While our engineer finishes up the premature inspection, I go out to the airplane to weigh and load customer equipment. Frustratingly, I don't have a working computer so I can't quickly enter everything in the spreadsheet to see if the easiest way to load the equipment will result in a properly loaded airplane.
My parameters require that everything fit on board, that certain items be in the heated cabin with us, that the especially heavy or difficult-to-secure items be in confined cargo lockers, that the centre of gravity be within prescribed limits and that the total weight be under the legal ramp weight.
We go together to do the post maintenance run up. The engines start beautifully: a combination of his having tuned something and of me not starting them when they are still too hot to touch after the morning flight. In the run-up area he specifies the power settings he wants to see, but also lets me do the tests I do, so we're both satisfied with all the readings. Once upon a time it used to make me nervous doing a runup for a maintenance engineer. I was afraid they were going to tell me I was doing something wrong or say "so that's why this keeps breaking!" but now I'm happy to do the run up. Besides, if the engineer spots something I could do better, I'd like to know.
I still have to finish loading, but he has paperwork to do and says he is as happy doing it here as he would be at the hotel. I ask the engineer if he has the weight and balance spreadsheet on his computer, and he doesn't, but the hangar has wireless and he is kind enough to get my colleague to e-mail it. He enters in the numbers I give him for what I have packed and what is yet to come. We're just barely overweight and just forward of the limits, but then he adjusts the fuel on board number to reflect what he has burned during his work, and I move the station position of one of the yet-to-be-loaded bags further aft, and we're in limits. We print out the sheet so we have it in case of a ramp inspection and then I help him pack up his tools.
We go over to the terminal to try to get a flight home for him, but there's nothing available until tomorrow. Someone suggests he ride with us to Whitehorse because it's much easier to get a flight from there. He laughs, knowing how full the airplane is. He books the first flight out tomorrow, which has him stay here until we have departed safely for Whitehorse.
What a wonderfully peaceful blog article!
Calm before the storm? :-)
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