Monday, December 18, 2017

Stops and Starts..... & Snow

The thing about this job is you never know what's next.
A lot of people say to me that this must be really annoying. No planning, always on standby etc but to me thats the reason why I do this job. The other option would be to be an airline pilot and that to me would mean always knowing exactly where I was going and when for the next few months and also having most of the work with planning etc done for me. Where are the surprises in that ?
To me when I get that phone call that we are off and its time to start the planning and getting the plane ready, it puts a smile on my face. The heart race increases ever so slightly and I know.....
We're going flying.
I'm at the point now where I'm approaching my first 100 hours in this plane and I'm really feeling like I know her.
The phone call came whilst having Sunday brunch, Monday morning departure and we are heading off to Eastern Europe from London.
This came as a bit of a surprise as the plane had been in for servicing and wasn't expected to be ready for another few days.
Emirates Airbus A380

Within 2 hours I was on a train to London from Exeter and sorting out a hotel for the night.
The thing that happens when the engineers have been on the plane is that everything gets moved.... all of my bits and bobs, have disappeared , pens, files you name it.
Its like another man has slept in your bed and worn your dressing gown and slippers.

A sticky Stansted morning

There's snow on the ground and frozen fog around, so we are well into cold weather operations.
The snow ploughs clearing the white stuff off of the private jet apron, the fuel truck operator has his thick gloves and hat, steamy vapour coming from his mouth as he speaks.
I sit in the cockpit realising I haven't taken off when its this cold before and we are off to an airport that's 10 degrees colder near Russia !!!!
The APU is running, the heaters doing their job and the systems gradually coming online. The computer/electrical systems in the Global Express can be temperamental at times so the best way of dealing with her is to turn the essential systems on and then let her settle for a good 5 minutes before getting to working with setting her up.
We have a last minute change of plans and are having to land into Dusseldorf to pick up a passenger and then head onto Eastern Europe, so I get to work with some replanning of the flight plan and file it, and then recalculate our fuel for the trip to make sure there's enough onboard .
The calculations for flying in icing conditions are different to a regular day as we are having to depart with wing and cowl anti ice on which will adjust our take off speeds so some extra considerations. Fortunately we have had the plane in the hangar so we don't need to de-ice the plane.
Sunset Welcome into Beirut 

Ice is one of the most serious of problems for aircraft and incredibly dangerous. A light covering of ice on the wing would bring the plane down or stop it from taking off and you might not even be able to see it, so if ever in doubt we de-ice. There have been way too many recorded accidents due to ice.
Before long the systems are all lighting up and I have the flight plan in the boxes and checked, the anti ice systems running , take off speeds calculated.

I'm pleased that I'm getting a real flow in the cockpit, and am starting to getting into the habits of the plane and noticing more and more if anything looks slightly out.

As per usual the owner and his colleagues were early so as soon as we were ready on the plane I was calling for engine start and signalling to the ground crew that I was starting the right hand engine, when that was up and stable I started the left one.
All the systems were firing as they should be so I called for Taxi and on our way to Germany.
The shorter flights on this aircraft are the busiest, before you have reached the cruise altitude you have to have the arrival all planned and briefed. No time for a cuppa on the way to Germany with it being a one hour flight and only getting to a cruise of 34,000ft.
I just had the flight computer programmed when I was called for initial descent so it was time to strap in and search for Dusseldorf.

It was a nice approach into Dusseldorf with German efficiency we were in with little time wasted on the parallel runways. Turning right off of the runway we had to wait for an enormous Emirates double decker to land and we crossed over the next runway and taxied to the private jet terminal for our passenger.
The Captain jumped off the plane to organise paying the landing fees and collect the passenger and I was left onboard to reprogram and get our clearances for the next flight to Eastern Europe which was going to take a further two and a half hours.
The tower controller was really helpful and I had the plane ready to go before passenger and Captain were back onboard, less than 20 minutes.
I briefed the captain on the departure and take off that we'd be taking and he was happy so it was time to call for taxi and head east.
Throttles to the fire wall and once again those rolls-royce engines roared it always gives me a rye smile and we are calling V1, with a slight delay to rotate and we are off the ground.
Positive rate of climb but we wait for gear up for 30 seconds to let any water drip off of the under carriage and there fore not freeze up in the gear bay.
We followed the published departure and were cleared straight up to 43,000ft which made life easy, this time we could take a breath and enjoy the cuppa in the cruise........
I managed to catch up on the paperwork for the flight , recording all of the fuel and timings which I can do these days on an iPad that will then sync with our computer back at base.

