!!!!! 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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Contending with Thunderstorms

After having my interview with "Chris" from the Weather Network in the morning, I flew to Mexico City that afternoon. Sure enough we had to dodge some "cbs" in Northern Louisiana.


(The title is "Flying in Thunderstorms." As you know we don't fly "in" thunderstorms but "near" them) :)))

Note: Please overlook the competition's winglet. Apparently, that's all the footage they could find. :))))

Here you see two "blurry" Airbus screens. I have to get a new digital. Rumour has it Captain D may see one for father's day. :)

The right screen depicts the area of thunderstorms. We were at 38,000 feet and the picture below depicts us flying between two topping much higher than us. We had a tailwind as depicted in the top left corner of the ND (NAV display). The green dashed line was our flight plan and the solid line was out present track. (...and yes the topic of Air France 447 comes up on a regular basis when we fly near thunderbumpers).

The F/O did an excellent job weaving around them. Yes, he took us to Mexico city. I have yet to land there although I've been there four times in the last month. That's part of the package when you fly with me...first leg, I buy coffee and do the first walk around. Many F/Os are taken aback because of it. I would buy the first beer, but these MMMX trips have dismal "beer math." Pity....


Cedarglen said...

Great post, Doug. I hear you about the pavers. Been there and 'nuff said. ON the 320's weather radar, you get a nice image of the horizontal situation. Does the radar give you any information about the t.bumper's vertical (altitude) state? Best wishes, -Craig

Andrew said...

How far do you have to stay away from the TS/CBs to avoid turbulence?

Andrew said...

about the yoke thing - the Gulfstream G650 has a fly by wire, yoke system where if one pilot moves the yoke on his side, the yoke on the other side will move as well (as in a conventional airplane). When the autopilot is engaged and moving the controls-the yokes will also move in unison. So the pilot knows what control inputs the autopilot is inputting.
I'm not sure if Boeing has a similiar system on its aircraft or not...
Unfortunately with a yoke you don't get a handy table :)

Bas said...

Looks like some heavy pavers Captain! It's really time for a new camera! (You sat in the water with it right?) Well, on our family trip last weekend the canoe I was in flipped over with... you guessed it: The Camera... Insurance probably has it covered but they should make those things water resistant right!?

Foggy said...

Have you had some rain over there, Doug? Your lawn is looking very lush :)

Those pavers certainly do look heavy, and I know exactly what you mean about wobbly legs and patio furniture - I have a story on that - wobbly legs, not patio furniture!


Hello Captain,

Recently flew on an A319 that was just nearly at the top of some cloud at 38,000 and man was it rough. Looking UP, and out the window, I could see the cloud break showing clear sky, then back in it again...do you sometimes ( all the time ) wish your fans were a little larger to push your ceiling up above 40,000, especially in situations where you can see the clear sky? Or is it more to do with wing size and fan size in combination?

What are you more worried about.... hitting an updraft at 38,000 or trying to duck under possibly hitting a downdraft when on approach? I suppose I could guess you'd rather have the altitude to buy time to avoid a mess....hmmmm...

Here's a question for your enroute maybe??

Why do airplanes need to take such long gradual approaches/descents?

I've timed them, and it seems like betweent 21 to 24 minutes left in flight, an A319 will start down, and a CRJ between 14 and 22 minutes.......

Thanks again for the info!

CAT III Approach

Captain Doug said...

Hi Craig.

Believe it or not the radar is not sophisticated enough to specify cloud tops. We can only guess them.

Radar reflectivity is great with rain, but poor with ice crystals. Here lies the problem with a Cb topping at thousands of feet above the freezing layer.
The top portion of the cloud is sometimes undetectable. There are formulas some aviation companies use (angle of tilt/range) that can give cloud top estimates, but AC's philosophy is: turn the radar on and fine tune the 'returns."

Yes, those pavers are heavy!!! I had to move them from the front to the backyard, lay them, take them up, lay them again and then adjust them according to"number one's" specifications. Next time, (actually there will never be a next time), I will pay someone to do this.

