!!!!! 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.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Capt. Doug's speech

Today, I gave an aviation talk in front of a 125 Probus members at the Oakville Golf club.
Here's a "cut and paste" from a website describing Probus: Retirement can come too early for many people who want and are able to remain active. Probus clubs are organizations for men and women who have retired from their profession or business and want to maintain a social network with others who have similar interests. Each Probus club is sponsored by a Rotary club and meets at least once a month for fellowship and to hear guest speakers. Today, there are over 300,000 members in approximately 4,000 Probus clubs worldwide.

There was a lot of grey hair, but they turned out to be great people. I guess my talk went well because they bought 21 books. In fact, I ran out. I had prepared 3000 words and it lasted about 30 minutes so I didn't overshoot on length. In hindsight I may have talked a little too fast. The P.A system was not working too well for the back tables. All in all, it worked out well. December 17th I will be giving a talk to Air Cadets downtown Toronto.

Here's a copy of my talk:

Good afternoon. (Or should I say…good afternoon ladies and gentlemen…this is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard!) Usually I say that when we are at 35,000 feet or at least when the cabin door is closed and you can’t deplane.

Today I’m here to talk to you about some of the many aspects of aviation. Since 9/11 there has been little available about the “nuts and bolts” of airline travel. Well I’m here to open the flight deck door. I am not here to explain why Air Canada lost your bags 10 years ago or why your flight was delayed two hours. I’m not here to tell you what goes on during layovers such as Sao Paulo, Brazil. (I will tell you one thing- all pilots look like Brad Pitt to many of the locals wanting a better life). My flight plan for today is more straight and level.

I’ll talk a little about me. We pilots love talking about aviation and flight attendants claim we pilots love talking about ourselves. Here’s one flight attendant joke about pilots. “How does a flight attendant know her date is halfway over with a pilot? It’s when the pilot says, enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think about me?”

I’ll talk on how one becomes a pilot, a few statistics on Air Canada pilots, training a pilot must go through to keep their job, and to stick with the Christmas theme I’ll talk a little about Santa Claus and the North Pole. I will tell one anecdote about “mile high” membership. (The mile high club has nothing to do with airmiles or aeroplan points).
I am a captain on the Airbus 320. The same type which made headline news last year landing in the Hudson River with Captain Sullenberger at the controls.
If you fly to Halifax, Montreal, Calgary, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda, New York, Boston, this is the airplane you most likely will fly in. Air Canada has about 85 at a cost of U.S $60 million each. I’ve been flying for Air Canada for 14 years and for other airlines on the East Coast prior to and have amassed over 17,000 hours.
To give you some perspective, 17,000 hours equates to driving from YYZ to YUL and BACK again daily for over four years. That excludes time spent in the back as a passenger on vacation, commuting and deadheading.

Commuting: In my book, it mentions I live in Halifax and commute to Toronto. Not anymore, commuting was not my cup of tea so we moved back to Oakville three years ago.
One of the best things about being an airline pilot is that you can live wherever you want, one of the worst things about being an airline pilot is you can live wherever you want.
Pilots based in Toronto commute from the east coast, Montreal, the Prairies and even B.C. We have pilots living in Florida, and the Caribbean. About 40 percent commute but in the United States, that number is higher with about 50 to 60 percent of American pilots commuting. They don’t live in the domicile they work.

Deadheading is a term to describe pilots (and flight attendants) repositioning for flights. Pilots can only fly one airplane type whereas flight attendants are checked out on all types. Sometimes an aircraft type is switched or we have to pick up a flight at another destination, so a pilot must travel as a passenger. There’s a good chance of sitting next to aircrew in uniform. Yesterday, I deadheaded from Vancouver to Toronto.
There are two makers of large aircraft, Airbus made in France and Boeing in the United States. If this room was filled with Airbus pilots and Boeing pilots they would be at opposite ends because each thinks his/her airplane is better. Lately, Air Canada is favouring the Boeing product. There are no more four or three engine airplanes registered here in Canada. Our largest jumbo airplanes, the Boeing 777, is capable of flying to any two airports in the world. This B777 has set a world record for the longest flight of an airliner, 22 hours. Air Canada’s longest flight is 16 hours from Toronto to Hong Kong.