An hour out from the airport I use the online datalink to request the weather at our destination and with that I am able to judge the arrival and runway in use so then I can start to programme the Flight Management System for getting the plane on the correct navigational track. The strangest thing with Eastern Europe and Russia is that the measurements are in Metres per second for wind etc whereas most other countries use knots.

Whilst looking out of the cockpit at the view I received the radio call to commence descent and it snapped me out of my day dream thoughts and back into flight mode, I set the new altitude of 24,000ft we push the nose forward and its time to rejoin the real world way down below.

Landed in Eastern Europe with snow and ice on the ground.......

Thoughts for the day:
  • Taxing one Ice has its similarities to Ice skating but in a 40 tonne airplane
  • I can't believe xmas is not far away, its feels like August was last week
  • Oh hang on, it really is Xmas next week
  • Merry Christmas to anyone who reads this and I wish you all a happy healthy and prosperous New Year.

Monday, December 4, 2017

London's calling..... London's calling.....

Well, where are we......?
I was reminded at the weekend that I hadn't done my blog in a while, (thank you Gruff) so I have sat myself down to get the latest trip online.......
Departing Beirut and you can just about see the snow on the mountains in the background 
I'm back in Devon for a few days, we flew directly to London Stansted from Beirut. 
A few people have asked me a few questions over the passed few weeks about the plane I fly so I will try to answer them before I go into the flight back from Beirut to the Big Smoke.

I've been asked a few times how far can the jet I fly go with out refuelling and obviously this one depends a bit on winds (head winds/tail winds) but the plane's full name is a Global Express 6000 which is for 6000 nautical miles of distance that can be flown. That won't mean a lot to many people but to say we can fly for up to 13 hours in one hop before we need to refuel. So we can do some really long flights if we need to. 

My longest flight in it to date is just over 5 hours. 
We cruise at .83-.85 mach which in normal numbers is about 1000km/hour.
The altitude we fly at depends very much on our weight but we try to get as high as we can as it reduces the amount of fuel we burn. Usually up to 49,000ft which is way above the average holiday going jumbo so we don't have too many traffic problems that high up. We are usually above most weather issues as well so it makes for a very smooth ride indeed.

That being said, the high speed and altitude are all very high but the amazing thing with this plane is the take off and landing speeds are incredibly low, averaging around 105 knots which was I was convinced was a mistake when I first started to learn about a 48 ton airplane !!!
Anyway hopefully not bored you too much with facts and figures but I wanted to let people know as these are most of the questions I get asked a lot about.
The flight to London started out as a flight to Morocco, then a flight to Kiev over the course of a couple of days I was flight planning us even to Brazil but we got the final nod that the boss wanted to head to London.

In those few days the Prime Minister of Lebanon had returned to Beirut via France and the previous heightened tensions seemed to have relaxed a little but we still had the fuel on the plane which we had put on in anticipation of having to leave if the problems escalated at all. 
The flight planning on the computer was done in quick time and I filed it. I also had to update our EFB's , (Electronic Flight Bag) we are authorised to use iPads in our cockpit instead of thousands of bits of paper, we have 4 onboard iPads which really keep the cockpit in good shape, especially on the longer trips.
Turkey from above
The updates are tricky in Beirut as the internet in my apartment and in our office isn't the best and it can take a long time, so I have found the best wifi to be in Starbucks so usually park there with a pot of tea and my laptop and do the downloads in an arm chair.

Downloads all complete and computers updated. 
The driver collected us and it was time to get the plane ready to fly. I started up the APU (auxiliary power unit, which is generates power for the aircraft systems on the ground) and began the checklist. I got so far when I realised there was a problem, and a big problem at that. One of the main electrical systems wasn't coming online.  Something I have never seen before so time to give the Captain a shout.
"Oh that's not good" he says........
"We might not be going anywhere"
What followed was like an education for me. I am happy to say that I learnt a lot when I did the ground school on this plane and know how the systems work but the underlying secondary effects of some of those failures I would say I am rusty on. But watching Andy at work systematically going through all of the possibilities, testing various systems whilst isolating others is great to see, and the benefit of having flown these planes for over 10 years with more than 5000 hours on them.
We even tried the old fashioned way of lets turn it all off and on again. 
The system which wasn't working was essential to flight, so we decided to fire up the engines and see if that would bring it online incase it was a system block with the APU, and bobs your uncle it came to life. 
We were going to be able to fly but it would need to be added to the servicing list for when we get to London. 
Before long the boss was onboard, the doors were closing and I was firing up number 2 rolls-royce then number 1. 
I just love that sound.........
After start checks, additionally checking the previously failed electrics were online which they were.
Taxi checks complete and we were told to line up and wait runway 17.
30 seconds and those magical words "Cleared for Take off Runway 17"
Throttles forward
Airspeed alive.

