!!!!! 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.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Tip for the Captain!

Sitting at gate 3. I tried to include my approach plates with the terminal as the background.

Ten minutes prior to push back a "J" class (business class passenger) did not board. This was a "through" flight and for some reason they did not return. ("J" passengers should know better) Oh great, we will have to "sequence" their checked baggage. Translation - a 15 minute delay. Finally, the passenger shows up wondering what all the fuss is about. But wait a minute, the "Ramp lead" appears in the flight deck. He is in a predicament. There is a pallet of live "chicks" destined for the "Rock." He called load and realized they can be boarded but he must juggle the baggage containers. "Chicks" are very temperature sensitive and they can travel on certain planes. We are going to take the delay. Note: Most Air Canada employees want to do a great job (contrary to what the media portrays sometimes) and the "lead" was one of them.

***One of my enRoute questions may include why we use "J" to denote business class. If anyone out there finds a reference to the origin of "J" please send it my way. For the like of me, I can't find it. ****

I make an announcement to the jammed packed flight what was transpiring. The "Newfs" loved it. Then the jokes came. They all have great sense of humours.

"Looks like KFC and Swiss Chalet will be getting new supplies."
"We can never have enough 'chicks' in Newfoundland."
"Don't count your chickens before they hatch."
These are not mine, but the passengers.

It was good to take off with everything working. (Remember, I'm fresh out of the simulator) However, we did get a caution light stating one of the air conditioning packs had a regulator fault. The F/O puts it on nicely on runway 29 with a good crosswind.

I take it back to the "big smoke." We are running about 20 minutes late and everyone wants to know about their connecting flights. It's around 10 P.M so if they don't make it, they will be waiting until tomorrow.

During deplaning while I'm saying good bye a "UM" (Unaccompanied Minor) asked to approach the captain. She is about nine or ten and she hands me a folded five dollar bill and a Loonie. It was a tip My first ever! Okay, I'm doing the math, that's three extra large Tim Hortons coffees. Sweet! Kidding everyone, we pilots aren't that bad! lol Really! It was difficult to hand it back to her as she would not take it. Finally I said, "I make tons of money" (I fibbed) with a HUGE smile and she reluctantly took it back. The first time for that in my aviation career.

Now we are off to CYHZ (Halifax, Nova Scotia). We notice a visibility as low as 1/4 mile in fog may be greeting us on arrival. This last flight was filled to the rafters with a few "cons" begging for the jumpseat. The only glitch, we were weight limited because our alternate - Quebec city - (Nadia you might have seen an A320 there at 3:00 a.m) required lots of fuel so our landing weight in Halifax was at maximum. Finally, it turns out we can take one in the "jump"... a main line flight attendant. She is married to a pilot I know plus she bought and loved my book. She trumped a Jazz pilot.

The landing would require me to land. Policy states any approach below 2600 feet (1/2 mile) will be done by the "demi-god." It was the F/O's leg so I offered him the take off and during cruise I would take over. He agreed. I give the briefing for a Category II (decision height one hundred feet on the radio altimeter) to an autoland.

It worked out well. While setting the park brake I made an announcement stating the landing was done by the airplane called an "autoland." It was 2:00 a.m in the morning and the awe factor lacked with the passengers. My real estate lawyer, for the many transactions for a pilot on the move back and forth to Halifax was on board. He appreciated the info.

After a long day, ending with an autoland down to minimums, we wanted to get to the hotel. But there was a glitch. No cab. After numerous calls, one finally arrives an hour later. Rated as "the best airport in North America" there are no cabs at the airport during the wee hours. Our prearranged cab obviously had other arrangements. I get to my room at 4:00 a.m.

The life of an airline pilot.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's back on the line (Training is over with!)

In the left portion of this picture, is a slide which also duplicates as a raft. About 11 pilots and 20 flight attendants all boarded the raft and learned how to set up the canopy. Things got cosy. In the background is a mock up sim where we practised a ditching in the ocean. Yours truly had an acting role. I had to wait behind after everyone evacuated so a flight attendant could find me and rescue me. I could be up for an academy award. :)

We also learned to open the doors to the A320, B767, Embraer, B777.
I treat the doors on my airplane as radioactive. I don't touch them, but then again I don't need to. Having said that, there is a high percentage of blown slides on ferry flights where pilots have to open the door. I learned a white light illuminates when an Airbus door is about to be opened when armed. You last warning prior to blowing a slide.

Today consisted of learning new escape charts over mountainous terrain, low visibility requirements (we now need a law degree to determine if we are legal). We met with the flight attendants to critique specific CRM scenarios. Then it's into the cabin simulator for an evacuation. We were allowed to wear jeans this year because we were told we would be jumping onto a slide. It didn't happen. Apparently people were getting hurt.

