Unfortunately, a company 777 flight returning from London ahead and at our altitude of FL 400 wasn’t following suit. The flight was asked by the Center controller if it could increase the speed to 0.85 Mach. A seemingly reluctant voice agreed.
Upon our arrival, drama greeted us again. The agent attempted to maneuver the jet bridge to the nonstandard 1L door, the most forward door on the left side.
Normally, the 2L door is utilized in Miami. The 2L door is nearest the left engine. Procedure requires that another agent be present for the maneuvering process as a safety measure to avoid striking the engine. The second agent was not available. The only option remaining was to attempt an awkward repositioning toward door 1L. Eventually the attempt was successful.
With the flight plan paperwork reviewed for our return trip to JFK, I approached the agent at the new gate. I was warned that a small FAA team had picked our flight to observe the boarding process. That was a new one for me. No injuries occurred because of the government oversight.
Just prior to my entry into the cockpit, I observed Eric in a frustrated conversation with a noticeably tall passenger. The tall passenger turned out to be an air marshal, the same air marshal who was aboard our earlier flight from JFK. Par for the course, I had never been informed of his presence.
At the last minute, our two cockpit jumpseats became full. One occupant was a copilot for my airline. His three-day trip had fallen apart because of an earlier air-interrupt shortly after departure from JFK. His 757 had lost the left system hydraulic fluid. Unfortunately, the landing gear and flaps are part of the left system.
All worked out well, except that the trip departed JFK very late with a new airplane. The copilot and his captain were replaced on their next leg once they arrived in Miami.
And just when we thought that we were on the downside of our drama, Eric struck again. The greeting flight attendant at the 2L door stated that he was becoming dizzy because of fume inhalation. The jumpseating copilot volunteered to investigate. Upon his return, the copilot’s best guess was that the wind was blowing the APU exhaust toward the door.
Last, but not least, on the list was a cockpit that just wouldn’t cool. The rest of the cabin was comfortable, but for some unexplained reason we managed to attain a sauna temperature of 90 degrees at the pointy end. We didn’t stop wiping the sweat off our brows until FL 390. A few minutes later, I had an “ah-ha” moment. Apparently the air-conditioning packs were working overtime on the ground in MIA. The duct to the cockpit must have become blocked with condensation ice. If we had moved the temperature control knob toward full warm, the ice would have melted. Lesson learned.
The simplest part of our day was my crosswind landing in New York. If what should simply be flying the airplane instead reads like a script from a made-for-TV movie, then it probably isn’t a good day. Drama should never be included.
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