!!!!! 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 7 of 16 posts from September 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 7 of 16 posts from September 2010. Show older posts

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Going Places

Guess who won "Best airline in North America" last year?

Someone wanted to see the overhead panel. Airbus's motto: "black is beautiful."
No lights on the switches means everything is copacetic.

Just finished September's flying. Although I was projecting a meagre 72 hours, I managed to pump it up to 82 hours with one day of "make up" and "block growth."

So far I've done 210 flights and logged 605 hours with three months to go.

Yesterday was around ten hours of flying with a 13:30 duty day. We flew from Ottawa to Vancouver and then back to Toronto. Twice across the world's second largest country. (Well not quite across, but you get my drift). But get this, my F/O who commutes from Vancouver hopped on a flight as a passenger to make it three times for him (another five hours).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Them's the Brakes...!!!

Right outer main brake job.

Them's the brakes.

These four bands are the carbon brakes. The entire
assembly is squeezed together hydraulically which slows the wheel.

Departure time for Vancouver was 10:00 a.m. Our mission was to fly from CYYZ to Vancouver and then to Ottawa for the night. This meant 9:26 of flight time and 21 minutes under our max duty day of 13 hours. Also, we noted MOT will be gracing us with their presence on the leg to Ottawa...oh great. This may have meant doing the backcourse onto 25 after a long day with "our guest" in the jumpseat. Luckily the F/O graciously offered to do the second leg.

As the F/O went to "kick the tires" he noticed we were actually jacked up with maintenance replacing a tire. All is well. But maintenance noted deterioration in the carbon brake pads. Looks like a brake job. Can you say an hour delay?

Captain inquisitive took a few pictures of them changing the brakes plus I got a lesson on how they actually worked. However, I did know we leased our brakes as well as our engines and tires.

Now comes the shocker. I assume a worst case scenario brake job for a car would cost maximum 1500-2000 dollars. Okay think BMW. :) Now lets multiply the aviation factor of four into the equation to guesstimate what brakes for half of an Airbus main would cost. Maybe $8000 max? Well the guys showed me the evaluation value....are you ready?... a whopping $50,499.82!!! Starting salary for a pilot at Air Canada is $37,000. They saying, "if you want to make a small fortune in the airline industry, start with a large one" hits the nail on the head. We would've had to of charged each passenger about $350 each to pay for the brakes only... let alone anything else.

We pushed back one hour late and on time to Ottawa by eating into the down time in Vancouver. Both flights were lumpy, but the good news was no MOT! They stood us up.

Now sitting here in Ottawa with an incredibly long layover. I might as well enjoy it. Because all next month is minimum crew rest pit stops.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Questions Du Jour ( Daily Questions)

A B767 reaching for the sky. (My next airplane, but not for awhile) Photo compliments of Erik

Before I leave for a three day adventure, I thought I would post questions I have received. That way I can attach a link to the left hand column where the daily question is posted.

Off to Vancouver tomorrow and then a long pit stop in Ottawa. It will be my only long layover for over a month. Just received October's schedule and every layover is minimum crew rest. Sure it may translate into an extra day off, but it sure kills any socializing. Oh well, YOW here I come!

Questions du Jour

Someone has asked me a question about alternates and if they are mandatory. Does Air Canada have a exemption so they don't need an alternate?

Air Canada can file without an alternate. Although many stipulations must be met:

Here are some:

Must be within North America, Mexico, Caribbean or Bermuda

The block time must be six hours or less

The destination weather an hour either side of the ETA can not have forecasted fog, freezing rain, freezing drizzle or thunderstorms.

The weather basically has to be forecasted to have a ceiling of 1500 feet and 6 miles visibility (2000 and 3 for the States)

Must have two separate runways i.e two separate pieces of real estate. No reciprocal ends.

Must have two suitable and independent IFR approaches.

Emergency stand by power

Remember how I joked a pilot has to be a part time lawyer. Now you know why. :)

Is air friction, caused by an airplane cutting through the air, enough to cause significant heating to the plane’s outside surfaces?

