Credit to the photographs

I would like to thank Brian Losisto (Air Canada's photographer) for always allowing me to post his pictures. (The above thrust lever pic is his). Then there is Kelly Paterson from Calgary and plane spotter "Erik" from Germany. Of course, I have lots myself. On that note, if you feel a photo(s) may be in appropriate or the content I post a bit dubious by all means send me an email. I will ratify it! That's all I ask!
P.S I'd like to add Nadia from "la belle province" for her contributions!
...and YYC Disptacher...

...I hope you enjoy the blog...

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Blog: The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman
From time-zone to time-zone on the long haul Speedbirds

As you may have noticed a British Airways B777 captain has been posting quite a bit on my blog. I thought I'd give his new blog a boost. He should have great aviation stories from the other side of the "pond."

Captain Ian's last post:

Hello Doug. Hope the flying was enjoyable!Westjet I heard have mega-ambition and I understand are sniffing the possibility of overseas runs - but that doesn't fit with their business model I suspect.I sometimes see Transat at LHR - pretty rare - haven't seen them for a while either so not sure if it is still current - and a little birdie told me all of their A310s will be gone in 2012with A330-200s replacing them, with an option to upgrade to A350s. I believe Transat are like Monarch or Thomas Cook from this island. A318s are operating similarly to Privatair that use Boeing BBJs configured for perhaps 40-odd PAX in J-Class. Believe Lufthansa and Swiss sub-contract some Atlantic runs to them, so that's where the inspiration for 30-odd seater A318s come from - and directed at the bankers of the Big Apple and the Big Smoke who want the convenience.I spoke to a couple of the guys on the Airbus who are LCY certificated - and setting up very early is key for the approach as you said, and as the asphalt is very tight, the runway also has unique markings - and lights - basically you have the main gear well settled before the lights, or it's go-around time. It is really that tight operationally. The little blog is a great name), and I am reading, prepping, doing all that we all do in readiness for the semi-annual coming up later this week.Will post on my blog, what they throw at us (last time, they incorrectly stowed the QRH on purpose), gave me a fuel leak out of the blue, pressure failure - so O2 masks on, took the visibility from 12 miles to CAT III in 2 minutes, failed the left hand engine on short finals, with the grand finale of the other engine bursting into flames just as manual braking started at 80kts...I needed a drink after that lot! Cheers, Ian

Ian. I'm in from two days of flying. Just prior to descent into YYZ from YEG (Edmonton) we get an ACARS (Datalink) stating we have been drafted to fly to LGA (La Guardia, New York)
and back. I purposely bid to avoid LGA. Inevitably, there are delays in/out of New York and the hastle factor increases big time. The reason for the draft, an Embraer in YYZ broke down.

We get to LGA via the expressway visual onto 31. Basically you fly over two white towers (DIALS) and then descend over the expressway below. The turn is tight and very little room for being high. I kept hinting to the F/O he was a little high. He got on profile nicely and with "medium" brake setting on the autobrake the light A319 (only 36 passengers) came to a stop pretty fast.

Just one more leg back to YYZ. I notice there is an Embraer on gate A5 (we are on A7) with passengers and has not moved in 25 minutes. I hear on company radios they are having a 'lav' problem. I told the F/O I bet you the Embraer will go mechanical and we will be delayed. Sure enough the Embraer goes T/U (tango uniform). Things fall of the rails with operations. First they say only a few passengers will be joining us. Well, we pushed back with a full load 65 minutes late.

One has to understand, some of our New york passengers can be very demanding and this flight was no exception. I tried to keep them posted with announcements, but some of the paxs were getting very wound up.

We set the park brake in YYZ 50 minutes late after "Dougie boy" greases it on runway 06R.
I stand by the door to say good bye. I get two "nice landings," but two passengers were ready for a verbal fight. One guy mumbles something to the effect we should apologize to all the passengers. I didn't like his tone. I immediately threw out the concept "customers are always right" and challenged him by saying in a loud voice, "say again!" He just scurried off.

You try your best, but many passengers out there have no CRM skills and are anti-Air Canada, so sometimes you have had enough. I really don't know how the F/As do it.

As far as training, I too will be in the "box" at the end of this month. I can't wait. NOT!

Until my next pairing, I'll enjoy my five days off.

Ian, good luck with the blog!



2whls3spds said...

