Friday, April 10, 2009

For my 401st post, it's picture time. Lets go to Florida on someone else's vacation! The good pictures are courtesy of Kitsch, the crappy ones are all me.

One of these days I'll get the hang of wearing a headset properly.

I turned around about 3 hours into the trip to discover a stowaway! A very thorough stowaway, she even brought her passport.

First thing we did was go to the beach, which was surprisingly foggy.

Kitsch was confused by the IFR weather and accidentally wound up in the water. We gave him vectors back to dry land and disaster was averted.

Lisa concentrated on the basics, like bipedal locomotion.

I hunted sharks, but didn't find any in the ocean.

We paused briefly for a group portrait. A very organized bunch we are.

We left the beach and went to the mall, where the hunter became the hunted. After an epic battle I was able to distract the stuffed shark with a stuffed sea lion and get away in the nick of time, but it was touch and go for a while there.

All that life-and-death struggle makes a person hungry, so we feasted on some seriously amazing Mexican food.

For dessert, we went to a candy store by the hotel. This was their magnum opus, their tactical nuke. Rice Krispy square, richly buttered, layered in caramel and covered in dark chocolate. Each of them weighed about a pound.

We also saw what might either be Heaven or Hell, depending on your view of saturated fats.

All-you-can-eat Kentucky Fried Chicken! Gotta love the South - we don't have THAT back in Toronto, that's for sure. Theoretically I should still be at the buffet as I can eat an infinite amount of fried chicken skin if it's provided.

We went to Manatee Park to see if there were any delicious manatees around. They were all either in jail or rehab so we didn't see a single one. I did get attacked by more Floridian wildlife though...

Frickin alligators are everywhere around here, probably even in the trees. Well, we know what to do with alligators - around here, we wrassle 'em!

We decided to go check out alligators on their home turf, so we took an airboat tour. It was pretty cool. Our boat is in the background. This little bugger was very hopeful, but left disappointed.

This one would also really like to bite us a lot.

The airboat tour took us through a few thousand acres of rolling swamp. Lots of nature here! I took a quick video - apologies for the sound - it was really loud in the airboat.

Alas, it was over all too soon and after a few days it was time to head back to good old sunny Toronto. Oh wait, we arrived in the middle of a huge snow/slush/rain/fogstorm. Yes, I said fogstorm - it should be a word, dammit. You can see the pink and blue of snow, and the greens of rain all mixed in with each other. The little colored dots roughly go like this: blue - good, green - okay, yellow - marginal, red - ILS minimum weather, pink - below ILS minimum weather. The red dot right by CYYZ tells us that we will have a pretty high workload during this particular landing. Actually, we made it in about 10 minutes before Toronto Pearson went down below our weather minimums, so that was exciting, as was the drive home afterwards along the foggy/slushy highways.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

This is the ride script I made up and used to conduct Kitsch's renewal PPC last month. Much praise to Inspector A.J. at Transport Canada for the initial template. This was a pretty full day; I first conducted a ride on Kitsch while a Transport Canada inspector monitored me, then the Transport Canada Inspector conducted my IFR and PPC renewal ride, then we drove 5 hours home. Kitsch had a FlightSafety instructor as his First Officer, and I had Kitsch as mine when I did my ride, so Kitsch effectively did 2 1/2 rides that day. Why 2 1/2? Well, I'll ramble on a while and then attempt to explain...

The cover page shall include lots of important info like the date, version of script, location, who it's for (Captain or First Officer) and whether or not the script is for a initial or recurrent checkride.

This page is a summary of the script, showing the ride sequence in point-form. I use this to make sure I have included all the necessary items to be evaluated.

Now let's get into the guts of the ride...

Included in the script are the exact phrases I would say as well as the exact layout of the ATIS (weather information) should Kitsch want to dial it in, along with the required operating speeds that the candidate would have calculated for taking off and landing. I have set the simulator weather to standard minimums (200' cloud ceiling and 1/2 mile visibility). I have also set the aircraft location to be on the ramp at a local FBO, facing a main taxiway.

Now the script format...Highlighted orange boxes in the script indicate some sort of emergency or abnormal situation. Just under them I include the reference pages in the Citation II Emergency Checklist which cover that particular emergency - it helps me flip to the appropriate checklist quickly so I can follow along with the crew.

You'll see that we get into abnormal situations immediately, when one of Kitsch's engines refuses to start.

Kitsch handled the situation perfectly - when the engine refuses to light off, we motor it with the starter for a few seconds, then shut it down. After he shut it down, I cleared the sim fault, and we continued.

