Light Management Duties

Most of what we do as pilots is just a structured set up for two people working in a confined space for several hours a day to avoid choking one another.

A fair amount of the Captain’s efforts are related to keeping the interior cockpit lighting just right for the task at hand and managing the exterior lights.  It doesn’t sound like much but the proper illumination level for all the instrument clusters and panels makes it much easier to see outside. Seeing outside is kind of a big deal, especially at low altitude where there could be unreported traffic. It also helps set the proper mood for the dramatic music we always hear in our heads.

The instrument panel lights on the First Officer’s side of the cockpit have several independant brightness controls. These are not directly controlled by the Captain but they are part of the “light show”.

There are hundreds of things first Officers are supposed to know that are not part of the training. This is, for the most part,  stuff your Dad or Uncle should have told you when you were a little kid. That is, of course, if you were raised in a family that has airline running all through it.

Some of the unwritten rules are as follows:

Do not run your main panel lights much brighter than the Captains.

If a single instrument on your side tends to be brighter than the rest then dim all of them. If you need more light ask the Captain,  “Mind if I turn these up a little?” Turn things back down for the approach and landing without being asked. This might make the Captain think you have the good sense to look outside.

If you must use the overhead map light then turn it off when you are finished. It should always  be turned on while dim then eased up to a setting you can use.

Your personal worth as a human being is often directly judged by a combination of how much of your approach chart data you can remember without turning that damn light back on and the suspicion that you have forgotten something.  The Captain already knows you have forgotten something.

You can only hope to be the brightest thing on your side of the cockpit when the lights are managed correctly.  Since you will screw up the temperature at least get the light levels on your side right.

If the Captain has to tell you multiple hundreds of times to turn the goddam map light off you might suck to fly with. That is not good.

Walk through the terminal with the Captain. Not in front of him. He shouldn’t walk ahead of you either unless he is a dick.

Always ask if there is any more trash to be thrown away before you take the cockpit trash bag out. “Hey, you got any more trash to throw away?” 

This stuff ain’t hard. Be considerate of your valued coworkers.

Happy Landings.


4 Responses to “Light Management Duties”

  1. Looks like you flown with many rude First Officers 🙂

  2. luckyjet1 Says:

    Good manners are an acquired skill, many of us forget to examine our own behaviour.

    And, a lot of guys put off getting reading glasses long after they should. It’s part of that whole male aging denial thing.

  3. Hey luckyjet1,

    What is your opinion on training @ ATP or U JET vs. through a local flying club?


  4. luckyjet1 Says:

    Any of the well “organized” part 41 schools are going to be at least ok for initial training. The main advantage is that you will be carried along in a program with known progress check points. The local part 91 route is cheaper and many times better if you stay with it and stay with it and stay with it. Specific goals must be set or students will tend to get off track. Financial aid is also a factor. The FAR41 schools can arrange an amazing amount of debt for you. This makes it easier to stay on track.

    For advanced ratings, ATP, Type ratings, etc. just get the dang thing any way you can as cheap and quick as possible. For actual experience in these areas there will be considerable on the job training before you are turned loose anyway.

    Not so for the Instrument and Multi, if you are going to use the ratings be sure you have been brought up to what YOU feel is proficiency.

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