Thanks for checking in. :)

Captain Doug said...


The rule of thumb is to stay at least 20 nautical miles away from those nasty things. :))))

Captain Doug said...


I don't think you'll see the yoke move with the A/P on with a Boeing either. :)

You will see the trim wheel move.

That's even rare to see on an Airbus as well because of auto trim.

I still can't believe they kept the yoke for the B787. Some things won't change and Boeing and yokes go hand in hand. :)))

Thanks for the clarification!


Captain Doug said...

Bas. Good memory! I did sit in the water with it but only for a few seconds...I think? I am waiting for Father's day to get a new one.

Flipped over in a canoe? The centre of gravity of a canoe is always shifting. I have my level one in canoeing... great pastime.

I agree, they should make cameras water resistant but if they did... we wouldn't be buying as many. :)

Captain Doug said...


We've seen tons of rain. Although lately the weather has become more "late spring" like.
It's refreshing because this winter proved unbearably long and harsh...both weather wise and otherwise.
For awhile there we thought we had to start building arks. :)))

One third of the pavers were 18" X 12" X 3.25" thick so I'm guessing they weighed 35 pounds.
(Sorry I don't have the metric equivalent).

***update*** I just went outside with our bathroom scale..the large ones weigh 54 pounds...
No wonder all my friends and neighbours all of a sudden have a back back. Not one person came to help except number one...now and again... :)

A wobbly legs story. Sounds like fun. :))))

getjets said...

Captain, with all that lifting...surely you must be buff by now....lol

like the character in one of the Rocky movies......the russian boxer...says...to Stallon "I MUST BTHACKE(BRAKE) YOU"....OOOOK(i guess you had to of been there... =` (me with lip cocked to one side)

in reference to AF447, here is a link....it has graphics, which I think, makes for better understanding.....course, if the report is an accurate on....


Captain Doug said...


One would think I'd be buffed moving 54 pound pavers around all day.

Having said that, I went to the gym today to ready for the runway race this Saturday.

I successfully recruited nine other AC pilots to run as a team. Two weeks ago we were told we were to run
holding a rope (much like the Christie Cookies commercials), but now that is being contended.
Looks like the SOPs (standard operating procedures) are changing on a regular basis. :)

Thank's for the AF447 link... I think?

It sure hits a nerve seeing the details. The report was written in non-aviation units.
Drives me nuts when we have to be politically correct with units we don't use.

I even convinced enRoute magazine to implement "aviation units."

Obviously that practice 5k run this morning didn't work. Back to the drawing board. :)))

Christer said...

Great job with the pavers Doug! That's a ton of hauling. Be thankful you are in such good shape:)

Is there any single most riveting experience you've had with thunderstorms/thunderbumpers that comes to mind, or have you had the luck of always avoiding an exceptionally rough ride when they're present? Have you experienced actual severe turbulence? I know that sometimes passengers think they have, although I seem to remember reading somewhere that very few pax actually experience what is technically classified as "severe". Usually feels worse than it is, although I certainly stand to be corrected...

Haven't been able to visit your blog much lately, but I like your last post with the pics too:) I'm in Berlin right now and about to play a recital in Charlottenburg- cultural center, and I've gotta scoot!

Take care and good luck with the runway run. Oh yeah, and looking forward to more pictures with that new camera too:)


getjets said...

Captain, you will do fine this Saturday at your run,
what do you mean "run, holding a rope"??? don't you put it on auto-pilot....(yea lame)

I commended you for such a good cause!!!!...

so a toast to Captain Doug, it's not easy...when putting yourself out on a lonely stretch of concrete... hoping others will follow suit with you....

"politically correctness" makes me SICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ok, did you use a question of mine for July's Enroute?? perhaps I read wrong.... still waiting on June's....
just can't find good help.................lol

so I will say "HAPPY FATHER'S DAY" to you now.....

and also, to all the DAD'S out there who are fans of yours....and whom I am a fan of.......



jack said...

Hey Captain Doug,

Quick question; when you are getting your clearance via radio communications, would you write down what the controller is telling you and read it back, or do you memorize it while they are giving you your clearance?

