Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I saw this on AvCanada. This is such an evil thing to do. Seriously, I think the pax should be allowed to either press charges or vigorously groin-punch the pilot for an extended period of time.

I kinda laughed a little though.

Monday, July 26, 2010

More high-deffy flying frolics! The sun was shining everywhere but in the valley that held our destination airport today. That was fine, I really enjoyed this approach. ATC kept us at 23,000' the whole way here, so I didn't bother hooking up the autopilot - I hand-flew the whole flight, like back in the old days. Yes, that also explains the shaky approach and landing :)

*Update* the localizer on this particular approach is offset a couple of degrees to the left, which you can see as we ride the sky-rails on down. An ILS approach can be offset up to 3 degrees to either side and still be called an ILS. In this case, my guess is that terrain played a role in the decision to offset the approach a little bit. Here's a link to a pdf of the NOAA approach chart for the runway so you don't have to take my word for it - it says so near the middle of the top of the diagram :)

When you offset the localizer, the decision height increases, usually by 50 feet for every degree of offset. And that's your pilot-geek factoid for the day! :)

We were up extra-early this morning, and touched down in Scranton just before 8am. No, we weren't taking paper company employees :p

Notice the suicidal birds at 8:53 into the video or so - not much I can do about them at that point but hold my breath and hope they don't get inhaled by an engine. We'd still land safely but a new engine is just north of $350,000 and payday isn't until Friday, so we'd be stuck for a while.

The music is extra-geeky, it's a remix of Still Alive, which is itself a song from a video game called Mirror's Edge. It's a bit ethereal, but I liked the piano parts and the song was pretty much the same length as the video I took, so I mashed them together.

Today was a good day.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lisa's parents took us out to a nice restaurant last night, in anticipation of our 2nd wedding anniversary which is in two days. Damn, time speeds up. Someone on Facebook sent me a note saying "Beauty and the Beast", but I disagree - I don't think Lisa looks like a beast at all.

We did up our budget and it appears we have finally saved enough money to have a kid (our kid last year was a house), so I might not be posting as regularly for a while...practice makes perfect and all that.

Off to a friend's wedding now. Check the local forecast, the wedding is scheduled for 2130 GMT:

PROB30 2416/2418 11/2SM +TSRA BR BKN006 OVC025CB
FM241800 24012G22KT P6SM BKN025
TEMPO 2418/2502 P6SM -SHRA BKN020
PROB30 2422/2502 VRB20G35KT 1/2SM +TSRA BR BKN004 OVC020CB

We brought rain-gear and lightning rods, just in case :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Youtube suggested I view this video. I'm not sure I should have done so - it gave me the shakes just to watch it. Hail = not good.

Monday, July 19, 2010

2 posts in one day, but this was waaay too cool to pass up. We took a look at a B-17 bomber that was sitting by the FBO in Albany.

Here's a transcription of a press release on the beast:

The Liberty Foundation’s B-17G (SN 44-85734) has an interesting post-war history. Originally sold on June 25, 1947 as scrap to Esperado Mining Co. of Altus, OK, it sold again later that year to Pratt & Whitney for $2,700. Pratt & Whitney operated the B-17 from November 19, 1947 to 1967 as a heavily modified test bed for their P&W T-34 and T-64 turboprop engines. It became a “5-engine aircraft”, having the powerful prototype engine mounted on the nose! The aircraft was flown “single-engine”, with all four radial engines feathered during test flights.

Following this life as a test platform, it was donated in the late 1960s to the Connecticut Aeronautical Historic Association in East Hartford.Unfortunately, it was heavily damaged on October 3, 1979 in a tornado, in which another aircraft was thrown onto the B-17’s mid-section. The wreck was stored in the New England Air Museum, CT from 1981 until 1987.

I did a walkaround for about 10 minutes, here you go. Pretty cool. Wait til youtube is done processing the video for the full 720p awesomeness.

We are doing a tour of New York state today; we are on our third leg of four, dodging thunderstorms and eating at lousy restaurants while waiting on our clients. We are in KALB Albany at the moment - here's a video of Kitch's approach into here an hour ago, in glorious hi-def.

There was a nasty Tstorm about 3 miles north of the airport, so we elected to use runway 01, which put us south of the airport on final approach. It was +30 outside, with all the bumps that come along with daytime heating, and a few extra ones courtesy of the tstorm cel.

