Hi there! This is my first trip report and my first post on the forums here on Airliners.net.
I'm a 27 year old British airline pilot, currently living and working in the USA. I fly the ERJ-145 for a United Express operator, prior to this I flew the Jetstream 31/32 in the Caribbean and UK.
I run a blog called In A Foreign Sky
which you can find at http://inaforeignsky.wordpress.com.
I post all of my trip reports, photos, videos and various articles on there. It details the day to day life of an airline pilot in addition to some of my photography and video. It's 100% aviation based, so I hope you enjoy it.
The following trip report is also viewable on my blog with full photos at http://inaforeignsky.wordpres...s-trip-report-ord-iad-yul-iad-ord/
Anyway, on to the report, I hope you enjoy it!
From time to time my company assigns a trip that doesn't originate in our domicile. About two weeks ago I was able to swap two day trips for a single day trip out of Washington Dullees. As I'm Chicago based, this would mean a deadhead either side of the flights I was scheduled to operate.
Today, I would be operating from Washington Dulles (IAD
) to Montreal (YUL
) and back. I always enjoy flying into Canada, and Montreal is a particular favourite of mine.
Chicago O'Hare (ORD) to Washington Dulles (IAD)
Departure time: 12:14 pm
Actual departure time: 12:22pm
Flight time: 1 hour 24 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300ER
Departure Gate: C9
My wife dropped me off at Terminal One at O'Hare about an hour prior to our scheduled departure. As I was deadheading and thus in uniform, I made my way to the 'Known Crewmember' line, where I skipped security and headed straight to the C concourse and gate C9
. Upon arriving at the gate, boarding had already begun and I was able to make my way straight down the jetway and onto the awaiting 767.
One of the nice little perks of positive space travel is the ability to preassign yourself a seat in Economy Plus.
I had checked in online the night before and had chosen seat 26A. This was an Economy Plus seat. At check in I was also added to the upgrade standby list. This is one of the little perks we get with our positive space deadhead travel. However, in reality it never really works out, especially on domestic flights. The airline quite rightly upgrades all of it's most loyal customers prior to handing out staff upgrades. In two years at the company, I have only been upgraded to First once on a domestic flight.
The flight was full and the normal rush for overhead locker space meant that we ended up being delayed a few minutes as extra bags ended up having to be gate checked.
The captain came on the PA and informed us that the First Officer would be flying us to Dulles, with a flight time of just 1 hour and 24 minutes.
We pushed back 8 minutes late and made our way to runway 32L. However, instead of lining up for departure, we crossed the runway and entered what us pilots call 'The Penalty Box'. This immediately sent alarm bells ringing in my head. We only go to 'The Box' when we are subject to a Flow Delay. I only had a 38 minute connection time in Dulles until we were due to pushback for Montreal! Thankfully the delay didn't prove to be too long, at only 15 minutes, but nonetheless it would add a bit of tension when arriving in Washington.
We lined up on 32L at intersection T10 behind an American Eagle ERJ-145 and quickly began our take off roll. The take off was very quick due to the relatively light 767, and we were airbourne within no more that 20 seconds.
Our initial departure took us out on a runway heading of 323 degrees, before beginning a turn on course at around 1,500 feet. With clear skies the views over the North West suburbs stretched on for miles. We overflew Arlington Heights and Des Plaines, before overflying Chicago Executive Airport, Winnetka and onward out towards the lake.
As we settled into the cruise at 35,000, the cabin crew came round with complementary soft drinks. My wife had also very sweetly made me some very English cucumber sandwiches as I tend to tire of always eating airport food! The cruise passed very quickly, despite the in flight entertainment system not working, and we were soon on our initial decent into Dulles. This is where things started to get interesting!
As we started our initial descent we started to pick up a few light bumps, however, as we got lower and lower, these got worse and worse. As we passed through the cloud layer we hit severe turbulence. Many people in the cabin screamed, and even I found myself hanging on for dear life! In 8 years of professional flying and well over 20 of being a passenger, I had rarely experienced anything as bad as this. The bumps were getting so bad that I was starting to fear that I might not have seen the last of my cucumber sandwiches!
