Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Octopus Assistance

We've been given a heads-up that the client's client is in town and they want to show off their equipment, so we need to ensure the airplane puts on its best face. We stop at Canadian Tire on the way to the airport and pick up some supplies. There's a fluorescent green cleaning cloth thing that promises to be like hundreds of tiny plush octopuses cleaning your vehicle. The word-picture is so appealling that I buy it. Who wouldn't want an army of tiny octopuses helping clean her plane? I also pick up a two-pack of Mr. Clean "Magic Eraser," the secret weapon for getting marks and grime out of airplane headliners. My thanks to a particular captain who loved Cheezies for this invaluable cleaning tip, and for much more.

Some days you fly it and some days you scrub it. We spend about four hours cleaning the plane, including wiping grime off the gear, scrubbing down the belly, washing the floor, cleaning all the oily fingerprints out of the cockpit and trying to detail the interior. We also go through the various storage bins to sorting, discarding and organizing our charts and consumables. We're good on sick bags and kleenex, okay on pee bags, and I need to buy more computer screen wipes: these ones are all dried out. One of the EXIT signs is partly held on with clear packing tape and it looks pretty bad. We krazy glue it back on, my coworker holding it in place for a few minutes, because we don't have a clamp. The manufacturer's logo has come off the copilot's yoke, so we krazy glue that back on, too. Now someone's going to tell me that I have to use special airplane glue for that, and that krazy glue voids the warrantee. We don't have a vacuum cleaner, so the crumbs and dust in the cockpit and the seat rails are stuck there for now. We'll get a power washer next time we have it in for maintenance.

The POH for this airplane is little and fiddly with fold out pages. We have that on board of course, but we also have a non-certified copy of the manual that doesn't match the serial number, but which we can read more easily in flight if something comes up that we don't know off the top of our heads. It needs to be hole-punched and put in a binder, so I take it with me to the hotel and punch the holes there.

Company e-mail outlines a 19-page safety assessment document that a new client wants completed before every mission. It demands detailed weight and performance information such as climb gradients for multiple anticipated temperature and altitude combinations. There is page after page of matrices of risk assessments. Crew experience in the given conditions on the given airplane in the given area, and crew experience in a number of broader categories. Number of days on duty. Number of days on rotation. The danger on a one to five scale of conducting a forced approach on the available terrain. I page unbelievingly through the PDF and in my e-mail to acknowledge receiving it, I note that I wish to report a safety hazard: fatigue from having to do all this the paperwork. The boss e-mails back in agreement. I'm not even sure we're joking. Too bad the tiny octopuses can't help with paperwork.

And then I rented Gone With the Wind on the advice of Michael5000. It featured no octopuses.

Additional hint on where I'm going next: the hotel has a different area code from the cab company that will take me there from the airport.


Jim said...

I bet I know who your next customer is.

I was cruising through a certain organization's website once upon a time, and stumbled across safety documents which are similar to those of which you write. I was aghast - you would think that organization had thousands of people who do nothing but shuffle paper, and create lowest-common-denominator rules be shovelling in every thought they had on every purchase they've ever done, as if they had no concept of the balance between risk management and actually attaining some objectives.

I have no idea how I got stumbled across that document, and I expect I could not find it again if I tried. I do recall that I was looking for something else and the website was so badly organized not even Google was able to help.

CanuckFlyer said...

I've been a reader of your blog for probably about a year now, and after all this time, it occurred to me that I think I know you, and whats more, I think you may have taught me at one time!

Unknown said...

Did "hundreds of tiny plush octupuses" actually help? (if not with the paperwork, the cleaning?)

dph said...

Not sure if your re-hint was because no one had explicitly guessed, the border town I was referring to has a double letter in it's identifer (double consonant) and is on a provincial border.

Dan in ALB said...

Sounds like your client is the government! Good luck!

Aviatrix said...

dphThe double hint was because I was blogging on an iPod touch and wanted to add that hint earlier but wasn't able to easily find and edit it out of the entry I had already put it in.

CanuckFlyer, that may well be. Once upon a time I didn't tell the same stories in the classroom as on the blog, but now it's a lot easier to figure out who I am. I've just realized you have a picture on your comment, so I should be able to tell, but the part of my brain responsible for recognizing faces is miswired, so I can't say for sure.

Bob, I think the octopus assistance was more psychological than a marked improvement over other types of rags and sponges. I was going to say "I'll never turn down a hand from an octopus," but that has the wrong connotation. If you don't know why, read up on octopus mating practices.

Jim said...