!!!!! 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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Airline pilots - stereotyped


Picture from the movie, "Catch Me if you Can." It did a great job putting the airline pilot up on the pedestal.

This post, originally called "Twelve hours from bottle to throttle" was put on the shelve to make room for another post. Since then, I modified it to talk more about perception.

Just received this from a fan. There's been many 'alcohol' skits like this one (see below) throughout the years. It always seems to strike a chord. We airline pilots have many stereotypical images. Here's one for the list.
Transport Canada states no pilot will consume alcohol at least eight hours prior to flight. At Air Canada, it's 12 hours from "bottle to throttle."

Reminds me of an interview question. 
"What would you do if you saw your captain drinking in the hotel bar exceeding his cut off time for alcohol."

Answer (from a quick thinker).

"Go and join him. Obviously the flight was delayed!"

Many perceive (especially Holywood) the airline pilot to be a tall, slim, heterosexual, Caucasian male with a "John Wayne" persona coupled with drop dead handsome good looks with a beaming smile that could woo any female. Well, the modern flight deck is a changing.

Air Canada is no exception. The pilot group is made up of four percent female with many visible minorities. The average new hire age is 35 so that dapper young 20 year old in a brand new airline suit does not exist. CRM (Crew Resource Management) has also toned things in the flight deck. No longer is the show entirely run by the captain.

One company I flew for shunned pilots for eating ice cream in view of the public. Many companies also shun pilots to eat in an area where alcohol is served while in uniform. At Air Canada we must walk with our tunic buttoned with our hat on. Many carriers have thrown the hat away with the tunic open for many to accommodate their equatorial spare tires. :)

When I went for an interview with United Emirates five years ago, I was asked whether I would have an issue with so many nationalities in the flight deck. "Not a problem," I said. Although, I'm wise enough to know this is an issue for some airlines around the world.

Speaking of perception. Here's another interview question: See if you can answer it honestly before looking at the answer:

"What would you do if you saw your captain in the hotel lobby wearing a dress on their layover?"

Answer: "I would say nice dress, because obviously the captain is female."


Skit by Dean Martin and Foster Brooks
Foster Brooks is sporting a beard. For one thing you will not see a North American pilot with a beard. Some European companies such as Lufthansa allow beards.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Where the lights are on 24-7 (Flight Dispatch)

Flight dispatch, located off airport premises in Toronto, oversees the entire system. About 650 to 700 flight plans are generated here. Jazz has their own dispatch center located at the Halifax Airport which also generates about 650 flight plans a day.

These pictures were taken from last year's tour. Fourteen desks operate around the clock.
(Actually it does wind down a little during the wee hours of the night. But not by much, especially when Air Canada is operating in time zones around the world.

The desks are divied according to region. Canadain western, East coast, Rapidairs, New York, American Southwest, European, Asian, etc. This is the supervisor's desk. (He or she must be out supervising) :)
Actually, they are giving the tour.

This is one of the international desks which overlooks Toronto Pearson Airport . The dispatchers only leave their desks for washroom breaks. There are no scheduled lunch breaks.

Here the four operational screens are in full view. They can move from one screen to another. A dispacther may have up to 20 to 25 applications on the go at any given time. Next to pilots, they are the second highest paid group in an airline and our known as "captains on the ground." They must perform flight following as per the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

Photo: Compliments of Erik in FRA

During the tour, we watched flight 015 (B777 YYZ-HKG) take off runway 05. Always heavily ladened with fuel, the take off run is a long one. That day, a medical situation at the gate delayed the flight by an hour.
The dispatchers joked about how the A40-300 laboured into flight while operating this flight. I agreed by saying, "I' was glad the earth was curved so we could airborne." :)

Flight Dispatch
Two days ago, Captain Doug, five Brampton flight center student pilots and one facilitator met for a tour of Air Canada's flight dispatch center. When we arrived we were briefed by a high ranking dispatch guru who is always open to tours.