Eventually we turned on to final for 19L and touched down 15 minutes behind schedule. I now had 23 minutes to make it from the C concourse to my aircraft and crew who were waiting at gate A5F on the other side of the airport. 12 minutes prior to our scheduled departure time I arrived at the gate for my flight to Montreal.
Washington Dulles (IAD) to Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International (YUL)
Departure time: 4:54pm
Actual departure time: 5:01pm
Flight time: 1 hour 43 minutes
Aircraft: Embraer ERJ-145LR
Departure Gate: A5F
On arriving at the aircraft I introduced myself to my new crew and got settled in. The Captain had been made aware of my delay in arriving, and so he had completed the walk around and many of my required preflight checks. Normally, as First Officer, it is my job to initialise the FMS, input the weight and balance info for the flight, complete the external walk around and internal safety check and pick up the departure ATIS. On this occasion all that was left for me to do was the final weight and balance data input once we had everyone onboard and all of the bags loaded.
As is usual at my company, the Captain briefed both me and the flight attendant on the flight ahead. We agreed that he would fly the aircraft up to Montreal and I would fly us back. The weather in Montreal was a slight concern. It was snowing quite hard and visibility was down to just 5/8ths of a mile. The ERJ-145 is CAT 2 ILS approved, but we can't do anything more restrictive than that. CAT2 requires visual contact with the runway at 200ft above the ground. In most cases this is sufficient, in fact, in all my time at the airlines I have only ever had to abandon an approach twice due to low visibility. Nevertheless, Dispatch had assigned an alternate to our flight just in case. On this occasion, Cleveland had been chosen.
We started boarding as soon as I arrived at the aircraft. With a load of 43 passengers we were nearly full. A couple of jumpseaters joined us for the trip up to YUL
too, but they were lucky enough to get seats in the cabin. Finally at 17:01 we closed up the doors, finalised the weight and balance and dropped the parking break. I called Ramp Control for our pushback clearance and we were told to expect runway 1R for departure. This would help us catch up on our flight time a bit as it offered a straight out departure. Our paperwork showed an anticipated airborne time of 1 hour 14 minutes, so we knew if we were efficient, we'd be able to still get our passengers into Montreal on time.
As we began the pushback, the rampers gave us permission to start engine number 2. I reached up to the overhead panel and turn the engine 2 ignition knob to start. The engines on the 145 are Rolls Royce Allison AE3007s. The start sequence on them is very simple and fully controlled by the FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) system. After a good start, the tug disconnected and I ran the after start check list. We then requested permission to taxi from Ramp and are told to taxi to spot 73 and hold short of the taxiway, and then contact Ground. Once at spot 73 I check in with Ground and we are given our taxi clearance down to Runway 1R. I then go through the taxi and before take off check lists.
There was no one in front of us for departure on 1R and so we're cleared for an immediate take off, climbing to 3,000ft initially. The Captain decided to take the aircraft 'on the roll' which means we won't stop while lining up on the runway. As we accelerate the Captain calls for me to 'set thrust'. I reply 'thrust set'. As we continue to roll I call '80kts' and then, about 6 - 7 seconds later 'V1, rotate'. The captain slowly starts to raise the nose of our aircraft off the ground, and we're on our way to Montreal. I call 'positive rate' to which the Captain replies 'gear up'. I lean over and pull the landing gear lever towards me and up. Already the turbulence that was so prevalent on my deadhead into Dulles has started to rear it's ugly face again. We're getting knocked all over the place. I then call 'V2+15', the Captain replies 'Flaps Zero', and I raise our flaps. We then accelerate through Vfs and I make the call 'Vfs', to which the Captain responds 'Set climb, Flight Level Change, after take off checks'. I hit the climb power button on the throttle control panel and select FLC on the flight director control panel. FLC is a speed profile for climbing or descending. Below 10,000ft it sets the flight director pitch bars to maintain a speed of 240kts in the climb. After 10,000ft it then sets a pitch for around 270kts and later Mach .65 for the climb. I then turn off the APU and complete my after take off check list silently, confirming that the flaps are set to zero with the Captain.
