Flight Plan

My flight plan....to encourage, mentor, guide those pining for the sky. I'm also here to virtually open the flight deck door for those who want to take a peek at the many aspects of aviation.....enjoy!

...and welcome aboard!...


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Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Walk Around

Photo by Kelly Paterson

Captain Doug (Photo by Brian Losito)

Oh – and I suppose part of this is the “walk around”. Is that still useful or is everything automated? Ever find anything amazing on a walk-around? Does it just keep everyone on their toes?

I suppose that might be a second question. Anyway, whatever you write about will be interesting.

Thanks again.

The following paragraph is what I wrote for enRoute:

Q: What do pilots look for in their visual inspection?

A visual or “walk-around” inspection must be done before every flight. Nearly 120 items are checked, from tires and navigation lights to access doors and engine intakes. Since many service vehicles approach aircraft, we also scan for dents and bumps, and during winter, we scrutinize the exterior for snow and ice. You’ll see pilots wearing a bright fluorescent vest during this safety check. This check is usually completed by mechanics on the wide-body fleet.

The walk around.....

All pilots must do walk arounds at some point in their career. I've done thousands. As mentioned before, it's the F/O's duty on the narrow body fleet but WE nice captains offer our share. But if it's raining "cats and dogs," blowing a gale or well below freezing I may make an excuse I forgot my overcoat at home. :) :) :)

Some may have heard the pre flight procedure colloquially described...."kick the tires and light the fires." :)

All aircraft manufacturers stipulate what to look for found in the aircraft operating manual and I've yet to find one that states it should be done counterclockwise instead of the same ole clockwise rotation. Sometimes I think about the movie Dead Poets Society which enforces one to think outside of the box. (I think we mentioned this a while ago on this blog). But for the lawyers, I do it by the book.

The above question sent in by a follower asked if I discovered anything "amazing." Yes, I have found hydraulic and fuel leaks and one flat tire BUT that was with a different airline.The worst I've found (and it was recent) was a nose wheel taxi light not in its socket. (Well I did see how a "tug" visited our nose wheel door and coasted into a commissary truck while we were readying for a Toronto to London flight years ago....but that's as far as I will go with that one).

One must remember there are many vehicles which approach an airplane on the ramp. It's a reason why we now must wear a florescent vest.

Some of them are:

Tug or tractor

Baggage bin loader

Conveyor belt loader for bulk cargo and bags

Baggage carts

Tractor to tow the "train" of baggage carts

Fuel truck

Lavatory truck

Potable water truck


Van to carry the aircraft groomers

De-ice vehicles

Brinks truck (money truck for valuables NO not because it's payday for the pilots) lol

and there's the elevating commissary trucks.

Sometimes vehicles get a little too close and cause a bump. These bumps are inspected by maintenance and are placarded with BINGO stickers (bump inspected and now a go).

Of course, during the winter time we must also look for snow and ice adhering to the aircraft.

AND speaking of commissary trucks.....a few days ago (it was in the newspaper today) an Airbus 380 here in Toronto had a specially designed commissary truck malfunction and it settled on the leading edge of the wing. Rumor has it, Toronto will be the mammoth airplane's home until February awaiting parts. OUCH!!!!!!


Andrew said...

The POH for the 152's I fly, has it in counterclockwise, starting just behind the door :D

Merry Christmas! Cpt. Doug.

From the Flight Deck said...

Andrew. I just checked my Cessna 150 manual and you are absolutely correct!!!! I stand corrected.
And to think I was an instructor on those airplanes many moons ago.

Shame Captain Doug :)

Merry Christmas to you and thanks for the feedback. :)

Christopher said...

Who flies the A380 into CYYZ, Captain?

From the Flight Deck said...

Christopher. It's Emirates airlines. They fly here every second day. You should see the customs hall when they arrive. The crew line up is incredibly long as well. :)

Anonymous said...

