I sleep until nine, drink some water and then sleep again until eleven. Before you get too jealous, sitting there checking your morning e-mail already dressed and at work at eight a.m., let me remind you that it's my job to sleep as much as I can here. Sometime between one p.m. and nine p.m. the customer may call me to fly and I will have to be alert, safe and enthusiastic for the next eight hours.
I turn on my phone and check my messages. My coworker took off at 9:40, so I probably won't be needed until after three. I make a list of all the things I have to and want to do, with "blog" deliberately placed at the very bottom of the page.
- OFPs [operational flight plans]
- duty times
- send completed duty time spreadsheet to chief pilot
- rearrange stuff
Food: Boston Pizza again. It's in the parking lot. I forgot to bring a sudoku or crossword puzzle or something, but one o'clock isn't a busy time and the service is quick. Food is meh. It's going to be a long month if I'm tired of the Boston Pizza menu already, because for walking distance there isn't a lot else. At least there's something here. Sometimes we have to get rides to get food at all. It's awkward having to feel like you're asking for a favour from the customer in order to fulfill your basic physiological needs.
Operational flight plans: I make sure all the fields are filled in properly for the flights I already did. If Transport Canada audits the company and I have filled in the departure time and ETA but not my predicted groundspeed then someone probably gets fined. Make sure the departure and arrival airports are legible and that I got the date right. I'm never quite sure what date to put on a form if I took off at 7 pm and landed at 11:30 pm on the 3rd, because considering that I'm in Alberta, that's 01Z to 0530Z on the 4th. Especially if the next day I fly from two to five pm, making that 20Z to 23Z, also on the 4th. So do I have two OFPs both dated the fourth? Or do I put it all on one OFP and then switch to a second one dated on the fifth if I do another flight at 8 pm on what in local time would still be the fourth?
I have to claim that the first flight was on the 3rd when I do my electronic duty times sheet, because if I put both flights on the line for the fourth, the software interprets it as an illegal duty day. Oddly it doesn't complain about what would be an illegally short rest period between days had I really started at 01 on the 3rd. I can even tell it I reported for duty on the fourth an hour before I went off duty on the 2nd. It looks like keeping track of resetting my duty is my own responsibility. As it always has been. The spreadsheet just lines it up in neat columns so I can e-mail it to my chief pilot who can import it into a bigger spreadsheet and show it to Transport Canada if they ask.
I tend to put the local engine start date at the beginning of the journey log entry, even if the uptime, the first time that actually gets recorded in this particular journey log, is after midnight zulu, or even after midnight local. That's probably wrong, but I find it very weird to go to bed, sleep for eight hours, including some that are dark outside and then write the same date in the journey log for the next flight. There's probably a rule somewhere, but not in the CARs. Transport Canada doesn't seem to mind if the times are local or zulu, as long as they are tracked accurately. When I fly an airplane that has local times in the journey log and I cross a time zone boundary, I record the landing time before changing my watch. I could also record it in the new local time and put an asterisk next to it, then explain the discrepancy with something like "Flight was 4.2h. T/O in EST, landing in AST."
Now that I think about it while not being in the middle of the night, the most correct solution is probably to start a new OFP for each duty day and write on it the range of zulu dates that it covers. The same solution may have to do for the journey log too. I could just put the date the flight starts, which is definitely and legally the moment I start the engines, but for the case when midnight zulu occurs between engine start and takeoff that is ambiguous, because when takeoff is 00:13, only I know whether I started the engines at 2359Z or 0001Z. All this matters little more to the operation than the colour of the sunset, but you are subscribed to Aviatrix's stream of consciousness (Aviatrix extreme of consciousness?) so there it is.
I am just finishing up my paysheet when my coworker texts to say that she has landed. I call the customer to ask if what the plan is. He says I'll be needed in a little over anhour, so I run across the highway to get some groceries. On the way back I stop to take a picture of a trailer full of freezers advertising "N.L. COD." Enterprising individual catering to the homesick Newfoundlanders in the oilfields. Just then my telephone rings. I check my watch. It hasn't been an hour. I hurry towards the hotel while answering, but it's the customer calling to say that I won't be flying today after all. That's very considerate of him. Often I just wait around for hours not knowing if I'll be called to fly or not.
I skip "rearrange stuff" on my list, because I'm not really sure anymore what I wanted rearranged, and I blog. Now I'm done blogging so I guess I'll make a list for tomorrow and go for a workout.
Another glamorous day in the life of a commercial pilot.