Dulles departure then clears us up to 18,000ft, and then FL230. We continue our climb. As we passed through 11,000ft, the turbulence starts to drop off a bit and we only experienced some light chop from then on. Eventually we are handed over to New York Centre who clear us up to our cruising altitude of FL320. It's starting to get busy on the radio as the evening rush begins. Our routing is taking us up towards Syracuse before starting our descent into Montreal. There is just enough time in the cruise to have a quick snack and a drink, before I start picking up the weather for Montreal and calling our station ops on the ground there to get our gate, which today will be gate 86.
The visibility has started to pick up a little in Montreal, and is now showing as a mile. Runway 06L has just been cleared of snow after being closed for the majority of the day, and so we expect to be assigned that as our arrival runway. I put the approach into the FMS, and the Captain then begins to brief our approach plates. Once that is done, I input the landing data for our arrival and input our landing speeds. The Captain had decided to do a Flaps 22 landing, which we reserve only for gusty days and bad weather. This means a slightly faster approach and landing than usual, most often by about 5kts.
By now we're talking to Boston Centre. Both the Captain and I are surprised that we are now only 60 miles out from the airport and we're still at FL320. I query this with Boston, and they tell us that as we're number 4 for landing they need to vector us around some traffic and keep us high. About 30 seconds later they come back to us and clear us down to 11,000ft, giving us just 6 minutes to be level. The Captain sets a relatively high vertical speed of 3,500ft per minute, and the aircraft makes a noticeable nose down pitch movement. He also pulls back on the thrust levers (the 145 doesn't have auto throttles), and we start to slow to around 270kts from our cursing speed of Mach .78.
Moments later we're passed over to Montreal Arrival and cleared down to 6,000ft. The airport is relatively busy and we're told to expect to be taken through the localiser for runway 6L
and then turned back on to final. Ahead of us there is a Delta Connection CRJ700, two Air Canada aircraft and an Air France arrival. Behind us we are joined by a WestJet 737 and an Air Algerie A330. We're now cleared down to 3,000ft and I run the approach check list. As we're given vectors on to final and cleared for the approach we enter the lowest cloud layer. The Captain has decided to keep the autopilot on at this stage, and we quickly intercept the localiser and glideslope. We're switched over to Montreal tower and given permission to land. 1,000ft above the ground, I call 'passing through 1,000', then at 400ft 'approaching minimums', just as I'm preparing to call 'minimums', I spot a runway light and call 'runway in sight, continue'. The Captain disengages the autopilot and skilfully guides us down for a firm but controlled landing on to runway 06L.
The visibility is awful and the taxiways haven't been cleared. Luckily, Montreal has taxiway centreline lights which have melted the snow that has fallen on top of them. We taxi into the gate very slowly and with a great deal of caution. There seem to be snow ploughs everywhere, moving completely at their own whim without any awareness of the aircraft around them. Finally we pull onto stand and the jet bridge is connected. Our passengers disembark and we start to turn our attentions to the return trip to Washington.
Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International (YUL) to Washington Dulles (IAD)
Departure time: 7:12pm
Actual departure time: 7:10pm
Flight time: 2 hours 13 minutes
Aircraft: Embraer ERJ-145LR
Departure Gate: 86
My attention is starting to be drawn to our flight time on the way back. If I am going to make my deadhead back to Chicago, we need a quick turn. Once the last of the passengers have disembarked I get off the aircraft and do the walk around. The ramp is very icy and covered in snow. It's still coming down very hard and I'd forgotten to bring a coat with me! I quickly complete the walk around and get back onboard our warm and welcoming ERJ. It's obvious we're going to have to deice, and this will add valuable time to our flight. I'm starting to worry I might not make it home tonight! A hefty headwind on the way back is not going to help.