Air friction most certainly does play into heating the aircraft. We have a temperature read out called TAT (Total Air Temperature).

We also have a SAT (Static Air Temperature) (ambient temperature) read out. The SAT could be -10C whereas the TAT could be +10. So if we were flying in cloud there would be no airframe ice forming.

Here's another take on it:

SAT is Static air temperature and is the true temperature of the air around an aircraft. TAT is Total Air Temperature and this is what is measured by the aircraft sensor.

When air hits a temperature sensor it effectively stops and the kinetic energy in the air is turned into heat therefore at rest TAT and SAT are the same but at speed TAT is always greater than SAT.
This relationship is a function of Mach number and the characteristics of the probe being used, therefore you can calculate SAT if you know the speed of the aircraft and the probe factor (sometimes known as the recovery factor).

I know that there have been advancements in parachute systems for airplanes in the past few years. Do you know if there is research going into integrating these parachutes into the larger airplanes? If not, why?

I practiced some steep turns today with my instructor for the first time. I found that I came out a bit shaky from the experience. A bit timid. It won't stop me from flying, but I just wanted to know if it's normal to be a bit (I won't use the word scared) hesitant from these kinds of exercises at the beginning? I know it's been a long time since you've had to practice them, but any advice would be appreciated.

I haven't heard about parachutes and airliners. Airliners want to lesson the weight, not increase it. :)

I think airliners are more concerned with antimissile devices. I know El Al is.

Yes, you will feel shaky. I didn't really like stall and spins. But you preserver.

And yes it's perfectly normal. They have to teach you what it's like on the outer limit of the flight envelope.

For many, this can be very intimidating.

Once you get this stuff over with and begin your cross countries and such, the joy will increase exponentially.

Keep it going and you'll love yourself for doing it. Mark my words!!!

Captain Doug

I know flaps are lowered as a way to increase the lift of an airplane, but I was wondering why the flats are not retracted until after a touch-down roll-out is complete. It makes sense to prevent the build-up of lift if you are landing an airplane; after all, that’s the reason spoilers are deployed when an aircraft touches down. But, if reducing lift helps in bringing an airplane to a complete stop, what’s the purpose of having the flaps remain deployed throughout the landing roll-out?

Flaps improve lift because they change the airflow over the wing- the coefficient of lift increases.

But they also increase drag. There is a trade off. However, when the aircraft lands, lift is destroyed by the deployment of ground spoilers, slowing airspeed, with the flaps now producing more drag than lift. . We never take of with full flap but we certainly take off with some flap.


First off, I'm a fan! I've been following your blog for a couple months now and I think you have an amazing talent for writing. Your posts are always captivating and I learn something new almost every time!

My favourite is when you talk about weather patterns and when you give us an inside look on the inner workings of Air Canada operations

Your posts are all so interesting that I decided to get your book earlier this summer. I went to two different Chapters and a Renault Bray stores here in Montreal but no luck( sold out?). I ended up ordering it on Amazon. Your book was, as expected, very well written and very informative. You managed to make it interesting for aviators and non-aviators alike. I am a pilot too,so reading your book and your blog, I can often relate to stories about sacrifice early in your career, the anguish of getting laid off, having to make career decisions in uncertain times etc etc ...

I also must mention how respectful of a person you seem to be. Your post about "things they don't teach you in flight school" last week was a good reflection of that. I dont remember ever reading something negative about any of your coworkers on your blog. You must be an absolute pleasure to fly with.

I was an FO on a Dash 8 for Air Labrador before they ceased operating last year. We might have flown the same planes? (FXON GLON GAAN are ex AirNova or Air Ontario I think). Before that I was first officer on TwinOtter based in Goose Bay. Good times ... My goal is to get hired with AC! I still have a few hours a build before being eligible thought I think, I'm only up to 2800hours. But if the timing is right in a year or two I really hope to get on!

Meanwhile I'll be reading your posts ;)

Keep up the good work !

Dear Doug Morris, Its been my dream to become an airline pilot for many years now. I've never been tested, but believe that I might be slightly color blind. Can I still become an airline pilot?

