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Old 11-10-2009, 09:58 AM   #176
adsman
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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Originally Posted by W0X0F View Post
They haven't issued a finding on that one yet, but there was initial talk of it being related to pitot tubes being iced up. Those really are essential to safe flight and it's why we have triple redundancy and also why they are continuously anti-iced (heated) during flight. This is just speculation at this point.

One thing that can kill any airplane is a really mature thunderstorm; we avoid these things at all costs and will go hundreds of miles out of our way to avoid really bad storms. If they were having problems with their weather radar and flew through one, that's a possibility, but not sure if this could ever be determined.
This interests me. Here in europe, most of the flights have been taken over by low cost airlines such as Ryan Air. I do everything in my power to fly with a carrier such as BA but sometimes this is your only choice. Ryan Air is renowned for having turbulant flights. I heard that a reason for this is that their pilots are not permitted to fly around bad weather due to the extra fuel costs incurred. What do you think of this? Is it possible for an airline to order its pilots to do this?
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:15 AM   #177
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

When I flush, where does it go?

How is the re-circulated air filtered? I never use it in fear of catching the swine.

Do you know any Air Traffic Controllers? How stressful is it? Any good stories from them?
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:21 AM   #178
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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oh wow, lol.

On the topic of security and you having mentioned fires on board being one of the biggest causes for alarm, why is it that it's still so easy to take a lighter on board? (my GF used to smoke and the first time we flew together I said "you can't take that on board", her response was something along the lines of "I do it all the time, they don't say anything").

It's quite ridiculous that I have been stopped for taking a pen on board (I kid you not, more than once, actually) and yet nothing for this.
As previously mentioned the whole security thing is eyewash for the public. They are very inconsistent in what they allow and it varies from one airport to the next (which seems very odd to me). Not sure what the rationale is behind allowing lighters on board but not 4 oz of any liquid.
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:24 AM   #179
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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I agree, though, that tilton ran us into the ground. with the latest upper management hires, though, we were turning into your company, as many of the new occupants of wacker drive and elk grove village were once with your airline (I'm assuming I know which carrier you fly for).
without going into names and assuming my guess is right (did your ex flight safety director go to ual?), what's your opinion of him (MQ)? I worked under him a little while before I left but didn't get to form too much of an opinion. nothing hugely negative, though.
Don't know MQ, but I do know of JK who also went to your airline. Universally despised by our pilot group though he was nominally one of us. The guy has zero leadership skills. I saw that the United pilots made sure that this bum didn't get on the seniority list. Good move.
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:31 AM   #180
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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1. what is the nicest airport (architecturally/technologically/etc...) you have been to?

2. there any tips you can give average folks about air travel? just any general bits of useful info, or are we all doomed.
(1) Well, let me start off by saying that they are all superior to JFK, which is just an embarassment. We bring these people into the gateway to the U.S. and them put them on a Bataan death march to customs, with escalators that are often out of order. Nice has a beautiful terminal and Charles De Gaulle in Paris is also esthetically pleasing. No other airport really springs to mind in this regard.

(2) "Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight" Kidding...I hate that phrase. Best tip I can think of is to bring stuff on board to keep yourself occupied and plan your sleep accordingly. Many airplanes are now coming equipped with entertainment systems, so the keeping occupied is not nearly as big a problem as it once was.

When I used to travel frequently to Hawaii as a passenger in the 80s, I would make sure I was good and tired when boarding the plane so that I could sleep away at least half the trip. Definitely the best way to fly if you can sleep on an airplane.
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:48 AM   #181
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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Great thread. What would be the best path if someone knew they wanted to be a commercial pilot?
The surest path is the military. Hard to argue that it's the best training in the world and airlines consider the product (you) a known quantity. They can never be as sure with a civilian candidate.

I was strictly civilian -- grew up wanting to fly in the Navy like my father, but didn't have the eyesight required so I went civilian instead. My older brother went to the Air Force Academy, had a 20 years Air Force career and was hired at Delta 3 years before me. Many of his friends got out in the 80s after their initial commitment and are now senior Captains at various airlines.