You may have heard the word “Airbus” synonymous with our ex-prime minister, Brian Mulroney. Mr. Mulroney helped implement the arrival of the Airbus into Canada. Some claim his involvement was a little dubious. Because of Mr. Mulroney’s role, the media portrays the Airbus as an inferior aircraft. Not so, it’s been over 20 years this beautiful machine arrived and it still blows most of the competition away. I now have nearly 9000 hours on this aircraft made in Toulouse, France. (Tell Brian Mulroney story)

Other aircraft makers are Bombardier (Montreal and Toronto) and Embrarer (Brazil)
Prior to going captain on the small Airbus I flew Internationally for nearly 10 years on the big “bus” as a first officer (co-pilot) One of my last flights was out of Frankfurt...(tell mile high story)

I’ve flown to the ten busiest airports in the world.

Anyone hazard a guess where the world’s busiest airport is as far as aircraft movements?
Number one is Atlanta, Georgia followed by Chicago, O’Hare. Toronto Pearson ranks 22. In fact, besides Charles De Gaulle , Paris, the remaining nine airports in the top ten are American. The airspace is busy with aircraft crisscrossing the sky.

The most beautiful Canadian airport to fly into is by far, Vancouver. You can’t beat the view while on approach where the mountains meet the ocean. It also makes me reflect on my tree planting days in my early 20s. I have over 350,000 tress growing in B.C and Alberta while trying to make money to fund university and flying lessons. (I was in Vancouver yesterday).

The worst as far as weather is definitely St. John’s, Newfoundland on the opposite coast. It’s
deemed the foggiest, cloudiest, windiest, rainiest city in Canada. In fact, many Air Canada pilots elect to avoid the place. It’s called the “rock” and its ruggedness is not for the faint of heart. Having said that, it’s where you will find the friendliest people in Canada. Many pilots will agree it rates number one for Canadian layovers especially if one partakes in the infamous George Street where there are more bars per capita than any other place in Canada. I celebrated Canada Day there this July and George Street didn’t let me down.

My most favourite international layover is London. There’s so much to do and see there but the crew bus ride of an hour and half was a bit much.
The most efficient, cleanest and safest place is Tokyo, Japan. Before we taxi away from the gate, all of the ramp workers line up in a row and wave goodbye. They don’t leave until we leave.
The neatest airport at night is Las Vegas. It’s like landing in a theme park due to the bright lights and close proximity to downtown.

One supervisor once said when I was hired, “you’ll get to see some neat places and you’ll get to take some great pictures…just like National Geographic.” That’s what prompted my writing.
I submitted a proposal to enRoute (Air Canada’s in-flight magazine) over 12 years ago and my first two articles were weather related because I’m a certified meteorologist. I use the word “certified” because most of the people you see on TV or hear on the radio claiming they are meteorologists are not true meteorologists. For one thing, they are too good looking…90 percent presentation and 10 percent accuracy.

But one thing leads to another which gained my foot in the door to aviation and weather magazines, the National Post, Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star.

Having written so many articles it was time to publish a book. From the Flight Deck: Plane Talk and Sky Science is a compilation of my articles based on a flight from Toronto to Hong Kong on the jumbo jet talking about the many aspects of aviation along the way. It’s a great read for the aviation enthusiast, “pilot wanna be,” frequent flyer, the fearful flyer (30 percent have aviophobia) and the general public. They say 5000 copies is a best seller in Canada and my book is on it’s third print totalling 10,000 copies.
How does one become a pilot?
There are three ways:
1. Through flying clubs (pay as you fly program). Spectrum Airways in North Burlington would be the closest. I did the flying club route. I received my private pilot license in Halifax, commercial in Gimli, Manitoba (You may remember about Air Canada’s incident) and instrument rating in Victoria. B.C. and my instructor rating back in Halifax. Plus I backed it up with university.
2. Then there are flight colleges and there are some great ones here in Toronto and across Canada. Nowadays, universities are lining up to grant a student a flying license with a four- year degree.
3. Third, there is the military. Most people believe this is the most popular route in becoming a pilot but in actuality it’s the road least travelled here in Canada. There’s a 60 percent chance of flying helicopters, which is not quality time for the airlines.

Some Air Canada Pilot statistics:
For a pilot here in Canada, getting hired by Air Canada is like making the NHL, although lately we have not won a Stanley Cup. I guess we are synonymous to the Maple Leafs.
You don’t see Air Canada pilots leaving for greener pastures, but you see other airlines losing pilots to Air Canada.

