!!!!! GONE FLYING !!!!!

If you need to contact me... email: [email protected]


"Pic of the day" sent in by Craig M from Ottawa. He watched flight tracker for days until he got the shot of all shots. It's beautiful.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tree of Life

Captain Glen Baxby is entering the province of Quebec on his bike trek across Canada.This mammoth feat is in recognition of a fellow pilot stricken with cancer. Not only is the distance involved amazing, but it's being done by a 48 year old who's only previous experience with a bike  was that it had two wheels.

In order to raise funds for cancer research, an artist Cristina Lovisa gratuitously donated this painting which can be bid on eBay. I love the quote etched into the canvass  painting, Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the TREE OF LIFE- Albert Einstein. Maybe my assimilation with trees has to do with the fact I have nearly 400,000 of them growing in B.C because of my tree planting days. What a person has to do to become a pilot!

Tree of life on eBay

Presently, I'm the top bidder. Anyone out there want to up the ante?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

YYZ-YVR: navigating, communicating, deviating

It started with "crew sked" calling to give me a "heads up" the flight was delayed an hour. Too late I was already enroute to the airport. Our flight plan indicated the #1 engine IDG (Integrated Drive Generator) was off line. I.E the #1 generator was U/S so the APU had to be on the entire flight plus we were restricted to 33,500 feet. Not a good thing when there were numerous reports of scattered thunderstorms and rough rides. Lucky most of the rough air was 35,000 feet and above.

The airplane arrived with hot brakes with a short turn around (we are told to use the brakes instead of max reverse if possible). We taxi out, but YYZ "ground" gave us a runway change -opposite ends. Lots of summer construction had many taxiways shut down so there was a lot of weaving and bopping to get to the runway. Sure enough at take off we get "brakes hot" when the gear tucks into the tummy. I convinced the F/O I've seen this before so we didn't extend the gear to cool the brakes. They were only 5-10 C too warm.

Had to duck around thunderstorms around Sault Ste. Marie, Winnipeg and Calgary. This photo shows our two main instruments. (Sorry for the poor quality. I wanted to take more but the camera batteries died - should've known). The one on the right, ND (Navigation Display) is where weather radar returns are depicted. You can see the red blisters indicative of a Cb, thunderstorm. One can also see our track was between two large cells and we were upwind of the big one (wind read out top left corner: 180 degrees at 22 knots). The F/O (his leg) did an excellent job deviating and navigating while I did the communicating.

The worst part about the trip. The "J" class passengers ate all the cookies and ice cream. It was off to the Elephant and Castle for a de-breifing after this atrocity.

I'm out the door again for a Vancouver layover. Lets hope we don't run out of cookies.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Blurbing for a living

For those enRoute fans, I've been recruited to write an accompanying blurb for the great photos taken by Air Canada's photographer (Brian Losito). The picture is located on the first page of the ALTITUDE section in enRoute.
Here's what I sent for facts on this B777 engine. Unfortunately, this photo didn't make the cut.
I just finished 'blurbing" for October's.
The Boeing 777 utilizes the world’s most powerful commercial jet engine with a whopping 115,300 pounds of thrust
The GE 90-115B has a weight of 18,260 lbs (8283 kg)
It’s made by GE Aviation a subsidiary of General Electric
The engine has a fan width of 128” (325 cm). Wider than Air Canada’s Embraer cabin
It’s wide enough to stand a regulation NBA basketball hoop (ten feet) inside
One could fit a H1Hummer (87”, 220 cm width) inside
Its overall width is 135 inches (343 cm) (outside to outside)
At take off thrust, a single GE90 engine can ingest around two million cubic feet of air per minute
Approximate value: $20 million U.S
Measuring more than four feet long and weighing less than 50 lbs, the blade is made from carbon fiber and a toughened epoxy matrix
There are 22 fan blades on the GE90-115B engine and is the only composite fan blade in commercial aviation
This engine helped set the world’s longest flight for a commercial airliner at 22hrs 42 minutes

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A pilot's sixth sense

These are mechanical checklists found on Air Canada's Airbus fleet. They sit on the dash and consist of louvre doors that the first officer closes when an item is actioned. They're used for: the "before start", "after start" and "before take off" checklists. The other checklists are read from a plasticized sheet.

