Alaska Pilot Q&A Thread

Old Apr 6, 2009, 3:53 pm
  #16  
 
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Originally Posted by AlaskaCoho
Finally there are tail numbers we like and don't. Not really for anything important. The older ones are, well they take more MX to keep up.
Great reply! Thanks. I figured there would be preferred 'planes. My Dad's favourite was due to a defective speed limiter. I have very fond memories of Dad and I barrelling down Kingston Hill in a MCW Metrobus pushing 70mph (well the speedo only went upto 60!) on a dead run back to the bus depot one night. Ah happy days.

Thanks AlaskaCoho for your very informative replies!
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Old Apr 6, 2009, 5:13 pm
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Do you ever get a choice of captain/FO pairing? If so or if not, how often do you get assigned with someone you know well... and how often is the first time you meet someone the day of your first flight? I imagine not very often in a small carrier like AS, but it seems like every once in a while I'll see a captain and FO introducing themselves in my presence - when I'm already on the plane! (not a problem, just amusing)
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Old Apr 6, 2009, 8:11 pm
  #18  
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Originally Posted by tony2x
Thanks AlaskaCoho for your very informative replies!

I agree.

Very interesting and informative thread thus far!
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Old Apr 6, 2009, 8:22 pm
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When you guys are deadheading do you modify your flying style as there are no pax on-board? I am thinking that I drive differently when I am on my own than when I have a car full, so wondered if the same applied when you are empty. I'd imagine the 'plane handles better empty.

I had the good fortune a number of years ago to fly with some Boeing folks on a private 772 flight and the pilots really put on a good show of what it could do, so I'm intrigued as to whether you have more fun when flying empty.
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Old Apr 6, 2009, 10:28 pm
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Crew meals

Originally Posted by beckoa
Wow... what a great thread, and awesome detail. Thanks AlaskaCoho^

Now for an easy question... and its lunchtime so somewhat appropriate...

I was watching a discovery channel show on how airline meals are made, and it was mentioned that the FO and Captain get different meals in case one has food poisoning. Is this SOP on AS? And, what do you guys eat? I've always wondered... and then of course, your favorite meal
Yes it is an FAR (Federal Aviation Regulation) for the crew to eat different meals. We also must not eat at the same time.

Crew meals are the topic of much debate within the pilot profession. When I started flying for the airline I was fairly young and just out of the Air Force. In the day the meals were all hot and actually pretty darn good. Served by the ever pleasant FAs! For a young man it was well OK not heaven but nice change of pace from and AF box lunch. I remember in ANC and JNU we used to get halibut and hollandaise sauce, the whole deal. Steak was common and unfortunately the Flight Engineer always got the chicken. Seniority. On Alaska we always had cheesecake or some other good deal that I can't even look at now without gaining weight....ahh but I digress. Those were the good'ol days. Sorry for the reminisce.

Like the passenger meals crew meals of the present have taken a turn for the worst. Now its sandwiches on two day old bread with processed meat of some kind. One white looking the other darker. Sometimes we get a salad with white chunks or packaged tuna to put on it. ummm good. As of the first of the year there has been an effort at Alaska to upgrade the crew meals. They are improved and actually I have thought about eating them. One actually good meal is an identifiable chicken breast with pesto sauce and noodles.

The idea is that our days are scheduled for between 10 hours and 12.5 hours of duty. Ground times are generally 40 min unless there is a aircraft change and sometime we have from 2 to 4 hours unpaid sitting around in an airport. We can get stuff to eat on those breaks but most days its just tough to schedule an eat time. So they still provide meals to us to keep the ol blood sugar up. Its a bit embarrassing though since the FAs who serve us have traded away the crew meals in their contract for presumably more money and a neat looking bag to carry their own food. Many times I pass on the meal and offer it to the FAs.

Probably much more than you needed but there you go, Crew Meals 101.
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Old Apr 6, 2009, 10:42 pm
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Originally Posted by brarrr
Do you ever get a choice of captain/FO pairing? If so or if not, how often do you get assigned with someone you know well... and how often is the first time you meet someone the day of your first flight? I imagine not very often in a small carrier like AS, but it seems like every once in a while I'll see a captain and FO introducing themselves in my presence - when I'm already on the plane! (not a problem, just amusing)
In the good 'ol days...the company put out one schedule. Each line of parings was awarded to CA, FO, and 5 FAs. (remember 5 FAs on each flight?)Well these days the FA schedule is completely different than the pilot schedule.

