Contract Airline Services

"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Look on the Bright Side

For every negative that consumes your happiness,
Affirm two positives that sustain you.

For every "should’ve" you wish you’d done,
Acknowledge something you’re glad you did.

For every loss that has altered your world,
Count from it something you have gained.

For every limit that has ever beset you,
Consider your possibilities.

You can’t always change the way things are,
But you can change the way you wish to see them.

Never stop looking
For the brighter side and beyond.

Today is a good place to start

Writings by Eric T. Moore
Photos by Karlene K Petitt...except for the heart. That came from Victoria Neuville
Enjoy the Journey!


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Should I Do?

Yesterday I received a great question, and one that many have been asking in some form or another.

I am a Junior at UND and am trying to figure out where I would like to end up in terms of an airline. I am from MSP and Mesaba and then Northwest/Delta was the path I wanted to take. When Mesaba was sold to Pinnacle my thoughts changed- Skywest then hopefully Delta, but I am also interested in SWA and JBU. 

We have a new program at our school called the gateway program with JetBlue and Cape air. Basically the program works like this (btw, there is no contract involved) : You do an internship at cape air as an undergrad for a semester (after interviewing to get accepted into the program). Then after graduation you flight instruct for one year, then you head out to Cape Air where you fly their 402s for 3-4 years. Then you get an interview with Jetblue. (Basically, they said the entire program is an interview with JetBlue). I would end up at JetBlue at the age of 25-26. 

I was wondering what your thoughts are- my problem is I am not sure that JetBlue is where I want to go (nothing against the company, I have heard they are awesome to work for). Basically, as you know the other option is to go to a regional and get PIC 121 turbine. At cape air you get 121, but it is not turbine. 

Basically my dilemma is if I fly for cape and don’t get hired, then I have no turbine time. If I go to a regional my options are more open, but I probably won’t get hired by a major at 25-26 as I would with the gateway program. Basically I am curious for your opinion on the matter. I hope this isn’t too confusing of a question and I apologize for the length.  

UND your original plan was excellent, then everything changed. Unfortunately, in five years everything could change again. Big question… who will buy JetBlue? Chances are if you go there, you may have multiple airline jobs in your future. That’s not a bad thing.

As you said, JetBlue is not a guarantee.  The strength of the Gateway plan is that you will have a guaranteed flying job after graduation with the opportunity to build hours. That's huge in today’s environment. How many hours will you have at the end of that program? Granted it’s not turbine time, but it is total time.

What you need to look at is, if you stay with that entire program what your resume will look like at the end of the four years, and what airlines will you be qualified to work for if JetBlue doesn’t pan out. My guess is, there is a higher probability that they will be bought verses them not wanting you.
The Jet Blue job sounds like a great deal if you can get it. If they are still in business, and if you end up there, and if you decide you still want to go to another carrier, you can get a couple thousand hours of jet time with them, before you’re thirty. With that you can go anywhere. With the extra years under your belt, you’ll have more information of what the future might hold in our industry. Better chance to know who you want to fly with.  I know thirty-years-old sounds ancient to you now. But a thirty-year career, if you fly until you’re sixty, is a long career.

The question is, if you don’t take this opportunity will you be able to land one of those Regional jobs? Has the 1500 hour requirement impacted that Regional opportunity? Remember, if there is no contract, and you get into that program, you can apply to other airlines if you decide it’s not a good deal, and you’re ready to move on.   

You need to ask yourself, what are my options if I go the Cape Air route, and the Jet Blue portion doesn’t happen? How many hours will I have? Where will I be qualified to go from there?

This is one industry that you cannot second guess.

A little story… a pilot I know, Ray Burke, came out of the military with an exceptional background. He left the military with three job offers waiting: American Airlines, Braniff, and Eastern. He loved Texas and that’s where he wanted to raise his family. He said, “American Airlines already had 350 pilots and I can’t see them getting much bigger.” So he went to Braniff. Many years later I met him at America West, where he ended up retiring as a 757 first officer with many airlines behind him.

