!!!!! 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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

AviaFilms website

- Welcome to AviaFilms Production -
We make aircraft cockpit videos and movies for aviation enthusiasts

New Video

Just received this from a fan. It's worth taking a look.
Click on the icons or here's the website: http://www.aviafilms.com
Capt. Doug

Hello Capt. Morris, I really love reading your flightdeck blog! It's so nice to see that someone is making such a decent contribution to all of us aviation fans. I am sort of trying to contribute my part to aviation as well and am making cockpit videos.

Monday, September 28, 2009

South to Samana (Dominican Replublic)

Flying is down for this time of year so it was time to top up my flight hours by going on "make up." Crew sked called and offered me a charter to Samana. She didn't know where it was and I certainly didn't, but I accepted the challenge. Before hanging up she mentioned both he captain and first officer booked off within ten minutes of each other. Hmmm? Did they know something I didn't? I quickly checked the weather and there were no hurricanes in the back door so this was good.

I guess it all started when I showed up for work and dispatch was sending me to a place I've never been to, nor the F/O, with a broken airplane. One PACK (Air conditioning unit which also pressurizes the cabin) was U/S restricting us to 31,000 feet. Heading south means thunderbumpers and they were showing on our track off Cape Hatteras. The F/O voiced his opinion on the scenario, and I agreed, we called crew sked to ask for another airplane. They told us there might be one, but it will translate into an hour delay. (Guilt factor) Did I want to take the delay? When picking around Cbs one wants to be high to visually see whats going on because you can't entirely rely on the weather radar. More on that later.

We were given an airplane (funny how it popped up so fast) and we waited 20 minutes for a new flight plan setting the ball in motion for things to go off the rails.

We walk by the waiting passengers and they didn't have that "vacation fun filled" look. It was more like..."typical Air Canada, we are delayed again" look. I've used this statement before and I'll use it again, "It's better to be late in this world than early in the next."

I offer the first leg to the F/O and he accepts. I find it's easier to run the show when I'm PNF (pilot non flying). The in-charge states the CIDS ( Cabin Intercommunication Data System) is U/S which required a four Circuit breaker reset. Things are happening. Water must be serviced but the access panel is "speed taped" shut requiring maintenance to tape it back up.

The F/O is a great guy but his disposition in life is a little jagged because it's probably his last day on the A320. He will be demoted back to the Embraer with a $25,000 pay cut.
He just came off "flat salary" for two months and was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel financially, but the light went dim again.

The fuel is boarded, aircraft catered, cargo loaded in record time but we are still inputting the flight plan onto the computers. We push back only 25 minutes late from the original sked time.

Over Cleveland Ohio we easily top the thunderstorms based at 30,000 feet but we would be bouncing on the tops with the broken airplane. We are patting ourselves on the back for that decision. I did call dispatch back to thank him for finding another airplane and he agreed it didn't make sense to head south with a PACK u/s. Hmmmm

My very junior f/o is worn out as he is crew sked's slave. He arrived the afternoon before from Vancouver and was somewhat tired. He asked if he could take a "controlled nap." "Sure," I said but he was overshooting on the length, meanwhile I see thunderstorms ahead but painting very little on the radar. They are near the oceanic entry point whereby we lose VHF communication and transmit position reports via HF. I get the okay to deviate all the while the f/o is snoring.
An aircraft ahead is deviating as well. I call to the back and mention there might be bumps ahead. BAAAAMMMM... a few minutes later the plane is rocking, a few screams are heard in the back and the F/O gets a wake up call. It only lasted 2 to 3 minutes, but it was moderate plus.

Now there's a new objective way at labelling the intensity of turbulence, whether or not passengers scream. Everyone was seated including the flight attendants so no one was hurt.
One flight attendant stated she hasn't heard screams from passengers for quite some time.
It was smooth sailing from there on. Well, there was one power surge during the visual manoeuvre to the runway (on the Airbus when the speed gets a little low and you select a higher speed it tends to try and get there in a hurry). It knocked over a coffee mug from the galley.

