My flight was from Dublin, Ireland to New York, John F. Kennedy Intl on Aer Lingus flight EI 105 with a scheduled departure time of 12:00 local (11:00 Zulu). Since it was an A330 I thought it would be good to check-in nice and early since there was 330 plus people aswell as myself & my Mum and Dad. We arrived at the airport at 09:30, just in time to beat the queues but we had prebooked seats (34 G,H,K) so I had no worry about not getting a window seat. Our boarding passes indicated a boarding time of 11:00 but in actual fact we didn't board the plane until 11:40.
Our aircraft today was EI-JFK (c/n 086)
Photo © Rob Simmons
which was deliverd to Aer Lingus in 1995. My ambition is to become an airline pilot so I thought I'd ask the FA nicely if it would be possible to sit in the jump seat for departure. She said it was highly unlikely but luck was on my side when she came to my seat and told me it was my lucky day.
The time was now 12:00 exactly and we now pushed back from stand. Our departure clearance was a MELIK 1A SID and an oceanic entry point of 53°N 15°W. With the aircraft almost at MTOW, ATC clearance was given to taxi via Link 2, the Foxtrot taxiways to hold short of Runway 28. In front of us was a Crossair MD-80 and after he had completed rotation we were given clearance to line up on 28 behind a landing Tyrolean F70. With a light westerly wind, the throttles were advanced to where uniform acceleration could take place and then T/0 thrust was set. The A330 has phenomenal acceleration and V1,Vr (147kts) was achieved very quickly with rotation occurring just beyond runway exit E5 (That’s pretty quick as anyone from Dublin would know). On contacting departure control on 124.65, we were given clearance to disregard the SID and fly directly to 53°N 15°W and an initial altitude of FL140. We were quickly handed over from Dublin control to Shannon control and they gave us further clearance to our cruising altitude of FL 360 and also asked for an estimate to 53°N 15°W, which was 1200 Zulu. This was achieved in little under half an hour and by that time we were abeam Galway Bay, if any of you want to check the World Atlas. By this time the captain was giving me the rundown of the A330’s systems which included hydraulics, engine status, fuel tanks etc… We reached 53 15 at the estimated time and now the FA asked me if I wanted to go back to my seat (I didn’t of course, I could have stayed there for the whole flight, but I politely said “yep, sure, no problem” !). Then the captain asked me if I wanted to come back for the landing to which I replied “I’d love that, thanks a lot”
I was sitting in seat 34 K just behind the wing which gave me a clear view below and of the control surfaces. Aer Lingus unfortunately does not have any PTV’s so a little neck strain was involved to see the film, Erin Brokovich, which I stopped watching ½ way through because it was basically boring. Another thing, I found that the seats in Economy were a little hard and a lot of moving was involved until I felt comfortable. The meal which came about 1 ½ hours after take-off was either Lamb or Salmon. I chose the Lamb which I thought wasn’t bad, my mum had the same meal but she thought it wasn’t very nice because it was a little tough. Well apart from some light turbulence over the Atlantic, the remainder of the flight was very uneventful (thank God !).
About 30 min before landing, the FA took me back up to the cockpit and I sat down in the jump seat behind the central pedestal. The weather in New York was pretty bad, with heavy rain, moderate winds and a cloud ceiling of about 800 feet. I thought to myself that I left Ireland to get some good weather and not to get winter weather ! Apart from a bit of a bumpy ride through the clouds on approach, I was very surprised to find that we were being vectored for a VOR approach to Runway 13L, even the captain and the FO were surprised saying these conditions were the absolute minima (or minimums, I study Latin !). ATC had now cleared us down to a final altitude of 1000 ft which the captain thought was strange and asked the FO to confirm the instruction. We broke cloud at about 700ft on a base leg of about 1mile and had, what we thought, was the correct runway in sight. The captain the proceeded with the inbound turn, as he was the PF, only to find out a second or two later that it was 13R he was turning for ! Now don’t get me wrong he’s not careless, its just visibility below cloud level was pretty poor also and it just happened that the runway lighting that appeared first happened to be that of 13R. Anyway with a little correction we turned for 13L with little less than a mile to go and smoothly touched down applying full reverse and MED braking. We taxied to our stand in terminal 4 and set the parking brakes. There’s only one thing that puzzled me and that is I never once heard any checklists being called out apart from the Shutdown checklist !
Anyway I hope you enjoyed the report, it being my first ever, and I’ll post the return one in a day or so