If we had a crystal ball, it would be easy.  

My advice, weighing all the options, unless you have a better job guaranteed, I think that you can’t lose gaining the experience of teaching and working at a 121 operation, especially if you have the flexibility to leave if something better comes up. The opportunity to get jet time at JetBlue is great. If it turns out that won’t happen, then you have the ability, with the hours and experience you’ve gained, to fly for a Regional for a couple years, then pick any airline you choose.

You have a great career ahead. Never pass up an opportunity unless there's a better one standing beside it. Give Cape Air your best, and the best will come back to you. Whatever you decide, you may not know if it's the right decision until you're retired.

 Airline pilots… what do you guys think our NDU future graduate should do?

Most importantly, remember to Enjoy the Journey!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

737 Flash to the Past

Last week, flying between Seattle and San Jose, I jumpseated on Southwest Airlines. Each flight had been oversold, and I sat in the cockpit.  Each trip, the plane had been a different model of the 737. Each crew couldn't have been nicer.

On my return flight to Seattle I soon learned that the Captain had been hired by America West in 1991. I had been hired in 1990. While I'm sure our paths may have crossed in the halls of training, we hadn't had the opportunity to work together. I was lucky enough that when the America West furlough of 1992  came along, I was locked in the training department and didn't get furloughed.  He did. Luck is all about perspective.

The light bulb came on and I realized that if I too had been furloughed at America West, I too could be a captain for Southwest Airlines.  You just never know in this industry. His path took him to Morris Air, and when SWA bought Morris... he came with the purchase. My path took me to Guyana, Tower, NWA and I came with the Delta purchase.  I had a fleeting smile and a nice thought at the alternate possibilities of life. But the truth is... I love my life and every experience I've encountered along the way. I'm very glad to be at Delta flying the A330. It truly is all about the journey.

B737-700 SEA/SJC

B737-300 SJC/SEA

This return trip also brought memories from the past. The 737-200/300 was the first 737 I instructed in at America West. Below are the overhead panels of the aircraft above.  While the forward panels look like these aircraft are two different aircraft types, the overhead panels do not. There is not a great deal of difference with the switching logic over the years. Do you know why?

When the first 737's came out, the switching logic was lever-latch. The technology at the time. Southwest was a major customer for Boeing. The FAA was on the verge of mandating a new type rating for the new models. They all came to an agreement. If Boeing built their future Boeing 737 aircraft with lever-latch switches instead of push button, the FAA wouldn't require the new type rating and SWA would save millions in training costs.

Does the overhead panel, between pushing buttons or moving switches, impact the operation of the aircraft from the pilot's perspective? Negotiations are a powerful thing and create history.

Thank you Southwest Airlines for your continued hospitality!

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Full Moon over the Weekend

There definitely was a full moon this weekend. My eldest daughter, Kalimar, gave birth to my third grandchild, Kohyn Bella, who weighed in at 7 lbs  8 oz.  Her sister's Kayla and Krysta both flew in for the event.

Saturday morning, at 1 a.m. I got the call that she was in labor and needed me to stay with my two-year-old granddaughter. My response was, "Do you know where I am? I'm in California." Which I wasn't. I was in my bed in Seattle, deliriously tired and disoriented. An occupational hazard. Somewhat like being on the road for too long and pressing 9 to get an outside line on your home phone.

Me and all my babies

Our granddaughter Kadence stayed with us for the weekend. We swam at the YMCA, ate at Red Robbin, and took bubble baths together. Life is good. Mommy and baby are doing great. Krysta headed back to Chicago this morning, and I'm back in California babysitting the grandson. I flew down with Kayla and Miles on Alaska Airlines today. Thank you Alaska for the great hospitality, a seat by my daughter, and the short flight. It was much appreciated.

More pilot talk tomorrow when the baby naps. And they said flying an airplane was a challenge.

