On The Air In The Air

Posted in Uncategorized on June 22, 2011 by luckyjet

The Big Media machine is all abuzz about a Pilot talking in the cockpit with the transmit switch accidentally on.  A slow news day maybe? This happens all the time, for various reasons.

Equipment and the installations are different from one airline to another but the basics are the same. Several years ago cockpit noise was recognized as a problem due to the continued loss of hearing pilots experience.  The solution was to provide the pilots (or let them buy) noise canceling headsets. Problem solved. Then the FAA decided that the pilots couldn’t hear each other as well as they needed to so latching microphone switches were installed allowing the pilots to talk to each other without holding down the button. Problem solved again. Then it was discovered that the latching transmitter switch will sometimes stick in the ON position when transmitting on the radio. Now the problem is that pilots might blather on and on while jamming the ATC frequency with politically incorrect complaints. This is considered an equipment malfunction. In the news it was reported that Southwest Airlines considered  it a pilot malfunction and streamlined his ass.  These are all secondary issues since the media fuss is all about what was said, let’s address a bit of the primary media issue:

The pilot said he couldn’t get laid anymore because the women he meets complain too much. Additionally all of the Flight Attendants are Gays, Grannies, and Grandes. This really upset a lot of people. Everybody knows that a large percentage of flight attendants are gay. It is ok to say “gay” I think..Those that are Gay certainly do not obscure the fact. The Grannies comment refers to the trend in airlines hiring a large percentage of women in the 60 something age group. The Grande comment is insensitive, but still the man was talking about who he preferred to date.

So here is what we really have, a guy talking about difficulty getting laid and thinking it was in private. He seems to express a preference for a mate of his own generation,  height weight proportionate, and the opposite gender. These preferences don’t seem that outrageous to me. I wonder if any of them changed after the “Sensitivity Training” they made him complete.

Birds Do It`

Posted in Uncategorized on June 3, 2011 by luckyjet

In this age of wonders the latest weather report (hardly ever more than an hour old) is available to your airline pilots in text message form. Most airlines have a little printer that the First Officer fiddles around with constantly producing weather advisory messages and other important stuff.  At some airlines there is no printer and they write it on a cocktail napkin.

None of that is important, what is important is that  every dang message includes a warning “Bird Activity” or “Bird Activity On or Near the Airport” .  They have been doing this since disco was popular.  There is practically Nothing anybody can do about bird strikes, especially  at night.

When there is a collision course between a bird and an airplane we rely completely on the bird to avoid the plane. Always.

The little guys do a pretty good job too. If they can see you coming and understand that they need to get out of the way they almost always do.

Part of the problem is that birds don’t seem to understand a high speed airplane in a steep turn. They know we are there, birds can hear airplanes miles away. They can almost always see us, especially in the daylight. They just don’t expect the turn. Usually there is little or no damage to the plane. Other times things don’t work out so well.

So…..What would Luckyjet do differently? I would require all departures to climb straight ahead to about three thousand feet before turning. And we should have a cool horn to blast the same as trains have. The horn would do no good whatsoever but it would be fun.

Happy Landings

Tor na do

Posted in Uncategorized on May 28, 2011 by luckyjet

Recently our route of flight required finding a way around or through a fairly nasty line of storms extending from somewhere near Canada to central Texas.

One of the highlights of the day was that a large gap in the line of storms would allow us to stay pretty much on course instead of deviating way down south near Waco Texas.

Our radar depicted a clearly defined hook echo with a secondary cell just to the northeast of the primary cell. Just on the southwest corner of the hook echo a perfectly round return appeared.

These little round ball shaped returns on the edge of a severe storm are known for being “debris balls”.  They will come and go on the radar as a tornado touches down for a while then moves up again.

We are seriously considering the installation of a storm shelter at home.  Having all my stuff on radar would be bad enough but I really prefer not to fly on my days off.

Radar Image

New And Improved

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2010 by luckyjet

This will be our first Holiday Season with all of the new Passenger Bill Of Rights rules in effect. It will be just fine and there is little or nothing to worry about. All that is needed to have a happy peaceful travel day is an inner sense of peace that is not affected by how far you get or when you arrive.

I want to be among the first on the industry side of the passenger rights debate to point out that something needed to be done. It is simply wrong to leave people stranded on an airplane for hours when they clearly should have been stranded inside the airport. Airplanes are for travel, terminals are for waiting.

The potential downside of the new rules could be the unintended result of taking your Captain out of the decision loop. In the past the Captain was allowed to use judgement to determine what combination of  departure factors, weather trends, de-icing requirements, gate availability, traffic delays, and fuel load would be the most limiting.   Some days with heavy traffic and bad winter weather the game required us to get in our place in line so we could leave eventually. Admittedly, this could have added two hours or more to our trip time but it would place us in the strategic position of being ready for aircraft de-icing and departure when the opportunity came up.