Kitsch taxiied to the active runway and departed, heading eastward along his route of flight. It's kinda funny - when a crew is flying the sim during their checkride and nothing bad is happening, they are super-paranoid because they know something will happen sooner or later, or maybe it's already happened and they have just missed it.

As mentioned in my previous posts, the crew had demonstrated steep turns and stalls during sim training so I didn't bother making them demonstrate them again during the ride, I just had them do a normal area departure.

I let the crew sweat for a few minutes in cruise before I went to the next part of the ride...

The next emergency situation will be a fuel filter bypass, which means that some sort of gunk has clogged the fuel filters to the point they are useless, and unfiltered fuel is going into the engines. The checklist for "Fuel filter bypass light comes on" is exactly 1 item, which sounds innocuous enough until you read the 1 item: "Consider the possibility of the loss of one or both engines". I did this because I wanted the crew to attempt a return to their departure airport rather than conduct the entire flight to the destination.

Anyway, I set the sim to light up the fuel filter bypass light which certainly caught the attention of the crew. Kitsch immediately decided to land at the nearest suitable airport, which was, surprise surprise, the departure airport as I made sure that all the simulated weather at all the other simulated airports in North America was too lousy to land in.

Kitsch asked to return to Memphis and I obliged, except to say that a bunch of other aircraft were also landing ahead of him, so he had to hold for a while. I gave him a hold clearance and let him know to expect a localizer approach after the hold. He entered the hold just fine and did a couple of laps around the racetrack.

I cleared him for a localizer approach, and gave him vectors to final. I set the simulator weather to just above minimums for the approach - if Kitsch flew the approach correctly, he'd see the runway in time, but if he didn't get down to minimums in time, he'd only see clouds.

Kitsch did just fine, found the runway and set up for the landing.

He was 50 feet above the runway when I told him the previous aircraft was disabled on the runway and he'd have to conduct a go-around and missed approach. Once he started the go-around and the gear was up, one of his engines croaked, presumably from being fed unfiltered contaminated fuel.

No big deal - even on a single-engine go-around, the jet has enough power to easily climb up to altitude and try another approach. Kitsch flew the airplane and called for the engine failure checklist. He went through the checklist and decided NOT to attempt an engine re-start because the engine failed due to contaminated fuel and it likely had extensive internal damage.

I vectored him around for a single-engine ILS on another runway, and he did a beautiful approach to an uneventful single-engine landing.

After he landed, I reset the simulator and had him back-taxi to the beginning of the runway. While he taxied, I reset the simulator weather to 1200 rvr, which is the equivalent of 1/4 mile visibility for takeoff.

I cleared him for takeoff, and as he went screaming down the runway but before they were committed to flight, I gave him an engine fire indication. He immediately pulled the throttles back and stomped on the brakes, rejecting the takeoff and getting the engine fire extinguished with the fire extinguishers we have built into the engines.

I then cleared the engine fire and had him taxi back to the start of the runway for another attempted takeoff at 1200 rvr.

Now this time I let him get just past his V1 decision speed before I killed one of his engines. Once you get past V1 speed you are committed to taking off even if an engine quits, so Kitsch kept on going and took off using the thrust of the good engine. He handled the engine failure just fine, keeping the aircraft flying straight while climbing out to a safe altitude, running the engine failure checklist. One of the items in the checklist is to decide whether or not to attempt to restart the engine. The fan was still spinning just fine and there was no vibration or fire so Kitsch decided to attempt a relight.

Lo and behold the restart worked just fine, so he was back to 2 engines. I told him the fault was cleared, reset the weather so it was a nice clear day, and got him set up for a visual approach on a runway.

I wasn't entirely through with him though - as the fault had been cleared I had the chance to give him another abnormal situation, so I gave him a flap failure. He recognized it in plenty of time, called for the checklist and configured the aircraft for a flapless landing, which he executed flawlessly.

If he only flew as a Captain, the ride would have been over at this point and Kitsch would have been signed off for another year. However at our company we swap seats each leg so half our flying is done as a co-pilot and I needed Kitsch to demonstrate he could act as a copilot.

Kitsch swapped seats with his copilot for the last part of the ride. I set the weather up to be a nice clear day and told the Captain to do a normal takeoff and visual circuit. As soon as they were airborne, I gave them a "door not locked" light, which can be either the main cabin door or one of the baggage doors in the nose or tail. The Captain called for Kitsch to read the checklist and accomplish the items, which he did. The Captain flew the airplane for an uneventful visual landing to a full stop.

