Saturday, March 24, 2007

Moving up in the big iron

I'm always interested in how things work for the guys that have a gig with the big boys. I recently received the following from my wife's cousin, who just moved up from the Boeing 737 to the larger, more modern 757/767:

Just a note or progress report. As many of you know, I had tired of
the length of service on the 737 at USAirways, and with 22 months to go
prior to retirement, elected to "go crazy" for stodgy, "set in my ways
Bill". So, bidded and received 757 and 767 Domestic routes, based in
Philadelphia, PA effective May 1, 2007. I am stoked with excitement at
the prospect of flying the 757, flying different routes, and basically
adding another aircraft genre to my resume in case I need to work

So, weekly ground school is two weeks in my rear-view mirror with
one week ahead to practice for the Oral Exam on 757/767 aircraft
systems, flows and checklists, and even a day of International Rules.
My class of 10 guys, with 4 recalled from 4-years of furlough, and my
simulator partner, Dan R. from a two-year leave. We affectionately
call it the training "hostage crisis."

After this week in Charlotte, we'll separate and head to simulator
sessions. Dan and I head to the America West Simulator in Phoenix for
four-hour sessions a day with around 6 hours of preparation every day to
be ready to perform. I'll head to Las Vegas for a family visit before checking into my 2-star Courtyard Suites Hotel in PHX. After a week of training, I'll use my two days off and try to hop a flight to Las Vegas to relax before returning to Phoenix for the three-day evaluation events, Maneuvers Evals (all the engine out,
generator failures and diversions a guy could hope for) and then the
Line Flight Simulation, where the Evaluator tries to present all the
training accomplished in a scenario of typical line flight, just adding
some realism to the training scenario. Finished with the sims, I'll
head home with a new type rating and spend the last two weeks of April flying Operating Experience (OE--what I have been doing for other 737 pilots during the past 11 years so I know the expectations.)

May 4, 2007 is the first trip in my scheduled line of flying in
PHL, departing Philly at 5:45pm for Orlando and my monthly schedule
becomes weekend oriented as my seniority takes a major hit by moving up
the airplane food chain. I'll fly Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Mondays for
the month of May, working Memorial Day, but the trips are longer
segments, averaging 3.5 hours per flight compared to my 1.6 hours per on
the 737.

I'll layover domestically, and fly PHL and CLT turns into the
Caribbean, and lots of Las Vegas and maybe Hawaii later in the year.
Doing St Thomas, Montego Bay and San Juan in May. So, lots of work and
I'm excited to get "glass Cockpit time" and some more over-water, PIC
time for the resume.

Remember, he actually gets paid for doing this!

New technical interpretations of freezing precipitation have caused USAirways much angst, but Ice Pellets and Snow Grains, two types of precip, have been much discussed and our existing deicing and anti-icing procedures were not authorized for use. Technical reasons for not having adequate
"holdover times" demonstrated to the FAA put those two precipitation
categories in with Freezing Rain. If the Airport Weather Observer calls
his hourly observation with either Snow Grains or Ice Pellets listed, we
are not able to operate and the airline commences canceling flights or
holding them at the gates awaiting the next Weather Observation. Got us
front page coverage on the USA Today. . .

By the time I finish training, it'll be thunderstorm season anyway.

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