I remember years ago a pilot was reluctant to jump down a slide. His reason...he was afraid of heights. True story.

We also reviewed smoke hoods, life jackets, emergency equipment and we had to put out a small fire in a mock up galley.

The afternoon consisted of more classroom talk, review of exams we wrote prior to coming to class and we received new dangerous goods cards. Another pilot prerequisite.

Tomorrow it will be great to get back in the real world. I'll get to take off with both engines working with no surprises or failures. And if there are, Captain Doug is honed up to handle them. Gone flying!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Out of the box" for another eight months

The simulator: a.k.a the "box" or the "sin bin"

What a $20 million dollar simulator looks like wrapped up.

Well Captain Doug fooled everyone again by getting his license renewed yet again. Yesterday was an action packed day with one failure/emergency stacked upon another.

Today consisted of a LOFT (Line Oriented Flight Training) versus an LOE (Line Orientated Evaluation) which is a true license renewal. These acronyms are part of the AQP (Advanced Qualification Program) program. The LOFT can be done by a contract pilot. If you want to know what many Air Canada pilots do after retirement you will find them here. They do offer years of experience and realize things can be done more than one way. An LOE is done by a qualified "check pilot" supervisor with demi-god status. Not to lessen them in any way nor to offend them, they have a job to do. A job I could not do.

Today started with about an hour briefing and going over a flight plan with a snag stating we had the number one bleed system unserviceable. Because of it, we are restricted to 31,500. Not a problem for this short leg. Having said that, my last "real" flight had one inoperative bleed from Calgary to Toronto.

We get airborne (these LOFTs are run on real time). ATC wants us to speed up and level off at FL240. Translation higher fuel burn. We get the ATIS (weather and runways in use) for Toronto. Both 24 left and right are closed with the glide slope U/S on runway 23. Translation we will be doing a localizer only meaning we can only descend to about 500 above ground. Funny, the weather just so happens to have cloud bases at 500 feet with one mile visibility. Can you smell a "go- around?"

Things are backing up so we are given a hold. We enter with an expect further clearance at 55 minutes past the hour. I can only hold for 10 minutes. Our fuel reserve is dwindling. I realize the passengers in the back are watching us turn around in a racetrack pattern so I make a P.A.

Finally we get the clearance for a straight in localizer approach. We descend to minimums. No contact. "Go around flaps!" the first officer blurts out. "Tower Air Canada 465 is in the missed approach" I curtly transmit. Now the pucker factor is increasing because our fuel is approaching minimums. ATC wants us to proceed to Waterloo and hold as per the missed approach. I don't think so! I talk to flight dispatch and we both agree for us to go to our alternate. "Center Air Canada 465 wants priority vectors to our alternate airport, Hamilton." The total fuel is now a negative value. Meaning we are starting to bite into our reserves.

"Air Canada 465 there are 6 aircraft ahead of you for Hamilton expect delays." I then give a "low fuel advisory" to ATC and want priority vectors. I did not have to use the big card of declaring a low fuel emergency. Nonetheless, I will be writing a safety report because of the go around and low fuel situation. We land in Hamilton.

My leg included a radio failure out of Toronto enroute to Calgary followed by a dual hydraulic failure which included declaring a Mayday, an alternate gear extension and stopping on the runway back in Toronto because we didn't have nose wheel steering.

Then because they want to jam in more training, both the F/O and I had to do a take off and landing in low level wind shear conditions. Not something you want to do after all this.

Tomorrow I will be heading back for more training to keep my license/job. It's ART (Annual Recurrent Training) for a day. We will be reviewing procedures, corresponding with flight attendants with their training and jumping out of an airplane slide.

And to think all of these training days are done without pay. Something we agreed to keep the airline afloat. I sure hope our new contract will address this.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


(YYC Kelly Paterson's photo). The signs with large letters denote the taxiway with most airports around the world adhering to ICAO signage. The black letter "J" (Juliet) denotes which taxiway the pilot is presently on with arrows showing nearby taxiways. Taxiway "C" (Charlie) will be coming up both on the left and right. Believe me, a pilot has a higher chance of getting lost on the ground than in the air.

I'm presently in Halifax, N.S (YHZ) sitting in a hotel room where there is a beautiful sunny day transpiring outside. Why? Well Captain Doug the procrastinator has simulator training Monday morning and now it's time to crack open the books. Actually many of our manuals are on line or on a CD.