That's it, that was the complete ride. Oh yeah, to answer a question I asked myself right at the start of this post - by the time we were done, Kitsch had done 2 complete rides and 2 mini-rides so I figure that counts as 2 1/2 rides. Afterwards we sat down and went over a few minor items, and I renewed Kitsch's IFR and PPC for another 2 years. Then we drove back to Toronto by way of Windsor and a totally awful Swiss Chalet supper. Sort of anti-climactic, really, especially after doing a few days of simulator training where the instructors would give us multiple unrelated emergencies at the same time in an effort to break our spirits.

I guess I posted all this to let you peek behind the curtain a little bit - rides were always really scary for me but this whole ACP certification process has really demystified them and made them a lot less stressful. I hope I can do the same for you in some small way. Safe flights!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

There is something seriously wrong with the simulator today, I'll have the sim techs fix it while we talk a little bit :)

While we are waiting for them to turn the sim from a truck to a plane, I have a few questions for you about our airplane. On a renewal checkride I technically don't have to ask any questions but I'm going to anyway, just to make sure you were awake during most of your recurrent groundschool training. As you have already completed your initial checkride and this is a recurrent, I'm not going to bother asking you the usual questions like "How fast can the plane go" as I know you know the answers to them.

(I have taken these questions from a list of ones I asked Kitsch when I conducted his checkride last month, along with his answers)

1. Are there any times when the fuel pumps function in the off position?

They function even when they are in the off position during engine start and when fuel crossfeed is selected.

2. What happens when you press the red engine fire button on either engine?

On whatever engine you press the button on, it closes the firewall fuel and hydraulic shutoff valves, field trips the generator and arms both the fire bottles, in addition to deactivating the thrust reverser on that side.

3. What is the maximum tire groundspeed?

It's 165 knots (about 200 mph)

4. If you suffer a complete electrical failure, how will pressurization be affected?

It won't be.

5. You are landing at Moosonee (blog readers: Moosonee is a fairly remote airport in Northern Ontario not accessible by road) and the temp is -30. Runway is paved, bare and dry. What, if any, are the limitations on thrust reverser useage?

Below -18c you are limited to 92% engine fan speed during thrust reverser operation. There is also a limitation saying you can't use the thrust reversers for more than 15 minutes at once, which we never run into - we typically only use the thrust reversers for a few seconds during landing, 10 seconds at most.

6. You have landed in Moose. You wish to hangar the airplane. The available hangar is 50 feet per side and 24 feet tall. Will the plane fit?

Mostly, but not completely. The wingspan is 50.7 feet wide so we'll have to chop a few inches off each wingtip to make it work.

7. You go to get fuel and all they have available is Avgas. Can you depart? Are you subject to any limitations?

Yes you can use avgas in the jet, suject to: no more than 500 gallons of avgas can be used before the engine has to be overhauled, max altitude limited to 18,000' (not a very fuel-efficient altitude for a jet), and the fuel boost pumps must be on for the entire time.

8. What is the length of the pressure vessel?

20.9 feet but seriously, that's not a reasonable question. Ask an engineer if you want to know stuff like that.

9. Can you land on a gravel runway in this plane?

First of all, Hell no! It would chip all the paint on the belly and wing undersides and the owners would kill me. Secondly, the 550 is not to be operated on gravel unless a gravel kit has been installed. We don't have one installed, so no bad runways for us. This is not necessarily a bad thing from a pilot perspective :)

10. Can you legally stall this airplane?

Yes, but no intentional stalls are permitted above FL250 (25,000') altitude. Unintentional stalls are just fine, however. Umm, maybe just forget about that last part ;)

That all sounds good. Here's a quick sheet with the info you'll need to do your simulator flight, as well as a flight plan I have made up and printed out for you. Take as much time as you need to get familiar with the info, and to calculate the various airspeeds and power settings you will be using.

As you can see, we are heading from Memphis to Peachtree with a few passengers. The plane just came out of maintenance and I suspect you might encounter a few mechanical issues despite your most thorough walkaround :)

// 10 minutes pass while candidate calculates the airspeeds and power settings required, and gets familiar with the route on the flight plan.

Alright, are you ready? Good, let's head down the hall to the simulator room. Your checkride shouldn't take more than about 90 minutes, depending on the mood of the air traffic controller. Oh wait, that's me :) I'm going to have a quick nervous pee and you might wanna do the same before we head in. Okay, I'll meet you there in a couple of minutes.