!!!!! 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.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Dark and Dirty Night

CYYT 290000Z 34028G37KT 12SM -DZ OVC009 02/M01 A2975 RMK SF8 SLP082

Every transcontinental Canadian pilot knows where the rainiest, windiest, cloudiest, foggiest city in Canada is.If they don't, they will soon get to hone their skills while landing in CYYT (St. John's, Newfoundland). It's probably one of the most bid around (avoided) airports at Air Canada, but probably the friendliest people you'll ever meet.

Well after a four hour wait in YHZ (Halifax) it was off to CYYT we go. We were watching the weather as the actuals and TAF for CYYT were jiving, another wild ride onto the "rock." We tried to get the YYT ATIS, but we eventually found out it was U/S. No NOTAM was issued. We jokingly claimed it was U/S because of the wind.

Remember the above METAR depicts the wind direction as TRUE. CYYT has a 21 degree magnetic variation so the winds were actually 36028g37 knots magnetic. (The ATIS winds are magnetic). Any pilot prefers to do the ILS instead of a "backwards" backcourse, especially on the Airbus. Simply put, a backcourse is a work out. Just what you don't need at midnight local with moderate mechanical turbulence on approach. Every CYYT approach chart includes a note:Moderate to Severe turbulence, windshear, and downdrafts may be encountered. I concur.

It was my approach (the first officer wisely chose to do the first leg into Halifax). While enroute to CYYT from YHZ we debated which runway to use. The ILS 29 or the backcourse 34? If we shot the ILS, the winds would be almost 90 degrees with gusts to 38 knots. Having said that runway 34 was 1500 feet shorter, another reason for 29. The landing crosswind on the A320 is 33 gusts to 38. As mentioned in another post this is a demonstrated crosswind limitation flown by "Jacques the  Airbus test pilot."

We chose the backcourse and I gave the typical long winded Air Canada briefing. There is a lot of talking on the Airbus. The briefing is for the CVR (cockpit voice recorder) and the lawyers. Then I added my two cents worth. I sometimes kid the F/O by saying they can start to glaze over while I give them a briefing. There is a Chinese proverb, "he who says a lot, says nothing."

It is procedure we are not allowed to navigate laterally on the backcourse approach - at least not the final approach inbound. We must bug the headings our self. Sounds like an easy thing to do, but when it's raining with the noisy windshield wipers whacking away and you are encountering moderate turbulence, deviations on the localizer can occur.

We "broke out" inside the FAF (final approach fix) but going from instruments to orientating with the runway was a bit of a challenge. What threw me off a little was the PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicator) was on the right side of the runway. These are lights which guide us visually on a descent rate of 3 degrees. I noted later all the other runways have the PAPIs on the left side. After some correction I put it on smoothly with the help of a wet runway. I knew it was a wild approach because the F/O started to straighten up in his seat...waiting for impact. 

It all worked out. We get to the gate on schedule and we had to wait 10 minutes until the ground staff figured out how to manipulate the jet-way. Most of the passengers were grateful to have landed in St. John's but a few made snide remarks regarding the gate delay. Most passengers do not realize Air Canada does not own the jet-ways, but they are maintained by the airport authority. Just another day in the life of an airline pilot

As mentioned, St. John's is one of the friendliest places to visit so the F/O and I will be capitalizing on their hospitality at local establishments. It could be another wild approach. (The life of an airline pilot).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Wheel Deal

