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.
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.