Happy Flying!

Enjoy the journey... wherever it takes you.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Janine Shepherd: Friday's Fabulous Flyer

"If you never have a go, you never never know"
Born in 1962... excellent year for baby girls... Janine was headed for greatness. The physique of an athlete, a spirit stronger than a north wind, and the stubbornness to conquer the world, she was headed for the 1988 Winter Olympics as a cross-country skier.

1986, riding her bike in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, she was hit by a utility truck. She lost all her blood...yes "All" her blood, her spine broke in six places, broke her ribs, hands, feet, arm... and her head was opened wide. The miracles that followed are the reason she is here now.

"Pain is inevitable, misery is totally optional"

Janine survived, but she was paralyzed. Sitting in her wheelchair, she looked to the sky and pondered what to do with her life. As an athlete, your world revolves around your body. After her accident, Janine's life revolved around her body, but in a different way.

And then inspiration struck...

 "If I can't walk, I'll fly!"

And fly she did... Janine earned her pilot's license, instructor license, and soon became an aerobatics instructor. In just 18 months, she went from accident to her private pilot's license.

"Destiny is a matter of choice, not chance"

Janine was also told she could never have children, and today she has three daughters. Her life has not been without further tragedy, but another lesson she would soon learn.... there are some things you can't fix. But you can survive.

She proceeded to write four books... and they made a movie of her life.

Janine continues to stand on her own two feet, and she continues to inspire. She is a motivational speaker, and shares her story with a message of hope. There is nothing you can't do. Through another inspirational story, she met singer, song writer, Darren Colston. Together they travel to rural areas, speak and sing, and bring strength and hope to people who have a difficult time facing tomorrow.  Their program, "Lifting the Spirit" is doing just that.

But there is more! Janine was the First Female Director for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, CASA.  Lauren, if there is an advocate for you... Janine is it. I encourage you to contact her... who knows, maybe she can help you with the CAA and your medical.

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Janine, during an interview with FlightPodcast. We are days away from posting this inspirational interview, I will let you know when she is live at:

Both Janine and I were born in 1962, and apparently share the same stubbornness. We both have three daughters, and the fate that changed her life, touched mine as well. My middle daughter, an athlete who was training for the heptathlon at UCSB, was paralyzed during a back surgery when she was 21, and told she may never walk again. She didn't listen either.  Janine and I both found the skies, and the freedom flying brought. Janine has written four books, and this too I hope to follow in her footsteps with my new passion for writing.

Thank you for sharing your life with us Janine! You've touched mine, and I know many others.

You can find Janine on Twitter or her Web Page...
Janine's Web Page

Enjoy the Journey!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Boeing versus Airbus

What do I like better? I have been avoiding the answer to this question for months.

My current Airbus/Boeing debate is really a 747 verses A330 question. Think about it... Does that little bus have anything to compare to the whale? I think not. But then that could just be a size issue. And guys ... I hate to tell you, but size really is an issue. Especially when there is an airplane involved. But I love the technology of the Airbus.

Being a Seattle girl, and flying Boeing aircraft my entire career, I stepped into the Airbus with trepidation, but a willingness to keep an open mind. I wasn't sure at first.... but I think the Princess and I are now having a relationship.

Are there things that I think Boeing did better? Perhaps. A bit more difficult for those fat finger, fast typing, pilots who inadvertently screw up a reroute on the Boeing because they mandate an extra step in button pushing before executing a change. Airbus... type it in and it goes. So goes the flight plan you just built if you make a mistake. Don't mess it up.

The situational awareness of the Boeing map might be easier in some cases when intercepting a route, the original green line stays until you're on course. Airbus creates an intercept point and wipes out everything that was behind. Does it matter? Just a different picture. Not a like or dislike, just something that I had to get used to.

