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Trimeresurus
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When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Sun Nov 29, 2020 5:24 pm

How many hours and minutes before departure approximately?

Do they use the same jetway as the passengers for boarding?

In what state do they receive the aircraft?(ie completely powered off, "cold and dark", or electrified?)

If another gate was assigned for an aircraft for the next departure than the one it landed and docked, who taxies it to there? Follow-up:How often are airliners sent to parking areas(that aren't on terminals) because the next flight is too many hours away and they want to keep the gate unoccupied? In that case who taxies?

Does the flight crew and cabin crew board at the same time?

If engines are too cool(aircraft not used for 24h or more), and need to idle for a while before takeoff thrust and the taxi time isn't long enough for that, do they do a preflight idle run up? Is it done at the gate?

Thanks in advance for this interrogation :)
 
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zeke
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Sun Nov 29, 2020 5:41 pm

Q - How many hours and minutes before departure approximately?

A - Depends on the airline, where I work typically 50 min

Q - Do they use the same jetway as the passengers for boarding?

A - Sometimes, or sometimes get dropped off by a bus nest to the aircraft and walk up stairs the jetway

Q - In what state do they receive the aircraft?(ie completely powered off, "cold and dark", or electrified?)

A - Normally electrically powered up

Q - If another gate was assigned for an aircraft for the next departure than the one it landed and docked, who taxies it to there?

A - Tug

Q — How often are airliners sent to parking areas(that aren't on terminals) because the next flight is too many hours away and they want to keep the gate unoccupied? In that case who taxies?

A - Often enough, moved by tug.

Q - Does the flight crew and cabin crew board at the same time?

A - Generally yes

Q - If engines are too cool(aircraft not used for 24h or more), and need to idle for a while before takeoff thrust and the taxi time isn't long enough for that, do they do a preflight idle run up? Is it done at the gate?

A - Normally taxi time is enough, 5 minutes is normally all is required.
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VSMUT
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Sun Nov 29, 2020 8:01 pm

Trimeresurus wrote:
How many hours and minutes before departure approximately?


I've done as little as 5 minutes and as much as an 90 minutes. I'd say typical for first flight is 40-45 minutes.


Trimeresurus wrote:
Do they use the same jetway as the passengers for boarding?


It depends entirely on the airport and stand, but I've gone down to the apron via the jetway stairs plenty of times. My aircraft can't attach to a jetway directly though, but sometimes we park at a gate with a jetway, and other times the bus will be waiting below it.


Trimeresurus wrote:
In what state do they receive the aircraft?(ie completely powered off, "cold and dark", or electrified?)


In the morning, completely powered off. The first ground crew to arrive (usually the bus driver) will switch on the GPU, and we will get some power. If we take over the aircraft from another crew, it will be completely powered on.


Trimeresurus wrote:
Does the flight crew and cabin crew board at the same time?


Yes. We meet in the hotel lobby or briefing room prior to the flight.


Trimeresurus wrote:
If engines are too cool(aircraft not used for 24h or more), and need to idle for a while before takeoff thrust and the taxi time isn't long enough for that, do they do a preflight idle run up? Is it done at the gate?


That's really a piston engine thing. Turbines are good to go pretty much the moment they start up. It can't be done in less than 5 minutes anyway, because you need to complete the checklists, flows, set up the instruments etc. before you can take off, that takes a few minutes anyway.
 
thepinkmachine
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Sun Nov 29, 2020 9:08 pm

It varies from airline to airline and is very dependent on the airplane size and complexity:
- when I flew a turboprop, cold and dark was the norm and arriving 20-30 minutes before departure was enough
- on a medium jet normally the plane was powered up by the previous crew, or the mechanics, but cold&dark could happen every now and then. We normally reached the plane some 30-40 minutes prior departure. Mind you, in an LCC the turnarounds are normally 30 minutes, so the whole crew should normally be waiting on the stand for the plane to arrive from the previous sector and sometimes board the plane even before passenger disembarkation. It was quite frantic to get the plane ready on time, but with practice could be done.
- on a wide body, the plane is almost always already powered up by the mechanics when the flight crew arrive. Cold&dark is very unusual and we even do it with a checkilst, if needed. We aim to be at the airplane around 50-60 minutes prior to ETD. Funny enough, our CC check-in and go to the airplane around 15 minutes earlier than the flight crew in order to get it ready for boarding sooner, however at other airlines I have flown for, the whole crew travelled together.
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Woodreau
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Mon Nov 30, 2020 2:40 am

