Sunday, January 30, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
"Getjets" sent this appreciative postcard today. Apparently one can send/receive a variety of aviation postcards . Postcard
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
1. When I push any air Canada aircraft and I tell them "cleared to start engines," why do they always start 2 and then #1. I thought it was always 1 and 2?
On the Airbus we start #2 because the park brake hydraulic yellow system is on engine #2. Just a safety back up. The brake accumulator should allow several parking brake applications so if necessary #1 could be started first. If we had to start using external pneumatic, then #1 is usually started first.
Picture is from Kelly in CYYC
2. Dose it happen often when you arrive at the gate and your ramp attendants are not there and cause you to burn unnecssary fuel and dose it aggravate you?
3. I've noticed on one flight, from a passenger prospective during push back, the cabin ventilation stopped periodically prior to engine start is that because so much air is required to bleed to the main engines to start?
In order to start a jet engine, it requires lots of pressurized air. Usually it’s a minimum of 30 P.S.I. (A normal atmosphere is 14.7 P.S.I). Thus most of the air from the APU bleed is directed to start the engine. I try to get the engine start switch back to normal ASAP to get the air flowing in the cabin.
4. When engine start is completed what causes the cabin and electronics to flicker rapidly? Is that because you press the bus switch from APU to GEN 1 and 2?
We get electronic bumps when each engine is started. We also get a significant bump when I disconnect the external power prior to engine start. On the older small buses it’s a downright “clunk” when this happens. And yes, it sometimes knocks out the odd screen.
It also affects the entertainment system in the back. So much so, many FSDs don’t start the safety demos until the second engine is started. It’s a normal thing for the small Airbus. It’s one thing I noticed...and forgot about....when I transitioned from the big bus to the little one.
5. I heard you pilots and flight attendants don't get paid until the cabin door is closed, engine start and the brake is released. If this is true what happens when you do a Rapidair flight when it takes about 1 hour? Do you only get paid for that flight?
The clock starts ticking when the doors are closed and the parking brake is released. It’s true a Rapidair flight YYZ-YOW is about an hour, but remember we usually do a turn. Or we will be going somewhere after the turn or just came in from another destination. If for some lucky reason we only fly one flight of about an hour we get DPG (Daily Pairing Guarantee) It fluctuates...but it’s about 4Hrs 25 mins.
6. And last...have you ever done a YUL to YOW where the airtime is like 20 min and what's the maximum altitude for that flight I found for short flights they still climb to 30000 + feet I know air is less dense and yet flys faster with less power but isn't the same amount of fuel getting there?
I’ve done more YUL to YOW sectors in the simulator. They like this leg because it loads up the pilot. We don’t climb that high on this short sector (30,000 feet) but we certainly do for YUL-YYZ. The flight planning program juggles the numbers and if it’s beneficial for us to go higher…we go higher. It’s true we burn a little more fuel getting there, but on the other side (the descent)...the engines are at idle most of the time.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Yesterday, I taught weather to Air Canada’s finest new hires.
I rambled on about weather reports (METARS and TAFs), the tropopause, jet streams, turbulence, significant weather charts, icing, volcanic ash and weather websites.
During a few of the breaks I conducted a one on one census.
I wrote their first name only and asked them... their total time, age, whether they had a diploma or degree, jet time, whether bilingual and their last company they flew for.
I was going to compile all their data into a table without names, but I think it’s better just to talk about things as a whole.
Just the facts:
Age: The average age for new hires at Air Canada hovers around 34 to 35. This class was no exception with 33.6 being the average. The youngest was 27 and two of the oldest were 40. I told the forty year olds welcome to the "six month medical club." I don't think they were ready for that. :) Funny.... years ago a candidate was labeled TOO old at 28 for Air Canada.
Everyone of the 16 had post secondary education. Eight had degrees and the other eight…an aviation diploma.
Only 4 out 16 had jet with none of them with heavy time. So 75 percent of the class came from the turboprop world.