But does it matter what you have on your map, or ADI on the Boeing anyway? The control yoke on the Boeing hides the bottom half of your instruments! Not a good thing. And yes... the strangest thing for me is to not have the controls between my legs, but a stick at the side. However, it is a great feature to be able to have a full picture of your display units.

Eliminating the discomfort of the missing control yoke, I've been flying with my table out. A security blanket, perhaps. But soon I'll be weaning myself off of that too. But you have to admit, the table is a nice feature. Something I never took for granted in the back seat of the 747-200.

Landing is a huge difference. Don't tell anyone, but the 747-400 lands like a big Cessna 172. The A330, you don't really flare her, but just stop the rate of descent. There are also 3 landings on the Airbus. Back of the mains, front of the mains, and then the nose. Maybe Airbus thought they could convince the FAA to allow each landing to count for three.

How does she fly? Just like a plane. Control inputs creates performance outputs. My last flight I took the opportunity to fly her with everything disconnected, and yes, she is an airplane. The stick is relatively easy to use as well.

Nap time... Speaking of which my grandson is having a difficult time right now. Too many slamming of doors in this apartment. Unfortunately the galley wasn't strategically placed for optimal rest on the A330. Not sure what they could do there. However, it's nice to have the crew area by the flight deck. But the flight attendant jumpseat is on the back wall. When they pop out of it to get to work, the seat hits the wall. Similar impact as sledge hammer.

PA is different. There are two buttons for the Flight Attendants to talk on the PA. PA, and PA All. One goes to only the passengers, the other goes to the entire aircraft, crew bunks included. Take a guess... 'PA All' is the button that goes to "only" the passengers, and 'PA' hits the bunks. Common sense says it should be the other way around, but I'm sure there was logic there.

Do I like the Airbus better? At this point I have to say yes. But then I haven't flown the 777 or the 787 yet. So the verdict is still out. I do have to say that both Boeing and Airbus build quality aircraft, they're just different.

Enjoy the Journey!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Delta Pilot in Need of Prayers

In pursuit of getting all captains Theater Qualified, Delta had scheduled experienced pilots to fly to Ghana to share their wisdom of getting in and out of Africa. Dereck Camacho was one of those pilots.

My last flight into Ghana, the end of August, was the A330's last flight in there for the year. This particular trip, Dereck brought his lovely wife, Jacqui.

Jacqui and Dereck posing with the cheese board.
Yes, there is always a story.

Not only did Dereck share his wisdom of routing and communications, but he was also the ultimate tour guide. He took the crew to town to buy drums, to the Rain Forest, on the Canopy walk, and to a nice beach for lunch. The stories they told poolside, the night of their return, spoke of the wonderful time they'd had.  I missed the great tour because I stayed back to work on my novel.

The night of our departure, I had been concerned because I'd gotten a couple bites. Dereck had told me not to worry, and I didn't. But I made sure to eat my the remainder of my Malaria drugs. The problem with the pilots like Dereck, who flew there every month, a continual diet of that stuff plays havoc on your liver. They are in a no win situation.
Last night I received an email that brought bad news.

Jacqui said,  "Dereck got malaria and in the worst way possible. He got the worst strain and has been in critical care ICU for the past 8 days. Things are stabilizing now, but it slow and has been very traumatic for me and my kids as well as all our friends and extended family..."

My heart goes out to Dereck, Jacqui, and their sons. Jackie is blogging daily on Dereck's progress. She and her family are counting on the prayers, and energy, from everyone to help pull him through this. She needs Dereck by her side.

Please drop by her blog to keep updated.
Jacqui's Blog

~ Karlene

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

“Why is the Airbus called Fifi?”

I was asked an extremely good question by a new pilot in training, who is about to take her first solo flight. She wondered why the Airbus was called Fifi.

This is an excellent question. The fact that she is female, and a Princess, Fifi could be nothing more than the diminutive name of Fiona, Josephine, or Sophia… a woman who knows what she’s doing…is strong, assertive, and flying full speed ahead.

But I think the answer could be a bit more complex than that.