He mentions the morning saw an Airbus 321 enroute to Vancouver from Toronto divert into Winnipeg for a medical emergency. They had to land overweight so an inspection had to be done by maintenance. The small airbus fleet can't jettison fuel so an overweight landing is the only option. One of the parameters is, not to exceed 360 feet/min during touch down. If my landings were that snug, I'd be back in the simulator for remedial training. :)

Flight 016 (Hong Kong to Toronto) also had a medical emergency and ducked into ShangHai.
They jettisoned 20,000 kg of fuel and still landed overweight. That fuel translates into 25,000 litres, enough to supply my car for years.

A B767 sat on the ground in Lima waiting for a part for two days. It wasn't a maintenance issue per say, but local customs playing silly bugger.

Plus they had 10 aircraft with maintenance issues that morning. If you want a dynamic job, running an airline would be on the top of the list.

The students job shadowed for about an hour with individual dispatchers. These people are true professionals and everyone loves talking about their job. The applications they have privy to is amazing! While we watched flight 015 (YYZ-HKG) take off we perused over some flight planning figures. The cost for fuel and navigation fees were $102,000 for that flight only. That excluded wages, commissary, etc. The dispatcher also gave a break down of navigation fees from different centers along the route. To fly into Russian airspace that day cost $3000.
It reminds me of a worn out saying, "if you want to make a small fortune in the airline business, start with a large one!"

Crew Sked

I'm sitting in cold, damp Calgary after shooting an approach in low visibility in snow (yes, you read right) during the wee hours last night. I went from 31 C in Toronto to zero Celsius and snow in Calgary. Talk about meteorological extremes. Only in Canada you say?

Captain Doug had three weeks off, but like most months lately I went on "make up" to top up my pay. I was awarded one leg out to Vancouver, sit and watch airplanes while having a beverage at the "Flying Beaver," rest up and fly back via Edmonton.

Well as I started this post last night, crew sked called and asked if I would be interested in flying to Calgary enticing me with 'draft pay." I took the bait, however, I should have looked at the weather. That will teach me. Although, the only glitches were the fueler showed up late in Toronto causing a 20 minute delay and we had to dodge an area of thunderstorms in the state of Montana casing a 10 minute deviation. Now I sit blogging.

(Here is why I do what I do)
Captain Morris,


I just finished reading your book and it was absolutely fantastic. I could write a testimonial about your book. I learned a lot from your book, even as an avid aviation enthusiast. It will be a travel

companion of mine whenever I fly (so I can remember the formula for how far I can see at altitude) and all the different clouds. Reading a first hand account of what it is like to fly for the majors reinforced why I wanted to be a pilot for so long. I truly felt as if I was in the flight deck of the A340 with you going from YYZ-HKG. I am looking into entering flight operations (after my post-secondary education) as a flight dispatcher. I have actually visited the AC dispatch office

and it seems like the next best place for me besides the flight deck. I was connected to a dispatcher there (Boris Gleyberg, you may know him?) by a pilot at AC, Matt Ritter, he is a Captain on the Embraers.I really hope I am one day dispatching at AC, it seems like a

fantastic career. I also hope to be on a flight of yours one day so I can get my book signed. I will also be providing this book to my friends who have a fear of flying so that they can obtain an

understanding of the entire process (which you write about very well) and appreciate flight as I do.


Happy Flying!


Jason G.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Before start, after start and termination checklists (Landscaping)

The day (early April) I started was the day I filed my tax return. Still haven't received the refund which financed this project, but it's coming. The CRA gave me a run for my money, but it all worked out. I think?

So what does this have to to do with flying? Well, that's an airline in disguise.

I will tell one story. Two 747-400 skippers were having a concerned conversation one day. One skipper, recently retired, was asked by the other about money. "How do handle the huge pay cut?" The retired skipper said, "we learned to do things ourselves." I get a chuckle out of that one because I must have missed something. I've been doing things myself since day one. I helped build a house when I was 13 and 14. My first real job started at age 15 as a painter making money to chase a dream. My wife still ensures I have a paintbrush in my hand now and again after 34 years.

