Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ahh well.. it's about time for a post

Hi all, thanks for continually checking up on my lack of posts! It's been pretty crazy with all the training, reading, training, re-reading, training etc. Airline flying is probably harder than i expected and more intensive than i ever realised. I'm sure once im settled in to everyday life and flying the line with a variet of different people and not so focused on flying the plane and company procedures, than it will be a different kettle of fish again, but at the moment i feel as though i haven't had to work this hard ever!

I finish reading the FCOM, the engineering manual, and other associated texts, only to basically start reading them again. I have spent a lot of hours just reading and re-reading manuals, learning specific limitations of the airplane from memory, recalls from the QRH word perfect (company requirment), on top of learning the syllabus in the training file.

So yeh, good times!
Line flying is a lot different to anything that goes on in the sim. Just some things you cannot replicate, and in marginal weather, you just need to be on top of everything the whole time. The biggest challenge in flying a bigger aircraft in a multi crew environment is the constant management that flying it requires.
Anyway one particular thing of interest in the Dash-8 is the ice protection systems and the penalties when it comes to landing and taking off. As you can imagine there is a lot of emphasis on speed management and situational awareness in the Dash. This is partly due the Colgan crash a few years back, and also because we don't have any autotrottle system, so its very easy to reduce power, get distracted doing something else and all of sudden be at minimum speed in no time flat. That why we have very defined pilot flying, and pilot monitoring roles.
Also with ice protection on in the dash, it increases your Vref (min speed landing in that configuration) over the fence for landing. This actually an automatic speed bias in the stall warning computers, which is triggered by the propeller heaters and also the increase ref speed switch. At a high weight its about an extra 15 knots. In windy conditions, by the time you apply a Vapp speed (basically a target speed to provide some protection over Vref - We use 1/3 the windspeed or all of the gust to a maximum of 15 knots) So by the time you add the ice protection speed coupled with a high Vapp, flaps 15 instead of 35, into a short runway, which is high elevation in miserable weather, it makes for some challenging approaches and high workload situations. With the ice protection on, then its a significant weight penalty for take off as well.. this is due to the speed bias in the stall warning computers which i mentioned earlier. Since you need a high speed, you therefore need more runway, which therefore limits your maximum take off weight.

I hope that made some sense to those reading at home. Anyway line training is 2/3's of the way through now and almost finished. I have a progress check in the next few days and then a check to line early september at this stage.

So thanks for continuing to check it and read my blog, i will get back to being more regular with my postings when im all checked to line.