Hello.... If you live in Canada, I suggest getting an MOT medical. Your local flying club has a list of qualified doctors. (Same goes for most countries) Also there are "lantern" tests. My friend thought his aviation career was grounded because of colour blindness, but now he is Captain flying for United Emirates.

But remember about 10 percent of males are colour blind.

Here's one link about the lantern test. I also see there on are online tests but I strongly recommend going to get official confirmation of the severity of your colour blindness. Don't give up that easy!


Hi, long time blog reader here…

Here’s the audio of the QANTAS/Control Tower conversation…


They say it’s not an emergency, then call PAN PAN PAN.

I always thought pan pan pan was an emergency… did they just change their mind?

Oh and what happens if you fly through a fuel dump? Bang?!

Most pilots are kind of reluctant to declare an emergency because of the media hype. Yes, it's in the back of the captain's mind.

But with fire coming out of the engine, followed by a engine shut down, how could they not? That's why they changed their mind.

Incidentally, we are taught to say Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan.

A "Pan" is an emergency, but it's a gray area which one to declare. A Mayday is when you are in a dire situation. They obviously had time on their side.

One only needs about five thousand feet to ensure total vaporization of fuel so it's not as bad as one would think.


I have never really got a answer from others about the airbus flaring but when are you suppose to flare in the A320 series? In flight sim, I have tended to flare at 20 feet where the GPWS yells to retard the throttles, that tends not to work because then I am loosing airspeed while at like 10 feet and literally smashing into the ground. This may because I am not doing something right, which I assume or I am not flaring at the proper altitude. I am currently flying ACA1160 YYZ - YHZ and just departed so passing like 8,000. I am going to try flaring at like 10 feet while landing this time.

On the "small bus" fleet we get a "fifty" call, then a "thirty" which we then set the thrust levers to flight idle. Simultaneously, you get the "retard" call.

Some guys take a while to bring it back to idle so we get two or three "retards." Annoying. (They say if you get the "retard" call you didn't set idle fast enough)

As far as the actual flare, you are looking outside, and you begin to check the descent. I still check it a little too soon (old 340 style) so I land a little flatter.

Many of my F/Os let it descend very close to the the runway and check it all in one motion. I'm too chicken to do that.

To answer your question, it's a matter of preference.

Good luck with the flare!

I love this question. At least he is honest. :)

I am wondering what advice – if any—you can give to us men who want to “land” a Flight Attendant. I don’t know about you, but I think that women who are decked out in their flight uniform are downright gorgeous, and it would be violation against masculinity to not find the ladies beautiful! But, I am somewhat apprehensive of approaching these ladies. So, Captain Doug, what words can you give to men who aspire to approach – and then land-- a flight attendant?

With many thanks for your words of wisdom!

Why not become a flight attendant yourself? That way you will be around them all the time. You can also become a pilot. But sometimes that works against us. :) Good luck with your pursuit.

SEPTEMBER 13............FOLLOW UP*******

Hahah, Captain Doug!

I don’t know how a man can both be a pilot and a faithful husband!!

A few years ago, I flew on an Asian airlines on my way to India. The flight attendants wore their hair in a bun and ran a pair of chop-sticks through it. Decked out in their flight regalia, these ladies were absolutely stunning. And this is coming from a guy who doesn’t have “yellow fever”. I envied the pilots, and I wish I had the courage back then to ask the ladies out!

Thank you for your awesome blog and email responses.


This is what I wrote in my pseudo log book:

Flight 877 FRA-YYZ FIN 936

Over the mid-Atlantic heard horrific news about terrorists crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on frequency 123.45. Nothing but chatter. American airspace closed. Suggested to lock cockpit door. This will be a day to remember.

Toronto/Montreal/Ottawa now closed diverting to YQB (Quebec city). Now landing in CYUL (Montreal).

Air Canada shut down for the rest of the day.

***A Day in History***

***A Day of Infamy***

Flight time 8:26


Hello Capt. Morris,

A few classmates and I have recently been introduced to the new concept of entrainment in our Meteorology class. Our textbook definition is the"mixing of cooler air within the cloud. As it grows the cooler air causes some of the water droplets to evaporate. This can eventually cause the cloud to stop growing."