Under the new rules these will be cancelled operations. Since same day service may not be an option the happy traveller should bring provisions. Cheese, crackers, nuts, inflatable pillow, music and earphones, a good book to read, extra socks and instant oatmeal are things that may set you apart from your fellow travelers when everybody is given a cot to sleep on and the automatic announcements about security and unattended bags drone on all night long instead of the planes.

Your little survival kit for happiness doesn’t need to take up much room in your  carry on bag and could make a huge difference. What a wonderful adventure.

Happy Landings

Stranger Than Fiction

Posted in Uncategorized on June 24, 2010 by luckyjet

Air sickness bags have a patent number on them.

Seatbelt extensions are required by the FAA to have a label that includes the word FAATSO.

Runway numbers are based on compass direction, but they often change.

Airlines sell alcohol and occasionally give it away but it is illegal to allow a passenger to board if they “appear to be intoxicated”.

It is illegal to allow a person to board if they “appear to be deranged”,  yet the Americans With Disabilities Act prevents denial of transport for a diagnosed condition.

Airline Transport Pilots are required by regulation to be “of good moral character”.

It is against Federal Law to wear any part of the American flag as an article of clothing. This is a real Federal Law but it has no stated consequence. However,  FAA regulations clearly state that “a person violating any Federal Law while exercising the privileges of a Pilot Certificate will have that Certificate and all associated ratings revoked”. Not suspended.  Revoked.  This was presumably a rule intended to make things difficult for smugglers or people who tear tags off of mattresses while flying. Since about half of  airline pilots wear a “patriotic” tie as part of the uniform they are not legal to fly again. Ever.  This interesting  intersection of a Federal Law and Federal Regulation doesn’t even require prosecution in order to take effect. There is no appeal allowed for intentionally violating a FAA Regulation. In order to be in full compliance with the regulations they  are REQUIRED to surrender their pilot certificate and presumably find their own way home.

Happy Landings

In The News

Posted in Uncategorized on May 17, 2010 by luckyjet

The media reported today that an airliner diverted to Dulles DIA airport due to a “Cockpit Fire”.  People are asking if this was serious.

Few things are as serious as a cockpit fire. Imagine you are in a space the size of a small dumpster with a bunch of equipment,  a valued coworker, and enough electrical circuits to operate several average homes in there with you.  Add some nice big windows and you have a fair idea of  an airliner cockpit. This is definitely not a place for a fire or heavy smoke.

The sequence of events usually goes a little like this …. What’s that smell?  I dunno. Izzat…..smoke? ….Shit!   Mask and goggles …… I’m ok it’s just a litle smoke ….. Uh… OK …. long pause   Shit! it’s a fire.     Variations on the theme sometimes follow the prescribed checklist very closely, sometimes not.

A good general policy to follow when in any vehicle or building is that if it smells like smoke it probably is a fire. I once had Flight Attendants call up front and tell me there was a fire in the cabin. When I asked where the fire was they told me they weren’t sure, it was really just smoke. When asked what color the smoke was they couldn’t really say and changed the report to a smell. We turned off power to the galleys and other non essential equipment and the smell went away before we could land.

A careful read of the news today indicated that a passenger had only seen pictures from another passenger of the fire. Maybe there was only some overheated equipment, maybe this was an impending disaster. It is too early to say, but if ALL potential smoke / fire events were handled this well the industry would be safer.  Sounds to me like a job well done.

Happy Landings

Half Way Home

Half Way Home

This Time You Guys Really Screwed Up.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 5, 2010 by luckyjet

I’m really too busy to post very often lately but I just can’t let this pass without comment.

The implementation of Federally Mandated passenger service law will be a total DISASTER. You will find that the airlines will no longer have you on the ground during FAA delays for more than about an hour. Then they will go back to the gate, dump your happy ass off and cancel the flight.

Leaving  government out of aviation is not possible or desired. Leaving the government out of  customer service might have been a good idea if you consider the following:

1. The airlines are losing massive amounts of money on almost every flight

2. When they toss you and your stuff out and cancel the flight they will have no fuel cost

3. They already have your money, you don’t yet have the ride

Those of you who understand that sometimes it is not safe to fly, sometimes the FAA won’t let us fly, and sometimes airplanes break are now going to have to understand that the airlines cannot afford the risk of being fined for having you on the plane for too long.

This is a well intentioned but really stupid law. It will, however, give the airlines the latitude to cancel all of the flights that aren’t profitable.

Assuming you ever take off …………. Happy Landings