A mixed week, a fun day

Well, this was certainly a long week, albeit only four days of simulation.

Right from the start, the runs were rather…mediocre, at best, with only a few better ones in between.
Only on Wednesday, I start to break the spell, with most runs not done great, but at least well enough. A minor exception could be seen in the fact that I have a confliction, i.e. two airplanes coming too close, in the last run.

A pack of airplanes separated by a hair horizontally and 1000ft vertically? Descend the upper one and 1 mile horizontally / 200ft vertically should be the expected result. Tested and proven correctly (how to save such a run: quick information to both airplanes and evasion instructions – i.e. tell the lower one to descend, the upper one to stop descend, preferably immediately).

Finally, today, the breakthrough, using two older runs to warm up with some lower traffic levels, then three current runs with more airplanes. Suddenly, everything works again, with enough capacity to leave the standards and try some new things every now and then.

The highlights:
A Gulfstream 5 offers an “able” when asked if she can climb at 5000 feet per minute until Flight Level 220 (indicating how great an airplane it is when compared to the more common ~2000 feet per minute to that level normal jets can do)

The pilot of a small airplane has an equipment (transponder) failure and has to divert, initially offering its intention to land at Langen (a very busy international airport where it is difficult to fit small airplanes into the flow).
Informed that “Egelsbach is cheaper”, the pilot gladly re-thinks her intentions and decides to land at this small (but well equipped) airfield, saving the pilot 200 Euros in landing fees and the controller (yours truly) quite a bit of effort. :)

And now for something completely different…

A few months ago, I switched to Ubuntu Linux, leaving Windows XP to collect dust (with the exception of the occasional gaming session).

Even if there were no other advantages for Linux over Windows (there are!), being able to freely adjust the looks of it are certainly enough to make me gleeful. :)

(Click for original size)

And now I wonder if this style will survive longer than three days…

Annotated High Flight

This is what happens when a civil aviation regulator gets its hands on “High Flight”, the original version and background information of which can be found on my site. Source: the internet. :)

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth1,
And danced2 the skies on laughter silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed3 and joined the tumbling mirth4
Of sun-split clouds5 and done a hundred things6
You have not dreamed of — Wheeled and soared and swung7
High in the sunlit silence8. Hov’ring there9
I’ve chased the shouting wind10 along and flung11
My eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long delirious12, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights13 with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle14 flew;
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space15,
Put out my hand16, and touched the face of God.

  1. Pilots must insure that all surly bonds have been slipped entirely before aircraft taxi or flight is attempted.
  2. During periods of severe sky dancing, crew and passengers must keep seatbelts fastened. Crew should wear shoulderbelts as provided.
  3. Sunward climbs must not exceed the maximum permitted aircraft ceiling.
  4. Passenger aircraft are prohibited from joining the tumbling mirth.
  5. Pilots flying through sun-split clouds under VFR conditions must comply with all applicable minimum clearances.
  6. Do not perform these hundred things in front of Federal Aviation Administration inspectors.
  7. Wheeling, soaring, and swinging will not be attempted except in aircraft rated for such activities and within utility class weight limits.
  8. Be advised that sunlit silence will occur only when a major engine malfunction has occurred.
  9. “Hov’ring there” will constitute a highly reliable signal that a flight emergency is imminent.
  10. Forecasts of shouting winds are available from the local FSS. Encounters with unexpected shouting winds should be reported by pilots.
  11. Pilots flinging eager craft through footless halls of air are reminded that they alone are responsible for maintaining separation from other eager craft.
  12. Should any crewmember or passenger experience delirium while in the burning blue, submit an irregularity report upon flight termination.
  13. Windswept heights will be topped by a minimum of 1,000 feet to maintain VFR minimum separations.
  14. Aircraft engine ingestion of, or impact with, larks or eagles should be reported to the FAA and the appropriate aircraft maintenance facility.
  15. Aircraft operating in the high untresspassed sanctity of space must remain in IFR flight regardless of meteorological conditions and visibility.
  16. Pilots and passengers are reminded that opening doors or windows in order to touch the face of God may result in loss of cabin pressure.

Feedback time, and a long run

The day starts reasonably well, with some light coordination duty to start with. Light enough, in fact, that after three quarters of the run I’m asked to head to the course leader’s office and receive my so-called “Training Report”.

“Training Reports” are basically scheduled opportunities for the trainee to receive some summary feedback from the instructors, relayed by the course leader. This one is done in preparation of the “Phase Report” in two weeks, which is a phase of closer-than-usual observation of our performance, followed by a decision if it is worth continuing training.

The feedback basically says that I probably don’t have to worry about the phase report. Main issues: do not vector too close, do not become cocky. A good reminder of a lesson I learned some weeks ago during a completely ruined run on Donau Low – do not overestimate yourself, do not rest on what you got. Harsh (simulated) reality is sure to catch up if you do. :)

The afternoon gets interesting, as we do another Langen Arrival run with one of the two runways closed half of the time. This run takes two hours, is designed with quite a bit of traffic which is increased in complexity by the “ten miles between successive arrivals” rule (and an emergency to spice things up). Exhausting, but plenty of fun (where do we know that from…)

At some point, we only accept inbounds from the adjacent sector at a very low rate of at least thirty nautical miles between each other (normal is ten). When we are already back at twenty, a short look into the crowded holding stack is incentive enough to further lower that requirement to fifteen miles so they can get rid of some airplanes, too.

Shortly afterwards, the coach (doubling as planner) tests just how much I overestimate myself and suggests we could accept ten miles between the inbounds now. She is quickly halted by my “hell no!” Test passed…

And just in case we get a test about the ability to let airplanes fly full circles – I’m becoming an expert in that regard by now. Three in this run, and counting. At least we offer some nice view for the passengers (well…those one side of the airplane). :)

Normal Ops?!

A short, exciting tale from last week:

The usual routine, a Langen Arrival run with one of the two runways closed. As a result, the airport can accept fewer airplanes than usual, demanding for an increase in spacing between two successive arrivals of ten nautical miles (normal is 3 to 6 miles).

When my downwind starts to reach Luxembourg, I decide to send the next three airplanes into a left-hand full circle, trying to delay them close to the airport. And then comes Murphy…

Just as soon as all three airplanes are far enough in their turn so they can’t reasonably be stopped, the tower calls in and informs us that both runways are open again, we are resuming normal ops and please send us all those airplanes closely spaced together. Right…

Life continues of course, so we do as the tower bids. After taking the time for some loud swearing, of course (plenty of it available, since an airplane usually takes about two wasted minutes for a full circle).