Saturday, April 21, 2012

Well, here is a discussion i have wanted to have on this blog, but haven't really had the time to write it. I have been very busy with external studying (hopefully good news in the future), going to Europe for 4 weeks on Monday, and finally will be heading to fly the Q400 after July, with a successful bid!

But there have been to times recently where i have basically thought, that some of the flying has been above my skillset. It was brought to my attention by a good friend who flies 737's for a NZ based company, and he said on approach into Wellington he watched a captain land the plane and said he said he wasn't sure if he could actually do it himself.

I was flying the other day coming into Sydney with the wind 180/25 gusting 45 knots. It was a pretty average day due the wind, and the plane was getting absolutely bucketed around the sky. There was overshoot, and undershoot windshear and required a lot of input to keep the plane on track and stable. It was borderline unstable as we continued, and i almost.. almost called "going around." I don't think that has ever crossed my mind flying once, but it was just so over the shop.

Stable approach policy is big in the airlines, below 1000ft gear down, flaps to landing position, flying to Vref +20 on the airspeed, on the PAPI, to touch down on the touchdown zones of the runway. Any deviation of this, and its company policy to perform a go-around.

Anyway, I got on the ground and had the captain looked at me and said "i've never wanted to call 'going around,' but it was close on that one - you earned your money today." I think it was a compliment. The cabin crew told me that they haven't had such a bumpy approach (although - smooth touchdown!) It was something that when i got to the gate, and when the adrenaline finished, it was weird to reflect on. Should i have done a go-around? Was that something that was unsafe? Was it above my ability for that landing? It was obviously a successful outcome, but it made me think.

I had another experience coming into Lord Howe Island, where the captain did basically a phenomenal job in manipulation, and landing in extreme wind and turbulence.. I was gobsmacked because i, although i wasn't in control, i'm not sure whether i could have done the same job, that he did. Granted there are probably 10 - 20 years of experience he has over me, but credit where credit is due!

It was just a few instances that have popped up in my flying career, that no matter how well you know a plane, and an operation, there are always new challenges and experiences that keep you on your toes, and keep learning from.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lord Howe Overnight

Planes break! Sometimes its horrible, other times, not so bad! This one was pretty good. In fact i wasn't on the broken plane, but rather there were 2 planes inbound to Lord Howe Island and the other first officer was on a 6th day working and had to get back to Sydney due to flight and duty limitations. So one might say, i took one for the team.

The reason was due to a faulty air cycle machine which meant we were grounded. So off to the surf store to change clothes and get into island spirit. Boardshorts, tshirt and thongs. We went to the beach and enjoyed a bit of relaxation and beers with the captain and flight attendant. 

Lord Howe which i have already spoken about is around 800km from Sydney, and takes us about 100 minutes to fly there in the Dash 8 -200. The strip is notoriously challenging and its a captains only landing, flap 35 degrees. The wind is usually all over the shop, strong turbulence and only 1008 meters of tarmac to use.

Lord Howe has around 350 permanent residents and only a total of 400 tourists allowed at one time. Its the only place in Australia where it's legal to not wear a seatbelt while driving. Speed limit is 25km/h. There were no locks on any doors, no mobile phone reception and not a whole lot of internet either.

Sunset from "Ned's Beach." They do fish feeding at low tide, and it was common to see big kingfish around 50cm in length in the waves. As well as the odd reef shark who really swam close to me while i was in the water. Pretty amazing really.

A view of the of the eastern side of the island.

View of Mount Gower. I think that is the highest point on the island. It was usually in cloud!

Overview of the airport, from a sand dune.

Well it was a good few days, and a new experience! Really enjoyed my few days there. And it got me out of another overnight tonight, so it was win win!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Well i have been super busy with other things happening, so i haven't had a lot of time to blog recently, but fingers crossed, there are some new stories on the horizon!

Anyway, here are some photos of the Dash close up this morning now that daylight savings finished. Instead we now land at night and take off in the light, so i don't feel as tired getting up now on the overnights!

It is company procedure to check the engine intakes first flight of the day. I have seen a big crack on the inside before. That plane was grounded naturally.

After checking the intakes i check the spinner and the blades.

2,300 SHP.. not nearly enough :p