Monday, September 29, 2008

Honolulu - Los Angeles / Boeing 767-300ER / IFR

I tried a flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles yesterday afternoon (Hawaii time), mirroring United Airlines Flight 82. However, since I had to get some sleep for work, I flew it offline and set the option to pause at top-of-descent on my Level-D 767. ETA at Los Angeles was 0418Z.

Something must have happened during the night; the aircraft never paused. At about 0438Z I woke up and returned to the flight deck, as my mysterious phantom relief pilots went back to the crew rest area. Unfortunately, I discovered that I was flying over New Mexico, just east of ABQ, with nearly empty tanks. When I took over the controls, the engines abruptly flamed out. For a while I considered trying to land at a nearby airport (remember the Gimli Glider?), but I didn't really have the time to try it, so I just ended the five-hour flight. Oh well. I don't know why the top-of-descent didn't work.

As a general rule, I don't like long flights. Sitting on the flight deck for hours at a time bores me, just as it would bore me in real life. I like flights where you spend a little bit of time in cruise and then you come back down. That's why I favor flights such as PHX-LAX, which is only an hour. There are quite a few regular airline flights on 737s that are in this category, but when you look for 1-hour flights on heavies, you look a long time before finding something, at least in the United States. This flight out of Honolulu was a 767, but it took five hours. Most of the 747 traffic involving the U.S. is overseas stuff and really long hauls, 7 hours and beyond. I've been known to fly a regularly scheduled Southwest flight in a 747 (which never happens in real life—Southwest doesn't have any 747s!) as a bizarre compromise.