Thankfully we have a small passenger load of just 25 coming back with us to Dulles. We quickly get refuelled, boarded and do all of our preflight preparation. As I'm flying us back to Chicago, I brief the departure and soon after we are ready to push. We drop the break two minutes prior to our scheduled departure time, not bad considering we were running late on our last flight. I then call for push back and we start our return journey to Washington. Half way through the push back though, the tug driver slams on his breaks. A CanJet 737 has decided to stop right behind us without permission from Ramp. We wait for about 5 minutes until he taxis on to stand 84. Ramp apologise to us, it appears that he had not bothered to call the ramp on arrival and he had just made his own way in, uncontrolled.
We start our taxi out to the deice pad and I call 'iceman' to request our deice procedure. We are marshalled into bay 3 and the 20 minute process of deicing our aircraft begins. At this stage I'm really starting to sweat. I work out that if we can be wheels up by 7:55pm, I might just make my deadhead home. It's now 7:25pm. Finally, at 7:47pm we're done with deicing and we taxi out to the holding point at runway 06L. This is the only runway in use tonight, further complicating matters as there are both departures and arrivals ahead of us. We are number 2 to go behind an Air Transat A330. With this aircraft being a heavy, we know we're going to have to wait for wake turbulence seperation. Eventually though, we are cleared to line up after an arriving Air Canada E175. As we enter the runway, I take control of the aircraft from the Captain. Once we are cleared for take off I push the thrust levers up to the detent and we're on our way. At 137kts, I pull back on the ram horned yoke and slowly lift our nose skyward. This is one of our older 145s and she feels heavier in the controls than most. Still, she is stable and pleasant to fly. We're airborne at 7:54pm! I might just make it!
As we climb away I guide the aircraft through a series of turns and then at 6,000ft, I call for the autopilot. I like to hand fly as much as I can, so I usually wait until we have finished the last of our departure turns before letting the automation take over. We're cleared up to FL330. Once in the cruise we again start our preparations for the landing back into Washington Dulles. We're given a series of stepped descents, first to FL310, then FL290 and finally FL240. We're then cleared to descend via the arrival. I've briefed our landing for an approach back on to 01R at Dulles.
Just like clockwork, as we pass through 11,000ft, the bumps come back with a vengeance. Thankfully, this time they are not as bad as they were coming into Dulles on the deadhead earlier. As we fly downwind of the airport we are cleared down to 3,000ft and cleared for the visual approach. I decided to disconnect the autopilot and I hand fly us for the rest of the downwind, base turn and then to intercept the final approach. It's bumpy, but I feel comfortable and in control of the aircraft. As we cross the runway numbers, I kick in a little rudder to reduce the crab we have in for the crosswind. At 100ft I start to pull the power back and then as the radio altimeter calls out '50, 40, 30, 20, 10', I start to pull the nose up gently. The right main wheel touches down first, quickly followed by the left and then the nose wheel. It's not a hard landing, but it's not soft either. Ah well, we'll walk away from it!
At around 60kts the Captain takes control of the aircraft and taxis us in to the C concourse where we will be parking just 5 gates away from where my flight back to Chicago is due to leave. I have 20 minutes to make it. The flight attendant very kindly pulls my bags out of the closet for me, and as soon as we set the breaks I jump out of the cockpit and sprint towards my deadhead with barely enough time to say goodbye to the rest of my crew, who still have to fly on to Cleveland this evening.
Thankfully, I make it to the gate just in time for boarding to begin. I even have enough time to pick up a couple of doughnuts from Dunkin!
The flight back to Chicago was uneventful and we landed on time. I now had about four days off and had planned to travel to Germany to see family, however, that was not to be, instead I found myself off to England….but that's for another trip report!