We are a little confused as to how the cold air can make the warmer water evaporate. Altogether stopping the clouds growth. We were given the analogy that if you were to steam up you're washroom, and then open the window to let cooler air in, the steam would "disappear". We understand this analogy by having experienced it on a regular basis. We still can't say however, we really understand the mechanics of the process.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Keep blogging!

Just looking at my Meteorology Today text. They talk about a rising convective cloud and the mixing which transpires around it's periphery (surroundings).

The rising, churning cloud mixes cooler air into it. This mixing is called entrainment. If the air is very dry the cloud droplets quickly evaporate.

In this scenario, entrainment increases the cooling process by injecting cooler into the cloud, and subsequent evaporation.

Another scenario is the formation of a downdraft in a Cb. As the cloud particles grow larger they get heavier and begin to fall. This falling air

pulls drier air in from outside the cloud. The entrainment of drier air causes some of the raindrops to evaporate - chilling the air. (Remember the

process of evaporation involves heat. That's why when you get out of a shower or pool you feel cold because the evaporating water is at the expense of

your body heat. It's why we sweat). The air, now being colder and heavier, begins to descend as a downdraft.

Complicated stuff.

I had two questions for you. We flew down on an AC A320 and came back with the competitor on a 737-700. On the flight down to Montreal, I have always noticed these yellow hooks or anchors on top of the wing. I wondered if you know what they are and what they are designed to do? I think I saw something similar on Westjet's 737-700 wing. Also do you know why the canoe fairings on the A320 family have what looks like green decals running along their perimeters as well as on the winglets? It always interested me. At one point I think they were red.


As far as the anchor one, I queried the same thing for years. I always thought it was some sort of mechanism for hoisting the aircraft while in the hangar. I actually learned what it was this summer in Annual Recurrent Training. They are used to secure a line when evacuating. It's something for the passengers to hold on to.

Those green (red) decals are reflective tape so the rampies or fuelers won't hit the airplane. I guess you didn't read my August blog...Spider's Senses Tingling. :) :) :)

https://fromtheflightdeckbook.com/2010/08/spider-senses-tingling.html :)

I have been wondering, while I fly the Boeing if the Airbus has VNAV also. Is it more like FLCH or is it actually FPA?

The Airbus most certainly has a VNAV. It kicks Boeing's butt in the vertical Nav department. Even though the Airbus is nearly 25 years old it still is superior to Boeing in VNAV. This is according to pilots who have transitioned from the Airbus to the Boeing. FPA (Flight Path Angle) is only part of the vertical NAV capability.

I am a high school student from British Columbia. I am currently in grade .. and I am weighing my options for post-secondary education. As a kid I wanted nothing more than to be a pilot. I'm not sure why, but over time that interest kind of faded. Over the last few months that interest has been sparked again. I would just like to thank you for your great blogs. I really enjoy reading them and learning more about aviation in an easy and informative manor. You have really inspired me to look at a career in aviation again.

Thanks for your kind words. It's feedback like yours that keeps me blogging!You have chosen to go down a very challenging road, but yet a very rewarding one!Keep in touch and if I can help with the road you are about to embark on, I'll be around to guide.

Out of all the planes you have flown, which is your favourite?

My job, before 9/11, tended to be much more fun. But I still consider it to be a very dynamic job. There are few jobs that can beat it.

My favorite airplane has to the Airbus 330. It had lots of power and could get to altitude very quickly. It was the “sports car” of the wide bodies.

Recently stumbled uponhttp://thetruthabouttheprofession.weebly.com/To me this guy seems very pessimistic, as most of the people on that forum are. I know the Airline Industry is in the gutter in the states, is it that bad in Canada? What are your views on websites like Airlinepilotforum? These guys seems to be complaining about the money they make, but most of them must be making 100k+. That seems like a lot of money, seeing as my dad makes about that, and we are comfortable in my eyes.

