Line Check

So finally the day came up for my line check, this was to be done out of Jersey, not my ideal choice but annoyingly I had a flight cancelled out of Manchester which put things back a bit.  I first had to fly with the guy who was going to do my line check so he can assess if I am ready; it was a quick return to Bristol and I also needed to do a 3rd and final Cat2 approach so that I was rated on my licence for low visibility operations.  If I didn’t get it done now then it would take a long time for me to get it sorted and there are quite a few Cat2 airfields around.  Category 2 landing means that I can descend to 100ft above the airfield before deciding whether I land or not (normally based on whether one can see the runway or not), when in low visibility, it is actually quite a heart-pounding moment because you know you are getting closer and closer to the ground and still all you can see is cloud!  Anyway, I digress…

The 3rd and final Cat2 practice approach was not in ideal conditions, the wind was 20kts which is right on the limit of that allowed for a Cat2 approach and there was quite a lot of turbulence, this made keeping the Vref+5 mandatory requirement quite difficult to control, especially with the speed trends zipping up and down on the ASI.  Fortunately I managed to get through it and so I was now signed off for Cat2 approaches, although ironically, Aberdeen (the place I will be based) does not have a Cat2 approach system so if the weather goes below Cat1 minima (550m of visibility is the lowest allowed for a Cat1 approach) then I am going to have to divert anyway.

Once the initial assessment was over, another Captain met us at Jersey.  He would be the Captain for the day and I would fly with him twice, once as Pilot Flying and once as Pilot Non-flying.  Meanwhile, the training captain was in the jump seat, 3 large guys crammed into a tiny Dash8 cockpit is not a barrel of laughs I can tell you, it is very cramped and all bags and coats need to go in the forward hold because there is not enough space.

The line check trip was going to be from Jersey to Southampton.  This was not a route I wanted to be doing at all, it was the 3rd and 4th flight of a 6-sector day and the trip to Southampton is extremely short, especially if the wind direction has one landing into Southampton directly with no pattern around the airfield.  The captain I was flying with was a really nice guy, he was about my age and had been flying for about 8 years and actually, I think he found it a bit tricky himself because he had to do everything exactly as the procedures say as well.  For those of you who are wondering what on earth I am on about, think of it as taking your driving test again after years of driving in your own style – 10-to-2 on the wheel, shuffling the wheel through your hand, mirror signal maneouver etc etc all to the letter of the book.

I was really nervous about the line check because I dislike landing at Southampton Airport, the runway is so small, it’s width is right on the minimum allowed and it is really short, it also has lots of trees and factories right near the threshold which make the wind swirl around, and if that wasn’t enough, the approach into Southampton is off-set by 10degrees and non-precision; this means if you look forward when coming in to land at the airport you will not see the runway because it is over to your left and you also have no vertical guidance so you have to , you have to come down to about 1000ft and then start a left turn onto the runway, a bit like the old Kai Tak ariport in Hong Kong (although not quite as extreme of an offset) which I have been to years ago in a Typhoon that was brewing – not a pleasant experience!

I tactically volunteered the Captain to fly to Southampton and for me to fly back so I could avoid the horrid approach into Southampton and it worked out quite nicely in the end.  The Training Captain had a sheet of A4 ready to make lots of notes on me but didn’t write a single thing down.  He gave some really good feedback to me and gave me what I thought was quite a high score, so that was it in the end, line checked!  The Training Captain got out and then I was just flying with the regular Captain, so I am now licenced to fly the line without a Training Captain.  I still cannot fly with an inexperienced Captain and I also have a cross-wind restriction of half maximum which is 16kts.  This last part does seem rather odd considering I was landing a tiny warrior in 13kt crosswinds and it travels half the speed across the threshold, but I am sure I will eat my words when the high crosswinds come and I am wrestling the thing to the ground.

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~ by globalste on June 15, 2012.

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