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Some nights are more work than others....

Discussion in 'Trip Experiences' started by Exuma Guy, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. Exuma Guy

    Exuma Guy Hangar Silver Member V

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    Many months ago, I told the crew scheduling department that I prefer the early morning flights. I haven't seen daylight since. Last night, I was assigned to fly the newest addition to our fleet- an A-320 that came from a bankrupt airline with only 7800 hours total time. Knowing that it had just come from a conformity inspection and heavy maintenance D check just a few days prior, and knowing that it had not flown for almost a year before that, I took my time doing the preflight exterior inspection. Even with shiny new paint, it was obvious that this bird had been treated badly by it's former operator. The leading edges of the wings and the engine intake cowls had numerous repairs.

    Meanwhile, a mechanic (they prefer to be called engineers in this part of the world) did his own exterior inspection. After finishing, he entered the cabin through the forward door, and I entered through the aft cabin door. I pointed at him and motioned for him to walk through the cabin to my end. When he arrived, along with the F/O, I walked out them out onto the airstair, pointed at the vertical stabilizer, and asked how he missed the very large bolt and flat washer dangling out of the side of the stab. I love doing that s++t to the mechanics!

    We started the night with a maintenance delay of 30 minutes. In the meantime, I further educated the F/O, who is new to our line, on the use of our new EFB which is in trial phase, and why there is a difference between a QRH engineering bulletin and the MEL for a procedure on flying with 1 engine bleed air inoperative. This F/O is keen to learn all that he can about his profession, and I'm willing to teach anybody with such a wonderful attitude. The engineer came to the front galley to tell me about his mens' progress on the tail, and I opened the water faucet and asked him why it wouldn't turn off. I love doing this s++t to the mechanics!

    During the second engine start, we got a warning that the F/O's pitot heat had failed. I got up and located the associated circuit breaker, pulled it, reset it, and checked that the problem was cleared. This is standard operating procedure for an A-320. A captain's initial operating experience is all about learning which circuit breakers reset which computers.

    Time to depart! We take-off in the opposite direction of our intended route and keep going for 25 miles because of active special use airspace. This doesn't help our flight time. ATC finally cleared us on course and up to our optimum flight level. It was a beautiful night with a full moon, smooth air, and only 1 little thunderstorm off to the side. The night's music selection was classic country and some Led Zeppelin.

    Then we got an advisory about an abnormal temperature for an IDG (CSD for you Boeing guys). I started the APU, turned off the generator with the high IDG temperature, and called the cabin to tell them to finish service quickly because they might lose the galley power. Meanwhile, the F/O was looking at the manuals and asked why I did more than the manual calls for. I explained that the high temperature was telling us that the IDG was going to crap out soon. I relieved ALL the load from the IDG because I didn't want it to crap out until next leg when we were on the way home. I was trying to prevent having to call for a mechanic after landing so we wouldn't be delayed any more. Then the cabin manager called us to tell us that a tray table in the emergency exit row would not stow. This would require a mechanic when we landed which would incur a significant delay anyway. Dang....

    Time for landing. The rain repellent didn't work for either pilot, but the rain wasn't very heavy. ATC asked us for minimum time on the runway due to traffic following us. The F/O's touchdown was firm, and appropriate given the crappy weather conditions. Then we received a warning that an emergency exit was open! Aw s++t! I ordered the F/O to stop on the runway. Then I called the cabin manager to ask if anyone was evacuating. ATC was calling us at the same time with a sense of urgency in her voice. The cabin manger called me back to report that a cover for an overwing exit had fallen during the touchdown, which triggered the warning on the flightdeck, but that the exit itself was secure. We proceeded to exit the runway.

    We parked next to aircraft registration #80002. I pondered about the serendipitous coincidences of how a young soldier that fought here 40 years ago in an unpopular war was now returning as Vice-President of the USA. The cabin manager replaced the emergency exit cover. I asked him for the tray table lock that had broken. The cabin interior is all new with a new design of seat that provides more legroom. I looked at the lock, and popped it into place with a hard tap. The tray table stayed in the stowed position. I queried the gate agent to see if we could keep that seat empty, and he agreed. Problem solved! Call for boarding! The contract mechanic arrived just as boarding was finished, and he was only too happy to go back where he came from. I made a mental note to e-mail the boss about this lock problem being a huge repetitive pain in the arse.

    On the way home, we had another nuisance warning, this time about an angle-of-attack heater. We wouldn't be in icing conditions, so I didn't bother to reset the computer. On the first departure, we took off opposite to our flight path. So I expected to land straight in for our return, but no, ATC had changed runways and we had to be vectored 20 miles around the airport for an approach, and we were #4 in sequence. Some nights are more work than others....
     
  2. Everett 757

    Everett 757 Hangar Silver Member VI

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    Wow!! Thanks for sharing this.
     
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  3. Exuma Guy

    Exuma Guy Hangar Silver Member V

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    Correction- Mr. Kerry is Secretary of State, not Vice-President.
    Also, I forgot the part about the first passenger to disembark vomited in the middle of the cabin entrance way, and all the other passengers had to step over the mess.
     
  4. gerardo

    gerardo Hangar Bronze Member II

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    Thankfully at my major airline we didn't have many "high and mighty" flight crew members like this guy. There were a few and their reputation got out in a hurry. I would always sent the guy who could fart the smelliest to his cockpit and tell him to close the cockpit door while reviewing the log book. Probably his plane would always take a maint delay. The flght crews learned in a hurry if they wanted to leave on time not to be a smart ass towards mechs. Treat mechanics with respect and you would get your log book signed off safely and on time. Most learned quickly that they were considered no more than glorified bus drivers with no marketable skills if they went on strike maybe they could be a clerk at Home Depot.
     
