Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bloodshot "red eye"

This image is compliments of Air Canada's photographer, Brian Losito.
I've been writing a one sentence blurb for such enRoute pictures for the passed year and a half.
The way it goes, I submit about 15 blurbs and they pick one. Sometimes it takes more energy than my questions/answers. Here's the winner for April's:

Airbus A319 The ramp attendant ensures that the wheel chocks are set and the electric power is plugged in. Conditioned air is supplied from the yellow hose.

Yesterday found me in the landscaping mode yet again. I know, I know you are probably getting tired of my landscaping ordeal. I finally finished the masonry work. (When someone told me I should be a Mason, this is what I thought they meant - bad joke). Yesterday included heavy digging and moving five cubic yards of soil. Not a smart thing to be doing prior to a "red eye."

We launch for YEG (Edmonton) on sked. I ask the F/O to do the first leg since I figure flying home would make me more alert for the 6:00 a.m landing. (For those familiar with YYZ's 6:30 a.m curfew, many of Air Canada's 'red eye' flights are exempt including Flight 158 YEG to YYZ). Our route to Edmonton took us State side with one hour plus of intermittent to continuous light chop. Numerous reports had it all levels so a level change was not an option.

After a two hour scheduled wait in Edmonton, an aircraft change, including finding sleeping flight attendants in the cabin after their flight from Ottawa, we readied for our flight. The F/O, called out on reserve for this pairing, detected frost on the wings during the walk around. (The last time we flew together, about a year ago, he was freshly demoted from Embraer captain to A320 F/O because of the pending recession. He joked last night he was not in a good mood this time last year because of the $30,00o or more pay cut - who would be?). The middle of April and we are still deicing. Luckily after fuelling, the warm fuel in the tanks melted the wee bit of frost. No deicing required!

Captain Doug's head snapped back and forth a couple of times while on the long climb out of Edmonton. Finally at cruising altitude I gave control to my f/o for a "controlled nap." The flight consisted of tag team controlled naps. Finally, the in-charge rang to check up on us and I responded by a "so so." "Okay, I'm coming up for a visit." Visits from flight attendants are rarer and rarer, but what a difference it made. With the visit, and a hint of morning sun, perked us up for a fine scheduled landing in Toronto. (I must include this in my initial briefing to the in-charge, visits are more than welcome! I thought being nice to flight attendants upon initial contact would mean it's a given for them to come and visit - apparently not).

After a few hours sleep, I'm readying for a YVR (Vancouver) flight this evening. Luckily, it's just one leg there. But that's after some more landscaping after my wife bought 12 bushes to plant.

Captain Doug the night owl


Red Baron said...

How long do you usually nap for during your flights, and what are the rules regarding the oxygen, are you aloud to use that at all if your tired?

From the Flight Deck said...

Red Baron. SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) state a controlled nap will not be longer than 40 minutes. Longer than that, it is deemed ineffective (i.e one goes into another phase of sleep). For me, 10 to 15 minutes is ample.

I have yet to see the oxygen used for tiredness. Good question though.

Red Baron said...

Good to know, yeah i guess they dont want you going into the later stages of REM. I was deadheading on AC and Jazz the other day and read your Q&A in the enroute, well done. Lastly so you have any tips on getting in at AC, anything they look for in particular on a resume or in the interview?

From the Flight Deck said...

Red Baron. They are looking for university, college, military and jet time.
Have you applied on line?

I'm literally out the door for YVR.

I'll talk later.

Andrew said...

Hey Doug,

Looks like your being sent back to your treeplanting should make a bost so we can see what it looks like.

I just finished my cross country yesturday (Guelph -> Hanover -> London -> Guelph) It was good fun! Now that thats out of the way the next big thing left is the Flight test (dun dun duh)

SimPilot264 said...

Hi Doug,

My experiance of using O2 - it don't work. I tried it towards the end of a 2nd all-nighter - in at 1600, still there at 0730 when the day shift came in. It was OK for about 15 mins... then the headache kicked in. Two really strong, good quality coffee's at about 0500 was a far better solution. The Flight Line Mechs used to use it all the time...!

From the Flight Deck said...

Andrew. Presently, in YVR. Yes, every time I fly into B.C I look down and remember my tree planting days. I don't miss them at all. You make a good point, I should post on those days. Every pilot chasing their dream has a story like that to tell.

From the Flight Deck said...

SimPilot264. A strong Starbucks coffee got me to Calgary but for the return flight most of the coffee shops were closed. There was a Second Cup open but that's the stuff we serve on board.

