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View Diary: Flight Engineer - A Dying Breed (106 comments)

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    I was a terrible S/O which is probably why they made me a OE (Operating Experience) instructor my third month on the panel. I also found that I could run the panel from the second observers seat much better than at the panel. Maybe it was from so many hours of watching new guys sort out a job so foreign to an experienced pilot or occasionally screw up so badly but it is more likely that being able to see everything at a glance, to say nothing of having more experience, made the job easier. I usually sat back there in cruise during the very few times that I didn't have a student. Yet on my very last flight on the 727 I completely screwed up the fuel on a two hour jog from LAX to Seattle. It was within limits when we landed and all three engines were running throughout the flight but I proved to myself once again that I did not belong in the backseat.

    Much later I checked out as captain on the DC-10. I had only a little experience flying with an engineer during a year as a 747 F/O since all of my intervening flying was on glass cockpit jets with two pilot crews. I quickly relearned the value of the S/O. He/she makes or breaks the operation. The F/O (co-pilot) is not much more than an autopilot and radio operator while the engineer runs the show during a problem. The F/O flies and talks to air traffic control, the Captain watches the show, and the S/O does everything else. Pretty good for the least experienced and lowest paid guy on the crew. But not too many captains are stupid enough to mess with the engineer for sport.

    Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

    by VTCC73 on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 11:48:00 AM PST

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