Chapter 790

Lake In The Hills Airport (3CK), Lake In The Hills IL.

Winds Aloft Blog

All in a Day's Work

Posted by EAA 790 Webmaster on December 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM

by Paul Sindberg


As many of you know, here in chapter 790, I am a commercial pilot working for American Airlines, and as such I am required to attend recurrent training every nine (9) months. Since we're all interested in different aspects of aviation, I thought I would share my flights from last week at American Airlines. It is a part of the airline experience that many people may not be aware of.

I traveled to Dallas and entered the flight academy for five (5) days of training and testing, the first three (3) days of which are classroom oriented. We review our company manuals, including the numerous changes to our volumous manuals. After our heads are completely spinning, we are ready for the more physical challenges.

The trainers send us over to the emergency equipment and we are required to extinguish a fire, put on a life vest, and open every door. After this excitement we study human factors, and discuss fatigue. Next, we spend a bit of time on security and updates to the world we fly in.

We review in detail the systems of the aircraft, and how any changes to procedures or components affect our flights. While there is no time scheduled to discuss management or our business, we always seem to find the time to broach those subjects. By this time we already feel the training session has been full, and worth the trip here, but there is more to come.

Of course, the real meat of the stay in Arlington, Texas is the simulator. It so happens that my first session started at 8PM and lasted four (4) hours. During our session my partner and I had no fewer than 11 emergencies - now THAT was a rough flight.

To begin with, our No. 2 engine had a hot start that we had to abort. It was quickly resolved, and we taxied out to deteriorating weather conditions. We successfully took off with an Runway Visual Range (RVR) of 300 ft - not much to see there. During climb out, the outermost slat did not retract, so we had to limit our speed to 230 knots, and accomplish a reduced flap landing back at Dallas. Our instructor wanted to make sure that the air was not smooth and so he had dialed in some constant light turbulence the entire flight. This resulted in a go around due to lack of any visual contact with the runway at 50ft (!) during a CAT3 approach. The weather improved and we landed with a good 20kt crosswind. Upon take off (now in VMC conditions) we had to perform an abort due to No. 1 engine creating a ball of flame at about 120 KIAS. Crash Fire Rescue was called and the mechanics amazingly put the 737-800 back into service in just minutes and off we went again.

Climbing through about 1,000ft the auto trim system went a little haywire and kept trying to trim the airplane nose down. Some quick work by the non-flying pilot and the electric system was disabled by two (2) switches labeled “Stab Trim Cutout.” I had to use a big trim wheel and a whole lot of brawn to bring the plane back around to land. During the next Take-off engine No. 1 destroyed itself at about 150 KIAS. Smoothly flying up to our acceleration altitude of 1,000 ft MSL, we cleaned the plane up and returned for an overweight emergency landing. Finally, we used the new RNAV RNP (Runway Navigation Performance) approach into Washington National airport's runway 19. It’s a great and challenging approach with surprisingly low minimums. At less than 400 feet above the ground in the final turn to align with the runway with a strong 15kt crosswind, the No. 2 engine decided it no longer wanted to produce any thrust and quit. My partner masterfully flew the plane onto the runway by simply increasing the thrust on the good No. 1 engine (those miraculous mechanics at Washington National must have swapped out No. 1 while we were taxiing!).

A few more miscellaneous drills and before you knew it four (4) hours were up and we were told to go get some sleep. Easy.

Categories: It Happened to Me

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1 Comment

Reply Mike Perkins
11:17 AM on January 11, 2013 
Thanks for the view into the kind of thing professional pilots do for currency. Sometimes I think the kind of BFRs private pilots get should be cranked up a little bit.
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