May 20, 2010

The Upgrade!

It was a dream come true.

After countless years flying small, propeller driven aircraft, it was finally time to become a "real" pilot. The steam gauges of all those slow, aging, oil-stained workhorses would be a distant memory.

Granted, there wouldn't be any coveted left-seat flying for a while. The Upgrade was more in the form of pay and machine than status, per se. But that damned BDL or MHT turn would be history. Thank God for that. He wouldn't have to deal with the trouble of being kept low, in the clouds, while those jet-jockeys made smooth, sweet contrails high in the flight levels.

This was it. Even the cliche "the sky is the limit" seemed romantic at this point.

And so, ground school began in earnest deep within a large building next to the Toronto Pearson airport. The book work was menial but clearly necessary for such an amazingly complex airplane. The hours spent in the E175 full motion simulator tested the mettle of all those being tested. And after countless fake emergencies, gradually improved procedural efficiency, and a few moments of tearful doubt, it was time to fly.

The preflight was complete, the flight plan was loaded into the flight management computer with slightly trembling fingertips, and the speeds were calculated...

Mach .62!? "What is that, like 230 knots at Fl310?" A nod from the captain.
"Not much faster than that ole' Beech 1900 you came from, eh?"

"Well, the tailwind will help...and the true airspeed isn't exactly the same, but...." There is an urge to increase that Cost Index above.....what was it again? Do we even have one?

"Gotta save the gas somehow. How else can we stand a chance of making money?"

"That's pretty lame, I must admit."

Meanwhile, the company check airman, sitting in the jump seat, monitoring the first week or so of real line-pilot action, is pretending not to listen...

"Company only lets us speed up if ATC asks us to go faster. As you can imagine, they have trouble sequencing us at that speed....then we call dispatch and let them know."

"Wow....they wouldn't notice if we just bumped it up a notch, would they? To, say, something a little more jet-like?"

"....You've got a lot to learn, kid." He and the check airman chuckles.

Time to get this show on the road.

Till next time, which may be a few weeks....


1 comment:

Dave Starr said...

Hey nice to see you on again. And you sure do know how to make a cliffhanger.

Did you change careers or is this a new airline/FAA orientation program with teeth in it? ;-)