!!!!! GONE FLYING !!!!!

If you need to contact me... email: [email protected]


"Pic of the day" sent in by Craig M from Ottawa. He watched flight tracker for days until he got the shot of all shots. It's beautiful.
Showing newest 20 of 24 posts from January 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 20 of 24 posts from January 2010. Show older posts

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Left seat - right seat? (left hand - right hand?)

Here's a question which did not make the cut for ASK DOUG at enRoute.

Hi there Doug
Just got one question, I've flown with a stick before but it was centralized (in-between the legs). I've always wondered after spending time on the A340 at F/O using your right hand was there difficulty or some time that you need to change when your used the left hand on the 320...you get the picture changing from right hand to left hand.

Just received your question from enRoute magazine. Even though it did not make it to the magazine, I thought it was an excellent question.

Yes, indeed there was an awkward transition period. Instead of using my right hand to fly, I now use it for the thrust levers. My left hand now manipulates the joystick. It's like using a phone in the opposite ear. Even my earpiece (headset) took some getting used to. It too had to switch ears.

As well, the flare on the "little bus" took some getting used to. I still think it's way to low compared to the "big bus." But, I must have had it figured out this morning at 6:00 a.m while landing from an Edmonton "red eye." I got four "nice landings" from the deplaning passengers.

I've been captain for over two years, but now and again I find I have to remind myself to sit in the left seat. Funny how we are creatures of habit.

Having said that, the comfort factor is settling in nicely. It's a great seat to fly from. The vantage points from the left seat are second to none.
Captain Doug

Saturday, January 30, 2010

An airline with a sense of "ha, ha"

click on photos to enlarge

I like how they depict the captain, "the big cheese" and "captain, my captain." Kulula Airlines operates out of South Africa. Seems like an upbeat airline with lots of energy. Sometimes I think Air Canada needs to do a little of this, "let down our hair." A sense of humour can go a long way. Having said that, I guess if I wanted to tell jokes on the P.A, I could have joined Westjet.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Flying the "red eye"

I took this picture while flying from CYYC (Calgary) to EDDF (Frankfurt -FRA) on the Airbus 330 (big bus) six years ago.. This is the terminator- where night meets day. It's also called the "grey line" or the "twilight zone." Note the moon in the top right corner. This picture is found in my book.

Here's Wikipedia's definition: A red-eye flight is any flight departing late at night. The term red-eye derives from the fatigue symptom of having "red eyes" which can be caused by overnight travel. A red-eye flight typically moves from west to east during the overnight hours. It departs late at night, lasts only about three to five hours, an insufficient period to get fully rested in flight, and due to rapid forward time zone changes the aircraft lands around dawn. As a result, many travelers are unable to get sufficiently rested before a new day of activity. From a marketing standpoint, the flights allow business travelers an opportunity to migrate eastward without having an impact on a full business day.

Most eastward transatlantic crossings from North America to Europe are operated overnight, but are generally not viewed as red-eye flights since they depart early in the evening and last at least seven hours. A full night's rest is theoretically possible.

I'll be departing in a few hours for a flight to Calgary. We have a 90 minute pit stop and then it's back to Toronto on the "red eye" landing at 6:07 a.m. (Unfortunately, all the coffee shops close by then so I have to rely on the on-board 'gut rot'). Toronto Pearson has a curfew from 12:30 to 6:30 a.m so this flight, and a few others, are exempt. Air Canada flies daily red eyes from LAX, SFO, YYC, YVR and YEG (Edmonton).

The chatter on the radios this time of night is minimal and now and again you will here a pilot querying ATC whether they are still there. (Especially after the recent Minneapolis incident). As well, you know you are up late when you hear the nocturnal cargo crowd checking in on the airwaves.

I'll be home by 7:00 a.m and I doubt I'll be playing Air Canada pilot hockey at 10:00 a.m. I'll have to rest up for a flight to YEG in the evening. The good thing about "red eyes" is we are paid about 10 percent more for night flights. Night as far as pay goes, starts from 6:00 p.m local and ends 6:00 a.m departure airport time. At Air Canada most if us are paid by formula pay, and this is one part of the equation.
Gone flying
Captain Doug

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

B787 Photos

Click on photos to enlarge

These photos were sent to me commemorating the second flight of the B787. Even though it's in the wrong livery, it looks to be a beaut. Air Canada has 37 firm orders with an option of 23 more. This Boeing 'carrot' has been dangling in front of our noses for a few years. Originally scheduled to arrive late 2010 it looks like 2013 by the time they will be sitting on the ramp in Air Canada colours. Until then, our equipment bid will be flat.

Note the scalloped trailing edge of the engine used for noise abatement. The cabin aft of the engines will be quieter because of it.

Click on B787 photo in right column to hear Ken Tobias song the "Dream II"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Deice Man Cometh - and again -and again...

Pictures compliments of Calgary ramp attendant
Kelly Paterson

This is a drain mast. When the flight attendants pour coffee down
the drain, where do you think it goes? One has to careful when doing the walk around. Believe it or not it is heated. When the fluid makes its way to the ramp, it looks like the airplane is relieving itself.

Light rime possibly mixed icing on leading edge and underneath.

Maintenance adding heat to a cold A319 engine.

This photo is sent from contacts at Toronto's CDF.
The Vestergaard Elephant Betas are hard at work.

I'll be teaching airframe icing at the Brampton Flight Center (tomorrow), so I thought I'd post this question sent in to enRoute from James in BOS (Boston).

Dear Captain Doug.

Happy New Year! During the past few weeks, there has been a whole lot of snow and freezing rain all over the country and most of the aircraft have had to go to the deicing bay to get a spray. My question to you is: How much does it cost to deice a plane and who manufactures this deicing liquid?Thank you in advance. Good luck for 2010 and fly safe.

James. Just received your email from enRoute magazine.

Below are the stats for my airplane (Airbus 320) to get deiced at the world's largest facility (Toronto) of it's kind:

At Toronto's CDF (Central Deice Facility) each deice truck costs $1 million. The facility has 28 of them. Actually, they bought two more able to deice the mammoth Airbus 380 at a price tag of 1.2 million. A typical Airbus 320 takes 300 liters of type I and 250 liters of type IV.

Just for us to show up at the CDF costs $350. One liter of TYPE I costs about one dollar whereas TYPE IV costs about $2/liter. Rumor has it, if we get deiced then most of the profit is lost for that flight. But there is an adage in aviation, "if you think safety is expensive, try having an accident."

