Flight plan

My flight plan....

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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Night Shift (A Calgary "red eye")

Photo supplied by YYC rampie Kelly Paterson

The flight out to Calgary was fairly uneventful with a full load of passengers. Had some bumps near Thunder Bay and over Saskatchewan but the seat belt sign stayed on for ten minutes or so.

Our schedule departure (12:20 a.m.) back coincided with Calgary airport going into noise abatement mode. The winds blew from the south at 5 knots and the runway of choice of course was 16. Runway 10 and 28 were too short with a full load and plenty of fuel with Montreal as an alternate. Toronto was flirting with fog all night.

Our max zero fuel weight was at limits because our max landing weight in Toronto of 64.5 would be exceeded. Dispatch and Load were juggling the numbers.

Even though it said 34 must be used for nose abatement the captain can request 16. That's what we did. The snarly controller came back and stated both 16 and 34 are the same length, what's the problem? Obviously he skipped the class about second segment, hills, terrain, runway slope, etc. He said we would have to call the duty manager. We said, "forget it" in a round about way.

Funny, most cargo operations around the world are exempt from noise abatement.

ATC claimed the winds were calm. They probably were but I knew as soon as I lifted off, I'd have a tailwind.

We have all the passengers on board, but the agent says a YYC rampie and his girlfriend would like to board. The numbers are tight. Looks like we were a little lighter and I allowed them to board.

The agent returns saying we had to call dispatch. Because we would be now exceeding our max landing weight in Toronto I had to deny them.

We take off from 34 with full thrust and the speeds were V1 163, Vr 165 and V2 165. That's fast. The F/O said we rotated at runway 28 chewing up about 10,000 feet of real estate. The wind read out went from calm to a solid tailwind of 15 knots. We took off on the longest runway in Canada, 12, 675 feet. The only glitch is it's 3560 feet above sea level.

A common phrase in the Airbus world is, "what's it doing now?" At rotation we get a master caution light. There is a master caution light on my side and another on the F/O's. Mine said "master" and the F/O's said "caution" I've never seen that in my 14 Airbus years. There was no system fault that triggered it. The same thing happened at flare in Toronto.

I certainly exercised our SOP of a "controlled nap" on the way back. But lately with the Northwest incident with no radio contact in the back of your mind, I made sure the F/O could handle it.

We land at 64.3 tonnes, 200 kgs below max. I could have taken the last two passengers.

P.S This post was written with just two hours of sleep so you may see some grammatical errors.


Ian said...

Glad to see you made it through the night! And also pleased to hear the route check is over for another year. I have never quite worked out the motivation to be a check pilot to be honest...

My son has been asking questions about the Bermuda Triangle, knowing I am heading there - always a comfort to have family support.

Cheers, Ian

From the Flight Deck said...

Ian. I'm operating on spare batteries. I've had two hours sleep since my "red eye." Tomorrow I'm playing in the Doug Vann Air Canada pilot's hockey tournament. It's two days of 120 adult men digressing to boys with the odd drink imbibed. The glitch is I agreed to teach meteorology early Thursday morning.

I hear ya about checkers. I'd look over at the checker now and again, and to see what they must endure on a regular basis makes me realize I'll stick with line flying.

The Bermuda Triangle? I should have known something was funny when I married in Bermuda 20 years ago. :)


carlton said...

Capt Doug,

Many thanks for answering my enroute question on "the age of aircraft", published in this months enroute magazine.

Also congratulations on getting through the check ; )

I am another avid follower of yours and 'the flying scotsman's' blogs, always looking forward to the next postings. As well as the interesting technical info, they give us 'we wish we were pilots' an insight into the life of an airline pilot.

Now I have to force myself away from the very interesting aviation info, and start my 10,000 word dissertation... I think I am in the wrong career....



Mark said...

Contemplating the numbers is a bit sobering.

With 12000' of pavement and having achieved rotation at 10000', I take it the margin for abort is way gone.

As an abort may only be called prior to V1 (me thinks) would an abort have worked in this instance?

I'm only guessing, but with just 2 knots between V1 and Vr, perhaps this still didn't buy enough pavement to make a dent.

In the spit of time in which an abort decision is called, how would remaining runway length play into it? Is it safe to guess that, in this case, there would be no time left to figure it out?

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Mark. Every time an airliner takes off the runway must be balanced. Meaning, at V1 a decision with a two second delay built in has to be made. Treat it as a yellow light. Do I continue or do I stop?
If everything is a go we take off. If there is a problem worthy of a reject we reject. There has to be enough pavement (accelerate/stop distance) to do this or we don't take off.

Performance figures include: weight, runway, altimeter setting, wet versus a dry runway, engine anti-ice on/off, packs on/off, flap setting, headwind/tailwind. All of these parameters must jive or we don't move. They are obtained through datalink.

The F/O made an estimate. The true distance was shorter and the distance he estimated was where we actually rotated. Vr (rotation speed) and where the airplane actually lifts off are at two different places.
We generally rotate at 3 degrees per second.

Capt. Doug

Andrew said...

Yes congradulations bet it feels good having the route check behind you for another year. I've only been on 1 red-eye before and it was brutal...i sat between 2 large people and it was bumby, and the one girl was freaking out about the turbulance, plus it was a 3hr ride home from Detroit.

From the Flight Deck said...

Andrew. Sounded like a nightmare. Doug

Anonymous said...

Vr and V2 the same - is that normal?

Chris R

From the Flight Deck said...

Anon (Chris R) On the Airbus 320, Vr and V2 are very close to each other as well as V1 and Vr. There was a big difference on a heavy "big" bus (A340) between V1 and Vr. Sometimes 15 knots.
The decision is made to go flying at V1, but it took awhile to begin rotation at Vr to actually start flying. For some reason, I remember the take offs out of New Delhi to be the most interesting.
The lights at the end of the runway were not far away at rotation.

Capt. Doug