We're off the ground !!!!!

Positive Rate of Climb
Gear Up
Flaps 0
Slats in 

Radio call to Radar
Engage Autopilot
Then after take off check list.......

A nice right turn on the Kalde 2D departure and we can see the airport and the mountains in the distance with some early winter snow on them.
I'll hope fully be skiing up there in the new year. 

The rate of climb on this plane is just amazing, the heart rate rises with it. I quite simply love flying it. 
I am approaching my first 100 hours in the plane and am really starting to feel like I am getting the hang of it and by the time I reach the 200 hours I will be ready for my next exams on it which I am starting to look forward too. 
Its also a real pleasure flying with someone as experienced as Andy, as every day is a school day with him.
There's not much time to wind the seat back as the electronic paperwork has to be completed, as we reach the cruise Andy asked me to work out where we would go with an emergency engine fire, so I put my paperwork down and set us up as to where I would get us to and then even more fun to justify why I was deciding on those places. 
Its always a good session to do these exercises as it keeps the brain focused and keeps me on my toes.
I decided on taking us into Rhodes on this occasion with the time, distance calculations done. I had also remembered to check the weather there to make sure it was nice and clear......

Its a reasonably long flight of 4hour 30 mins usually but it usually does go quite quickly. I do wonder to myself though what the 10-11 hour flights are like as I have never done that in one go before in the cockpit. 
As we are jetting over Europe I talk with Ankara , Sophia, Prague, Germany, Brussels where we start our descent and then finally on to London Radar.
Our approach checks, and arrival briefing was done, which is something I am starting to enjoy doing now I am getting more of a hang of the plane.
This was the moment the flight got busy !!!!
I haven't in my 2000 hours of flying experienced an approach as busy as this one. I think we must have spoken with 7 or 8 different London controllers, and our descent was being fragmented to only 1000 feet at a time sometimes and we were on radar vectors everywhere you can imagine. 
I don't think Andy and I spoke to each other from top of descent until the approach checks were being done, I was also having to remind myself to breath.
I had a glance over occasionally to Andy and caught a smile and nod from him as I was being cleared onto the ils approach for runway 22 Stansted.
The runway came into view and I had a sudden feeling of nostalgia from my very first flight in the plane to do my qualifying landings way back in July when I had exactly the same view on my first ever flight. 
I realised how much I have learnt in 6 months of flying this plane and also how much I enjoyed flying it. It really is an amazing piece of engineering......
For the time being she is being serviced in London and kept warm in a hangar and I get to enjoy some xmas spirit in East Devon........

Thoughts for the day:
  • Its a strange one that for once I am at home and my wife is the one away on her hols in Prague
  • I actually feel really Xmasy which is a strange one for me this far out 
  • There's nothing quite like a full English breakfast on a cold morning
  • A full English in the morning isn't conducive to getting much studying done......
  • The Dambusters is a great movie to watch after a Full English


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A long month and back in the air..... and all over the place..... and what to wear ??

Firstly there are some worrying signs of things in the Beirut/Lebanon region that are causing some feelings of uncertainty for all based and living in the region.
The Prime minister has resigned upon a visit to Saudi Arabia leaving the country rudderless with many different opposition factions who have historically not got along over the passed centuries.
Things are a little tense in the region and as a relative new comer to the area its hard not to sit and read every rumour online as to what is happening.
I have been fortunate enough to have a lovely few weeks off work whilst the plane has not been flying to visit Spain and my parents and have a well earned break with my wife
She deserved the break not me, she's works so hard at her job every day helping so many people, most of whom are far worse off than the rest of us, where as I get to hang around at 47,000ft looking out the window at clouds.

Upon my return to Beirut I landed at 1am and then had to be up and ready to fly at 10am later the same morning, so an early alarm call, get the iron out, press a couple of shirts and dust the uniform down, then empty the suitcase and refill it.
Hmmm...... where are we going and whats the weather going to be like......?
Plans for Cairo then Algeria , then possibly onto Europe then ending up in the USA.
That means a mixed bag of seasons and clothing to match.
Sitting in the Global express after nearly a month away and I realised how much I had missed it but also how a month away can affect the memory so decided to take it slowly in getting everything organised.