Just took a look at the site. Sadly, the author hits the nail on the head. He brings out a lot of hard cold facts.
But pilots don't get into this profession for the money...at least not right away. They get into this profession because they've been bitten by an aviation bug. This disease causes you to: overlook the starting poverty wages, sometimes deplorable conditions, overlook some safety, be okay with severe debt, having no fixed address,
always looking upward to something better.

What the author is saying...don't get into this profession with your eyes closed. Having said that, those words of wisdom applies to most endeavours in life.
Captain Morris,
I have been an avid follower of your blog for the past several years. I am just on the verge of trying to break into the aviation industry myself, and your blog has really inspired me to create one of my own.
Look forward to reading your words of wisdom in the future.
Andrew's blog: andrewjcmaloney.blogspot.com

Andrew. Just checked out your blog. You are off to a great start!I think many Canadian pilots getting into aviation would love to hear how you make out.

I'll post your blog site in my "question of the day section."

Starting off as a rampie to get that elusive first flying job? Nothing has changed! :)

All the best!

Captain Doug (located a little further south than you) :)

I would like to know if all the flight deck crew must be bilingual?
No, the flight deck is not bilingual. Pilots only need to know English even in Canada. In Quebec and Ottawa we have the option of speaking both
official languages. Most of our Montreal based pilots speak French, but the flight deck is still conducted in English. For bilingual announcements we have the flight attendants to translate.

I wish I could speak French. Malheuresement, Je suis un deputant seulement.

It's one thing in life I wish I pursued.

In order for me to be more competitive, is it recommended to take a 4 year degree, looking at Seneca's program. Or Would it be best to get a diploma, such as Centennial's program?

I think aviation is going to boom here in Canada very soon. So on that note I don't think I would be committing myself to a four year aviation degree. Go and get an aviation diploma. Just my thoughts.

Hello Capitan,

Love your blog and wanted to share my history. Like most people in this industry my dream was to fly, but had a problem, I did not have the money to pay for it. I been working very hard for the past 15 years, and now I own a small business that does pretty good. It's a small travel company ran by 4 people including me. Most of the work I can do by just using email, so no need to be in the office.

So I have the freedom and some money now, I live in Ecuador, but last April took 3 months of to go to Maui and got my first lessons at Maui Aviators. Crazy cross winds!!! only second to Alaska I heard.

So that's where I'm going this week, I'll be taking lessons in Anchorage Alaska (Artic Flyers). Plan is to make around 25 hours to add to my previous 15 I did in Hawaii. I'll be returning to Quito, Ecuador by December, hopefully getting some experience on landing on floats.

After a few months of work on 2011 I plan to leave to the Chezk republic (Euro-pilot.com) and do 40 hours to get my PPL.

Here is a question for you capitan, if you could go anywhere in the world to take lessons and build up some time, where will you go?
Wow you certainly are getting around! As far as where to go for training, I would say right here in Canada!
We have some fantastic schools with some JAA rated. Canada is a pioneer in aviation with many northern settlements serviced only by air.

The Canadian currency is also friendlier for costs. The infrastructure as far ATC is second to none making it one of the safest places to fly.

I'd be packing your bags and setting course for Canada. And if you want crosswinds, we have them too!

I checked out euro-pilot.com. I am amazed what is offered for people to chase their dreams. I only hope it's not like many places
where they take advantage of dreams.
Hi Captain Doug!
Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your book. It was such a great read. I was done it in no time! I couldn't put it down. It was full of information that was presented in a way that way both intriguing and simple. Thanks so much for writing the book. I will definitely be recommending it to my friends!

Thanks for the kind words. I'll be posting your email in the "question of the day" section.

Again, thanks for going out of your way to comment. Much appreciated!

Captain Doug

P.S I do realize it's not a question but I thought I'd post your feedback anyway.

Someone asked me a question about the Anti-Ice and when to turn it on. I really didn't know so I said I will ask somebody. When does the Anti-Ice come on? Is there a certain temperature or altitude that you have to turn it on? I know pitot is always on but never really learned about Anti - Ice for the wings and engines.
Engine anti-ice is turned on when the outside temperature is plus 10C (ground) or is below 10 C (TAT in flight) (TAT- Total Air Temperature) AND
visible moisture is present (cloud or fog) or standing water, slush, ice, snow is present on taxiways and runway.