Thanks Captain Doug for the link to the new blog, I have added it to my reader. Referencing the obnoxious passenger(s): some people have no clue and are anti social to begin with. My bride is a 25 year veteran F/A with a major US carrier, and I don't know how she manages sometimes. I would cheerfully allow disembarkation of several passengers I have 35,000'. At least they would get to the airport on time.


From the Flight Deck said...

Aaron. I agree, we should have a jettison switch for unruly passengers. Having said that, I wouldn't like delays as a passenger either. I experienced quite a few when I commuted. It's just one of the many reasons commuting was not for me.

I kept my announcements brief during the delay. I was told on my command upgrade not to apologize if the situation was out of my control. I.E. don't apologize for
weather delays or turbulence because it is out of one's control. I guess what I'm trying to say is, acknowledge the delay(situation) but use the word "apologize" sparingly.

The in-charge was making ample announcements and I heard numerous apologies. After awhile, passengers get fed up with this.

She also got her wires crossed a little regarding a wheelchair request. A young man with an obvious physical disposition said he was waiting for his wheelchair.
The in-charge assumed he had his own. All the passengers deplaned and still no wheelchair. I called operations but nothing arrived.
I finally went down below to query the "rampies" directly. No wheelchair was in sight. Now I had the task of telling the passenger we did not board his wheelchair in New York. He quickly smiled and said, "I don't have my own wheelchair, I'm waiting for 'a' wheelchair." I called off the search with operations.


Jack said...

Hi Capt,

Are you not commuting from YHZ anymore? I remember reading your essay/article in the Globe & Mail a few years ago about moving back to YHZ from the Toronto area, as well as the references to commuting in your book.

I don't blame you - you must be either on the edge of your seat when experiencing delays, or spending your own money on a hotel room to be close to your base.

I've followed your writing in En Route for quite a while when I was doing alot of flying for work a few years ago - it was the first thing I looked at as soon as I was seated on the plane!


From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Jack. No more commuting for me! We moved from Halifax to Oakville, Ontario about 2.5 years ago. I belly ached too much about commuting.
I didn't think Halifax was worth commuting from. Here's a few reasons why: the weather on the east coast "sucks" (not a meteorological term), the cost of living is higher, taxes (personal and property) are more, gasoline is more, groceries are more, heating is more and the list goes on). Flying on standby-by was not my thing. Sometimes I would have to fly to YYZ the day before
and stay in a hotel at my own expense. There's probably over 150 pilots/flight attendants commuting from YHZ alone and the flights are full.

Although, I can't say that too loud to the commuters I fly with.
They all have their reason for doing it.

As far as enRoute goes I've been at it for 12 years. I finally convinced them to go to a more interactive question/answer column, but the well of questions is dry according to my editor. If you - or anyone out there- has questions that would be suitable for enRoute please send your queries to:

[email protected]

Jack - keep in touch.

Capt. Doug

Gracey Bee said...

Oh those silly EMB's...I bet it was a 145 too...I used to be a FA on the 145 and operated United in and out of YYZ a lot. The lav's ALWAYS had issues!

I enjoyed your blog, happened upon it through the suggestion of my Google Reader!

From the Flight Deck said...

Gracey Bee. Thanks for the post! It was actually an EMB 175.
You're correct in saying they certainly have 'lav' issues. In fact, the one in LGA had one 'lav' already broken so when the other decided to go mechanical that was it. Maintenance did try to fix it but "no joy."
I even witnessed them do a re-boot on the plane. My first officer (an ex-EMB pilot) told me the plane goes dark for four minutes. It's like a big "CTRL-ALT-DELETE."

Again, thanks for the visit!

Capt. Doug

Ian said...


Really appreciate the free publicity! The blog is not up to your standard, but I hope to get there.

I have only ever seen LGA from above - and that is quite a tight piece of real estate, I don't know for sure, but each runway looks no more than perhaps 6,000 feet.

I have heard stories about the Brazilian effort (we have them on non-mainline duties) and FlyBE operate a lot of them, and it's price point and operational costs are the clincher for most operators. If not the reliability!

You know, surprising as it is, I find the frequent flyers top be the most obnoxious - the gold card provides benefits, but is not a license to be obnoxious. My most memorable one, as we sat on the parallel awaiting our turn for 27R,was a passenger, apparently upgraded from business to Krug land, who had spotted the fire service lining up for a Full Emergency arrival of an A330. His meeting was apparently more important and demanded we ask ATC for the in-distress craft to execute a go-around in order we wouldn't be delayed. I could almost not contain myself...but sanity prevailed.