The deicing fluid supplier is DOW chemicals, but a few others provide it as well.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bouncing to Florida (Orlando) and back

This photo is compliments of 'tail spotter' Erik from FRA (Frankfurt). He recently flew from FRA to YYZ to get great shots of aircraft. (He's an Air Canada employee) Most vantage points are  from  Terminal 2's parking lot. Incidentally,  Terminal 2 does not exist at the GTAA (Greater Toronto Airport Authority) - just the parking lot. Presently, the parking lot is used for employee parking, but will be vacated in March. Eventually, it will give way to further expansion, but that too has been put in a holding pattern. This photo depicts a snow free Toronto in January. Yesterday, we departed in moderate rainfall and returned in low ceilings in rain and fog.

The constant P.As telling passengers to allow others with tight connections to pass first through security indicated how slow things were going. I could not believe the line up for flights destined to the States. People stood with zombie blank stares probably wondering the same thing I was. How could a 23 year old twisted deranged man bring airports to their knees affecting the travel of millions? We live in a paranoid fear mongered society, that's why.

Scheduled departure time came and went as we watched our Orlando bound passengers trickle on the airplane after painfully preserving the 1.5 to 2  hour torture security search. I make an announcement. Lately, many are recognizing my name and/or picture in enRoute magazine and the flight attendant wanted me to make another announcement telling them about enRoute. Something in the back of mind said I'll probably regret this. I make it, mentioning enRoute is always recruiting questions and to send them in.

Because of the delay we offered a drink service, but with drinks, come the use of washrooms. Finally, when the last passenger boarded the in-charge informs me the washrooms aren't working. I told her they would work above 16,000 feet. The Airbus toilets work on a pressure differential so 16,000 feet is the threshold. Below that a vacuum generator makes the toilets flush. I thought it was just one, but it turned out all the washrooms were T/U (tango uniform). I look over to the F/O and said, "call maintenance." It's great being captain, you get to delegate.

Maintenance onboard confirms the vacuum generator is U/S, the circuit breaker is pulled and to operate under MEL (Minimum Equipment List) relief. Great, more paper work and we need an authorization number from maintenance.

The bumps started through 25,000 feet in the climb. Cleveland centre said expect much the same. We get to cruising altitude at 30,000 feet which is low due to the strong Southwest flow aloft. A huge upper trough dominated the eastern United States translating into 110 knot unhappy headwinds and the spawning of convective showers in the southern States. 

We pass from Cleveland to Washington to Atlanta centre with all of them saying it's a rough ride at all altitudes. And it was. For an hour and a half we had the speed set at manoeuvring speed for turbulence, Mach .76, changing altitudes to find smooth air. No joy.

Finally, over Georgia Mother Nature started to behave. North of Georgia,  she was down right moody and cantankerous spewing out continuous light to moderate chop/turbulence.

We were offered the VOR approach to 18 left, but after the flight we just went through, we kept it simple by requesting the ILS 17 left. The glitch is we would be taxiing for 10 minutes. The Orlando airport is sprawled over a big piece of real estate. The F/O greases it on. A good way to end one of my bumpiest flights. 

We nearly get to the gate only to be told to hold for 5 minutes because our competition, Westjet, was blocking our gate. Some days you can't win for trying.

I'm amazed how fast our American ground support can turn around an airplane. The weather was warm although a steady wind of 15 to 20 knots blew from the south in Florida. Knowing what we would be flying back into, it sure made one think about "Miller time" on an unscheduled Orlando layover.

My leg. We get airborne only 30 minutes late and the smoothness was kind of eerie knowing full well Mother Nature's moodiness lurked further north. Sixty miles south of Charlette, North Carolina she struck and did not let go until passing through 16,000 feet (when the toilets stop working) on descent into Toronto. 

By CAE (Columbia) I datalink dispatch stating we were encountering continuous moderate turbulence at Fl 350. We had to get out of it. Finally at a more fuel guzzling altitude of 27,000 feet things abated to intermittent light chop. Heck, at one point I turned off the seat belt sign knowing full well passengers needed to use the washroom. That lasted for 45 seconds. The seat belt stayed on for the remainder of the flight with me making an announcement that all other flights are reporting the same thing. Many passengers think it's the airline's fault. I've heard countless stories saying I would never fly so and so again because of the bumpy flight they encountered. True story.

On approach, the strong southwesterly winds aloft persisted while we landed on runway 05.
Luckily I configured a little early. The winds did shift to a crosswind out of the south during flare with us getting the "lights" two hundred feet above "minimums" The ATIS claimed LLWS (low level wind shear) of up to 30 knots. Plus an aircraft reported severe turbulence at 22,000 feet.

It's near midnight when I set the parking brake. I say good bye to the passengers to answer any queries about the flight. None. But the in-charge said we will need the groomers to bring the mops and extra seat cushion covers because of the vomit.

The life of an airline pilot.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Flying Scotsman TAKES ILL!

The Flying Scotsman
From time-zone to time-zone on the Triple 7 Speedbirds

Hello all. Captain Ian (The Flying Scotsman) had his appendix removed last night. Here's what his wife (June) posted:

Hello: this is being posted with the help of our kids. During the night, Ian started to get pain in his stomach, which steadily got worse as morning came. We called the Emergency Doctor service which came in less than 20 minutes, and quickly diagnosed appendicitis. I started off life as a nurse, so I suspected as much, but he wouldn't listen to me, until the pain became intolerable. Typical man.Long and the short of it, Ian about 2 hours ago had his appendix removed in an urgent operation and it all went smoothly and he is now fast asleep.As we were getting him to the hospital, he scribbled down his password and information and insisted a note is dropped in here to let you all know what has happened! I needed to get the kids to help me.I am heading over there again to see husband-without-appendix (and dad-without-appendix) but expect him still to be fast asleep.
Thanks again, June and the kids.

Perhaps fellow readers can send Ian an email/post.
Captain Doug

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Olympic Town Layover - Vancouver

Photo: compliments of YYC rampie Kely Paterson. This is a huge powerful vacuum cleaner which sucks up the spent deice fluid called the GRV (Glycol Recovery Vehicle) a.k.a the "slick licker."
From my vantage point looking at the temperature probe used to determine ice accretion. I'd call it 3/4 inch of mixed icing.
This is what my F/O saw.

I'm sitting in  my hotel room overlooking Vancouver harbour.  Actually I can see enough of the harbour between the high rise buildings to identify a fuel barge with five large mounted Olympic circles. As of now, I don't see much Olympic hype. I guess it's a calm before the storm. I even asked the waitress at the Inlets restaurant on Robson street if she noticed an increase in traffic. Nothing yet. Incidentally, they serve a great veggie Mediterranean omelette which trumps the one I order at the Cafe in St. John's, Nfld. 

Flight 133 began with just a few hiccups. A passenger decided they weren't going to fly with us so that meant going through the cargo hold to off load their bag. This is a security procedure and it can cause major delays. Whenever you hear a passenger being paged lately for last call boarding there is an "or else" included. "If you don't present yourself pronto at the gate, your bags will be offloaded." Many times it's just a matter of searching the nearby bar. 