The landing is a great one although Santo Domingo approach wanted us to do a full procedure VOR approach. It was CAVOK and I asked for the left visual. Okay he says. Hmmmm...why didn't he offer that before?

Tower seemed to be getting confused with 8 and 18 for wind speed. He was saying 18 knots, but the windsock was fairly limp...barely 8 knots. The F/O puts it on nicely.

This is what a temperature of 33c and a dewpoint of 29C
gives. (Relative humidity near 90 percent. Our maps were soggy)
Glad we had two functioning PACKS because we needed them
to keep things cool. Passengers are always amazed to see this
although many think it's smoke and we have to make announcements to
calm them.

During fueling I see a fully dressed fireman walk
to the airplane. I've never seen this before.
How would you like this job in that heat?

Yours truly posing in front of the SAMANA (AZS or MDCY) terminal.
Another airport added to the list.

On a visual approach to runway 07 heading into
a standard warm northeast trade wind.

We are trying to make up time. Passengers are boarded and I ask the Swissport rep how do we get our take off numbers? A look of perplexity comes over his face. I send the F/O(actually he volunteered) to go in and call dispatch. Our data-link did not work there but it
worked at other Dominican airports. If I had read the briefing notes, it stated we should have obtained the take off data while on approach when the data link still works. Oops.

We get airborne and we had to contend with those TSTMs again. We were in Oceanic airspace and had to get permission to deviate from New York ARINC. We were given the okay, but we wanted to veer 30 degrees to the right but they only allowed a 30 nautical mile deviation. This was on top of the fact I had to show the F/O how to work the HF radios. Sometimes I wonder if "make up" is worth it. We deviate around the well developed thunderstorms. I overheard the in-charge's announcement which was to the point, but it would have scared me.

Only a few bumps occurred and the rest of the trip was uneventful. Well one flight attendant suggested if we get to the gate at 18:31 then we would be paid supper, about $30. We touch down at 18:23 and I try to taxi slow but remember I have connections on my mind. The F/O tells me I'm taxiing too fast. I'm lining up with the yellow line at 18:29 and tell him the "time in" sent by data-link is predicated on the park brake set and one door has to open. I can't believe it, the rampie opens the cargo door in record time (I've never seen them do it that fast) and the in time of 18:30 is sent. No supper per diem. I am now labelled a schnook.

The life of a captain. Living the dream.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The new flashy Olympic Livery

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Our newest/last B777 arrived a few weeks ago with Olympic livery. Above are a few shots taken by Erik Ritterbach (FRA Air Canada cargo agent/"tail spotter") during a Frankfurt pit stop.

Apparently, it was the biggest and most complex paint scheme for the Boeing paint shop in Seattle, Washington. It took four days round-the-clock involving a 45-person team.
You may see some Air Canada pilots sporting a bright blue/green Olympic themed tie. I have yet to unwrap mine. I'll probably start wearing it closer to Olympic time but I'll have to remember how to tie a tie because they are not clip-ons.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Room with a View (Ask Doug question)

Here's a spectacular view of a volcanic island hundreds of miles north of Iceland
while enRoute from Toronto to New Delhi when I flew the "big bus."

This article appeared in enRoute August 2003.
Notice the pilot going "above and beyond." We get a lot of
notice from passengers when we do this. Most pilots
will snag it as "dirty windscreens" in the log book.
(Click on article to enlarge)

This question is from my Ask Doug column. Even though it did not make the cut, it's a great question.

Hi Doug, I was on an Air Canada flight today from Vancouver to Toronto with a beautiful clear view over the Rockies, I saw a huge mountain was off in the distance and I wondered how far away it was, so my question is this... How far away is the horizon from a typical cruising altitude?

It's a very good question and I touched on the topic in my book: From the Flight Deck: Plane Talk and Sky Science (page 27).