We have 3300 pilots with 10 to 15 pilots retiring each month. (More about that later). Starting salary is a meagre $36,000/year. Second year is a whopping $45,000. It eventually does go up into what as known as formula pay but it’s dependant on position held and aircraft type.
To get your bare minimum qualifications, it cost about $70,000 to $80,000. Finally, when you have you licenses your first job will be in some remote part of the country making $15,000 to $25,000.

But aviation is not so much a profession, it’s a disease. Once you have been bitten you’ll know it and do whatever it takes to become a pilot. Pilots will fly for free to get valuable time. You don’t hear a doctor saying they would do that hip replacement for free or a lawyer willing to defend you in court free of charge. Many aviation companies know full well of this pilot weakness and capitalize on it - including Air Canada.

The media makes it out that airline pilots make over $200,000 a year. It’s true some Air Canada pilots make that and more, but it takes 30 years to get there.

The Colgan airlines crash in Buffalo last winter brought to light the poverty wages a commuter airline pilots make. The first officer, had to live with her parents on the west coast because she could not afford New York at $13,000/year. It was discovered she flew all night on other carriers to get to work only to fly most of the day.

The average new hire age at Air Canada is 35. One could be a doctor and a lawyer by the time Air Canada opens the door. (Sorry to be picking on the doctors and lawyers). Gone are the days when Air Canada pilot’s kids were hired at age 18 to 20. Nepotism was rampant. For new hires nowadays, the minimum flight time is 4000-5000 hours which takes 5 to 6 years.
About 20 percent are bilingual and four percent of our pilots are female. Four percent may not sound like much, but it equates to 130 female pilots. Some airlines around the world have yet to hire their first female pilot.
One must pass several “psych” tests (mention some questions), medical, interview, cognitive tests (motor skills), security check.

Mandatory retirement is 60…FOR NOW. A recent court ruling stated this is unconstitutional meaning the rules may have to change. It’s the pilot union which absolutely contests this ruling. There are 711 pilots set to retire in the next five years and if this ruling is implemented then my career and everyone else’s at Air Canada will come to a grinding halt. Seniority is everything. If you are number 2000 you do not get promoted until number 1999 decides. Seniority dictates position held, aircraft flown, days off, vacation choice; whether you fly Christmas, have weekends off,etc.
Welcome to one of the most regimented, regulated and second safest mode of travel known to man. Many would assume driving to the airport is the safest. Far from it, in fact the drive to the airport is the most dangerous thing about flying. My three accidents in taxis and crew buses will attest to that.
Others would think walking beats flying as far as safety. In fact, next to aviation the safest mode of travel is the elevator!
Air Canada’s motto is Safety, Comfort and Schedule although I’m certain many in this room believe Air Canada’s motto is, “were not happy, until you’re not happy!!!” I do realize many of you have an Air Canada story and would love to share it with me.

Air Canada is the 8th largest airline as far as fleet size and 18th largest as far as passengers carried. Yet, we’ve been deemed the safest in the world!

The toughest part about my job is trying to keep it. We have simulator training every six to eight months (I’m in the simulator next week), a medical every six months if you are older 40, annual recurrent training, an annual route check and Transport Canada can show up anytime and demand the jumpseat (extra flight deck seat) to critique us.