  5. Lord Leighton

    Lord Leighton Hangar Gold Member I

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    The old "fart before ya leave the elevator trick" huh? Bahahaha!
     
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  6. gerardo

    gerardo Hangar Bronze Member II

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    Yep, or tell him his vortex generators were not working producing DC current. The old captains always respected us the most. The A/C belonged to maint until we signed off the log book!! The young hot shot right out of the military who thought they were still in charge and we were enlisted morons, for some reason it took forever for their A/C to get serviced. They learned in a hurry to respect aircraft maint.
     
  7. Shawn White

    Shawn White Hangar Silver Member I

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    Sounds like a stressful flight! I'd sure be scared of flying a plane that had multiple problems on the same day!
     
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  8. Exuma Guy

    Exuma Guy Hangar Silver Member V

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    If you want to be a pro, you will have many many days like this. What you want to learn from this is too look at the plane extra carefully when it comes from maintenance. Even with good mechanics, an extra set of eyes is safer. You want to learn how to manage the various decisions that you will have to make in order to fly safely. One key to doing this is to have a very thorough understanding of your aircraft's systems. Ground school will teach you the minimum systems knowledge required, but you should hit the books and learn as much as you can.
     
  9. Exuma Guy

    Exuma Guy Hangar Silver Member V

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    hehe... THIS glorified bus driver has other marketable skills, including an A&P w/IA. I mess with the junior mechs, and they like it, because they learn. I mess with the senior mechs who only know my reputation when I follow them and point out what they missed. They are usually in the same mindset as you, but they learn to respect me after I initiate the delay for something that they should have caught. Talk about your High & Mighty... I mess with the other senior mechs, the ones that worked next to me for some time, over beers after work. We talk about muffler bearings and left-handed smoke shifters.

    Perhaps you got the wrong impression somewhere?
     
  10. Lord Leighton

    Lord Leighton Hangar Gold Member I

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    Did you ask them for some "flight line" and don't forget the "prop wash"? :p
     
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  11. Guitar Dave

    Guitar Dave Hangar Bronze Member V

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    No worries Shawn, because experienced pilots like 'Exuma Guy' are irreplaceable! They know what a nuisance light is, and what will turn into an emergency if not dealt with properly. It will behoove the new F/O to zip their lip and open the ears, and ask as many questions as they think are necessary. When I was early in my career as a helicopter pilot, I was out in the Gulf of Mexico on a oil drilling rig about 100 miles from the beach, and had a dead battery when it was time to go home. We had the old nickel cadmium batteries and if you force them too hard during a start, they could possibly explode. Thus blow the nose of the ride off! Not a good thing, right? So me and a couple of electricians from the drill rig wired together some old style lead acid batteries they had for their crane engines, and quickly started my helicopter. Once everything was turned on, such as generator, fuel pumps, and all required items, we disconnected the homemade battery 'kit', and then I disconnected (moved my batt. switch to off), my onboard battery since the generator would try to be charging it creating what is known as 'thermal runaway' which leads to an explosion of the battery. Wow! I didn't even think I would have remembered that. I did have to dig that out from 1979............:eek:
     
  12. Lord Leighton

    Lord Leighton Hangar Gold Member I

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    Bet it was a fun job yet still!
     
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  13. Edward Jeszka

    Edward Jeszka Hangar Gold Member I

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    What we do because we love aviation!!! Yep, have had some moments when a long ago memory jumps up and all I can say was "You didn't really do that, did you?" And then a chuckle or two when more than one of us old guys would do something together that none of us would have ever done alone. Aviation has been very kind to this old man, except for my dealings with BHM FSDO and FAA Legal. Start right and some day while you are on the porch the memories will return and you will sit back, drink another cup of coffee and smile. Your grand kids will look at you and simply wonder if you haven't gone off the deep end. It was a thrilling and fulfilling ride and I would do it over in a heartbeat. Lost some friends along the way but they went West doing something they truly loved. Shawn, I doubt you would fly an unsafe airplane in any case and hope your training gives you the knowledge like Exuma or Gary or Rich or numerous others to be able to recognize one from the other. I have faith in you my young friend and I support your decision 100% to get into the aviation career field.
     
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  14. Lord Leighton

    Lord Leighton Hangar Gold Member I

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    Yey Verily!
     
  15. Lord Leighton

    Lord Leighton Hangar Gold Member I

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    Shawn, I don't know if you heard of or seen the whole series of videos, Guido Warnecke (you tube) out of I think Danbury CT. or somewhere in the New England area, hands on, in cockpit via Go pro, explaining everything from bottom up, very enjoyable and completely relaxed know how and experience he has. He instills good habits and confidence. He flies all kinds of different planes and even flies Biz jets single pilot and explains what is different between dual and single jet pilot inflight. Even an ole dummy like me could understand. Excellent HP quality best angle training videos. His voice kinda sounds like the Arnold Schwartzenegger of pilots lol.

    Just a question to you living in Beijing. Did you study to learn the language yet or if you have used "Rosetta Stone" method and if it is worth while?
     
  16. Shawn White

    Shawn White Hangar Silver Member I

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    Yeah, I've seen a few of those and they are pretty interesting, although I really don't like the way he mounts his camera, since you can never see out of the cockpit clearly. But his explanations of different procedures are always enlightening.

    As for Chinese, I've lived here for 12 years, so although I haven't studied it for a while, I can speak it fluently, but reading and writing is always a pain. I've never used any programs like Rosetta Stone or podcast series, and personally I don't have much faith in them.:cool: Some of my friends have used it though, and they said it worked pretty well. Unless you can actually take a year to live in different country, I guess a program like that is your second best option.
     
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