Flight plan

My flight plan....

This blog is to inspire and motivate those pining for the skies. I will also virtually open the flight deck door and allow a peak behind the scenes.

If for any reason you have an issue found within, send an email and I will ratify it!

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Not my license plate but "follower" Mark from my hometown captured this shot.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Tip for the Captain!

Sitting at gate 3. I tried to include my approach plates with the terminal as the background.

Ten minutes prior to push back a "J" class (business class passenger) did not board. This was a "through" flight and for some reason they did not return. ("J" passengers should know better) Oh great, we will have to "sequence" their checked baggage. Translation - a 15 minute delay. Finally, the passenger shows up wondering what all the fuss is about. But wait a minute, the "Ramp lead" appears in the flight deck. He is in a predicament. There is a pallet of live "chicks" destined for the "Rock." He called load and realized they can be boarded but he must juggle the baggage containers. "Chicks" are very temperature sensitive and they can travel on certain planes. We are going to take the delay. Note: Most Air Canada employees want to do a great job (contrary to what the media portrays sometimes) and the "lead" was one of them.

***One of my enRoute questions may include why we use "J" to denote business class. If anyone out there finds a reference to the origin of "J" please send it my way. For the like of me, I can't find it. ****

I make an announcement to the jammed packed flight what was transpiring. The "Newfs" loved it. Then the jokes came. They all have great sense of humours.

"Looks like KFC and Swiss Chalet will be getting new supplies."
"We can never have enough 'chicks' in Newfoundland."
"Don't count your chickens before they hatch."
These are not mine, but the passengers.

It was good to take off with everything working. (Remember, I'm fresh out of the simulator) However, we did get a caution light stating one of the air conditioning packs had a regulator fault. The F/O puts it on nicely on runway 29 with a good crosswind.

I take it back to the "big smoke." We are running about 20 minutes late and everyone wants to know about their connecting flights. It's around 10 P.M so if they don't make it, they will be waiting until tomorrow.

During deplaning while I'm saying good bye a "UM" (Unaccompanied Minor) asked to approach the captain. She is about nine or ten and she hands me a folded five dollar bill and a Loonie. It was a tip My first ever! Okay, I'm doing the math, that's three extra large Tim Hortons coffees. Sweet! Kidding everyone, we pilots aren't that bad! lol Really! It was difficult to hand it back to her as she would not take it. Finally I said, "I make tons of money" (I fibbed) with a HUGE smile and she reluctantly took it back. The first time for that in my aviation career.

Now we are off to CYHZ (Halifax, Nova Scotia). We notice a visibility as low as 1/4 mile in fog may be greeting us on arrival. This last flight was filled to the rafters with a few "cons" begging for the jumpseat. The only glitch, we were weight limited because our alternate - Quebec city - (Nadia you might have seen an A320 there at 3:00 a.m) required lots of fuel so our landing weight in Halifax was at maximum. Finally, it turns out we can take one in the "jump"... a main line flight attendant. She is married to a pilot I know plus she bought and loved my book. She trumped a Jazz pilot.

The landing would require me to land. Policy states any approach below 2600 feet (1/2 mile) will be done by the "demi-god." It was the F/O's leg so I offered him the take off and during cruise I would take over. He agreed. I give the briefing for a Category II (decision height one hundred feet on the radio altimeter) to an autoland.

It worked out well. While setting the park brake I made an announcement stating the landing was done by the airplane called an "autoland." It was 2:00 a.m in the morning and the awe factor lacked with the passengers. My real estate lawyer, for the many transactions for a pilot on the move back and forth to Halifax was on board. He appreciated the info.

After a long day, ending with an autoland down to minimums, we wanted to get to the hotel. But there was a glitch. No cab. After numerous calls, one finally arrives an hour later. Rated as "the best airport in North America" there are no cabs at the airport during the wee hours. Our prearranged cab obviously had other arrangements. I get to my room at 4:00 a.m.

The life of an airline pilot.


TheVirtualFlightDeck said...

I don't think I have heard anything from my dad loading stuff that weird :P Although he isn't a ground lead but a Customer Service one. A lot of weird story's about passengers come out of his mouth though lol. The weather yesterday wasn't the best, expecting thunderstorms and such but good that you got down.

From the Flight Deck said...


Yes, thank goodness for automation. Things happen fast at 100 feet above the ground at a speed of a 130 knots. How is the website going?

Daniel said...

Unfortunately bad until I get back in school, less and less time as I fly in real life and hanging out with friends. O well, I will try. :D

Jane said...

J --- Just behind First!

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. Just took a look at your site. I see you were off to the John Wayne airport in California. Air Canada now flies there and we have special procedures getting in and out of there because of noise sensitive issues and the short runway. Maybe I will stick with the CAT II approaches in YHZ. :)

Daniel said...

Config 3 with the packs off does a far good job. Are you scheduled to fly there sometime?

Daniel said...
This post has been removed by the author.
Daniel said...

Oh and I found this...

* J = VIA 1 Regular Fare
* JS= VIA 1 Discount Fare
* JX= VIA 1 Supersaver Fare

or C or J indicate full fare business class.

From the Flight Deck said...

Jane. I love it. The only glitch is no North American carrier offers "first class" anymore. Although, we pilots happen to think our seats are "first class."

Thanks for the sense of humour. :)

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. You know your Airbus! Just took a look at our operational procedures for take off out of KNSA (John Wayne- Orange County Airport).

