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, September 16, 2010

Flying by the Numbers...

Flying by the numbers

This is not about "V" speeds, Mach numbers, approach speeds or landing weights…it’s about flight hours and pay i.e. show me the money!

Months ago someone with great insight decided to have less pilots on reserve instead of paying many to stay home with pay. Because of it, the remainder of us “block holders” would be allotted less hours...DMM (Designated Monthly Minimum) decreased. In a nut shell, it increased productivity. So how do you make up for the short fall for sick pilots, irregular operations, etc. usually handled by reserve pilots? You get the guys with big mortgages, bills to pay, wives that don’t work, with kids going to university to go on “make up.” Yes, I’m talking about moi.

This month the DMM is 77 hours, but my September schedule is projecting 72 hours. Captain Doug is shy five hours. Sure there is “block growth” (we are paid either the scheduled flight time or actual flight time which ever is greatest).

With a string of 11 days off the boss tells me to go to work so I went on “make up.” Crew sked offered me a Calgary turn and a San Francisco turn. Both had really early check ins, so I passed. A Calgary red eye popped up. I passed. Don’t like “red eyes.” Gee, I’m getting spoiled. Heck I might as well enjoy the extra flying.

Then a Saskatoon two day pairing came knocking. But it was worth 11.5 hours meaning I would project 83.5 hours. So what’s the big deal? Well our monthly maximum is 84 hours. If I inherit any block growth in the remainder of my month’s pairings I could exceed 84 hours. This means I would have to drop the last pairing with a 30 hour layover in Ottawa without credit. This is called the “one minute outbound” rule and I sure hope it changes in the next contract. Part of being an airline pilot is knowing the contract and knowing some basic scheduling rules. I am not an expert by any stretch.

But the phone stopped ringing offering me extra flying. I started mumbling, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” In other words, I should have taken the offered flying.

Then a flight to LGA (LaGuardia, New York) appeared. I figure I better take it because crew sked was probably getting a little riled with all my “no thanks, I’ll pass” responses.

Yes, it is a known fact I avoid LGA. It’s in my preferential bidding as such. But the pairing was one flight to LGA, layover, and deadhead back the next day. The flight is 1.5 hours but I’m paid 8 hours 50 minutes. Why? We have a DPG (Daily Pairing Guarantee) of 4hrs and 25 minutes. Plus the flight left YYZ after six so I’m paid a night rate. Two days of DPG of 4:25 equals 8:50. Sweet. So now I am projecting 81:04 for this month with room for block growth. Don't think all our flying is this simple and easy. This is a "one off."

So, here I sir in J class (captains deadhead in business class) telling you my story. The F/O sadly got economy. I heard one economy passenger years ago jokingly reference "Y" class as the "unwashed section." Actually, we deadheaded on the Embraer which is two by two seating and few passengers complain about the seating.

The flight last night into New York was under clear moonlit skies and under sked by twenty minutes. We were vectored downwind of New York city (Manhattan) and did the Expressway Visual onto runway 31. All I did was put the gear up and put it down. Well I did more than that, I moved the flap lever and talked on the radios. The F/O flew. And as an extra bonus we had a young pretty six foot flight attendant watch the show sitting in the jumpseat. I won’t say anything more….ahem

Did I tell you I love my job?

(Whywhyzed) fire away. :)


Capt. Schmoe said...

I have a friend who flies for United. He has repeatedly tried to explain the multitude of rules, exceptions and scheduling factors that govern his schedule and has failed miserably. I just can't remember it all.

As far as the night shots go, the conditions that you have to attempt a night-scape shot under are not really conducive for success.

You can't stop the camera from moving and you need a slow shutter speed to get enough light. So, your aperture needs to be wide open and ISO needs to be really fast.

In this case, there is no substitute for money. Fast camera, fast lens. Then a good editing software to remove the "noise".

I have been working on night-scapes for several months. I am still not really happy and I have never tried it from a cockpit.

I took some pictures with my blackberry in the cockpit of a C-17 during a TAC descent, the vibration blurred the heck out of it, despite full light.

You have some challenges sir.

Thanks for the post.