First flight of the day checks on turboprops can be done with pax on board or pax not on board... the airline preferred that pax not be on board for first flight checks.
So we'd start up, taxi off the gate, do the first flight checks then return to the gate for boarding.

The checks involved testing prop autofeather, and manually feathering, testing prop overspeed, aircraft overspeed warning. Alarms and things that tend to cause a little distress to passengers who aren't aviation enthusiasts.

After we taxied back to the gate and shut down - we were cold and dark for passenger boarding because the plane had no APU and the effort to plug in a GPU just wasn't worth it. - we just had the batteries on for the internal cabin lights, and boarding didn't take long so the aircraft battery didn't have a chance to run down very much.


The chief pilot one day forwarded a passenger complaint e-mail he received one day on one of my flights, the passenger complained that the flight attendant ignored the passengers the entire flight. The "flight attendant" boarded the passengers, briefed the passengers on the exit row doors and main cabin passenger door operation, then "disappeared" into the flight deck and "ignored" the passengers and didn't provide any inflight service. The "flight attendant" "hid on the flight deck" until the flight landed at the destination and opened the passenger door to deplane the passengers.
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Starlionblue
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Mon Nov 30, 2020 3:18 am

Woodreau wrote:
First flight of the day checks on turboprops can be done with pax on board or pax not on board... the airline preferred that pax not be on board for first flight checks.
So we'd start up, taxi off the gate, do the first flight checks then return to the gate for boarding.

The checks involved testing prop autofeather, and manually feathering, testing prop overspeed, aircraft overspeed warning. Alarms and things that tend to cause a little distress to passengers who aren't aviation enthusiasts.

After we taxied back to the gate and shut down - we were cold and dark for passenger boarding because the plane had no APU and the effort to plug in a GPU just wasn't worth it. - we just had the batteries on for the internal cabin lights, and boarding didn't take long so the aircraft battery didn't have a chance to run down very much.


The chief pilot one day forwarded a passenger complaint e-mail he received one day on one of my flights, the passenger complained that the flight attendant ignored the passengers the entire flight. The "flight attendant" boarded the passengers, briefed the passengers on the exit row doors and main cabin passenger door operation, then "disappeared" into the flight deck and "ignored" the passengers and didn't provide any inflight service. The "flight attendant" "hid on the flight deck" until the flight landed at the destination and opened the passenger door to deplane the passengers.


On a 1900 or Metro I assume? That's priceless... :rotfl:

The only alarms that go off in our case are the fire warning tests, and they're done way at the start of setup, so no pax on board.
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RetiredWeasel
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Mon Nov 30, 2020 3:32 am

My info is a bit dated, but in the international widebody flights that I did in my last 10 years during the first decade of 2000, the cabin crew almost always boarded first. The cockpit crew usually were still in flight planning room doing stuff that was a little more extensive than domestic flying. And it takes a while to board 400 pax, so no rush (the pilots) to get in the cockpit.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Mon Nov 30, 2020 3:49 am

RetiredWeasel wrote:
My info is a bit dated, but in the international widebody flights that I did in my last 10 years during the first decade of 2000, the cabin crew almost always boarded first. The cockpit crew usually were still in flight planning room doing stuff that was a little more extensive than domestic flying. And it takes a while to board 400 pax, so no rush (the pilots) to get in the cockpit.


I guess different airlines do it in different ways.