I make a welcome aboard announcement and to let everyone we will be delayed 10 minutes (airline minutes). I did mention we were showing 10 minutes under schedule on the flight plan and we should make up for the delay. (We did) I also threw in the fact, it should be a smooth flight. That did it - I tempted the weather gods! As an ex-meteorologist I should have known better. 

Our routing took us State side and the bumps started at DLH (Duluth Minnesota) and were on and off for the next two hours. We were flying the A321 and it was huffing and puffing at altitude with a near full load. I mentioned to the F/O I taught weather the day before and talked about the 'coffin corner.' All the time I watched our max allowable speed and minimum allowable speed get closer and closer.

Finally, we were light enough to make flight level 360. What a text book case of going through the tropopause. The temperature at FL 340 was -62 C, but at Fl 360 it rose to -56C. The bumps ended, the cloud tops were below us and the winds simmered down. 

The A321 requires five flight attendants and the chime (loud enough to wake up the dead)to the flight deck rang about 20 times. It's too hot, when are the bumps going to end, and what time are we arriving? How is a pilot able to have a controlled nap in these circumstances? :)

The latest weather reports from Calgary indicated light snow dominated the scenario and moderate icing was reported below 7000 feet.

Sure enough we picked up a whack of ice starting at 6500 feet. Usually, one does not get lots of ice in snow because the snow grows at the expense of the super cooled water droplets needed for ice accretion. One Dash 8 reported an inch and a half. We got about 3/4 of inch.

On approach, I thought about the time when I landed in Calgary years ago in the A320 in freezing fog. I'm certain the elevator nearly stalled at rotation. I slammed it on. At least, that was my excuse. (Remember Jacques from Airbus does not feel deicing the tail is necessary). The runway looked greasy, but the F/O put it on nicely. After a two and a half hour wait and an aircraft switch we flight plan for Vancouver in yet another A321. 

We are pushed back 50 feet from the gate for a deicing. Type 1 to rid the snow and ice and type IV to give us 30 minutes to get airborne with light snow at a temperature below minus 3C. The "slick licker" quickly retraced our tracks as we pushed further back to start the engines. And no, the sucked up deice fluid is not recycled.

The flight across the "rocks" to CYVR (Vancouver) proved to be smooth although I noticed the ATIS reported a light easterly wind, however, they were using 26 left. hmmm

The landing itself was not bad although I could see we were in a good tailwind of 10 knots from the wind readout plus we were zooming along in the approach. The A321 is conducive to tail strikes with pictches greater than 7.5 degrees at flare. I had this to contend with plus ATC puts the onus on us to clear on the intersection of runway 30. Just like Westjet one minute before. 
Do you see where this is leading, A321 pitch, tailwind plus a "Westjet" challenge?

On touchdown, I could see the intersection fast approaching and noticed 'low' on the autobrake was not going to cut it. Good ole 'lead foot' Doug goes manual on the braking but one has to exercise diligence on the application. The braking itself was not harsh, but uneven. I deviated from the centreline a little more than I would have liked. Every pilot does it now and again but we don't like being reminded about it from a flight attendant,  "who did that landing?"

Last night "Doug the greaser" reluctantly went to "Doug the weaver." 


Thursday, January 21, 2010

enRoute January 2010

The Age Of Aircraft

Here's one question found in enRoute's January edition:
Like any blog, there's room for comments. I noticed they are little thin with respect to feedback.

My post talks about the age on airplane, the Flying Scotsman's last post talks about price:

Photo: Brian Losito

Q: How old is the oldest aircraft at Air Canada? Carlton Lagusz, Stallingborough, U.K.

An airliner’s lifespan is based on hours, years and cycles (takeoffs and landings). Fuel efficiency, technological advances and the economy all factor into the equation for retirement of aircraft at Air Canada. The average age of our fleet is approximately nine years. (Air Canada operates the youngest fleet of any North American network carrier.) Our oldest airplane has racked up over 96,000 hours but will retire in 2013, when the sleek Boeing Dreamliner arrives.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hockey Night in (Air) Canada

Captain Doug holding the Doug Vann trophy.

The last two days consisted of playing hockey in the Doug Vann annual Air Canada hockey tournament hosted by our union ACPA (Air Canada Pilot Association). It was made up of eight teams using names from the NHL. We were the Canadians and won five games in a row.

Despite the copious amount of drinks many pilots had the night before, the tournament was quite serious. I'm amazed how many grown men (pilots) behave like babies. Many times a few pilots forgot all about CRM. CRM just isn't a flight deck concept.

It was the first Doug Vann tournament for me and we won! I did score two goals but I was in the right place and the right moment. I guess it's equivalent in getting hired, timing is everything.

We had two young pilots on our team and they stole the show. One pilot now only 27 was hired at age 22. He's a very lucky guy because the average new hire age at Air Canada is 35.

There were no B777 skippers out there. Very few A330/767 skippers either. I can't remember playing in such an intense environment.

Anyway, I got the t-shirt.

Now I have to teach weather early tomorrow morning at the BFC (Brampton Flight Centre)

A whole bunch of Air Canada pilots in funny uniforms (Montreal Canadians)

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Night Shift (A Calgary "red eye")

Photo supplied by YYC rampie Kelly Paterson

The flight out to Calgary was fairly uneventful with a full load of passengers. Had some bumps near Thunder Bay and over Saskatchewan but the seat belt sign stayed on for ten minutes or so.

Our schedule departure (12:20 a.m.) back coincided with Calgary airport going into noise abatement mode. The winds blew from the south at 5 knots and the runway of choice of course was 16. Runway 10 and 28 were too short with a full load and plenty of fuel with Montreal as an alternate. Toronto was flirting with fog all night.

Our max zero fuel weight was at limits because our max landing weight in Toronto of 64.5 would be exceeded. Dispatch and Load were juggling the numbers.

Even though it said 34 must be used for nose abatement the captain can request 16. That's what we did. The snarly controller came back and stated both 16 and 34 are the same length, what's the problem? Obviously he skipped the class about second segment, hills, terrain, runway slope, etc. He said we would have to call the duty manager. We said, "forget it" in a round about way.

Funny, most cargo operations around the world are exempt from noise abatement.

ATC claimed the winds were calm. They probably were but I knew as soon as I lifted off, I'd have a tailwind.

We have all the passengers on board, but the agent says a YYC rampie and his girlfriend would like to board. The numbers are tight. Looks like we were a little lighter and I allowed them to board.

The agent returns saying we had to call dispatch. Because we would be now exceeding our max landing weight in Toronto I had to deny them.

We take off from 34 with full thrust and the speeds were V1 163, Vr 165 and V2 165. That's fast. The F/O said we rotated at runway 28 chewing up about 10,000 feet of real estate. The wind read out went from calm to a solid tailwind of 15 knots. We took off on the longest runway in Canada, 12, 675 feet. The only glitch is it's 3560 feet above sea level.