The old railings were removed and forms were built to widen the existing steps. The old side walls were smashed off by a maul. The original steps were kept to keep the same profile plus they were bolted to the foundation stopping everything from settling. I didn't want the same thing happening to the newly built airport in Osaka, Japan.

Two cubic metres of concrete. Never did concrete before. What did I get myself into?
The lower landing is ten inches thick but not as thick as a runway.

Doug the mason. At one point I told my wife, "I had met my match." But perseverance wins in most things in life. I got through the hard part.

The steps are finished and six cubic yards of soil is moved in. All before a "red eye."

Captain Doug the carpenter. The posts and railings are made from scratch.
As reiterated in the comedy show, RedGreen, "If your wife doesn't find you handsome, she should at least find you handy." Doug the comedian.

These posts have turned many heads in the neighbourhood. Most use wrought iron railings. These are the first for the area and many neighbours/strangers have stopped by.

The grand finale. I also modified the garage doors by removing the old hardware, painting them and adding 'carriage' hardware. That was one of the many last year's projects. Not bad for being in the house less than a year.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fate: The Fork in the Road

When you have a Dream

Don't let anything dim it

Keep Hoping, Keep Trying

The Sky is the Limit

(These words accompanied a 'balloon' poster I used to hide cracks in my McGill student ghetto apartment)

Just took a walk through McGill University here in Montreal during my 32 hour layover. (We have a new pairing optimizer so these long layovers will be a thing of the past).

It's hard to believe 26 years has passed since I took a one year diploma in meteorology here. After having a physics degree I decided to go back to university because North America drowned in another recession and we all know what happens to airlines during tough times.
I didn't know whether Atmospheric Environment Canada had me on their meteorologist roster so I contemplated returning to McGill to take a geophysics degree. Who knows, I could have been a multi millionaire from discovered oil wells? That year had me learning mathematical meteorology where it took one month to derive the quasi-vorticity equation used to drive computer weather models. And no, heavy duty calculus is not my forte. Although I did enjoy my fraternity, Delta Upsilon, whereby yours truly received "party animal of the year award." Geez, I miss those toga parties. :)

This post is about opportunity, decisions, dreams, forks in the road, open and closed doors i.e FATE. You're probably thinking Captain Doug is on a rant about himself. Nope. This one is about the many stories I hear from the pilots I fly with. Here's one from the present F/O I'm with. I had to itemize his "forks in the road" because his map in becoming an airline pilot is one of the more diverse ones I've heard.

His Journey

1. Started with air cadets and received his glider's license.

2. Received his private license in YBG (Bagotville).

3. Went to Chicoutimi for a three year aviation diploma. The province of Quebec offers CEGEP (Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel) which is public post secondary education.
During the weekends he would drive 2.5 hours south to build time flying parachutists amassing four hundred hours. This valuable time opened the door to his first "twin engine" job.

4. Flew an Apache and Aztec for Avion Taxi in YYY (Mont Joli) for six months.
(For most single engine pilots, this is a huge coup - twin time)

5. Off to Transportair (YQB - Quebec city) for six months flying the Aztec.

6. Then to Aviation Amos (YEY -Amos/Magny, Quebec) flying the Cessna 310 and Aztec for 2 years.

7. This also included flying a Navajo out of James Bay for 1.5 years.

8. The fork in the road now takes him to Quebec aviation flying a Navajo and Turbo Commander. (Something else what an airline looks for- illustrious turbo time) I don't know why, they are easier to fly than a piston engine.

9. The door opens at Les Ailes de Charlevoix paying him to fly the Cessna 421 and Aero Commander for one year.

10. Opportunity knocks at Air Dorval and he is captain on the SW2, SW3, SW4 (Metroliner) a.k.a the flying "cigar" because of its long cylindrical look. Capt. Doug has time on this loud merlin engine airplane (Oops, this is NOT about me. :) Also he is given the keys to a Cessna Citation for two years flying charters.

