Credit to the photographs

I would like to thank Brian Losisto (Air Canada's photographer) for always allowing me to post his pictures. (The above thrust lever pic is his). Then there is Kelly Paterson from Calgary and plane spotter "Erik" from Germany. Of course, I have lots myself. On that note, if you feel a photo(s) may be in appropriate or the content I post a bit dubious by all means send me an email. I will ratify it! That's all I ask.

...I hope you enjoy the blog...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Captain out of Uniform

Needle in hand, a button is sewn.

I knew I was home too long because the wife started asking, "when are you going to work?" After seven days off, I too looked forward to getting back in the saddle. Now I know what retired pilots must feel...

Prior to commencing a three day mission, crew sked called saying my first two legs, Montreal and back, were being displaced by pilots with management status to trial run the pending GPS approaches coming to the "small Airbus" fleet.
Because of the displacement it meant no early check in and staying home with pay. Sweet.

Sewing 101 at flight level 350

The first day now consisted of one leg to CYYT (St.John's, Nfld). Of course I offered the F/O the first leg and of course he accepted.

While moving the handle up to retract the landing gear my shoulder harness popped off a button on my shirt shoulder strap which held my right epaulette.

It's amazing how tuned pilots are to sound during take off. Both the F/O and I heard the button fall. I didn't bring my tunic (we have the option of wearing it in the summer) so I couldn't hide the popped strap while walking through the airport. Out came my sewing kit and I went to work. I joked to the F/O of declaring a distress call..."pan, pan, pan."

Of course this meant taking off my shirt. The F/O smiled saying he was glad to see I donned an undershirt. He said it would be pretty embarrassing to see a flight attendant enter the flight deck only to see the captain bare chested.

Years ago, I heard of a pilot blowing out the seat of his pants. This required sending the pants back to a willing flight attendant to sew up the "blow out." I wonder what the passengers would think knowing the pilot up front had no pants on? :)

Mistaken Identity

While flying to the "rock" a flight attendant called up saying a tall blond in the back says she met me two years ago at a wedding and she wants to say hello. Of course this tweaked my interest and I queried whether this person in question was good looking. "Yes" she reluctantly said. During the good ole days we had the option of inviting people up to the flight deck and of course this option was exercised to the max with certain pilots. :) It turns out I was a mistaken identity. :(

Both days on the road meant super duper early wake up calls. I arrived home two hours ago and I feel like I did a Hong Kong flight. While getting a coffee at 5:00 a.m in Ottawa this morning a security guard stopped and asked me about being a pilot. It turns out he was accepted by one of the renowned schools here in Canada, Seneca College. I mentioned I taught some high level meteorology there. However, for some reason I did not teach this year.

While deplaning in Toronto another young man mentioned he bought my book. He had his private pilot license and was moving to Calgary to get a ramp job and pursue aviation.

Today while flying to Tampa, Florida a "super elite" passenger requested an autograph on my column in enRoute magazine.

I'm starting to feel wanted. :) Having said that, I noticed visits to my blog are up, but your comments are dwindling. Don't be shy, step up to the bat and start commenting/suggesting/querying. (The blog host mentioned a "spam" feature has been added to my site. Maybe that's where your feedback is going? Anyone know where I find this "spam" file?)

Home for a couple of days and then it's off to Cozumel, Mexico. Looks like I'll be adding another new airport to my repertoire.


fche said...

Hey, could you offer some speculation about why GPS approaches are deemed sophisticated enough to require such elaborate approvals for commercial operators?

From the Flight Deck said...

fche. Good question about why it's a big song and dance. But for the narrow body Airbus fleet it may be because many of these birds are getting up there in age and have never been fitted with GPS. It costs thousands to retrofit these aircraft. For AC, I think this was more of a deal.

In fact, there was a rumour floating around in us getting rid of the older aircraft because they lacked GPS. Again, just one of the many rumours.

Scote1992 said...

I'm at Dowling College right now. Your blog is one that I read as soon as you post something new. It keeps the dream alive in me. As of now I don't have money to fly here, but hopefully soon. My first class is Aviation Weather :)
Scott Cote
[email protected]

Daniel said...

I was flying to Montreal from Halifax for the day with my dad and I swear I seen you in first class apposite me. Air Canada for sure but knowing me, I don't have what it takes to go ask and confirm if it was or not. Would have been cool to finally meet you although I have when I was younger , seen you before leaving exhibition park in Halifax. I remember asking my dad who that was and he told me when I read your book I would find out. O well , someday.

Cozumel sounds nice with winter fast approaching. Apparently its going to be a "bad one" in Halifax, not good for you :D . Then again, I don't trust the weather network since they were the ones that said it was going to get dark overnight. Thank god for the weather network . lol.

I experienced my first negative degree temperature in summer before a few days ago at 6,200 feet up. I told my dad I wish we could move to Florida.

From the Flight Deck said...

Scote1992. Thanks for posting.! This is what I need to hear to keep to confirm what I say is actually helping.

Let's hope you DO keep the dream alive.

Dowling College?

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. No, it wasn't me sitting in business class. I dislike deadheading. In fact, I bid to avoid deadheads. I'd rather be in the pointy end anytime of the day.