WILLO2D said...

Good pics Doug. That's why I always liked flying at night, even in deepest rural Lincolnshire there were always lights to confirm (mostly) a position - except the instructor I went with on one night Wx-ship who got Grantham and Newark, Nottinghamshire not KEWR!, mixed up. One had white street lights, the other yellow sodium, but I can't remember which... "I'm glad you know where we are," says he, "This is where we need to go, you have control..."

Now, about the young, pretty 6ft Flight Attendant...


Kind regards,


P.S. e-mail received, will reply tomorrow - thanx!

Jack said...

Great shots, Doug - even with the tricky night exposure. I've never been able to master that either. I happened to be reading another blog post yesterday about the Expressway Visual 31 at LGA. There is a great HD video on You Tube that shows it during daylight:

By the way - "Shea" Stadium is gone now, but in its place is the new Citi Field, home of the Mets - they beat Pittsburgh last night! I attended a game a few years ago at the old Shea - it was great because aircraft from LGA were constantly flying over during the game!


From the Flight Deck said...

Captain Schmoe. I'm glad I am not the only one regarding the scheduling rules. It's always a work out. That's why our union hired people to answer scheduling queries.

Thanks for taking the time to explain things about night shots. As you alluded to, it's a losing battle
while moving and shaking.

Thanks for the visit.

Captain Doug

Lavi said...

Hi Doug. Since your night shots don't seem to be turning out, how about trying video instead? That way we would have been able to get a shot of whoever is in the jump seat as well. ;)

From the Flight Deck said...

Jack. Thanks about the pictures even though they are a little disappointing.

Someone told me the Shea Stadium changed it's name, but before I posted I checked my approach charts. It says, "Shea Stadium." I also surfed it on the net. Yesterday they called it the "Shea Stadium."
What I think they did was keep the old name so as to not confuse us pilots. :):):)

Thanks for the Expressway Visual link. It looked familiar. :)

Captain Doug enroute to San Diego tomorrow.

Doug Morris said...

My life is now teaching forensic photography Doug. Any time you want a photography lesson drop me a line at my work e-mail. But Capt Schmoe is right on.
My last day of real work before moving east involved aerial photos from the open door of a helicopter. I'll miss that! I liked your photos though!

The Other DM

From the Flight Deck said...

Lavi. I was thinking of delegating our "guest" with the camera, but I felt that would be taking away her ability to watch the sights. I won't say what the jump seat harness (seatbelt) was doing to her skirt. ahem.

Better stop there.

I agree, time for videos.


From the Flight Deck said...

IanH. Good point about getting street lights and runway lights mixed up. In fact, some approach charts state...(in a round about way) don't get the
local street lights mixed up with the runway lights...dummy. Having said that, it's been done many a time as your comments alluded to.

Then there are pilots (usually new instrument pilots) who get stars and lights on the ground mixed up. A recent F/O of mine flew for the military.
One rescue mission (salvage operation) entailed a new pilot in training spiraling into the water due to this very scenario.

On to a more pleasant topic...our guest...

She will be taking a leave of absence and will be flying for our charter company, JETZ.
She will be flying with the Toronto Raptors (Basketball). She will be a hit!

Thanks for the email.


From the Flight Deck said...

Andrew, not a problem about the pecking order. As far as Flight 1549, anyone out there have the official ruling?

Just went on Sully's Facebook looking for possible answers. The guy has 640,000 friends or so.
It trumps my 60.

I won't say what one has to do to get a count that high. :)


From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Doug, thanks for the offer on a photography lesson. But I imagine you are mired in your move.

Aerial photos from a helicopter...was it a drug mission...or is it top secret?

The reason why I ask, I had an Air Canada pilot in my jumpseat (not as good looking as the one last night :)) from Vancouver a few months ago and he flies for the reserves on the side.
Many of their missions are scouting out marijuana patches in farmer's fields and forests. People are getting very creative. He showed us some great shots. The photographer was better than I .

Off to YOW?

The other Doug

Andrew said...

On my x-country, I saw a Crime stoppers poster in the Hanover Municipal Airport, that showed pictures of grow ops. Quite an odd poster, but It makes sense to ask pilots.