Four of the 16 were deemed bilingual (English/French). Sure some of them probably spoke another language, but I didn’t ask.
The lowest time pilot snuck under the radar at 3000 hours (Air Canada’s present minimum) whereas one gentleman had a whopping 10,000 hours! The average for the class…just over 4600 hours…translating into a minimum of 5 to 6 years of flying.
Female: The number bouncing around for female pilots has been 4 to 5 percent. Two female pilots sat on the roster yesterday i.e. 12.5 percent. But if I tally up the last three classes…there were 3 out of 36 which is 8 percent! We are on the rise!
Previous flying jobs:
Two to three were from the military, two from Jazz, three from Georgian, two from Central Mountain Air, two from Porter, one from Morning Star (cargo B727) and the rest from smaller companies. A great cross section.
They say it's taking 40 candidates to get a final 10 candidates and by the looks of things we are getting some great people.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Your book arrived last week, and I'm enjoying it immensely :-)
Just for fun, here’s a picture of the Korean toilet control I mentioned in my comment to your last blog post. You have probably seen the same or similar in your travels to the Orient, but it was a first for me and quite a surprise, to say the least.
Toilets a.k.a the “lav”
People snicker when toilets are mentioned, but the giggling stops when they are U/S (unserviceable) Caution: viewer discretion is suggested for this post. :)
The lavatory is an integral part of any airplane. Most work on pressure differential i.e. suction. There are pumps which create this pressure difference while on the ground and yes sometimes they fail. Not a problem, above 16,000 they work on their own. We block off the affected washroom (s) and try to keep the seat belt sign on until 16,000 versus the usual 10,000 feet.
The biggest beef passengers had when the small Airbus showed up over twenty years ago was the loud gushing of the toilets. I must admit they do have a little more gumption than Boeing’s.
In fact, we Airbus pilots know a toilet is flushed by the indicated pressure change of 50 to 100 feet on the pressure controller.
On the “big bus” the toilets would be divided left and right and sometimes one side would give up. My duty as a cruise pilot would entail going to the aft cabin where a large handle had to be pulled to reboot the system.
One conversation I heard listening to United’s company frequency in ORD (Chicago) years ago. “Maintenance we have a Lav U/S. Apparently someone left a big dump in there.” Perhaps the pilot in question could have chosen his words a little differently. J
Actually my first officer few months ago (boy I hope he is not reading this) used the “J” class washroom. Well as luck would have it, it wouldn’t flush. Luckily we were still on the ground so we called maintenance. I can still see the shades of red he turned.
For a pilot going to the washroom is somewhat of a procedure ( I won’t get into the details). I always give the previous person a minute or two before I enter.
Yes, it can be embarrassing. Some flight attendants put coffee grinds in there or keep a bottle of “jet spray” (yes, that’s the name) handy.
Remember if you gotta go it takes about three minutes for the air to refresh.
See my attached enRoute question/answer.
Q: How is the cabin air kept fresh? Are filters used? David Clements, Canberra, Australia
Cabin air is continually bled from the engines. This conditioned air is then mixed with a nearly equal amount of highly filtered cabin air. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) system filters the air much like filters in hospital surgical rooms. Compared to buildings, however, airliners have even better filtration, a higher air-change rate and a higher proportion of outside air. Cabin air is exchanged every two and a half to three minutes – i.e. flushed 20 to 25 times every hour.
Blue Ice? You may have heard of ‘blue ice’ falling from the sky. Some aircraft lavatories use a ‘donut’ type seal for servicing. Sometimes the seal leaks a little and freezes up at altitude. On rare occasions the ice lets go and in two documented cases has fallen through people’s roofs!
Different plumbing. As a world traveller one gets to see some neat plumbing. The most intriguing were the toilets in our Osaka, Japan hotel. As soon as you sat down you heard multiple water jets arming ready to launch warm water your way.
Many would find this strange, but many cultures have yet to see a toilet. Years ago on "certain" flights extra help was used to explain how to use the toilets. People were standing on them thinking they were a replica of a hole in the ground.