A common phrase in the Airbus world is, "what's it doing now?" At rotation we get a master caution light. There is a master caution light on my side and another on the F/O's. Mine said "master" and the F/O's said "caution" I've never seen that in my 14 Airbus years. There was no system fault that triggered it. The same thing happened at flare in Toronto.

I certainly exercised our SOP of a "controlled nap" on the way back. But lately with the Northwest incident with no radio contact in the back of your mind, I made sure the F/O could handle it.

We land at 64.3 tonnes, 200 kgs below max. I could have taken the last two passengers.

P.S This post was written with just two hours of sleep so you may see some grammatical errors.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Very High Standards

A view from my hotel room overlooking St.John's harbour. Signal hill can be seen where Marconi received his first trans Atlantic radio signal. Though the winds were gusting to 60 km/hr there is a sense of peacefulness and tranquility. Too bad that didn't apply to my route check. :)

Very High Standards

Wake up is 4:00 a.m. (2:30 Toronto time) but I wake up at 3:30 a.m. The fish and chips I had at the Duke of Duckworth the night before piled a foot high with french-fries had me tossing and turning. Usually I have an iron stomach having eaten a diversity of cuisines from around the world.

It started with my airport security pass not working. Security lets me through having checked several papers ensuring Capt. Doug’s security pass was not breached.

I do the walk around and see no signs of frost or ice but I go back into the cabin to look at the wings. (You may see a black triangle in the Airbus cabin. It’s where Airbus deems the best place to look for ice on the wings). The checker comes back with a flashlight and we determine there is frost on the composite spoilers. A common occurrence for the Airbus. Off to deicing we go. But wait a minute, St.John’s, Newfoundland, the airport which sees the most weather in Air Canada’s entire system has one deice truck. The other one has been broken on and off for months. Why such a big deal? Air Canada had an incident a few years ago in Boston where only one wing was deiced so now if one truck is used I am to send the F/O (or check captain) to do a PDI (Post Deice Inspection).

The CDF (Central Deice Facility) told us to hold short of taxiway Hotel and contact ground. I don’t know if it was an early morning thing but the controller quickly mumbled the clearance and I had it in my head it was to taxi the same way we came but he wanted us to turn left into Juliet. He saw I made the wrong turn and quickly changed the taxi instructions. No big thing I thought but the checker was going into his check captain mode. He too was slow to pick up the mistake but I felt an insinuation it’s my fault. What happened to the two pilot concept and CRM? Later in the flight he wants me to file an ASR (Air Safety Report) and to call dispatch to let them know about the incident. Can you say, “making a mountain out of a mole hill?”

We have a two hour wait in Halifax just enough time for frost to form while I try to wake up with a large Tim Hortons coffee. I even bought the checker a coffee to apply the “suck up” factor. We retrieve the flight plan and I file an ASR electronically and call dispatch. One more leg. I’m doing my ramp checks and see CAT II is displayed on the screen as an inoperative system. Call maintenance. “Curly and Moe” show up and they are at a lost and adamant the caution will go away after engine start up. The checker being an instructor on the Airbus for seven years tended to be sceptical. The Lead rampie pokes his head up as well. “Guess what?” he says. “The wing in the sun has no frost but the other wing has frost on it.” Great - another deice. This frost stuff is getting to the ridiculous point. We see our competition taxing straight by the deice center. We even heard a charter company using Air Canada as it’s service provider argue that he does not want to be deiced but the lead said he had to. “Too many fingers in the pie,” comes to mind.

Maintenance is resetting flight control computers, activating electric hydraulic pumps. No joy. We agreed to contact them from the deice center if the caution did not go away. I make an announcement we have to get a quick spray. My first announcement - I might add.
We push back and start the engines. I’m smelling an acrid odour. The in-charge calls the flight deck in a concerned voice stating the cabin is filled with smoke. I told him its residual deice fluid in the air condition system from our deice in YYT. He wants me to make an announcement to calm everyone. Done.

We get to the deice facility and the caution has not gone out. But the check captain says we can no longer talk to “Curly and Moe” because we pushed back. We must now talk to MOC (Maintenance Ops Center) in Montreal through a line with dispatch sitting in Toronto. The whole world has to know.

They get us resetting more circuit breakers and flight control computers. No joy. The next step is to shut down the engines and power up the hydraulics. Another announcement. We do this and the message goes way. Hurray! I make another announcement the situation has been ratified and we will be taxing in five minutes. I tempted the gods. After start up the caution is back. Now we are to dispatch with MEL (Minimum Equipment List). This entails an authorization number from MOC. They said they will datalink it but the checker wants me to do all the paperwork first. I’ve got a full load in the back with tons of connections and we are 30 minutes late. hmmm

Finally, we get airborne. Through 10,000 feet the CAT II message goes away but we get another caution BCL 2 (Battery Current Limiter). We send a message to maintenance and we write up the snag. While at cruise the checker debriefs me. He was very impressed with my operations and he debriefed me on some moot points. These guys have to say something. I’m glad to hear I did well but in the same time I’m getting tired of it all and all I want to do is set the park brake in YYZ.

I wanted to speed up for people to make connections but I had to apply diplomacy because checkers have to enforce fuel saving strategies. Where has all the commonsense gone?

It must have been slow with YYZ ATC because about 90 miles out he gave us a heading of 270 to intercept the localizer 24 Right. But with this distance out, the airplane had a difficulty capturing the localizer and it was wobbling back and forth. ATC even asked us if we had the “loc” and I told him we were wobbling because of the distance. A hint to him this type of thing does not work at this distance. I give the checker control to let him figure it out because I had to brief him due to a runway change. Again, it’s for the lawyers and the CVR and again he’s concentrating so much to stabilize the heading he doesn’t hear a word. I have a bit of a grin on my face.

We land and I taxi fast because we have four passengers connecting to Tokyo, to LAX and ten other airports. I get to the gate only to see four rampies, but no Lead. “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Toronto. We are not quite at the gate so please remain seated with your seat belts fastened.” We wait. Finally the “lead” strolls to the lead in line with his wands. In YYZ the lead guides us to a certain point and then directs us to the electronic guidance system. It captured us saying we were a 319 which is fine for me. The checker says we are not captured and wants the 'lead' to guides us. Finally, everything works but the checker now wants to talk to the ramp manager. He is really going into the checker mode. But for me I had enough. The park brake is set. Hallelujah!

Please note: Even though I harped a little about the check pilot he turned out to be a great guy and did his job very well.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Getting checked

This drawing was sent in from whywhyzed. The same cartoon has been posted in Air Canada's training centre for years. I wonder if someone rehung it in our new training centre because it speaks volumes? Much talk has been on computer resets and automation. Captain Ian (Flying Scotsman) recently posted on the B777 wizardry. I swallowed the huge Airbus pill 14 years ago, but lately it's been giving some indigestion. 

