Thursday, May 28, 2009
Why does the flight time from YYZ to YYC differ by around 30minutes outbound versus the return? The most common answer I get is tailwinds. If the plane, on both trips, travels at the maximum cruising speed of500 mph, how do tail winds factor in ?
It's true airliners travel about 500 mph, but one has to factor in the ground speed (speed in relation to the ground). Winds aloft generally flow from west to east and can have speeds as high as 200 mph (actaully they have been known to blow 250 knots (290 mph) in the winter time. If we consider a wind of 100 mph from the west, then a westbound flight would have a speed over the ground of 400 mph whereas the return eastbound flight would travel across the ground at 600 mph. Air Canada's flight dispatch will try to keep flights out of the headwinds and capitalize on the tailwinds, but there are many other factors to consider. Typically for scheduling, Air Canada uses a component of 40 i.e. the speed of an eastbound flight will be on average 540 mph and the westbound flight 460 mph across the ground.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
The "goings on" in the flight deck.
I'm sure you have been asked this question many times before. I just can't seem to find the answer on the blog anywhere. Anyways, during long 5 or 6 our flights what are the pilots doing in the cockpit to whole time? I understand that their can be weather problems to deal with, computer to programing for flight and many other complications, but what is it you do that whole time? I know that you responded to an earlier question saying that it never gets boring in the cockpit.
I just flew a six hour flight from YUL (Montreal) to YVR (Vancouver).
Duties are divided into PF (pilot flying) and PNF (pilot not flying).
The PNF's duties include talking on the radios, paperwork (filling out the log book, getting weather, and doing fuel/time checks at each waypoint). The PF flies the airplane, but once at cruising altitude with the autopilot on, there is not much to do.
We talk, but sometimes the conversation runs out. We eat (mostly out of boredom) and unfortunately, we have no visitors after 9/11. That means even flight attendants rarely visit. We are all on our own. Even going to the washroom nowadays is a major 'SOP' adventure.
Many pilots will find commonality, just like most conversations, and go from there. I've been on flights where the conversation doesn't stop (well except during "sterile" times (+/- 10,000 feet) and I've been on flights where a mere few personal sentences have been shared. Two of the many prequisites for being an airline pilot is good communication and being gregarious. Introverts need not apply.
Most airlines forbid the reading of newspapers, etc. So reading non aviation material, doing sudokos, crosswords are not allowed. However, neither is speeding on highways, making false claims on tax returns, and buffing up your resume.
One overused depiction of our job: It's hours and hours of sheer boredom coupled with moments of sheer terror.
For long haul flights we fly with extra pilots allowing us to take breaks in designated crew rests.
Hope this helps.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
A pilot on "make up?"
Golden Gate. (It makes for a great walk)
Most airlines pay pilots by the hour - actually it's by the minute but who's counting? How many hours a pilot is paid varies from month to month. The computer program spews out our "blocks" as near as possible to the designated monthly value. For May, I was blocked to fly 67 hours (a low block). In order to top up for the month,we pilots have the option of going on "make up." Crew sked called and offered a flight to San Francisco with a layover and then a flight back to Toronto the next day topping me up to 78 hours. For the rest of the month, I hope to get some "block growth" as well. (A pilot is either paid the scheduled time for the flight or the actual time of the flight- whichever is longer). "Block growth" is pretty well guaranteed during the winter months due to deicing, but the summer months bring delays because of thunderstorms.
Who would think flying an airliner would be so complicated?
Speaking of making things complicated, the approach into San Francisco offers four varieties on runway 28R alone. For example: LDA DME RMY 28R, ILS RWY 28R CAT II and III, Quiet Bridge visual 28R, FMS Bridge Visual RMY 28R. Incidentally, the reference to the bridges is not the Golden Gate bridge, but the Dumbarton or San Mateo bridges.
To make things even more interesting NORCAL (Northern California) approach informs you the type of approach well into the descent. Some fast finger programing may be required. We were given the FMS Bridge Visual on 28R. Another thing SFO ATC is noted for is keeping you "high" i.e. "slam dunk" approaches. Even our flight plan warns us of over speeding the flaps due to rushed approaches. The trick is to get the airplane dirty (flaps and perhaps landing gear extended well ahead of time).
The first officer greased it on awing a full load of passengers. It was off to the hotel to get our oven fresh chocolate chip cookie at check in and then for a debriefing beverage. You gotta love it!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Across the Rockies FOUR times in a day
"Behind the Scene Teams"
Getting an Airliner Airborne
1. Pilot training and checking
2. Crew scheduling (pilots)
3. Flight Attendant training and checking
4. Crew scheduling (flight attendants)
5. Maintenance (maintenance can be subdivided into numerous subsections)
6. Air Canada Jazz (connectors)
7. Flight dispatch
8. SOC (Systems operations Control) The "nerve centre."
9. Weight and balance
10. STOC (Station Operations Control) Individual airport "nerve centre."
13. Customer service agents (even the grumpy ones)
14. Maple Leaf lounge (for some)
15. Ramp attendants (baggage, water and lavatory service)
19. Air Canada Cargo (also dangerous goods section)
20. ATC (Air Traffic Control) (Tower)
21. ATC (Radar)
22. NavCanada (navigation supply and service)
23. GTAA (Airport authority)
24. Ramp controllers
25. Customs (Canadian, American, etc)
27. Security (passengers)
28. Security (airport and aircraft)
30. Fire services
31. Snow ploughing and airport maintenance
32. Airport heating and support
33. Weather observers (I had to support the weather man, at least 3 times...)
34. Weather forecasters
35. Upper air weather launch sites for upper winds
37. Public relations
38. Human resources
39. Management (even though not many care to admit it)
40. Communications (internal communication, data link, internal mail)
42. Corporate security
43. Transport Canada
44. Medical department for pilots and flight attendants
45. Police, RCMP
47. Food industry (restaurants, book stores, even Tim Hortons)
48. Airport cleaners
49. Transportation (taxis, buses, subways)
50. Crew buses and taxis
51. Hotels (layovers)
52. Parking (passenger and employee)
53. Baggage carts, porters (may not seem important but...)
54. Supplies and stores
55. Websites, computer technology
56. Uniform companies
57. Records department
58. Safety (all divisions)
59. Research (projects)
60. Technical (aircraft performance)
61. Jeppeson (pilot charts, maps and company amendments)
62. Ambulance service
63. FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and other world aviation bodies
64. enRoute magazine and entertainment, newspapers (my biased opinion)
65. International operations (includes the numerous airports around the world we fly to)
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Air Canada pay info, interview process
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Jumpseating on the Dash-8 YSJ-YUL
Friday, May 1, 2009
Aviation safety presentation in Saint John NB
CYSJ 011535Z 21031G39KT 1/8SM R23/1600FT/N -RA FG VV001 09/ RMK FG8