Last night's flight to YVR (Vancouver) was the longest YVR flight I ever did. We touched down at 1:00 a.m (4:00 a.m Toronto time). I don't think oxygen would have helped. I even tried drinking a coke and I don't drink coke.

Sitting in YVR well rested and ready for my flight back home.

I have a medical early tomorrow morning. I have to remember to bring my wife's cheater glasses. Something tells me it will be a new stipulation on my medical.

Lavi said...

Hi Doug,
How much weight does a university or college education hold in the selection process of pilots in AC?

From the Flight Deck said...

Lavi. Funny you should ask that. My present F/O was hired four years ago. He said in his new hire class of 18 everyone had a degree. He graduated from Embry Riddle in Florida.
He paid $80,000 for his four year degree and he already had his multi IFR before going there!
For every major, and other smaller airlines in the United States, a degree is a must. Here at Air Canada it goes in spurts. It depends who is on the hiring board.

I keep getting this question, and I only wish there was a concrete answer to it, but it's like getting your name pulled out of a hat.

My F/O a few months ago quit his college and started flying earlier than his fellow classmates. Guess what, he got hired on much sooner and because of it, he is 200 to 300 numbers
senior. Go figure.

Don't be discouraged by my evasive answer. Just start flying and it will all work out.

Doug in beautiful British Columbia

whywhyzed said...

I was intrigued by your comment about your partner being demoted from the LHS on the EMB to RHS on the 320.
I didn't think that was it just a question of seniority? ie, if you're at the bottom of the list for a particular plane, you run the risk of being demoted if times get tough?
I always thought if you were really junior on a particular plane, you were on reserve more or less all the time until the flying picked back up again.

From the Flight Deck said...

YYZ. You're correct on all accounts. During a downturn it can cost an airline millions to retrain pilots getting demoted. Funny how it all works.

Being junior on any airplane most likely means being on reserve. Unless you become a "check pilot" whereby you buy seniority. Check pilots march to their own beat of the drum, in more ways than one. :)

That's why there is a rule of thumb. Stay senior on junior equipment.

Lavi said...

That's actually a more optimistic answer than I expected. I guess the other way to look at it is that a university/college degree can't hurt the chances, and would probably help. Oh well, I'll be trying my best.

Nadia said...

Salut Doug,

Good luck for your medical !


Ian said...

Doug. The recruiting for the majors I think is a bit of black art.

We are not currently taking cadets (some coming at age 18-19 to an ab initio programme) and then onto the right hand seat of a B737 usually 2 years later. We're in DEP (Direct Entry Pilot mode) where after interviews, tests and medicals you are placed in the hold pool. When a vacancy arrives that fits you get the word...can be a slow slow process.

Seven years is now the DEP wait from entry on the line following training to a short haul command - B737 is the latest.

Pretty different to AC from the sounds of it...

Cheers, Ian

From the Flight Deck said...

Ian. Indeed it does sound different. I realize Europe is into ab initio training, but very little of it goes on here, if at all.

A typical Air Canada new hire has around 5000 hours. Some with less, but some with a lot more. I had 8000 hours and two degrees.

Westjet still hires, but it's down to a trickle. Yet another cast of doom prevails the Canadian new hire market. But if pilots want to take their skills to places like China and India, the world is their oyster. This veil of gloom will lift once again, but sometimes we seasoned pilots get tired of looking at grey skies or volcanic ash.


From the Flight Deck said...

Merci Nadia. It went well, but now I must carry reading glasses. At the end, the doctor smiled and said, "here's your pilot license, but it only comes with a six month warranty."

Bloozclooz said...

Hi Capt. Doug.. I totally share your sentiments about the cast of doom and gloom that seems to cast itslef in the pilot recruitment situation in Canada. It really is a shame. in fact it still amazes me how this can happen, in a market as large and robust as the Canadian air transportation market. I always imagined that the supply couldn't keep with the demand for pilots in Canada, but I guess I am terribly wrong. As for places like China and India (and elsewhere too), I am not so sure the opportunities are as abundant as they once were, not too long ago. A lot has changed in the past couple of years especially with the global economic downturn, and now would-be employers are all "tightening their belts" so to speak and being very frugal, especially when it comes to hiring pilots. And finally, sitting here in my hometown in the Gulf and seeing what local pilots here are going through (especially younger, less-experienced ones) in terms of job prospects etc. or those who are taking massive pay cuts, it fascinates me how much we seem to share in common in this profession! The parllels are striking. The world is a lot smaller than we seem to think!