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, October 11, 2010

Maintain Visual Separation

Here's a question I received today:

Hello Captain Doug,

I saw this video on youtube where a "heavy" approaches LAX, and noticed that ATC tells the pilots to "maintain visual separation". I knew about this procedure, but could you maybe explain a little how that procedure works and which standards do you follow in the cockpit? Also, I believe it might require lots of concentration and it to be a demanding procedure. What can you tell me about it?

Maintain Visual Separation

"Maintain visual separation" puts the onus on the pilot and relieves the controller of some of his duties. You are correct in saying it ups the "load factor."
I don't like acknowledging (but I do) I have the traffic visual because it can be a work out. A case in point, notice how hard the captain is looking for the traffic? It was over a minute..And I particularly don't like doing this procedure at night with a sea of lights below...especially in cities like LAX. Landing in New York and San Francisco...same story.

But the controllers will keep asking and pointing out the traffic. Just a few days ago landing in Las Vegas (day time) we were told to follow a B737. Because of it, we now had the task of maintaining separation and flying the approach. There tends to be too much talking. Because of it, we were slightly high. In fact, the guy directly behind us asked for "S" turns because they were caught high. Everything worked out, but there's no doubt it ups the load factor.

But it's a fact of life flying into the world's busiest airports. It's the only way ATC can move airplanes effectively.

In fact, I'm kind of reluctant to accept visual approaches. Yesterday we were cleared a left visual on 09 left in Fort Lauderdale, The tendency is to keep things tight. The F/O did a great job flying the approach, but it made Captain Doug work a little harder. :)

Again, it's a fact of life flying into busy airports.

Speaking of great weather and visuals...flying into Toronto last night was gorgeous.
But because of the great weather someone on the ground was playing a sick game. One aircraft reported a green laser being shone on them while landing on the south runways. ATC stated there were a few cases last night.

Speaking of ATC, I'm hoping some of my ATC readers will contribute to this post as far as "maintaining visual separation." Thanks in advance.


Scote1992 said...

Do you know why both pilots have four strips on there uniform? I thought normally a FO only had three?

From the Flight Deck said...

Scote1992. Good eye! There could have been a check ride going on. The guy in the right seat (he would be right seat qualified) was probably checking the
guy in the left seat. Although, some companies fly their airplanes with "co-captains" so this may be the case.

Daniel said...

A few times while listening to Toronto twr/dep/app I was able to hear like 5 laser hits. Nasty stuff when it hurts the pilot.

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. Yes, there were quite a few "incidents" last night. They will catch the person, they always do. Doug

Aviatrix said...

Yeah authorities act FAST when there are shenanigans at an airport. One day I was on final into an airport that had just an FSS, no tower, and the specialist had indicated no problems for our landing, when we saw red flares arcing straight ahead. Red pyrotechnics is the signal for "airport unsafe, do not land." It was about this time of year, so I figured it was probably innocent fireworks, but I reported it to the FSS and called for an overshoot anyway. (It was a training flight, so no loss of productivity). The runway was clear and by the time we had circled around to land again, there were red and blue flashing police lights where the fireworks had been.

From the Flight Deck said...

Aviatrix. Did you find out what was going on? Seems like an "irops" of some sort.

Andy said...

Rookie question:

The approach controller tells them to maintain visual separation, but he also has vectors, right? So, you're just free to adjust airspeed for separation? If you're expecting or cleared for a visual approach, would it be different?

From the Flight Deck said...

Andy. I wouldn't label that a "rookie" question at all. I noticed the same thing, after pointing out the traffic, the controller vectored the aircraft for an ILS approach. I still ask myself, why all the fuss? In a way, I prefer to be in IFR conditions, that way the visual separation option is not there.

Yes, it's the pilot's onus to adjust their speed accordingly. Easier said than done, because invariably the guy up front slowed down and now you are looking right up his.......(you know what).

Hopefully, some ATC type will comment on this as well. That way.. it will set us both straight. :)

Captain Doug

Aviatrix said...

The police cars were at a private residence and it was close to Hallowe'en. I have no doubt it was simply some people who didn't realize that when you live next to the airport you can't set off fireworks without getting in trouble. I was confident enough that it was just fireworks that had it been just me I would have landed the first time. But it was as good a moment as any to ensure that the trainee could safely conduct an overshoot at night despite a distraction.

Daniel said...

Hey Doug, have you been getting my emails? Both my email accounts haven't received a email in at least a week and its pretty sketchy at the moment on whats going on.

From the Flight Deck said...

HI Daniel. Yes, I've been getting them. I owe you an answer on engine anti-ice.

Hopefully, you don't go through what my middle daughter experienced with Facebook.

She is devastated. She can't log in. Her password has been changed and FB can't help.


whywhyzed said...

Speaking of separation, I was on an AC flight departing YYZ last week and they put us on 05, position and hold.
Before we made the turn onto the rwy, I could see there were quite a few planes on final.
Next thing I know, we spool up but instead of taking off, we exit stage right on the first taxiway....kind of NASCAR style.
I was the only one on board who knew what was happening, but would have liked to hear the ATC chatter!!
Would something like this be written up as an incursion?

From the Flight Deck said...

Whywhyzed. If it was a "go-around," we would write an ASR (Air Safety Report). If it was a high speed or even a low speed reject, an ASR would be filed.

I'm at a loss as to why ATC told you guys to vacate the runway. Usually when things get tight like that, they tell the aircraft on approach to "go around!" Maybe the cabin was not secure? But I find that hard to believe because by the time you get to runway 05, passengers
think we are driving them to their destination instead. :)

whywhyzed said...

Yeah I know what you mean... 05 is way out there.

anyway, the Capt did come on and say that we had to get off quickly as another plane was short final.... could it be he couldn't execute a go around? Low fuel? Sale at Canadian Tire? Free beer somewhere?
Anyway, made life interesteing for a few minutes.

Daniel Asuncion said...

Regarding FB password troubles: That is devastating. Imagine being locked out of your blog?
________________________________ told me that FB should be able to undo that. [This firm has been helpful to me before]

Perhaps you could contact them?

From the Flight Deck said...

Dan. After a series of emails and phone calls my daughter's account is up and running..again.
Life, as we know it, can return back to normal. :)

I often think about my blog as far as when I may be told to stop (not by my wife) but others.
I also think I should be copying everything because it is growing much faster than I thought.

Thanks for the advice.


Daniel Asuncion said...

Doug. That's good news! I'm just a layperson, but if keylogger software was involved, I hope that nothing else has been compromised. [email etc.]

Maybe Charlene will start a blog someday. I'm sure that spouses of flight deck crews have a lot in common.

As a member of the public, I'd say that your blog relects well on
Air Canada. We get to see, up close, how exacting the company's standards are. For example, it's conforting to know that every eight months, flight deck crews have to prove their competence.

And finally, on the non-technical side, the public gets to know an
Air Canada pilot. Before blogs, it was hard to see them as individuals [unless you knew one personally]. At the airports, they are like soldiers- all dressed very much alike. No hint of the individuality that surely must be there...

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. Well always.

This "soldier" is off to Nassau, Bahamas and back early tomorrow morning.

You give credit to the blog writers, but it's the blog readers that keeps us going!