Feb 20, 2007

A Day in the Life: CYUL - CYVR - CYUL (8)

A description of a typical day's flight from Montreal to Vancouver and back - as a backdrop for a detailed, non-technical description of what an airline pilot does.

Log Entry 2003 - A320 Capt - CYUL - Departure Gate

Departure Time: -10 minutes

One way in which automated airplanes are more demanding than their "steam-driven" counterparts is the setup required before each flight. We must now register with the onboard creatures of automation, our plans for the entire upcoming flight.

We do this through the Macdoos who can be awkward little trolls sometimes but this morning Macdoo One is cooperating. Or at least my finger is in fine form and finds all the best ways to tickle his fancy and he accepts my data inputs. By tapping his keys I give him information like our flight number, our origin and destination, the current airport temperature and winds, the planned runways, route and altitudes and the forecast winds. Sometimes the little grinch even tries to be helpful by offering menus of Standard Departure or Arrival routes he's been forced to memorize.

Finally, our data is entered and displayed in our flight and navigation screens and cross-checked. FO Paula now conducts a concise preview of the upcoming departure being sure to mention all the key points. This ensures we're all on the same page for the choreography to come.

While she'd doing this the data-link is cranking out a strip of paper listing our preliminary weight and balance computations. She finishes her review, then tears off the dispatch, and holds it over the pedestal, circling the main numbers as we confirm the information. No significant changes. Good. Last minute increases to our takeoff weight can trigger the need for more fuel, and that would certainly cause a delay. But not this morning.

She neatly folds the slip of paper and sets it aside, then turns to me. It's time for the official emergency briefing. I clear my throat...

Departure Time: -05 minutes

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