In the sim, we can go from nothing to pushing in less than 25 minutes without rushing. In the real plane, it takes longer because there's a lot of stuff going in. Engineer, Fueler, traffic and cabin crew coming in the cockpit needing signoffs, clearances to be received etc. Plus one of us has to do the walkaround. So it is more like 45-50 minutes until we can call for pushback.

Preflight fills up the time, but the cabin crew do seem to have more on their plate, what with checking the cabin, organising catering, boarding the pax, sorting people out.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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zeke
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Mon Nov 30, 2020 5:11 am

RetiredWeasel wrote:
My info is a bit dated, but in the international widebody flights that I did in my last 10 years during the first decade of 2000, the cabin crew almost always boarded first. The cockpit crew usually were still in flight planning room doing stuff that was a little more extensive than domestic flying. And it takes a while to board 400 pax, so no rush (the pilots) to get in the cockpit.


We would typically not board passengers before the pilots get onboard as we need crew on the flight deck during refueling to take appropriate actions in the event of a fuel spill or other emergency during refueling.
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Loran
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Thu Dec 03, 2020 3:49 pm

Trimeresurus wrote:
If engines are too cool(aircraft not used for 24h or more), and need to idle for a while before takeoff thrust and the taxi time isn't long enough for that, do they do a preflight idle run up? Is it done at the gate?


On the 727, the oil temperature has to reach the green level, then it is good to go. Normally easily achieved until lining up on the runway.

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Loran
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Flow2706
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Thu Dec 03, 2020 5:21 pm

In most companies I worked for cockpit and cabin crew boarded at the same time. However in one airline (European A320 operator) cabin crew and pilots only met each other in the aircraft. The SCC was trained and allowed to call for a rapid disembarkation, if the flight crew was not on board yet. However in 99% of the cases the flight crew was on board before passenger boarding, I think I only had one flight were passengers were boarding when we got on board. IIRC we did two sectors on an A320 and then switched to an A321 for the last two sectors and the cabin crew had a different roster then we had - due to a delay on the first sectors we arrived on the aircraft just 15 minutes before STD or so...
 
Wacker1000
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Thu Dec 03, 2020 6:10 pm

zeke wrote:
A - Normally taxi time is enough, 5 minutes is normally all is required.


VSMUT wrote:
That's really a piston engine thing. Turbines are good to go pretty much the moment they start up. It can't be done in less than 5 minutes anyway, because you need to complete the checklists, flows, set up the instruments etc. before you can take off, that takes a few minutes anyway.



15 minutes is a typical time from engine OEMs. No one obeys it but it is meant to prevent EGT exceedances and the subsequent needless troubleshooting. Most of the time it only matters on a low margin engine.
 
dfwjim1
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Thu Dec 03, 2020 7:03 pm

Last October I flew on Azul Airlines from Campinas, Brazil to Fort Lauderdale and the Captain showed up at the gate 1 hour before boarding and the other crew arrived at all different times. I assumed that this had something to do with Campinas being a hub for AD with the crew deadheading from different cities.
 
VMCA787
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Thu Dec 03, 2020 7:54 pm

When I worked for a US 121 carrier, the cockpit crew reported 1 hour before departure for domestic and 1+15 on an international flight at home base. The cabin crew had different report times and were generally on the aircraft or at the gate when the cockpit crew arrived. For departure from outstations, the station itself set the pickup for all crew members. Generally, the cockpit crew was at the aircraft about 35-40 minutes before departure.

For most of the non0-US carriers I have worked for, the cockpit crew would meet the cabin crew and do a quick safety brief and then the cabin crew would do their own brief while we finished the paperwork. IIRC, at our crew base report was 1+30 for pax flights and 1+15 for a freighter.
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DiamondFlyer
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Thu Dec 03, 2020 10:45 pm

The US regional I work for is a 45 minute report, everyone just meets at the plane. In the past, it was as little as showing up 30 minutes prior, and generally everything went smooth even then.
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zeke
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Fri Dec 04, 2020 12:39 am

Wacker1000 wrote:
15 minutes is a typical time from engine OEMs. No one obeys it but it is meant to prevent EGT exceedances and the subsequent needless troubleshooting. Most of the time it only matters on a low margin engine.


