Monday, August 9, 2010

Long duty day

A clump of thunderbumpers over the Prairies

"Came to a mountain, couldn't go over it, had to go around it."

This is an Airbus ND (Navigation display) with the weather radar superimposed on it. It's picking up the thunderstorms in the CYQR area. Hint, it's the capital of Saskatchewan.
The dotted line is our intended route but the solid green line is our heading, 090 degrees.
We took about a 15 degree cut to the south to keep things smooth.
Red is an ugly colour on the weather radar.
Dispatch sent us a Sigmet (Significant meteorology) for these babies (and others to follow) topping at 45,000 feet. We were at 35,000.

First leg: CYYZ-CYVR

Our mission yesterday was Toronto to Vancouver and then to Ottawa. It would entail a 12:39 duty day and 9:24 hours of flight time. We departed Toronto with a fully loaded A321 (174 passengers, plus four infants, and five flight attendants and of course two good looking guys in the pointy end). The underpowered A321 climbed like a dog to altitude. It look about 30 minutes as it laboured to flight level 340. Toronto had convective showers in the area so our routing took us north over Sudbury to avoid most of it. We still managed to find some bumps.
We were also the first to take off behind flight 015 to Hong Kong. With a Boeing 777 ladened with 16 hours of fuel one has to think wake turbulence...big time! His routing at first was the same as ours. Guess what we encountered at 4,000 feet? Yup, a "little love tap" from our preceding neighbour.

During descent into Vancouver I checked the status for our Ottawa bound flight. It's showing late by one hour. Our duty day will now be up to 13:49, eleven minutes of us walking.

The first officer was spring loaded to pull the plug because he had sims after this pairing and needed his rest. I told him I prefer to continue on to Ottawa, but it's his call.
We pull out our abbreviated contract and go into the lawyer mode deciphering the wordy words.

Book signing at flight level 350

We push back 10 minutes before pulling the plug. (Remember the calculations are the total projected times for the flights) A close one. While readying the flight, a nervous flyer asked if she could approach the flight deck. She was taking a fear of flying course and I could tell she was white knuckled. She wanted to know about thunderstorms. I avoided the topic like a good politician. I did go into the sales mode and promoted my enRoute column and of course my book. I sold her a copy during the flight.

Non precision approach onto 25

We dodged a clump of thunderstorms over the Prairies, Kenora Ontario and showers in the Ottawa area. After nearing 14 hours I wanted to do the ILS onto 32 because of low level stratus and lower visibility. I would take a quarterly Southwest tailwind to do it. ATC says "unable" so it will be the backcourse onto 25. Not what you want to do late at night after a long day.

Captain Doug puts it on runway 25 with a full load of passengers about an hour late. The runway, greased with water, required max reverse to clear on taxiway echo.

Today. It's off to Toronto and then down to Halifax and back to Toronto.

The life of an airline pilot.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post Captain Doug, always fun to see a 'day in the life' and I'm sure the nervous flyer appreciated your kind words, and your great book!

YYC Dispatcher

benjaminrowley78 said...

Someone ask if u could wish for something other money what would it be. I respond it would be 2 travel the world but i do not think that will happen any time soon. So the next best thing is reading your blog!!! Keep upb the good work:-)

From the Flight Deck said...

YYC dispatcher. Just in from dodging thunderstorms in the Toronto area. Thanks for your continual support over the months.

From the Flight Deck said...


You are a charmer! But hey, thanks for going out of your way to comment!

Daniel said...

God how I wish I was you at the moment... :D I like your trip reports a lot . Although every article is a good read.

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. Thanks for the enthusiastic compliment!

Your turn will come.

Yesterday tended to be a bit of a work out dodging thunderstorms. I must write about it.

Lavi said...

Great post Cpt. Doug! I loved the pictures that went along with the post as well. I'm just wondering if there's any way in the future for you to upload higher resolution pictures? When I click on the pictures, they still tend to be a little small. I would love to see them in detail! Thanks!

From the Flight Deck said...

Lavi. Oops! I meant to change my camera from email size photos to a higher resolution.

You are not going to like my next bunch either.

Thanks for pointing that out!

Anonymous said...

I live in Kenora Ont. and all I can say is it is a good thing you missed that storm.

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Anon. Yeah, it looked like those "babies" were giving you guys in Kenora quite a light show, plus heaps of water and wind.