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

Monday, May 9, 2011

Operating under MEL....

One of the many books found on board, the MEL (Minimum Equipment List) An Ipad could reduce the flight deck's weight by 100 to 150 pounds...oops I'm digressing. 

The flight plan to Halifax yesterday said the APU was inop (inoperative). Oh great, meaning an airstart will be required at the gate followed by a cross bleed engine start after push back. The workload goes up with more checklists. But how do we know we can dispatch with a sick airplane? Well, we consult this heavy thick orange book which is stowed on the captain's side. The book must weigh 25 pounds requiring us to hyperextend citing any chiropractor to take a conniption fit. As well, the airplane's potable water was shut off so we had to recruit bottled water and supply wet naps in the washrooms. Yes, the toilets worked.

With an inop APU it means one engine has to be left running when we get to the gate until we receive ground power. Most new gates do not allow ground power to connect until the jetway is in place which can take minutes. Luckily we only had this sick bird for one leg.

After push back and start up this morning in rainy Halifax, the autothrust system "no workie." Out comes the thick orange book hiding in the corner and luckily Captain D lifts weights. The "good book" said we can go without autothrust. It's my leg and I've never flown the plane with degraded automation. The standard calls while barrelling down the runway were different. It throws you off. We Airbus pilots don't don't touch the thrust levers after take off until short final. It took some getting use to. I had to adjust the thrust setting during the entire flight. A few times I thought I was flying props because the engines were slightly out of sync and the "wah, wah, wah"  reminded me of the good ole days.

Some pilots disengage the autothrust while on approach and it raises an eyebrow with me. Why degrade the automation? Just like many of my F/Os want to prove they can fly by manually flying up to 10,000 feet. I say...get the autopilot on and enjoy the view.

One Airbus instructor said, "if you disengage the autopilot, you raise and eyebrow. If you disengage the autopilot and autothrust...it's back to ground school."

Well after three and half years, I flew my first approach without autothrust and with the landing I got out of it...I just might do it again. :)


Tim said...

Awesome! The MD-80 package I fly (Leonardo SH Fly the Maddog) has certain items you can set up to MEL that are modeled and gives you the limitations, if any, as part of the flight paperwork. Also places a nice little INOP sticker on the affected item in the aircraft :).

From the Flight Deck said...


I feel your uneasiness!!! Why were you going to an optometrist for a CAT 1?
Looks like you have the numbers from TC's website so do they fall into the restriction?

What did the Transport Canada doctor say? I wouldn't let things rest. I would be calling Transport Canada.

I've mentioned this before, but a friend of mine was told he was colour blind but after a "lantern test" he passed his medical.
He is now a skipper with Emirates.

I don't remember going to see an optometrist for a Category I medical.

It's going to work out!


From the Flight Deck said...


Well your optometrist should be able to tell you whether your tests meet TC's requirements.

It's laid out in black and white is it not?

I'm still a little confused. Maybe you should seek an optometrist that knows the aviation world?

Captain D

Curious why your post is NOT showing up on my blog, but your email says it was posted under my last post.


Bryan said...

yeah, my optometrist said he is not familiar with aviation regulations, so i'm pretty much lost in the woods right now. i'll just have to wait and see.

Thanks Doug.

also not sure why it's not showing up as posts...

Cedarglen said...

A great post, Doug! From prior notes, you know that I'm not a fan of rev flights under MEL. I know... folks a lot sharper than me say it is OK to fly with all kinds of things inop. I accept that it is 'safe,' but I don't have to like it. The APU is a good example: With the APU inop, 1/3 of your electrical power capability is DOA even before you leave the ground. Lose a generator and you've got some serious compromises. I'm glad that it was only one leg! Sick airplanes belong on the ground or in non-rev ferry flights. I do not mean a sick coffee pot, but I DO mean anything related to flight systems. Sorry for the harang; it is just my thing. Great post, as always. -Craig.

Anonymous said...

Hey Capt Doug,

Love your recent post, this is what makes flying stand out, it's never the same every day! Do you sometimes get frustrated when certain things become inop on the aircraft?

All the best,


From the Flight Deck said...

Bryan has left a new comment on your post "Operating under MEL....":

yeah, my optometrist said he is not familiar with aviation regulations, so i'm pretty much lost in the woods right now. i'll just have to wait and see.