Could she be named after Fifi Le Fume? Fifi, a French skunk, flirtatious and stinky just like her mentor Pepe Le Pew, is skunk with passion. Her most notorious trait… she refuses to take “no” for an answer when love is involved. Some may think that the Airbus stinks, but then there are those that she’s captured their hearts. Could it be?

Fifi Le Fume

And then my mind wanders to Fifi the Duck. If it quacks like a duck, and flies like a duck… it must be a duck! Fifi the duck was “compassionate, curvaceous, and courageous." She was also a talented duck. Not only did she serve people well, but she piloted a Flying Bonger. The A330 is definitely talented, and serves her markets well. Curvaceous and courageous the A330 also might be…but compassionate? I doubt that.

Fifi The Duck

There was also Fifi, the beauty queen. Alias Ingrid Finger, who won the Miss International pageant in 1965. While the Airbus is a beauty, her winglets are not nearly as sexy as the 737-800. Could she win on performance alone?

1974, Hurricane Fifi, killed 8000-10,000 people, and ranked the 4th deadliest. Could Fifi be thought of as deadly? If you don’t know how to manage her, I suspect that could be.

And then there was her predecessor…

Did you know that Fifi wasn’t the first plane to be nicknamed Fifi?

The B-29 Superfortress took the nickname Fifi first. The B-29 was the largest aircraft in WWII and very advanced for her time, with an electronic fire-control system, a pressurized cabin, and she even had remote-controlled gun turrets. The airbus was very advanced for her time… could it be that a mechanic who knew the B-29 saw the advanced technology in the Airbus, and nicknamed her after the Superfortress?

B-29 Superfortress

I think the answer lies in her original performance. She was a dog. The mechanics nicknamed the A320 Fifi, after a French Dog. The first buses may have been dogs. However, the A330, Princess Fifi, is anything but. She is a Princess.

On a side note, did you know that Minnie Mouse’s dog was named Fifi? Fifi the Peke, who was also Pluto’s girlfriend. And if you must know, Fifi and Pluto actually had five puppies together. So are those puppies considered little buses?
Fifi the Peke

If anyone has a better answer as to how “Fifi” got her name, inquiring minds want to know.
Thanks for a great question Julia!

Enjoy the Journey!
~ Karlene

Monday, September 20, 2010

Time To Fly!

You have to crawl before you can walk, walk before you can run, and run before you can high jump. My last flight... I took that high jump.

So far I've only flown with pilots who fly the A330 with all the automation engaged until final, then the autopilot comes off.  Last month, I flew with a couple captains who also turn the autothrust off on short final because of a sinker issue. My last flight, I flew with a captain who encouraged me to fly with everything off. He says, "those guys who don't fly her, when they have to, are going to have a problem."

DTW/AMS: My landing. A long night, weather in Amsterdam, and a sunshade the refused to go up... and I got my first slam dunk. Managing the slam dunk was enough fun for me, so automation stay engaged until I disconnected the autopilot on final.

AMS/BOS: The other first officer's landing, and he disengaged everything at top of descent. He loves to fly, and it shows. I sat in the jumpseat, and got the first hand view of how busy he was, but also that the A330 really is just an airplane.

BOS/AMS: The captain's landing and more weather. Autopilot off, autothrust on... I think the winds were 19 gusting to 30.

 Invalid Data... 30 minutes out of Boston

AMS/DTW: My landing. Now or never. Out of 10,000 feet I said, "are you guys ready?" and I disengaged everything. Yes, we were in the weather. But I was thinking ... my captain has 20 years flying glass, 11 years on the Bus, and when would I have another chance to fly with someone who encourages this type of behavior?

What happened next... ATC said, Delta 272 turn left heading 290, descend to 6000, slow to 240, turn further left heading 285.  Delta 272 turn right now 290, descend to 4000. Delta 272, come right to 300. Delta 272, slow to 210. Delta 272... 

