Author: Chip Wright (page 1 of 19)

What makes a good first officer?

What makes a good first officer? It’s easier to talk about what makes a good captain, since the captain is the boss and has the ability to make everyone miserable.

At my first airline, I was an FO for only two and a half years before spending the next 12 as a captain. Now, I’m back in the right seat, and I find myself applying a lot of what I looked for in my own FOs, as well as some of my own ideas along with a healthy dose of common sense. Most of this is not in order, but the first one is.

  • Be on time. This is a big one, especially when it’s time to leave the hotel. Most pilots excel at being on time, if not early. It’s easy at the beginning of the trip, but some folks have a hard time being in the lobby on time for the van. Most pilots will try to be in the lobby at least five minutes early. Nobody likes to be rushed at the gate—and the van driver doesn’t like to be rushed in traffic—so make it a point to be punctual. As a captain, I really appreciated an FO who was early to plane on the first leg of the trip (assuming we didn’t bump into each other in the crew room). So, I always try to be the first one to the airplane now.
  • Be a chameleon. Unfortunately, this is the life blood of being an FO. You’re forced to learn (quickly) the habits and quirks of each captain you deal with. It can be as simple as knowing when the first checklist is read to something as strange as the way a piece of paper needs to be folded. (I’m not kidding.)There was a captain at Comair who was legendary for the origami-like way he wanted to fold the piece of paper from the release that we used for the ATIS, clearance, et cetera. He wouldn’t let anybody else touch it, and FOs quickly learned to just hand it to him. It’s also necessary to learn quickly to what extent a captain is going to help out with certain duties. Some captains will insist on doing some of the walk-arounds, and others will not even entertain it. Worse, some will not do the walk-around, but also will do nothing in the cockpit, figuring that they are “staying out of the way.” It’s true that two pilots loading the FMS can lead to confusion and make the process take longer, but it’s not so bad that he or she needs to totally back away. This is just someone being a jerk or lazy (or both). Fortunately, this is also rare.
  • CRM quirks. Some captains are over the top with crew resource management, and fortunately, they expose that early, so you can figure out that you’ll be double- and triple-verifying everything you touch, say, and do, even after you’ve already verified it. Just don’t forget something, because you’ll likely hear about it if you do. One way to minimize any conflict is to save all the paperwork until the captain says it’s OK to toss it. On the 737 that I fly, the printer is running nearly nonstop with messages, ATIS updates, performance info, et cetera. I keep everything until I figure out if the captain is a “read it and toss it” kind or wants to hold it until we land. The best ones only print out critical info.
  • Standard operating procedures. Most pilots follow most of the rules, and a few follow all of them. But some only follow a few. Ironically, most of the ones who do things their own way will tell you that they do things their own way, but they will follow along if you want to go by the book. In a way, these captains are both the easiest and the most difficult to fly with, because you can pick up some very bad habits, but they will not stop you from doing what’s right because doing what’s right keeps them out of trouble. That said, most captains try to follow company and FAA procedures, and they expect the same from the FOs. A good captain can address this diplomatically when a conflict occurs. A good FO will just follow procedures from the get-go, and if there is a conflict, he or she will simply ask there is a new procedure. Along the lines of SOP is keeping up with changes. It used to drive me crazy when the company would put out updates and FOs would drag their feet on reading them or implementing them. Now, as an FO, I try to make it a point to bring them up during our initial meeting to make sure we’re on the same page, which I’ve found captains greatly appreciate.
  • Prevent mistakes. Most captains will ask that you point out something they might be doing wrong or a mistake they may have made, and most of them mean it. We’re all human, and what may look like a deliberate act of non-compliance is almost always just a mistake or a misunderstanding. FOs saved my bacon more than once, and will eventually do so again. I’m simply returning the favor.
  • Ask questions. Captains love to both teach and pass along tidbits and institutional knowledge. Take advantage of it. It may not have anything to do with the airplane, but every little nugget of knowledge you pick up can make your work life much easier. In fact, ask your captains what FOs do that they like and don’t like. You’ll hear some interesting stories. Soon, you’ll be talking smack about your own FOs!
  • Relax, and have fun. Flying is a lot of fun and a great way to make a living, but if you don’t relax, it’s a lot more stressful than it should be. There will invariably be the rare few that you don’t like or get along with, but there is always a topic of conversation that you can agree on. If there isn’t, then you need to just accept that it will be a quiet trip. Thankfully, those days are rare indeed. Most of the time, there is an easy banter and a rapport that settles in, and the trip is over all too soon.

