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CRJ900 Pilot’s View From Munich To Pisa – Lufthansa CityLine

CRJ900 Pilot’s View from Munich to Pisa – Lufthansa CityLine

Post Series: Stories from the Flight Deck!

It‘s me again, Dominic! After giving you a brief insight into a whole day of flying on the CRJ900, I will now give you a more in depth view of a single flight. Additionally, I have prepared a very detailed video on YouTube which shows both the departure and arrival of the flight. I chose to show you the route from Munich to Pisa. We will start our common journey at that moment where we left off from the previous flight (from Trieste).

CRJ900 – Preparing the Flight!

After going through and completing the ‘parking checklist‘ and archiving the data of the Triest flight, I then begin to download the new Briefing Package in the Electronic Flight Folder of the aircraft. This is basically a ‘folder‘ that we have on a screen within the cockpit, to achieve the goal of having a paperless cockpit.

My first step in the preparation process of a new flight is to get familiar with the weather along with the detailed weather forecast for Pisa and Bologna (our alternate airport in case something goes wrong). As it is a sunny day all around Europe I shouldn‘t expect any surprises. The Pisa weather report tells me that there are light and variable winds, clear skies and a temperature of thirteen degrees Celsius. The weather report for Bologna, being almost identical.

CRJ900 – A Closed Runway at Pisa Airport!

CRJ900 cockpitDo you remember about the NOTAMS which I described briefly in my first blog article here? Today we have something significant in the NOTAMS, this is because one of the two runways in Pisa is closed. But as soon as I mention it, my Captain adds that this is somehow normal for Pisa as they always use one of the runways as a taxiway. Despite that, there is no other item listed in the NOTAM which would have any major influence on our flight.

The captain and I then start to talk about the fuel required, following that, we order the amount of fuel which has been decided to be sufficient for the flight.

Now we start to go separate ways. While the Captain is going outside to check our CRJ900, it is my job as the pilot flying for this sector to enter the routing data along with the weight and performance into our Flight Management System. Just as I finished this, with great timing, the meal I ordered is here. I take a seat with my colleagues in the cabin and we eat and talk about random stuff. 😉

CRJ900 – Waiting for the Passengers!

Shortly prior to our passengers arriving at our CRJ900, I am back in the cockpit together with the captain and we begin the so-called ‘Cockpit Checklist‘. Right after that, as I am the pilot flying, I hold the ‘Departure Briefing.‘ Our departure routing today is called ‘TURBO6S‘ and I am briefing the GPS points, whilst comparing it with the data entry in the Flight Management System to ensure everything is correct. Additionally, we check if the preselected altitude, speed and heading for the autopilot are correct.

Now it’s a waiting game until the passengers have boarded the aircraft and we can finalize the takeoff data calculation. After the ground crew have completed their tasks with the loading and all passengers have boarded, our Flight Dispatcher for this flight is sending us the actual loadsheet. On this Loadsheet, we find the actual takeoff weight and I use it to finalize my performance figures. After comparing the Captain’s results with mine, we enter the data in the aircraft. While the captain is welcoming our passengers on board, I am asking Air Traffic Control for our clearance to Pisa. After receiving the confirmation about our routing and the startup clearance, we read the ‘Before Start Checklist.‘

CRJ900 – Let’s Start the Engines!

After completing this checklist, we are ready to start the engines of our CRJ900. While the engines are spooling up, we have to monitor the engine indications very closely to check that the spool up sequence is in the right order and that no limits are exceeded. As the engines are running stable, we then set the required flaps for taking off, check the flight controls and complete the ‘After Start Checklist.‘

After receiving the taxi clearance from ATC, we make our way towards the active runway via taxiways and complete the final briefings including our engine failure procedure in the unlikely event that it does happen. The flight attendants reported to us, the flight crew, that everything was safe and secured in the cabin. After this, we finish the ‘Taxi Checklist‘ and “report ready” to ATC.

CRJ900 – Cleared for Take-Off Towards Italy!

