Welcome to my Blog

I am starting this blog just as I am starting my airline career. Feel free to ask any questions, or if you are in need of any help related to seeking employment with an airline then just let me know. I really enjoy helping others in any way that I can.

This is my blog with a name that stems from a long standing joke. Damnit Bobby was a term thrown out during a fun family sports match. Damnit Bobby Airlines was destined to be a loving name given to any flight I conduct which has passengers on board

I was a flight instructor and a part 91 (private carriage) pilot prior to becoming employed with an airline. Please enjoy the blog, and feel free to comment about anything and everything.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pitfalls to avoid

As I like to do before every flight, I consider all of the little things that can become big "gotcha's" if left unnoticed. These are the things that seem to get a lot of pilots who are emotionally motivated for whatever reason. Emotions do play a large part of the human factors element to flying, but there are even solutions to avoid the dangers associated with those. Flying in a two person crews, as I do, there is even the potential danger that the person you are flying with is in some way emotionally compromised. All of the human emotions to the side for the moment, I thought I might share some things that I do to try and avoid potential pitfalls during the approach to landing phase of flying (which still remains the highest incident rate phase).

Starting off with the transition to visual. I have the saying "If it's all white, don't bite". Meaning, if your VASI/PAPI lights are all white, don't bite on the urge to pitch down to capture the "on path" indication. This is important at night and at unfamiliar airports. Pilots often have a tendency to want to excessively lower the pitch in an attempt to establish or regain the correct glidepath as quickly as possible. That technique can put your airplane in a condition that could lead to a CFIT (Controlled Flight into Terrain) incident should there be any obstacles in the visual segment of the approach. Some approaches make specific note that the VGSI (Visual Glide Slope Indicator; ie. VASI, PAPI ect...) is not coincident with the glidepath. Yet, pilots will still try to over control the plane and intercept the VGSI as quickly as possible. That leads me to another pitfall that I always try to be sure I am thinking of. Never rush yourself to the scene of the accident. Just because an approach occurs closer to the ground, there are very few reasons or conditions that would require a pilot to act immediately and as quickly as possible. My Dad shared with me what his Air Force instructors told him when he was going though his Air Commando training..... Fast is slow, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. The more quickly you try to do things inside of the cockpit the more mistakes you will make. As the mistakes pile up you eventually reach a point where you MUST go back and correct those mistakes, otherwise you may find your back against the wall. So from what his instructors told him, you can see that the faster you do things the more mistakes are made, the more mistakes that are made the more corrections you must make. At the end of that vicious cycle you have just caused much more time to go by than if you had just taken your time and acted calmly and purposefully and accomplished everything correctly the first time. When things go smoothly, less time has expired. So, smooth is fast! This holds true for everything from aircraft control to executing missed approach procedures. I have a name for pilots who try to do things as quickly as possible, I call them the "ninja hands". Pilot's with Ninja hands often have problems controlling airspeed on the missed approach, often have the wrong missed approach course selected, and often have the wrong VOR frequency tuned in. All common mistakes from someone who does things as quickly as they can.

Again, that leads us to the next pitfall I wanted to just hit upon. During the missed approach, pilots often feel rushed to get things done. No doubt it is one of the higher workload times that we may face, yet pilots often forget that we are already prepared for this moment. We always look over the missed approach procedure prior to commencing the approach. After all, if you are shooting an approach why would you try to get in if you couldn't get out? Nothing that takes place during the missed approach procedure should be a surprise. Take your time, advance the throttle smoothly, pitch up smoothly to transition to a climb, and then after a positive rate of climb has been established clean the plane up. Always focus on flying the plane first, never let a configuration change lead you into the side of a mountain. To that note, I have seen some pilots who are adamant about cleaning the plane up as quickly as possible. Here is some food for though: During our terrain escape procedure on the Saab we do not change configuration until the terrain warning stops OR we are positive we are clear of the terrain. Why? During the transition from having the flaps down to retraction your climb angle actually shallows out as the lift is lost. For MAXIMUM climb rate, a configuration change is the last thing you want. So, why race to retract the flaps? The longer you delay flap retraction and pitch for Vy the better your climb will be. If terrain is an issue, retracting the flaps late is a good thing. You will still clean the airplane up, but again flying is a race to see how fast things can get done.

I will add more to this later, but for now I wanted to leave you with the above for now. Time for a break and then I'll finish this later :-D.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Sorry for the long delay between posts. I've been busy studying for my Captain classes. It has been a fun filled 2011 for me. The last few months of 2011 found me in the study guide and books more than anywhere else.