On one of my long haul flights a flight attendant reported a passenger left a large "gift" in the middle of the galley floor. I have more stories, but I will stop there.
Captain Doug the plumber
And speaking of toilets our fairly well to do home had three single piece low squatting designer toilets made in Equador. But they were…well…crappy. (couldn’t resist) (Actually the inventor of the toilet is Thomas Crapper) :) Over the last two weeks I replaced all three...American Standard made in Mexico bought and installed in Canada. (The instructions must have been Chinese translated from Russian).
The plumber’s smile? (hopefully everyone knows that look) :) :) :)
While purchasing my last toilet a stranger came up to me asking whether the show models worked. Then he lit up with a smile. Captain Doug gave him an equivalent “unruly passenger” look. I then scurried away with my toilet in hand. They were on sale- another pilot’s bonus. Anyone out there want three white used designer toilets?
This is what I wrote on page 142 of my book. (For the benefit of those that still don’t have my book…right getjets?) I still laugh at it. The fella that told me this is now a Westjet captain.
And give up aviation?
I’ll never forget how, during a downturn in aviation, we pilots met at a company meeting to hear how the company would be implementing layoffs. A somber mood dominated the group, but during a break a fellow pilot proceeded to tell me an anecdote that summarized the situation perfectly: A pilot doing his routine walk-around neared the rear of the airplane where a ground worker (or lavologist) was servicing the lavatory. He was a low-time pilot trying to infiltrate the business by getting his foot in the door working the ramp, a common practice. As he released the latch to the aircraft’s lavatory, the contents sprayed all over the ramp and unfortunately covered the wannabe pilot from head to toe. Expletives immediately followed. He cursed while jumping up and down in frustration and disgust. The pilot, witnessing this bathroom blowout, came right out and said, “Why don’t you just quit?” The rampie stopped dead in his tracks with a look of bewilderment and said, “And give up aviation?”
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
This picture was borrowed. I could not find my picture of Mount Fuji taken on flight 001 Toronto to Tokyo.
I penned these words TEN years ago...before 9/11, before SARs, before a merger, before mad cow disease, before a recession. Be careful...it's optimistic! Funny thing is, I'm still preaching the same tune. At least I'm consistent. :)
I’ve Climbed the Mountain...Now What?
For my entire adult life I have toiled to become an airline pilot. (It was even mentioned in my grade seven yearbook under career aspirations) Now at age 39, I’ve finally made it. Looking back, I could have been a doctor, dentist, lawyer, two times over. So when I ask myself was it worth it and the answer is Hell Yes, it feels good! I think, a person’s greatest fear in life is looking back and saying, “I wish I did things differently.” I thank my lucky stars this is not my case. Like most, I encountered my fair share of upsets, denials and wrong way streets. However, I remember back during my university days to what was written on one of the many cheap posters stuck on the wall to hide the cracks. It sounds corny, but here it goes, ‘If you have a dream, don’t let anything dim it, keep hoping, keep trying, the sky is the limit’.
I see so many today lacking goals...like ships without rudders. (Incidentally, if there ever was a time to become a pilot the time is now!) Today’s up and coming have major uphill battles. It seems everyone is fighting for jobs even though many are qualified to the brim. It is not enough. The market demands more and more and so many fall off the Career Mountain. I too had to struggle through two recessions, which by the way are extremely hard on the aviation world. I returned to university during the first recession to put behind my belt even more qualifications. Because of it, I veered off onto another career mountain only to realize half way up that I must climb down and start again. One-step backward, two steps forward.
As I approach the turbulent turnover of age forty, I can feel myself shifting gears a little. (Update...I'm going through the same thing...again!) :) The saying, “Lordy, Lordy look who’s forty” begins to infiltrate my thoughts. To pass on what little wisdom I have, I’ve become a mentor for up and coming ‘wanna be pilots’. I spend much time pointing out various options in their quest in becoming a pilot, but many a time I get this feeling they only want to hear the shortcut route. For most careers it doesn’t exist, just perseverance, hard work and the ability to deal with life’s curve balls. “Stay focussed and it will come,” I tell them. But for many eighteen year olds it doesn’t seem to register.
