Monday, June 01, 2009

Company Exams

The chief pilot met me at the airport, and told me we were staying at the Super-8. "Is there just one?" I asked, having been burned by the existence of two Holiday Inns in Regina.

"Might be, but ours is the one near the airport. It's on Takasakawaka Drive, or something."

I conveyed that information to the customer service agent, who recognized the street name easily. "It's pronounced 'Highway sixty-three'," she explained, and gave me a URL at which to track the progress of my suitcase.

At the hotel, the chief pilot gave me a big pile of annual exams to complete, (wow, has it been a year already since my last PPC ride?) and told me to meet in the breakfast room at seven a.m. for my annual proficiency check. But mine is good until next month, I'm thinking to myself. I even reinstalled Microsoft Flight Simulator on my computer so I could practice up this month on the sorts of approaches I rarely do. Turns out that two other pilots were due this month, and it's more efficient to do everyone at once. I guess it's nice to have the nervous anticipation truncated.

On first hire, written company exams are an exercise to ensure you go through the entire operating handbook and find all the answers (these exams have in my experience always been open book and take-home - or at least "take-to-hotel-room"). So in subsequent years they are a test of how well you can keep track of the pile of papers that includes the photocopies you took of the pilot's operating handbook, the ops manual and the completed company exams the first time around. I know exactly where mine are. They are on my desk at home, where I put them the night before I left. I haven't flown the airplane for three months, so I spent my last evening reviewing the procedures and specs. Yeah I know that runs against the stereotype of spending ones last day off in drunken debauchery.

So I complete the exams, fairly pleased with how much I remember. I'm also pleased that I manage (but only just) to avoid answering this question in the manner it deserves:

When cleaning the windows, what substances should not be used?

To tell the truth, the only thing that stopped me from listing silly answers was that I couldn't quite decide what was the silliest thing that should not be used to clean the windows. Trinitrotoluene? Hydrofluoric acid? Peanut butter? I wrote down "ammonia" and "gasoline" and left it at that.

And then there was the deicing exam. Am I doomed, my entire career, to having my icing recurrency in June? I've been hired in November and in March before, but I always seem to be watching When in Doubt in June. I didn't read that exam over before leaving. I mean please, it's June. There are fifty-six questions. Most of them are sensible enough, although many treat types of deicing fluid I don't ever use and my favourite question is:

Although there are many factors that contribute to aircraft icing in ground operations, there are ___ major factors of which you should be aware. a) 37 b) 20 c) 13 d) 6

What's your favourite number? I do as much of the exams as I can and then check online see how my suitcase is doing. Westjet hasn't put any more information about it on their site. Maybe they are just slow to update the site.

My present luggage includes my computer but not my travel alarm, so I set the alarm on my cellphone and ask for a wake-up call and go to bed early so as to be ready for the seven a.m. report.


Mark Richards said...

I'm curious what version of the Microsoft Flight Simulator you use to practice with and what hardware (particularly, a joystick or other interface?).

As I heard they either no longer support the program or may be in future, wondering if this is a good investment for casual use or better something else?

Aviatrix said...

It is MSFS 2002 "Professional Edition" and I use it with a small gaming yoke and the keyboard.

I'll write a blog post on it sometime.

Mark Richards said...

Thank you. Your future posting will help as I consider some of this fun during (scant) leisure time.

Sarah said...

Wow, a flight check after a 3-month layoff is harsh. Hope it goes well ( or went well ).

The written test sounds easy by comparison. I would suggest not cleaning windshields with nitrogen triiodide ... ammonia + iodine precipitate.

Arf said...

I hope it went well for you.

A new Holiday Inn just opened in Regina, bringing the total to three just to confuse matters a bit more.

Wayne Conrad said...

"Although there are many factors that contribute to aircraft icing in ground operations, there are ___ major factors of which you should be aware. a) 37 b) 20 c) 13 d) 6"

I'm sure that both you and the public feel much safer now that you've been tested for the exact number of icing factors a pilot should be aware of when she is in ground operations. I wouldn't even put that question in a trivia game. Why not ask directly and find out of the pilot actually knows something? "Which of these factors contribute to aircraft icing in ground operations? (multiple choice)?"

These things must be written by committee, and that question by the chairman.

Rhonda said...

I knew about not using windex (ammonia) on airplane windows, but has somebody actually used gasoline to clean them that they had to list that in the "do not use" list?

Though to be fair I have used diesel as a cleaning fluid before.

Sir Lukenwolf said...

Looks like god was in the mood of executing a bout of homocide today. Fortunately I'm an atheist:

Air France Crashsevere turbulence up to FL550 - those guys never had a chance :-(