Foggy said...

Don't worry about the metric conversions Doug. I still work firmly in feet and inches, and pounds and ounces!! In fact, they are pretty new fangled - it used to be roods and chains, and bushels and firkins.

As to wobbly legs, I know what you are thinking, but these particular legs involve an engineers workbench, a surface plate and a set of imperial feeler gauges!!

As to some of the other comments here:

Aviation reports should use aviation units - agreed. It is annoying when respected journals, e.g., Flight International, use an inconstant mix of imperial units with metric conversions in one piece, e.g., statute miles and km, then use metric with an imperial conversion in another. What happened to NM?

PC = Political Correctness? No such thing!! What we have now is nothing short of Politicised (...zed) Compliancy! Apologies for the rant.

Good luck with the Runway Run on Saturday - is rain forecast? I know Montreal had a bucket full Sunday. Watched the Formula 1 Grand Prix (I watch 'em all). During the "Red Flag" period pictures of the Seaway Freighters were shown sailing down/up the back straight.. LOL. And Jenson Button won - 21st and last after the 4th Safety Car and he came through to win on the last lap - magic!!

Cheers again.

getjets said...

yea yea yea, I know what I said....trust me, after posting this video....I won't show my face for a while...

but sometimes..YA JUST HAVE TO DO WHAT YA HAVE TO DO.....




the only thing, posting this will guarantee me...is a one-way,

non frequent flyer redeemable,

cargo hold first class,

just left of the right landing gear

white coat limo ride,with all the bells and whistle's...
straight to the Aviation Geek nuthouse just south of the Arizona bone yard....with the back stage pass.....

and don't we all need a break every now and again....

I will consider your non-answer as...well...as a deafening but welcome non-answer....


Captain Doug said...

CAT III approach.

1. Sounds like you were "riding the tops." The tops of clouds is where it can be very bumpy and we will tell ATC "we are riding the tops, request a level change....."

2. It's not just the engines that allow us to soar higher it's the certification of the pressurized cabin. Between you and I, the competition can get up to 41,000 feet in their newer B737's. The A330 and B767 can also get up there. Max ceiling on the little bus is 39,000 feet.

3. Being at 38,000 feet you are nearing the envelope. It sure is thin up there...so think "coffin corner." So I'd rather be in the other situation but Captain D wants to stay away from both
scenarios. Straight and level...that's my middle name. :)

4. Uhm, we don't necessarily need to take a long gradual slope but think passenger comfort. I could do an emergency descent at 6000 ft/min but the speed, noise, possible turbulence and the descent
rate in the cabin pressure may be a bit disconcerting. LOL

5. FYI when we descend about 25 minutes out the engines are at flight idle much of the time. Yup, they are just windmilling out there so the descent is fuel efficient.

6. Remember we have noise abatement, crossing altitude and speed restrictions, flow control, mountainous terrian, etc to consider before we could do a "slam dunk approach." Smoothness counts. :))))

Yes, that's a good question for enRoute. Thanks for thinking about me!

Captain D

Captain Doug said...


Like you said, "be thankful for one's health." Without it, you have very little.

I've "flirted" with some thunderstorms and I didn't like it one iota. They scare me and they should scare any pilot.

I don't like to admit if I've been in severe turbulence. Severe turbulence is defined..."where you are momentarily out of control but regain control."

Ran into some shear due to a jet stream about a year ago and well....I blogged about it...

All the best with that recital. You and your violin sure do get around!


Captain Doug said...


Many of our clearances are sent to the flight deck via datalink called a PDC (pre-departure clearance).

Many of the larger Canadian and American airports have this great option. In Canada, all we do is read back a specific PDC number. In the U.S we don't even do that.

In the Caribbean and Mexico, it's the old fashion way. So we write it down on the flight plan.
The good thing is the first officer gets the clearance and reads it back. I knew the one In Mexico City
was going to be long with a thick accent so I looked at my F/O and said, "good luck." :))))

Captain Doug said...


