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...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Morning Medical Situation

A view of the Grand Canyon north of Phoenix this morning at Fl 370

A British Airways B747 crossing our bow enroute to Halifax this evening. Thoughts of flight 190 out of Victoria almost two years ago came to mind. What happened? Think wake turbulence. Today, not even a ripple.

It all started with me looking in the mirror prior to leaving the hotel room (pilots like looking in the mirror) and discovering a stain on my collar. No, it wasn't lipstick! Oh great, what a way to start Monday morning.

Then it's the line up at security. Words of wisdom...never get behind me in a line up because it will be the slowest. And that's what I told a passenger behind me this morning because security in that particular line was excruciating slow. My F/O and flight attendants were long gone.

We're cruising at flight level 370. Things are too smooth. Pilots get a little nervous when things are going too well. Sure enough the in-charge calls saying she has a 46 old female complaining of bad abdominal cramps. The word constipation came up. The in-charge had a doctor attending to her. I am absolutely amazed a doctor is usually on board.

The procedure is to get all the vitals, passenger name, seat and medical history and we contact a third party medical clinic in Philadelphia. But this must be done through dispatch and on VHF radio. What a work out! It totally takes a pilot out of the loop. Of course I delegated the task while I watch the Grand Canyon go by. (Kidding) We could not use AGRIS (Air Ground radio Interconnect System) so we had to call ARINC (Aeronautical Radio Inc) and get patched through to dispatch who then patches us to STAT MD. A few years ago we had a phone system on board, but that fell to the wayside with TV screens. It was great because the incharge could handle everything on their own.

I talked about archaic approaches a couple of days ago, well communication can be pumped up a little as well. The internet is coming and with it, Skype. Maybe it could make things run a lot smoother. Oops, I'm digressing.

We are nearing LAS (Lost Wages) and if Captain Doug ducked into there we would have to do an overweight landing which meant maintenance would have to inspect the airplane. Heck, it"s Monday morning, I don't need this.

Then the turbulence starts due to a strong south westerly jet stream. Then there a few thunderstorms to dodge all while we are relaying information from the back of the aircraft where the sick passenger is, to dispatch and then to STAT MD.

Everything turns out okay. The EMS meets us in Toronto which means everyone on board must remain seated until the passenger in question is cared for. She walked off the airplane. I thought I was having a "Monday Morning day" but the poor woman in question was travelling with two kids.

We get to customs. Both the F/O and I are sent to "secondary." Apparently, one of our co-workers made a comment to a customs officer an hour prior, so all of us were getting raked over the coals.

Now sitting in Halifax. The new pairing optimizer has reduced our layover times significantly. Meaning after a long day and near record heat it sure would have been nice to go out for a debriefing beverage, but the "beer math" does not add up. So here I sit blogging. Monday night blues.


Anonymous said...

Hi Doug!

I've been reading your blog now for a few weeks and really enjoy it. When I have some extra time I've been going back and reading the older posts too! So much information - which is good!

I'm glad your (beer) loss is our (blog) gain! :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Doug, great blog. I have heard that Air Canada's hiring process gives priority to people with post secondary degrees, Is it still possible to get hired without one at AC in this day and age?

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Anon. As far as getting you mean...getting hired as a pilot? If you do, I would say most pilots do not have university degrees, but most DO have college diplomas. Again, extra weight is given to those with university, college diplomas or military.
Hope this helps.

Thanks for the question.

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Heather (I have a sister named Heather).

Really glad you are enjoying my blog! Yes, I noticed I'm up to 250 posts in a year and a half so the material is adding up.
I guess I almost have a book compiled.

Yes, that beer loss is also translating into calorie loss. :)

Hope you stay with my blog.

Captain Doug

Nadia said...

Hi Doug,

Thank you for the beautiful pictures, the frequency of the post and taking your precious time to respond each one of our post.

Say thank you to Charlene for giving you free hours to writing us.

Everyday I can't wait to read your blog and see what's new.


From the Flight Deck said...

Nadia. Every day at work I think about what to say in my next blog. To be a writer you must be inquisitive plus you have to be a good listener.

You just don't listen "to" a story but you listen "for" a story.

I know many of you appreciate the insight I give to the aviation world and I appreciate your feedback. Keep it coming!

My wife does claim I am always on the computer so now I try to do lots on the road. For example, in another 15 minutes my wake up call
will come at 5:30 a.m (4:30 a.m your time) here in Halifax. I fly to Toronto and then to your "belle" province (Montreal) and back.

Merci encore Nadia

Anonymous said...

Hey, love your blog its great. I have a couple of hours and am considering going after my CPL. I am worried about my age though as I would be around 23-25 until by the time I finish. Do you think that is to old to star and would put me at a disadvantage in today's marketplace. Thx!

Daniel said...

Ouch ... being in Halifax is not be best at this time... Temperatures reaching 38 and higher.

I went over the gran canyon once at FL270. I wondered why it was so low but apparently according to the pilot it was because of the MCDU. It malfunctioned on the runway ( Yes on 25L with a trail of 11 planes two including west jet so it doesn't matter ^_^ ). We then filed /R and went on our way. Neat things you can see so high up or on take off/approach/landing. Benefits of being a pilot!

From the Flight Deck said...

Anon. Too old? Far from it! The average new hire age at Air Canada is 35. You have tons of room but don't dilly-dally. It's time to get qualified! Things will start to get going again really soon. In the mean time, start flying!

Off to Montreal

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Yes, Daniel the vantage point we have is second to none. It's a shame we can't share it anymore.

I guess it's one reason why I blog. To open the flight deck door... figuratively speaking.

Anonymous said...

Hi Captain Doug,

You mentionned the AC190 incident. Did you have a chance to read the incident report by the CTSB and if so, could you explain what happened once the A319 hit the wake turbulence (loss of nav computers?, or sudden switch to manual flight control?)?

Thank you,


From the Flight Deck said...

Nicholas, this is an on going saga. So I better back off from saying too much.

Here is one link from another very avid reader, (Ian H. He has his own blog now and I recently posted his link) about our incident and the Airbus 300 out of New York. The similarity....the rudder.

Sorry, I did not read the CTSB. Do you have the link?

We are learning jet upset procedures in the sim again. In fact, they had us doing steep turns in an Airbus.

The instructor told us a steep turn (45 degrees) is deemed jet upset. I know it took awhile to get back into the swing of things.

One thing for any airplane...and you learn this from initial training...treat the airplane as if it's a woman...soft and gentle.

I won't tell you how some instructors teach to maneouver the joystick..... :) Many pilots do what is known as "stir the pot." Over control.
Again, "soft and gentle."

I recently had a situation (I blogged about it) where we encountered a sudden 50 knot shear at altitude. The airplane pitched up 400 feet, knocked off the autopilot and overspeed the airplane.
I did what was only natural for any pilot....yell a whole bunch of expletives and tried to bring the airplane back to normal flight.

Sorry to be evasive, but one never knows who is lurking. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your answer Captain Doug.
See the link below for the investigation report:



From the Flight Deck said...

Anon. (Nicholas) Thanks for the link. I'll take a look at things later. I must go flying.
I did take a quick peek and it looks like they did a good job on the report.

Captain Doug

Anonymous said...

Hi Capt. Doug,

Just found your blog...really enjoying it! I'm a 40 year old that hasn't logged time in about 15 years...and never made it to the airlines. So it's nice to hear about the job I never reached. The only flying I do these days is on MS Flight Sim. Anyway, thanks for blogging!

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Anon. Welcome! Just flew with an F/O last week and he was hired at age 44.

I hope to hear from you. Feel free to comment!

Captain Doug