11. InterCanadian gives him the green light to fly the Fokker 100 out of YUL (Montreal) for three years. Meanwhile he is flying part time flying a Citation One for Sky Service on 'medevacs.'

12. InterCanadian merged with IntAir but they subsequently went bankrupt. (I think I have that right)

13. The heavy hitter Air Transat steps up at the plate and hires him to fly F/O on the L1011 out of Toronto for the summer. Finally, he made it on the 'heavy metal."

There's more.....

14. Later he is wearing a Nationair F/O uniform flying the B757. One and a half years later, the company goes bankrupt.

15. Another uniform change, this time with Royal insignia flying with four stripes on the L1011 for two years. He gets bumped to training captain on the B727-200 for three years.

How much can this guy take? Well, it's a similar story many pilots chasing a dream share....

16. Back to "checker" on the L1011 for 1.5 years. (Light at the end of the tunnel)

17. More light in that tunnel as he becomes supervisor on the Airbus 310 for three years.

18. Royal is bought my Canada 3000 and we all know where they ended after 9/11.

Forget about Canada it's off to the Middle East....

19. He tolerates the heat hovering near 50 C in the city of Kuwait flying A300-600 for Kuwait Airways. Enough of that after four months.

20. Michelle LeBlanc promises everyone a rose garden so he signs a training bond to fly the F-100 as a training pilot. Well another airline bites the dust. (My family and I experienced first hand about the demise as we tried to get home from Calgary for five days because Air Canada took up the slack. Oops, there I go again)

21. This time the fork in the road takes him to Jakatar for a training contract to teach locals to fly a start up Fokker 100 operation. Told to arrive with an open mind, he still can't believe the quality of expertise or lack of it.

22. He's then listening to southern drawls in Dallas, Texas as a 'sim' instructor for Avianca.

23. Air Transat vectors him home as F/O on the A310.


24. Air Canada offers him a position. He is 44 when hired with 16,000 hours!!! Starting salary is a meagre $37,000 so he had to cash investments to survive. And get this, his wife stayed with him during his entire journey. Yes, I've mentioned this acronym before but AIDS (Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome) is rampant.

Now wait, you're probably thinking this is a typical Hollywood ending where perseverance always wins for the underdog. Well....

He does get F/O on the Embraer based in YUL. After all you probably guessed he originates from La Belle Province and this is a fantastic start.

He gets himself out of the abysmal pay from the so called "position group" by going F/O on the A320. (Devised to help keep Air Canada afloat during our tumultuous times, Embraer F/Os and cruise pilots are paid on a lower pay scale). Things are really looking up as he goes captain on the Embraer, but it's based in Toronto. He is willing to commute for this position and raise. I would too. HOWEVER, another bump in the road comes along and he is pushed back right seat on the A320 with a $30,000 pay cut and plus he must commute to Toronto.

A true story......the airline business you gotta love it!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Flying Celebrities and Celebrity Pilots

Fin 403 in support of U2's 2009 album, No Line on the Horizon. Note the name of the
FBO (Million Air)

The closest I came to having "rock star" status happened a few months ago where an avid passenger who follows my enRoute column and bought my book, wanted me to sign his hat. I never had such a request while deplaning. While signing his hat, the F/O joked, "you're just like a rock star!"

Recently I flew with an F/O who finished an eight day pairing flying the band U2 which included a three day pit stop in Cancun, Mexico. She said they were fantastic people, had a few "sociables" by the pool with them and attended a free concert. Sweet. Air Canada has also flown around the Rolling Stones during their tour and have flown Federal politicians during their politicking.