If 15 minutes is typical it would be in the FCOMs, I am not aware of an aircraft which states that. Aircraft I fly say between 3-5 minutes in the FCOM depending on how long it has been since the engine was shut down.
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HAWK21M
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Tue Dec 08, 2020 7:34 pm

How many hours and minutes before departure approximately?
Depends on the Airline....30 mins is adequate.

Do they use the same jetway as the passengers for boarding?
Mostly....but if a seperate door access is available, they could.

In what state do they receive the aircraft?(ie completely powered off, "cold and dark", or electrified?)
Maintenance has the Aircraft powered up.

If another gate was assigned for an aircraft for the next departure than the one it landed and docked, who taxies it to there? Follow-up:How often are airliners sent to parking areas(that aren't on terminals) because the next flight is too many hours away and they want to keep the gate unoccupied? In that case who taxies?
Maintenance is the Hero here

Does the flight crew and cabin crew board at the same time?
Not always

If engines are too cool(aircraft not used for 24h or more), and need to idle for a while before takeoff thrust and the taxi time isn't long enough for that, do they do a preflight idle run up? Is it done at the gate?
EGT is the clue
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BawliBooch
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Sun Dec 13, 2020 2:02 am

Shortest times i have seen.

<10 mins - 787 at SIN - Flight delayed by 6+ hours for unknown reason. We boarded and FA's did all the basic service routine atleast in Business Class. But even after 30 mins we didnt move from the stand! The pilots finally came in running with their bags, one guy went in the cockpit while the other pilot flirted with the FA aunty before going in. Under 10 minutes, we were pushing back and starting up. Can all checks be done within 10 minutes? Clearly a violation?

Same thing happened twice on Indian Airlines/IC in the 80's - ofcourse I was too young to know it may have been a violation.
A300 @ DEL - Incoming flight from Mumbai/BOM and departing for Srinagar/SXR. 240 souls on board. Same routine - Plane pushed back in under 10 minutes after pilots entered.
737-200 @CCU - delayed flight to Dibrugarh/DIB via IXA and one more NE station that i cant recall. Most of the passengers were defense and ONGC personnel. The 2 Pilots - one of them was a "celebrity" female pilot - came in way after passengers were boarded and settled in. Started taxiing in under 10 minutes. Cabin crew were still in the middle of their safety demo when the aircraft was throttling up for takeoff! :D

I am told the same celebrity pilot was in an unusual number of incidents/accidents involving the 737-200, A300 and even the A330-200! Coincidence?

Only time I have seen this on a Western carrier: US Air at Kansas. But that was on a 18 seat Beechcraft.
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Starlionblue
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Sun Dec 13, 2020 2:27 am

As I mentioned above, it typically takes a lot more time in the real aircraft than in the sim because there are other things to attend to apart from just programming the FMS and setting all the controls into an eye-pleasing configuration. However, if fueling is done, all pax are on board, the cabin is ready, and the engineer has signed the aircraft off, things would go way faster than the usual 30-40 minutes. The pilots could also have done the performance figures already if they had the final loadsheet and the weather before they got to the aircraft.

I haven't timed myself to that degree but I suppose, if all the aforementioned stuff was done, it might be possible to set up the cockpit in under 10 minutes. The PF would do it, with the PM could "following along" a few steps behind. But the PM also needs to do the walkaround. We also have to go through the tech log, and brief. It adds up. There are a few shortcuts you can take, for example, if the arrival airport is a couple of hours away, you could skip programming and checking the arrival, leaving that for the cruise.

If we're really late, we just do our best to move things along, but there's no point hurrying too much. That just leads to mistakes that need to be corrected, so you end up taking longer anyway. It isn't like we are moving in slow motion in normal cases.

There is no set time, so it isn't a violation if it is fast. If you've done the work, you've done the work. Plus the checklists will catch anything grossly out of place. But 10 minutes seems very fast to me.

