06 Oct 2006
I'm keeping this report short and sweet. I spent the majority of the flight in BusinessFirst with a couple hours in the cockpit jumpseat.
The inbound flight to NRT diverted to KIX due to weather (typhoon) over central Japan. Our scheduled departure time was approx 1545L, but we didn't push until nearly 1900L. I was traveling as a non-revenue BusinessFirst standby, and some passengers missed this flight because their GUM-NRT flight diverted as well.
Prior to push, the captain announced that we'd take a more southerly routing over the Pacific, San Francisco and Southern California to avoid the storms north of our route. After push, I had the pleasure of viewing the traditional Japanese send-off by the JAL rampers. They all bowed their heads and waved as we taxied from gate 98 to runway 34L. Once short of the runway, we held for another 15 minutes or so for arrivals, and apparently, some of the arrivals were executing missed approaches because of low ceilings.
Once airborne, we climbed to the initial altitude of FL280 and dinner was served. It was salmon with sushi, a salad, shrimp scampi for the entree, fresh fruit and ice cream over a peach cobbler. Delicious! As usual, the seats in BusinessFirst were amazingly comfortable but the entertainment left something to be desired.
Fast forward several hours and my father had randomly started coversation with the captain in the galley. My father introduced me to the captain who subsequently invited me to the cockpit. After coordinating with the inflight relief officer (IRO), the captain brought me into the cockpit. It was my first time in the 777 cockpit inflight. At the time, we were approximately 50-100 miles west of PIRAT intersection at FL370 and using CPDLC to communicate with Oakland ARTCC's oceanic coverage. A few minutes later, we received a CPDLC text message to "contact ZOA on 134.150". This instruction signaled the end of CPDLC exchanges and everything was with voice. We checked in with Oakland ARTCC and requested any shortcuts to mitigate our 4 hour delay. The controller cleared us direct PIRAT and later, direct Palmdale VOR. We got some chop at FL370, so the captain requested FL390. Half an hour later, we experienced some more chop and the captain, who was very concerned with passenger comfort requested FL410. At that time, our optimum altitude was near FL380 but our max was FL418. Our route of flight took us over Edwards Air Force Base, Apple Valley, Victorville and then over Phoenix and southern New Mexico before joining the Gland 3 STAR into IAH.
I took my seat for breakfast before returning to the flight deck for the descent and landing. Houston ARTCC provided us with a typical descent and approach. We descended to FL290 and speed restricted at 290 KIAS. We received another clearance to FL240 and finally, cross GLAND at 10,000. We checked in with Houston Approach 124.3 at 10,000 over GLAND with information Bravo. They descended us to 6,000 and approach on 134.0. They took us pretty far east before turning us to heading 360 and another vector to join the final for runway 27. The FO disconnected the autopilot around 1,500 and flew it in for a nice approach and landing. I definitely wasn't used to flaring 100 feet above the ground! We rolled to the end of 27 and contacted east ramp on 131.27 for taxi to E7.
Hope you enjoyed the report. Comments are always appreciated!