Gotta love the turn to final at 500'! We were avoiding certain death, or at least a few minor bumps. It looks cool too, and you can't put a price on that!

Once we got into Albany, we went to the only FBO, Million Air. I haven't been to this FBO before, but I was pretty impressed. I took a video so you can see why - this is how an FBO should be. The only downside is that a place like this must have one hell of an overhead to pay, so jet fuel here probably costs more by volume than printer ink ;) Oh well, they have free cookies.

One other thing that's cool is the upload speed of the Million Air internet connection - I uploaded 700 megs of video using their wireless in less than 7 minutes. Badass!

Here's a vid of the FBO.

Friday, July 16, 2010

2 landings for your perusal, both in glorious 720p hidef. I love my little Kodak Zi-6 video recorder, I got it last year for $150 online.

Anyway, the first approach was a nice circling visual approach into MYAM, Marsh Harbour. The airport itself is out of town, so you can really get a good idea of what the 'black hole approach' is all about. It was at 10:30pm with some local fog in the area. This approach was kinda screwed up at first (not recorded on video) as the Miami controller forgot about us and we ended up losing communications with ATC for about 10 minutes while approaching Marsh Harbour. Eventually a passing airliner heard us and relayed the correct frequency to us through their ATC person, and it worked out, but the end result was that we were about 10 miles from Marsh Harbour at 22,000' before we could descend. Normally we'd be at about 3,000', so we had to dump the speedbrakes and drop like an elevator for a few minutes to get back on the proper descent angle. Our speedbrakes are fairly effective but they also rumble the whole airplane like crazy, so I made sure to let our passenger know about that beforehand so the pax didn't think the plane was coming apart when all the rumbling started.

You should fast-forward at least the first minute, it's pretty boring. Sorry for the blur, I was holding the camera instead of mounting it. As you will undoubtedly notice, a night VFR landing into a black hole airport is pretty much an IFR procedure - there really isn't much to look at outside, so we go by the PAPI lights (if they exist) or by simple math to calculate how high we should be on final approach. If there is no glideslope information then we use 300/1, meaning that on a 3-mile final, we should be 900 feet above the runway threshold, at 2 miles we should be at 600 above, etc. In our jet that works out to about 600-700 feet per minute descent rate, and you better believe that the pilot who isn't flying is constantly updating and crosschecking the distance vs the altitude and letting the flying pilot know if we are a little high or a little low. In the case of CYAM, there was a PAPI indicator to the left of the runway, so we used that as well as basic math for a crosscheck. All credit to Kitsch for the actual landing.

This next one is all Sully, it's pretty much a clone of the one I posted last week. After we overnighted in Marsh Harbour, we flew back to Toronto yesterday morning and I did a visual approach onto runway 23 at Toronto Pearson. It was nice and bumpy with a gusty crosswind of about 18 knots. In this case, the crosswind was from the left to the right, and you will see that the nose of the plane is angled to the left of the runway during the final approach. The last minute gives an idea of my crosswind landing technique - different people do it differently, but my shtick is to point the nose into the wind until the last 50 feet or so, then align the nose with the runway, drop a wing into the wind and keep the plane straight with rudder. Ideally the first wheel that touches down is the wheel that faces into the wind, followed by the other wheel, followed by the nose wheel. In this particular landing it's more like clunk-clunk-clunk all at once. Some landings you win, some landings you win a little less. It wasn't my greatest, but the plane was still useable afterward, so I'll take what I can get :)

This particular trip gave me some material for yet another post, so I'll do that soon - we did something that I have never had to do before in 22 years of flying, and I'll share what that was shortly.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

We flew from Newark to Marsh Harbour, Bahamas last night. On the way down, we passed this particularly fine electrical storm. See if you can count the flashes in 4 minutes! Or don't, that's okay too. Either way, it was a pretty unruly cel, and we kept well clear of it - at the closest point to it, we were 80 miles (130km) distant. Even from a distance, big thunderstorms look closer than they are because they are so large. I have zero interest in finding out how big they appear from up close.

I really can't sing enough praise to our weather radar and our satellite radar.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We are currently sitting in Newark NJ, KEWR, waiting for a passenger to arrive so we can head down to Bahamas. There's lots of weather around, and our pax is flying into EWR on a commercial flight which has been delayed twice already - I'm giving it 50/50 whether or not we end up scrubbing the flight for today, and 50/50 that if we end up going south today that we end up having to stay over in Bahamas due to duty day concerns - we started our day at noon today, so that gives us til 2am to get back to Toronto. It's 4pm already, and our passenger's commercial flight still hasn't departed from it's 90-minute-away location toward Newark.