Training is done in the simulator which replicates the actual airplane exactly. It sits in a two storey room mounted on hydraulic jacks capable of simulating 500 failures/scenarios. They come with a price tag of 20 million each and Air Canada has 10 of them. They cost $500 to $1000 an hour to run. There is an adage out there, “if you think safety is expensive, try having an accident.”
New simulators are so real that a pilot gets their entire license in the simulator. The first time a pilot sees the real airplane is on their first flight with a full load of passengers. (Don’t worry a pilot supervisor flies with him for 25 hours).
Can take off in snowstorm in YUL with strong crosswinds and autoland in YVR with one engine failed in zero visibility with a flick of a switch. Shown where the over ride switch is.
We can only get qualified on autoland in the simulator. We train in the virtual world to certify us in the real world.
Santa and the North Pole
Well since we are nearing Christmas, I thought I’d talk a little about the North Pole and Santa Claus. About 10 years ago Russia opened up their airspace. Because of it there are now four polar routes, which fly over the North Pole. Actually, none of them go directly over the pole, the closest one is 60 miles away from the pole but by flying the polar route it cuts off about an hour of flying. But before each flight we must determine things like cosmic radiation levels, radio and satellite reception because our radios and navigation systems could be affected by solar flares. Cosmic radiation is ranked from 1 to 5 with 5 being equivalent to 100 chest x-rays. A four is 10 chest x-rays. We can fly with a three but only to a height of 31,000 feet. How much radiation we encounter is based on altitude, latitude (the further north the worst it is), duration of flight and solar activity).We must also factor in cold temperatures ( -65 C for 90 minutes) because the fuel in the tanks gets too cold and congeals. Don’t get sick on these flights because diversions will only happen in peril situations. Two survival kits are boarded with parkas, boots, gloves, hat, etc and rest assured it will be the junior pilot leaving the aircraft to negotiate fuel, etc.
Speaking of the North Pole I wrote an article for the National Post a few Christmases ago comparing Santa Claus and aviation called Santa the Aviator. It was a fun comparison because he breaks more rules and regulations, from speed limits, not having de-ice equipment, no weight and balance, no navigation lights and no pilot license.

One captain read my article and it just so happened he would be flying over the North Pole Christmas Eve. He contacted CBC radio prior to the flight to arrange an interview. They conversed via satellite telephone while traversing the pole.
The future still looks bright. IATA (International Airline Transport Authority) is still forecasting a 5 percent annual growth for the next 20 years. Many countries are still hiring. China is booming! As far as advice for new student pilots, the time to get into stock market is when stocks are low. Go for it!
Eventually Air Canada will see the new state-of-the-art, Boeing 787 (Dreamliner). I say eventually because they were suppose to come 2010, but as of late they won’t be sitting on the ramp until 2013. Air Canada will see 50 of these with a price tag of $160 million American each. Just two of these airplanes would more than pay for Oakville’s annual operating and capital costs.

Made of plastic composites, they will have better pressurization, larger windows, they will add moisture to the cabin air, mood lighting to ward off jet lag, have push button window shades and even have a window in the washroom.

I hope I opened the flight deck door a little. It really is a neat, dynamic business.
Maybe one day soon, while nestling into your seat on Air Canada, you’ll hear my “welcome aboard” announcement.
To achieve the goals you have set out for yourself…that is success. I know for certain, flying for Air Canada is where I want to be! Thank you.

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: http://enroute.aircanada.com/en/blogs/flight-deck
3. Or post the question on my blog or website: http://www.captainmorris.com/
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?

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Blog: The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman
From time-zone to time-zone on the long haul Speedbirds

As you may have noticed a British Airways B777 captain has been posting quite a bit on my blog. I thought I'd give his new blog a boost. He should have great aviation stories from the other side of the "pond."


Captain Ian's last post:

Hello Doug. Hope the flying was enjoyable!Westjet I heard have mega-ambition and I understand are sniffing the possibility of overseas runs - but that doesn't fit with their business model I suspect.I sometimes see Transat at LHR - pretty rare - haven't seen them for a while either so not sure if it is still current - and a little birdie told me all of their A310s will be gone in 2012with A330-200s replacing them, with an option to upgrade to A350s. I believe Transat are like Monarch or Thomas Cook from this island. A318s are operating similarly to Privatair that use Boeing BBJs configured for perhaps 40-odd PAX in J-Class. Believe Lufthansa and Swiss sub-contract some Atlantic runs to them, so that's where the inspiration for 30-odd seater A318s come from - and directed at the bankers of the Big Apple and the Big Smoke who want the convenience.I spoke to a couple of the guys on the Airbus who are LCY certificated - and setting up very early is key for the approach as you said, and as the asphalt is very tight, the runway also has unique markings - and lights - basically you have the main gear well settled before the lights, or it's go-around time. It is really that tight operationally. The little blog is http://lifeonthespeedbirds.blogspot.com/(hardly a great name), and I am reading, prepping, doing all that we all do in readiness for the semi-annual coming up later this week.Will post on my blog, what they throw at us (last time, they incorrectly stowed the QRH on purpose), gave me a fuel leak out of the blue, pressure failure - so O2 masks on, took the visibility from 12 miles to CAT III in 2 minutes, failed the left hand engine on short finals, with the grand finale of the other engine bursting into flames just as manual braking started at 80kts...I needed a drink after that lot! Cheers, Ian

Ian. I'm in from two days of flying. Just prior to descent into YYZ from YEG (Edmonton) we get an ACARS (Datalink) stating we have been drafted to fly to LGA (La Guardia, New York)
and back. I purposely bid to avoid LGA. Inevitably, there are delays in/out of New York and the hastle factor increases big time. The reason for the draft, an Embraer in YYZ broke down.