Just make sure that you’re on time.—Chip Wright

Nervous fliers

Not everybody is cut out to fly, and for that matter, not everybody is cut out to be the best passenger. I recently was sitting in the gate house waiting for my airplane to come in when a lady walked up to me and asked me if I was working her flight. When I confirmed that I was, she asked me if I could spend a few minutes talking to her husband, who was a “nervous flier,” in her words. I immediately said yes, and she went to get him.

The gentleman in question came over, and we introduced ourselves. He had at one time had no problems flying, but in recent years he had developed a sense of claustrophobia. When I asked him why, he said it was related to having kids, and that being on an airplane made him feel a bit trapped and sometimes not able to respond to his young kids the way he might have at home (for instance, taking them outside to let them run off some energy, or being able to escape outside himself when the kids were behaving, but being rambunctious). He also felt that he had lost some sense of control by placing his life in the hands of others.

As a parent for more than 16 years, I could relate to that, and I told him half-jokingly (but only half) that I’m not the biggest fan of sitting in the cabin when the cockpit is just a few feet away. His wife explained that he had taken a class on dealing with the phobia, and one of the recommended strategies when flying was to try and talk to at least one of the pilots before the flight. Perfectly logical, in my book.

I took a few minutes to talk about our flight, the route, the time, the weather, et cetera. I didn’t anticipate our unusually long taxi to the runway, but since I had pointed him out to the lead flight attendant and told the captain about him, I was confident that he would be looked after. He and his family got off before I could say goodbye, but I was told that he appeared to enjoy the ride as much as possible.

Nervous fliers are a fact of life, and they look to pilots not only to comfort them, but also to give them some confidence that we are more than competent. It’s important to remember that a passenger in an airplane has given up complete control of his or her well-being to us, and we need to respect that. It’s true in general aviation as well, if not more so, because a passenger on a GA airlane can grab the controls and start “fighting back” if he or she perceives that something is amiss.

Not only is it the right thing to do in terms of business, but it’s also the compassionate, humane thing to do. We all have fears, some of which are in our face every day, some that aren’t. But none of us wants to feel out of control. Information, understanding, and communication often can bridge much of that gap.—Chip Wright

Verbalize, verify, monitor

Accidents, as they say, are written in blood. The result is usually a set of new regs that, in retrospect, should have been written earlier. Pilot deviations, on the other hand, are usually written because of complacency, and the result is usually a new set of procedures.

Many years ago, the pilots at (then) USAir were suffering from a rash of altitude deviations. Pilots would respond to a radio call from ATC with a new assignment, and the non-flying pilot would put the new altitude in the altitude pre-selector, and all would be well…until it wasn’t. Somehow, the airplane would wind up where it wasn’t supposed to be, creating separation issues and scaring the daylights out of the controllers, the pilots, and probably a few stray birds.

After studying the problem, USAir changed the procedure. The nonflying pilot would dial in the altitude, then keep a finger pointing at the pre-selector, and verbalize the altitude again. The flying pilot would point to the altitude and also verbalize, as a means of verifying, that the correct altitude had been programmed. Both pilots would then actively monitor the performance of the airplane to make sure that it performed as expected. Once this new procedure was implemented, altitude deviations virtually vanished, and the procedure became the industry norm. It was a simple change that had a huge impact on safety, especially since the airlines so willingly share such information.

Nowadays, the new process—verbalize, verify, and monitor—has been adapted to virtually everything we do. Course changes, autopilot mode selection changes, approach selection—all are subjected to the VVM philosophy. All-glass cockpits have made this process even more critical. It’s easier than ever to miss something on a screen or to make the wrong selection. The automation on a modern jet is so intertwined and complex that a mistake could be programmed in an hour before it will be executed, and it may not make itself known until a violation has occurred.

As you prepare for your entry into the professional ranks, start adding the VVM philosophy to your standard practices. Teach it to your students. When flying single pilot, make a habit of writing down new clearances and commands. When flying with another pilot (not just a passenger), get into the habit of splitting the workload. If you are by yourself, definitely make a habit of talking out loud, both as backup and as a means of staying alert.

