Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Out of the box" for another eight months

The simulator: a.k.a the "box" or the "sin bin"

What a $20 million dollar simulator looks like wrapped up.

Well Captain Doug fooled everyone again by getting his license renewed yet again. Yesterday was an action packed day with one failure/emergency stacked upon another.

Today consisted of a LOFT (Line Oriented Flight Training) versus an LOE (Line Orientated Evaluation) which is a true license renewal. These acronyms are part of the AQP (Advanced Qualification Program) program. The LOFT can be done by a contract pilot. If you want to know what many Air Canada pilots do after retirement you will find them here. They do offer years of experience and realize things can be done more than one way. An LOE is done by a qualified "check pilot" supervisor with demi-god status. Not to lessen them in any way nor to offend them, they have a job to do. A job I could not do.

Today started with about an hour briefing and going over a flight plan with a snag stating we had the number one bleed system unserviceable. Because of it, we are restricted to 31,500. Not a problem for this short leg. Having said that, my last "real" flight had one inoperative bleed from Calgary to Toronto.

We get airborne (these LOFTs are run on real time). ATC wants us to speed up and level off at FL240. Translation higher fuel burn. We get the ATIS (weather and runways in use) for Toronto. Both 24 left and right are closed with the glide slope U/S on runway 23. Translation we will be doing a localizer only meaning we can only descend to about 500 above ground. Funny, the weather just so happens to have cloud bases at 500 feet with one mile visibility. Can you smell a "go- around?"

Things are backing up so we are given a hold. We enter with an expect further clearance at 55 minutes past the hour. I can only hold for 10 minutes. Our fuel reserve is dwindling. I realize the passengers in the back are watching us turn around in a racetrack pattern so I make a P.A.

Finally we get the clearance for a straight in localizer approach. We descend to minimums. No contact. "Go around flaps!" the first officer blurts out. "Tower Air Canada 465 is in the missed approach" I curtly transmit. Now the pucker factor is increasing because our fuel is approaching minimums. ATC wants us to proceed to Waterloo and hold as per the missed approach. I don't think so! I talk to flight dispatch and we both agree for us to go to our alternate. "Center Air Canada 465 wants priority vectors to our alternate airport, Hamilton." The total fuel is now a negative value. Meaning we are starting to bite into our reserves.

"Air Canada 465 there are 6 aircraft ahead of you for Hamilton expect delays." I then give a "low fuel advisory" to ATC and want priority vectors. I did not have to use the big card of declaring a low fuel emergency. Nonetheless, I will be writing a safety report because of the go around and low fuel situation. We land in Hamilton.

My leg included a radio failure out of Toronto enroute to Calgary followed by a dual hydraulic failure which included declaring a Mayday, an alternate gear extension and stopping on the runway back in Toronto because we didn't have nose wheel steering.

Then because they want to jam in more training, both the F/O and I had to do a take off and landing in low level wind shear conditions. Not something you want to do after all this.

Tomorrow I will be heading back for more training to keep my license/job. It's ART (Annual Recurrent Training) for a day. We will be reviewing procedures, corresponding with flight attendants with their training and jumping out of an airplane slide.

And to think all of these training days are done without pay. Something we agreed to keep the airline afloat. I sure hope our new contract will address this.


Daniel said...

That sounds fun to do for a day. lol.

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. It may sound like fun but when your reputation/career/job/ is on the line the fun factor diminishes. Thanks for the post!

Giulia said...

:) Fooled everyone?

so modest...you showed them how good you are.


Scott said...

This makes my PPL training seem like no pressure at all! If only it felt like that at the time. Love the blog!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the behind-the-scenes look Captain Doug! Has there been any noticeable difference in Sim training since AC's Sims were moved into CAE's facilities?

Thanks as well to AC Management for supporting your blog!

YYC Dispatcher

From the Flight Deck said...

Giulia. Yes, I guess it was a modest comment. I'm approaching three years as captain and the confidence level has increased immensely.

I remember when I first started Air Canada... another cruise pilot and I trained together. That meant one of us had to play captain i.e start the engines, taxi, do rejects, low visibility
approaches, etc. Actually we reversed roles after each session. A few sessions in, I was told I had to be more assertive. The next session I raised my voice a little. My next bebreifing - excellent command skills! All because I spoke a little louder.

I still conduct myself like that today. Talk with authority to ATC, the flight instructor, and dispatch but be nice to your F/O and flight attendants.

Yesterday, we had a simulated engine failure out of Vancouver, but we managed to get it back with a relight. I told the instructor I would not elect to continue to Calgary but return to Vancouver. The instructor asked, "who's final decesion is this?" I came back with an authoritative and curt reply, "the captain!"

The instructor responded with a proud, unequivocal "you are 100 percent right!" Though I couldn't see it, I could tell he was beaming with a proud smile.
I knew what he wanted to hear.

Thanks for your post. I guess it struck a nerve judging from my lengthy reply. :)

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Scott. If you are planning to make this a career then get used to a multitude of tests in your career. Every test comes with a challenge and that includes your private pilot license. Enjoy the ride!

From the Flight Deck said...

YYC dispatcher. The new facility is beautiful. The simulators were actually dismantled and rebuilt in the new facility so the handling characteristics are the same.

Now all the managers are in the same building as well. So the chance of running into one of your many bosses is high. Having said that, the building looked pretty barren today in the middle of summer. I guess management got a few days off in the summer. :)