Anyhoo, Kitsch flew us here and I took a video of the ILS down runway 4R as we were dodging thunderstorms and rain on the way in. I'll tell ya, the approach controller here was a true maestro - he vectored us in between some really bad-ass cels and was able to get us nicely lined up with the runway for our final approach - from the sounds of his transmissions, he was really enjoying himself, which was cool to hear.

The video is Hi-Def in 720p, so if your computer has the oomph, crank the resolution up and go full-screen. I didn't dub a song over the audio track, so there's likely lots of wind noise and whatnot.

Now we of the joys of charter flights :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Checkride Post, Part II. Scroll down 2 posts for Part I.

I wanted to make a good impression on the 2 Transport Inspectors who would be accompanying me on the ride, so I printed out copies of the candidate's licence info, the company SOP's, the company flight profiles, the company training program, the company Ops Manual, and all the approach charts we would be using, both at Toronto Pearson and Hamilton, the nearby airport we'd be conducting most of the checkride at.

I put the twelve pounds of paper into a binder, and made a nice pretty cover on it, hopeful that a slick presentation might be an acceptable substitute for (lack of) professionalism and skill on my part :)

I was all prepared for the ride, and the weather forecast was actually threatening to cooperate, so all I had to do was wait until the next day, then drive to the airport and get it over with.

I slept really poorly the night before the ride, which surprised me, considering it was the candidate who really was under the gun - I found myself doing flying checklists and emergency drills in my sleep. When I'm the subject of a check-ride I usually have a lousy sleep the night before and end up doing checklists in my head all night, but at least I have the drills for my own airplane memorized - in this case, I had never flown up front before, and I wasn't overly familiar with the aircraft checklists, so my brain was simply inventing things, like "sleep on your side, then rotate pillow counterclockwise 1/2 turn, then clockwise 2 turns" etc. Finally 7am came, and I got ready, then drove to the airport. The weather turned out to be great (stupidly hot, but clear skies), so that was one less thing to worry about.

The candidate was already at the airport, checking weather, double-checking his weight and balance for the aircraft, and generally fretting. I did my best to console him.

"Dude, I totally understand where you are coming from. Checkrides $%#@ing suck - I have to do them too, and I can empathize. I will give you a fair evaluation, and I have no intent to make this more traumatizing than need be."

"Thanks Sully, but you gotta remember there will be 2 guys from Transport Canada looking at me the whole time, and I don't know what their mindset is."

"Oh yeah. Now I'm stressed, thanks for that."

He smiled a little, so that was nice.

After a little while, the copilot showed up, and so did the 2 Transport Guys. I recognized one of them from a previous training course - he was a good guy during the course, so that was good to see. The other guy was a fresh inspector who was attending this session to get up to speed on how monitored checkrides worked, and I introduced myself.

"Hi, I'm Sully. Nice to meet you, let's see if we can't survive this process."
He smiled.
"Hi Sully, I'm Inspector #2. I used to be in Transport Canada Enforcement, and I don't recognize your name so I guess that's a good thing. Oh, it says that the company you work for has just been assigned to me - I'm your new Principal Inspector, so I guess I'll be seeing you again when I audit you next month."
"Audit? Next month? Ack!"

So the new inspector was a guy I'd be dealing with soon when my own operation was on the line. I crossed my fingers and silently pleaded with my various deities to not let me have a meltdown during the ride, which would not bode well for future interactions with this fellow. At least I was wearing pants, so I was hoping I made a decent first impression.

I handed the inspectors their shiny binders full of relevant information, and the 5 of us (2 Inspectors, the candidate Captain and his First Officer) sat down to chat for a bit.

Here's the cheat sheet I made up for this briefing, so that I wouldn't forget to cover all the important (ie required) points:


Company Check Pilot Briefing Guide

• Introductions

• How are you doing? Did you sleep okay? Are you feeling well?

• We are here today to renew your PPC/IFR. Once we are done the ground part, the flight should take about an hour and a half, depending on the mood of ATC. I imagine you are a bit nervous, but don’t be, this is going to be a walk in the park. The standards are no tougher than the ones you have already shown you can meet. The training you have been doing for the past few days is likely a lot more difficult than this ride, and it will probably be anticlimactic for you.