Engine anti-ice is not required when in climb/cruise and SAT (ambient temperature) is below -40C.

Engine anti-ice must be on in descent no matter what the temperature when in visible moisture.

As far as wing anti-ice... it goes on when we suspect icing conditions or when we see ice accumulation.

These conditions can be present all year round. We can be in icing conditions in the middle of summer.

Captain Doug

I just saw a video on youtube of a pilot landing an A320. It's a view of the stick motions he is using. I noticed he has his index finger on a trigger on the front of the stick. Now I'm pretty sure the A320 doesn't have missiles like a fighter jet in a flight sim game, so what is that used for on the Airbus?

The "red button" is used to disengage the autopilot.

But during the good ole days when we had kids visit, we would tell them it was our missile launcher. :)
First off, you're my hero! second, where did you get a degree in physics, third, do u ever fly into vancouver?

Hi. I received my degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax Nova Scotia. Plus I went to McGill in Montreal for meteorology. I fly to YVR once every month or so.

Thanks for the feedback!

Captain Doug

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Airbus a la exterior

Here are more pics to add to the Airbus Art Gallery. These shots were taken under cloudy showery skies in Vancouver. In order for me to get these, I offered to do the "walk around." I must have set a record at Air Canada, because it meant a captain did two walk arounds in a row! lol

I also had to tell a "rampie" what I was doing. The fact that a captain was taking pictures of the aircraft raised a few eyebrows. :)

A shot of #2 from the jetway. Note the two fin like devices with "no step" on them.
As if a pilot would get up on the engine...? :) Anyone know what these things are called? They are "strakes" which helps airflow around these "powerful puppies."

Underneath the "strakes" they say "NO GRAB." And no this is not a warning to passengers stating the F/As are "not to be grabbed." (Sorry, poor attempt of humour)

Looking up the "pipe" of the CFM 56. And NO the engine is not going....

Another shot of the "pipe and back end." Don't touch this if you know what's good for you. :)

Guess how many blades a CFM 56 engine has? Actually, it's kind of difficult to tell because the number "36" is smudged. I should have moved over to the #1 engine, but the rampies were giving me a dirty look. :)

One can see (green-yellow device) part of the reverse thrusters. Most modern engines have "petal" reversers now instead of the "buckets." Why petal? Think petals of a flower. When four are deployed the engine displays four petals.

The THS (Trimable Horizontal Stabilizer) should read zero on the ground. One day the F/O noticed it was "0ff" a little bit. It took some doing with maintenance to realize it was just that..."off" a little bit

Speed tape at it's finest.

The landing light. You can see Captain D in the reflection. These things can slow the airplane by 3 to 5 knots, so I'm told. We call these our "mini speed brakes." Actually, if ATC gives us the green light to speed up past 250 knots below 10,000 feet in the climb, we better make sure these puppies are tucked in. If not, both of us will look at each other and ask, "what's that rumbling noise." :)

"My, what big static ports you have!" (I didn't know what else to say) :)

The tail light...somewhat out of focus. We have two and it's on the number one system.
The lens cover tends to blackened from APU smoke.

The NAV light on the number one system. We alternate from 1 for odd number flights and number 2 for even numbered flights.

Hooks located on the cargo door. I'll call these the "male hooks."

And I'll call these the "female receptors" located on the bottom of the cargo bay.

Okay. You are probably asking, "I thought we are looking at outside pictures?"
Well, my sharp F/O (you can see his reflection) noticed there was quite a displacement from our position (the yellow airplane) compared to runway 28 in Calgary. This is one thing we should notice when take off thrust is set...that the little yellow airplane updates itself on the runway. And sure enough it did!

Keeping an eye on the competition! Westjet is sitting on the button of 28 in Calgary ( I jokingly call it (CYYC) "enemy territory") Actually, we just found out today I will be sleeping with the enemy. My wife was hired as one of their "ambassadors!" I better not talk in my sleep divulging AC secrets. lol

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Flight Deck to Ground"

Captain Doug and crew left "high and dry." Actually, this picture was taken a couple of weeks ago. Notice the tow bar is not connected. I used this shot because no one is in the tug.