My last layover had me in the nation's capital where the F/O and I visited the War Museum. Speaking of celebrity status, if you are ex-military, (my F/O flew the F-18) you get in free with up to three guests. That made our day plus an Irish pub had my favourite beer for happy hour prices. I also had an offer to go flying from an YOW follower, "I'd be happy to show you Ottawa from 2200' behind a 4 cylinder Lycoming.... "Even though there's a lot of "hot air" emanating from this city, it's filled with lots of sights and great people. I also had a request to give a talk to a grade six class from yet another follower ( I dislike the term "follower" but that's how the blog lists you). Maybe next time Cyber G :)

Our charter division, JETZ, has been scoring lots of teams (get it?) with the Toronto Blue Jays being the last team to sign up. We A320 pilots can bid to fly theses charters but most of the flying goes into "open flying" or is assigned to supervisors or pilots on reserve. There tends to be a lot of sitting around so many pilots avoid them based on productivity.

Here's the other end of celebrity flying, when the celebrity is a pilot themselves. Some of the more well known celebrities with pilot licenses are John Travolta, Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise and Davis Lee Roth. Unfortunately, we also know of celebrities like JFK junior and John Denver who "flew west."

One follower (there's that word again) sent me this interesting link about Iron Maiden's lead signer, Bruce Dickinson.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Deiced in May

A visit to Aeromag in CYUL

"It's not over until it's over." I wanted to use Yogi Berra's other quote, "it's not over until the fat lady sings," but I couldn't tie deicing and a chubby lady together. Sunday morning's snow in Montreal was not a total surprise when I looked out the hotel window. After all, the weather man proved to be right. Hooray for the weatherman! The deice checklist is never far away. (No wonder Airbus consults Air Canada on deice procedures) Procedures dictate the captain will make a deice announcement prior to pushback. To downplay the fact we needed to be deiced, I mentioned to a nearly full A321, our destination weather Las Vegas, was forecast to be sunny and 28C.

After dodging thunderstorms the night before in the Toronto area, some of these boomers topped at 44,000 feet, yesterday's trip from CYUL to KLAS proved semi-normal. The only major weather contender were the stiff crosswinds, about 200 degrees at 25 gusting to 37 knots, landing on 25 left. The bumps started at 10,000 feet. The winds were blowing off the many hills plus the temperature was 28C with a dew point of minus 6. The spread is conducive to unstable air. Calgary, Alberta also encounters this same phenomena. The only glitch is there's no moisture to lift, hence no clouds. I call it the "dry heaves." (I should patent that meteorological term).

Captain Doug was at the controls and a couple of times he had full deflection on the joystick but set it on nicely with autobrake set to low and max reverse. We were running late so I couldn't "cook" the brakes. Procedures prefer full use of the carbon brakes and little to no reverse. It's better to wear out the brakes (we rent them) than imposing wear and tear on the engines. Vegas, because of the elevation and warm temperatures, we tend to ride the brakes because the thin air causes the engines to spin a little faster.
The take off also proved to be interesting, but the F/O did a great job. I'll be off to the "Rock" and back tomorrow so I should have some more weather stories. Then it's over to YOW for a super long layover. If you see me wondering the streets in the nation's capital don't think I'm a politician and try to run me over. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May's up (enRoute magazine)

This picture (found in May's issue) taken by Air Canada's photographer, Brian Losito, is great for two reasons. One, it's a beautiful shot of the B777 on final with it's landing gear in transit. Two, it gives the illusion I fly this "heavy." But as they say, "good things come to he who waits." Captain Ian knows the feeling.

Note the airplane and contrails above.
This picture came via tail spotter Erik in Frankfurt, another Air Canada employee. He will be making his way to Canada at the end of the month for more pictures and Captain Doug will great him with Canada's finest lager. Captain Ian, yours is still here, but I see Iceland is acting up again. Maybe another holding pattern may be entered?

Looks like my enRoute flight deck blog has changed a little. (Change is always in the wind). For one thing, we are now implementing three questions instead of two in the magazine. Looks like you readers/passengers have a thirst for aviation knowledge. As well, I will be working with another editor in the very near future. Whenever the wind of change blows, I keep thinking maybe this is it for my incredible long run. In fact, my first article (Why the Bumps?) appeared in May 1998. What a ride!