• In training you had multiple failures, one after the other. During the ride we will NOT have multiple unrelated failures, and we can go at a much slower pace. I will tell you if/when simulated equipment failures will arise. If some equipment stops working in real life, we will assess the situation and will either continue on with the ride or end the ride and return to a safe airport.

• During the ride, avoid the temptation to rush. If you find yourself feeling rushed during any part of the ride, ask for vectors or a hold to give you as much time as you need before moving on to the next phase.

• From time to time you may notice that I’m writing things down during the ride. My writing things down does NOT mean that you have screwed anything up; I could be writing good things as well as things to bring up during debriefing, or just simply writing down questions about the aircraft – I have only flown in a PC-12 once, so I might have some additional questions at the end of the flight just to satisfy my curiosity.

• During the ride you may think you have messed something up. As long as the ride is still going, the ride is still going, so try to put any perceived errors out of your mind and move on to the next phase.

• When we get to the plane assume it’s the first flight of the day, which means a black cockpit. Also, assume the weather is at IFR minimums, and you can expect the weather to be at or below minimums for the approaches being conducted. When you get to the DH or the MAP, I’ll tell you if you see the runway. If you see the runway, then land! Otherwise, conduct a missed approach.

• Now onto the ride sequences: As you are no doubt familiar, we have to demonstrate some required items, which we will quickly go over. We need to see a normal takeoff, a rejected takeoff, a hold, 2 approaches (one precision and one non-precision), at least 2 engine failures, and at least 2 landings. With your Ops Spec we will also need to see (circling) and a GPS approach, along with demonstrated single-pilot authority as well as multi-crew Captain authority. We will also have a few abnormal situations come up and will expect you to deal with them just like how you would in real life.

• During the ride, you will be evaluated in accordance with the Pilot Proficiency Check and Aircraft Type Rating Flight Test Guide (Aeroplane) TP 14727. Are you familiar with the standards? (heading, altitude tolerances etc)(If candidate is not, then provide candidate a copy of the flight test guide and allow candidate to become familiar with the standards)

• Fill out paperwork, consulting laminated “PRIOR TO CONDUCTING A FLIGHT TEST” card

• Do you have any questions so far?

• We will try to keep the ride as realistic as possible. The PF is generally expected to initiate the response to an emergency, but there are 2 crew on this ride, so help each other out as you would on a normal flight in real life. We want to see you work as a team, and operate according to ATC clearances, your company SOP’s, the AFM, the CARs, your emergency checklists and any and all other applicable publications. With 2 crew rides, this means that both crew’s licenses and qualifications are being evaluated, and a serious mistake on a ride could possibly affect the licences and qualifications of both crewmembers. You can use the automation in the airplane just as you would in real life, so don’t hesitate to use the autopilot when applicable to make your life easier.

• During the ride I may give you some instructions and ask you to relay them to ATC. If one of my instructions conflicts with a real ATC clearance, please follow the real ATC clearance but let me know. I will not attempt to trick you, and I will not intentionally give an illegal or bad instruction. That being said, you are responsible for any instructions and clearances that you choose to accept. Any situation caused by an incorrect action or response will not be corrected by me unless it affects the safety of flight.

• If you have any questions about anything, feel free to ask. During the ride, if you have any questions about a clearance, a ride sequence, or want to clarify anything I have said that might be confusing, please ask.

• I know it’s easy to say, but do your best to relax, and take your time.

• Any final questions before we head into the plane?


• This was a pass / fail, and I have a few items I’d like to go over before we are done here.
• How do you think you did (don’t let candidate only focus on errors, also highlight positive things)
• I think overall you did very well, especially (highlight above-average performance)
• Identify major / minor errors, attempt to advise not criticize
• Do you have any questions before I sign your licence?

If Pass: - Endorse Licence or issue temp licence privileges
- Complete Application for Endorsement

If Fail: - advise reasons for fail
- advise regarding re-test
- advise right to appeal to TATC
- suspend IFR rating


You may notice that I never mention the word "failure" during my little speech. That's on purpose. I figure it's a scary enough experience for the candidate and it would just add to the stress level - everyone who has done a checkride is acutely aware that it's possible to fail one, so why emphasize that?

After I gave my speech, we talked about the airplane for a while, with me asking various technical questions (detailed a little in my previous checkride post) and the Captain answering them. He got them all right, and on the ones he didn't have memorized, he knew exactly where to look for the answers (ie, the aircraft flight manual, or the CAP Gen section, or his company Operations manual etc).

