Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thunderstorms in CLT

Today was supposed to be a short day. Up at 03:30 and done by 12:30. In the hotel room and getting ready for a tasty steak lunch by 13:00. Today's steak lunch brought to you by Capt. Bill and his Wife of Awesome Income.

The little string of things going wrong started yesterday. Our First Officer (copilot to the uninitiated) twists his ankle stepping off of the aircraft. It's those damned Dash 8 doors. They've got that extra long no-step area. So, that evening he hits the doctor's office and gets grounded. Well, that means we need a new First Officer. But it's already late, so Schedueling decides to pull a reserve guy, put him on a continuous duty overnight, and have him work with us today.

Where Schedueling went wrong is when they decided to let the reserve guy work more than just that first flight back to CLT. Big mistake.

See, there's two important things you've gotta know to understand why it was a mistake. The first thing is that pilots are only alowed to be on duty for a certain number of hours at a shot. I think the FAA's limit is 16 hours and the pilot's contract further limits them to 15 hours. The second thing is that a 'continuous duty overnight' is pretty much just like it sounds. The reserve First Officer had so little time to sleep last night that he couldn't be considered to be on 'rest'. So he's been on duty continuously since 21:40 last night.

We flew from our overnight to CLT. That's when the reserve would have been done for the day if Schedueling weren't greedy. But greedy they are, so they decided to have him work a trip to Wilmington NC and back with us. That would have had him finishing his duty at about 11am. That's 13 hours and 40 minutes. Only an hour and twenty minutes shy of his limit.

Guess what? We're just starting to board to leave Wilmington to head back to CLT when Capt. Bill tells me that we're delayed due to weather in CLT. It's a big enough delay that he wants to send the passengers back into the terminal. We won't know anything more untill 11:00 or so. If we dont' take off by (I think he said) 11:04 then the First Officer isn't allowed to fly an aircraft with passengers on it.


That'll mean we'll have to cancel the flight and 'ferry' the plane back to CLT. We are booked at 50 out of 50. We're supposed to be full. That's 50 folks who'll need to be rescheduled on other flights. Are there 50 free seats leaving Wilminton NC for anywere today? I bet not.

Good job. Ya greedy punks.