I was in Florida today. The temperature hovered at 29 C.

6200 feet, was this is an airplane? Actually, that freezing level is kind of low for this time of year. Let's see... if the average temperature at sea level is 15 C and we use the normal lapse rate
of 2 C/1000 feet the normal freezing level would be 7500 feet.

Daniel, thanks for your many comments.


Daniel said...

Dang, that sucks.

Yes, true, we went up mount Washington in New Hampshire. The outside scale said it was - 1 degrees and it was snowing... It was more like flurry's. If we wernt surrounded by clouds apparently we could see the Atlantic ocean.

Nadia said...

Hi Doug,

After the camping it's my computer who decide to let me down. And with all those days without computer I realise than I'm addict to your blog.

I really like writting you more often but I have to wait for the translation done by my husband.

Your lucky you receive additionnal days off and get paid for !!! ;)

Captain, you make me smile with your sewing kit :)


Anonymous said...

Captain Doug,

Are the GPS approaches they are testing in the 'little bus' the same as the RNP 'short gate' approaches that WestJet are using? I'd heard a rumour of them being introduced in the ERJ170/190 fleet too, any truth?

YYC Dispatcher

Giulia said... did that needle get past security?!


Another great blog entry, Captain Doug.

From the Flight Deck said...

YYC Dispatcher. I really don't know whether GPS approaches and RNP are the same. Something tells me they are not. Although everyone will be trained during their next sim session. Sounds like I'll know everything then. :)

I read a great article about the RNP approaches implemented by Westjet. In stead of flying from waypoint to waypoint with many having sharp turns, the RNP approach will have a weaving effect around obstacles. Overall it saves money and time.

As far as the Embraer fleet, I'll ask around. I thought I read the FAA wanted all commercial aircraft to be eventually equipped and qualified much like how they implemented TCAS years ago.

Maybe my ATC readers out there could add to this? Thanks in advance.

Here's a paraphrase of a recent memo:

The A320 Fleet is in the process of obtaining approval to conduct GPS approaches.

Earlier this month, funding was approved to equip an additional 16 A319/A320 with GPS receivers. Combined with the 19 A319/320/321 already equipped, we will have 35 GPS approach capable aircraft - 40% of the fleet - by the
end of next year.


Anonymous said...

Captain Doug,

Thanks for the insight!

I have read several good articles on RNP as well, Southwest and Alaska Airlines have been leaders in the U.S. as well using the technology.

During a tour about a year ago in the YYC tower, the controllers mentioned the best thing from their standpoint is that WS aircraft are able to fly the same approach exactly the same way, on exactly the same heading and speed profile, every time.

Are any wide-body aircraft in the AC fleet equipped with ADS-B for the newly equipped airspace in the Hudson Bay area?

Perhaps this could lead to a blog post on 'next generation' ATC services?

YYC Dispatcher

From the Flight Deck said...

YYC Dispatcher. You ask some in-depth questions. You are making me work to find the answer. :) :) :)
But good for you!

I found an A.C bulletin which addresses ADS-B. (A common beef we pilots have is information is disseminated in so many places.
The challenge is to find where. I can think of 20 publications where an A.C pilot would have to go and find the answer. :)

At the present time, B777 is the only aircraft capable of ADS-B communication. The

A330 will be upgraded in the near future and likely some B767 aircraft. All Crews will be informed by ATB (Aircraft Tech Bulletin) when they are permitted to operate ADS-B in the Hudson Bay

From the Flight Deck said...

Bonjour Nadia. Vous êtes trop gentil !!! Thank you for always reading my blog.

Merci encore

From the Flight Deck said...

Giulia. Like Nadia, I would like to thank you for reading my blog. It's nice to have a female perspective on things!

As far as the needle and security, they must have relaxed on certain items. I've been carrying the sewing kit in my bag for years. Unfortunately, I did not have scissors (I guess they are still banned) so I had to use brute strength to break the thread. Luckily, the thread was weak, so even a captain could do it. :)

Again, thanks for the frequent visits and constructive comments.

Anonymous said...

Westjet corporate video about RNP:

From the Flight Deck said...

Anon. Tried going to your link on Westjet. "No Joy."

Doug Morris said...

Re; Mistaken Identity
Was the tall blonde looking for a Doug Morris. Maybe she thought you were me!
Have finally located to Ottawa. Maybe see you on my St.John's trip in October.

The Other DM

From the Flight Deck said...

The other Doug. Good one! I should have sent her your way!

Now there's a way to succumb the captain, stating a tall beautiful blonde is in the cabin, and she wants to meet the captain. :)

Actually, truth be told, the flight attendant called up later in the flight and figured this woman was a little "left of center." Figures....

Enjoy YOW. I really like that city. Great people there!

Captain..the other...Doug Morris

Scote1992 said...

Dowling College is on Long Island, and is the college I chose after Daniel Webster is New Hampshire canceled it's flight program. I've had some speedbumps to get over already, but I can't imagine myself doing anything not aviation related. I'm want to major in Aviation Managment with a Professional Pilot minor.

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