We get to LGA via the expressway visual onto 31. Basically you fly over two white towers (DIALS) and then descend over the expressway below. The turn is tight and very little room for being high. I kept hinting to the F/O he was a little high. He got on profile nicely and with "medium" brake setting on the autobrake the light A319 (only 36 passengers) came to a stop pretty fast.

Just one more leg back to YYZ. I notice there is an Embraer on gate A5 (we are on A7) with passengers and has not moved in 25 minutes. I hear on company radios they are having a 'lav' problem. I told the F/O I bet you the Embraer will go mechanical and we will be delayed. Sure enough the Embraer goes T/U (tango uniform). Things fall of the rails with operations. First they say only a few passengers will be joining us. Well, we pushed back with a full load 65 minutes late.

One has to understand, some of our New york passengers can be very demanding and this flight was no exception. I tried to keep them posted with announcements, but some of the paxs were getting very wound up.

We set the park brake in YYZ 50 minutes late after "Dougie boy" greases it on runway 06R.
I stand by the door to say good bye. I get two "nice landings," but two passengers were ready for a verbal fight. One guy mumbles something to the effect we should apologize to all the passengers. I didn't like his tone. I immediately threw out the concept "customers are always right" and challenged him by saying in a loud voice, "say again!" He just scurried off.

You try your best, but many passengers out there have no CRM skills and are anti-Air Canada, so sometimes you have had enough. I really don't know how the F/As do it.

As far as training, I too will be in the "box" at the end of this month. I can't wait. NOT!

Until my next pairing, I'll enjoy my five days off.

Ian, good luck with the blog!


Saturday, November 14, 2009

I.D. Please! (Ask Doug question)

Here's a "Ask Doug" question for enRoute that didn't quite make the cut but brings up a few good points:

Captain Doug. Why do most AC aircraft not show the make and model number on the body like the Embraer 190's do?

Great question! I often wonder the same thing and to be honest I don't know the answer. I do realize our main competition, Westjet, advertises the make/model. Porter Airlines on the other hand does not. Air Transat does, but not Air Canada Jazz. At Air Canada we include the registration by law (in Canada they are a five letter combo beginning with "C" or "CF" and in the U.S a "N" followed a letter/number combo) and the FIN number. The first number of the FIN number depicts what type it is. I fly the Airbus 320 and they begin with two. The A320 is 200-250. The A319 251-299. The A321 is four hundred series. The Airbus 330 begins with a nine. But that's no help to you. As to why the Embraer has it, I think because it is a relatively new airplane so the original paint scheme came with the model/make.

I do have an Air Canada paint contact and if need be I could email them.

Again, I think it's a great idea to include the aircraft type in the livery. Even we pilots sometimes see an aircraft taxi by and find it difficult to determine the make/model.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Dicey" but doable into Vegas

Luxor Hotel. There is a "caution" noted on our approach charts.
"Aircraft may experience reflection of sun from glass pyramid
located northwest of airport."

While waiting for my coffee at Tim Hortons in YYC (Calgary), I chatted with a passenger on my flight heading to Vegas. For five hundred bucks he gets to stay at the Luxor for four nights which includes return airfare from Calgary. It's cheaper to travel nowadays than it was 20 years ago.

It all started when ATC asked us whether we had the 737 "visual" ahead of us.
American ATC asks this a lot. It's asked in LAX, MCO (Orlando) and SFO and many other airports I fly to. By stating you "have the traffic visual" it reliefs them of separation and they can pack the airplanes in tighter. This is particularly a challenge when flying into LAX at night. There's plenty of airplanes in the sky with a million lights below, but they ask whether you have traffic in sight or at least the airport in sight. At first you say no, or you are not sure of the traffic but they start asking more and more or start giving directions where the airport is. Finally, you take their bait and say, "traffic in sight" or "airport visual."