The wrath of mother nature tossed us about, the trend vector couldn't make up it's mind which direction to go, and ATC was playing with me. I have never worked so hard in all my life. Once on final, a moment of stability, I said, "Guys, I smell something burning."  My captain said, "I think it's a helmet fire." The other first officer said, "I think it might be Detroit."

At 50 feet the captain said, "From now on, everything is normal." And I landed her like I always did. Then he said, "You know, I was surprised that you kicked off the autothrust with the weather so bad." They were both laughing at Murphy's Law with ATC's overactive intervention, and I laughed the hardest. Of all days...

As we rolled off the runway, that burning odor that I'd smelled presented itself. A pack failure.

Taxing clear of the runway I was supposed to talk to ground...but had difficulty without stumbling over the words. Amazing how an approach that pushes you to your limits, can impact the speech center of your brain. Thanks for a great trip Reg!

Off until October 8th ... 4 days on reserve... then more days off until the 17th.  I intentionally bid this schedule to help my daughter. I'm now wearing my grandma hat, sitting in Santa Clara, babysitting my grandson.

We're planning cleaning up my computer and writing an A330 study guide. The amount accomplished will be directly proportional to his willingness to nap.

Enjoy the Journey!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Wally McIntosh: Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Last week scheduling released me and I headed home in a flight attendant jumpseat, only to be called back to work the moment I stepped off the plane. However, I had the great opportunity to meet a wonderful person in the process.

Wallace McInstosh... "Wally"... is that person. Once a Los Angeles police officer, he now is serving drinks and smiles at 35,000 feet.

Wally worked the south side of Los Angeles for 12 years, East LA for three years, and was a detective for 6 years... bank robberies, murders, reconstructing crime scenes... you name it, he's done it. And now he's a flight attendant.

He'd met a munitions officer while he worked in the Air Force, years ago, and married her. They had two daughters, and  now he has 8 grandchildren. However, the life he created in Los Angeles was a challenging one.

Working LA he said that he, "lost the color of life." He told me that line of business, "You can't trust anyone, or they'll kill you."

His life consisted of domestic abuse calls, fighting, murders, robberies, and attorneys... he was going through a divorce, himself, at the time.  He'd been working one night, below the flight path of Los Angeles, and looked up and said, "There has to be more than this."  And then a plane roared overhead.

How did he become a flight attendant? He was actually dating one. One day she said, "Let me take you on a date," and told him to take a week off of work. They flew to Venice on her passes. As life went on, they broke up, and she married someone else. But his memories of her are wonderful. One day, he was saying how he missed the lifestyle with her. The ability to travel, and see the world. 

And then he realized, "I could do that." And he did. He retired from the police force and he joined Northwest Airlines, now Delta.

Wally told me he never worked for the sake of money, but for the love of working. His fondest memories were working on his father's farm. Now his days off are being a parent to his mother. He say's that she is the one person who loves him unconditionally, and he will miss her greatly when she is gone. 

His core belief... everything always works out. I too share that belief with him.

On the plane Wally says that he is, "close to God, and can see the tapestry of color below," and "meets wonderful people." He enjoys going to work and being able to say, "hi" to people. Something that he wasn't able to do in his other life.

His days off, as a hobby,  he builds aircraft, full motion, simulators. I was hoping to have pictures... but maybe we can update that later.

I am so glad to have had the opportunity to meet Wally. Keep your eye out for him and say hello.

Happy Flying... and enjoy the journey!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A320 verses A330 ... Fault Redundancy

Opinions are just that... and everyone has one.

An 'industry official' (don't you love them?) stated in the ' article that 'the flight control system on A320s has greater fault redundancy than does the widebody’s'. Is this a correct assumption, do you think?

The A320 has three types of computers:

ELAC: elevator - aileron computer.
SEC : spoiler elevator computer

FAC : flight augmentation computer - which does a lot of the functions that the Envelope function of the FMGEC does.
Note… The A320 does not have a fly-by-wire rudder.