I checked with clearance delivery and the flight plan was in and I copied the clearance down.
True to form the owner and his business colleagues were early so I called for engine start and got the right engine going first as the doors were closed by the captain followed by the left engine firing up.
Boy it was nice to feel hum of those engines a greeting from a old friend.
Cleared for taxi and we were heading out to runway 17 for the Kalde 2d departure procedure.
Straight on up to 41,000ft.
It was nice to be in the air once again.
Cleared up to the cruise just over Cyprus to 45,000ft.
To be honest I didn't think we'd have time to get up there for a 1hour 5 min flight to Cairo but we were there in 22 minutes so a 10 minute cruise and I'm getting the weather for Cairo and working out the arrival.

Now as flying goes there is usually a bit of the time you are on the edge of your seat but for the most part its all procedures and it all works well.
Well that is until you try to fly into Cairo.
What a mess, its the meaning of the word chaos. They have no arrival procedures or departure procedures, its all just done on the hoof by the airport controllers. Which is fine when one aircraft arrives every half an hour but I could hear at least 8 on frequency arriving at the same time and if I put it in layman's terms all of us were heading for the same point in the sky much like a round about at Piccadilly Circus.
All speaking different languages, Arabic, French and English and we were doing 250knots.
The last time I felt like this was when I decided to drive around the L'Arc Du Triumph in Paris, I felt like my socks do when I throw them in the washing machine.
My job in all of this was to get the controller in the tower to let us descend and get us on the ground, much to my disappointment we were at 4,000ft directly over the airport and sent out on a direction to the Pyramids ........
Kind of like driving on the M4 and you look at the junction your meant to get off at but find yourself looking over your shoulder as it fizzes passed.
I looked over at my Captain and he smiled..... "I told you Cairo can be fun didn't I ?"
I managed to get us descending and I was happy to see the runway infront of us and be putting the landing gear down and going through the landing checklist.
We were in and down on the ground.
This was only going to be a quick stop though for 3-4 hours before heading off once again.

With the Captain in Algiers

I closed the engines down and decided to stretch out in the back of the plane and have a snooze, rest and read a book.
This VIP travel really can be a strange way of life.
It wasn't too long though before we were starting up those Rolls Royce engines once again and this time heading due West over North Africa.
Departing was with little difference to the arrival, I was given our departure clearance by the clearance delivery frequency, started up the engines, and we had a long old taxi, nearly 10 minutes to the other side of the airfield. The departure clearance was programmed into the computer and everything seemed to be going swimmingly.....
We were given permission to take off and just after the wheels had left the ground the tower controller amended our clearance, quite literally the busiest moment that we have in any flight. We are flying the plane, climbing away, accelerating and the chap decides to change everything, so I think I went into racehorse mode, Blinkers on and managed to change everything before we busted any altitudes, I think its the first time in my life I have successfully managed to multi task.
I looked over to Andy and he gave me a reassuring nod of the head as my left hand was amending the clearance instructions in the flight computer and the right hand was carrying out the take off departure  flying instructions, flaps, gear, heading, altitude , after take off checks.
Auto pilot engaged and a close eye on the flight management system to check that the new instructions were being carried out.
It was with some relief that we were leaving Cairo airspace and were passing 10,000ft and loosened the shoulder straps and I think started to breath.
The captain was happy, the plane was flying and we were on our way.
Up to 47,000ft and 3 hours or so in the cruise and we were heading in a straight line over the Med towards Crete and were taking a left turn towards the coast line of Tunisia.
As the sun was dropping I could see some storm cells forming and decided to try to video one as it reached its mature stage and could see the lightening from above.

How a thunder storm looks from above

As night fell I could see there were storm cells all around the area and also our onboard weather radar picks them up as well.
We had to dodge a few of them in the descent in to Algiers but it was quite impressive to see in the night sky even if it was a touch bumpy at times.
I could hear over the frequency a few aircraft who don't have the same equipment as us getting a little worried by the situation as they were trying to pick their way through the sky.
We made it nice and safely onto the very wet ground and could see that there had been some pretty serious amounts of rain through the area prior to us arriving.
For the time being it was time to secure the plane, head to the hotel and wait to hear when it was going to be time to fly again.

