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Old 1st Mar 2011, 16:43
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Gabba
Age: 38
Posts: 9
SO Guide. Part 2. Boarding and Pre-departure


Once on the bus, itís customary to introduce yourself to the girls if you havenít already done so. A big wave while stating your name is just fine, and expect a synchronized greeting in return. The girls sit in the back, while you take your seat somewhere in the first two rows. Once the bus gets rolling, expect the Captain to make a ďbriefingĒ to the girls, which includes the flight time, the weather at destination, the taxi-time and the procedures to be used for opening the cockpit door. Any query for questions at this stage will be met with silence.

When arriving at the aircraft, enter the aircraft via the L2 staircase; not the L1 leading to first class. An engineer or refueller will approach the captain with a water sample, and the operating FO will hand the refueling record to the same guy with either flight-plan fuel (minus X tons standby depending on your fleet) or some other fuel figure unknown to you on it. Climb the stairs to the door leading into the jet bridge, preferably behind the captain as itís common courtesy to let him enter the aircraft first.

Making your way to the cockpit, the magazine rack looks very tempting. Try not to let the girls see you grabbing the last copy of The Economist, Newsweek, and Car and Driver, and depending on whom the captain is it might be a good idea to keep them out-of-sight until the first fuel-check is complete and you're sitting in deafening silence over Indonesia with the poor sod who's been nominated RQ.


Once arriving on the flight deck, the first thing usually done is a read-through of the aircraft log. Most captains will work their way from the front to the back, highlighting any noting exterior damage to be verified on the walk-around by the RQ. SADDs, PADDs and ADDs are reviewed, with any open items requiring DDG dispatch. As a second officer, you merely observe this process and are seldom asked for any input or comments. Once the log review is complete, the RQ departs the flight-deck for the walk around leaving you with three all-important tasks; making the bunks(744 only), eating the sandwiches and performing the safety-checks in accordance with FCOM 3. Performing the safety checks should take you 2-3 minutes, leaving plenty of time for the sandwiches and bunk-making. Take note, however, that making the bunks is catch 22. Almost all captains, increasing with seniority, expect you to make the bunks. Some captains, however, expect you to be on the jump seat observing every entry made into the FMCs, and will reprimand you for preparing the bunks when thereís ďreal work to be doneĒ (like watching the back of someoneís hand punching fingers into a keypad you canít read below a screen that you canít see for reasons you canít know because the ATIS and final ZFW are lying face down above the throttles.) Make the best of it.

Youíre usually done making the bunks about the same time as the RQ returns from his hike around the aircraft. Heíll often take the middle seat, although FOs waiting to hit the bunk at clean speed might offer you the seat. Once seated, youíve now got ages of time to enjoy those tasty sandwiches before itís time to complete your final task; checking the fuel figures.

The engineer will bring the fuel order form to the flight deck once refueling has been completed. This canít be done before weíve received the final ZFW, which means checking the final fuel load is one of the last things we do before departure. Your job will be to verify that the expected upload matches the actual upload. Add the sums of all the liters (or US gallons) uploaded from the fuel receipts, multiply it by the specific gravity to arrive at the total upload in tons. Compare this with the expected upload, allowing +2t/-1t of discrepancy, and at the same time compare the actual fuel distribution in the tanks to the pre-calculated fuel distribution tables found in the overhead console. Pass the fuel-records to the skipper and let him know youíve checked them to be correct.

Once this is complete, youíre all done. Sit back, fasten your belt and try to stay awake. The final visit to the cockpit will be done shortly by the gate-agent, who provides the captain with the final passenger number and load-sheet edition. Sheíll close the cockpit door on her way out, and as soon as the L2 door shuts the guys in the window seats will ask for a pushback.
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