Flight Plan

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

...and welcome aboard!...

Yes, we get that close!

A recent comment on Aviatrix's Cockpit Conversation blog....

Aviatrix. (Blog: Cockpit Conversation) I want to apologize for not visiting your blog more frequently.

Looks like you ran into some turbulence with a “commenter.” Actually, another blogger and follower told me about things…they too have their radar on.

No one likes heavy turbulence and that includes pilots.

I remember you giving me words of wisdom about not responding to every comment on my blog. I didn’t listen. I tried, but I couldn’t resist. But the odd one sets us back…wondering…why do we post words in the eternal void of the Internet? It’s time consuming, imposes stress on the family...and for what?

It’s a given we pilots are passionate and some of us want to connect that passion with words. But can we lay down our pen?

As of late, I’m wondering if I should pull the plug and move on. Believe it or not, you are my blogging idle. Yes, you! Sure other bloggers think they have the gift to write, but you were an aviation blog pioneer…you blogged passionately for a very long time and frequently.

I would say,"don’t take those cutting remarks to heart," but I know I would.

What I am trying to say is…if you go…I go….

(We are probably the two biggest solo bloggers in Canada) or do I have my head in the sand?

I only wish I could get your resume pulled at A.C!

“Blue side up!”

Captain Doug Morris

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Friday the 13th....

"Red on the monitors"

Bad luck or just another day at the office?

It seemed pretty routine, a "Rapidair" to Montreal and back and then scoot down to Halifax, Nova Scotia for an exceptionally long layover.

So off to Montreal we go with the F/O flying. He puts it on nicely on 06 left with a slight tailwind. This “straight in arrival” has Captain D proclaiming to the passengers we will be 5 to 10 minutes early. And it’s looking that way until we get to our gate…there is no gate for us! A B767 has a “dangerous good” issue. They probably can’t find the required paperwork. No biggie, an Embraer is about to push back from the next gate over. But what a minute, their APU is "tango uniform" requiring an engine start at the gate.

Finally after promising to be 5 minutes early we are 25 minutes late.
On the weather charts, scattered thunderstorms were figured to develop in the back door of Toronto. And sure enough….they reared their ugly heads plaguing Toronto’s airspace.
We push back from the gate with a “wheels up” time 30 minutes later as there are “ground delays” or “metering” in an out of Toronto. We are told to wait in the deice center.

We decide to shut down and sit there with the APU running the ship. After an hour I look over to my F/O and said, can you imagine if our APU quit? Gotcha!!! The APU worked fine the entire time. LOL

Well that “ground delay” turned into a “ground stop.” Toronto is not allowing aircraft in or out. The busiest airport in Canada and the 18th busiest in aircraft movements in the world is at a standstill. (In 2010, CYYZ is now beating out KLGA, KSFO, KBOS, KJFK). Yes, we are in the BIG leagues.!!!

Can you say, “off the rails?”

Captain D has the honour of informing the passengers of the good news.
“Ladies and Gentleman, this is your captain speaking, welcome to the deice centre, it’s plus 25 C and “no” we are not getting deiced but….
Luckily many are frequent flyers so they understand…usually. The booze and all the snacks went quick. Nearing two hours, I look over to my F/O and ask, how long can we hold them hostage? I remembered a recent ruling in the States. I start scanning through our books and memos. There are memos for the memos. Nothing.

Hurry up and wait...

Finally the thunderstorms had their way and moved on. We are given a “wheels up time” and it’s time to rock. Our tight connection time for Halifax turned into a 45 minute wait with passengers on board. I walk on board... it’s hot with everyone staring at me. I try to break the ice with a smile. But I sense all they wanted was for us to "flash this puppy up" and get going. I make an announcement telling them it will be at least 20 minutes. We do our utmost to ready the aircraft. We are ready, but wait....no ground crew!

After a further 20 minute delay we push back and off to Halifax we go shooting an ILS on 14 down to 200 foot ceilings at 1:00 a.m.

The life of an airline pilot…..


Bas said...

Sounds like a real Friday 13th haha! Gotta love it, right!?

From the Flight Deck said...


Many think we pilots sashay through the airport in sleek uniforms with sun glasses on wooing passengers along the way.

In reality, it's "safety, comfort and schedule" or so I am told. :)

Some days you work hard for your money.

But it's a job I wouldn't trade.

How are things in the Netherlands?

Foggy said...

Hi Doug,

Well you have just half answered one of the MEL related questions I was lining up - Engine start at the gate when the APU is down. The supplementary question is: which engine gets to start first? My off the wall guess would be the right engine - no good starting the wrong one!! Call that the Starboard engine, but, guessing again, that could depend on the geometry of the gate, which way the push-back is going to have to go, if you're in a cul-de-sac are there blast deflector screens behind you, etc.

When I did some work on a remote controlled helicopter manoeuvre unit @ ******* Tractors, I was shown over a prototype A380 tow vehicle - tow-barless - that had an integrated ground power unit. A real big beast that was, but they also built smaller units for Airbus/Boeings from A318 to B757, mid-size for A330/B767 and bigger ones for bigger aeroplanes.

On the "early arrival announcement" you will have to get the F/O to do them... then it's their fault.