Thanks Doug.

also not sure why it's not showing up as posts...

Bryan. I wouldn't be sitting back and let things happen. Find an optometrist that knows aviation. It's your career on the line.

I've done that "wait and see" routine before....it doesn't work especially with government bureaucracy.

Google sent me an email stating things may be changing, maybe your missing post is the start of things.

From the Flight Deck said...


Yeah, we gotta have those stickers before we go flying. lol The number on them corresponds to the larger stickers on the front of the logbook.

shege2000 said...

Captain Doug, I believe I saw you at YYZ on March 13,2011 with your family. I was clearing the security on my way to Istanbul via Frankfurt with your star alliance LH and you were coming to clear the same area. I wanted to call you out but restrained myself.

A quick question for you,if you have the opportunity to fly A380 or B777 , which one who you go for?

Secondly, any hope of AC getting A380?

shege2000 said...

Captain D,

What happen to flying scotman blog? I am a fan of him and your's blog

From the Flight Deck said...

Shege2000. You probably did see us, we were enroute to Cancun. You should have said something, next time yell! lol

Given the choice I would take the A380 in a heartbeat. The B777 is a dime a dozen. The A380 is new, rare and the biggest! Plus I'm an
Airbus guy. :))))

If those B787s get any further delayed, you never know what may show up on the ramp and I bet Airbus would love to coup Boeing.

But as the aviation saying goes, "don't believe anything until it shows up on the ramp!"

Thanks for checking in. :)

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...


The flying Scotsman has fallen off the face of the earth. I did try emailing him, but "no joy."

Hopefully, he reads this blog now and again and realizes there are many out there that would love to hear from him, including me! His presence gave my blog an extra dimension. Oh well, there are lots of other uniqueness found on my blog which
keeps things a little interesting. :))))

Captain D

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Ed

Tis true, no two days at work are the same. :)

Sure it can be frustrating because it ups the work load. Who wants that? lol

Having said that, the birds I fly...in fact the entire fleet...is highly maintained.

I can fly for days without a single snag but some days it's one glitch after another.

Can you say, "dynamic?"

Captain D

From the Flight Deck said...

Cedarglen (Craig).

Point well taken with the APU example! Having said that, if we did not have MEL relief there would be a lot of grounded airplanes, and as you
know, airplanes don't make money on the ground. And don't think certain airlines are exempt. Airliners around the world are flying around with "snags."
It's part of doing business. Think about that windshield wiper that needs replacing on your car. You can drive for a year and not worry about it. Once a snag on an airplane is noticed the clock is ticking and is fixed in the appropriate time or else the airplane sits. Airline maintenance is scrutinized by many, it's one reason why aviation is so damn safe.

End of my "harangue." LOL

Craig Ritchie said...

Every time I read about an APU I can't help but think of that guy on the Simpsons.

From the Flight Deck said...

Craig. Lots of laughs!!! Sometimes we pilots say APU like Apooooo on the Simpsons.

Hey, you gotta have a sense of humour. :)))

That brought a smile to me face. Thanks Craig!

Christer said...

Haha! A Poo is also a good way of referring to the 733/734 on a certain carrier with a large hub in the southeastern United States. I've been 3 for 3 with busted APUs on my last flights on them- makes me think they never work at all. Seems to be routine to fire up an engine at the gate after the door closes- it's so dang hot and gross on those things! Can't wait until they're all finally retired- they're literally flying museums, but not in a good way:)

While I like AC's 777 (in J or row 18 of Y), I'd also love to see the A380 in AC's colors. From a passenger point of view, I too am on your "Airbus side" Doug. Have always much preferred an Airbus ride to a Boeing.

From the Flight Deck said...


Yes, passengers know it when the APU is not working. It can get really hot and uncomfortable in a hurry. We do have air conditioning units prior to engine start but they have to be removed for engine start.

I remember sitting on the ramp in Heathrow and the captain did not want passengers to board because of the heat. There were no air conditioning units. I'm thinking...this is going to be interesting. After a bout of CRM on my part, the captain changed his tune and we boarded a full flight. Sure it got hot but at least the passengers were on their merry way. :)

Like your thinking on Airbus. :)

Now it's time to get in the back yard.

Captain D the carpenter