The formula we use to determine how far our radios will receive/transmit is the exact same for distance seen. Based on the curvature of the earth, this "line of sight" formula is simple, but you'll need a calculator. Take the square root of your altitude in feet and multiply by 1.23 for a value in miles. (For metric units, it's the square root of your altitude in meters multiplied by 3.5, giving a value in kilometres). At a cruising altitude of 39,000 feet (the highest my Airbus 320 flies) will allow you to see 240 miles (386 km) on a clear day giving new meaning to a "room with a view."

Captain Doug

Monday, September 14, 2009

Other flying jobs (Cargo) (AskDoug question)

Photo compliments of Kelly Paterson (YYC ramp attendant)
A330 cargo hold

Next three photos compliments of Erik Ritterbach
(FRA Air Canada Cargo)

Antonov 225 (Open wide)

Aeroflot's Md-11

In case someone wants to rent this airplane, here's
contact info. :)

Here's a question that didn't make the cut for enRoute, but it's a good one none the less:

I love your book. Thank you for writing it. As a boy, I dreamt that I was an airline pilot (many years later, I still do at times). And I know many others who have shared the dream. However, I've never met anyone who has dreamt about becoming a cargo pilot. Of course, some pilots opt to fly freight, as opposed to people, and this puzzles me: Freight flying just doesn't seem like a "dream job." Is it -- and what draws some people to it?

I just received your question from enRoute.

I think most people, like yourself, think of the airline pilot position to be the most aspiring. But when you think of it, there are probably 25-30 different types of flying jobs: Airline pilot, connector pilot, test pilot, crop dusting pilot, surveillance, military, helicopter, corporate, charter, customs, police, media (T.V, radio, traffic), and the list goes. Many get into the business, but for one reason or another, fall into the non airline pilot position. One of them is cargo. UPS and FedEx are huge recruiters of pilots. As a matter of fact, both UPS and FedEx pilots make more money than most major American carrier airline pilots.

Even though most of their flying is done at night, their destinations are as exotic as the airlines. They don't have to worry about disruptive passengers, whether the seat belt
sign should go on for turbulence, passenger medical issues, and last but not least, freight doesn't talk back.

Even here in Canada, everyone is drawn to becoming an Air Canada pilot. There are other options (I'll whisper the name Westjet) including great charter companies and airlines from around the world.

It's a finicky business to get into and for many their views/ideals/dreams are altered along the way.

Captain Doug

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Seniority is EVERYTHING

1 ( Top Dog)
1405 Morris, DE .


3305 (bottom wrung)

Seniority is Everything (Yes, I repeated myself)

A week ago a tribunal determined ACPA (Air Canada Pilot Association) had no right to deny a pilot to fly past 60. What does this mean?

Everything for most major North American airlines is based strictly on seniority. If you are seniority number 2000 you don’t move up until seniority 1999 decides. What does it really mean? Seniority decides whether you get Christmas off, summer vacation, hold a block instead of reserve, have weekends off, have those cushy long LAX layovers, promotions, base selection, being home for birthdays, graduations, and when all your neighbours are flashing up the BBQ on a long weekend you may be suited up to fly for four days with an “undesirable.” Bottom line it means lifestyle and money.

A fairer system, status pay, would take the sting of this pending decision. (One gets paid for the amount of years you were with the company instead of what airplane you fly). It’s what many European airlines base their operations on and even Air Canada Jazz and I think Westjet.
Two weeks ago I read an interesting stat about retirement at Air Canada - 711 pilots would retire in the next five years. That number is huge. In fact, it’s nearly the size of the entire Westjet pilot group (900).

