Sunday, July 18, 2010

Checked out on San Diego...and Bermuda for the F/O

On approach to runway 27 San Diego. The runway is straight ahead, do you see it?
ATC was asking us to report the runway visual so they could be relieved of their duties. But after a five hour flight consisting of dodging thunderstorms, with the sun in our eyes and with both of us never landing here before made for reluctant compliance.

I remember asking a fellow pilot if he was a tad apprehensive of flying into an airport he's never been to before. His answer. "It's just another runway at the end of an ILS (Instrument Landing System)" I try to be as nonchalant when I add another airport to my list. I think I'm up to over 110.

The only glitch, San Diego, California has only a LOC (localizer) only approach to runway 27. For such a large city and a runway orientated into the prevailing wind it makes one wonder why only a LOC approach. I guess it's on the same line of thinking why Canada's national capital has a backcourse on runway 25 where the prevailing westerlies prevail. Oops I'm digressing.

With most non precision approaches it requires a level off, configuring the airplane a little earlier and dragging it in. Translation...the work load is higher. Now throw in the fact you have a quarterly tail wind and you've never been to the airport before. Of course, I let the F/O fly this leg. That way I could maintain a situation awareness plus I could take some pictures. (Captain Doug has a new digital camera so stay tuned for more pics).

Air Canada has a handful of airports which require a "special" check out. San Francisco, Kelowna, B.C and San Diego are a few. What does this special requirement entail? Me briefing myself on the airport. Funny, I think I would do that for any new airport I've been to.

Again, the F/O did a great job and put it on nicely. It's a shame the layover has been knocked down from a 30 hour layover to a minimum crew rest pairing.
Parked at gate five in BDA. Note the Bermuda shorts near the peak of the roof.
I did a quck tour of the terminal with the crew. Some asked if I've been to Bermuda before. My answer. "I was married here twenty years ago."
This four day pairing also included two legs from Halifax to Bermuda and back again.
I've been to TXKF (BDA) before, but from Toronto. This flight took on a due south heading requiring HF (High frequency) radio work over the Atlantic ocean. Captain Doug has done oodles of HF work and took all this for granted. Not only was this the first time in Bermuda for the F/O, but Captain Doug had to show him the ropes with this archaic means of communication. Funny they can see how many tiles are missing off the space shuttle, but we must make position reports like they did after World War II. Oops, I'm digressing. The HF work proved a little challenging especially when we were staring at thunderstorms at twelve o'clock topped at 42, 000 with us at 36,000 feet. The pucker factor increased trying to get a reroute especially with the F/O working the radios. It all worked out. Although thoughts of Air France started to creep in the back of my mind as they....(I better not say anything more).

On day four (today) while flying out of Halifax enroute to Toronto we received a datalink saying our Montreal turn was subbed to an Embraer. Sweet, we get to go home with pay.

On a side note, many a pilot in the past made it known to always call ahead to home when their schedule changed. I could post many stories where surprises were met while walking through the door. Oops, I am digressing. :)


k1mgy said...

"Captain Doug has done oodles of HF work and took all this for granted. Not only was this the first time in Bermuda for the F/O, but Captain Doug had to show him the ropes with this archaic means of communication."

This mode is SSB (single sideband) which, compared to your 5 watt AM splatter generator operating on VHF, is quite a bit better. It's "archaic" perhaps because it's been around for many years. But, it works.

The range and intelligibility of transmissions are far superior to AM. Plus SELCAL is unheard of on the VHF frequencies. SELCAL is a simple but tremendous benefit.

If you wish to debate comm modes, I could suggest that VHF AM is equally archaic.

CPDLC is nice. But if it breaks and I were on the flight deck I'd want that HF radio ready to go.

k1mgy said...
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k1mgy said...
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david said...

"I guess it's on the same line of thinking why Canada's national capital has a backcourse on runway 25 where the prevailing westerlies prevail."

The prevailing SW wind in the summer generally means good weather (aside from afternoon showers or thunderstorms): planes sliding down the CYOW LOC(BC) 25 typically do so in VMC.

When the airport drops to IMC, the wind's typically coming from the NW (ILS 32) or NE (ILS 07).

From the Flight Deck said...

David you're correct in saying a southwest wind generally means good weather HOWEVER a southwest wind also brings summer haze reducing visibility to 2 to 3 miles and a southwest wind invariably means a trough of low pressure is moving in with possible low visibilities in showers and somewhat low ceilings. The Airbus does not slide down the backcourse. True it does so from the FAF (final approach fix)using the FPV (flight path vaector)but getting there on a Airbus is a work out. There is more hand waving on a backcouse approach in an Airbus than a one arm paper hanger. :)

From the Flight Deck said...

k1mgy. Excellent points about the HF and it's indeed why it still exists because it WORKS. I never used VHF AM and by your recount I'm glad I didn't.

