Ejets

…This is why I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for, have faith that you have received them, and you will have them…

In the autumn, I’ll be transferring onto a different type of aircraft, the Embraer Ejet series. An Ejet isn’t a Scottish idiot, it’s a family of airliners that includes the E170, E175, E190 and E195. Our company has E175s and E195s.

This will be only my fourth airliner in over 20 years. Here’s the first one…


That’s a British Aerospace Jetstream 41, of British Airways Express. This aircraft, which I’ve actually flown, belonged to Manx Airlines, which was then a franchise operator of BA. I started as a First Officer on that in May 1994; becoming a Captain in December 1996. In January 1999, I changed to this…


That’s an Embraer 145, and again, I’ve got this very one in my logbook. It was the same company, but had morphed into British Regional Airlines operating as BA Connect. That was a nice¬†aeroplane; a pocket rocket. In 2009, after Flybe bought BA Connect, I changed onto this paddle steamer…

A Bombardier Dash 8 Q400. I actually flew this very one on the 10th of May to Inverness and Dublin. All joking apart, this is the aircraft I’ve got the most respect for. It’s solid, powerful and comfortable. I’ve been in a Hurricane Force 12 landing (December the 18th, Aberdeen) and it’s been fine. I’ve been inside a thunderstorm (by accident, let me assure you..) and it held together. I’ve had it covered in ice. I’ve taken it out of Chios, 35 degrees, max weight, 1500 metre runway with a mountain at the end. I’ve flown it on one engine after a prop malfunction. Smooth as a bairn’s bum.

But it’s quite difficult to fly. And we spend all our time in bad weather and short runways. Stressful. A young man’s game that. I want something easy to fly now and I want out of training, so I’m going back to jets; this one…


Nice, isn’t it?

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SPWI…

….means Single Pilot With Inteference. That phrase aptly describes how line trainers feel during the first few line training flights of a new pilot.

Now, before you all get uppity over new pilots flying with passengers, let me explain…

These new guys are not that new. They’ve immersed themselves in aviation 24/7 for nigh on two years. By the time they’ve come to us for airline training, they’ve proved to everyone who counts that they can fly. With us, they’ve done a month in ground school, then 44 hours in the simulator. By the end of that 44 hours, they can fly on one engine, they can glide it with no engines, they’ve been through every emergency we can think of and they’ve flown every approach type (ILS, NPA, RNAV, CAT 2, visual, glide, single engine…) we can think of. They can definitely fly our aircraft and have a rating from the CAA to prove it. What they’ve never experienced is flying actual routes – called lines, hence the term airliner – with passengers on board.

We’re not stupid. For the first few days we have a Safety Pilot on the jump seat. This is an experienced First Officer and his or her job is to watch over me. Sounds strange, but even though I’ve got 13000 hours and 10 years of being a trainer behind me, I still have an ordinary brain with ordinary capacity and I can still be overwhelmed. Why? Well, remember, these machines are designed to be flown by two people, so if one is “behind the drag curve” we need back up. Hence, three pilots for the first coupla days.

When they going gets tough, the poor trainee can feel left behind. When this happens, he can actually get in the way and “interfere”, or make the going tougher. It’s not their fault – not at all; they’re trainees – but it can make a very stressful day even more so.

I had one such day a couple of weeks ago. Howling winds, turbulence, technical faults, passenger problems. You name it, we had it. The young lad was doing his best, but was clearly struggling. He bounced his first ever landing with passengers. The crucial thing, though, was what he did about it. He simply held the attitude steady, added a touch of power, and waited for it to float back down (jet guys; you can do this; but you need to be in a turboprop) His second landing later on – in a gustier wind – was textbook. He’ll be fine. Me? Nervous wreck! Why do I keep doing this? Is it because I just love it?

Yup, exhilarating. But that’s not what I look forward to. I look forward to being in the workshop and doing stuff.

I’ve been steadily progressing with this drum kit.

Hardware

Now that all the drums are dismantled and are acclimatising in the “studio”, I had a look at the hardware I’m left with.

I’ve got enough. There’s a dilapidated Hi Hat, a robust Sonor stand, another generic stand, a snare drum stand and plenty of Sonor cymbal arms. There’s also various other clamps and bits and bobs. I’ll certainly be able to build a robust kit.

Hi Hat

 

The picture above shows it cleaned and finished. I must have been “thick of head” when I began dismantling it because I didn’t take a global “before” picture. Anyway. It’s been sitting in a loft for 20 odd years; it needs a clean and polish. The tubes feel rough. I peeled off some old gaffa tape… 

 …to find that there’s a nut missing where the foot board attaches to the heel plate… 

The thread at the end of the pin looks tapered, so I’m not sure how long a replacement nut will stay on. I’ll give it a go. If it doesn’t hold, I’ll replace the entire bolt. The sprung rod simply unscrews, showing a gungy spring… 

…which cleaned up nicely… 

That rod has worn away one side of the guide tube in the centre of the cymbal cup; the damaged end to the right in this photo… 

Gunge around the toe stop… 

Some dull and grotty tubes…. 

Knocking out the cymbal cup guide tube… 

This nylon rod guide from inside the bottom of the main tube… 

…contained some parts subsumed in the mire… 

The base is connected to the legs by some pins, which I knocked out with a drift and hammer…  

 

All parts were cleaned in the usual manner and the tubes were polished with lubricated silicone carbide…  

The tubes slide very easily now. Before, the felt gritty and jerky. Assembly next.

Big Bad TED has been especially active recently. As of this posting date, I’ve actually finished the entire kit and have been playing it. Believe me, it sounds awsome. Just never seem to get round to writing about it. The thing is, blogging has to be kept as a low priority; and each post takes a long time to do, although very satisfying. Things just keep coming up and I run out of time. 

The good news, though, is that I’ve taken drastic steps to combat TED. More on that in the next post…