We are level at 34,000 feet... A heavy Chevy. The flight management computer gives a maximum "recommended" altitude of 35,300 feet at our current weight. Being a natural born skeptic when it comes to flight management computers, I whipped out my stubby #2 pencil, hand calculator, and performance book... OK, Mr. Flight Management Computer is darn close. We can reach 35,500 feet, but the fuel burn would be 600 pounds per hour higher. Anyway, it is a moot point... (Heck, I am just killing time.) During daylight hours, air traffic control will not give us 35,000 feet. That is an eastbound altitude and we are westbound against the sun. In a few more hours and a few tons less fuel, we can make 36,000 feet.

Today, our weather avoidance route spans the southern reaches of the Empire. We followed the east coast to Savannah, then banked toward the west and the City of Angels. Five more hours and we will be there.

Yesterday, a new Directive came from The Management Bastion addressed to all line pilots. It concerned unauthorized reading material in the flight deck, such as newspapers, books, magazines, and the Big One... Laptop computers. The next crew who is caught reading or using any of the afore-mentioned items (in flight) will be in trouble, or so the Directive threatened.

So, that leaves performance manuals, flight operation manuals, and my favorite... The A-320/319 aircraft manual. I think I will calculate the cruise altitude again.

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