To give an example of how effective the VVM concept can be, it can be used when one pilot is out of the cockpit (using the lav, for instance) and a jumpseater is on board. If ATC issues a new altitude, the pilot can dial it in and ask the jumpseater to verify that the correct altitude has been set. In fact, this procedure is routinely used. I’ve even had flight attendants who are familiar with the procedure not only verify the new altitude, but also catch a bad one. If that isn’t crew resource management, I don’t what is!

Altitude deviations are among the most common, so the VVM policy is used to verify settings on the flight management system for descend- and climb-via procedures, as well as to properly preset the missed approach altitude on nearly every single approach, even in visual meteorological conditions. They are still a big threat, but thanks to the simple wisdom of the good folks at USAir, that threat is not just recognized, but dealt with thousands of times each day.—Chip Wright

Those confounding airports

In the last twenty-some years, I’ve flown in the networks of two major airlines. Learning to navigate the various hubs is one of the biggest challenges. Those hubs in the United States are among the busiest in the world, so it’s even more challenging.

Going in and out of the LAXs and ORDs and ATLs of the world brings a set of assumptions that aren’t always in your favor or even fair. Let’s say you fly within the United network. The controllers at the “home fields” will see an airplane in the UA colors and take for granted that you (and whoever is with you) know what you’re doing, what the flow of traffic is on the ground, and how things generally work. You can’t blame them, and it’s not an unreasonable expectation.

The truth is, controllers don’t realize that there are some places you may not see very often, which means you may be prone to mistakes they may not expect. Chicago is a great example. The ground flow is fairly structured, but it changes based on the runways in use. Once you understand it, it’s fairly logical, but to the neophyte it’s as clear as mud. Add to that the fact that sometimes the ground controllers will rattle off instructions for multiple airplanes at once without giving anyone a chance for a read-back, and it can be very intimidating.

When I first starting going in there, I wasn’t flying in the colors of one of the two “home town” airlines, which got me a bit of slack. The controllers seemed to speak just a bit slower to make sure we knew what we were doing. In the colors of one of the local carriers, that doesn’t happen much. But as pilot movement occurs at the majors, there are captains who are new to certain hubs, and they aren’t always savvy to the ways of the local methods. Recently, I’ve flown with a couple who got lost in the taxi instructions and weren’t entirely sure what the expectation was. I had a pretty good idea, but I wasn’t the one taxiing, and I wasn’t the one who had ultimate responsibility.

So, the captains did the only thing they could do: They set the brake and sat there. In one case we were able to get a word in on the radio and get some clarification. In another, the ground controller finally realized we hadn’t moved, and called us. The second time he spoke in a speed we could hear, and we taxied without further ado.

Controllers work the same airport every day. Pilots bounce around, and have to know them all. While controllers have to ensure the orderly flow of traffic, we can’t help them if we don’t understand what they want, and ORD is one of the most difficult. It’s one thing to tell a student to be willing to ask for progressive taxi, but the true sign of professionalism is to ask for it when you’re flying with paying passengers in the back.—Chip Wright

The non-rev dress code flap

Much has been made recently about the passengers who were denied boarding on a United flight because of the choice to wear leggings in lieu of something else. When the dust settled, it was brought to light that the decision to deny boarding was because the passengers were non-revenue pass riders. That is, they were using employee benefits and/or buddy passes to ride on a space-available basis.

The dress code at UAL is crystal clear about what kind of attire is considered acceptable for employees, their families and designated travel partners, and the friends to whom they provide buddy passes. Further, there are specific stipulations that must be met if those passengers are to be allowed to ride in first or business class as opposed to coach class. If there is any gray area or question about the acceptability of the choice of clothing, the gate agent will be the final decision maker. The fault in this case lies with employee who didn’t make sure that the passengers were in compliance with the dress code.

The ability to fly for free and to offer substantially reduced fare tickets to friends and family is one of the best perks of working for an airline, but it is a privilege, not a right. Further, it comes with certain expectations of decorum and behavior, one of which is the dress code.

Every airline has some form of dress code, and while the new norm is fairly relaxed—shorts are usually allowed—it is not a free-for-all. United, for instance, doesn’t allow flip-flops, and most airlines don’t allow torn (even by design) jeans or shirts, and none allow for any kind of profane, offensive or provocative material. And don’t assume that just because you got on the airplane you’re in the clear. The flight attendants can have you removed if they think the gate agent dropped the ball.