I took this picture of the Airbus 340 landing
gear in the British Science Museum (London) nearly eight years ago.
I went back about three years ago and it was still there.
The museum is worth the visit.
I know, I know one has to fly to LHR to get there.
If you are an aviation buff, London is a must see!
EnRoute question. Here's a question that didn't make the cut for enRoute magazine, but I thought it's worth answering.
Subject: Do the wheels of a plane turn when landing?Why do the Wheels of an aeroplane not turn at the same speed as the aeroplane is travelling when landing?Surely this would reduce the wear on the tire's!
Hi. Good question. I guess the engineers decided it would be too costly to construct a mechanism to spin the wheels that fast (we touchdown anywhere from 120 to 150 knots). But there are other forces acting on a tire as well. There is a vertical speed at which the tires make contact with the runway. For the Airbus, a vertical speed of 360 feet/min or less must be maintained in an abnormal overweight landing. That's a hard landing! In other words, we don't glide the airplane on. Sure, on some landings it seems like the airplane kissed the runway, but there is always a vertical component. Finesse keeps the vertical component to a minimum, but try that in Lagurdia, New York and ATC will go ballistic. One must factor into vertical speeds, crosswind landings (where the upwind landing gear touches down first), slippery runways, etc.
That's why tires are filled with nitrogen to withstand the huge heat build up. Please see my blog:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Speed tape applied - checked serviceable

I'm presently on a three day pairing in YOW (Ottawa). Two aviation acquaintances sent me these photos. Apparently, a hunter/pilot left some smelly fish in his airplane in some remote area of Alaska. The third picture shows what a hungry bear will do. No big deal, after rolls of duck tape and cellophane the airplane is as good as new.

Even airlines use a form of duct tape called "speed tape."It's used to secure latches, flanges, etc. We pilots chuckle to see "speed tape" is holding the plane together.

Speaking of maintenance this three day pairing started with a one hour maintenance delay. We had a SDCU
(Smoke Detector Control Unit) fault. We did several circuit breaker resets. We even tried a full power down of the airplane with a fully loaded airbus 321 (174 pax) and one commuter to YYC (Calgary) in the jump seat. No joy. Finally, we departed under MEL (Minimum Equipment List).

Off to YYZ and then a YHZ (Halifax turn today). I get to relax tomorrow by installing hardwood in three bedrooms. One would think a rich Air Canada captain would get someone in to do the laborious task.
But remember, pilots are known for their thriftiness, which reminds me of the joke I included in my book.
How does a pilot know when he has too far in the thrifty scale? When another pilot notices.

Gone flying.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mickey Mouse layover (MC0 Orlando)

While driving to work, I get a call from crew sked. At first I thought I misread my schedule and they were calling asking where I was. Because pilot blocks are different every month, the chance of misreading or overlooking a pairing is close to inevitable.
It turns out, an Embraer broke down (it seems to happen a lot) and they wanted us to fly to LGA, LaGuardia instead of an easy YOW (Ottawa) turn. The thing is sked departure time was 15 minutes after my original check in time. "Can I make it?" they ask. After all these years, I still give it that college try. Of course, time to get there is directly proportional to traffic. Two accidents meant the drive was twice the time. I arrive at the airplane about 10 minutes prior to departure. Luckily the F/O arrived early and he had everything done. We push back two minutes late, but not because of my tardiness, we had a "no show" meaning their bag had to be offloaded.
I ask the F/O to take it to LGA. I heard someone last week reference the airport to USS LaGuardia because three of the four runways has water staring at you. Turns out the F/O was downsized from the B767 claiming he took a $1500/month pay cut and he just finished his second divorce. Hmmm I thought, this guy will be in a good mood for the next three days.
I avoid LGA during bidding every month, because it's generally a madhouse operation. It turned out with a system moving through and it's associated northeast winds IFR conditions were there to great us on the ILS 4. The F/O did a great job with medium braking set and full reverse to quickly exit the runway. The controllers want you "on and off" expeditiously and there's no time to finesse the landing.
We arrive back late to YYZ, but still had time to make our YHZ flight. The next day was back to YYZ and then to MCO (Orlando). The radar and satellite pics were confirming large CBs to the west of MCO and were forecast to move over the airport during our arrival. Oh great.
We dodged a clump of them over SAV (Savana, Georgia) and the Cbs took a little longer to infiltrate the airport. The cloudy skies with the threat of heavy showers did not stop us from imbibing a few drinks at the pool.
F.Y.I Orlando's identifier is MCO The airport code MCO stands for the airport's former name, McCoy Air Force Base named for Colonel Michael Norman Wright McCoy, USAF.
On page 52 and 53 of my book, "Cracking the Code," unveils the mysticism of airport identifiers.
The Orlando VOR is much easier to remember, ORL.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Talking the Talk (Doug the Orator)

Just in case someone is in the neighbourhood.

