Friday, April 2, 2010

March's second enRoute question.

Captain Doug Morris answers your questions about aviation.
Sunday, March 14th 2010

Q: Does an airplane handle differently when it’s empty? Daniel Asuncion, Halifax
Usually, pilots only fly an empty aircraft to reposition it for another flight, to send it off for a fresh coat of paint or to pick up a new addition to the fleet. And, yes, an empty airplane handles differently. A light airplane taxis quicker, gets airborne sooner and climbs faster. It’s also more susceptible to surface winds, so getting a smooth landing takes a little more finesse as flight controls are more sensitive.

Here's a few other questions that didn't quite make the cut but were worth answering:

1. How are runways selected for landings and take off?

As I live in South Etobicoke, and commute along the 427/401 I often see aircraft approach Pearson from different directions, how does the pilot or ATC determine the runway for landings and take off?

In a nut shell, wind direction dictates the runway in use. Pilots want to land into the wind. We can land with a tailwind (usually 10 knots for airliners, 20 knots for the Dash 8) but it usually means a longer landing. We frequently land with crosswinds and at Toronto Pearson when the crosswind gets to about 20 knots, air traffic control will switch runways. The prevailing winds are from the west-southwest here in Toronto so that means three runways will be open. Runway 23, 24 right (mostly for take offs) and 24 left (mostly for landing). Usually aircraft inbound from the north will be given runway 23 and aircraft from the south will be given 24 left or 24 right. The ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information System) states the runway in use, but it can vary for landing sometimes making it a bit of a challenge second guessing.

2. Just wondering, what does the QK stand for on my baggage tags when I have a connecting flight? I'm guessing quick?

Sorry for the late reply. "QK" is the identifier for "Air Canada Jazz." You must have taken a flight using our connector.

3. I've been doing a little research pertaining to Canadian Regional's aircraft names. One I keep getting hung up on is C-FTAS, an F28.Apparently this aircraft carried the titles "Spirit of The QueenCharlottes/Haida Gwaii" in the early 90s prior to being re-named "Spirit of Boston."In any event, I've been trying to find a photo of this aircraft with the Queen Charlotte titles -- any help or info would be much appreciated!

Sorry about the late reply. I know of a tail spotter in Germany, but I don't know anyone specific in Canada. I can post your question on my blog and we can take it from there.

Can anyone out there help?
Captain Doug

4. Here's my question, and it's going to sound pretty absurd, but here goes:
I've seen video of a barrel roll performed smoothly enough that it really was a 1-g maneuver--the pilot was showing off by pouring iced tea with one hand and holding the yoke with the other (Video--Bob Hoover aerobatics). My question is this: On moonless night, over an ocean, out of radar coverage, and perhaps with the other pilot in the bathroom, if a pilot had the technical skill to do this but not the judgement to abstain, a) could he do this with an aircraft full of passengers, and b) would anybody know? Lastly, knowing the pilots, retired and otherwise that you do, do you think that perhaps this has happened, if only once, decades ago, by a captain close to retirement, before data recorders and careful company policies?

That's quite a question to a pilot who just flies "straight and level." I saw Bob Hoover's video. He's amazing and makes everything look so easy.

As far as anyone knowing. Well, if a passenger was star gazing on the moonless night as per your scenario, I suspect they would figure something was astray
when the stars went from above to below them. :)

I for one would not know how to perform a flawless Bob Hoover barrel roll.

Thanks for you submitting your question.

5. Do pilots show up at the airport earlier for long haul (i.e. Trans Oceanic or Polar) flights, or do all crew members have a certain check in time before every flight regardless of distance?

Actually pilots (whether flying domestically or overseas) show up the same time i.e. one hour and 15 minutes prior to push back. Having said that, things get a little rushed for the long haul flights. The flight plan is longer to peruse over plus many of the international gates take quite a walk
to get to. Many pilots will give themselves a little extra time whereas some guys will show up as per the contract.

6. Hi, as an aspiring young pilot, I was wondering which routes, of the many, to the majors are the best. For example, going through the civilian route, getting ratings through a university, or going the military route. Maybe you could help me weigh the pros and cons that my still young brain neglected to appreciate. Thanks ahead of time!

Here's a link to my enRoute blog site for your question plus I have pasted it below.
If you live in Canada there are some great flying clubs and colleges I could recommend.

Maybe you could email me your particulars?

Until then, chase your dreams!