It's harder going the civilian route because it's hard to get that flying time when you've got a fresh Private Pilot License. You need the Commerical license to fly for hire and after getting the PPL you'll need to accumulate another 200 hours of flying time to even be eligible for the Commercial ticket. Those hours are costly. (Current rental rate for a Cessna 172 at my local flying club is about $130 per hour, fuel included.)

I built my time by buying into an airplane with a partner, but that still wasn't cheap. Once you've got the Commercial license you can fly for hire, but no airline will touch you. You'll try to get a job, but you will be told that they'd like for you to have 1,000 hours. At the 1,000 hour point, they'll start talking about wanting the ATP (Airline Transport Pilot certificate, which requires a minimum of 1,500 hours.) If you're lucky you find someone willing to take a chance on a low time commercial pilot and you tow banners or fly parachute jumpers or maybe fly checks or night cargo. Just typing this is reminding me of what a grind it was.

I lucked in to a few good deals. My brother's girlfriend was the daughter of Dwight Schar who is now part owner of the Redskins, but even back in 80s he was making a name for himself in real estate. I used to fly Dwight and his family to the Beach (Rehobeth or Nags Head) for their vacations and Dwight would pay for the plane and give me the use of his car while he was gone. 25 years old tooling around in a 450SL or Porsche 911. It was nice.

Then Dwight introduced me to a guy running for Lt. Gov of Virginia and I became his aerial chauffer, flying him to meetings, dinners, and rallies all over the state. I once counted the number of different airports in Virginia I landed at during this time and it was over 80. That really helped me build time.

My rambling alert just went off. Hope this was somewhat helpful.
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:52 AM   #182
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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I would make sure I was good and tired when boarding the plane so that I could sleep away at least half the trip. Definitely the best way to fly if you can sleep on an airplane.
True. I took an A.M. flight to Vegas after staying up all night. As I was passing out, some douchebag next to me is just starting to talk about gambling.

When I woke up three hours later, the guy was still talking. "Anyways, hat's why only the high rollers can win at blackjack. They have the bankroll to keep playing even if they are down!" I think he talked the whole flight.

For W0X0F:
Have you ever had a near miss on a runway or in flight? Are different runways usually used for takeoffs and landings, and if not, how often does a runway "switch?" I.e., will a runway do 10 minutes worth of takeoffs and then do a landing, then back to takeoffs?

Last edited by neuroman; 11-10-2009 at 12:02 PM.
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:53 AM   #183
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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How long do you think it will be until most/all flights have WiFi on board? Is the answer different for domestic/international flights in this respect?
As with In Flight Entertainment systems (IFE in the biz), it's a result of competition. No one wants to be the only airline without the gee-whiz stuff. We have it on our MD-88s now, but it's not free. We don't have it on our international flights and I hope that happens some day. How long 'til that day? Your guess probably as good as mine. I would think within the next 5 years for sure.
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:56 AM   #184
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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Didn't see that episode, but have you ever seen a man on the wing of a plane?
The gremlin you mean? Haven't seen him...but I keep looking. On reflection, it seems unlikely given the harsh environment on the wing, especially during cruise flight: temperature around -50 C; insufficient Oxygen to sustain life; winds of several hundred miles per hour. Still...I look.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:01 PM   #185
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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I'm sure you know this, but just to reiterate, it is a million times better to tell your passengers there there is an amount of time left in the flight you know to be more than what it is than to underestimate. Passengers are so clueless about where the hell we actually are and feeling like we're in the air with no idea how long is left is so awful.

Great thread though, one of the few of this length and depth I've actually read all the way through.
I am a big proponent of frequent updates during ground delays before takeoff. I hate sitting in back for an indeterminate amount of time and receiving no explanation from up front on what is going on and how much longer to expect. When I make these PAs I tell them what I know and if the delay is indefinite I tell them that too.

Same for any enroute holding that occurs.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:03 PM   #186
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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thanks a lot for this thread. the most entertaining and insightful thread i think i've ever read on 2p2
Wow, really? That is high praise indeed and I appreciate it.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:05 PM   #187
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

Could a passenger jet do a barrel roll?
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:10 PM   #188
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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Do you ever dream of crashing?
No I dream of things like risk-free sex with beautiful women.

I've never had a dream about crashing. I've had dreams about observing another plane crash and that was unsettling enough probably because I'm such an empathic person.