At the other end, in sunny Dubai, he was a little more understanding. Just pleased I didn't march out and grab his champagne flute which would have made the front page of the papers!

Now I know why I like you Doug - you're an east coaster with Celt blood ;)

From the Flight Deck said...

Ian. You're welcome! I see you are up to 5 followers and today is your birthday. Not bad at age 41...skipper on the B777. It certainly doesn't happen that fast here
at Air Canada.

LGA's runways are both 7000 feet, but the place was built when intersecting runways were cool. That's the problem, ATC prefers us not to cross the intersecting runway if we don't have to.
Someone called the place USS La Guardia because three of the four runways have water at the end. The terminal where we park has not seen a renovation in years, maybe never.

As far as Celt blood, the unruly passenger did make it boil. Generally, I try to smooth things over. Must have been a hiccup with my CRM.

Good luck with the ride! Do you guys have AQP? I'm learning all the acronyms with this program since the A340 did not qualify for AQP.

As mentioned my training is at the end of the month.
I must get into the books. I must get into the books. I must get into the books.

Later. I'm enjoying my days off by taking orders from the wife. Today, I hung double French doors and built a transom above.


Ian said...

Well, at noon British time I was re-certificated and with some other bits and bobs to complete after grabbing a sandwich, the pub beckons this evening.

Doug, yes, we have a variation of AQP, in our little acronym world - Alternative Training and Qualification Programme - or ATQ.

I know this came from the US FAA somewhere back in the 90s, and the European JAAs did not put in place specific guidelines until 2006.

In Speedbird land, the UK CAA worked with our flight training for over 24 months putting in place ATQ regimes, and the 777 fleet was the first to go live over 12 months back. So, ATQ is airline specific and fleet specific.

BA was the first, and now it others are using the techniques.

I believe like AQP, the regulatory requirements are fulfilled, but crew training time is more effective as it is based on data rather than a checklist of scenarios required for renewal. Plus as it is a close loop system, the the training and testing results are monitored.

It's a more effective training programme, and delivers the goods - but the element of "you never know" remains.

Those honey-do lists are more important than the check-rides and recurrent...apparently!

From the Flight Deck said...


It's a nice feeling getting the simulator stuff over with. Now you can enjoy the job. In my opinion, it's the worst part about the job...trying to keep it.

You pegged it, the element of "you never know" will always be there. I still believe a good ride is mostly predicated on the checker.
Just like an interview. It's not just the interviewee, but the interviewer. Just my observations.


Ian said...

Back from eating my favourite chicken pot pie, complete with mashed potatoes and peas - I think they put that on the crew meals specially for me you know. Shame that the pint of Tetley's isn't on the tray!

You're right Doug - if the pilot conducting the check ride is having one of those days, no matter the procedure, the ride will be one of "those".

I did hear about a failed ride maybe 5 years ago, where the pilot conducting the assessment had an "issue" with the person being evaluated, and did his worst. The exception rather than the rule - one hopes!

Seeing one of my friends tomorrow, who at age 45 - not with BA but another large UK line - got the horrific news, he had failed his medical, and that it is most likely over. The days, for him any way, of seeing the sunrise or sunset on the way to the Mediterranean now a fond memory.

When I heard the news, I tried to put myself into his shoes, to see if I could remotely comprehend what it must've felt like - and feel like - and I went cold.

Of course he'll be able to work, but the thought of watching a Speedbird climbing away on the SID and me ground-bound knowing I could never do that again - well, I just went cold again!

Now, she who must be obeyed bought me a tennis racquet and a "beat the middle-age flab" book for my birthday. I will try to say thanks through gritted teeth later :) Cheers, Ian

From the Flight Deck said...

To lose one's medical would be horrific. Although, one never knows what is around the corner.

As the song goes by Joni Mitchell:

"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone."

Tennis is a great sport. Maybe we'll have an international tennis tournament. It's funny, our job is predicated on a medical, but I look
at some of my co-workers with their huge equatorial bulges and wonder if I'm missing something. I also find commuters really pack on the weight. Another reason commuting is not for me.

I'll be playing more Air Canada hockey tomorrow and the wife let me go to the gym today. I only had to hang one new light fixture in the hallway today.

Enjoy the new "flab" book!


Air Jordan said...

What a great blog! It is a pity that I can not find RRS address. If RRS offers a subscription service, I can easily follow your blog!

From the Flight Deck said...

Air Jordan. I'll look into it, but I must admit I had to look up what RSS (really simple syndication) meant.