I thought I'd take a break by posting. Here's a question I received on taxiing:
When in Frankfurt it feels like we are taxiing faster around the airport than we do in North America. Do different airports or different countries have different speed limits for taxiing?
To my knowledge... airports do not have any taxi speed limits. I've been to Frankfurt many times and the airport is no different. Having said that, they use a TBL (Tow Bar Less) tractor which lifts the nosewheel for pushing back aircraft. Because of it, I've never been pushed back so fast in my life.

Each company has their own SOPs (Standard Operating procedures) as far as taxi speeds. At Air Canada it is 30 knots in a straight line and 10 knots for sharp turns. For high speed turn offs, it's the airport authority which dictates this speed. For Toronto it's about 40 knots.

For me, I know when I take a turn a little too fast because I hear the toilet seat lid in the J class washroom fall shut. Many old aviation books claimed a "brisk walk speed" to be ample while taxiing. I don't think I would want to try that in most airports around the world.

Oh well, it's back to studying. The first day of simulator will include:

Rejected take off
Cross wind/Low visibility take off
Engine failure at V1
Engine re-light in flight
Precision approach Category III (Autoland)
Go Around (Low energy)
Go Around engine fault
Precision approach (CAT III single engine)
Landing (Autoland)
Max crosswind take off and landing
Display unit failure
GPWS (Ground Proximity Warning System) CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain) recovery
Steep Turns
Upset Recovery
Localizer back Course approach

...and that's just my half!!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Airplanes at Night (Captain Doug's video)

There's a great song playing on the radio, Airplanes at Night, so I thought I'd add some pictures to it. Enjoy! (There may be another "oops")And as the last slide states, "...do not go gentle into that good night..."

Click on photo or link below

*****NEW**** They say perseverance wins so here is another attempt from a Vimeo website***

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Checked out on San Diego...and Bermuda for the F/O

I remember asking a fellow pilot if he was a tad apprehensive of flying into an airport he's never been to before. His answer. "It's just another runway at the end of an ILS (Instrument Landing System)" I try to be as nonchalant when I add another airport to my list. I think I'm up to over 110.

The only glitch, San Diego, California has only a LOC (localizer) only approach to runway 27. For such a large city and a runway orientated into the prevailing wind it makes one wonder why only a LOC approach. I guess it's on the same line of thinking why Canada's national capital has a backcourse on runway 25 where the prevailing westerlies prevail. Oops I'm digressing.

With most non precision approaches it requires a level off, configuring the airplane a little earlier and dragging it in. Translation...the work load is higher. Now throw in the fact you have a quarterly tail wind and you've never been to the airport before. Of course, I let the F/O fly this leg. That way I could maintain a situation awareness plus I could take some pictures. (Captain Doug has a new digital camera so stay tuned for more pics).

Air Canada has a handful of airports which require a "special" check out. San Francisco, Kelowna, B.C and San Diego are a few. What does this special requirement entail? Me briefing myself on the airport. Funny, I think I would do that for any new airport I've been to.

Again, the F/O did a great job and put it on nicely. It's a shame the layover has been knocked down from a 30 hour layover to a minimum crew rest pairing.
Parked at gate five in BDA. Note the Bermuda shorts near the peak of the roof.
I did a quck tour of the terminal with the crew. Some asked if I've been to Bermuda before. My answer. "I was married here twenty years ago."
This four day pairing also included two legs from Halifax to Bermuda and back again.
I've been to TXKF (BDA) before, but from Toronto. This flight took on a due south heading requiring HF (High frequency) radio work over the Atlantic ocean. Captain Doug has done oodles of HF work and took all this for granted. Not only was this the first time in Bermuda for the F/O, but Captain Doug had to show him the ropes with this archaic means of communication. Funny they can see how many tiles are missing off the space shuttle, but we must make position reports like they did after World War II. Oops, I'm digressing. The HF work proved a little challenging especially when we were staring at thunderstorms at twelve o'clock topped at 42, 000 with us at 36,000 feet. The pucker factor increased trying to get a reroute especially with the F/O working the radios. It all worked out. Although thoughts of Air France started to creep in the back of my mind as they....(I better not say anything more).

On day four (today) while flying out of Halifax enroute to Toronto we received a datalink saying our Montreal turn was subbed to an Embraer. Sweet, we get to go home with pay.

On a side note, many a pilot in the past made it known to always call ahead to home when their schedule changed. I could post many stories where surprises were met while walking through the door. Oops, I am digressing. :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pilot Humour

A follower just sent me this comic. It speaks volumes.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Then and Now (High School Reunion)

After a year of anticipation, instigated mostly by Facebook, I walked away from my high school reunion in Halifax with mixed feelings. For many, time has done them well but for others, middle age has not been kind. For several they sadly passed on.