The Pilots do bid by seniority for a schedule each month. (In fact bids came out today...note to self get on that for May) anyway so each line of parings we call a "Line of time" is awarded to a CA and a FO. In theory we should see each other all month. However we all trade pairing around a lot so we can be a Bobbys game or Sues recital. The schedule goes out the window and we fly all kinds of pairing to make up the schedule.

I am always amazed when I show up to work after 20+ years and see an FO that I swear I have never seen before. And Yep the first introduction is usually when the CA shows up 20 min prior to departure. In this business it is important to have SOP. We call it standardization. We even have a office puke whose title is Chief of Standardization. We keep all the procedures, checklists, call outs, right down to how we go to the bathroom standard so when we fly with someone we have never seen we just do it "standard"! It all works out.

Beyond the job I have always enjoyed my time in Alaskasworld because we hire great people. In fact one of the criteria used in the new hire interviews is; Would you want to go on a four day trip with this person? So very seldom do we have personal issues with the other guy we fly with. So many of us are the same or have similar backgrounds that we get along as a group pretty darn well. Not that occasional problems dont happen but they are rare.
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Old Apr 6, 2009, 11:02 pm
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Originally Posted by tony2x
When you guys are deadheading do you modify your flying style as there are no pax on-board? I am thinking that I drive differently when I am on my own than when I have a car full, so wondered if the same applied when you are empty. I'd imagine the 'plane handles better empty.

I had the good fortune a number of years ago to fly with some Boeing folks on a private 772 flight and the pilots really put on a good show of what it could do, so I'm intrigued as to whether you have more fun when flying empty.
Terminology 101:
Deadhead=pilot sits in the back with all the other riff raff.
Ferry Flight=no PAX on board, empty airplane.

When the jet is empty it takes off like a scalded a** ape. Meaning it goes up fast. So we really don't modify our flying at all we just hold on for dear life. Then there is the landing. Landing an empty light airliner is like trying to hover a helicopter in a thunderstorm. (a little pat for the Army Helo Dr. out there I know) It is very fickle and wants to float with every wind gust.

But honestly we don't really do things differently when empty.

Ok I'm going to pass along a little aviation wisdom for you budding pilots out there. There are three types of pilots I was told once by a very old pilot whom I had great admiration for. There are the pilots who are new and try to impress non-pilots. The second pilot is far enough along that he tries to impress other pilots. The last type of pilot is the one we strive for when we get older, we don't care about impressing anyone because we don't care what they think of us. Most pilots that have become 20+ year Captains at an Airline with 15K hours and time in the military really don't need to see what the airplane will do anymore. Boring I know but true.
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Old Apr 6, 2009, 11:06 pm
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Originally Posted by AlaskaCoho
Terminology 101:
Deadhead=pilot sits in the back with all the other riff raff.
Ferry Flight=no PAX on board, empty airplane.

When the jet is empty it takes off like a scalded a** ape. Meaning it goes up fast. So we really don't modify our flying at all we just hold on for dear life. Then there is the landing. Landing an empty light airliner is like trying to hover a helicopter in a thunderstorm. (a little pat for the Army Helo Dr. out there I know) It is very fickle and wants to float with every wind gust.

But honestly we don't really do things differently when empty.

Ok I'm going to pass along a little aviation wisdom for you budding pilots out there. There are three types of pilots I was told once by a very old pilot whom I had great admiration for. There are the pilots who are new and try to impress non-pilots. The second pilot is far enough along that he tries to impress other pilots. The last type of pilot is the one we strive for when we get older, we don't care about impressing anyone because we don't care what they think of us. Most pilots that have become 20+ year Captains at an Airline with 15K hours and time in the military really don't need to see what the airplane will do anymore. Boring I know but true.
Thanks for the correction, ferry flight it is. I love learning new aviation terms! Your adage about pilots reminds me of something my motorcycle instructor said to me while I was learning to ride. He said that there are two types of motorcyclists, old ones and reckless ones but you'll never meet an old, reckless motorcyclist.