Finally flying – For me one of the best moments after all the preparations on the ground is when we get the ‘Cleared for Take-Off‘ message by ATC. So we have lined up on CRJ900 and the Captain gives the command “You have Control“, following that, the throttles are set to takeoff power.

At the rotation speed, the captain gives the call out “rotate“ and I pull back smoothly on the control yoke which raises the nose of the aircraft. I am following the preplanned routing and prior to reaching Austria, about five to ten minutes after takeoff I command “Autopilot on“.

CRJ900 cockpit view

Now the duties we have to do are more in our head than actually physical. As we are crossing the Alps today with pretty high terrain in the vicinity, we always have to take into consideration what will happen in case of an emergency, and which aerodromes would be available to us in case we needed to land quickly.

Most important during that phase is to have the minimum altitude in mind due to the terrain, which will provide sufficient clearance overhead with the alps. Additionally, we keep up the radio communication with air traffic control and put the updated routing data into the Flight Management System. Of course, during the cruise, there is time to enjoy the beautiful view over the Alps and Northern Italy from our CRJ900’s flight deck.

CRJ900 – Approaching Pisa!

AroundCRJ900 the workload in the cockpit starts to increase again and the final preparations for the landing are ahead of us. As forecasted the weather in Pisa is great but we are very focused on the briefing as the terrain which is north of the aerodrome is pretty high.
The arrival route is planned to be above the sea towards the mountains, behind the aerodrome.

This leads us to a detailed briefing about our Missed Approach procedure. In that case, we will initially proceed towards the mountains. We will have to fly this missed approach if there is something that prevents us from landing. It‘s a nice example of how it works in aviation: always be prepared and always have at least one option as a backup.

Fifteen minutes prior to landing we will have completed our preparations and we then turn on the fasten seatbelt signs. After this, we read another checklist, the ‘Approach Checklist‘.

Now we are fully focused on the approach and with the captain talking to air traffic control. At the same time, I feed the autopilot with the headings and altitudes we get. Of course, we double check every instructions and if it is safe to avoid the terrain. Everything works out fine and we are cleared for the ILS approach on runway 04R and we start to bring the aircraft into the landing configuration. This means decelerating, setting the flaps and of course lowering the landing gear.

CRJ900 – Autopilot Off!

I turn off the autopilot and continue with manual flying and after receiving the ‘Cabin Ready‘ we finish our landing preparations with the ‘Final Checklist.‘ It’s all about flying and landing now. The wind is a bit from the left side so I point the aircraft‘s nose a slightly left of the runway to correct for the wind drift. Due to the sunny day we have some very light turbulence during the approach but it‘s not a big deal and I don’t have to correct too much to maintain a proper approach profile.

CRJ900 – Touchdown!

About thirty feet above the ground I pull the thrust levers into the idle position and initiate the flare sequence. That means pulling slightly on the control yoke to lift the nose a bit and reduce the descent rate in order for a smooth touchdown. Today I am a bit too early with lifting the nose. That is why we flare a bit longer than usual but the landing is still well within the touchdown zone of runway 04R in Pisa.

We then get the instruction from Pisa tower to vacate at the end of the runway. After I have decelerated the aircraft, the captain takes over control and I am now completing the ‘After Landing Items‘, as for example retracting the flaps. After arriving at our parking position we finish with the ‘Parking Checklist‘ and this ending checklist basically means leads to the new start for the next flight back to Munich.

I hope you enjoyed it to read my blog article from the CRJ900 cockpit again. This time a bit more detailed than last time. You will find the video of this flight on my YouTube channel with a timelapse of the Takeoff, approach and the landing in real time. I would be happy if you subscribe to my channel and if you follow me on Instagram @dom310a and, most importantly, please send me some feedback on Instagram if you liked the blog.

I will start with my new Type Rating for the Embraer Jet soon. Also, I wonder if you will be interested in a blog about how a Type Rating is working. If some of you are, I‘ll take you with me on the journey on how to get familiar with a new aircraft.

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