Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A day in the life

4:50 am the phone rings stirring me too life, who could want me at this hour?  Hang on, as consciousness waves in, I'm in a hotel room.  That's right I'm in Brisbane.  Must be time to drag myself out of bed and shower and get dressed, and so begins another glamorous day at Qauckadoo Airlines.  Today is day three of a three day trip, so the thought of getting home driving me on.  Thirty minutes later I, along with the Captain are on the way to the airport.

It's definitely too early.  I wonder what the passengers would think if we delayed an hour for some more sleep? No time to think about happy thoughts of bed, time to get flight planning.  Today we are operating three flights; Brisbane-Sydney-Cairns-Sydney (total distance of 2580nm or 4800km), so we gather all the information, weather forecasts and flight plans for all the flights.  After digesting the information we look at the fuel orders and weather we need to order more than the minimum required and send the information to the dispatchers.  This takes about twenty minutes, forty minutes to take-off.

I head out to the aircraft to begin my pre-flight procedures while the Captain diverts to the coffee shop for a caffeine injection.  The sun is starting to make an appearance and it looks like its going to a great morning for flying.  I'm pilot flying for this sector so once I have loaded the flight management computer and run through the other checks its time to brief the other pilot.  The pre-take off briefing is very important.  We discuss the departure route to be flown, how I am going to fly it, the speeds and thrust calculated for take-off and what we will do in an emergency situation.

The flight to Sydney is 416nm (770km) and scheduled to take 1 hour 30 minutes.  For the information geeks the fuel order is 11 300kg with a planned burn of 6600kg.  Once all the 252 passengers have boarded we push back on time, now the fun begins.  It doesn't take long before we are airborne and heading south.  Not much to do in the cruise but monitor and finally get some breakfast, well food that the catering department claim is breakfast, me I'm not so sure.

No delays today going into Sydney which is good though unusual.  This time of morning normal is heavy for arrivals and departures but we seem to be near the head of the cue.  The clearance is straight in for runway 16L, the computer is programmed, what could go wrong?  Nothing today!  The touch down is smooth and after a 10 minute delay waiting for a car parking spot we shut down and get ready to go again.

The delay onto the gate has cut into our 40 minute turn around time, but the crew and cleaners work quick to get ready to depart.  The same ballet goes on on the flight deck and around the aircraft.  Cleaners, caterers, engineers, re-fuelers, ground staff, cabin crew and of course ourselves get the job done and start getting the passengers back on.  The last flight was mainly business people heading South, this time its mainly holiday makers searching for some sun and the atmosphere is a little more relaxed, though we are now nearly 20 minutes late.
(again for the geeks a distance of 1096nm (2030km) with a fuel order of 18400kg and burn of 13000k, take-off weight 131000kg and 241 passengers, flight time 2hours 52 minutes).
The flight up is uneventfully and very smooth, again time for some sight seeing with the above Air Nuigini 737 passing behind us as we over take and a nice view of Townsville before descent. 
A bit of extra speed on the way up and we land in Cairns back on schedule.  Again with forty minutes until departure the ballet begins again.  This time though there is time for a quick leg stretch and chat to the cabin crew before we set course for home. (nerdy bit; fuel order 18 500kg, burn 12 500kg distance 1069nm)
Suddenly we have loaded another 237 passengers and are underway again for the 2 hour 50 minute freedom flight home.  Nothings changed, the weather is still good with a forecast for showers in Sydney.  An un-eventful flight is a good flight.

 Before too long we are on descent again into Sydney.  A quick brief on what we can expect with the Captain and we are ready too land.

A high speed descent into Sydney is the perfect way to end the day.  We touch down smoothly and ahead of schedule.  Taxi to the gate to park the aircraft one minute early and run through the shut down procedures.  We have flown for seven hours and ten minutes, burnt 33700kg of fuel and carried 739 passengers.  Not a bad days work.  Time to go home and have a beer.

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