Day one went okay on my annual route check. Luckily the weather was good due to a big fat high pressure system dominating the eastern continent. Last year I had to contend with a raging snowstorm.

The first leg is to YHZ (Halifax) and the ramp checks are going well. So far the “checker” seems like a good guy but in the back of my mind I’m saying, “never let your guard down.” These guys have the capability of ripping up your license right in front of your eyes.

I must admit I have been a little slack in reviewing the mandatory emergency drills with my F/Os so I had to rattle them off to appease the checker. I hardly stuttered.

The first one is for a “reject.”

…in the advent of an abnormality prior to V1 I will call “continue” or “reject.” If the decision is to reject I will…

The second is for an engine fire or failure after V1.

Third is for a rapid depressurization.

Plus, for the first briefing of the pairing we must review our go-around procedures. True this can be done while flying, but I thought I would woo him on the ground.

Everyone wants an on-time push back. The time is automatically datalinked when the captain releases the park brake. We are not allowed to do this prematurely (cough, cough). So with a checker on board I had to exercise diligence with the lead rampie asking for an early park brake release. Things are very busy prior to closing. The Emergency drills take five minutes alone. Then a pilot from another airline is asking for a jumpseat reciprocal form so he can travel free. More paperwork.

I calm down enroute to YHZ. The runway in use is the backcourse 32 and the localizer only on 05. Neither is my runway of choice especially when it’s 900 feet overcast. I tell the checker to set me up for the ILS 23 approach. Keep it nice and easy. Why rock the boat by upping the workload on a check ride? We descend at a docile 250 knots. Air Canada and many other airlines are using low performance factors into the flight plan to reduce fuel costs. (We program the flight management system as to what the flight plan states.) Meaning it’s better to arrive late than burn extra fuel.

At 14,000 feet with me in a nice comatose state ATC says,  "unable ILS 23 cleared to the ODKAS fix for the LOC approach to 05 maintain 4000 feet." Holy shi...(expletive). Capt. Doug is now 4500 feet high on the approach. I’ve got the speed brakes to full and the speed dialled up to 320 knots to get down. The checker is busy changing runways and I’m hoping he doesn’t notice I may bust the mandatory speed limit of 250 knots passing through 10,000 feet. Everything is now in the “box” i.e the Airbus is programmed. I give him control to check his work and to give him a long winded briefing. He (like most pilots in this fast action scenario) hears nothing because he is too focused flying but it’s got to be done for the lawyers and the CVR (cockpit voice recorder). The approach turns out well and by the book. I thank my lucky stars.

Now it’s to YUL (Montreal). The captain greases it on. Not bad for being recently checked out to fly in the right seat. Actually, he was a training first officer in the simulator and during his upgrade he also took on supervisor status. He is 800 numbers junior to me and is very close to the bottom of the 320 captain list. In order to get a better schedule and more pay many pilots become checkers. Smart move on their part.

Our third leg is YUL to YYT (the rock) arriving at 1:00 am local, three legs and three aircraft switches. We realize our database is going to expire in three hours. We call maintenance and dispatch under MEL (minimum equipment list).

I do a fully managed ILS 29 approach. Heck the winds are only 15 knots. I set the park brake. Here ends day one.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A four-leg warm up

Even though I was still on days off today (I’ve been off since Christmas day) I decided to go flying for three reasons. One: I found out I’d be getting a route check (annual check done by a supervisor pilot) tomorrow after three weeks of not flying. Two: My block projection for the month is a measly 67.5 hours so today it pumped me up to a measly 73 hours. Yes, pilots are paid a base salary but it’s about 20 hours less than the good ole days when flying was way up. What does 20 hours equate to? Well at $180 per hour, you can do the math. Thirdly, about two weeks into my days off/vacation the wife kept asking, “when are you going back to work, when are you going back to work…?” I don’t know what will happen when I retire. There will be no place to go. :)

The choice of extra flying (make up) is down so I had to settle on: CYYZ-CYUL-CYYZ-CYUL-CYYZ (four Rapidairs)

How was it after three weeks? Well it started this morning by me thinking I had plenty of time. Right away the saying, “he who thinks he has time on his hands is late” comes to mind. Yours truly was 20 minutes late because there was a three car accident causing a bottleneck for 30 minutes. Luckily, I did not have to go through American customs and the F/O had everything done.

We get to the airplane and it starts with a blue electric hydraulic pump fault. Called maintenance…fixed. About ten minutes prior to push back the in-charge F/A says the CIDS (Cabin Intercommunication Data System) panel is jammed (frozen). We do a circuit breaker reset. No joy. Called maintenance and he states our checklist is out of date. Do it this way. It worked. Surprisingly we push 3 minutes early.

We get to CYUL (Montreal) with the F/O flying. I’m slowly spooling up. It’s my turn back to Toronto. During the push and engine start we get LAV and CARGO SMOKE DETECT FAULT. We reset the SDCU (Smoke Detection Control Unit). The reset procedure worked. The after start checklist requires a check to see if the cabin doors are armed. One is not armed. The in-charge F/A apologizes. Turns out he received a phone call on his cell and he was distracted. Funny, I thought all cell phones were supposed to be off?

The rest of the day went well. We had to get deiced only once which was our last leg back to Toronto causing a 10 minute delay but as I aver, “better to be late in this world than early in the next.”

Tomorrow is the start of a three-day check ride. Oh yeah!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Frank Whittle - Mr. Jet Engine

Sir Frank Whittle

The Discovery Channel will soon be starting a new series called, "Inventions that Shaped the World." We aviation enthusiasts all agree the jet engine has to be near the top of the invention list thus their series will discuss Sir Frank Whittle - the British inventor of the jet engine. They have been recruiting a pilot  for the jet engine taping and I'm on the short list - I think. They want someone who has sound knowledge of Frank Whittle so I've been doing research.

Frank Whittle – The inventor of the modern jet engine

A weapon of war and innovator of travel, this noisiest invention changed the world. Frank Whittle envisioned a device capable of propelling aircraft at speeds of 500 mph to stratospheric heights but this came with much personal and external struggle. His story incorporates genius, denial, danger, with constant bureaucratic challenges and government intervention. You could say his story paralleled many pilot’s stories with twists, turns and dead ends, but perseverance bears the test of time.

Most pilots know at an early age they are destined for the skies. Frank Whittle knew it too, but took three times to be enlisted in the RAF (Royal Air Force). Originally destined to be a mechanic in the RAF, his superiors noted brilliance among this small statured young man standing at the RAF’s minimum pilot height at 5’ 3”. His passion for flight and intelligence opened the door to the pilot program. Actually, he came six in a class of hundreds and only the top five made the cut. Luckily for all of us, one candidate did not pass the medical allowing Frank to pursue his dreams as a pilot and later as an inventor with passinate vision.