How do you upgrade?

I was very fortunate in that my company became part of a growing regional airline. With that, we merged our pilot groups into one seniority list. After that, the company needed to conduct re-alignment bids to ensure that company staffing levels were met for pilot positions on the various aircraft types the company operates. Being about middle of the pack, I was not suspecting that I would be upgrading (what we call become a Captain) for a few more years. However, due to the re-alignment bid and several other factors dealing with company specific pilot positions, I found I was on the list to upgrade when they published the list in late October. Initially, they said my class date was Nov 21, but after a revision to the bid package (all positions available for pilots to "bid" on), they placed me in the Dec 14th class. My company requires pilots to have a minimum of 2500 total time and a minimum of 1,000 hrs in the Saab (the time in type varies by aircraft - insurance driven). The hours make you eligible for upgrade, but what it boils down to is your seniority position. You can bid on any base and any aircraft and any seat (Captain or First Officer) that you would like to hold. Based on your order of preference, other pilot's bids, and the number of available positions you may or may not get your first choice. I happened to get my first choice, but it was due to the fact that we had so many Saab Captains bid for and awarded Captain positions on the Q400. So that opened up enough positions for me to be awarded my first base of choice and seat of choice (Houston, Captain). The next thing is you continue to fly until a few days before your training starts. This may vary by company, but our Union contract stipulates we must be guaranteed two days off prior to starting long term training.

What is the training process like?

The process they are training us by is different than just a year ago. Due to the realignment bid, they training department is swamped under with new hire training, upgrades, and transitions (people changing from one aircraft type to another). In an effort to alleviate some of the stress on the training department, my class was combined with upgrades and new hires. So we went through the full 4 week ground school. Just a year ago, upgrades were going through a 1 week ground school. This extra time is helpful, but for some of the upgrades some of the information is to detailed for what we see as a simple system. So, we had to remind ourselves that we had new hires in the class who had never even touched the plane before. When we went over aircraft door operations, many of us struggled to stay awake, LOL. As you go through the ground school there are several tests you take along the way. We upgrades had to take the hazmat and security tests along the way. The new hires had one extra week of ground school before joining us. That extra week they covered basic indoc, which covers company operations, procedures, policies, and general operating rules. Basically, its a crash course in 121 operations. At the end of those 4 weeks (5 for the new hires) we had our big systems test. This is a make or break test, anyone not passing must go through retraining and they are given the opportunity to take the test one last time. Fail a second time and you are fired from the company. Today was the day that we took that test. I can proudly say that no one in our class failed, and as a matter of fact no one scored less than a 93 on the test. It was 100 questions long, one point each.

After the systems test, everyone goes through 3 days of systems integration classes. This basically is designed to seal the gap between learning what the systems do and their practical application during operations. We cover our checklists and profiles (specific call-outs and techniques for flying various types of approaches). This is also designed to get you ready for the flight simulator.

The next phase is simulator training. We have 9 sim sessions with 7 of those being for training and 1 a testing event and the last one is a LOFT - Line Oriented Flight Training. The test is a jeopardy event, meaning if you mess up enough you may require re-training and you have one more opportunity to pass or be fired. The LOFT is designed to be the bridge between flying the sim and flying the plane on the line. Simulator training is scheduled for a total of 2 weeks. Prior to our testing event (Proficiency check = PC) we have our oral exams.

After sim training comes OE training. Since we are becoming Captains, this is not IOE, but rather just operational experience (OE) training. New hires go through initial operating experience (IOE) and their required flight hours vary by their total time upon being hired. Upgrades are required to do 20 hours of OE where we fly with Checkairmen who make sure we are doing all procedures correctly, and assist with any deficiencies we may have. At the end of that training, someone from the FAA comes and joines us for a flight. We call that our Fed Ride..... it's similar to doing your initial CFI. The Feds must ride with us and conduct a checkride if it is our first type rating. If the FAA is happy with our performance we are issued a temporary airmen's certificate!

After all of that, we are released back to the line as Captains, and for the new hires, they have a few less requirements but they too will join us on the line.

Hope you enjoyed reading that, and as always feel free to leave any questions or comments. Any and all are welcome.


P.S. Here are a few pictures:

I'm about to blow it up :-D

I think this plugs in somewhere, LOL

Darth Vader is gonna be so envious of me:

Our Doors Trainer:

From inside the doors trainer:

Fire training:

The center of the old Pan Am HQ (Which is our training facility)