Pilots have another issue to contend with, which is attire that is acceptable for the cockpit jumpseat. Most carriers don’t allow jeans or a T-shirt to be worn if occupying the jumpseat. As a result, you’ll often see commuting pilots wearing their uniform, or perhaps the uniform pants with a collared shirt, especially if the flight is fairly full. Another option is to wear the uniform, but to remove the epaulets, wings, et cetera, from the shirt.

I try to avoid giving anybody my buddy passes because I just don’t think they’re a great deal, especially if someone is on a schedule. But if you get hired by an airline and decide to issue your buddy passes, make sure that your friends understand all of the rules associated with such travel. The dress code is important, and so is the general behavior, so spending a lot of time at the airport bar is not a good idea. To that extent, your friends or relatives shouldn’t brag to other passengers about getting such a cheap (or free) seat. Those passengers with such expensive tickets, after all, are paying the employees’ salary and helping to provide that benefit. Don’t throw it in their face.

I’ve known several employees whose pass privileges were suspended or revoked because of abuse. Some sponsored passengers who acted inappropriately or yelled at gate agents, and a few were caught trying to sell buddy passes for a profit (this almost always gets you fired). But, whether it’s a buddy pass or yourself, pay attention to the rules of the carrier in use. If you need to ask yourself if something is appropriate, it probably isn’t. When it comes to dress, be conservative.—Chip Wright

Dealing with Odd Behavior – Part II

My last post discussed the initial steps in dealing with a fellow employee that begins acting strangely. Once the decision to intervene is made, events will often move beyond your control.

So, what happens when you do this? Unless you’re dealing with a completely incompetent manager—possible, but not likely—the Chief Pilots office will likely try to contact the affected pilot, and will ascertain the situation via the phone. They may also call the gate agents working the flight to ask for their observations. On-site supervisors will also likely be called. If the incident is taking place in a hub or a base, they will go to the gate and assess the situation in person. Either way, a decision will be made as to whether or not the pilot should be allowed to work the trip. If warranted, a drug test may be scheduled.

What happens next? That depends. If a pilot acts out in a way that causes concern about their mental health or emotional well-being, they may be grounded for an extended period of time, following an intense treatment protocol. It’s possible that a pilot is acting out because they’ve had a reaction to medication (or several medications), or because they are under great strain at home. It’s also possible that the pilot is just not a nice person or simply can’t get along with others. That said, it takes an extreme case to get the attention of the FAA, but once you do, getting rid of that attention is very difficult.

If a person is found to have a chemical dependency problem, there are several programs and avenues for an eventual return to work, but it will be a long, hard slog. In recent years, the FAA has finally come to its senses and allowed pilots to fly while under treatment and care for depression (pilots had been doing this for years, but they remained under the radar). Just because there is a problem does not mean that your career is over, though it may take an indefinite pause. In my own observations, airlines are more than willing to help a pilot that has a genuine interest in getting back on track and takes responsibility where appropriate. Pilots that get fired tend to be the ones that have acted either egregiously, or have simply run out of more than their fair of chances with their supervisors.

These situations are always fraught with the possibility for a major misunderstanding and/or hard feelings. It’s natural to worry about harming the reputation of another coworker. Just because someone is having a bad day doesn’t mean that they’re off their rocker or unfit to fly. But, sometimes a judgement call is necessary. Fortunately, it will almost never be up to you.

If it’s a pilot you are supposed to fly with, the easiest course of action is to get off the plane until the situation is resolved to your satisfaction. Most of us will never have to deal with these situations directly, but whether you work for an airline or any other company, it’s important that you follow the expected protocols and treat all persons involved with decency and respect, no matter how strong your suspicions.

Dealing with odd behavior

Having worked in the airlines for more than 20 years, I’ve seen a few things that have made me scratch my head—be it management decisions about company strategy, policies that are ill-advised, or passengers who act out in ways that are not only unusual, but unacceptable. Unfortunately, I’ve also witnessed a few employees conduct themselves in ways that are both professionally and socially unacceptable.

Most companies of any size will eventually deal with an employee who acts bizarrely or out of character. Most of the time, it doesn’t get any play on the local news, let alone CNN. However, the airlines are different, and when somebody does something that garners attention, it often goes viral within minutes. Too often, by the time the company hears about it, the incident has been disseminated to millions.