Glad to hear you are one of us with respect to units. :)

You can tell when an aviation report is written by a non-aviator because they use weird units.
In fact, they loose me when they do it. Yes, I'm getting old and set in my ways. lol

The weather for the run is going to be sunny with a high of 24C. The race starts at 9:00 a.m.

So you are a formula one guy? My company was a big supporter of the race at one time...

jack said...

Hi Captain Doug,

Thanks for explanation. I knew in Canada and the US they get it through Datalink at most major airports. I was watching a video on youtube though where they were departing somewhere a bit smaller and had to get clearance through frequency. The clearance seemed extremely long and I didn't think anyone could remember it and read it back as it is, at least it would be very difficult and might have a number of errors. Good to know you guys write it down:)

Captain Doug said...

Jack. Yup, we write it down and we must read it back verbatim. Sometimes it's painful listening to other guys take at least three tries before they get it right.
Plus it ties up the frequency. :)))

Captain Doug said...


Loved the video link. It made me chuckle. That's quite a Father's Day gift!

Captain Doug said...


Yes, I used "how are runways numbered" for July.

Your name will be up in lights!

You are starting early with Father's Day celebrations. :))))


Hello Captain!

Thanks for the answers sir!

yes....riding the tops .... it's not fun! well....I should re-phrase....I don't mind as much compared to CAT, because I can see where the turbulence is coming from!

time to get some new 787's! What will the ceiling limit be on those??

so when you say windmilling/flight idle, you are essentially gliding and the engines are providing no forward thrust, or does the windmilling at speed provide a little bit? could you essentially shut them both down then, and besides the noise, not notice much difference?

wow!!! 6000 ft/min?!?!?! have you ever tried this? maybe you can't answer....I guess tried would refer to the sim as well.....had to do this would be a better statement/question :)

here's one I just thought of.....

Is autothrust proactive or reactive?? i.e. if you run into a headwind, does the computer see the headwind coming and compensate prior, or do you have to dial in the speed increase yourself for compensation?

Thanks again Captain!

Happy Flying!

CAT III Approach

Craig R said...

Hiya Captain Doug

Good luck with the runway trot on Saturday. She Who Must Be Obeyed and I will be there as well - watch about 3 km in for a woman looking on disgustingly at some grey-headed, jet-lagged, out of shape guy wheezing up his lungs .... when I come to, I'll buy you a Gatorade.


Craig R


ps.....did you see the number of page views yesterday??

777 ! an omen maybe for the Captain?

for the Boeing in general I mean:)

getjets said...

If my granddaughters had not showed this video to me....I do not surf these sites...but this was so funny!!!!
we all need a real good laugh now and then...so your welcome

JetAviator7 said...

Hi Doug:

Just finished reading "From The Flight Deck" and found it really interesting as I never pursued flying for the airlines.

However, I have had my challenges with CBs and t-storms, especially back when I was flying DC-3s (No radar!)

Go to treat those F/Os right so good job!

Captain Doug said...

Yes, at flight idle I'm told those "puppies" out on the wings are at rest. :)

We can get up to 6000 ft/min in an emergency descent in a simulator. It's a rush!

The autothrust is reactive. We tell the airplane to climb, up comes the thrust. We tell the airplane to go faster up...comes the thrust.
Think of it as cruise control. Your car doesn't know a hill is ahead until it gets there and then your fuel consumption goes up through the roof.
Autothrust compensates for winds on a continual basis.

Captain D :)

Captain Doug said...

CAT III Approach.

When I updated yesterday's count I thought...will anyone notice the number 777?
You get first prize! LOL

In a few days I will be nearing 400 posts.

And I see today I now have 200 followers.

Captain Doug said...

JetAviator. Thanks for buying and commenting on my book.

DC-3, no radar, with Cbs...no thanks! :)

Captain Doug said...

Craig R hopefully we will see you on race day. I will be pulling the winning ticket for an hour's sim time compliments of AC. Hope you win it!

Plus I have the honours of making a one minute speech on my company's behave.

These tasks were thrown at me today....