Here's two of the three May 2010 questions plus April's two.

Flight Deck - Types of Aircraft flown by Commercial Pilots.
Captain Doug Morris answers your questions about aviation.
Q: How many kinds of aircraft does a commercial pilot typically fly?

Jim Hirst, New York

Each aircraft type has its own inherent systems and procedures, so a pilot only flies one kind at a time. A pilot’s licence is stamped with aircraft types flown throughout his career. My licence states I flew the Airbus A330/A340 and the Bombardier Dash 8, but, presently, I’m only certified to fly the “small bus” (A319, A320 and A321) as captain. Flight attendants, on the other hand, are qualified to fly all types of aircraft.

Flight Deck - Navigation from Departure to Destination
Q: How does a pilot navigate from the departure airport to the des­tination airport?

Jason Isackson, Toronto

For departure, we adhere to standard instrument departure procedures, which dictate directions and altitudes. We then navigate to specific waypoints, or designated airways – think roads in the sky – or are vectored by air traffic control. GPS and inertial guidance systems are the tools of the trade for navigation. For landing, the preferred type of approach is the instrument landing system, which guides us both laterally (left and right) and vertically to the runway.

Flight Deck - Airlines Latest Innovations
Q: What are the best recent innovations in the commercial airline industry?

Annie Theriault, Nelson, B.C.

One very useful recent innovation is CPDLC (Controller Pilot Data Link Communications), an air-to-ground data link system that allows constant communication between pilots and air traffic control in remote areas. Other recent major innovations include more fuel-efficient engines (with alternative fuel on the horizon) and lighter composite airframes, which provide better pressurization and bigger windows. But I’m sure passengers consider the seatback entertainment system and easy online booking to be great innovations too.

Flight Deck- Large or Small?
Q: What’s more fun to fly: a large aircraft or a small one?

Michael Brown, Ottawa

As captain on the Airbus A320, it’s reassuring to know that 65 departments are working behind the scenes to ensure that everything goes smoothly. When I flew small single-engine airplanes, I could not fly into cloud and had to navigate with little instrumentation. I also had to look after everything from filing my own flight plan to fuelling the airplane. But, then again, flying close to the ground gives you vantage points second to none!

P.S I would like to welcome three new followers to my blog: Mario, Brian and Dennis. Welcome aboard! We are up to 90 enthusiasts with about 250 visits a day. Thanks.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

40 knot windshear ahead!

This chart made up part of our weather package for last night's flight. I circled the waypoint BDF (Bradford, Illinois). On this chart you'll see the culprit jet stream howling from the south-southwest at 150 knots. Each triangle represents 50 knots. The number 'one' depicts the forecast turbulence inside the dash line of moderate intensity up to 41,000 feet. The scalloped area just west of Lake Erie depicts isolated embedded Cbs (Thunderstorms) up to 36,000 feet. The solid black line shows our routing.

(Clicked on the chart for a better view)

As I write, heavy rain pelts on my office windows with thunder reverberating in the distance from thunderstorms I dodged just a few hours ago. As follower Tim commented on my last post, "Always an adventure, eh Doug?" Well here's the scoop:

It's been awhile since I flew out of LAX so finding Air Canada's flight planning area in the bowels of the airport proved to be a challenge. We immediately check out the weather radar because I knew the thunderstorms we deviated around a day ago would still be an issue. These babies have been a major road block/issue for thousands of flights. I rarely call flight dispatch but my meteorological senses were tingling. "We had flights pick their way through this with only 2C reported all day. Looks like you'll have to work your way around them and this is the best route I could come up with," were the words of encouragement I received from dispatch.

(Air Canada uses a rating from 1 to 6 for turbulence. 1. light chop 2. light turbulence 3. moderate chop 4. moderate turbulence 5. severe turbulence 6. extreme turbulence with letters A for occasional B intermittent and C continuous.) In theory the worst I can expect is continuous light turbulence. hmmmmm?

