Thursday, August 5, 2010

Traffic on Runway...

The view from the button of 24L CYYZ

While on short final to runway 23 into CYYZ today two seagulls fluttered by the window. They decided to leave us alone. Captain Doug then found the sweet spot on the threshold this morning after a 3.5 hour flight from Newfoundland and a 4:00 a.m wake up call.

After 2.5 years on the A320 I have yet to consistently find the sweet spot for landing. I still flare a bit like I'm on the A340/A330...just a tad too high and a little flatter. When I say that, I mean about 1 to 2 feet too soon. The "big bus" was far easier to land with nice landings far more consistent.

While taxiing to position on 24L (the normal south departure runway 24R was closed) the preceding landing aircraft claimed they hit a bird on the flare. I knew what this would entail, a runway inspection.

Tower tells the landing aircraft on approach to go around. Their day (both the landing aircraft and ATC) just got really busy because of a small "tweetie bird." I mentioned to the F/O, "imagine the logistics for tower and centre to move airplanes around because of a sudden runway closure." I also make a joke about us calling CARA (our caterers) to tell them some roadkill is available for our crew meals. Well if you think Captain Doug's humour is a little twisted here's another story.

Roadkill, airline style

Tower: "Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on 124.7."
Eastern 702: "Tower, Eastern 702 switching to Departure. By the way, after we lifted off we saw some kind of dead animal on the far end of the runway."
Tower: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on 124.7. Did you copy that report from Eastern?"
Continental 635: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and yes, we copied Eastern and we've already notified our cater

Two inspection vehicles were dispatched to find the remnants of "tweetie bird." When seeing a vehicle on the runway, it makes one appreciate the amount of real estate a runway takes up at 200 feet wide and over a mile and half long.

After a seven minute delay while sitting on the "button" of the runway and the carnage cleared, flight 448 to YOW (Ottawa) departed.

Speaking of wake up calls, the phone will be ringing at 3:30 a.m for a flight back to Toronto and then to CYHZ (Halifax) and back.

The life of an airline pilot. And no, I'm not complaining.


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

Apologies, I majorly screwed up that post ( Keyboard is getting old ).

Since I have been flying on FS. Two times I have "virtually hit a bird." One was taking off about of YHZ and it must have been a seagull filled with french frys because he left a pretty nasty crack in the windshield , although my "Drunken" first officer deemed it was ok to continue. The other one well, he sent my engines and my plane to the scrap yard ( We won't talk about that one :P .) Now for real life when me and my father were flying to DTW on the B1900 and out of YYZ we missed a few birds that went past the engines and the wingtips. Pretty nasty stuff if you see the videos but your trained to handle it ;P

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. Not to worry. I didn't see any big mistakes in your first post.

Yes, birds are a nasty entity for an airplane but we must contend with the fact they share the same airspace. There is a guy at Toronto Pearson, called Falcon, who drives around in a truck with a trained falcon to scare birds away. I must get a picture of him.

Many airports use propane guns to scare birds with the noise and sonic wave but I see they are going to the wayside.

Giulia said...

You HAVE to get a picture of Falcon! I would love to see him in action.

Giulia :)

From the Flight Deck said...

Giulia. I'll keep an eye out for him.

In the mean time, gone flying....Captain Doug

Daniel said...

Ekk, that idea of a Falcon scares me more. Whats worse? A seagull or a falcon? Seems the bigger bird would cause big damage.

Kevin said...

I work at the local airport here on the flight line, and I've seen a couple of bird strikes. One of my buddies came back one night with a sizable dent in the leading edge of his Cessna's wing. And one of our school's King Air's came back one night with all sorts of blood and feathers inboard of the right engine. I'd post pictures if I could, its pretty impressive. Keep an eye out!

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. The falcon is trained to scare other birds away.
He or she is a friendly feathered fowl.

From the Flight Deck said...

Kevin. Oddly, today we missed a flock of geese by no more than 50 feet on departure out of Toronto this morning. We were about 2500 feet and yes I immediately thought of Captain Sully. Even out of Halifax this afternoon two sparrows whizzed by our window.

Anonymous said...

Captain Doug,

I found it interesting when you mentioned with all your flight time that you've never had a bird strike. When reading the NTSB reports on the US Airways flight it sounds like it is a very common thing to have occur. Looking through the CADORS certainly brings up many strikes per day across this country.

Guess you can always take care of them the way the US did in New York:

Do you have any idea how much bird strikes cost Air Canada (and/or their insurers) system-wide every year?

YYC Dispatcher

From the Flight Deck said...

Anon (YYC Dispatcher). I took a look at your attached article.
I wouldn't want to be a Canadian goose hanging around New York. :)

I don't know the stats on bird strikes. We do have one pilot who is an expert on this topic.
In fact, he co-wrote a book on it.

But with 650-700 flights per day for Air Canada mainline and just as many for Air Canada JAZZ coupled with millions of birds
sharing the same low level airspace it's inevitable there will be encounters.

Thanks for the query.

Captain Doug

David said...

Wow!, you really do have the life of a pilot !, same thing as Dan over here!, Have been flying online on FS for about 15 months. Often when I go planespotting, pilots report seagulls flying around the airport, and then a few moments later we see the truck to get rid of the birds!. I've never seen a birdstrike while planespotting... did it ever happen to you to have an emergency due to a birdstrike?

David Bergeron

From the Flight Deck said...


Just yesterday while enroute to Miami a group of small birds crossed our path on the runway departing Toronto. Our speed was up to about 100 knots. Above 100 knots a "reject" is deemed a serious event. Birds are everywhere. But, "knock on wood" so far so good regarding a serious bird strike.

This morning I'm off to a place where their saying is..."It's better in the Bahamas."

Thanks for the comments.

Captain Doug