However the A330's primary and secondary computers spread the control of the various surfaces over all of the flight control computers. For redundancy, ailerons, elevators, rudder, and the THS can each be controlled by more than one flight control computer.

On the A330 should the primary computer, hydraulic system, or servo fail… backup flight control computers and hydraulic servos automatically take over. Failure of any one hydraulic system or flight control computer will not result in control loss to any ailerons, elevators, the rudder, or THS.

Each hydraulic system powers at least one aileron on each wing, one elevator, two spoilers, and the rudder, ensuring control following any dual hydraulic failure.

To claim that the A320 is MORE redundant is an "amazing" claim. The 330 is set up that each flight control computer can control ailerons, elevators, and some spoilers. All except for 1 can control the rudder. Not to forget there's a separate backup rudder control scheme, with its own generator and control computer.

The 320 can't make that claim. Additionally, on the 320, it's much easier to end up in Direct Law, and if you are in alternate law you are going to be without the autopilot…. I think in all cases, but not completely sure.

On the 330 the autopilot is often available in alternate law, and you don't automatically degrade to direct law from alternate law. The 320 almost always reverts to direct law from alternate law when the gear is lowered.

Now… if that article meant the fault redundancy that relates to the internal processing algorithms, comparing data sources, instead of the macro flight control architecture configuration that was discussed above… Never mind. I'm not sure. A person with a PhD on the internal processes will need to make that assertion.

However, one significant point that was in error on that article: “Currently, the probes are certified only to handle temperatures of up to -40C…” On the A330 the ISA at and above FL350 is “-55C."

This statement somewhat makes you doubt the entire article.

Now, don’t be too impressed by my advanced wisdom on the A320. I’m on a long trip, at the end of 30 days on the road, working on my novel, and flying. I don’t make this stuff up... I have “People.” Thank you Bill!


Simon, I will answer your next questions tomorrow.

Happy Flying and Enjoy the Journey!


Monday, September 13, 2010

Airbus Versus Boeing... Is it a Handful?

Simon Geddes is sitting off the coast of Tasmania, emailing me interesting questions. Today... I'll take the easy one now because crew call is almost here. The others tomorrow.

Simon says...

I was wondering what you really thought of the Airbus as opposed to the Boeing family. It must be a huge adjustment, and from your writing I gather the 300 is a bit of a handful at times?

I actually love the Airbus. It's different in many ways, but different doesn't mean bad. It's actually easier to fly than the Boeing... If you understand her. She really is just an airplane. I'm flying with a captain on this trip who encourages all new pilots to take her off the autofight system and disengage the autothrust, and fly her like an airplane. I personally haven't seen anyone do that yet.

He allowed me to fly her into Amsterdam. Our arrival brought us into the weather, and it was raining fairly hard so the automation stayed on, until 1500 feet when I clicked off the autopilot. I left the autothrust engaged. The controller gave me my first slam dunk. She vectored us in close, high, and fast. I had a great time managing her and all worked out perfect.

The A330 really isn't a handful...just different. She could be a handful if you don't understand her. My captain reminded me that every Airbus crash has been due to the pilots not understanding what mode the airplane was in, and what she was doing, and thus how to deal with it. The key is to know your airplane.

Which brings us to part two of Simon's questions....

  • An 'industry official' (don't you love them?) stated in the ' article that 'the flight control system on A320s has greater fault redundancy than does the widebody’s'. Is this a correct assumption, do you think?
  • The ACARS messages are bewildering, to say the least. Have you seen the printout of the ACARS from those last minutes?
  • The failure of all the flight management systems, at different times, is unique.. isn't it?
  • And the very last advisory that indicates 'Total loss of cabin pressure and total loss of electrical power'.. Again, would this this indicate some sort of in-flight break-up?
I will answer those questions after the next crossing. Now it's time to go to work. I'm a little behind today, because I actually had a great night sleep. And... I'm revising my novel one more time too.

