Friday, July 26, 2013

I'm a pilot....not an actor

I fly the same no matter whom is on the flight deck with me. I find it easier to fly the right way all the time than put on a show while being watched.

There are some things I will abbrevite when I'm flying with a Captain for more than one day. Like what you ponder? Mostly briefings. Here is my "standard" takeoff briefing.

"This will be a right seat departure from runway 22L. It will be the normal taxi route via Golf and Bravo. No hotspots. My standard briefing goes as follows, we will be using s standard power takeoff, engine powering the packs and the APU will be shutoff. We will abort for anything up to 80 knots. After that only for engine fire, failure or if the plane is incapable of flight. Otherwise we will take it into the air and work the problem out there. The weather is VFR so we can return to runway 22L or 22R. If everything goes well, acceleration altitude is 1800 feet, first fix on the RNAV SID is MONEY and the initial altitude is 10,000 feet. Min takeoff fuel is 8000 pounds. There is no alternate and no MELs affecting the performance of flight. "

For the remaining briefings I will simply state "This will be a right seat departure from 22L. Standard. First fix Money. Min takeoff is 8000 pounds."

For landing it's a similar routine.

"This will be a visual approach to runway 22L. I will back it up with the ILS. Frequency is 111.9. Inbound course 221. There is a VASI on the left hand side. The runway is 8000 feet long. Performance charts state we need 3900 feet to stop. I plan on exiting the Hotel 3 high speed on the left. In the event of a go around lets plan on 3000 feet and straight ahead unless tower states otherwise. Once clearing lets keep ours heads up as we will have to hold short runway 28."

All subsequent landings will have a full briefing as my airline doesn't allow me to shorten it.

That being said my 2 day trip was long. Delays. My aircraft fleet is getting older. Older planes have more maintenance issues.

Same 3 and 5 trip from last week. Day 2 is 5 legs and 7 hours 55 minutes of scheduled flying. The last turn is the longest at 5 hours.

The first three legs were normal. My leg up on the 4th leg. An FAA Inspector was going to be joining us on the flight deck, he was just trying to get home. Cabin was full of paying passengers.

My Captain is a nice guy but he changed his tone completely with the FAA guy on the jump seat and began throwing me off by second guessing my decisions and calculations.

Beautiful VFR day. Nice long flight up. We all chit chatted while in cruise. I picked up the airport 20 miles out and we were cleared for the visual. Nearby terrain and the heat of the day caused a bumpy descent.

I've never been one to "hot rod" it so I slowed early and was at 160 knots in landing configuration 2000 AGL. My VREF speed was 130 knots while my V-Approach speed was 140 knots. At 1000 AGL I was down to 145 knots on average. I say average as the winds and thermals were causing speed fluctuations of +/- 5 knots.

Our company regs state a stabilized approach is one that has :

-small corrections in airspeed

-normal rate of descent no more than 300 fpm off target

-only minor variations from lateral and vertical path

Somewhat grey, but common sense states that if I was 20 knots fast and descending at 1400 feet per minute under 1000  feet.....that's not stabilized.

On this approach I had clear skies, a dry runway  8700 foot long runway. The charts stated I needed 4100 feet of runway to stop.

At 500 feet I was bouncing between 145 knots and 150 knot due to the winds and thermals. I was on glidepath and lined up with the runway.

At 200 feet I was at a solid 150 knots. At this point I started to idle the engines as I saw my trend vector increasing. The plane wouldn't slow down.

Shortly after my Captain said, "Watch your speed your at 150 knots!"

"I know I have the engines idled." I replied.

"You gotta slow it down." he replied.

"I know, the engines are idled, it will be fine."

Around 100 feet the speed had bled off to just over 140 knots and I added a bit of thrust as I saw the trend vector dropping. Sure enough the speed dropped down to 130 knots and would have continued dropping if I had not added power.

"Watch your speed you getting slow." stated my Captain.

I didn't reply. With the quick addition of power I was able to set the mains down just past the 1000 foot markers. Normal braking and I transferred controls and we turned off the runway with over 4000 feet remaining.

Quick turn.

Long flight back. During his approach he was also a bit fast.

"Damn thing won't slow down." my Captain said.

"See you thought I was messing up, but for whatever reason this plane is slick." I replied.

"Well I don't have an FAA inspector on the seat." he replied.

Done for a few days.

I have 18 more hours of flying this month. So far I've had no cancellations or reassignments...which is rare. If all goes as planned I will have my highest hour month of flying ever at 90 hours. I will get paid for 92 hours as I had a deadhead trip at the start of the month.

Next month I have two weeks of vacation. One week will be spent aboard a cruise ship, the other at home.




  1. Hi Darren,

    Would love a short explanation on the "Trend vector"... I know that what it is describing, but it is depicted on your PFD? The biggest plane I have flown (in real life) is the Seminole.. and the most complex is a G1000 C172.. Thx!

  2. Next to the airspeed tape on the left and the altitude tape on the right are vertical lines that ATTEMPT to predict the airspeed and altitude in the next 5 seconds if nothing changes. I say attempt as, IMHO, they aren't very accurate. They are useful though in showing a trend though.


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