Captain Doug Morris

Q: What advice would you give to a young person who would like to become a pilot?
Jessie Dodsworth North Saanich, B.C.

I mentor many future pilots, and my advice has not waivered. Go for it! True, we are going through some trying times, but the industry is still forecasting growth over the next 20 years. The path is through flying clubs, flight colleges (as well some universities) and Canada’s Armed Forces. James Ball’s book, So, You Want to Be a Pilot, Eh?, is a great read for those pining for the skies.

7. Hi Doug
I just wanted to let you know that I read your book ("From the Flight Deck") and I really enjoyed it and thought it was very informative. I have a special interest in airplanes and flying.
I would be very interested in knowing if you are writing any new material or have any photographs of your recent travels.

Thanks for reading my book and kind words. One day, I will write a weather book for Canadian pilots. Sounds like you have a keen interest in aviation/travel. I have a pretty busy blog on the go, so feel free to visit/follow or comment.


Mark said...

C-FTAS, as of the early 2000's, was a Canadian Airlines F28 named Spirit of Thunder Bay. Have no photos or records, that I can find, of it priot to that. Check out this link

Mark said...

Or go to the below website and put in C-FTAS

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Mark. I passed along the info. Thanks for going the extra mile. Doug

Anonymous said...

Capt. Doug,

Follow-up on the light vs. heavy aircraft...when you fly in the sim, do you do flights simulating different payload/fuel weights? Do you simulate an emergency landing in an over-weight condition?

YYC Dispatcher

Lavi said...

Another great blog post. Thank you Doug!

From the Flight Deck said...

Anon. Yes, we practice V1 cuts at various weights. But during the tests they tend to back off on the weight.

As far as overweight landing scenarios we practice them as well. There's an overweight checklist in the QRH (Quick Reference Handbook) which is consulted.

We also adhere to an acronym during irregular and emergency situations.

A- ATC (Did we notify ATC of our intentions)
B- Back end (Did we brief them?)
C- Company (Did we notify operations?)
O- Overweight landing. The small bus can not jettison fuel unlike the big birds
T - Transponder to T/A (Traffic Advisory) only because we can not manoeuvre on a R/A Resolution advisory in an engine out scenario.

When we brief the in-charge flight attendant in an emergency we use the acronym TTTBAD

T- Type of landing (Norma, abnormal or emergency)
T- Time for landing
T- Touchdown (whether water or land)
B- Brace (2 minutes and 30 seconds)
A- Advice to passengers
D -Displace passengers

All this talk puts me back into the simulator. My palms are sweating. :)

whywhyzed said...

Off topic question, but Doug --- do you know of any AC plans to use this system?

I'd like to understand how it works, exactly.

From the Flight Deck said...

whywhyzed. You're talking about RNP (required navigation performance) coupled with GPS?

The only one actively using it in Canada (to my knowledge) is our competition - West Jet.

Most, but not all, of our aircraft have GPS, however, because the entire fleet is not modified it looks like we will be waiting a little longer.

But hey, our entertainment system kicks butt! :)

whywhyzed said...

Doug, I *think* I'm talking about ADS-B which is part of NextGen. I swiped this from the NavCanada website:

"Aircraft with ADS-B automatically transmit accurate position reports with integrity every second to Air Traffic Control (ATC). As a result, ADS-B will reduce separation minima for equipped aircraft and allow more aircraft to follow the most efficient flight trajectory."

I think the idea is to eventually eliminate radar altogether; land masses have ADS-B receiving stations which are all backhauled into the ATC system. Individual A/C will transmit their GPS position once/sec to these ground stations.

No clue how this will work over water, though.....

From the Flight Deck said...

whywhyzed. On overseas flights we use ADS (Automatic Dependant Surveillance)which implements datalink and satellite.

Sounds like ADS-B will be a new and improved version. I always heard the Atlantic and Pacific would be "radar identified" areas but they sure are taking their time.

zapoko said...

The spirit of boston at Edmonton.

From the Flight Deck said...

Zapoko. Thanks for going out of your way to send the link, "Spirit of Boston." But the person below is after a pictue prior to it being nenamed. Captain Doug

"Apparently this aircraft carried the titles "Spirit of The QueenCharlottes/Haida Gwaii" in the early 90s prior to being re-named "Spirit of Boston."In any event, I've been trying to find a photo of this aircraft with the Queen Charlotte titles -- any help or info would be much appreciated!"