CRJ200 Airline Pilot

The personal experiences, thoughts of an CRJ captain

Dealing with Checkride Anxiety for Pilots

Posted by Jeffrey on May 1, 2011

Every pilot I know has gotten nervous at one time or another. It is inevitable.

Pilots are continuously challenged to demonstrate their aviation knowledge and airmanship skills over and over again.

It can be overwhelming. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be.

Anxiety and the fear that usually accompanies airplane checkrides can be dealt with if you have the right mindset and have prepared.

This article “How to Overcome Checkride Anxiety” can help you learn some of the techniques that pilots have been using for decades.

Check it out.

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Emergencies While Flying Airplanes

Posted by Jeffrey on April 24, 2011

Emergencies happen. How you handle them is up to you. But I will bet that the more prepared you are the more likely you are going to have a favorable outcome. You also have to believe that everything is going to work out great.

Check out this article on Airplane Inflight Emergencies and what happens when they really do happen.

Flight training and execution are everything!

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Almost the Speed of Sound Has Moved to www.FlyCRJ.com

Posted by Jeffrey on March 29, 2009

Dear Fellow Pilot:

If you found this page looking for great piloting tips and information on the CRJ (Canadair Regional Jet), then you are half-way to the right place.

I have moved all the content up to this point to FlyCRJ.com.

By hosting my blog on my own domain, I have been able to further enhance the site for your viewing experience.

So just follow this link, FlyCRJ.com to continuing reading.

To Your Flying Success…

Jeffrey

Jeffrey is a captain at a regional airline and flies the CRJ200, CRJ700, and the CRJ900. He has over 4000 hrs of flying experience in many different airplanes and is a Gold Seal flight instructor to his credit. He has recently written “The CRJ200 Quicknote Study Guide” that simplifies the systems of the CRJ200 into an easy-to-follow, downloadable eBook. Click here to get your copy today!

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5 Tips for Making Your Commuting Life Easier

Posted by Jeffrey on November 3, 2008

Pilot Commuting Ideas

If you are an airline pilot, you always get a funny response when you tell someone you “commute” to work. This is because when you say “commute,” you really mean that you drive to the airport, request the jumpseat, and fly from one city (your home most likely) to another city (your base), to go to work, all along hoping and praying that you won’t be bumped out of the jumpseat, that the airplane won’t break, or that weather won’t cancel the flight. It is by no means a “normal” commute, i.e., driving.

The reason I’m talking about this is because the other day I was notified that I was awarded ORD (Chicago O’hare)…AGAIN…which means I will start commuting…AGAIN! The reason I say “again” is because for the first three years of my career at SkyWest, I commuted either from ATL to SLC or I commuted from ATL to ORD.

Now many pilots “commute” to work. I don’t know the exact percentage, but it seems like a lot of pilots do. Being an airline pilot allows you the opportunity to live where you want to live and work from where you want to work even if you have to fly there. It’s a strange combination and a strange way of living…believe me. But there are things you can do to make it more enjoyable and less stressful, but I will get to that in a minute.

I got out of “commuting mode” when I transferred to COS back in April of 2007. It gave me a chance to spend more time with my family and not have to worry about “getting” to work.

But, being based in COS has had its ups and downs. It has been a struggle since the flight schedules have been so inconsistent. One month I was getting 100 hours credit and the next month I’m not even breaking guarantee. What I mean when I say “not breaking guarantee,” I mean that I wasn’t even flying 75 hours a month, hence I didn’t get paid per Diem which translate into less dollars in the paycheck. Since I have been in COS, occasionally I hold a “line” but most the time I don’t. So to help get some “stability” back in my flying career, I put in for ORD where I will most definitely hold a line because I will be number 62 out of about 220 pilots. That is much better than being 40 out of 52 pilots in COS.


What I Have Learned About Commuting

Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about commuting that I want to share with you:

  1. Check the weather at least two days before you commute. A free and very useful website is provided by NOAA called the Aviation Weather Center, Aviation Digitall Data Service (ADDS). This will give you an idea about how early you need to leave to make sure you get to your base. Don’t be like some of these pilots that throw all caution to the wind and take the flight that gets you in 20 minutes before your show time. It’s not the responsible thing to do. At least give yourself two flights to get there if you can. You can use the free Executive Travel SkyGuide (www.eskyguide.com/search) to get a good list of all the flights available for that day.
  2. Be extremely, even painfully, polite to the gate agent. This usually disgruntled person holds the proverbial key to whether or not you get on the airplane.
  3. Have something to read. The Kindle: Amazon’s Wireless Reading Device is all you will EVER need to keep you busy during those long commutes. You can download newspapers, books, files, and audio. The link above explains it all. It is awesome!
  4. Pack good, healthy, energy food in your eBags Crew Cooler. (Right now eBags is offering 20% off this item through the above link.) I pack an assortment of stuff like oatmeal, tuna packets, rice, apples, bananas, and protein bars, to name a few. Get creative and you will save money and never go hungry.
  5. Find your happy place! Commuting is really a state of mind. In reality it is not very fun but you can make it into something productive if you set your mind to it. If you make it into a horrible experience, that is exactly what it will become, but if you look for the positive  side of it, it will be a much more enjoyable experience.

