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...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The well is dry!

All bloggers, readers, visitors, aviation enthusiasts, "pilot wanna bes," enRoute (Air Canada's in-flight magazine) needs your questions!
Every month I answer two questions in my aviation enRoute column.
However, my editor tells me "the well of questions is near dry."
Do you have any nagging questions about aviation that must be answered?
The questions can't be political (i.e I can't answer how much a pilot makes at Air Canada. Well I could answer it, but somewhere along the line it will be censored/punted). I also can't answer questions pertaining to security (flight deck door procedures, etc.).
I have 90 words for my answer which includes the question. I wish there was more room to properly answer some of the great questions, but that's show biz.
1. So if you have fun, safe, generic questions please send them to:
And please include your name and where you live in case your questions is chosen! Thanks.
2. Or go to enRoute's website and find my enRoute blog:
3. Or post the question on my blog or website:
Here's a few to ponder. Instead of the 'well' being dry let's have the well overfloweth!
***Attention all Newfies out there...enRoute was hoping you would send questions their way to balance out where people sent thier questions from. I'm sure you would have lots of weather questions. Sorry I can't comment on George Street. :)
Samples of questions:
1. Why do airplanes need to be de-ice?
2. How do pilots find their way on the ground?
3. How are runways selected for landings and take off?
4. How high do thunderstorms get compared to the height airliners fly.
5. Are weather forecasts different for pilots?
6. What does commuting and dead heading mean?
7. I heard an airplane can encounter turbulence from other airplanes. True?
8. How much fuel does a jumbo jet carry?
9. Can pilots wear glasses?
10. How does a pilot communicate to air traffic control where English is their second language?
11. What's the difference between a captain and a first officer.
12. Can airline pilots fly different types of airplanes?
13. I hear Air Canada will be getting the Internet of their airplanes. Is this true?
14. What is considered when flying over the North pole.
15. Does paint on an aircraft make it significantly heavier.
16. How does a pilot get paid?
17. What does a weather radar do?
18. Who does the flight planning for pilots?
19. What is that hissing sound as I near the airplane in the Jetway?
20. How much does a food trolley weigh?
21. Is cargo below in the belly weighed?
22. What sort of humidity and at what pressure is cabin air?
23. Once an Air Canada pilot, is there much training thereafter?
24. How much does an airplane cost?
25. Do simulators replicate the real world?
26. Is a "direct" flight the same as a "non-stop" flight.
27. What is a ferry flight, "red eye," and Rapidair flight?
28. How do pilots find the runway?
29. Do toilets work on the ground?
30. Do engines have spark plugs?


Melissa said...

Dear Captain Doug,

My dad wanted me to ask you a question as he works in the corporate image business:

There's a new uniform being planned for Air Canada pilots - single breasted jackets, but still gold and black, and a purple tie.

What do you think of this? My dad has reservations as the three button blazer is not flattering to big tummies, and double breasted can hide the kilos.

I know it is an usual question.

I am also studying fashion design.


Melissa said...

Dear Captain Doug,

I have found a link to the new uniforms.

Your blog followers and readers might be interested to see.

Bye, Melissa.

Ian said...

A new uniform? - Don't tell that FO of mine who thought you looked handsome! (Don't worry she's married)!

That hissing noise when you approach a Speedbird is the cabin crew saying hello to the PAX - at least that's what it says in the manual for CRM - Crew Retaliation Models. ;)

Heading off in a roughly easterly direction to PEK this weekend - all set for my Schezuan Duck!

Hope the hockey went well - will send you an email too - I have my CYYZ turn in the mix. Believe I owe you beverages for the blog PR ;)

Cheers, Ian

From the Flight Deck said...

Ian. I just posted a new response to the uniform query. Yes, a new uniform is in the works. At least it was last year.

I like the hissing joke. Reminds me of the pilot joke against F/As. "What's the difference between a F/A and a jet engine...a jet engine stops whining when we arrive at the gate.
I won't go into the retaliatory jokes F/As have against us. I'm sure you heard most of them.

PEK? I miss my Peking Duck.

As far as hockey. I scored in the top right corner. It looked good. Not sure where it came from, but as long as it looks good.
Then I had the honour of painting the French doors, install another light and put up a mirror.
I gotta get back to work. I'll be doing a turn to the Turks and Caicos Sunday morning. Another airport I've never been to.

Yes, if you have a CYYZ layover we should rendezvous.

Our bidding for December has been delayed three days because of technical issues. Of all months for it to happen, December.
I'll probably have the honour of working Christmas.


Anonymous said...

Dear Captain Morris:

Here is a question (if you want for EnRoute) that I have had for quite a while:

Every time I walk on an airplane, I realize that there is a distinct smell (not of fuel). Why is this?
Is it ozone?
Does it have anything to do with the chemicals they spray when flying international?
What are those chemicals anyway?


Also did you find out anything else on the 1.14 * square root of altitude formula, for the distance to horizon?

From the Flight Deck said...

Dear Anon. Thanks for the question.

1. The distinct smell could be the conditioned air from the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit). Also depends on the humidity. You should have seen and smelled the misty air when parked on the ramp in Turks and Caicos yesterday. My maps were soggy.

2. Sometimes when we de-ice some fluid gets into the air conditioning packs, but we try our best to avoid this. It smells a bit like orange peels.

3. Sometimes there is an external power cart below the aircraft exhausting its fumes a little too close to the cabin. Even if the wind is blowing on the rear of the aircraft fumes from the APU can seep into the cabin. This happens during push back as well.

4. Service vehicles such as the fueler, loader, lavatory truck, maintenance, the "push back" tug, commissary truck produce undesirable fumes.

5. The commissary truck itself with food/food waste and garbage can give off its own odour. Lately, we have "J" class cheese trays which emit a
particular smell.

