I think we need a bit of humor to counter the seriousness and complaints some people add to this place so I’ll get it started. I’ve been trying to learn all there is to know about flying the A320 because it’s just such a cool aircraft, one I’ll be a passenger on a lot, and who knows, someday there could be an emergency with the pilots and I could get one of them to auto land and be a hero. Fat chance but a nice fantasy.
Anyway, my flight today was between Gatwick and Alicante, a flight I’m actually going to be on the first part of July if Covid mess doesn’t prevent it and I did a bang up job of creating the flight plan, starting cold and dark, having the pushback, taking off smoothly and heading South through a good size weather front. ATC set me up leaving at FL240 although the flight plan was designed for a cruise at FL360. Well out over the English Channel I was in the middle of thick clouds and sent a request to ATC for an additional 10,000 feet to the cruise thinking I might be able to get above the clouds. They OK’d it but said expect FL470. I think they were about to give me FL370 and my request hit at the same time and 10k got added to it. In a few minutes I got the message to go to FL470. Now that seems high but I thought what the heck. Let’s try it so I put it in for altitude and watched as it continued to ascend but then stalled out around FL380 and the speed began to drop like crazy. All this time ATC was nagging me that I needed to speed up my ascent. I’m cussing at the auto pilot for being stupid.
During that time I thought I was headed higher and before it just refused to go I was panning around the controls with my mouse which will turned out to be my undoing.
Once I figured out I wasn’t going higher, I asked ATC for a 10k reduction and they agreed. The plane dropped like a rock and it was only then that I noticed that my speed brakes were deployed fully. Apparently in my panning around I somehow grabbed hold of that spoiler knob and pulled it all the way. No wonder the plane wouldn’t go above FL380 and was slowing down although I’m not sure the 320 Neo would go to FL470 with everything right.
I had one more funny moment in the flight when I was closing in on the final waypoints before the ILS approach, was coming down to 10000 ft when ATC called and said to go to FL360. I just stared at the message for a moment and then decided to ignore it. No way I could get back up to FL360 and back down in the distance I had left. Soon, two new instructions came on for 7000 and 4300 which made far more sense. Everything went perfectly after that even to the point of a complete auto landing.
I have a feeling flying an actual A320 is probably less nerve racking than dealing with pretend and irrational ATC instructions, trying to pan about the cabin, making your mouse do what you want, etc.