A RAF prerequisite in becoming a pilot included writing a paper. Frank wrote, “Future Development in Aircraft Design.” This raised many eyebrows amongst the higher ranks of the military, so they channelled him to further schooling. While others were determined to make a better more powerful engine to drive a propeller, Whittle’s eureka moment came when he postulated blasting air out of a gas turbine. He knew the propeller could go no further proving at higher altitudes (lower pressure) the jet engine would shine as a better performer.

Whittle was so adamant about his vision he took out a patent at the startling age of 22. Deemed an exceptional pilot he tempted the envelope by dare devil acts. His superiors labelled it over confidence, but sometimes that’s what it takes, tempting the envelpoe.

War breeds invention, so the Germans also independently researched the jet engine with their first jet engine powered flight occuring in 1939. Their engine turned out to be non sustaining because the engine had to be rebuilt after every flight. Coupled with the fact their jet engine lacked a patent, it gave Whittle the distinction of the inventor of the jet engine.

Finally, after many uphill battles, the first British jet powered aircraft left the surly bounds of earth in 1941. It soared to 30,000 feet during its flawless flight proving the concept was here to stay.

The British government nationalized Whittle’s private endeavours striping him of royalties, and due recognition even to this day. I bet if I asked most pilots who invented and developed the jet engine (including me) they would be lost for an answer.

The British finally gave the concept to the Americans after the war. The first jet airliner, the Comet, emerged in 1952. Described as fast, quiet and comfortable, it kicked off the “jet set” age. However, a year later four of them fell out of the skies due to fuselage deterioration around the windows because its square windows were conducive to stress fractures. Boeing rose to the forefront with the B707 capable of travelling at speeds of nearly 600 mph surpassing even Whittles dream.

B777's engine - the world's most powerful commerial jet engine. A "whittle" wonder!

Here's some facts I mustered up for the above picture found in enRoute's Altitude page (April 2009)

  • The Boeing 777 utilizes the world’s most powerful commercial jet engine with a whopping 115,300 pounds of thrust

  • The GE 90-115B has a weight of 18,260 lbs (8283 kg)

  • It’s made by GE Aviation a subsidiary of General Electric

  • The engine has a fan width of 128” (325 cm). Wider than Air Canada’s Embrarer cabin

  • It’s wide enough to stand a regulation NBA basketball hoop (ten feet) inside

  • One could fit a H1Hummer (87”, 220 cm width) inside

  • Its overall width is 135 inches (343 cm) (outside to outside)

  • At take off thrust, a single GE90 engine can ingest around two million cubic feet of air per minute

  • Approximate value: $20 million U.S

  • Measuring more than four feet long and weighing less than 50 lbs, the blade is made from carbon fiber and a toughened epoxy matrix

  • There are 22 fan blades on the GE90-115B engine and is the only composite fan blade in commercial aviation

  • This engine helped set the world’s longest flight for a commercial airliner at 22hrs 42 minutes

Monday, January 11, 2010

Coffin Corner

This graph nicely depicts how Vs (stall speed) increases with height and Mmo (maximum speed or maximum Mach number) decreases with height. Where they meet is the coffin corner.

This is a blurry copy of the Airbus PFD (Primary Flight Display). On the left is the speed tape. On top is Mmo (red) "barber pole" and the bottom (yellow) is speeds nearing the stall. In the middle is the "coffin corner." F.Y.I the term "barber pole" (think the helical shape of a barber's pole) means Mmo. When you enter the red zone the airplane starts yelling at you.

I’ll be teaching some high level meteorology next week at the Brampton Flight Center. The facilitator wanted me to include such topics as high-level turbulence and avoidance from an airline pilot's perspective, jet streams and the dreaded coffin corner.
I do not proclaim to be a NASA aerodynamic PhD but here is my take.

One aerodynamic term is the “coffin corner” in other words when an aircraft’s stall speed Vso (minimum speed) nears the aircraft maximum speed Mmo. Mmo (critical Mach number) is the maximum speed at which air can travel over the wings without losing lift due to flow separation and shock waves. This of course is predicated on weight (the heavier the worst) and altitude (the higher the worst). Remember stall speed increases with altitude and maximum allowable speed decreases. It’s when VSO and MMO begin to join. Mmo is different for each aircraft. The little bus is Mach .82, the big bus (A330) is Mach .86 and the manly B777 is Mach .89.

So what does it mean to airline jockey? Well, when ATC asks you if you are able a higher altitude and you oblige knowing full well you are at the limits for that weight, you might want to keep an eye on things.. Airbus does the calculations and predicts a recommended maximum altitude (REC MAX FL), predicated on a buffet of .3g. One could go higher but you better be certain it’s as smooth as a “baby’s bum.”

So now, you are at maximum altitude and you encounter some wake or bumps from a jet stream. This is when the “pucker factor” increases. For the Airbus we leave the autopilot on and for the most part let the auto-thrust do it’s thing. If the speed wavers too much then it’s off with the auto-thrust. “Jacques from Airbus” says best maneuvering speed above FL 200 is .76. But what happens if this is too slow? Most pilots keep the speed in the middle of the coffin and start thinking about plan B. Lower altitude.

But what a minute! Everyone knows “Jacques from Airbus” built the Airbus such that it does not stall. Remember, you are in the threshold of the operating window and things happen much in line with the unsinkable Titanic.

Another scenario is when dodging thunderstorms. The higher the better for allowing visual separation, however, sometimes it’s difficult to avoid overhangs or convective clouds forming below and you may get yourself in a situation when you encounter some solid turbulence and your airspeed begins to fluctuate. Remember the margin is now small. The flight controls are less effective, the engines are “sucking wind” and the aircraft beings to wallow in the sky. Not a nice feeling. Yes, I’ve been there and it’s uncomfortable.

Many think Air France 447 encountered the coffin corner. It’s pretty well confirmed they flew into a MCC (Mesoscale Convective Complex) i.e. a group of ‘bad ass’ thunderstorms. They were heavy and at a fairly high altitude and then BAM! Turbulence! A recipe for the grim reaper to visit.

I had better not go any further with this. I would hate to enthrall fear to my edgy seat of the pants fliers. I for one am experiencing sweaty palms as I type this.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A White Elephant - Montreal's Mirabel

Here's another question from enRoute's Ask Doug but didn't make it to print:

(He is a blog follower living Oshawa, Ontario)

Heya Doug - avid reader of your blog. I've recently been back to Mirabel airport (Montreal) for a freight delivery and was sad to see it falling into such a bad state of disrepair. Just wondering if perhaps you had any stories to share about Mirabel - I'm sure that you flew into it in years passed when it was an operational passenger airport and perhaps readers who are not aware of it's existence (or the interesting story of how it's become to be virtually abandoned from a passenger airport point of view) would find it interesting reading. On YouTube and various websites there is lots of interesting content (some of it recent) showing the sad state the airport is in. Though it might make for an interesting post.