I did reminisce with many and Captain Doug got teary eyed on a regular basis. It didn't help several drinks were imbibed. One fellow, suffering from stage four cancer and unable to talk, penciled a few notes to me. He remembered he and I were contenders for best male student in grade six and I beat him out. Funny what one remembers. I gave him a big hug because I knew it would be the last time I see him.

Teachers showed up as well. Even the teacher who DJ'd a dance I attended 31 years ago and who coined me "Disco Doug." Well 31 years later old Disco Doug took to the dance floor. Funny, both times I tended to be the only one dancing. I wish he ran the music because much of the night's repertoire didn't fit the 70s theme.

The night evaporated quickly with me and others closing the place but not before I met as many people I could. Another reason for the mixed feelings, many people who said were coming or who I wanted to see (especially many of the girls I had crushes on) did not show.

So what does this have to do about aviation?

Well, getting to Halifax required I use the jumpseat on an oversold Airbus 320. In fact, the agent offered $200 and an upgrade on the next flight. Few took her up on the offer.

Getting back to Toronto with my family proved more interesting. The 2:30 flight tends to be a B767 inbound from LHR (London,England) and it tends to run late. This day was no exception. After a 30 minute delay the flight is like most others. The Captain made a P.A on our ETA and mentioned "showers" at Toronto Pearson. I told the couple next to me, that's code for "thunderstorms." We are not suppose to use the words...thunderstorms (coded as showers or heavy showers), fog (say mist), chop (people don't know it means turbulence), ATC (passengers do not know it means Air Traffic Control). But much of it is common sense.

My meteorological senses tingled so I turn on the moving may display. (That's one place where Air Canada kicks butt, in the free entertainment system. Well actually you do have to buy a headset but only once). Sure enough we go into a hold. I guess it to be the Simcoe VOR with 20 nautical mile legs. Another announcement. This time he references a 'thunderstorm' and we may be heading to Ottawa. I tell the couple, this is when things go off the rails. Most other flights will be heading to their alternates so Ottawa will be inundated with extra aircraft. Sure enough we get to Ottawa only to find there is only one fueler on call. Heck it's a Sunday. We wait at the deice center, forget about getting a gate.

We finally fuel and carry on back to Toronto only confirming I'll never commute again.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

****Happy Birthday Captain Doug****

Forty nine years ago on this day, Douglas Edward Morris was born in the wee hours in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. His family left the "rock" when he was five and settled on the mainland, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Ironically, Corner Brook is one of the two layovers I avoid when bidding my monthly block. The pairing is unproductive with a 30 hour layover in Cornerbrook which entails a forty minute drive from the YDF (Deer Lake) airport on a good day. (The longest drive in our domestic system) Not only that, the weather can be very inclement with the last time there being in a raging snow storm. The runway is fairly short and for the second biggest city in Newfoundland it has no control tower.

In case you are wondering, LGA (La Guardia) is also on my "no thanks" list. Where delays are the norm instead of the exception.

Speaking of wee hours, this morning I had a wake up for 4:30 out of Ottawa. While sitting in the flight deck, prior to push back, my first officer asked whether it was a good ride. I started to banter a little on the negative side and then stopped. No, it's been great - thinking of my sister dying at 49 with cancer. No sir, to be left seat on the Airbus 320 with Air Canada and to have one's health, you realize the ride has been damn good.

While on descent into Toronto my first officer made a welcome aboard P.A and stated the captain is 49 today. I received about 80 happy birthday wishes.

I'm presently sitting in Calgary and about to meet up with my F/O. I told him he can buy me a birthday beer. I think that's pretty nice of me. :)

Anyone in Calgary knowing where Eau Claire is? I'll be there filling the air with noise at a restaurant named after a red vegetable. You too can buy me a beer. :)

Captain Doug (a young 49 - I think)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Retirement Nest - Airplane Treehouse

Some pilots will never let their passion go. Below is an extreme case of the aviation bug. A follower sent me these pics. That "R" word is starting to creep into my vocabulary. Eleven years and I will be looking for a retirement nest. But something tells my nest won't be as elaborate as the one below, and if it is, I know my wife wouldn't be sharing it with me. :)

Pay attention, airlines. Here is a way to recap some of those losses. Imagine having a Boeing 727 as a home. The plane set Joanne Ussary back $2,000.00, cost $4,000.00 to move, and $24,000.00 to renovate. That's not bad for a $30,000.00 investment. The stairs open with a garage door remote, and one of the bathrooms is still intact. And let's not forget the personal Jacuzzi in the cockpit. Sweet . . . The Boeing home is featured as part of a collection of creative conversions.

What a view!

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