Finally got to return to National this past Sunday. Here's some of the pic's I was able to get, and a description about my trip.
First time on the Trups1. It is a very difficult arrival for the crj which has no autopilot vnav control nor any autothrottles. The FMS does give us advisory descent in ft/min but we had to play with it to get so it wasn't instructing us to descend at 6000ft/min while trying to cross at 250kts. Our airline and others have had trouble with this arrival and supposedly the FAA is looking into making changes. Also note the jeppsen's error at LACKE way-point (Right before HEROO). It's depicted as a fly-over point when it should be a fly-by point. This lead to one of our pilots following the chart and and actually flying out over the river into the arrival path for runway 1.
Taken from gate 35 looking towards DC and the commuter ramp.
Taken from spot E on the commuter ramp. The crj on the the gate is the one we brought in from TYS. Note the looming storm clouds.
Climbing through the clouds over Virginia enroute to SAV
In cruise on the return trip to DCA from SAV
Storm clouds over the DC area leaving DCA for CVG.
It was a crazy 2-day trip. Sunday was TYS-DCA, DCA-SAV, SAV-DCA, DCA-CVG.
I haven't been to DCA in over a month. My first landing into DCA was ILS 1 circle to 33, it got interesting in the flair as an 8kt tail wind kept the plane floating a little longer than I had planned. We touchdown right at the runway 1 intersection. I had to be aggressive on the brakes (sorry pax) to make sure we stopped before the end of the runway and the blast wall that's at the end of 33.We swapped planes and left for Savannah.
It got a little dicey coming back into DC from SAV, the storms moved in and shifted the winds to gusting out of the southeast. The problem was there was a cell right over top of the river and the lda/dme 19 approach path, so they had to stop arrivals. We were on the ojaay arrival and were given to hold as published at JIMBE. After we calculated the EFC time into the fms it showed that our fuel upon landing would be 1100lbs (about 35min). We decided we would hold for 15min then divert to RIC as our chances of getting into IAD didn't look good cause of a storm over top of the airport. 10min into the hold we were asked if we could accept the gps 15 approach, and we said yes.
So we were given vectors, but once we got close for the gps 15 Potomac approach thought we could get in on the LDA, so the turned us to intercept the localizer. I far prefer the Rosslyn LDA as the approach is more stable and gives you time to get set-up. But approach thinking that visibility and clouds were low due to the storms cleared us for the LDA/DME 19. The problem with this approach in a jet is, that if you are a couple of seconds late in starting you descent to the next step down fix, you are going to be high the entire time. It's also difficult to get the plane slowed down and configured to land having to keep doing a steep descent every 2 miles. While I was trying to stay on top of the descending the autopilot was having a tough time capturing the localizer. It was showing us left of course, which I didn't like being that put us on the side of P-56.
We broke through the clouds about 6 miles out. Having both the runway and river insight I turned off the autopilot and having enough of the LDA I followed the river visually in. I had to guestamate on my altitude due to a Delta 757 blocking the VASI's that line up with the river. But as I turned final we were on glidepath and landed without issue. We landed with 1800lbs of fuel onboard which is pretty much our 45min reserve. We then sat on the commuter ramp as it began pouring down rain waiting for the airplane we were to swap into. Unfortunately they were not lucky and had to divert to Richmond. Only to find out upon landing in Richmond the FAA instituted a hour ground stop at DCA for arriving aircraft. Since we knew that is was going to be awhile before we could swap, we called dispatch and asked if we could keep the plane. They told us no that we needed to swap airplanes, only to call us an hour and a half later to say we are keeping the plane and that we could continue to CVG
. We departed and arrived into Cincinnati 2 hours late.
Monday was CVG-PHL, PHL-BNA, BNA-PHL, PHL-TYS. Storms over Philly lead to an exciting morning. We were given holding instructions on the arrival. With the weather not expected to be IMC we didn't have an alternate nor any alternate fuel, so we couldn't hold for long. We planned on diverting to Allentown and confirmed it with our dispatcher. But right before telling NY center we were going to divert they told us to contact philly approach and we continued in on the arrival. I shot the Converging ILS 17 as they use this approach to get planes in on 9R and 17 at the same time. We went down to the minimums for the approach and could barely make out the runway. With the thought in our minds that we really didn't have a whole lot of fuel to go miss and try it again, we continued on the approach. 50ft lower the runway was in clear sight and we landed.
We deplaned had an hour break and then boarded up for Nashville. We then had to wait 20min as lightning struck close to the field and our push back crew had to get off the ramp. We then pushed and taxied out. The thunderstorm changed the runways to departing 27L so we joined the line. Ground hands off to a sequencing controller who tells you your position in line. We called and was told we were number 35ish. So after waiting 45mins then another 5 mins because the Wisconsin plane in front of us forgot they were next in line and didn't have their second engine started when they were told to line up and wait. We then left for BNA.
When we got to Nashville the storms over Philly had moved east and were affecting New York, so we decided against asking for more fuel. That was a mistake, because as we arrived into Philly another storm popped over and had closed down the approach to 27R. We again not having extra fuel made plans to divert to Baltimore. But just like the time before right before we announced we were diverting Ny center handed us off to approach and we continued the arrival. The problem this time was had less fuel than before and there was plane in front of us on the arrival. We didn't like our fuel situation and declared minimum fuel. Philly approach was nice in giving us priority and moved us ahead of the other planes. We did have to fly through some moderate rain but we got in ok and without having to pull the emergency card. We got our nice Philly crew meals and then left for Knoxville. We were only 11th in line departing this so it wasn't so bad, and the Captain was happy that we got in to Knoxville late enough that he missed his deadhead to Charlotte to go a company meeting the next day in Dayton.
Like I said it was a crazy 2 day trip, but it was fun and more exciting than boring month I've had flying in Charlotte.