A Delay in YXE

Recently, I was on day 4 of a 5 day pairing. I was supposed to operate a flight from Saskatoon that had picked up some of its passengers in Regina and would continue to Puerto Vallarta, and then back to Saskatoon. On day 5, I would just deadhead home. Easy right? Nope! Because we got to the aircraft, we did our checks, all our passengers got on board. In the cabin, we were ready to go and it was only a few minutes until our scheduled departure time when the captain called me into the flight deck.

From experience I know this isn’t a good sign. My stomach is already sinking.
The master caution light has burnt out. And Saskatoon is not a maintenance base. If a compatible part could be located at YXE airport, we could have this solved probably within 30 minutes and be on our way. If not, we had to have a spare part flown in on whatever airline had the soonest flight arriving from Calgary. They were still trying to work out the details.

I made an announcement to the passengers, something along the lines of, “Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has just informed me that an indicator light in the flight deck had burnt out. It so happens that this is a major indicator light which tells them is something is seriously wrong with the plane. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, it is required that be working before we take off.” (Not my exact words, but something like that. A little humour usually helps in these situations.) “Right now, we’re trying to see if this part is available here in Saskatoon. So unfortunately I don’t have a time estimate right now. I’ll let you know when I have more details.”

I called the back galley and I asked them to prepare a juice service by tray (We’re not allowed to do trolley service on the ground, as it would take too long to pack up if we were suddenly able to depart)

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Figuring out Crew Scheduling

My schedule changes often. That’s what you sign up for when you join this industry. In fact as I’m writing this post I’m on day 2 of 4 of reserve duty. I could be called to go anywhere at any moment.

I recently had a pairing in the prairies that went a little sideways. It was day 4 of a 5 day pairing when we experienced a delay out of Saskatoon. I have an upcoming post where I talk in greater detail about what happened.

But the short version is that we had loaded all our passengers, then had an issue in the flight deck that caused a nearly 5 hour delay. We needed to wait for a part to get flown in on the next flight from Calgary. We had offloaded the passengers in the terminal and were waiting to hear back from crew scheduling what to do.

My crew and I had recalculated our duty. Our maximum planned duty can only be 14 hours working, or 17 hours if there is a deadhead involved. However, the crew can choose to extend their working duty to 16 hours as long as they are fit to fly.

We were scheduled to fly YXE-PVR-YXE, and with the delay our duty would have exceeded 14 hours. We already knew the company wouldn’t be keeping our pairing the way it had been planned. And because we had been planned to come back to Saskatoon that night, we knew our hotel rooms were still waiting for us.

I called crew scheduling, I had been prepared to tell them the crew could extend their duty, but we would need to go back to the hotel to rest until the plane was ready. When I called though, they told me their were still figuring things out and would call me back.

An hour later I called again, and again they told me they would call me back when they figured things out.
That’s what they tell you when they’re busy. Crew scheduling is always figuring things out.

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