6. Sometimes the groomers use strong spray cleaners.

7. And yes, on some of our destinations we spray the cabin to debug the aircraft. On Christmas day last year I had the honour of flying to
Santa Clara, Cuba for a turn. The in-charge sprayed the front lavatory and caused the "LAV SMOKE" alarm to activate in the flight deck.
I never been to this airport before and it was the last thing I needed to address while on approach to the airport.

8. Sometimes passengers have a compelling urge to use the washroom and the flight attendants are armed with air freshener spray.

9. Even when the fueler enters the flight deck to hand us our "uplift" fuel sheet I can smell him before I see him. Don't know how they put up with it.

10. Even the air conditioning packs have their distinctive odour depending on aircraft type.

11. The external heaters/coolers also give off their own distinct aromas.

As you can tell there are many smells depending on the time of year, where we are and what equipment is working.

Sorry to be evasive.

Captain Doug

P.S Just saw your last comment. It is 1.23 times the square root of altitude in feet. Sometimes it's found on the internet in different depiction.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response.

Maybe it would be best to wear a clothes pin on the nose when I board.

From the Flight Deck said...

I guess I'm use to the smells. After my talk yesterday, one lady queried me on cabin air. I tried to convince her the air is flushed overboard every 3 minutes or 20 times an hour. There's a 60-40 ratio of recycled air with fresh air. Aircraft cabin air is cleaner than most air found in buildings and homes. The only glitch is, you are not sharing your house with 150 others. :)

Susan said...

Dear Doug:

I found you through the Flying Scotsman (Ian). I was a CSD on Eurofleet BA at Glasgow, and you might have seen on Ian's blog we put him in a high visibility vest to congratulate him on his Senior First Officer stripe and birthday. I think he was horrified - but he went along with it, and got a slice of birthday cake too!

Have your crew done anything like that to you?

My flying days are over now, I'm a doting grandmother, but I look back with fondness about my time working the cabins.

Really enjoy your blog too.

Best wishes, Susan (ex BA Eurofleet)

Matthew Saczkowski said...

Dear Captain Morris:

My name is Matthew - I am a 17 year old living in Milton, Ontario, and I have ambition to go to Seneca College on their Aviation Program. I have 8 hours flying time so far, and I love it. Only C-152s though. My mom and dad bought me flying lessons for my birthday - but I will need to work in the local coffee shop to get my hours paid beyond this.

Do any Air Canada airplanes have head-up displays and will they be retro-fitted to any of the fleet?

Thank-you for the great blog and your column in EnRoute. My dad flies a lot on Air Canada, and always sneaks me a copy so I can see your page.


From the Flight Deck said...

Matthew. Glad to hear you are reading enRoute and my blog. I think my book would be a good read for you and anyone else venturing toward the skies.(I'm not just saying that in order to sell a book)

Seneca College has a great program although you probably know it's tough to get in and it can be a tough course. All the best with it!

As far as HUD (Heads Up Display), no aircraft with Air Canada mainline has it. Air Canada Jazz does have RJs fitted with the HUD (HGS- Heads Up Guidance System).

Thanks for the post!

Capt. Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Susan. Just took a look at your well constructed video on Ian's blog and what a great idea it is to take pictures of fellow co-workers. We tend to overlook just how great our co-workers are.
I would like to take photos of the people I fly with, but I'm not sure if it would be well received.

When I started with Air Canada, 14 years ago at age 34, the flight attendants made me do a water surface on a flight from Tel Aviv to Toronto. I was told I passed my
route check as a "cruise pilot" so the pilot supervisor arranged things with the F/As.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Best wishes from the other side of the Atlantic.

Capt. Doug

Ian said...


I didn't know where else to put this - but there's been a lot of negative press (recently in Flight International) about Transport Canada and their SMS programme - or is that program?!

Can I ask, what's your view of the Transport Canada SMS interpretation and the positive and negative safety implications for flight operations?

Thanks, Ian

PS Hope you're keeping warm, with a nice dollop of porridge on the buffet!

From the Flight Deck said...

Ian. I must confess I know very little about SMS.

You had me digging into the bowels of Air Canada's employee website.

They actually have a "SMS" 101 PDF file.
Just to be different, we call it iSMS

What is iSMS at Air Canada?
Our Safety Management System known as the integrated Safety Management System
(iSMS) allows and encourages managers and employees throughout the corporation to
report any potential hazards (e.g. non-compliance with standard operating procedures
(SOPs), safety concerns). Reporting proactively, before an incident occurs, allows these
hazards and concerns to be eliminated before they result in an incident or accident. If a
hazard is identified and presents an immediate danger, all appropriate action should be
taken to minimize the risk. In short, one component of our iSMS is risk management.

Sorry I wish I could comment further but it's at an infancy least for me.


Here's Transport's link:

Alan said...

Hi Captain Doug

I'm Alan Reynolds from Brampton.

I'm 18 years old and I have a question for you:

I have been reading the Flying Scotsman blog of Ian the British Airways Captain and your great blog too - what's the difference between entering the airline industry in the UK and here in Canada?

I recently got my PPL in Canada, but it seems the route to an airline job might be easier in the UK. I have UK citizenship too.

What would your advice be to a budding airline pilot?

Thanks, Alan.

From the Flight Deck said...

Alan. I know for certain training is cheaper here in Canada than the U.K. The Brampton Flight Center seems like a great place to train. As you probably know, I teach some weather there.

You have U.K citizenship? That could be worth a lot especially if you get your JAA (Joint Aviation Authority) license. Apparently a few schools in North America offer it. I think the Moncton Flight Center is one of them.

I'll copy and paste your email to the Flying Scotsman.

Capt. Doug