So I hope this helps. If you have any other ideas about commuting and how to make it a better experience, I would really like to hear about them.

I’ll let you know how my commute goes because I am sure I will have some interesting experiences again over the next couple months that I will be able to share with you.

Till next time…fly safe!

Here are some other useful articles that I have written you might be interested in:

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5 Things To Do When A Flight Is Delayed

Posted by Jeffrey on October 27, 2008

The other day could have been a mess! During pushback we started the engines and when the electrical system switched power from the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) to the Main Engine Generators there was a hiccup. Ding! A single-chime Master Caution and the associated caution message appeared on PFD1.

Other than canceling the alarm, what do you think was one of the first things that I did? If you guessed that I communicated with my first officer, talked to the passengers and the flight attendant, and then set to work fixing the problem, you would be right.

Communicating was my highest priority in a situation like that. All in all, it took about 20 minutes to sort the problem out and then we were on our way. In that time I made two announcements; one to tell my passengers explaining what the problem was and another to tell them we had sorted out the situation and update them our arrival time would be in LAX. Everyone was happy…happy enough anyway!

On another occasion, we pushed back from the gate in Cincinnati (CVG) and we were issued an EDCT time to Chicago (ORD). We parked the airplane on a taxiway and then waited…and waited…and waited. THEN, about the time we were going to start up our engines for departure, we were notified by ATC that our EDCT time was pushed back even further, so we decided to head back to the gate so that passengers could make other arrangements if they needed to. During this whole time, even when nothing had changed, I talked to my crew and the passengers often.

Again, although everyone was frustrated by the delay, they were appreciative for being kept informed.

Your Responsibility During a Delay

It is vitally important that the passengers know what is going on and it’s YOUR responsibility as the captain to tell them. Certainly some passengers aren’t going to care but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell them. Passengers these days expect everything to go seamlessly and hate being kept out of the loop when things don’t go right. And like it or not, we are in a service industry and customer service plays a BIGGER part in commercial aviation now more than ever before. So smile, even when it hurts!

If you will, think about a personal experience when you went somewhere that required service, like a restaurant or department store. How was the customer service? Did the waiter talk to you? If your food was running a little slow, did the waiter let you know? How did you feel during this “waiting” period? If you weren’t being kept informed, you were probably getting agitated and you stopped enjoying yourself. On the other hand, if you were being kept informed, you probably felt much more relaxed.

It’s all part of customer service and it affects either the positive or negative image that that passengers has of that particular flight and of your airline.

In a flight delay situations, it’s not just the captain’s responsibility to keep the passengers informed. You have a crew and communication with them is essential as well. By briefing your crew regarding what you want them to do if a flight is delayed keeps your team informed and empowers them to do a good customer service job as well.

How Do You Make An Announcement

“Mic Fright” is one of the scariest things in the world for a lot of people. When you talk on the PA do you sound like loser, hemming and hawing, using “uhs” and “ums” as you work your way through the announcement or do you display poise and confidence? Do you prepare your announcement before you start to speak? Right before I make my announcement, I turn of the flight deck speakers, take a deep breath and r-e-l-a-x. This allows me to focus on what I’m about to say. My goal is to come across in such a way that the passengers will listen to what I’m saying.

If you have to talk on the PA, first, do it quickly and decisively with a strong voice and the tone of authority. A wimpy sounding captain is like a wimpy handshake, no body likes them. Be succinct, precise, and empathetic when you make your announcements because it helps to calm your passengers. Now is not the time to sound exasperated by the situation, vent your frustrations, or put down the “system.”

And, if the opportunity presents itself, use the flight attendants PA and talk directly to the passengers. It’s amazing how responsive your passengers will be if you take this little extra step.

How Often Should You Make An Announcement

I believe PA announcements to passengers should be done about every 15 to 20 minutes, but obviously it depends on the situation. Sometimes I start out at 15 minutes, then my next announcement is at 20 minutes, and then my next announcement is at 25 minutes. I rarely stay on the taxiway for more than hour, so this works out fairly well. Too many announcements can be too much of a good thing.

Five Things to Consider

Here is my list of five things you can do if you experience a delay and need to make an announcement:

  1. Communicate with your crew and passengers in a timely manner
  2. Use an authoritative voice absent of frustration
  3. Take a moment to mentally prepare your announcement in your head, then, take a deep breath right before you start
  4. Be succinct, precise, and empathetic as you say your announcement remembering who your audience is and what they are going through
  5. Cut out the the hemming and hawing and “uhs” and “ums,” they are very distracting

As always this is a my list and I’m sure you can add a few more important items. I would like to hear your suggestions.

One final thought. Remember, as the captain you are responsible for your airplane, crew, and passengers. This includes more than flying profile and conserving fuel, it includes making sure that your passengers have a good experience during their flight and one way to do that is to make sure you communicate with them in a timely manner if something doesn’t goes as planned.

As always, I’d love to hear any thoughts you may have on this or any of the topics. Till next time…

P.S. As always I like to include one book to help you become a better captain. This book, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High is easy to read and has some very useful ideas that you may not have thought about before when you are dealing with passengers. Pick it up today so you can start benefiting from the insights presented in this book.

Other articles you might be interested in:

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