"Flight Deck to Ground”

Day 1…

The first leg out to Vancouver was uneventful. Hit some moderate turbulence for 30 seconds near Cranbrook (YXC) nestled in the Rockies. I jokingly told my F/O, “it’s welcome to Cranbroook turbulence.” Over the years, I’ve noticed the airspace above YXC has been known for it’s bumps. It's a combination of a jet stream, sometimes a mountain wave, etc.

The flight started off with a “get to know each other conversation” as it was our first time flying together (ninety percent of the time it’s the first time we meet). Turns out he too originated from Halifax. Because the pilot group is a tight knit group we did the “do you know such and such?” It turns out, my f/o during my Navajo days, an ex JAZZ pilot now a pilot for Nav Canada, recently hired my f/o’s wife as a dispatcher. That's how close things can be.

Normal from not so normal- the Moscow lady.

While walking back from a Sushi restaurant in the Vancouver airport, a young attractive female approached me with a question. (I know what you’re thinking) She wanted to know why no one was at the Cathay Pacific kiosk. The f/o and I tried to help and suggested she call the number displayed on the counter. She had no part of it. It appeared see had a piece of paper with a possible confirmed ticket with Cathay.

Her English was broken… smothered with a thick Russian accent. Later the f/o admitted her accent had an effect on him. I won't say how. :)

She wanted to buy a ticket to Moscow…now! Of course I’m wondering why a young provocatively dressed attractive woman wanted to go flying with no apparent baggage.. I told her she could fly to Moscow via Frankfurt with us and then to Moscow with Lufthansa. We took her to the ticket purchase counter about five minutes away and there she proceeded to buy a ticket. The F/O suggested I book off and take her myself to Moscow on a 'pass'. Then he suggested I get an an award of excellence for selling a last minute ticket to Moscow. Pilots!

Flight deck to ground?

The next leg, YVR-YYC, started with just two flight attendants – we need four on the A320. One flight attendant was drafted after having flown from London, England to Vancouver and was deadheading to Calgary. The other was on her fourth reassignment for the day in Vancouver jumping from airplane to airplane because she was bilingual. One F/A had to be moved up to the in-charge position so we had to get her a “move up” package (paperwork) and I explained a few things.

Finally the short staff situation was resolved. The ground crew checked in 20 minutes before and were ready to go.. or so I thought.

We want to close up. I call down to the tractor, “flight deck to ground…” Nothing.

“Flight deck to ground.” Nothing. We call operations, apparently the ground crew's shift ended and they went home. We wait. I make an announcement explaining things. That’s why I get paid the big bucks.

Finally, a crew arrives. The tug driver, a young perky female voice, gives a “communication check” and says, “okay captain lets get you guys out of here.” After a 45 minute delay, I liked her spunk.

Off to Calgary where the weather observations showed a downward trend. The approach onto runway 34 greeted us with a 200 foot ceiling and ¾ miles visibility in a cold drizzle. Heck we even picked up some ice on the approach and they were issuing runway condition reports – the sign of a seasonal change.

Day II (today) started with a passenger not showing up. The bags had to be sequenced (removed) in Calgary this morning. A 15 minute delay.

We arrived in Toronto close to sked after taking a seven minute delay to rearrange passengers in Vancouver.

Cell phones?

The f/o commuted from YOW (Ottawa). Being on reserve he was flown out for the month. While taxiing to the gate he told me a cute anecdote. While commuting a couple of weeks ago during push back in a B767 from the gate in Ottawa the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) fell off line. Darkness! The 767 f/o came on the P.A with a curt voice, “someone didn’t turn off their cell phone!!!!” Everyone starts feeling for their phones. After a brief pause, he said, “just kidding folks, the APU went off line and we are going to restart it.”

Bravo for a quick thinking pilot. :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Flying by the Numbers...

Flying by the numbers

This is not about "V" speeds, Mach numbers, approach speeds or landing weights…it’s about flight hours and pay i.e. show me the money!