For the longest time, Air Canada did not carry Mirabel in our aerodrome charts, not even for an alternate. But I see the charts are back. My June charts had runway 11-29 closed, but I noticed my December charts has the runway back open. Runway 06-24 (the same orientation as Montreal's Dorval -sorry Montreal's Pierre Eliot Trudeau) is 12,000 "hardly used" feet long. Not only is the airport deemed a "white elephant" but it's like a cat with nine lives. Here's Wikipedia's definition of a white elephant: A white elephant is an idiom for a valuable possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth. I can't say it any better.

It's stated on the taxi chart, "Mirabel airport is intended for scheduled cargo and general aviation." I see the odd cargo plane on the ramp when we over-fly the airport. Bombardier moved some of their operations to CYMX as well.

I heard they may be turning part of the airport into an amusement park called AERODREAM. I don't know how far along this rumour is, but three years ago it seemed to have credibility.

Fact 1. The movie, Terminal, starring Tom Hanks used Mirabel as the film set.

Fact II. The Montreal Dorval VOR (YUL) is collocated near CYMX (Mirabel). The VOR YMX is to the northwest of CYMX.

Fact III. When it was built, it was the largest airport as far as surface area envisioned.

Fact IV. As far as longest "Canadian domestic" crew bus drives it took the cake. About 40-50 minutes from Dorval to Mirabel. Edmonton downtown now takes first prize as far as longest drives with Deer Lake, Nfld taking the longest in winter conditions. Halifax, N.S is third. I think the land to both YEG (Edmonton) and YHZ (Halifax) were owned by politicians and they did some serious convincing to locals. I'm certain some will say YHZ was chosen because it was deemed fog free. That's probably what the politician who owned the land claimed.

The last time I flew to CYMX was when I did touch and gos getting checked-out in the Bae 146 for Air Atlantic some 20 years ago. As well, I flew out of there as a passenger to CDG to start my initial training on Air France's A340 simulator some 14 years ago.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Air Canada adds nuts to no-fly list

Above was the title published in the Toronto Star yesterday and I thought I’d make a few comments.

Am I missing something? I thought that was the point of the exercise with the latest breach of security on Delta airlines -keep the nuts away. Obviously, the 23 year old was a “wing nut.” The shoe bomber was a “nut bar” and Al Qaeda is portrayed as “religious nuts.” (Sorry that’s my twisted sense of humour surfacing). But the article below is talking peanuts, almonds, and cashews.

Here’s the article:
There is business class, first class, economy class. Coming soon to an airplane near you: nut-free class. Air Canada has been told to create a nut-free "buffer zone" on all flights to accommodate passengers who suffer from severe nut allergies. Thursday's decision by the Canadian Transportation Agency followed complaints from two passengers about the inconsistent and difficult experiences they faced when they asked Air Canada to accommodate their severe nut allergies.

"There was clearly no policy. I was getting a different story on every flight," said complainant and frequent traveller Sophia Huyer. "Certain individual flight attendants, if they understand the issue of allergies, would accommodate me, but often it was left up to the captain or staff to make that decision."

Huyer filed the complaint in June 2006 after two flights where she had asked flight staff to not serve nuts. On one, the flight attendant said she could get off the plane and take a later flight. She did. The next time, she stayed on board. When the attendant insisted on serving nuts, Huyer locked herself in the washroom for 40 minutes.

"I felt like I was in a life-threatening situation," said Huyer, whose severe allergy can make it difficult for her to breathe, give her a rash, and cause her tongue to swell if she is even around nuts. The agency ruled Huyer's allergy can be classified as a disability, and must be accommodated.

Air Canada has 30 days to submit comments on the decision, including how long in advance a person needs to notify the airline for a buffer zone to be created, and how large the zone should be, depending on the aircraft.

Air Canada stopped serving peanuts on flights more than a decade ago, but continues to give out almonds and mixed nuts in business and first class. Porter Airlines serves almonds and says it can accommodate passengers with 48 hours' notice. WestJet doesn't serve nuts, and has used the buffer zone approach for years.

Huyer said she is glad to see a final decision, but doesn't feel the ruling goes far enough. She thinks nuts should be completely banned. "I know no area can be totally nut-free, but if you're serving nuts, you are actively increasing the risk anyway."

The nut-free zone is among a long list of recent changes introduced on airlines, such as allowances for animals on planes, allowances for those with allergies to animals, and a Supreme Court ruling that those deemed medically obese be allowed to have two seats when flying.

"That's just the way the world seems to be going," said Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick.

Firstly, the reporter mentions “first class.” Air Canada has not offered a “first class” section in years. (I had to be careful by saying Air Canada has not offered “first class service” in years) In fact, no North American based airline offers a first class section. Sure airlines around the world do, like B.A. (a plug for you Ian) and Singapore. In fact, Emirates’ first class on the A380 offers beds making it that much easier to join the “mile high” club. Saying first class instead of business class on North American airlines is like someone saying “stewardess” The title stewardess has vanished since the seventies. Not only does it date a person, but portrays a person’s aviation I.Q.

But my question is, “how do you tell a business class passenger who dropped $8000 on a return ticket to Hong Kong that he can’t have nuts with his drink because someone flying one way seated in '62 D' on a seat sale is allergic to nuts?"

Pilot Pellets.

The article alluded to the fact Air Canada did not cater to peanut allergies. Not so. A few months ago I asked the flight attendant for some nuts (almonds). Flight attendants hear this request so much from pilots that they started calling the nuts, “pilot pellets.” “Sorry, we have a passenger with a peanut allergy in 'economy' so all peanuts are banned. "I’m thinking... hmmm. We have a self-locking $20,000 “hand grenade proof” Kevlar flight deck door capable of keeping out nasty people, but I’m not allowed to have almonds because it’s deemed a threat to someone in 29D?

I do realize the Toronto Star’s header was a play on words but maybe you out there have some comments? (I also realize some of you pilots fly for peanuts, but that’s another post). I read some of the Toronto Star feedback and most of them thought we have gone too far. Like Peter FitzPatrick said in the article, “that's just the way the world seems to be going.”

Friday, January 8, 2010

Highest Duty (Capt. Sully’s Book)

Just finished Captain Sullenberger’s book. For those aviation enthusiasts, it’s a must read! Sometimes he pours it on a little too thick about being a family man, devoted husband, and with the military having second to none training, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It takes awhile, actually about 200 pages into the book, until he talks about the incident but I can’t falter him since the entire flight lasted just over five minutes.

