Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Tag: line check

Musical Chairs

Our last flight back to Narita’s runway 16R found us landing at sunset with low clouds and gusting winds.  That night the weather front passed through the area and cleared out most of the clouds, but kept the winds howling. By 7 am the  next morning Narita had switched to runway 34L and  FedEx’s flight from Guangzhou was arriving.  You already know the rest of that story.

We were told to stand by at the hotel for word on a new departure time for our flight back to the U.S.  that had been scheduled for that afternoon.  It was initially estimated that the runway would be reopened some time that evening but at about 6 pm that night we were released from our stand-by status and given an estimated departure time of noon the following day.Singapore Airlines Airbus A-380 on departure from Narita, Japan. Our crew call came at the promised time the next morning and we made our way to the airport.  Our crew had been augmented with another first officer bringing the crew complement to four with the captain and his OE student. As we filled out our flight paperwork another captain walked up and introduced himself to the crew.  He was there to administer a line check to me.  Oh goody.  I passed the age of 60 a while back and part of the new rules that allow me to continue flying until age 65 is a requirement to receive a line check every 6 months. Apparently our company’s  training department is is scheduling the age 60 line checks every 4-6 months just to make sure that they don’t get caught not complying with the rules. I looked at the captain I had been flying with on this trip and asked him why he wasn’t administering the line check. If you remember, he was qualified as a check airman during this trip on our flight from Manila to Narita.  Our company had another flight leaving Narita which was flying directly back to the check airman’s home base and which was augmented with only one additional pilot. A fourth pilot would make that an easier flight.  The check airman called and rearranged his schedule, then left to join the other crew. We were back to semi-normal operations. I still had a line check to complete, but now it was being administered by the captain I had already been flying with for over a week.  For the line check I would have to be evaluated making either the take-off or the landing.  Since the captain still had an OE student, he wanted me to make the take-off and the new captain to make the landing. That put me in the right seat for the departure.

A Day Off, But Not Really

This leg was a bit easier than usual and was a change to my originally bid pattern. [Oops, I just read that I’m supposed to refer to these series of flights I work  as “rotations” now, not patterns – part of the standardization of  the two merging airline’s terminology. Oh,  the changes just keep rolling along.] Anyway, this rotation originally had me working the flight from Manila to Tokyo, however  a few days before I left home I was notified of a change to my schedule that had me deadheading this leg.  The notice just hadn’t told me why I had been given the change.Airline Passenger - davitydave: http://www.flickr.com/people/dlytle/

It turns out that the captain I have been paired with has been training to become an OE instructor. That’s an Operating Experience instructor, the person who gives you ‘real world’ training after you have completed your simulator training. (I talked a bit about our simulator and flight training program in a previous post.)  At the completion of the OE legs the same instructor usually switches hats and becomes a line check airman who administers the new pilot a line check. If the line check is completed successfully, the check airman certifies that the  pilot is qualified in the new position and releases him/her to begin flying regularly scheduled trips rotations. Now we get to the fun part. In order for a new OE instructor to become line check airman qualified, he must administer a line check to a new captain while he is, in turn,  being evaluated by an FAA inspector. This is commonly referred to as a daisy chain – an evaluation being administered to someone administering an evaluation. The only way it could become more convoluted is if the FAA inspector were receiving an initial qualification evaluation from their supervisor at the same time. Yes, I’ve seen it happen….and it gets really ugly.

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