Thursday, December 19, 2013

That guy

I had just one day off between trips this week. Glad I don't commute.

I was supposed to have a 4 day trip last week. Wednesday morning I felt well enough to go to work physically. But I didn't feel great about leaving my family for another 4 days. Once at work I decided to request Saturday off. As I handed the form to the office assistant she let me know that "critical coverage" was declared for Thursday and Friday...and that my request was behind 4 other pilots. As I made my way to the gate I had no motivation to be there. I could have called in sick....but I wasn't sick. Just going to get through this trip.

The Captain arrived. His name looked familiar when I signed in...then I saw him. A light went off....last time I flew with him I remembered he was very unpersonable. He loved to talk about himself but never listened to one thing I had to say. He has a computer background as well...thought we could talk about tech....nope just his tech. Fine with me as I get paid the same whether I talk or not. It was a 5-2-4-3 trip. He took the first leg. While at the out station I check my request had been approved. I'd be finished at 8PM on Friday. I took the next two and he took the last two. Easy first day. Doubletree hotel. Very nice. Day 2 flying was all me.

I tried to chat with him during the trip. He had zero interest. Fine. Clouds it is.

Day 3 was 3 legs with just the last being mine. All through the trip he did something that annoyed me...but I thought it was just me.

At 500 feet on every landing the pilot not flying calls out my speed in reference to VREF and my sink rate. This is just to give me a heads up on where I am.

Prior to that...maybe 15 minutes prior...the pilot not flying sets my landing speeds via flip cards we carry on the flight deck. The speeds are all weight based and include VREF (speed I should touch down at) and how much runway is required.

We take the VREF number and add a minimum of 5 knots for light winds and...well we don't have auto-throttles so no one is perfect. Additionally if there are any steady state winds or gust those are figured in as well.

So let's use easy numbers. If my VREF was 135 knots my VAPP (speed where I should be when fully configured for landing) would be 140 knots.

If I was on speed on a calm wind day I should hear something like , "Plus 5 sink 700" at 500 feet.

Every time I landed with this guy I would hear numbers like "Plus 14 sink 800" or "Plus 9 sink 700". I glanced down at my speed tape and I was within 1 knot of VAPP....which was 5 knots over VREF. He was throwing me off.

After my final landing I had enough. After blocking in I grabbed the flip cards and asked where he was getting his speed calls from as I was on speed.

His answer? He was using the low speed awareness line as VREF and not the book VREF. I was floored.

The FAA requires some mark to show the speed that is just above stall speed to give pilots a head up. CRJs use a green line while ERJs use a white bar.

Our VREF speeds were first calculated by the manufacturer and then my company added a percentage to it. So even with a 135 knot VERF the actual stall speed is way down at maybe 120 knots. Big gap.

I politely let him know that he's the only guy I've ever flown with that calls the VREF based on the low speed awareness and that by doing so he's throwing out all the numbers in the book. Everything I briefed for the approach was based on the flip cards.

He replied with that's what's in our operating manual. I then pulled out the manual and showed him the landing profile and it stated VREF from the cards...nothing mentioned about low speed awareness.

The Captain then stated he will likely stop using the low speed awareness as a guide. Great idea!

I then gathered my things and went home. I had a great weekend with my family.

For the rest of the month I have 3 two day trips. Easy and low leg.


1 comment:

  1. And at the court of inquiry you'd be blamed and he'd probably get off


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