Question: I've read that, sometimes, experienced test pilots can sense that there is a problem with the plane - shortly after settling into the cockpit. Do airline pilots also develop this sixth sense? Perhaps confirmed while running through checklists?

Sometimes when we enter the flight deck, we notice a switch not in the correct position. Immediately we think maintenance has been in and we check for other irregularities. But this is rare. That's why we run through a series of checklists every time. That way nothing is missed. (Turns out the medical field is pursuing how pilots conduct business through CRM, checklists and standard operating procedures).

As far as senses I know for instance we pilots use more than sight during take off.
We are not only looking at the engine instruments, etc but we go by feel. Does the take off feel right? A blown tire comes to mind. We go by smell. Any irregular odours? We go by sound. Irregular sound gets our attention. It's like we become part of the airplane.

One thing I've noticed over the last few years, and having amassed thousands of take offs is, if I have a smooth take off (no weaving due to crosswinds, nice smooth rotation, with the flight directors nailed) then I will most likely have a good landing. We learn through initial training a "good approach makes for a good landing." I'd like to take that one step further by saying a "good take off makes for a good landing." But why? I think it's because we are on our game that day, maybe good flight deck 'karma' amongst the other pilot, maybe the aircraft rigging is right on (not all airplanes are created equal), or maybe the seat is adjusted just the way we like it. I like the electric seats on the 319 and 321. Unfortunately, things were skimped a little on the 320 seats (manual only).

This is just my observation. Not only does an inner smile come when we are taking off, but if the take off is a smoothie then my landing should be one as well. How's that for a 'sixth' sense?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The checking never stops

There are many sayings in the aviation world. The one similar to "the cheque's in the mail" but with a more humorous overtone is, "I'm from Transport Canada (or FAA) and I'm here to help."

I'm presently on a four day pairing and today consisted of one easy leg from YOW to YYC. The weather is beautiful at both airports and the ride is forecast to be smooth.

Who greets us at the airplane on a Sunday morning, but Transport Canada stating they will be riding the jump seat on our four hour flight to YYC.

The flight went well. Just had to dodge some convective build ups on the approach into YYC. There's major construction at the YYC airport so the ILSs were down. I had to fly a "fully managed NDB" approach onto runway 28. We airline types are spoiled with the fact most approaches are ILSs so to do a non precession approach is almost a "pan, pan, pan."

The approach went well along with the landing and Transport had nothing to comment on.
Actually, he turned out to be a great guy, but it goes to show our job is always on the line. Be it in the simulator, medicals, route checks from company pilots or Transport Canada during the wee hours on a Sunday morning.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

enRoute magazine is asking for your questions

(Latest cover- June)

Now is the time to get your name up in lights!

enRoute is recruiting your aviation questions. Just by clicking on this link:


You will be prompted for your name/age/email/city and of course your great question which may be selected for future publication in my column.

I know many of you out there are bursting with questions - so send them to the attached link.

For those questions that don't make the cut, I'll still answer them once they get back to me.

Thanks in advance.

Captain Doug

Monday, June 8, 2009

Uptight about being Upright ([email protected])

Picture compliments of ERIK from Germany.
He works for Air Canada cargo (FRA) and is an
avid "tail spotter."

Why do we to bring our seats to the vertical position at takeoff and landing?

Transport Canada, along with other aviation authorities, has deemed it safer during an incident. The impact against the seat would be lessened because the seat's back acts as a restraining force. As well, with the seats in the upright position, it allows for a quicker and safer evacuation.

For the longest time we would not allow a hearing device connected to the entertainment system. The wires would be a hindrance, plus people listening to their own listening device might not hear important safety announcements. The rules have been relaxed whereby small insert headphones (ones supplied for a fee) are allowed. The big bulkier headsets still have to be removed during take off and landing.

Effective April 1, 2009, Air Canada will allow passengers to wear ear bud type earphones during all phases of flight, provided they are plugged into the In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system. Destructive testing performed by Engineering on a variety of ear buds demonstrated that they all have easy break away feature from the receptor should one get entangled. The cords are not overly long and are thin which would not normally cause a tripping hazard. Additionally, passengers can still hear any PA announcements since the IFE is muted.