After this hearing, it could mean the Air Canada pilot’s career is in a high speed reject. The engines will be in full reverse, braking will be at max and the ground spoilers’ deployed. A “pan, pan, pan” will be declared. But as any highly trained pilot is taught, DON’T PANIC. Bring the aircraft to a stop. If an immediate evacuation is not required then make an announcement, “remain seated, remain seated!” I.E “stay calm, stay clam.” Then we assess the situation utilizing all available sources, the union, appeals, lawyers, management, etc. After that, we decide whether to evacuate.

Now, many out there will be thinking, "pity" for the spoiled hoity-toity Air Canada pilot. Like it or not, flying for Air Canada is like making it to the NHL, but now the farm teams will be drying up. What about the brand new “wet behind the ears” commercial pilot aspiring to move up the ladder? Things will come to a grinding halt or at least the brakes will be on. For years, everyone has heard about this major pilot hiring boom due to retirements. Many of us knew this contesting of mandatory retirement was in the courts. I always said if it didn’t happen now, it would happen down the road. It was inevitable.
As mentioned, for any reject we assess the situation. What will be mandatory retirement: 62, 64, 68 but it will probably be 65 as deemed by ICAO? Will all pilots want to fly to 65? I know many pilots that are counting their days to retirement. They can’t wait. Some will continue to 62 or so and say, “enough is enough.” Some will eventually medical out.

August 28, 2009
Air Canada Pilots Respond to Tribunal Decision on Age of Retirement
TORONTO - The Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) received a decision today from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which would have the effect of denying Air Canada's pilots the right to negotiate a fixed age of retirement with their employer.
"We are disappointed with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's decision to deny Air Canada's pilots the right to negotiate a fixed age of retirement", said ACPA President Captain Andy Wilson.
"The Association has a duty to represent the wishes of the majority of the pilots and we will exercise the legal avenues available to us to ensure that their interests are protected. We are reviewing the details of the decision with our legal representatives to determine the long-term impact on our members and their collective agreement and our options for responding. We will have a more comprehensive statement upon the completion of our study", said Captain Wilson. The retirement age provided for in ACPA's collective agreement has been in place since the 1950s. Air Canada pilots recently voted by a 3 to 1 margin to uphold the current retirement age of 60.
Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) is the largest professional pilot group in Canada, representing the more than 3,000 pilots who operate Air Canada's mainline fleet.

Most airline pilots have been there before in regards to seniority. While I flew for Air Canada’s connector (Air Nova) we were told by the union not to go to Air Canada because a merged list is around the corner. It reminded me the day I walked into the chief pilot’s office at Air Atlantic asking about a possible captain upgrade in St. John’s instead of Halifax (my seniority number was close enough to making captain) The advice he gave was, “go for what is going now, don’t speculate what will happen.” Even though this guy had a reputation of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” his words of wisdom holds true. It’s what I tell pilots caught in a conundrum. Many people stayed at the connectors, but no merged list materialized though there is a pending lawsuit. Funny some of the very pilots that stood up at the union meetings and averred, “How dare you go to Air Canada,” are now flying Air Canada’s jets. What did I say about, “wolf in sheep’s clothing?”

And of course how can we forget the merge with Canadian. I’ll never forget the time in London, England after returning from dinner with the captain and we called up the new merged seniority list. I lost 601 numbers and the captain looked at me with pity, shock, and a “glad it isn’t me look.” He, being very high on the totem pole, slipped back only about 20 numbers.
Well, I rolled with the punches. Besides, all of the Canadian guys were older than me and they would be retired in 5 to 6 years. Not anymore.

A non-aviator would think, what a bunch of hoopla over such a trivial thing. Well a few days ago, things got so heated on the ACPA forum it was shut down due to threats, slander and “below the belt” comments.

My wife doesn’t think it’s a big thing because it means a bigger paycheck for possibly five years longer. That’s one way of looking at it, but the guys at the bottom of the list on flat salary or in this sub scale “position group” (low wages for Embraer F/Os, cruise pilots) this will make many think about moving on. Some will go abroad, but maybe some will become plumbers, because that’s where the money is.

“Hey, it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to.”