Setting take-off thrust while the cabin crew is doing the safety briefing is a violation, however. The cabin crew needs to be seated. One of the last points on the before take-off checklist is "Cabin Crew - Advised", which we can only say after we have the "Cabin Ready" annunciation.
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zeke
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Sun Dec 13, 2020 2:42 am

Starlionblue wrote:
I haven't timed myself to that degree but I suppose, if all the aforementioned stuff was done, it might be possible to set up the cockpit in under 10 minutes. The PF would do it, with the PM could "following along" a few steps behind. But the PM also needs to do the walkaround. We also have to go through the tech log, and brief. It adds up. There are a few shortcuts you can take, for example, if the arrival airport is a couple of hours away, you could skip programming and checking the arrival, leaving that for the cruise.


10 minutes is too quick if starting from scratch, it possible if everything is done and it just checking. I have diverted before and run out of time to complete the next sector, so waiting for new crew to take over. What I did was to get everything done from fuel, programming, performance, ATC, loading, the inbound crew just need to get themselves comfortable and check what has been done and brief. Like you said rushing just results in mistakes.

I have also had crew join the aircraft and in less than 5 minutes push back, they were the augmented crew, had two pilots do the setup like normal. To a passenger it may appear the pilots just turned up 5 minutes before departure not aware of other pilots already onboard.
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Woodreau
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Sun Dec 13, 2020 5:40 am

You can get to an aircraft, get nested and pushed back to get on the clock. Then sit there on the ramp doing the rest of the preflight and once everything is done you can continue taxiing.

Ramp won’t like you very much as you’re blocking the alley while you’re doing your preflight on the ramp instead of the gate. But I had a month with a captain that wouldn’t show up until 5 minutes prior to departure, he’d show up get in the flight deck, sign the release hand it out the door, get the passenger door closed and push off the gate to get the on time departure. Then we’d sit there blocking the ramp for the next 10-15 minutes while he was doing his preflight. I’d already gotten my preflight done and did everything else to get the plane ready to go. Just needed him to show up.
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Max Q
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Sun Dec 13, 2020 7:42 am

Old joke :

Captain gets a phone call from the chief pilot at home ‘we’ve had reports that your FO has been showing up just 5 minutes before departure time’


‘Well, if he beats me, he beats me’
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


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zeke
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Sun Dec 13, 2020 8:24 am

Woodreau wrote:
You can get to an aircraft, get nested and pushed back to get on the clock. Then sit there on the ramp doing the rest of the preflight and once everything is done you can continue taxiing.

Ramp won’t like you very much as you’re blocking the alley while you’re doing your preflight on the ramp instead of the gate. But I had a month with a captain that wouldn’t show up until 5 minutes prior to departure, he’d show up get in the flight deck, sign the release hand it out the door, get the passenger door closed and push off the gate to get the on time departure. Then we’d sit there blocking the ramp for the next 10-15 minutes while he was doing his preflight. I’d already gotten my preflight done and did everything else to get the plane ready to go. Just needed him to show up.


There is no excuse to cut corners just to get an on time departure.
“Don't be a show-off. Never be too proud to turn back. There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.” E. Hamilton Lee, 1949
 
Woodreau
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Sun Dec 13, 2020 2:26 pm

Agreed.

There is enormous pressure from operations, the gate, etc for an on time departure.

I tell my crew when things and time are running tight, i want preflight done correctly. If you’re not ready to board, don’t board. If the gate pressures you to board when you’re not ready, send them to me and I’ll tell them not to board until you are ready and they can assign the delay to me. The cabin crew appears to appreciate that.

Everyone is trained to do their job and I see my job is to ensure that when we go, we go safely with an airworthy aircraft or we go not. I control the parking brake and the plane does not go unless I release it. Doesn’t matter when we go - we get there when we get there.

But it took a long time to evolve my mindset coming from the military where the priority was accomplish the mission at all cost taking appropriate calculated risks, including loss of life if necessary. And I was guilty of that the first few years as an airline pilot.
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Woodreau
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Sun Dec 13, 2020 2:44 pm

BawliBooch wrote:
Shortest times i have seen.