So, what to do? What not to do? Within an airline, the only two work groups that are required to pass an FAA medical are the dispatchers and the pilots. While the company can (and will) have certain expectations about your fitness when you show up to work, only pilots and dispatchers are required to meet a minimum established by the FAA, and are therefore expected to self-monitor their mental and physical well-being. Being sick does not mean you have to be down with the flu or a broken leg. It simply means that for any number of reasons you may not be up to the task. You may be overwhelmed by a problem at home: divorce, new baby, even a sick dog. If in your own judgment you can’t call yourself fit for duty, you are obligated to call in sick. It is, in fact, a federal aviation regulation.

But what happens when somebody chooses to come to work anyway, even though they shouldn’t? Or what if they don’t even realize that they shouldn’t come to work, or if they act…strangely? FAR 117 helps put the onus on the captain to vouch for the fitness of the first officer, but the rest of Part 91 helps make it clear that the FO does the same if he or she believes that the captain or one of the flight attendants is sick. As an FO, I once had to tell a captain that he was in no shape to fly and needed to call in sick. He thanked me then and later, and told me that I had done the right thing.

In recent years, there have been several instances of pilots acting in strange ways. On the ground, the first thing an FO should do is try and talk to the other pilot, especially if they’re working the same flight. Often, a simple conversation will provide valuable insight into the other person’s mood and state of mind. If the individual starts to put up red flags, try to ask another nearby person to speak to them. But if it’s clear that something is wrong, such as incoherent speech, random thoughts that don’t correlate to the conversation, the odor of alcohol or drugs, or apparent physical instability, then more drastic action needs to be taken. Every airline has a different specific plan of action, but the generalities are pretty common.

In such a case, the first call needs to be a manager on duty, such as a chief pilot or the head honcho for the day in scheduling. Even calling dispatch is sufficient. All you need to do is reach someone who can delay a flight long enough for you to allay your concerns to those up the chain of command. Phone calls to scheduling are almost always recorded, so calling via the scheduling department may not be a bad way to get started.—Chip Wright

Changing job applications

I’ve covered the topic of filling out job applications in several posts, but a recent incident has me wanting to discuss the topic again.

Pilots trying to get a job with an airline—especially, but not limited to—a major carrier will use whatever advantages they can. Know the CEO? Check. Have letters of recommendation from several vice presidents? Check. Are you a female or a minority? Check….carefully.

Nobody wants to discuss the possibility that preferences may be given to women and minorities, but any large corporation needs to be in compliance with a number of federal laws when it comes to hiring. While “quota” is not a word often heard, you’d be naïve to think that certain groups aren’t actively pursued in order to avoid getting sued for discrimination.

And that brings me to how to handle this on your application. With computerized applications the rule nowadays, companies can track the changes on applications. I recently had a discussion with a pilot who was questioned in an interview about changing his ethnicity on the application after the invitation for the interview had been extended. He had selected a minority background initially, and changed it later to White/Other. To the airline, it looked like he had made the initial selection to try to expedite getting called for an interview, then tried to be honest after the fact. It didn’t look good, and he was denied the job because it looked like he was trying to game the system.

It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: When you’re filling out the application, be honest on everything, and when it comes to the very basics of who you are, make sure you get it right the first time. If you can legitimately claim to be a certain something, then by all means, say so. But if you think you’re going to get away with something, think twice. Just because you may get through the interview while hiding a checkride failure or a deceptive background, you’re not off the hook. Airlines have terminated pilots even after their probationary year is up if they lied to get the job, and there’s nothing to stop them from doing so in the future.

If you discover that you’ve made an honest mistake, take the initiative and address it first yourself. You can either deal with the HR folks on the phone (the smart move), or you can wait until the interview and bring it up first on your own before they get a chance to start questioning you. The last thing you want to do is to put yourself in a situation where you are forced to defend your integrity.—Chip Wright

When tech fails

Every major airline has been hit by a tech fiasco or two in the last several years, leading to severe delays, cancellations, and upset passengers. In the modern age, all of the systems at an airline need to talk to each other, and it’s not as simple as saying one is more important than another.

