Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Day Three

The white-knuckle VOR approach into Butte didn't end the adventures this trip had in store for us. On Sunday we were in Spokane, preparing for leg #4 of 6, when I spied KH, a check airman on the Megawhacker, coming down the jetway. "Crap, we're getting line checked!" I exclaimed. The captain let out an exasperated sigh and pointed to my laptop and speakers on the glareshield. I quickly silenced Bob Marley and stowed them before KH made his way to the flight deck.

Turns out that he was there to line check me. There is no regulatory requirement to line check first officers, but at my airline they choose to do so every twelve months, just like captains. And I was due.

Even a consciencious, standardized pilot tends to have a lot of little habits that technically are at odds with the flight standards manual; you just don't realize it until you fly with a check airman. For example, when hand flying, the pilot not flying (PNF) is supposed to set all flight director modes at the Pilot Flying's command. It's pretty standard practice, though, for the PF to just punch the buttons for themself - at least in good weather. There were a few times where I went to push "VS" or "HDG" or "STBY," stopped my hand halfway there as I realized I wasn't supposed to do that, and told the captain, "Um...push vertical speed...command 1500 feet per minute upwards...."

Other than Seattle Approach vectoring us all over Puget Sound for traffic saturation, it was a pretty easy ride. The check airman said I did a good job, but then asked me when I'm supposed to have landing flaps set. "Um...1000 feet above airport elevation?" He nodded: "The flaps were in transition at 1000', they didn't get to 35 degrees until 980', so you were 20 feet low." He didn't dock any points so I just smiled and nodded. A successful ride is a successful ride - but still, that was pretty anal. The pertinent section of the Megawhacker FSM reads, "Landing flaps must be set...by 1000' above the airport elevation." Hmm. Okay, is "set" a verb or an adjective in that context? We had set the flaps by 1000 feet, but they weren't set yet. Heh, that sounds almost Clintonian.

So, nit-picking aside, we survived the line check just fine. The rest of the trip should be a breeze! Right...?


Aviatrix said...

Ooh gawd. If someone from company were to come and audit our adherence to the SOPs in the manual, I wish a laptop on the glareshield and flaps in transition would be the worst of my crimes.

Thanks for the impetus to continue to learn more.

GC said...

Jeebus, Sam! Your flaps were in transition until 20' below your 1000' minimum?? Its a wonder the whole freakin' WORLD didn't come apart, get sucked into a wormhole and blasted into another dimension! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!?!?


Reminds me of the Fed who was in the jumpseat during my CRJ type-ride. She played the same kind of game.

After my ride was over (completed at night in a February snow-storm in Boise), my checkairman started to say "Nice job!" when she interrupted.

"Whoa wait a minute! I have some issues with some of the things you did. What is max speed in Class C?"

"Uhh...200 knots."

"And how fast were you going when you leveled at 2,000 feet before turning crosswind?"

"Uhh...200 knots."

"NEGATIVE!! I distinctly saw a speed of 203 knots on your airspeed tape!"

"Alright. YOU get up here in this seat, in this weather, at this time of night and do better!" is what I wanted to say.

Instead, I did the smart thing. I smiled and nodded.

Sam said...

Aviatrix, the powers that be know better than try to enforce their rules out in the boonies, because aviation is the lifeblood of those communities, and the flying would come to a screetching halt if all the rules from down south were strictly enforced. Down here, though, complete and exact compliance is pretty much always expected.

GC - Yep. If the guy had docked any points over the 20 feet, I would've raised holy hell. But since he was just pointing it out, I let it slide, it's not worth making enemies with a check airman over. Besides, KH is generally a nice guy, and he's a pretty new check airman so he probably felt like he had to find something or he wasn't doing his job.