Flying in the Jump Seat (was: A319 engines thrust changes during climbing)

Date:         15 Apr 97 12:56:42 
From:         Steven McDowell <>
Organization: Sybase, Waterloo
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> >On a more general note: what is the situation about this on different
> >airlines. I know it is officially (ICAO ?) not permitted, but would be
> >interested on experience by others in the newsgroup.

I have asked to sit in the jumpseat for a landing many times and was
unsuccessful until last year, when I was permitted to sit in the
jumpseat of an Air Canada 767 during landing at Toronto. I had visited
the flight deck earlier and had had a very enjoyable conversation with
the crew about (personal) computers. I think it was just one of those
things where we got along really well. Before I left, I said "what does
a fellow have to do sit in the cockpit during landing?". The captain
just said to tell the stewardess to bring me up before landing. I spoke
to the stewardess during descent and arrived in the cockpit while we
were about 15000 feet up.

The captain helped me buckle in, gave me headphones to listen to ATC and
then ignored me the rest of the way. Besides one "Wow", I did not say a
word until engines stop.

It was a beautiful cloudless day with incredible visibility. We flew
over the airport at about 10000 feet, turned over Mississauga (suburb of
Toronto) and landed eastbound. The work of "flying" mostly consisted of
flying the computer (spin a dial, punch a few keys) until about a minute
before touchdown, when the FO took over. It was fascinating watching the
FO adjust the desired flight level, then see the throttles move
themselves back, feel the plane descend faster, the throttles move
forward again as the descent slowed, all from spinning one dial.

The only moment of concern came when a stern voice from the cockpit
console said "Monitor vertical airspeed" several times. This occurred
right after ATC had told us to look out for traffic below us. The
Captain and FO looked out the window, twiddled a few knobs, then sat
back as before. I asked about it afterwards and they said that they had
not encountered that particular warning before, but that there was
another aircraft below, and that we were descending faster than they
were, so the onboard radar had caused the warning to indicate that we
were closing on them. However, we were never close. The Captain and FO
had just adjusted our descent rate until the other aircraft was clear.

The whole experience was a (very) high point of my life, definitely in
the top five. My face hurt for three days afterward from smiling so
much. I highly recommend it.

As for US airlines, I think they are pretty strict, but on one flight
(don't recall which US airline) I did see one very pretty blonde go up
into the cockpit during cruise and not come out till after landing. I
think the rules are different for pretty women! ;-)

My real e-mail address is: smcdowell (at) sybase (dot) com