(PROBUS -Oakville)

to be held at the Oakville Golf Club
Wednesday November 25, 2009
Reception: 12:00 noon Lunch: 12:30 pm
Cost: $36/ person Cash Bar Seating limited to 120
Guest speaker at the luncheon will be:

Air Canada: Captain Doug Morris


Imagine you’re sitting next to a pilot on a flight and he’s eager to answer all those nagging questions you have about air travel. Are those bumps and noises normal? Why are some take-offs delayed? What happens if there’s a storm? How does this plane stay in the air, anyway?
In his book “From the Flight Deck: Plane Talk and Sky Science”, pilot, meteorologist, and flight-school instructor Doug Morris lets you take the window seat on a trip around the world, giving you the scoop on everything from take-off to landing. He explains what you see looking out the window, what that window is made of, and how the plane is kept in rigorous flying condition. Perfect for informing the aviation enthusiast and calming the fearful flier, From the Flight Deck tells you everything you want to know about commercial airline travel: the physics of flight, how airplanes work and what they’re made of, how pilots are trained, route planning and the importance of the ground crew, turbulence, flying in storms, what the flight crew gets up to on layovers, and much more. With facts, trivia, humour, and illuminating photos throughout, From the Flight Deck is the ultimate flight companion.

Doug is presently a captain with Canada's largest airline flying the Airbus 320. He has over 16,000 hours and is a certified meteorologist. He writes the aviation page for enRoute magazine.
I was also asked recently to give a talk in December to Air Cadets. Sounds like it would be fun.
"I follow your articles on En Route and I also read your book, and I would be honoured if you would consider being our GuestSpeaker at our Mess Dinner in early December to hold a 35min to 45 min talk about aviation and Q and A after. (What is aviation, how to be an airline pilot, fun facts about aviation, jobs in aviation and specially, your personal experience!)Some other guests being invited to the dinner are Command Matthew Davies, Commanding Officer of HMCS YORK, Toronto's Naval Reserve Division and Major Al Fife, Ret'd, Director of the Air Cadet League of Canada.Its a simple dinner, but my goal is to inspire young men and women(ages12-19) to follow their aviation dreams, be it being a pilot, or any of the many other jobs related to aviation. The audience will becomposed of cadets, parents, Air Cadet league officials, veterans,Canadian Forces Officers and spouses. I think you are the perfect man for it!"

Sunday, October 11, 2009

10,000 Visits (From the Flight Deck Book)

For those who have yet to read my book, just click on the photo and it will take you to Google books where you can read it for free!

My book is on its third print totalling 10,000 copies. I see it's still selling well on Amazon.ca and other Amazon websites around the world.

You would think I could retire early from royalties. Funny, I have yet to receive this year's royalty cheque. Because I bought my own books, about 100, I'm owing about $1300 for 2008.

You don't get rich writing a book unless you are Dan Brown, J.K. Rowling or make it on Oprah's list. Having said that, a best seller in Canada is deemed to be 5000 copies. So on that note, it was a success!

Since this blog's inception, late November 2008, I have had 10,000 visits. In fact, it will happen sometime late today.
Site Summary

VISITS: Total: 9,954
Average Per Day 75

PAGE VIEWS Total: 15,632
Average Per Day

Thanks everyone and Happy Thanksgiving weekend for all you Canadians!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Safety is No Secret conference

International Winter Operations Conference

I was lucky enough to be picked in a lottery hosted by our union (ACPA) which gave away 15 complimentary passes to a two day conference held at the Royal York hotel (YYZ). It also included two free nights at the hotel and food. All I did was listen, but what a line up! This was the first conference hosted like this in Canada and there were people there representing 15 nations.