Only time I have seen this on a Western carrier: US Air at Kansas. But that was on a 18 seat Beechcraft.


On the Beechcraft 1900, the ground time for the turn is scheduled for 10 minutes and is usually accomplished within those 10 minutes.

there are no avionics to program, no atc clearance to call for.

There are preflight checks to do just like on any plane, but the plane isn’t powered up until the first engine is started.

the crew is just waiting for bags and people. Weight and balance is done manually by adding the weights and index number and putting the dot on the CG envelope and ensuring the pen/pencil witch dot is within limits.

So it’s quite doable on a daily basis on the 1900. The crew is quite practiced at it since they do it 8 or 9 times every day.

My fastest turn in Great Bend Kansas was 1 minute from block in to block out for the next flight. (No one got off, no cargo unloaded, no one got on, no cargo loaded, no fuel uplifted. The agent handed me the dispatch paperwork thru the window. The FO got out, did his post flight/preflight walk around. I reviewed the paperwork, completed the weight and balance, and handed it back out the window. The FO got back in closed the passenger door climbed back into his seat and we blocked out)
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
 
e38
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Sun Dec 13, 2020 9:56 pm

Quoting Woodreau (Reply # 25), “My fastest turn was 1 minute from block in to block out for the next flight. . .The FO got out, did his post flight/preflight walk around. . .”

Did the first officer actually even look at anything during the walk around?

e38
 
jetmatt777
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Mon Dec 14, 2020 4:24 am

e38 wrote:
Quoting Woodreau (Reply # 25), “My fastest turn was 1 minute from block in to block out for the next flight. . .The FO got out, did his post flight/preflight walk around. . .”

Did the first officer actually even look at anything during the walk around?

e38


Even a 1-minute turn can be completed in nearly 2 minutes*. But, if they didn't hit anything on the way in. Airplane handled normally. No one came up to service the airplane. Then there really isn't a lot to look for.

*If you block in at 12:00:01 and block out at a 12:01:59 you accomplished a 1 minute turn in the actual span of almost 2 minutes, as the timestamps are rounded down to the nearest minute 12:00 and 12:01 in this scenario.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Mon Dec 14, 2020 4:39 am

jetmatt777 wrote:
e38 wrote:
Quoting Woodreau (Reply # 25), “My fastest turn was 1 minute from block in to block out for the next flight. . .The FO got out, did his post flight/preflight walk around. . .”

Did the first officer actually even look at anything during the walk around?

e38


Even a 1-minute turn can be completed in nearly 2 minutes*. But, if they didn't hit anything on the way in. Airplane handled normally. No one came up to service the airplane. Then there really isn't a lot to look for.

*If you block in at 12:00:01 and block out at a 12:01:59 you accomplished a 1 minute turn in the actual span of almost 2 minutes, as the timestamps are rounded down to the nearest minute 12:00 and 12:01 in this scenario.


The 1900 isn't too big either. And there aren't twenty-four brake wear indicators to examine.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Woodreau
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Re: When do the flight crew board an aircraft before a flight?

Mon Dec 14, 2020 7:42 pm

e38 wrote:
Did the first officer actually even look at anything during the walk around?


"Hey #2 is still spinning - just make sure you don't run into the prop on the walk around..."

But no dead birds, the engines are still oil/exhaust streaked dirty but not wet/damp so no oil leaks, no hydraulic puddles on the ground. cargo door still latched and secure.

Starlionblue wrote:
The 1900 isn't too big either. And there aren't twenty-four brake wear indicators to examine.


I remember during one of those 10 minute turns, doing the walk around after deplaning the passengers... and before boarding the next group of passengers - in those few minutes after blocking in and passengers getting off, some stowaway spiders managed to get a few spider webs spun from the landing gear tires to the ground. I still to this day have no idea how spiders could have made a web in those few minutes.
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.

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