We were to follow Southwest (I later find out they rule and slow up to get off quickly because their terminal is nearby) on final onto 25 left for a visual. Everything is looking good. ATC told us to maintain 210 knots. He forgot to mention the preceding B737 slowed up significantly. The F/O was flying and he hadn't been to Vegas in years. I see on our TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) that our comfortable five mile separation has dwindled to four miles and then three.

Meanwhile I'm calling out the separation hinting to the F/O to slow it up. He had it in the back of his mind to keep the speed up as per the last ATC request, but we were cleared to visually follow the 737 i.e. fly it accordingly. Finally, he tries to slow it up but one thing a jet can't do. It can't "go down and slow down." We get the gear down and flaps hanging, but we are so close I can see what type of APU Southwest uses (not really, but you know what I mean). Plus we are getting some "wake" from him.

Finally when checking in with tower they suggest an "S" turn. I can't remember the last time I did an "S" turn. We are cleared to land and I make it known Southwest slowed up way too much.

At Air Canada we have a new call, "stable." Basically we have to be on the glideslope, the aircraft must be configured to land and the approach speed must be within 10 knots, etc. We were stable, but Southwest ahead of us thought they were the only aircraft landing in Vegas that day.

We broke it off to the left to do the "S" turn. People below must have thought Air Canada was giving the passengers a tour. Keep in mind everything was safe but the work load rose exponentially (What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas).

Southwest clears quickly, and the F/O puts in on nicely!

(Vegas is no different than most busy airports around the world. For example, landing in London, Heathrow tends to be as close. You are literally seconds away from executing a go around).

We are told to clear on taxiway A6 and hold short of 25 right. Tower then says (I thought) "next time slow up," but the F/O corrected me. They said, "nice job slowing up."

The next day we came back to LAS from Vancouver and we were ready. The flight was full and we had an Embraer captain in the jumpseat. (There was an Air Canada pilot golf tournament brewing so seats were at a premium). He says our approach yesterday happened to him as well.
The F/O was flying again and he made certain we were "on the numbers."

After his "greaser," I said aloud, "redemption."

I have to admit, Las Vegas has to be the prettiest approach at night. With so many lights and close proximity to town, one would think they are landing in a theme park.

This was the highlight of my four day pairing.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November's enRoute

Bloggers. If you want to see your name up in lights and get your question published, enRoute is recruiting for more questions for my aviation page.

Here's one question I answered on food which corresponds to this month's theme, FOOD.
Q: What is the most unusual food you’ve ever had, and where did you have it? Catherine Korman, Montréal

I’ve had octopus in Greece, steak tartare in France and pig’s knuckles in Germany. I couldn't get up the nerve to eat freshly skinned eels in Japan or chocolate-coated crickets in Korea, but I’ve eaten chewy cod tongues in Newfoundland. And while I passed on the “century eggs” (preserved chicken, duck or quail egg) in China, I did give pigeon a try in Hong Kong.

October's (enRoute) second question

Here's the second question which was not posted immediately in early October.

Q: Is there any way to detect and detour around turbulence? Ivan Chan, Vancouver

Air Canada’s policy is to avoid or circumnavigate known areas of significant turbulence, especially thunderstorms. On-board weather radar detects precipitation, which, if significant, implies turbulence. Modern airliners also have low-level wind-shear detection systems. No device detects turbulence due to jet streams, but weather maps depict and forecast all types of turbulence. Sometimes all it takes to ensure a smooth ride is for flight dispatchers to plan flights around areas of turbulence or at different altitudes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicator)

From follower: Lakotahope:
PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicator). Ok, maybe I am dating myself with this question. VASI (Visual Approach Slope Indicator), I remember, but the PAPI is unfamiliar. I am gonna have to start all over when I get back into the air.

Lakotahope: Seems like more and more airports are going the PAPI route instead of VASIS.
They are located near the touchdown point and work on the same basis as a VASIS. The two inner lights (closest to the runway) should be red and the two outer lights should be white.
Even though my shot on final into Heathrow is a little blurry, you at least get to see two red and two white lights on the left. Similar to VASIS it provides a 3 degree slope. When you see all four lights white - you are too high. All red, you're too low or as the saying goes, "all red, you're dead!"

Many times when we follow the glideslope down the PAPI (VASIS) can be off a bit. The question is, "which one do you believe?" The approach onto the 15s (15 left and 15right) in Toronto come to mind as far as poor agreement.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home