Passengers are quick to assume that the reservation system is the most important one, and it may well be the largest. But, there are other cogs in the wheel. While Southwest, Alaska, Virgin America, and Spirit fly one fleet of airplanes, they fly variations with different seating configurations. That means that if a Southwest 737-800 has to come out of service, it may not be possible to re-accommodate everyone on a smaller 737-700. Needless to say, at a company like United or Delta, it can be much more complex.

The reservation system also needs to communicate with the other systems in the network. While the airline can plan for a certain flight to be on a certain piece of equipment, there has to be some connection between, say, reservations and maintenance. When it comes to scheduling which airplane will be used on each flight, the maintenance schedule ultimately drives that decision.

Scheduled maintenance (certain inspections or periodically scheduled tasks) is the first consideration, followed by short-term unscheduled maintenance. For example, let’s say a 737 is scheduled to go in for a normal inspection at the end of the week. However, today the main cabin door has become difficult to open. The airline will try to rework the schedule to get the airplane to an airport (usually for an overnight stay) to get that door fixed—which may force the scheduled inspection back a few days because of modifications to the schedule.

Another wrinkle is a merger. Union contracts usually are specific about how a merger will work, including which pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics can touch which airplanes. All of this has to be programmed into the system. Further, airlines in a merger may fly the same airplane, but with vastly different seating and galley configurations.

From a pilot perspective, there is also the calculation of takeoff and landing performance data. The airlines use ACARS (Aircraft Crew and Reporting System), which is a communication network that connects the headquarters to the airplanes. ACARS has become a backbone upon which much of the day-to-day operation depends, and when it fails, it can bring things to a grinding halt. ACARS is the system by which performance data is transmitted to the airplane, and rarely is there a backup in place. It’s that reliable—until it isn’t.

These are just a few examples of the connectivity that takes place, but the gist is simple: It’s all tied together.

As a pilot, it’s critical that you understand all of the tools at your disposal, and just as important, you need to know what the back-up systems are and how to use them as efficiently as possible. Sometimes it’s as simple as a phone call, but sometimes it isn’t. Take notes and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. And believe me when I say that the time will come when you find yourself wishing for the days of a simple POH and a couple of charts or graphs to determine if and when you can take off.—Chip Wright


January has turned into February, which in some places is the worst part of winter. The air is cold, the ground is hovering around freezing, and precipitation this time of year often consists of ice, snow, or sleet.

Looking back to my days as a full-time general aviation pilot, the lesson that was constantly pushed on me regarding icing conditions was pretty simple: Avoid them at all costs. That usually meant not flying, which meant that a lot of winter days were spent on the ground.

The airlines operate under a different mantra: While there are some forms of weather that are unsafe, that definition is of a much smaller scope and bandwidth. If there is any way to get an airplane safely airborne, then you’re going flying. The running joke is that it doesn’t matter what’s on the radar or The Weather Channel; we’re going. There’s some truth to that.

In the Part 121 world, snowy weather is countered with deicing operations. The deicing fluids are numbered Type 1 to Type 4, with Type 4 being the strongest. The others can be a mix of fluid and water—and in some cases, you can deice with hot water—whereas Type 4 is a 100 percent mixture of stuff you do not want to drink. It’s thick, it’s sticky, and it’s expensive, so it’s only used when necessary.

Every year there are subtle changes to the various deicing protocols as new information is gleaned from research and real-world operations. From an operational point of view, two things are paramount. The first is the holdover time (HOT), which is the amount of time the crew has to get airborne after being deiced before the fluid loses its effectiveness, and the precipitation type. Mixed precip is the hardest to work with, because you need to use the most conservative HOT. For a long time, ice pellets were a challenge, and it’s only in the last few years that HOTs have been developed for pellets. At the extreme end is freezing rain. Simply put, you’re not going with freezing rain. It affects the wings, brakes, and runway surface.

If you’ve never been exposed to flying in icy weather and you’re looking to fly for an airline or a corporate flight department, take the time to do some research on deicing ops. Don’t worry about the gritty details, because every carrier’s program has individual requirements and nuances. Two carriers operating the same airplane may deice differently—for example, one will deice with the flaps up while the other will do so with the flaps down. But you should have a basic understanding of the different fluids, when they’re used, and what the limitations are. And you should take the time to fully understand your operation when you get on line.

And last, but not least, try to get trips that have you pointing the nose south after the deicing is complete.—Chip Wright

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