Three Flights Down to One Long Extended Flight

Something things go right sometimes they don't.  Yesterday wasn't something out of the ordinary but I guess some of you never experience the frequency of weather or maintenance that we encounter working at an airline.  Looking at the weather prior to our departure from Dallas-Ft. Worth, we knew that we could expect some thunderstorms during our approach into Charleston, West Virginia. Blocked to just a little over two hours, and looking at the terminal aerodrome forecast (TAF), we took off with confidence that we could "beat" the storm.  Whether or not to jet east and then up and around the front or penetrate earlier in the flight and fly behind it, we chose the former.  Usually you chose the latter, but once we were in the air, the weather didn't look that bad.

Almost an hour after our scheduled arrival, we made a safe approach and landing safely getting all our passengers to the terminal.  It wasn't without bumps and initially the weather at CRW wasn't calling for landing conditions, but after 45 minutes, the initial thunderstorm cleared and calm winds presided.

Acey 2502 DFW-CRW

Arriving at the gate, the plan was to leave as soon as we could board up, refuel and clean the aircraft but things changed. The plane gave us a flashing light notifying us of a maintenance item which after two hours of coordinating with dispatch, maintenance control and crew scheduling, ultimately led to the cancellation of the flight. Repositioning the aircraft to another portion of the airport, coordinating a shuttle and hotel stay our day came to an end with nine hours of sleep.  We also had the opportunity of riding the hotel shuttle back to with some passengers who were taking the cancellation well.

So back to present time, scheduling had us report at 5:15am this morning and to no surprise without a phone call or notification from anyone back at company, we came down for the scheduled shuttle back to the airport only to find out that the aircraft wasn't ready. I'm now back in the hotel room killing another two hours before our next scheduled van ride. At least I can now grab some coffee.

update: I just got a call a couple of minutes ago notifying us again for a change to 6:45am which as I spoke to her was actually six minutes in the past.

Plane or No Plane or Just Different Plane

Everyday, every plane that I fly is a different story.  With various maintenance issues that are posted from time to time, line pilots have to learn how to deal with each occurrence.  Each plane is unique in there own way but of there are similarities between the various anomalies.  The Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) has morning sickness (has to warm up a little bit in the cool months in order for the electronics to "come alive"), has an awfully hard time getting cool during the feverish months of summer and little bugs here and there that “pop” up from time to time.  Today was just one of those instances. (actually a week or two ago) Getting pushed back from the gate is when we usually begin to start our engines in order to move about and head towards our respective departure runway.  Because of this, we don’t’ usually become aware of the problems that we might have with our electrical systems or our powerplant systems.  After our electrical system switched over from the APU (auxiliary power unit) to the right-side engine driven generator, we noticed that our main battery was being activated and the backup TIES were switching back and forth showing us that there was an abnormality within our system.  It was posted to be a short roundtrip flight but it was leg one of four so any delays were going to prolong our duty day.

After talking to maintenance we were advised to go back to a gate for further inspection.  We had to wait around for about 20 minutes for a new gate and then once parked, we were told my maintenance that it would take about 30 minutes for a battery swap.  Mind you, we had a plane full of passengers from moms with strollers and multiple bags to businessmen and other various clientle of Delta.  Since it was only going to take “30 minutes” we were advised that the passengers remain on the plane so that we could get out of there as fast as possible once we were ready to go.  Well, after the first battery swap, 30 minutes later, we ended up finding out that we would need to deplane as maintenance would have to diagnose the issue for about 2-3 hours.

We deplaned, ended up getting assigned a different aircraft, which was still enroute from another destination and waited as the clocked raced on.  From being on-time, to being 1 hour delayed, we ended up being 3 hours delayed by the time we took off.  With so many variables in the airline industry, these types of delays end up creating negative publicity and passenger dissatisfaction.

Needless to say, we got our passengers to their desired destination safely and ended up having our day cut short.  This was made so with a standby crew that ended up operating our 3rd and 4th leg so that the passengers on those flights would remain on time.   I got on the next available flight to San Diego and am home relaxing until the next adventure begins.