I just started the paperwork so I can learn to fly this Summer. I doubt if I'll ever get behind the controls of something as grand as a 737 (well you'd better hope I don't!) but I think you just gave me my mantra for learning.
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Old Apr 7, 2009, 12:47 am
  #24  
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Originally Posted by tony2x
Your adage about pilots reminds me of something my motorcycle instructor said to me while I was learning to ride. He said that there are two types of motorcyclists, old ones and reckless ones but you'll never meet an old, reckless motorcyclist.
That is indeed also an aviation altruism, although it usually goes more along the lines of this:

There are old pilots...

...and there are bold pilots...

..but there are no old, bold pilots!
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Old Apr 7, 2009, 2:01 am
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Question

Originally Posted by AlaskaCoho
In the good 'ol days...the company put out one schedule. Each line of parings was awarded to CA, FO, and 5 FAs. (remember 5 FAs on each flight?)Well these days the FA schedule is completely different than the pilot schedule.

The Pilots do bid by seniority for a schedule each month. (In fact bids came out today...note to self get on that for May) anyway so each line of parings we call a "Line of time" is awarded to a CA and a FO. In theory we should see each other all month. However we all trade pairing around a lot so we can be a Bobby’s game or Sue’s recital. The schedule goes out the window and we fly all kinds of pairing to make up the schedule.

I am always amazed when I show up to work after 20+ years and see an FO that I swear I have never seen before. And Yep the first introduction is usually when the CA shows up 20 min prior to departure. In this business it is important to have SOP. We call it standardization. We even have a office puke whose title is Chief of Standardization. We keep all the procedures, checklists, call outs, right down to how we go to the bathroom standard so when we fly with someone we have never seen we just do it "standard"! It all works out.
First off I want to thank AlaskaCoho for giving us the insights into the ins outs and inbetweens of being up in the front of the aircraft ^


With respect to flying routes, once routes are determened after bid are these routes structured as a "sine-curve" whereas in the ideal situation you fly the same package of routes during the bid period, (eg A-B-C C-B-A <brk> A-B-C C-B-A <brk> A-B-C C-B-A and so on)

or do you "hop around the system" (eg A-B-C C-B-A <brk> A-E-F F-E-A <brk> A-R-W W-R-A)?


Thank you for your insight and keep up the good work! ^

FAI PDX Flyer

Last edited by FAIPDXFlyer; Apr 7, 2009 at 2:09 am
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Old Apr 7, 2009, 2:11 am
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As that old Army Helo pilot you "may" have been referring to....I would rather come in during a thunderstorm on my UH-1 rather than screaming in over 100 mph in an empty 737 (does that happen at Alaska?) facing crosswinds and that odd wind shear. Of course, there is always that incipient vortex to be aware of.....

By the way, those Air Force references are getting old......
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Old Apr 7, 2009, 4:40 am
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Originally Posted by AlaskaCoho
Many times I pass on the meal and offer it to the FAs.
There are times I've passed on the F meal and said "give it to the guy driving." Not sure if it makes it up there (or into the FA's stomach), but I try!

Seriously though, thanks for taking the time AlaskaCoho to answer the questions here. What's your favorite airport/route to fly to? And are you guys at Alask....err....your airline, paid by the flight hour or by the trip?
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Old Apr 7, 2009, 10:04 am
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Me again. Sorry but this thread is just solid gold and I can't resist asking questions but I'm mindful of your time so I'll keep this one brief.

Are you a nervous flyer when you are not at the controls? Do you find yourself 'back seat flying'? I was sat next to a deadheading (see, I do take this stuff in) pilot on a BA flight a couple of years ago in Club World and we chatted and he told me that he hates flying when he is not on the flight deck. Is this commonplace or did I find a weirdo pilot?
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Old Apr 7, 2009, 10:55 am
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Thanks for your imformative responses, Alaska Coho.

It seems like a lot of my flights this past winter up and down the west coast were taking a little longer than I'm normally accustomed to. I could swear flights used to be faster 5 or 10 years ago. Perhaps headwinds were stronger than usual, but I also wondered, was the company trying to get pilots to throttle back to save fuel? Or do cold winter temperatures have much impact on the aircraft performance during climb and cruise? Do pilots have much discretion over cruising speed or do they basically just follow whatever air speed the computer calculates for optimal fuel burn?
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Old Apr 7, 2009, 5:54 pm
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Help Help I'm drow....

I'm out flying today and for the next couple of days. I will get to all the questions it may take me a little while.
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