1. Flap 3 (instead of the normal flap 1)
2. Packs off or operated by APU bleed
3. TOGA (full) thrust

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. It still doesn't tell me why they use "J" instead of maybe "B". I guess I gotta keep digging.

Lavi said...

Hi Doug,
I've heard other pilots refer to the auto-land as a more complicated procedure to preform when compared with a manual landing. Would you tend to agree with this statement? If so, why?

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Lavi. Haven't heard from you in awhile. It's more complicated as far as qualifying. Pilots must be re-certified every six to eight months in the simulator, the runway and airport (ILS) has to be upgraded and the airplane must be certified. As far as the actual procedure, it is a breeze. For autoland on a Category III approach all we do is put "no" in the
decesion height in the Airbus computer. That tells the airplane to perform an autoland. For a CAT II (like last night) we inputted a value 126 feet for the radio altimeter where we could
either land manually or let it land itself.

What makes it a little tense is watching the airplane land itself. That gets a little getting use to. I've been left seat for 2.5 years and I've done three CAT II approaches to an autoland.
I have yet to use the heavy hitter CAT III.
Only Toronto and Vancouver offer CAT III approaches in Canada and that's on certain runways.

Daniel said...

lol yea, I have had a small "peak" at the airport briefing package for SNA from another A320 pilot.

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. So you are "in the know." Good for you.

Daniel said...
This post has been removed by the author.
Daniel said...

Not exactly, I guess I have adapted my speaking skills to speak the same language as them, aka I would perform good if you put me in the sim or have a basic knowledge of how the planes work. If I go to work with my dad at YHZ I meet a lot of pilots and such. I commonly get to program the FMS/FMC/MCDU for the Embraer, Boeing and Airbus. I am just glad that YHZ is small and that there are 2 leads including my dad working then 1 can handle downstairs at check-in while my dad handles the gate. I haven't exactly taken the conversation farther then the gate but occasionally I will email them and they email back or vice versa. I get to see some neat things, its as close as I can get to actually flying apart from my flying lessons on a C172S ;)

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. A Cessna 172? Did YHZ finally set up a flying club or are you driving to Debert or the valley? Pity about YHZ not having a flying club. For the largest city in eastern Canada, and not to have a flight school, is an atrocity.

Daniel said...

Yeap, from the Debert flying club. I was going to go to GFC ( CCW3 ) but there ground school had to be there and not in Halifax which is 2 hours away. But for the flying lessons in Debert, I have a aunt that lives around Truro so I can stay with her.

C-FAUX C172/SG/C - Amazing plane, made in 2000 with ...

2 Nav/Com's
1 ILS, ADF, GPS & Autopilot
Mode C Transponder

Daniel said...

Oh and no, YHZ still hasn't gotten another flight school. I was just reading , this guy went down this morning at departing from (CCW3) GFC.

http://www.planesandchoppers.com/picture/number8474.asp Both are fine though.

Anonymous said...

Re J-Class
All started with the computer resv system. J & C used for business class. Airlines for example allocate a code for freq flyer J & Y tkts to limit number of seats per flt for revenue control.
Y/B/H/M/L etc. used for various discount booking classes(various fare levels with differing rules) for economy tkts.
Regards, Tony (Melbourne, Australia)

From the Flight Deck said...

Anon (Tony) from Melbourne. Thanks for taking the time to explain the origin of "J." It all makes sense.

Just about to launch for a long day. Over nine hours of flying.

Thanks again from Canada

RescueChris said...

Back in the 1930's J-class yachts were raced in the America's cup. A class of boat reserved for the Wealthy and elite.


From the Flight Deck said...

RescueChris. I too read it may stem from sailing and from cruise ships of yesteryear. Since lots of other aviation stuff does.

Here is what one reader sent. Seems there's lots of good answers out there:

Thanks for your post!

Captain Doug (Captain - speaking of naval terms).

The short answer is:

When Business Class was launched and a letter was needed to designate the new class in the Computer Reservations System (CRS,) J hadn't been allocated to anything else, so that is what they used

The long answer is:

With the arrival of wide-bodies in the early 70s, airlines reduced their fares significantly over previous levels in order to fill the planes.
As a result, full fare paying Economy passengers started to get grumpy at having to sit next to people who had paid a lot less for their tickets.
By the the late 70s, therefore, airlines started to introduce a Business Class to establish some form of differentiation
As B Class was already an established Booking Class in the Computer Reservations System, they used the next letter in the alphabet C for this new class.
British Airways launched their Business Class, calling it Club Class in an attempt to evoke similarities with a London Gentlemen's Club.
The new product was very successful, so in about 1983-4, BA decided to 'up the bar' and introduced Super Club which was a standard triple seat where the armrests could be altered so as to give more space for only two passengers. As I said above, when Super Club was launched, they needed to differentiate it from C Class in the CRS, so they took the letter J as it was unallocated. The reason why Air Canada uses the letter J is because, at that time, it used a version of the British Airways BABS CRS so they adopted it almost by default.

Richard said...

I can't offer an explanation of "J" class, but I do know well "Z" Class, which was what BA used for the awkward seats in tourist behind a bulkhead, with less leg room, and, usually, no view of the movie, etc. These seats were allocated to military pax, flying at government rates!

From the Flight Deck said...

Richard. That sounds cruel. :) You don't see that with AC as far as screens go, everyone gets their own. As far as leg room, we do offer a better seat pitch than most in the "Y" section.

Thanks for your post!