1. Commander Robert "HOOT" Gibson started it off talking about his five missions on the space shuttle. No one would top his presentation. He mentioned the shuttle did not need anti icing because of the incredible heat gained during reentry.

2. Chris St. Clair from the Weather Network did a very good presentation in reference to a winter storm. I offered him my card afterward saying we should get together and perhaps do some aviation clips. He agreed wholeheartedly. I also mentioned about me getting a possible part time job. I live three minutes from TWN. He too is from YHZ (Halifax).

3. Dave Mastel from YYZ ACC (Air traffic Control Center) explained the "plan" during winter operations at the GTAA. Everyone dumps on YYZ ATC, but they actually do try hard.

4. George Lyman talked about ORD operations. Did you know they have 10,000 lights and 750 signs at the airport. He talked about the logistics of readying and operating during a winter storm.

5. Fire chief Robert Donahue from BOS Logan discussed a "mock" disaster set up at the airport during a wet Boston day. They set it up as a two airliner runway collision.

6. Jacques Leroux from Dow Chemical explained the chemistry of deice fluid. It's neat how type IV actually worked. It sits there as a thick liquid lowering the freezing point, but runs off the airplane as the airplane picks up speed down the runway.

7. Micahel Chaput talked about deice research possibly ridding snow, frost, ice by hot steam. It made sense plus it was environmentally friendly.

8. Kelvin Williamson talked about runway deice material. I guess Urea has given way to potassium sulfate.

9. Mario Rosa gave a talk about Aeromag, YUL deice center. They are expanding to many other cities.

10. Angelo Boccanfuso from Transport Canada talked about CRFI (Canadian Runway Friction Index).

And this was only the first day!

The next day had reps from Boeing ( a great talk about ice crystal engine icing), Airbus, Embraer and Bombardier. They all did fairly good presentations.

One neat concept introduced was EMAS (Engineered Materials Arresting System). It;s being implemented at airports around the world. Basically, if you are heading off the end of the runway 4' by 4' engineered cements blocks would give way to stop the aircraft without damaging it.

Amazing stuff.

Here's an airliner mired in the EMAS. Everything is intact.
I know Air France landing in CYYZ would have benefited from it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mentoring from Capt. Doug

I regularly get queries from "up start" pilots asking the best road to take in becoming an airline pilot. As everyone may guess that path is not as cut and dried as one would think. There are twists, turns, set backs, forks in the road, potholes with less smooth driving than you think.
But this goes for most career orientated jobs.

Above are two pictures during my Navajo days. One shot is when I flew into YYG (Charlottetown, PEI) during a snowstorm. Air Nova was parked next to me. I thought, wouldn't it be great to be hired by them. We pilots are always looking up...up toward the next bigger airplane. It turned out, I walked my resume into Air Nova and the chief pilot would not give me the time of day. I ended getting hired by Air Atlantic and flew their Dash 8s and Bae 146s.

There is saying, "be nice to the people going up the ladder because it may be the same people you see going down the ladder." That chief pilot at the time is now a line pilot still flying the Dash 8. His pedestal was knocked from underneath him. It's all about decisions and when you make them.

I did get hired by Air Nova six years later. They actually came out to me in the parking lot after the interview to tell me I was hired and come back to get my manuals. Because I did not accrue much seniority with Air Nova the decision to leave was that much easier. Had I been senior, I would have probably stayed back and waited for the merged seniority list with Air Canada and the connectors.. It didn't happen! End of rant...

Here's an email I received yesterday. This person is smart, they are networking and putting out their "feelers" because it's a small business and you would be amazed who knows who in this industry.