Having satisfied our requirement to conduct a ground briefing, we then headed to the airplane. The Inspectors sat behind me and wired themselves into the audio system so they could hear the crew and Air Traffic Control. They had copies of my planned ride script, so they knew in advance what emergencies I was going to introduce on the ride. I wedged myself in between the Captain and Copilot, plugged myself into the intercom and watched as they fired up and taxiied out toward an active runway at Toronto Pearson.

I watched as they followed their checklist, and as the Captain carefully taxiied down the exact middle of the taxiways. The crew had flown together before, and they were clearly comfortable with each other, so that made the checklists flow quickly and easily.

I de-wedged myself from the cockpit and took a passenger seat for the takeoff, then went back up front to observe. We flew toward Hamilton and found a nice clear patch of sky to get our steep turns out of the way. The candidate did just fine, so we got a clearance to hold at a navigation beacon right by Hamilton. Again, the candidate did just fine. After the hold, we set up for a GPS approach to a runway, circling for a different runway. No problems there at all, the candidate circled and set himself up for a nice landing. I had other plans though - when we were 50' in the air about to land, I told him that a moose had strayed onto the runway, so the candidate did a low-energy goaround, (a mandatory requirement since an Air Canada crash in Fredericton a few years ago). He was smooth, calm and collected, and we climbed skyward. I then asked him to do a visual circuit for the original runway, and when we were downwind for landing, I asked him to simulate an engine failure. This is the part I was most curious about, and it turns out the PC-12 can glide a pretty great distance with a failed engine, so that was cool. On a single-engine ride it's not a mandatory requirement to be able to glide to a runway after an engine failure - the candidate just needs to be able to demonstrate the proper emergency drills and maintain control of the aircraft to touchdown - but in this case we had more than enough altitude to set up for a gliding arrival onto the runway in Hamilton. That was all the multi-crew stuff done, so I told him that the First Officer had eaten some bad salmon for lunch, and the Captain was on his own for the final leg back from Hamilton to Toronto. No sweat, he did all the checklists by himself and we blasted off from Hamilton back home.

This is the part that got a little interesting.

We were about 10 minutes from Toronto when ATC came on the radio and said "Trainer 1, Pearson is closed due to an aircraft emergency. Say your intentions." I pointed at the f/o and did the finger across the throat sign, indicating that he was to remain silent and let the Captain figure all this out - this sort of thing could conceivably happen when the Captain was flying single-pilot and it would provide me an unexpected but good source of additional information to help evaluate the Captain in the performance of his duties.

The Captain did all the right stuff - he knew that the weather was good so we could land at a few different airports if need be, but he still had a mission to accomplish (get us back to Pearson safe and sound), so he didn't want to give up just yet. He confirmed that we still had a couple of hours of gas in the tanks (a PC-12 with full tanks can go for about 7 bladderbusting hours if need be), so he asked for ATC to let us hold while they dealt with the aircraft mayday at Toronto. They gave him a hold clearance, and we headed toward the navigation fix, which happened to be out over Lake Ontario. He also climbed up so that we could glide to the shore in the unlikely event the engine failed during the hold, and that told me he had good situational awareness - he was able to think outside the box a little, and not just follow checklists, which is a sign of a good Captain. We did a few laps around the lake before ATC told us that the emergency had been dealt with. Once that was all good, we set up for an uneventful single-pilot ILS back into Toronto.

The Captain landed, taxiied back to our base and shut down, taking care not to knock the wingtip against the hangar door (people have actually passed a checkride only to fail at the very last minute by screwing up the aircraft parking and smoking a solid object with a wing). I told him he had passed the ride, and we all went inside to debrief.

The debriefing was uneventful - the Captain's performance was damn near flawless, so I really didn't have much to say. The Transport guys were also satisfied that he knew what he was doing, and that I knew what I was doing when I said that in my opinion that he knew what he was doing. I did the final bit of paperwork, the Captain got his license signed off, we shook hands, and that was that.

My new Principal Inspector seemed happy, so hopefully he at least won't be predisposed to put me in federal prison when my company audit comes up at the end of August. Hopefully.

