Monday, July 31, 2023

More Than Catharsis

So, after I blogged a few days ago, I scrolled down and read the previous blog entry, and then the one before that, and the one before that, and kind of got stuck there until it was time for bed.  I woke up this morning and read some more instead of doing what I was supposed to be doing. It's kind of fun reading about my adventures, and your comments thereupon. Maybe, I thought, I can come up with a way to blog about them without subjecting my company or clients to unnecessary scrutiny, and without taking the vast swathes of time I used to spend on this sort of thing. I know my former blog entries just looked like a horde of stream of thought typos, but my typo speed and thought speed are not measured in Mach.

Where should I start?  We have an airplane on the ground in another province right now ... and a call from the owner to see if we can fly it on one alternator to get it to maintenance. One can, of course, physically, fly an airplane in Day VFR (good weather, outside of clouds) with no electrical system at all, but there are various rules that can get complicated. The PRM (person at the company with ultimate responsibility for deciding whether an airplane is legally and safely flyable) earlier grounded the airplane for two issues, one of which has been fixed and the other of which is the unserviceable alternator.  There is some back and forth between me, the owner, and the PRM about whether the unserviceable alternator can be deferred. Deferral is a process where the repair of an unserviceable item that is not strictly required for safe flight can be rescheduled for up to 30 days.

It's a nine step procedure to defer an unserviceable item for our fleet. Step one is that something has to be actually and officially broken. The pilot has to write the defect in the journey log (a legal document that, for airplanes whose registration doesn't start with N, is maintained showing the where, when, and who of all flight segments).  You wouldn't believe how many times pilots defer an item that has not yet been logged as broken.  And quite a few times the item they think they need to defer works just fine once it is operated according to the instruction manual, or compared against the standard for the item. That's step one.

Also step one of my possible (no guarantees) return to blogging: I won't spend hours on one blog entry. I might get nine blog entries out of deferrals before I even hit the actual story. And maybe by then I will no longer be frustrated by this pilot.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Troubleshooting By Selfie

Dear Pilot,

While it is excellent that you communicate with company when you have in flight issues, please note that you have a commercial licence and something like 2000 hours of experience. Consider the fact that Captain Sullenberger and crew do not have any photographs of their landing in the Hudson River, and did not text their dispatcher for help. When they experienced a problem, they used their knowledge of the aircraft systems and their checklists to manage the problem. If you have time to take photos, you have time to pull out the checklist.

The reason we spent hours in groundschool learning how our electrical system, flaps and gear work is so that when something goes wrong you are immediately cognizant of what it could be, what systems will still be reliable and which are not. Also when maintenance pulls the data recorder, we can see exactly when the affected system failed, so when I ask you when it failed, I'm actually asking you how long it took for you to notice, so it's a good idea not to lie about it.

We will speak more.

- Aviatrix

Dear Diehard Remaining Readers,

My abject apologies that the few times I blog these days are exasperated diatribes at job applicants and pilots.  I don't get to fly the airplanes very much anymore, and when I do, any adventures I have immediately result in paperwork that is my problem, leaving me without time or inclination to write about them again in a more amusing way.

I complain about pilots not learning things, but I have to face the fact that I myself persist in not learning that I cannot expect a pilot with a commercial pilot licence to possess the knowledge taught in commercial groundschool, nor the knowledge taught in our own annual groundschool. This is especially depressing because it is my job to develop curriculum, teach and assess this learning.  So when I learn that a pilot cannot identify the cockpit indication that his ammeters are online, it is on me.  No tragedy occurred, but imagine if it had, and I was left with text messages that suggested I had not done my duty as a trainer.

I still 'think in blog' sometimes, making poor situations better because I'm imagining interesting blog entries, and I even take photos sometimes, thinking I will blog them. Like this one from a hotel.

I did not think to go to the front desk and ask for details of the unregistered guests. I will just imagine a bear wandered in and started pushing buttons on the lobby pop machine.