Thoughts for the day:

  • As I near my first 100 hours on this plane I'm getting to a point where I'm getting ahead of it at times which is a good feeling
  • I'm studying for my ATP exams at the moment and have realised that the February exam date is not that far away
  • I miss my wife
  • I really do hope the people of Lebanon don't have to suffer the problems of conflict once again
  • I don't really like flying in to Cairo

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Pointy Pyramids and a windy Nile, back in Africa and a room with a view

The River Nile whilst on descent into Egypt
Today was a good day in the air.
Up early after a shockingly bad nights' sleep, unfortunately someone set up a band playing outdoor music literally outside our hotel window who played quite few curtain calls. Oh and then they decided to dismantle the scaffolding stage until after 3am.
So when the alarm went off, or rather AD/DC started blaring out of my phone Back in Black at 0645, hiding my head under the pillow rather than filing a flight plan and putting my uniform was my initial reaction.
Hitting the snooze button was not an option though, it was time to file the flight plan, check the routing, look at the weather and the study the options for an alternative destination in the case of a problem.
The routing of the flight was to be out of Northern Europe over Maastricht turning south east over Austria, the coast line of the Adriatic and out over the Med and directly towards Africa.
The flight plan filed, a quick bite of breakfast and a drive out to the private jet terminal at the airport.
Climbing out of Europe
There are some differences in traveling through private jet terminals than when you travel cattle class with ryan air through a main terminal building.
One of my particular favourites is that I get to drive a rental car up to the VIP terminal and give the keys to a nice chap who works there and leave it with him, he then drives it back to the car rental people and deal with the paperwork and I don't have to get on buses and deal with the facetious people with their magnifying glasses checking the car over whilst rubbing their chins.
Another favourite is the coffee. The coffee really is good.
Downtown Cairo 
When I turned up this morning there was coffee, warm croissants and even the Formula 1 on the tv.
Not a bad way to start the working day whilst going over the paperwork and having the plane fuelled up, I sat going over the departure procedure for the take off that we were about to perform.

The plane was ready and as I sat in the cockpit getting the computers computing and all of a sudden there were fire engines driving all around and parking at various strategic points along the runway.
I popped the radio on and listened out as one of the training aircraft from the school based at the airport was have some difficulty with his under carriage. Well some difficulty with the light that indicates whether his under carriage is down or not.
The small twin engined plane was going to have to do a low pass with his gear down at 50foot over the runway whilst a lot of people were looking closely at their under carriage through binoculars, whilst at the same time lots of 737's were holding with hundreds of passengers onboard up in the skies.
Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro pass below

This reminded me of a similar incident I had a few years ago at Nantes in France when all I could see was the flashing blue lights at each exit to the runway as I approached.
The plane came down the runway flying at its 50ft all all of its wheels looked like they were in the right place, and I heard the radio call to the pilots saying as much. I'm sure I could hear their relief in their voices as they made another circuit of the airfield to come and make another approach to land. Fire Engines still at the ready.
The Greek Islands far down below
The twin engine DA42 landed on runway 25 safely, much to the student's relief.
Time for me to call for our departure clearance from the ground controller, I can see the owner of the plane's car arriving so I also call for engine start and get the immediate clearance.
Doors closed.
I hit the start switch for the right hand engine, and the reassuring whirl starts to send vibrations through the aircraft.
The numbers start to rise, oil pressure, N1 rising ITT rising.
A stable start on the first engine and time to start number 2.

With that its time to call for taxi and run the taxi checks, and for the first time since I have been flying the global express we are going to do an intersection take off, which in basic terms means that I'll not be taking off from the end of the runway but instead from one of the intersections part of the way down the runway, hoping that I have checked the right charts with the distances available and we have enough tarmac.
Cleared onto the runway and its time to push the throttles forward and get into the sky and onto the published departure.

Climbing through 1000feet , 2000 and on the way up to the cleared 6000ft.
When I get a call over the radio with a change of plans and have to swiftly change our course to follow the new directions.
Fast fingers on the controls and we are cleared up to 14,000ft on a different heading.

I think it was the busiest of departures that I have ever done, especially when you are easing on up to 1000km per hour.
Passing 10,000ft and I can relax my shoulder straps, change frequencies and even look out of the window.

I still love looking out of the window.
I'm not sure if its the photographer in me or 8 year old boy in me who used to love looking out of the window on those summer holiday flights, but its still looks special to me every time.

It really is a better office view than any corner office even on Central Park New York would ever offer.
Plus it moves at 1000km per hour.

Finally cleared up to the cruise altitude of 45,000ft and the views are just amazing.
Its time to enjoy a decent cup of coffee as the eyes are sagging a bit after the late night music and scaffolding Hokey Cokey.