Finally, here's a copy of the evaluation that I got from the Transport Canada Inspector who watched me. The marking scale is interesting - a mark of 3 indicated that I met the standard, while a mark of 4 indicates that I exceeded the standard in that particular field. I was happy with what I got - the only comment from TC was that I could have asked more questions during the ground briefing, so under "Scope of Flight Check" I got a bunch of 3's with extra bonus points for going above and beyond.

You'll see that the notes section says that the checkride was for the addition of SMEL, which means that now I can conduct PPC/IFR checkrides on just about any non-jet aircraft, and also conduct checkrides in the actual airplane rather than just in the simulator. This expands my authority, and will hopefully allow me to conduct a few more checkrides between now and this time next year, when my ACP renewal comes up again. I don't do it for the money, but I actually really enjoy the experience, and it's an interesting way to meet new people and see how other pilots fly.

Damn this was a long-winded post, but I hope I was able to peel the curtain back a little bit and give you a slightly better understanding of what goes on during a checkride from the perspective of the person doing the checking. Safe flights!

ps The emergency at Pearson turned out to be an aircraft that had an unsafe landing gear indication, but was eventually able to fix the problem and land uneventfully. We were only delayed about 15 minutes, so no huge deal.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I'll finish my previous post tomorrow, I got busy this weekend with sundry stuff. We are in New Jersey tonight, and I saw a famous person as we were driving away from the FBO! A famous person from New Jersey, actually. A famous person in track pants...

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I had an interesting flight yesterday, but I wasn't sitting in the front. I was in fact squatting in the aisle for most of it. Nope, this wasn't in the simulator either.

Long story long: I'm an ACP (Approved Check Pilot) for the Citation 550, which means I can do checkrides on other pilots in that particular type of aircraft. I wanted to widen my scope a little bit, so I asked Transport Canada if I could get authority to do checkrides on all single-and-multiengine non-high-performance aircraft, which essentially means all non-jet aircraft. They responded with a letter saying that they would like to see me conduct a checkride on a small aircraft first before making up their minds. The letter pointed out that I have only conducted checkrides in the simulator before, and conducting one in an actual aircraft can be a quite different experience (I found out yesterday how very true that is, but I'm getting ahead of myself). Fair enough, that's entirely within their rights. I started looking about for someone who might need a checkride, and I ended up chatting with a friend I have known for a few years, a guy I flew with who later left the Citation 550 and went into management at a different charter company that operates turboprop (jet engines that spin propellors) aircraft. He mentioned that one of his pilots needed a renewal checkride, and the die was cast. I told him that a Transport Canada inspector would be riding along with us, watching me watch the candidate, and to his eternal credit he agreed to that scenario. Perhaps you're thinking "Sure he agreed, it wasn't him that was going to be flying", but that's only partially true. You see, the particular turboprop aircraft we flew on is certified for flight with one or two pilots, depending on the scenario, and my friend would be acting as the copilot on the checkride. The funny thing about being a copilot on a ride is that you don't necessarily get anything renewed at the end of the ordeal, but if you screw up you can have your license suspended. Now that I think about it, I guess that's not actually very funny, but whatever - it's how things are done in Canada.

Anyhoo, I have only flown in this particular turboprop as a passenger before, so I got my grubby paws on some aircraft manuals and did some studying so I'd at least have some decent questions to ask the candidate during the ground briefing. I prefer to ask questions that have an operational slant to them - instead of asking stuff like "draw me a diagram of the fuel pump and explain how it works", I prefer to ask things like "If you land at an airport and they accidentally fuel you up with avgas (for piston-powered aircraft) instead of jet fuel, can you fly the airplane home?" or "You are stuck at an airport overnight in -40 temperatures. The only hangar that's available is 50 feet wide by 50 feet deep by 18 feet high. Will the plane fit?" or "On your walkaround you notice that one of your two aircraft batteries is dead, but the other one is fine. Can you still go flying?" You get the idea. So I cracked open a whole pile of reading material, including their company Ops Manual and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), which provide blueprints about how they operate the airplane and the specific duties and roles of the Captain and First Officer during the flight. For example, the SOP's will list the verbal callouts that each pilot is expected to make during the takeoff roll, like this:

Captain: Full power, engine gauges are green, airspeed is alive
First Officer: 70 knots
Captain: Crosscheck
First Officer: 84 knots, rotate
First Officer: Positive Rate
Captain: Gear up
First Officer: through 400 feet
Captain: Flaps up


That way I'd know what to listen for during the flight, and I'd have a better idea of what was going on. Every company has a slightly different way of operating, and differences in SOP's can be significant even if they are operating exactly the same type of aircraft - when I fly a Citation 550 for a friendly competitor I make different verbal calls and perform different actions than when I fly our Citation 550 - different strokes for different folks I guess.