Hi Capt. Morris, I recently passed my class 4 flight instructor's ride in Hamilton and am currently instructing students enrolled in the Commercial Aviation Management Program at the University of Western Ontario. Building my time and filling in the gaps on the desk for a little bit of extra income keeps me very busy these days. Working towards becoming a class 2 which will get me on the twin (DA42) for some multi-pic time and then (knock on wood) some multi-turbine time somewhere else before applying to a larger carrier. It's a great feeling to be paid to do something that you love so much. Are you still with Air Canada or did you end up pursuing opportunities overseas? I was looking at various instructing positions in and around Dubai but haven't found anything that I am ready, or qualified, to commit to. A classmate of mine is from there and she is currently seeking opportunities, maybe with a company that is has more than one position to fill! Do you have any advice for a young, eager and inexperienced instructor? I would love to apply any tips you may have for me while increasing my experience and working towards becoming and airline pilot. I'm currently in the process of gathering information on FAA licences and the steps involved in applying for one. So far, the best information I have been able to find has been to contact an FSDO to get the paper work started before writing a conversion exam. Do you have any specific advice for converting to FAA licenses? Hope all is well, safe flying.

Hi. I'm just in from SFO (San Francisco). Congrates on your class IV! I also did my class IV as well and taught air cadets. Because of it, I gained my class III. After amassing about 900 hours total, I queried a cargo/charter company whether they would want a part time pilot. They hired me and the rest is history. I paid for the Navajo endorsement, but it was worth it.

This retirement thing at Air Canada is a contentious issue but both the union and the company want to keep everything as is. This translates into 711 pilots walking out the door at Air Canada in the next five years. I still think things here in Canada will turn around
nicely. Meanwhile you can build the much needed flight time. Having said that, if you have an itch to go abroad that would be neat too.

I know quite a few pilots that went the American route, but most are back here. Ten years ago, I would have given my eye teeth to get hired by a "major" in the U.S. Not anymore. I'll stick with Air Canada, thank you.

You are young and if travelling is in your blood (you must have it or you would not want to be a pilot) then the world is your oyster!

I do realize everyone wants to take the right road in life, and to accumulate hours expeditiously, but it will all work out. Meanwhile, enjoy the ride!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

enRoute's "October" is up

For some reason I can only get one question from the site.

Keeping Cabin Air Fresh

Captain Doug Morris answers your questions about aviation.

Q: How is the cabin air kept fresh? Are filters used? David Clements, Canberra, Australia
Cabin air is continually bled from the engines. This conditioned air is then mixed with a nearly equal amount of highly filtered cabin air. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) system filters the air much like filters in hospital surgical rooms. Compared to buildings, however, airliners have even better filtration, a higher air-change rate and a higher proportion of outside air. Cabin air is exchanged every two and a half to three minutes – i.e. flushed 20 to 25 times every hour.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Line of sight query (Room with a View)

Picture compliments of Air Canada's photographer
Brian Losito

I received this query from an anonymous pertaining to my line of site post. I thought it warranted a separate post.

On page 10-11 of the Air Command Weather Manual it states that the distance of the horizon for flat terrain in nautical miles from a height (h) in feet is equal to: 1.14 times the square root of h.

Anonymous. I checked my copy of the ACWM and it certainly says 1.14 times the square root of height in feet. From the Ground Up (page 210) utilizes the formula 1.23 times the square root of height in feet. Their example of 20,000 feet gives a distance of 174 nautical miles. I was told/taught line of sight for radio coverage is the same as distance seen due to the curvature of the earth. I used 1.23 * the square root of height for my ATPL (ATR) exam many moons
ago. I also used it now and again to determine when I would receive the ATIS (Automated Terminal Information System) when flying overseas. Sometimes when flying into London, Heathrow (LHR) from over the "pond" I determined at 37,000 feet I should receive the ATIS about 237 miles back. (For some reason LHR has not gone digital with their ATIS). It worked!

I surfed the web and many sites are using the formula: the square root of both 1.5 times the height in feet. The square root of 1.5 is about 1.23
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