Capt. Doug,

I wonder if that was the Emirates 380 sitting all by itself away from the terminal last Friday...the thing was huge! Does the "big bus" need its own gate design due to the size?

Merry Christmas,


Daniel said...

Nice pictures. Kind of sucks with what happened to Emirates, glad no one was hurt.

Happy Holidays.

Anonymous said...

Someone has strung together the A380 incident photos into a Youtube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFf_zf1LqDU

WILLO2D said...

Hi Doug,

Another interesting post. Thanks.

We always had one of the starter crew follow the aircrew around on the walk round. On some aircraft it was a pilot responsibility to remove the weapon pylon safety pins and hand them to the ground crew. However, it was the Weapon trade engineers who removed the pins/other safety devices from the "whoosh-bang" bits and pieces. One some aircraft the Pilot went around clockwise from the pointy end; the Navigator went the other way.

Re the interactions/comms with the ground engineers (last post) during "see-off/see-in" - that's it, e.g., when you confirm start clearance with them, chocks out/in, ready for push, etc. On the Buccaneer S2 there were a number of additional checks and hand-signals, e.g., roll b o m b bay door, fold/unfold wings, open/close airbrakes, check pitot heat, flaps down/up, etc. Being on the line when 8 of them were starting up was a sight - and sound - to behold... like watching a very noisy ballet.

Re WEATHER - UK is CLOSED again, even EGLL. Did you get the news report of the VIR A340 from KMIA stuck on a taxyway for 5 hours due to no "heavy" gates available? Madness.... :(

As for the A380 - Ground vehicle damage - that should not have happened. Poor design of the vehicle - platform should not have collapsed onto the wing, there should have been a proper "fail-safe" system fitted. Poor design of the aircraft - there should be no routine requirement for hydraulic "platforms" to be extended over the wing for extended periods, and that includes those fancy multi-arm jetways used to board SLF from the rear of the aircraft in addition to using doors L1/2. Just my opinion as a Supportability Engineer - I wonder who did the "Risk Assessment"?

Kind regards / IanH

P.S. I'm heading NORTH!

From the Flight Deck said...

Duane, many airports around the world had to modify their terminals and taxiways. London, Heathrow spent huge money. Luckily for Toronto Pearson the new terminal being built incorporated the needs of the A380, two jetways etc.
I believe only two gates at CYYZ are "380" compatible.

Heck they even had to add "super" to the call sign.
"The ICAO also recommends that pilots append the term "Super" to the aircraft's callsign when initiating communication with air traffic control, in order to distinguish the A380 from "Heavy" aircraft."

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. Apparently there are no spare parts available. It's like buying a car, but you can't fix it because the parts are being used to build new ones. "It adds salt to the wound."

From the Flight Deck said...

Anon. Thanks for the Youtube video. The new commissary trucks were designed to move over the A380 wing root. But the "truck cabin" began to descend on its own. Apparently the driver kept hitting the emergency stop button but nothing. What a feeling. :(

From the Flight Deck said...

Will02D (IanH)

Luckily the "hand waving" is kept to a minimum during the pushback and engine start.

Basically it's, "flight deck to ground, brakes are off, we are ready for push back and delaying engine start until advised." When he gives me clearance to start, I say, "starting engines two and one." (yes, it's not the other way around) :)

I saw pictures from "Erik" the tail spotter in Frankfurt. Nasty stuff Europe is going through. Oh well, you may have a white Christmas.
Seriously, it must be costing the airlines millions. Just what we DON'T need.

I hear you about the design of the commissary truck. I thought the same thing regarding having to implement a special truck to maneuver over the
wing root. You are asking for trouble. Apparently the emergency stop button did not stop the "cab" from descending. Can you say, "law suit?"

You are heading North? How far? :)


WILLO2D said...