On our aircraft we have a datalink system which allows me to request information electronically about the destination even from 500 miles away, so whilst sipping on the coffee I start to have a look at the weather reports at the airport. Its going to be 36 degrees and also the visibility isn't great but nothing to be worried about.
I note the current winds and that allows me to start to predict the arrival runway and I have a look at the charts to familiarise myself with everything I can expect.
I read with interest that there are 3 parallel runways, so its going to be busy and also lots of taxiing to be done when we are there.
Its going to be a busy day.
The first call for decent comes through, down to 37,000ft.
Descent checks are done, I have briefed the captain on the IFR approach into the airport and the plane is set up for the last part of the flight.

An incredible view of the desert city on finals
The first I see of Africa is the coastline in the mist as we are descending through 8000ft and then I see the sprawling cityscape. Its massive.
I've flown low over London many times and this is just as big. Only here there are the Pyramids of Giza and the River Nile in front of me rather than the River Thames and Big Ben.
Its just an incredible sight, thousands of years of history that I have only read about and seen on the tv is just below me.
Too busy to get many pictures as we are getting bumped around a bit and also directed all over the place by the controllers who's English is pretty questionable.
The final clearance that is always music to my ears, cleared for ILS approach, contact tower on.....
Thats when I get cleared for landing and we have the middle of those 3 parallel runways dead ahead.
Gear Down
Flaps 30
Landing Checklist


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Asia to Europe with a cold beer at the end

Departing out of OLBA with a right turn towards Europe on the Kalde2d departure

Early early early alarm call at 3:45am........
I am sure I literally just closed my eyes and opened them again. But no, AC/DC's Hells Bells is belting out of my phone as my alarm call, so its time to jump in the cold shower and get my game head on.
Before I hit the shower though I have to file the flight plan for the early departure. I'd had a few problems flight planning the night before with Euro Control permissions so I decided to wait until I woke up before I sent the flight plan off.

The ground below starts to turn greener as we head further north

Ping..... away it went so a shower and a shave and ready for the driver to collect me to head to the private jet terminal at the airport.
Enroute in the car I received the confirmation of the filed flight plan but with a CTOT. (Calculated Time of Take off) i.e. a delay from Air Traffic Control of 24 minutes for spacing into Europe.
The plane was ready and waiting open arriving at the jet terminal so I got straight onboard in the dark getting things going.
Landing gear pins onboard, covers off, flight plan into the computer. I called up ground control to see if I could get any advance on our departure and was in luck, it had been cut by 10 minutes.
The computers were all playing the right tunes and I calculated all off the take off performance for the take of, which was going to be the heaviest take off yet with 36,000 lbs of fuel onboard. One of the considerations with a plane like this and the fact that we can take so much fuel with the possibility of flying up to 13 hours if needed is we can take fuel with us if its going to be too expensive to refuel at the destination. Obviously the considerations of carrying the fuel with us has to go into the calculations but our destination of Belgium is super expensive for fuel with the taxes so we decide to carry it with us with enough for another flight whilst in Europe and get back to Beirut.
As always with Corporate flying, the best laid plans and all that.......
Back to the departure......
Calculations were made and our V1 speed was 124 knots and we also had another consideration on this departure as we were taking off over water with a lot of weight onboard the procedure is to turn one of the packs off and also close the number 2 outflow valve on take off. The outflow valve is a part of the pressurisation process, a small one way valve/hole which air is forced out of  low in the aircraft fuselage which is closed over water incase of an issue of ditching into water then water wouldn't rapidly fill the aircraft up.
This was all briefed and discussed with the Captain and also when these measures would be cancelled after take off during the after take off checks.
Austria down below the cloud
As per usual the owner and his colleagues were early so I gave the ground controller a nudge to see if we could get out a bit earlier, I was given permission to start the engines and told to taxi "slowly" to the runway.......
A gentle taxi out with the taxi checks completed and a quick re-briefing as we have a bit of time, which is always prudent when things are going to be different than usual.
Just as we arrive at the threshold for runway 17 we are cleared to line up and wait for departing traffic on runway 16.
Cleared for take off and Andy gently pushes the throttles forward to full power and that feeling of thrust that I will never grow tired of starts to push us down the runway.......
The speed tape comes alive, 40knots.... 50 , 60 , 70
I call 80knots for the speed cross check
90, 100, 120
The nose comes up and we are off the ground
The vertical speed indicator (VSI) registers a rate of climb
"Positive Rate"
"Gear Up"

After 400ft our speed increases and its flaps zero and slats in.

We are on the Kalde2D departure profile which means a right turn away from the high ground in front of us and that gives us an amazing view of the hills over The Lebanon in the early morning dawn light as we wave good bye to Asia and head towards Cyprus and Turkey ahead steadily climbing to our cleared altitude of 18,000ft.