SELCAL is a great feature because I would not want to have the HF radio volume up during the entire flight. I mentioned this to my F/O yesterday...thank goodness for SELCAL.

I've used CPDLC and it's great, but yes, good ole HF is a solid backup. I guess what I'm trying to say is many passengers have cell phones capable of calling remote places in the world.

Maybe it's time to update the front end.

Thanks for your post.

david said...

Doug, at least your Airbus (I assume) does reverse sensing on a backcourse, so you don't have to remember to fly *away* from the needle all the way down.

Nadia said...

Hi Doug,

For the airport I didn't found it but my husband found it rapidly.
The view is awesome from the flight deck!!!

Continue to post pictures like that.


From the Flight Deck said...

Bonjour Nadia. Ian and I were suppose to meet this month but I have not heard from him. I am not sure what has happened.

I realize he was told by his wife to stop blogging for the summer so maybe he will return in the fall. I miss his expertise and well written comments.

I guess you will have to tolerate my blogging. :) That is, until my wife says no more. And sometimes that comes pretty close from happening.

Nice to hear from you.

Et bonne nuit aussi!

From the Flight Deck said...

Nadia. Your husband has a good eye! I will certainly be posting more pictures with my new camera. Merci.

From the Flight Deck said...

David. Yes, at least it has reverse sensing! What the backcourse does not allow is for us to navigate in a "managed" mode meaning the heading changes are made using the
"selected" mode. It's all Airbus talk translating into a higher than normal workload.

Lakotahope said...

Call home if the schedule changed? Yes, quite a wise decision to make if one doesn't like surprises...

From the Flight Deck said...

Lakotahope. Yes, I could write several posts on that topic. Now and again, when we fly over a pilot's home we make the joke we can see a strange car parked in the driveway. :)

Daniel said...

" More pictures "

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. There's no doubt about it,one of the perks of being a pilot is lots of travel. Even on your days off. Captain Doug

Hormazd said...

Great pic, can't wait to see more "from the flight deck". :) I was also surprised to learn a few months back that there is no ILS approach to that runway, especially since there is one from the other end.

Having said that, I'm in San Diego often and there are three things I love about KSAN and that runway. 1) Great views of downtown and the ocean, 2) the close proximity to the heart of the city, and 3)there is a parking structure right on line to rwy 27 approach. If you sneak up to the roof top you can watch the airplanes buzz you (seemed like only 200 feet above us). My wife and I did so earlier this year, and it was quite a thrill! Even felt the wake turbulence from an MD80 about a minute after it went by. We did wonder though if the pilots could see us.

Question - does having buildings close to the runway make pilot heartbeats go up at all?

From the Flight Deck said...

Hormazd. I concur, those rooftops seemed pretty close while we were on final. Yes, if I knew where to look I would see you guys. I noticed the PAPI
(Precision Approach Path Indictor) (guidance lights on the side of a runway) are set at 3.5 degrees instead of the normal 3 degrees. Meaning we approach at a slightly steeper angle.

Yes, having anything that close makes the "pucker factor" go up. One must be "on the numbers." Having said that, most company's procedures do not allow to duck below profile.

Thanks for the detailed post.

Much appreciated. I wish we had longer layovers there because I would bid for them.

Captain Doug

kbq said...

Capn' Doug: I always liked the Coast Guard aircraft crossing on the highway at the south end of the airport. Always used to enjoy watching the recruits pounding 'round the east fences, too. Sigh... ages me, I guess! :-)


From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Kevin (kbq). Are you talking Bermuda or San Diego? San Diego sure has a military presence. Years ago, I did my initial BAe 146 simulator training near Miramar air force base. We watched F-14 Tomcats do touch and goes all day.Now that's aging me. :) :) :)

Dr.ATP said...

I believe that there was an ILS to runway 27 in San Diego for a while. I suspect that the site is a very difficult one for a reliable glideslope signal, based on the proximity of the buildings causing multipath.

I learned to fly in San Diego and spent many hours parked at the end of 27 watching how the "big boys" did it.

From the Flight Deck said...

Dr. ATP. It must have been nice to learn how to fly in San Diego. I suspect your right about the proximity of buildings and the glideslope.
I guess the localizer approach is better than a backcourse.

I'll be one of the "big boys" landing in SAN later this month. Too bad it comes with a minimum crews rest layover.

Thanks for the comment.