What do I see now that I am at the summit? Well, I look behind me and see the large hills I’ve climbed. However, as I look ahead I see just as many and with them many valleys. So I’ll take a long deep breath of great appreciation and then chart my course for the mountains ahead.
Since then I've written a book and more importantly I received my fourth stripe. They turned me into demi-god status. LOL. Although I'm wise enough to realize the pedestal beneath me can tumble anytime. Heck that's the way I feel about this blog sometimes, ....perched precariously. :)
Below are some shots of flights over mountains....cumulus granite.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
I wonder if there is any possibility in exchanging links/information
between our sites?
http://www.howitflies.com is a directory of aircraft information
organized by type. Individual users can edit/add information as with
It would help us build up our contributor base as well as provide your
users with more information if, when you mention an aircraft type you
hot linked that reference to our article. Here for example is the article for
the 172: http://www.howitflies.com/Cessna-172-Skyhawk (please feel free to
login and contribute you own information, comments and reviews!)
I would be happy to link to you in return.
For my 16th birthday my parents gave me enough time to solo. After that, they said, I was on my own. So, like many before me, I spent weekends working at the local airport (8A6) in exchange for flight time.
On my 17th birthday I was ready for my private practical, but it didn't happen. After waiting most of that day my examiner, a WWII B-25 pilot, suggested that the weather wasn't going to clear, and we scheduled a successful flight later in the week.
After high school I was lucky enough to enter the Naval Academy and later became a pilot and flew the A-6. I have since logged time in gliders, ultralights, a couple of warbirds and taken a tandem hang glider flight. Each type I find offers it own unique joys.
After I left the navy, business, marriage and kids intervened to lead me away from flying. Eventually I got back into it through the CAP, where I do most of my flying now.
I had been working on How It Flies as a personal project on and off for about a year when I made a personal commitment six weeks before Airventure 2008 to finish the site and travel to Oshkosh to let people know about it. I was pleased with the response but still found the content building a very slow process. It was only since I started using Wikipedia articles as a starting point that the site has started to attract a critical mass of readers and contributors.
I don't know if it's a project that will ever be finished, but I hope you enjoy discovering and contributing as much as I do.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love (passion), for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.
So on that note...let's mini! :)
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Friday, January 7, 2011
Hello Captain Doug,
Been a long time follower of your blog, I must say you have given us pilot wannabes all the right reasons to pursue our dreams.
I’ve recently applied to Cathay’s cadet pilot program, and as I am preparing myself for the interviews, I came across a post bellowing detailing some pilot work conditions:
I understand there are a lot of Cathay-bashing comments on PPruNe. Yet is there any validity towards the claim? As a long-haul pilot who has been through the stages of SO and FO, I would be glad if you could shed some insight to this matter!
I would continue to pursue the dream, but would love to hear from a seasoned professional on the realities.
Hi.... That was quite a write up on PPRuNE!
I remember reading this stuff when I had an interview with Emirates six years ago. I was debating whether to go because of all the negativity. But I'm glad the family and I went. They are a very professional company. But as my friend who flies for Emirates said, "the company has many warts." :) A few Air Canada pilots did go. A few have since quit. For me there were too many issues to overlook.
We also have a few ex-Cathay pilots. As you probably know, Cathay fired several a few years ago. Since then most returned.
I know of one pilot, flying for Cathay, based in Vancouver because he couldn't stand the pollution in HKG. I just noticed they all got raises. :)
I did start at Air Canada as a cruise pilot and it's a great way to learn the company's culture. But I had 8000 hours so taking a future flying job was easier. For many...being a cruise pilot can be tough watching others fly- and that included me!
There's never an easy answer. I would at least try to jump through their hoops in the selection process.
Who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Hope this helps.