After take off checks completed with the right pack and Outflow valve 2 returned to their usual state and we are well on our way.

Finally cleared to the cruise at 43,000ft which took a little longer than usual with the extra load onboard but as ever the view is breathtaking, quite literally above everything.

After the early start strong coffee was the order of the day.
It seemed to go fast this trip..... rapid fire as I was talking to Athens one minute, then suddenly realised I was talking with Vienna and being handed over to Brussels radar.
I got the weather for the airport and judged the arrival to expect from the iPad and started to load the arrival and landing performance into the FMS computer.
Before the top of descent I briefed Andy on the arrival procedure and we double checked it was all the same on the instruments so all was as it should be.
Just at the end of the briefing we were called for initial descent down to 33,000ft at 2500ft per minute.
The arrival plate for ILS 25 into Belgium 
Time to pop the nose forward and start to get ourselves ready. The shoulder harnesses get clipped in, descent checks done and away we go.
It was an ideal descent from our direction as we were slightly vectored and then were on a 100nm long final into the airport.
Before long Andy was calling for flaps 6, flaps 16, gear down and flaps 30........
The runway was in view straight ahead and without further a do we were on the ground.
After landing checks completed. I was talking with the ground controller and due to work on going at the airport we had quite a long taxi around and about, dodging Ryan Air planes, then getting permission to cross over the runway to the business jet terminal away from the main terminal.
As we crossed runway 25 there was a "Follow ME" car with his lights flashing away, so we did as requested and followed him, all the way to our parking spot.
Once we shut the engines down it became quite apparent that this airport is also used as a training airport for a flight school as there were plenty of small single engine and twin engine training planes doing their run up checks next to us and then heading off down the runway between Ryanair arrivals and departures.
I was lucky enough during the post flight walk around to get a picture of our Global Express with a Piper PA28 next to us doing his run ups, it was lovely to see the plane I used to fly for so many hour and the plane which I now get to fly.

The PA 28 next to us doing his engine checks before heading off for training.

Once I had put the plane to bed is was time to get a hire car and head off to the countryside where our Hotel Accommodation would be during this stop off
A 45 minute drive and we arrived in a lovely part of the world in the rural south of Belgium with forests and farm land everywhere.
First things first, check in, lunch with a local beer and a good long snooze to catch up after the early start.
A cold one after an early start
I woke up the next morning energised and well rested after a long day and early start. After breakfast I decided to enjoy the autumn sunshine and head off for a long walk along the nearby river, what was going to be a stroll turned into a Forest Gump style march as I was really enjoying the scenery and wildlife on the route.

Along the local river was an enormous Lock being cleaned out, I did wonder what they would find in there.......
I was lost in the music on my iPhone marching away I ended up walking for an hour and 10 minutes up the river...... at that point I realised that I also had an hour and 10 mins to walk back too.

The Properties in this area a just glorious with views over the river 

Nothing like a good long walk to blow out the cobwebs
After the legs were getting a little weary I sat on a bench and watched the wild life over the river, birds, ducks and swans were playing away in the peace and quite.......
Mmmm I thought back to yesterday and that cold beer.
Maybe its time for another one after the walk and with that the park bench was in the rear view mirror and the last mile back to the hotel was done with a spring in my step.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Off East from Africa to Asia

The Crystal Chandelier in the reception

A stunning hotel in North Africa and the flight planning back to our base.
A flight plan pretty much due East with over flight permits required for our 45,000ft trip .
So lots of considerations to be made prior to making this trip.
Pre-flight inspection with Capt. Andy

The departure was set for 1200 noon local time and due to the fact we were an hour from the airport and had lots to arrange on site we were collected from the accommodation at 0900.
African traffic is always fun to deal with especially when there are road blocks and checkpoints along the route.
So the best way to deal with it is to leave plenty of time and then a little bit extra as well.
Once we arrived at the airport we had to complete the immigration paper work side of things to receive our passports that have to be left with the airport officials upon arrival. Something I am never a fan of doing.
The plane was looking fantastic as ever upon reaching her, and with the doors opened up it was time to get her fired up and the systems online, and the cockpit cooling down with some aircon.