The aviation snafu that I dream about involving myself is landing at the wrong airport. Taxiing in and looking around and realizing "Hey, this isn't Orlando!" Horrible feeling because you know you just f***ed your career. I don't care how many "atta-boys" you've got in your personnel folder, they're all undone by just one dumbsh** move.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:11 PM   #189
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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have you ever bought anything from skymall?
Never.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:16 PM   #190
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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If I'm on an international flight from the US to Russia and Im with my girlfriend does anyone who works for airline really have a problem with me getting blown in the bathroom? Is it accepted, frowned on, or outright banned?
I don't think "passenger sexual activity" is addressed anywhere in our voluminous manuals and operating procedures. But then, neither is theft or murder. This kind of stuff comes under the general law of the land. What kind of trouble could you get into if you were caught getting a hummer in a public restroom (ask Sen. Craig)?

The airlines don't want trouble, so I would imagine that if only a flight attendant was aware of it, he or she might simply admonish you. It would become a bigger issue if other passengers where complaining about it.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:17 PM   #191
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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After the shoe bomber, they had us all removing our shoes. Why couldn't it have been a bra-bomber?
LOL!

If this flying thing doesn't pan out, you may have a future writing for the late night shows!

Great post, appreciate the effort.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:29 PM   #192
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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LOL!

If this flying thing doesn't pan out, you may have a future writing for the late night shows!

Great post, appreciate the effort.
At risk of TSA busting me for a hijacking:

This is from Kevin Nealon's stand-up act. I saw him at Gonzaga last month and he was clean and boring... should have seen Dave Attell.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:33 PM   #193
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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What's the Vmo of a 767? What's average cruising speed?

Again, this is a fantastic thread. You're great at dumbing everything down while giving lots of details.

Thanks for the compliment. Vmo varies with altitude and OAT (Outside Air Temperature). Down low in the terminal environment (below 10,000) it will be somewhere close to 350kts.

As we climb, Indicated airspeed (IAS) will drop off due to air density decreasing. Our airspeed indication is really a readout of ram air pressure on the pitot tube, i.e. how many molecules of air are entering the pitot tube per unit time. If we are going through the air at 300 kts, we will read 300 kts on the airspeed indicator if we're down near sea level. But at 10,000 it will only indicate about 250 kts (less dense air). Rule of thumb to calculate True Airspeed (TAS, or how fast you are actually moving through the air mass) from Indicated Airspeed (IAS) is to add 2% per thousand feet. So at 10,000 feet you would add 20% to the IAS reading to get a rough approximation of TAS.

Fortunately, transport category aircraft (airliners) do the conversion to TAS automatically and provide a readout for us. But the airspeed indicator always shows IAS because this is the actual effect of the airflow on the aircraft.

As we climb, our Mach speed becomes limiting. At 35,000 we might have an IAS of 270 kts, but our TAS is now 450 kts (the 2% rule only works well in the low regime, up to about 15000'). More importantly for us, our Mach speed is about .78. We have a limiting mach speed (Vmach) to consider, which limits us in the high altitude regime even though the IAS is low. The mach limit on the 767 might be around .85 which is the point at which some of the airflow over the wing goes supersonic (airflow over a wing actually accelerates due to the camber or shape of the wing); supersonic flow is bad for us (leading to problems like Mach tuck which is getting way out of the scope of this thread) and so we are limited.

After that nice compliment about dumbing things down, I had trouble doing that for this one. I hope I made some sense. And I'm no aeronautical engineer so my explanations do not have a money-back guarantee.

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Old 11-10-2009, 12:42 PM   #194
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

Just wanted to chime in and say thanks for the great thread. One of the most informative I have ever read on here.

I fly in and out of Atlanta on Delta a few times a month. Since it sounds like you do mostly international now I doubt you have ever been my pilot, but you never know.

And to end with a question. What is up with the incessant gate changes in Atlanta? Every single flight lately we have gotten in right on time, and then sat, just waiting for a gate to open up. I guess that isn't much of a question, but more a gripe, but its something I haven't experienced at other airports. Purely a volume/staffing issue?
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:45 PM   #195
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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Hi W0X0F, thank you for doing this thread, its a very enjoyable read.

