine. I take advice willingly. I've changed the way I fly based on input and suggestion from Captains I've flown with. I learn something every time I fly and take things from every Captain I fly with....the good and bad.

Anyways today was an early start. First two legs were his. Small delays.

I had legs 3 and 4.

Due to low ceilings at the hub we had not one, but two alternates. This meant extra fuel. Another hit was an odd runway limit.

The runway limit was due to a runway gradient that sloped down from the approach end to the departure end. Even though the runway was 12,000 feet long...we were runway weight limited.

We blocked out 5 minutes early and 240 pounds over that limit. It's a "funny" number limit as each passenger is assumed to weigh 185 pounds. Each of their gate checked bags (carry on bags don't fit on my plane) are assumed to weigh 35 pounds. A 12 year old girl is assumed to weigh just as much as her 45 year old dad....thus "funny" numbers.

We started both engines and left the APU running during taxi. After a 3 minute delay of burning off fuel we were 20 pounds under the runway limit weight after accounting for 5 knots of headwind.

I rotated the nose into the air with 8000 feet of runway left.....yep....8000 feet left.

Bumpy flight.

My Captain let me know yesterday he had a line check on leg 4 today. No big deal. I fly the same regardless of who is in the jump seat. It's much easier to fly correctly all the time than to be  sloppy and try to change when someone is watching you.

ILS approach. Broke out at 500. Nice landing.

After waiting 15 minutes for our ramp personnel to park us we blocked in 9 minutes late. Originally a 35 minute turn was down to 26 minutes. Not likely.

I took my time. Post flight, physiological needs and a coffee were needed.

My Captain was rushing....and visibly nervous with the Check Airman on the jump seat. He made a few errors that were clearly nerves. I knew the Check Airman...he was the one I busted my ATP check ride with back in September.

Blocked out 1 minute late. Cold and low clouds. Holding just short of the runway we caught an error. We needed the anti-ice on for takeoff....and it wasn't set.

After checking performance and turning anti-ice on we were ready.

Very short flight. Just 77 nautical miles between the airports. Cruising at a whole 14,000 feet.

My Captain got the ATIS...Here was the weather:

2008KT 1SM -RA BR BKN004 OVC009 09/08 A3007

The only approach to the north was a GPS approach. The runway has no approach lighting system...just a PAPI.

The minimums for the approach were 400 feet and 1 mile. With broken 400 it was going to be tight.

I had him set up for the approach and then I briefed it. If we went missed we had enough fuel for one more shot before diverting.

While on vectors my Captain mistakenly selected the ILS nav source. The Check Airmen asked why, he stated it was a mistake.

The controller vectored us in tight. I had to configure in the turn to final.

I was a little slow in descending and was going to cross the final approach fix 100 feet high. I pushed the vertical speed dial down quickly and realized I had already asked for MDA to be set in the altitude pre-select. If I didn't change the vertical speed I would have been under the final approach fix altitude. Both my Captain and Check Airman corrected me before I busted the altitude. Done.

Right around 450 feet he called the PAPI. Right at 400 he called the runway. I looked out and barely saw both.

I was a bit aggressive in pulling out the power and had to quickly add power and arrest my descent. In and done.

The Check Airmen debriefed us and off to the hotel we went.

Tomorrow is 3 legs. Done at noon.

1 comment:

  1. Hang in there Geek, been in that same situation before. It's amazing how the nerves of the people around us can influence our performance. Like you said take the good and bad from others and use it when your in the left seat.


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