We launch with a full load (146 passengers plus two unsettled babies). For one brand new flight attendant this was her first flight on line. Turns out she was feeling queasy and this was during the smooth portion of the flight.

The flight moved along nicely. (We even scored two J class meals with cookies and ice cream. I must learn to say "no" to that stuff). Although I knew deteriorating conditions lurked ahead.
Albuquerque (New Mexico) ATC came on the radio and nonchalantly stated (may have been a combination of his southern drawl and being up at 3:00 a.m) to expect windshear of 40 knots in the next 50 miles.

At the time, we had a visiting flight attendant trying to stay awake and the f/o and her were discussing marital break downs. (A common topic of conversation among aircrew) I started hearing reports of turbulence from other aircraft so I became detached from the conversation. I get on the radio to fine tune the intensity, exact location and altitudes of this nasty meteorological phenomena. ATC kept saying it was mountain wave activity but to my knowledge no mountains existed, but I didn't want to correct him in the wee hours of the morning.

The visiting flight attendant notices my detachment (probably the same one my wife now and again detects) and exits, but not before I tell her to brief the in-charge turbulence will be up ahead. I discuss our options with the f/o. Our flight plan clearly depicts we will be penetrating the tropopause at the area of concern. (The tropopause is the boundary between the troposphere - the layer in which we live- and the stratosphere. It's where jet streams hang out and where turbulence can occur. Every airline pilot looks to where the "trop" is: above, below or in it). I suggest we descend to FL310, but we have to poke back up quickly in order to circumnavigate the thunderstorms downstream.

Everything is smooth. I watch the airspeed. It's steady. I watch. Then I notice a slight movement. The engines are sensing something as well - indicated by fluctuations. BAAAAMMMMM!!!! The airspeed literally jumps from MACH .76 to well into the overspeed barber pull. The master warning audio blares in the flight deck with red warning lights strobing in our eyes. The autopilot disengages, Captain Doug grabs the sidestick, but the aircraft still lurches 400 feet above where we are suppose to be. I know warnings will be going off in the ATC center. In a curt crisp voice, I tell the f/o, "request FL 310 now!" The controller is in some slow methodical conversation with another aircraft and we can't get a word in. I tell the f/0, "just butt in!"
We descend to FL310, but the airspeed is not increasing but decreasing to "green dot" speed. (Airbus talk for the the best lift/drag ratio). Captain Doug disengages the autothrust system to regain the speed. The first time in 15 years of flying Airbus.

After numerous follow up conversations with ATC things simmer down. I call the in-charge to get a report. No one hurt. We receive this note from dispatch:

Received from FIN XXX "Be advised 120 west of BDF, moderate to severe wind shift...gain of 40 knots overspeed for 3 second gain of 400 feet. Advised ATC. Will write an ASR (Air Safety Report)" Exactly what we encountered!

Now comes the thunderstorms. (For those who know of people claiming an airline pilot is overpaid - send them my way) :)

After numerous heading changes with occasional to continuous light turbulence we finally see tamer skies ahead. It's time to descend into YYZ. Captain Doug greases it on noise abatement runway, 15 left. I mumble to the f/o, "a good way to end it." He knew what I meant.

I set the park brake and open the door to listen to any concerns/comments from passengers. But two burly maintenance guys barge into the flight deck to get our take on things. This is an unusual practice because usually they wait until everyone exits. Apparently they thought the engines went into overspeed. A miscommunication.

Most passengers thanked me with elation. Some gestured of kissing the ground. One passenger paraphrased it nicely, "well captain you earned your pay tonight, thanks for getting us here safely."

On a lighter note many of our LAX flights tend to have the odd celebrity on board. For those enthralled with the T.V show the Bachelor, Jake Pavelka (a commercial pilot himself) was on board. I wanted to hear his take on things, but maintenance had me blocked.

Time to file an ASR and more sleep.

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