As I read, I kept thinking...I don’t think I would have had the guts to opt for a water landing. Our training engrains us to choose land over water. Also, we are told to follow the checklist. But somewhere a decision has to be made. Sully quickly realized no checklist would bring back those engines.

Someone asked me, “if we have a checklist for Canadian Geese?” I think they meant to ask, “Do we have a checklist for a dual engine failure?” Having said that, do you think I’d be reading through a checklist at 3000 feet descending 1500 feet/min? Like Sully, most pilots would go into survival mode.

That’s why I challenge our training sometimes. It works fine in the simulator, but what about in the real world? Having said that, I flew with an F/O a month ago and he experienced an engine failure through 4000 feet out of Vancouver. He said they followed procedures to a “T.” But what about the crippled Swissair flight burning up near Halifax? They turned away from the airport to complete their checklists. Incidentally, I was in Zurich about a year later doing my F/O A340 training and the font on the Smoke checklist is a hell of a lot bigger. Our checklist’s font got bigger too. You should see the length of the checklist. “Jacques from Airbus” made it six pages long if you include the SMOKE/FUMES removal checklist. Here’s page one of five for a dual engine failure. I get a chuckle out of “Jacques from Airbus” suggesting…LAND ASAP. Hmmmm?
As long as none of the engines recover, the flight crew should apply this paper
procedure and then, if time permits, clear ECAM alerts and check the ECAM
STATUS page.
– ENG MODE SEL..........................................................................................IGN
– THR LEVERS............................................................................................. IDLE
– OPTIMUM RELIGHT SPD .............................................................SEE TABLE
In case of speed indications failure (volcanic ash), Pitch attitude for optimum
relight speed is also given:
– LANDING STRATEGY.................................................................DETERMINE
Determine whether a runway can be reached or the most appropriate place for a forced landing/ ditching.
– EMER ELEC PWR ..............................................................................MAN ON
– VHF1/HF1( ) ATC1..................................................................................USE
– ATC ......................................................................................................NOTIFY
– FAC 1 .........................................................................................OFF THEN ON
Resetting of FAC 1 enables rudder trim recovery, even if no indication is
[ A319, 235-240, A321] IF NO RELIGHT AFTER 30 SEC :
– ENG MASTERS................................................................ OFF 30 SEC/ON
Unassisted start attempts can be repeated until successful, or until APU bleed is available.
– CREW OXY MASKS (Above FL 100)........................................................ON
– APU (IF AVAIL)................................................................................ START
– WING ANTI ICE .......................................................................................OFF
– APU BLEED...............................................................................................ON
– ENG MASTERS (one at a time)........................................... OFF 30 SEC/ON

Flight 1549 happened the day I gave a talk on aviation in front of 150 people for the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. Sully's event sort of superseded my talk. After my talk, one gentleman stood up and asked a long winded question about the incident. (You could tell he liked to hear himself talk). It happened just a few hours before and the first I heard of it was 10 minutes before my talk. For one thing, I don’t like second guessing pilots and I told him so. Whenever there is an incident, the media always seems to find an aviation expert. It usually turns out the person is a private pilot capable of spelling Airbus. (no disrespect to you Private pilots out there). I was going to explain how jet engines are certified by firing birds into the engine but I knew whatever I said it would fall on deaf ears. The audience wanted to hear we train for this in the simulator and not to worry.

Sully differentiated reality with his surreal scenario. I think the initial vector of 220 degrees also helped him as his track paralleled the Hudson. I’m not sure why the RAT (Ram Air Turbine) did not deploy with a dual engine failure. It’s a propeller driven device to supply electrics and hydraulics.

A drop-out RAT coupled to a hydraulic pump allows the blue system to function if electrical power is lost or both engines fail. The RAT deploys automatically if AC BUS 1 and AC BUS 2 are both lost. It can be deployed manually from the overhead panel. It can be stowed only when the aircraft is on the ground.

One would think his descent would be quiet with no engines running. Far from it, there were more warnings going off in that flight deck causing a major distraction but Sully never mentions it. But then again, he was in another world.

Again, this book is a great read. I just learned he had signed a contract for 3.2 million for the book. My book sales topped out at around $10,000+ with 10,000 copies in print. The difference is, one has to land in the Hudson. I’ll give it a miss.

Enjoy the read!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What a blast!

A jet blast deflector

Jet blast defector behind the biz jet.

I'd like to thank everyone for sending potential enRoute questions for the magazine. Unfortunately, not all will be published, but they are great questions and worth some answers. Here's two from a follower in YOW (Ottawa).

1. What precautions, rules-of-thumb, etc. do you follow on the ground to make sure the blast from those enormous turbofans doesn't flip a Cessna (or Dash-8, for that matter!), turn a marshaller into Mary Poppins, blind someone with flying debris, or catapult a baggage car through the terminal window? Do you ever feel your own plane shaken by blast from another pilot who's not being careful enough? I've noticed that ground often clears planes across the apron "at your discretion", presumably meaning "blast is your problem, not ours".

Our procedure is to use a maximum of 40% NI (power) during taxi. We have charts in our ops manual to determine critical jet blast areas but if we adhere to the 40% rule we should be okay.
Having said that, sometimes ramp control will tell us to manoeuvre at minimum thrust because of traffic behind us.

While bunched up in airports like La Guardia the jet ahead of us can sometimes shake us a little, especially if the guy ahead is a little over zealous on the power. As well, if we are really close you can see the SAT (Static Ambient Temperature) and TAT (Total Ambient temperature) readings shoot up due to the warm jet exhaust.

"At your discretion" is more of a legal term. Meaning if we have an incident it rests all on our shoulders. Ground control in YOW uses this phrase all the time but they still want us to call them. "Taxi to the gate at your discretion." Also when we do a cross bleed engine start, we must ask ramp control or ground control for permission because we have to increase the thrust of the running engine to supply enough air to start the other engine.

As a note: In LaGuardia, the asphalt is very sticky in the summer and to be honest it sometimes takes a little more than 40% to get moving. In fact, it's recommended NOT to taxi single engine in LGA.

2. Does Canada have any really difficult airports for midsizepassenger jet landings, like Burbank and Chicago/Midway Airports in the U.S.? Which airports make you feel the need to quadruple-check weight, winds, surface friction, and landing-distance calculations before you pick up the ATIS?

I just went from the east coast to the west coast in my head and all of them don't pose a problem. Most are 150 or 200 foot wide runways and most are fairly long except
maybe Deer Lake, Newfoundland. There was always talk about lengthening the runway but that's as far as it went.

The problem arises when we fly to our alternate airports. For example Hamilton, Buffalo, London, Ontario, Stephenville, Nfld. The comfort factor is not there plus the runways tends to be shorter. As well, when I fly to the Caribbean things are scrutinized a little more.
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