Cheers for now / Foggy

From the Flight Deck said...


Generally, we start engine #1 (left or port) at the gate, push back, set the park brake, ensure the tow bar is removed and start #2 via a cross bleed start. However, if the ground crew prefers #2 to be started first, we oblige.

Yes, those TBL units are huge and hugely expensive.

Generally speaking who ever does the radio work for the leg also does the P.A work. So it was Captain's D fault. :)

Thanks for checking in.

Presently in Halifax, Nova Scotia on a layover and there may be a party brewing. :)

Cedarglen said...

Another great post and thank you, Doug. The PAX appreciate your concerns about the tarmac delays and the bright ones understand that YOU FOLKS have zero control over ground holds. Even without the US's rules and penalties, it is a tough decision and yes, a three-hour sit IS a bit much. Funny that you should mention using and joking about the APU, my favorite MEL item. If the APU had been TU at the gate, would you have turned and burned one at idel for two hours? Would it even have been possible? As noted before, those calls are never easy, but that's why they made you the Captain! (Passing the buck?) Best wishes, -Craig.

Bas said...

So true! Still there's nothing more attractive than flying... (Women comes close though! :P)

Things here in The Netherland are great! :) I've been at Schiphol last week (Amsterdam) to smell some rubber and inhale a bit of exhaust gas. Airports, Airports... I think I could walk around them all day long.

Doesn't sound like our good weather is also over there... we're waiting for some rain here!


Great post Captain...you're only a 30 min flight from YSJ! lol

Enjoy the party!

CAT III Approach

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III Approach.

Yes, I've done that YHZ-YSJ flight umpteen times. :)

But last night I had vectors for a couple of local establishments with a high school friend of mine.
One watering hole has not changed one iota in the 30 years since my university days. Good times then and good times last night.

I'm off to YYZ and then a Denver turn.

Captain Doug in cloudy and cool Halifax

From the Flight Deck said...

Cedarglen (Craig)

Excellent point about the APU. I'm scratching my head as to what I would do with a "T/U" APU.
Because initially they told us it would only be a 30 minute delay, so would I have pushed back from the gate with an unserviceable APU? They needed the gate for an inbound flight so I may have been squeezed into a tight decesion.

Again, good point!

From the Flight Deck said...


And speaking of women, you sure have some attractive ones in the Netherlands.

I did a Kontiki bus tour of Europe in my early twenties and I never felt short (I'm nearly 6 foot) until we drove into your country. And I'm talking about the women...let alone the skyscraping men.

It's a pity we don't fly there. :)))))

Captain Doug about to start a 12.5 hour duty day.

Bas said...

Yeah we're pretty tall here! I was about to ask if you've ever been to The Netherlands but you already answered that for me!

I am 6.3976378 feet to be exactly, lol! (Just converted with google)
Indeed a pity Air Canada doesn't fly here! I've seen the 777's at Frankfurt though, you've been there right!? (In your 'four banger' international days!?)

Goodluck with your long duty day!

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Bas.

My long duty day got even longer with a hold and vectors landing in Toronto late tonight.
It's been raining here all day.

Yes, I've been to FRA in both my four banger and two banger A330. :)

Craig said...


I've been meaning to ask this for like the last 3 weeks every time I read your blog. Do you know a guy named Bob Craig that flies for Air Canada? He's my moms cousin I believe. He's old, gotta be getting close to retirement by now, lol.

- Craig M

From the Flight Deck said...

Craig M. The name is not ringing a bell..sorry. Doug

Craig said...

Ah, too bad. I wish I had some more info on him, but I rarely see him.

Hopefully we can get some consistent nice weather one of these weeks. I think all of Canada can agree that this has been a spring to forget as far as the weather goes.

- Craig M

From the Flight Deck said...


I hear ya about the weather. I landed on runway 06 right in the morning from Halifax in rain and again late last night from Denver.
A persistent gusty northeast to east wind (a wind indicating weather is lurking) and rain dominated the scenario. Halifax wasn't much better. Even Denver was overcast and plus 8 C.

Time to run for the hills. LOL

Craig Ritchie said...

Good grief, how many guys named Craig follow this blog????

No one likes long ground holds, but it can always be worse. At least your pax had an Airbus with an entertainment system! A few years ago I spent nearly three hours cooped up in a little Embraer ERJ, waiting for some electrical storms in ORD to clear. That long wait contributed to my first night spent snoozing on a bench at O'Hare, while the airlines figured out how to get back on schedule and get us all home.

Craig R.

From the Flight Deck said...

Sounds like the Embraer was not AC's. If it was it would have had the entertainment system.

I agree, the entertainment system helps calm everyone down.

Snoozing on a bench in an airport? Been there! :)))))

Craig R said...

Nope, it was sadly not an AC Embraer, but another Star Alliance carrier's ERJ 145, on a connecting flight between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana a few years ago. They're very small airplanes, and this particular one was very much the sardine can. It was quite the culture shock to go from a nice AC A320 to the little ERJ.

The Embraer 175s and 190s that Air Canada has are really nice airplanes.

From the Flight Deck said...

Craig R

You see....we are not all that bad....:))))))