I have included a couple of videos of the walk around of the aircraft as well as I have been asked by a few readers to include some of the technical parts and information to the blog

Now that she has come out of maintenance and some of the tweaking has been done with the software the computer systems are really working well and the data-link system is just brilliant with connecting the flight plan routing into the onboard computer.
All that is then left for me to do is programme in the departure we are going to follow from the airfield which requires a little bit of negotiation between me and the ground controller to try to obtain the best departure for our routing.
Today I'm not the best negotiator, or maybe because I wasn't there in the chap's office with a few dollars as our departure is set in the opposite direction to that which we want to fly....... heading west.
In practical terms its going to mean accelerating to 250knots in the opposite direction of flight for 4 to 5 minutes and then accelerating to 300knots and then turning east and the radius of that turn is pretty huge and nearly ten minutes of flight time in the wrong direction means 20 minutes to be back where we were, and using up a huge amount of fuel. All of which costs money as well.
I decided to keep us a the slowest speed possible/allowable whilst heading in the wrong direction to try to mitigate the waste of fuel as much as possible.
I had to load the local temperatures and weather in to the flight computer to obtain our speeds for departure and they came back as V1 113knots, V2 127 , VFTO 171.

Briefing with the captain completed and he was happy with the speed adjustments for the departure.

The passengers arrived in good time, so we closed up the doors, I started the engines and we were given an immediate taxi clearance. (Fortunately a bit better than when we came in)
We were able to taxi directly to the hold for runway 22.
Taxi checks completed, the speeds all looking good and time tell them we were ready to go.
It was nice to be given an immediate departure, even if it was in the opposite direction to our destination, but we were cleared immediately to 33,000ft so throttles forward and we'd the initial climb out to get to altitude and use that distance practically. Even if it did mean quite a rate of climb as soon as the wheels let the tarmac.
But its the kind of talk off I like the most, as this airplane really does love to be high and fast. Yes, and she does make me smile.

After take off, gear up, flaps in and 33,000ft set at 2500ft per minute.
After take off checks completed, shoulder straps loosened off and passenger seat belt signs can go off.
I can already hear the kettle being put on.
The call comes through to climb to our cruising altitude of 45,000ft and also turn in the right direction so we are off to the races.
Pretty soon we are heading over Tunisia and then over the coast to the Med.

The view in the cruise on this place whilst having a cuppa Tetley makes all the studying to get here well worth while
Captain Andy was is in a sporting mood today, so once we were up in the cruise at 45,000ft and I have a cuppa in hand he decided to start testing my knowledge and training by running me through a few drills.
"What do we do right now if we lose an engine?"
"where are we going to go ?"

So I get the QRH (Quick Reference Handbook) out and get the answers, for the drift down single engine altitude, the speed, distance and time calculations.
Then once that is complete I start looking at where we would divert to within those parameters.
Athens, Malta, or a turn back to departure field were all options.
Time to look at what the weather is at those destinations and also facilities in place at each to help to form a considered plan of action.
My decision was to turn back which Andy was happy with, but he then asked why.
I said that we knew that the weather and current situation on the ground was safe and we also have everything already programmed in the onboard computer for there.
He then asked if I knew if there were engineers for Bombardier on there, with a knowing smile.......
Ahhhh the boss has some local knowledge.
It turns out that there are Bombardier service centres both on Malta and in Athens, so maybe it would be a better decision to divert there.
Note to self. Find out where the service centres are.

Tunisa far below
No time to rest up it was then time to start looking at the arrival. 
I obtained the local weather at destination and all was looking pretty good if not pretty humid. 
I loaded all of this information into the flight computer along with the weights etc and received our landing speeds of 107 knots.
It never ceases to amaze me with the size of the wings we have on this aircraft how slow we can approach the field.
Its flight profile from slow take off speeds to .85 mach in the cruise to landing speeds, it really is an amazing feet of engineering.

North Africa on departure
With the approach loaded for an ILS for runway 16 with Vectors into Beirut, I requested initial descent and the idea was to then try to keep a constant descent all of the way down.
I was really pleased with how this worked on this trip, keeping ahead of the plane all the way down, and coordinating with ATC well in advance and before long it was time for gear down, and flaps 30 with the field in site.
The mist was sitting on the hills of Beirut as it apparently likes to at this time of year.
I am still praying that it will cool down as autumn approaches but its still just over 29 degrees at 5pm local time.

Thoughts for the day:

When we were sitting on the tarmac in Africa, the citation XII below was parked next us. It was with great sadness that I read today that shortly after I took this it crashed on landing in Turkey at night.
I am pleased to hear that the two pilots, the hostess and passenger all were able to escape after the aircraft came to a stop.

The citation parked next to us in Africa 

A pretty big week of flying with some centreline hopscotch.....

Hours flown this month(FEB): 33 Landings: 8 Countries visited: 5  Continents visited: 3  Quick iron of the shirt and in th...