Doug, Just wondering what are some of the craziest things you've seen happen on approach. (or are you just super focused)

From the Flight Deck said...

Andrew. I was shocked to see just how much "stuff" is being grown.

As far as crazy things on approach....nothing really sticks out. I mean I could talk about near zero visibility,seeing the aircraft cocked 45 degrees into the wind compared to the runway, lightning strikes in all quadrants, iguanas sitting on the VASIS (Visual Approach Slope Indicator System), dogs and foxes running across the runway,go arounds, birds, blinding snow storms, pelting rain, aircraft landing on the opposite end when the winds are light,
kids balloons floating by, but really nothing sticks out.

I must think about that. But as you said, we are very focussed in that phase.

Good question though.

Captain Doug

Daniel said...

Good pictures ! Just got back from ground school and where its the start, its a bit boring. ( If my instructor reads this blog I am dead :P )

I would have thought NYC would be nice at night like Las Vegas. But I guess with all the delays and stuff, its probably a living hell.


Giulia said...

Oof!! I think I just walked into a room with too much testosterone! :) :) :) :)

The photos you took are beautiful. I love NYC! I hope you fully appreciated the view outside your window too, Captain Doug (giggle).

From the Flight Deck said...

Giulia. Yes, I must be careful what I say. Sorry to the female readers. (I guess I was adding too much
Hollywood effect) :)

I think I will bid a few NYC long layovers. It's time to explore.

Thanks for your comments and observations.

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel, where is the ground school?

No last night was sort of magical. In fact, when we flew directly over the LGA VOR there was no radio chatter. Just silence. I mentioned it to our 'guest'. She had a headset on.

New York last night was peaceful.

There were no delays although there was a go around about three planes ahead of us.


Daniel said...

I take ground school through a private instructor that lives out in Fall River , 3 - 4 exits before the exit to the Halifax airport.

Simon said...

Hi Captain Doug,

A few weeks ago, I started to read your blog (at first, I was looking for some info on the supposed closed 11/29 runway at CYMX), then I got your book on Amazon. What a shame I didn't see the link on your own website, as I would have then been able to get a signed copy...

Well, I do some night photography (fireworks, but the technique is basically the same), so I thought I might chime in with some tricks.

First, even if you use a point-and-shoot camera, you should try to set the focus by yourself if your lens allows you to do that. Just pick a relatively distant object or building (39 000 feet *is* infinity - hell, 10 feet is considered infinity on a wide-angle), then shoot away !

Otherwise, you may want to shoot manual if your camera has such a mode. As you travel rather fast in an airplane, you might want to shoot slightly faster (smaller 1/xxx speed), even if it needs an increased ISO to compensate (more noise on the image). In my mind, a grainy picture is better than either a mis-focussed or a motion-blurred one.

The next logical step if you want to get better pictures would be for you to use a SLR (reflex), but this is a costly option.

Try these tricks and see if this helps first, as I do remember from your book that you pilots try not to spend lots of money. Well, all of us should do that, obviously !

Keep up the good work !


Simon said...

Hi Doug,

I looked carefully at your two pictures : definitely motion blur and not wrong focus.

Like I said, try bumping the ISO and reduce the exposure time to minimize the "trails" between each light source.


From the Flight Deck said...

Simon. Thanks for buying my book and the photography tips! I'll give it a whirl this evening while
on approach into San Diego. We arrive at dusk so it makes for great pictures.

Hopefully you will visit my blog frequently.

Captain Doug

Chris Gardner said...

I like to know what kind of camera do you use? If your photography is good as much is your flying than I know I am safe as a passenger on your flights.

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Chris. I'm presently in San Diego, California (hotel) readying for my flight back to Toronto.

I'm using a digital SONY cuber-shot (14.1 megapixels) which I received from "airmile" points i.e a "cheapie."

I filmed our approach into SAN last night but the short film was 110 megs. My blog website gave up after awhile trying to upload it.

Gee I hope my camera woes aren't reflective of my flying skills. If so, I better let the F/O fly back. :) lol

Captain Doug