Now getting back to the checkride - as it was going to be in the actual airplane, we would be departing Toronto Pearson and flying to a nearby airport to conduct our training exercises - Pearson is waaaay too busy for that sort of thing. When I do checkrides I like to make up a script that details the exercises we will be covering, along with the general order. In the simulator you can be totally specific about what's gonna happen, and I detailed a simulator script in a previous post. However in the real airplane, sometimes things happen - other aircraft are flying around the airport and you might not necessarily get the exact approach you were hoping for, or the exact runway, or the exact sequence of events you had planned out, so you have to be flexible and if you get a curveball, you might need to plan something else that covers the required items on the ride but in a different way.

On an IFR PPC checkride there are a number of different requirements, including:

- at least 2 takeoffs and landings
- a non-precision approach, and a precision approach
- a hold
- steep turns
- a rejected landing / missed approach
- at least 2 engine failures
- other emergencies as required (that part is fun because you get to decide what simulated emergencies the candidate has to deal with)
- a landing with at least 50% of the available engines failed (you can simulate the engine failures by pulling the power back on the affected engines, we never actually shut them off in the actual airplane)
- other requirements as dictated by the Company Operations Specifications

In this case, the company that operated the turboprop had a couple of addons - they did GPS approaches, they did circling approaches, and they wanted the pilot certified as a Captain in a multi-crew environment and as a single-pilot Captain.

It was time to earn my outrageous salary. I put on my thinking cap and made up a script that would cover the required items. It took me a few beers and some minor cursing but I managed to make it work in a fairly efficient way, at least on paper.

The script for the ground briefing looked something like this:

1. Explain procedures for Engine Failure in Flight, climbing through 1,000'
2. Explain procedures for Crew Incapacitation
3. Explain procedures for Engine Fire during takeoff roll
4. Discuss realistic scenario (like the questions I asked about the hangar width and aircraft misfuelling etc) and answer 5 questions relating to it.

The script for the flight looked something like this:

1. Engine start with simulated malfunction (Hung Start)
2. Area Departure, track to nearby airport
3. Steep turns
4. Hold at a nearby airport beacon
5. Engine Chip light illumination
6. GPS approach for a runway, circling for a different runway
7. Rejected Landing / Missed Approach
8. Visual circuit back to original runway with engine failure on downwind leg
9. Land
10. Single-pilot flight back to Toronto with ILS approach runway 23
11. Land, kiss the ground and endorse the candidate's license

Oh, here's a pic of a typical interior that this type of airplane might have. Pretty nice, eh. This turboprop is not small.

Now here's a pic of a what this type of aircraft looks like:

You may notice a couple of things. First, whomever painted this particular airplane (not the one we flew) probably needs a seeing-eye dog. Second, it has but a single engine. I haven't flown in a single-engine airplane for years, and as part of our checkride, I was going to ask the pilot to simulate an engine failure. Let's hope this puppy can glide better than a brick...

Oh, one last thing before I continue this post tomorrow...Transport called a few days ago and said that the TC Inspector who was assigned to monitor me was also going to bring a junior inspector along to show him how to monitor people conducting checkrides. That means there would be a guy watching the guy watching me watch the candidates. No pressure.

More tomorrow :)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

If your computer has the horsepower, the vid is most impressive if you click on the video, then go full-screen, then change the 360p icon to hi-def 720p.

It was a nice day a few days ago, and I managed to wedge the hi-def camera into the windshield to capture a visual / ILS approach onto runway 23 at Toronto Pearson. I talked all the way through the approach but the noise of the wind on the windshield completely overwhelmed the audio, so I added a music track instead. Hopefully the copyright police won't sue me into oblivion, I think it adds a little bit of fun to the otherwise fairly routine video. The band is Underworld btw. The video is 10 minutes long, and I won't be offended if you decide to skip it, I just like the combo of dreamy music with an unobstructed view out the front :)

The wind was a direct crosswind at 20 knots, but I lucked out on the landing, so overall it was a good day :)

We are in Quebec City at the moment and I have taken a bunch of vids of that too, which I'll post later.

Have a most excellent Canada Day / Independence Day / Summer day weekend!