P.S For those pining for the skies, keep your chin up! This too will pass.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Passport Please

Just renewed my passport and it turned out to be easier than I thought. Air Canada's policy is for us pilots to renew six months before expiry because some countries won't allow entrance unless you have six months left on your passport.

Now there's a simplified method whereby you don't need a guarantor to sign. The line up wasn't bad and they seemed to have recruited some good looking staff. I requested the process to be expedited because I was going flying in four days and didn't want to wait two weeks. It's true I was only going to Vancouver and Calgary, but what happens if I was drafted to go to the States or my alternate was American? I'm told, "not a problem," but I'm asked where my schedule is. It was part of the deal to get fast tracked plus I had to pay an extra $30.00.

I asked if I could use her computer to show her this month's sked. No can do. I had to go downstairs to an Internet shop and print a copy. I suggested they should have a computer available for things like that. I joked by asking where the suggestion box was. She retorted by saying, "maybe I should suggest a suggestion box for my suggestion." Touché! She was extremely pretty so I didn't argue.

A few months ago, one of our pilots flew to Sydney, Australia only to find he had his daughter's passport instead of his. Customs didn't take to kindly to this. As a consequence, a memo materialized stating all captains must now check the other pilot's credentials. This memo, written by a pilot in high status and known for his abundant memos, did not sit too well. (Actually someone joked the pilot manager in question would put out a memo for a wind change). All joking aside, most of the pilots thought this to be overkill. One captain queried, "what about the flight attendants. Do I checked their credentials as well?"

My passport is good for another five years. Too bad you can't smile for the mugshot because it makes for an awful shot. At least for me.

Staying qualified:

Last month it was ART (Annual Recurrent Training), this month was my passport (luckily it's every five years), next month is my six month medical, and November is back into the sims.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September's enRoute is up

Looks like I have a new look (blog) with enRoute: http://enroute.aircanada.com/en/blogs/flight-deck

I like what they have done except with this month's accompanying photo. From the blog, one would think the pilot below is me. Not so, this guy is better looking. In the actual magazine, they have my mugshot so it's not so confusing. That's show business. Enjoy the blog.

Q: On takeoff and landing, when do pilots put the aircraft on autopilot?
Shawn Underhill, Edmonton

All takeoffs are done manually. Autopilots can generally be engaged 100 feet above the ground, but we usually wait a few minutes after takeoff. For landing, it’s a matter of preference when we disengage the autopilot. I like to “hand fly” the airplane starting at 1,000 feet above the runway on approach, but if visibility is very poor and the runway is equipped, I’ll use the autopilot to perform an autoland.

Q: How often are aircraft repainted and what accounts for the different colour schemes?
Scott Kennedy, Thunder Bay

Air Canada’s fleet is repainted every five to six years. Our latest paint scheme features Ice Blue on the fuselage with Canadian Red lettering. A handful of aircraft are chosen to support special events or initiatives, so, in the past, you may have spotted a giant red maple leaf celebrating Air Canada’s 65 years of service or a large raven honouring Canada’s First Nations people. Our newest arrival: a Boeing 777-300ER sporting the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games logo.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sweet smell of Kerosene

Doug: In a television interview, I've heard you say that jet fuel is less refined than car fuel. You'd think that with those sophisticated engines (that cost a fortune) - that the opposite would be true. Can you shed some light on this?

Jet fuel falls into the hierarchy of diesel/kerosene, about half way up in the distillation process.
The reason why jet engines prefer kerosene is jet fuel has a higher flash-point than other petroleum fuels, which makes it safer to store and transport. It is also thinner than other fuels such as gasoline, which is a characteristic needed for it to burn effectively in a turbine engine.
Smell is the sense we most remember (trivial pursuit question). Analogous to a banker and the smell of money or a baker and his baked goods, the sweet smell of kerosene is easily recognized by any jet pilot. When you get a whiff of it, it brings back the zest. You can't beat it.
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