• Only ear bud type earphones are permitted for use during taxi, take-off and
landing. Other types, specifically those that have a band over the head including noise cancelling headsets), may impede an evacuation by getting entangled causing people to trip over them.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The humongous BUS (A380)

A fellow aviator had this link on his website:

At Air Canada we have the "small bus" and the "big bus." Unfortunately, we don't have the humongous bus. Everyone is waiting for our new "baby" to arrive in 2012, the B787.

I see the A380 has three jumpseats instead of the usual two on the big bus, HUD (captain only) and EFB (electronic flight bags). A lot of the hardware I recognize as it is standard Airbus stuff but I noticed the pull out tray table may have a computer key board. Nice.

Boeing pilots joke that we Airbus pilots have nothing between our legs, but I'll take the new toys any day.

Enjoy the virtual tour.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

June's enRoute

Here's a link to June's edition:

Getting around - on the ground ([email protected])

Picture compliments of YYC "Station Attendant" Kelly Paterson

Question: How do pilots follow the markings on the taxiway so accurately?

Pilots use a tiller in the flight deck to follow the yellow line. The tiller is hand operated and it moves the nosewheel. The nosewheel is the only wheel which manoeuvres to steer the airplane. During take off or landing, we don't use the tiller but steer with our feet which moves the rudder on the tail.
As one supervisor said, "if you wonder from the yellow line and hit something, you're in trouble. If you are on the yellow line and hit something, you're still in trouble."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Landed on the "Rock"

Flew into St. John's, Nfld (YYT) (a.k.a Tore Bay) late last night via YYZ and YUL. (The island, Newfoundland, is frequently referred to as the "Rock.") (Many pilots bid to avoid this place because of the inclement weather. It's true it can get darn right nasty here, but the friendliness from the locals is second to none)

During gear retraction off runway o6L YYZ got the "Brakes Hot" caution message. The airplane told us via ECAM (Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitoring) to extend the gear to cool the brakes. "Brakes Hot" is activated when temperatures exceed 300 C. The left main was showing 310 C. I knew they would eventually cool, but the F/O said we should follow what the ECAM said. He was right, although I knew the seasoned Rapidair passengers would be raising eyebrows. Like one "sim" instructor once said, "if the airplane tells you to call your mother - call your mother." We extended the gear and it only cooled the temps by 20c. Then I had to make an announcement explaining what transpired.
While flying from YUL (Montreal) to YYT (on another FIN) we lost our FMGC1 (Flight Management Guidance System). There are two, so everything takes data from the FMGC2. This also caused a caution indicating we lost the "terrain mode" on the GPWS (Ground Proximity Warning System). We followed up with maintenance via datalink, but as we say in the industry, "no joy."
We had incredibly strong tailwinds last night -160 knots (300 km/hr) pushing us to YYT hence 30 minutes early. I let the F/O chose the leg he wanted to fly and he asked to fly both.
Now it's my turn on the way back.
We have a 30 hour layover in the windiest, cloudiest, rainiest, foggiest city in Canada. But not today- what a "large day!"
I'm out the door to climb Signal Hill. Signal Hill was where Marconi received the trans Atlantic radio signal in 1901.
Captain Doug

Monday, June 1, 2009

Beyond the call of duty

During push back from YVR enroute to YEG I get a call from the in-charge stating a passenger left their jacket in the lounge with all his keys and wallet - could we do anything? I already started number 2 (right engine). We radioed operations and I talked to the lead in the tug. These Vancouver "rampies" lept into action. They had a conveyor belt loader up to my window with two minutes. Meanwhile another "rampie" ran -yes ran- to the lounge. I opened up my window and got the jacket. Now there's customer satisfaction! We even arrived in YEG two minutes early. No one ever hears about the great things we do here at Air Canada. We are as popular to rag on as Canada Post was years ago or the weatherman. My hat goes off to those involved in YVR!

Captain Doug

Four days on the road

Sunset in YYZ after some "thunderbumpers" went
through. A "red alert" was on for 10 minutes.

Just finished four days on the road with most of it flying out west.
Pilots would deem this a "productive pairing" because it equated to 27 hours of block time in four days. Plus, I made about 1.5 hours in "block growth." Funny, I would get 31 hours in three days flying to Hong Kong and back. Our first leg out to YVR (Vancouver) took us over the northern states the entire route. I even got to see the state of Washington and having Mount Baker on our right while entering Vancouver's airspace.

Get your "airport identifier" website for these:
Four day pairing:
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