I'm currently on my way to Australia, I was planning on working and paying for the private pilot licence (i think around 3.5k?) and then paying to do the commercial pilot licence (i think around 16k?) If i get these two licences would i be able to find work easily ie: are pilots in demand?

eventually I want to fly small private jets for business people. What would be the best route for me to do this and what type of salary figures would i be looking?
Find work easily? No. A big part of finding work at that level is to get into the network...hang around airports, work the ramp, talk to other pilots. Most opportunities are not found in the Help Wanted section. It's hard and I wish I could be more encouraging on this.

Requirements for the regional airlines have dropped drastically over the last decade, and I'm not really well versed on where the tipping point is right now, but I'm pretty sure that a fresh commercial ticket is still not enough by itself.

Biz jet flying is the ultimate "who you know" job market. Hang around the bizjet people at your local municipal airport. Offer to help wash and wax the plane. Show a burning desire and you just might get a chance. They really want dependable pilots and you can show this more in person than through any resume.

BTW, the most common (and cheapest) way to build time is to flight instruct. After you get your commercial ticket, go after the CFI. A fresh CFI will get you a job at almost any local airport and you can start building your hours on someone else's nickel.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:46 PM   #196
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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Now THIS is how an "ask me" thread is done. Excellent work OP
Thanks Sneaky.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:50 PM   #197
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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This interests me. Here in europe, most of the flights have been taken over by low cost airlines such as Ryan Air. I do everything in my power to fly with a carrier such as BA but sometimes this is your only choice. Ryan Air is renowned for having turbulant flights. I heard that a reason for this is that their pilots are not permitted to fly around bad weather due to the extra fuel costs incurred. What do you think of this? Is it possible for an airline to order its pilots to do this?
That would be very surprising to me, but not out of the question especially if the Ryan pilots do not have a union. Without a union, a pilot is subject to the whim of the employer. Many of the early mail pilots in this country died flying in weather for which neither they nor the plane were equipped (instrument flying was just starting back then). It was "Make the flight, or we'll find a pilot who can." This was actually the original impetus for the formation of ALPA.

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Old 11-10-2009, 12:59 PM   #198
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

thanks for a great thread.
do you follow flyertalk.com? it's an interesting view of the frequent flyers mindset.

one of my few regrets from my time with UA is that I never had the opportunity to jump down a slide. I was told, during a ditching exercise that it would look pretty bad if a corporate safety guy got hurt, so I never really had a chance to try it. upper deck of a 47-400, so it would have been a cool ride down. have you had a chance to do this, and, if so, is it as fun as I imagine?

I tend to agree with your assessment of JK, btw.
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Old 11-10-2009, 01:02 PM   #199
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

This has nothing to do with pilot/flying but why would anyone live in northern va if Dulles isn't their main hub? It seems like North Jersey or Atlanta or a western airport would be better. (I grew up ~10 miles south on the Parkway and dated a girl in Countryside)
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Old 11-10-2009, 01:02 PM   #200
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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When I flush, where does it go?
It goes into a holding tank which is pumped out of the plane and into a lav truck after landing...perhaps the bottom rung of aviation. We have two tanks on the 767, each taking the effluvia of 3 on board lavs. I don't know the capacity but (knock on kevlar) I haven't had one max out in flight yet.

Quote:
How is the re-circulated air filtered? I never use it in fear of catching the swine.
There are filters but they don't get changed much to my knowledge. Yes, air is kept moving but there is always new air coming into the system. The plane leaks and bleed air from the engines is constantly being pumped on board. Lest you are concerned about "engine air", this is really tapped off of one of the compressor stages before it enters the combustion chamber.

Quote:
Do you know any Air Traffic Controllers? How stressful is it? Any good stories from them?
When I first started flying I knew a few. I would go up into the tower cab at Dulles and just chat and watch them work and I also visited Washington Center in Leesburg a few times (one of about 24 centers which control all traffic in the U.S.)

They are kind of a cowboy group. Maybe not to the extent shown in the movie "Pushing Tin", which had some redonkulous examples of minimum separation of aircraft, but they are a different breed. I don't have any good stories for you here...sorry.

If there are any controllers reading this, that would make a really interesting "Ask me" thread too.

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