Months ago someone with great insight decided to have less pilots on reserve instead of paying many to stay home with pay. Because of it, the remainder of us “block holders” would be allotted less hours...DMM (Designated Monthly Minimum) decreased. In a nut shell, it increased productivity. So how do you make up for the short fall for sick pilots, irregular operations, etc. usually handled by reserve pilots? You get the guys with big mortgages, bills to pay, wives that don’t work, with kids going to university to go on “make up.” Yes, I’m talking about moi.

This month the DMM is 77 hours, but my September schedule is projecting 72 hours. Captain Doug is shy five hours. Sure there is “block growth” (we are paid either the scheduled flight time or actual flight time which ever is greatest).

With a string of 11 days off the boss tells me to go to work so I went on “make up.” Crew sked offered me a Calgary turn and a San Francisco turn. Both had really early check ins, so I passed. A Calgary red eye popped up. I passed. Don’t like “red eyes.” Gee, I’m getting spoiled. Heck I might as well enjoy the extra flying.

Then a Saskatoon two day pairing came knocking. But it was worth 11.5 hours meaning I would project 83.5 hours. So what’s the big deal? Well our monthly maximum is 84 hours. If I inherit any block growth in the remainder of my month’s pairings I could exceed 84 hours. This means I would have to drop the last pairing with a 30 hour layover in Ottawa without credit. This is called the “one minute outbound” rule and I sure hope it changes in the next contract. Part of being an airline pilot is knowing the contract and knowing some basic scheduling rules. I am not an expert by any stretch.

But the phone stopped ringing offering me extra flying. I started mumbling, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” In other words, I should have taken the offered flying.

Then a flight to LGA (LaGuardia, New York) appeared. I figure I better take it because crew sked was probably getting a little riled with all my “no thanks, I’ll pass” responses.

Yes, it is a known fact I avoid LGA. It’s in my preferential bidding as such. But the pairing was one flight to LGA, layover, and deadhead back the next day. The flight is 1.5 hours but I’m paid 8 hours 50 minutes. Why? We have a DPG (Daily Pairing Guarantee) of 4hrs and 25 minutes. Plus the flight left YYZ after six so I’m paid a night rate. Two days of DPG of 4:25 equals 8:50. Sweet. So now I am projecting 81:04 for this month with room for block growth. Don't think all our flying is this simple and easy. This is a "one off."

So, here I sir in J class (captains deadhead in business class) telling you my story. The F/O sadly got economy. I heard one economy passenger years ago jokingly reference "Y" class as the "unwashed section." Actually, we deadheaded on the Embraer which is two by two seating and few passengers complain about the seating.

The flight last night into New York was under clear moonlit skies and under sked by twenty minutes. We were vectored downwind of New York city (Manhattan) and did the Expressway Visual onto runway 31. All I did was put the gear up and put it down. Well I did more than that, I moved the flap lever and talked on the radios. The F/O flew. And as an extra bonus we had a young pretty six foot flight attendant watch the show sitting in the jumpseat. I won’t say anything more….ahem

Did I tell you I love my job?

(Whywhyzed) fire away. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We're hiring! We need 51 pilots!

A 777 in a victory bank celebrating the fact Air Canada is hiring!
Ironically, there is a slight reduction on this airplane.

Finally, after being stuck in the mud with status quo equipment bids, the 2010-3 equipment bid came out today with somewhat of an optimistic outlook. It may not seem like huge numbers but it's a positive trend. Unfortunately for me, there are no vacancies on the B777, A330, or B767 but there are 17 slots for A320 captains in Toronto. So Captain Doug will continue to drool over the B767 Captain position a little longer. For those out there ready with the qualifications, dust off those resumes!

Yesterday, I was asked to teach meteorology to the new hire course. I will be attending a meeting on Friday to see what it's all about.

In summary...

1. retirements up to and including August 31, 2011; and

2. slight decrease on the B-777;

3. reduction on the B767 First Officers and increase on the Relief Pilots;

4. slight increase on the A320; and

5. the ability to hire 51 Pilots!!!

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