Thanks for the info Doug. Much appreciated. Yes I can say "law suit"! I've had to say it twice this year - unpaid invoice - I'm :(

Heading north to York to see Mum - well I was until I just read this on the BBC news site: "Drivers are facing queues of up to eight hours on the A34 in Oxfordshire, where more than 80 cars were abandoned on Saturday night and several jack-knifed lorries were blocking the route. The nearby Cherwell Valley services on the M40 has run out of fuel".

Not too bothered about no fuel - I can get to York on less than a tank; approx 275 miles - but the conditions on the A34 around Oxford are a concern. That's on the optimum routing! I may have to wait 'til next week!

I've posted the links to Air Clues 1-3, on my blog: here plus another "seasonal" link that may be of interest to some of your readers with younger, or older, children! Kind regards / IanH

From the Flight Deck said...

IanH. Twice this year? Oh dear. I hope it all works out.

An eight hour queue? No thanks. Sounds like "Mum" might have to wait until things get back to normalcy. :) But something tells me you are going to give it that "college try." :)

I checked out your link. Interesting facts about Santa. Even as a kid I took a analytical approach to this "Santa" phenomena.
For one thing, how DID he fit down the chimney and I was always perplexed because we didn't have a fireplace? :) (Sorry to rain on somebody's parade). I guess if we started asking questions about other things in life it would cause a raucous.
Better to go with the flow. :)

I tried clicking on your other "clues" but I got, "The requested resource could not be found."

Enjoy that drive!



I think I happend by that big a380 with red engine covers on it! I was wondering why it would be sitting like that given its origin! Was thinking it was because of the RR engine issue but now I know!

From the Flight Deck said...

CatIII Approach....

Yes, can you imagine the lost revenue? Airplanes don't make money sitting on the ramp.

Sounds like it's going to be part of the CYYZ "decor" for a couple of months.

Maybe they should host tours? I know...bad joke.....

WILLO2D said...

Doug, the Air Clues links now work - the originals were truncated... very painful! As for Santa getting down thin chimney's - a morphic transposition field coupled to a brownian motion generator, say a nice cup of tea, makes the chimney elastic ;)


Nadia said...

Hi Doug,

I wanna know which door you mean when you say you have to know the door codes for airports?

Thank Air Canada for giving me the chance to have more registrations with your new flight to CYQB-MUVR
(C-GJVY). One of your new plane from Mexicana I think.

Nadia (spotter to CYQB)

From the Flight Deck said...

Bonjour Nadia!

I don't see my reference to door codes. That's a security thing and I stay away from that. :) :) :)

The only thing I wrote (I think) was about access doors (panels) that are located on the plane.

"Nearly 120 items are checked, from tires and navigation lights to access doors and engine intakes...."

I see Toronto A320 crews were given approach plates to YQB. Maybe we will be flying there?
So we are doing charters to Varadero?

You are certainly up on things, especially about the fact we "inherited" some airplanes from Mexicana.

Happy tail spotting!

Captain Doug :)

Nadia said...

Hi Doug,

I'm sorry I forget to mention where you have wrote that...

Walking the gang plank (the stair picture for walk around)beside the main subject.

" Plus they have to know the door codes for airports..."

But if it's for security forget it :)

Nadia ;)

Andrew said...


When I saw the A380 it was parked in that corner near the 401 and 427, I think thats where they park it.

From the Flight Deck said...

Nadia. Now I see where you read this. :) :) :)

Yes, each jetway have locked doors. :)

Doug ;)

Nadia said...

Bonjour Doug,

Every sunday we now have the chance to do Air Canada tail spotting at CYQB.

If it's a charter does this mean that my chance to see Captain Doug here drop to none? :(

CYUL(I think the flight deck start there cause they speak French).
CYUL-MUVR-CYQB-MUVR-CYUL is it the same crew who do all that route?


From the Flight Deck said...

Bonjour Nadia. Yes, it sounds like it is a YUL based 320 crew.

Uhm, not all YUL based pilots speak French, but most do. :)

Maybe we will have to wait a little longer before Captain Doug gets to "la belle CYQB." :(