Perfectionism... a time thief.

Fly safe and enjoy the journey!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Amelia Earhart: Friday’s Fabulous Flyer

Amelia’s adventurous spirit took her to the sky, to where no woman, and in some cases no man, had flown. Her list of firsts is noted in history, but her disappearance may still be a mystery… or is it?

Amelia Earhart

1928: Amelia was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.
1932: She took the Atlantic flight solo.

1935 in Hawaii

1935: Amelia was the first ‘person’ to fly solo from Honolulu to California.

Amelia with Duke Kahanamoku

July 2-10 1935 she stayed at the Royal Hawaiian

July 11, 1935
Amelia and her Lockheed Vega

1937: With copilot, Frederick J. Noonan, Amelia attempted to fly around the world. With great sadness her plane was lost somewhere between New Guinea and Howland Island.
Is her disappearance still a mystery? We’ll let you decide. 

In 1992, a search party thought they’d found remnants of Earhart's plane on Nikumaroro , Kiribati. But this was soon disputed by the people who’d worked on her plane.
However … Some believe she survived. Click here to see another view of the mystery.

Click here to watch another level to the mystery

Do you know who the first woman was to successfully complete Amelia’s round-the-world flight, and when?

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Drag Required!

Yesterday we learned that the A330, alias Princess, will lie when you interfere with her flight idle descent. Now guys... what can you expect? You interfered with her plan. Perhaps she is just getting even by making your life a little harder. Or perhaps... she's playing with you.

Besides, she's not really lying ... just delaying the truth. Not to mention, she will give you other indications that you're not going to make your profile... you just have to look for them.

Isn't that always the way... the signs are there, you just have to open your eyes?

The best indication that you will make your level off is the blue level-off arrow. But the level-off arrow doesn't instantaneously tell you when you'll level off, instead it continues to recalculate your level off based on your descent speed.

As you go above profile because ATC slowed you up, the blue arrow will continue to creep away. This should be your first indication that you'll be high. The second indication will be the Chinese glide slope. But then, these little green dots will only provide data that you're off your descent by more than 200 feet when they're pegged. Personally, I like the progress page the best.

Bottom line: We need drag to get her down. Interesting enough, the blue level-off arrow doesn't look at speed brakes. However, when you use the speed brakes to get her back on profile, the blue arrow will creep towards you because you're increasing your descent and putting yourself closer to the level off. Basically, you're actually taking her below her flight idle profile because you have to.

Once the blue arrow has moved to where you want the plane to level off, you can stow the speed brakes and she will continue to make that blue arrow level off point. Why? She wasn't counting on speed brakes to make it, therefore when you take them away... she doesn't care. She's on her profile based on your altitude and speed.

Morale of this story... learn how to read your Princess. You might have to babysit her. I'm still learning her ways, and using 3 to 1 for descent planning as a backup. Back to the back to the basics... 30 miles at 10,000 feet is a safe gouge.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A330: Don't interfere with a Smart Woman!

Many mysteries of the female gender will go unsolved until the end of time, and the Princess’ secrets are no different. Don’t ask ‘why’ she does what she does … the best any pilot can do is to know what to expect, know when she’s lying, and what to do about it.

In a perfect world, the A330 strives to fly her profile in managed Nav. This profile plans a flight-idle descent with managed speed. She displays information on the map as to when she’ll manage her speed, per constraint, with a solid magenta dot. She displays a lightening bolt where she’ll intercept the path, a blue arrow for level off, and a white arrow for descent. She displays her constraints in magenta if she’s going to make it, amber if she’s not. If she’s going to make her constraints, speed and or level off, both will be displayed in magenta on the MCDU.

She wants to bring the thrust to idle and perform an idle descent. She’ll decelerate at the magenta D to approach speed, and all the pilot has to do it bring out the flaps and the gear. That's in a perfect world.

The Princess wants to make her profile… and she will, until someone interferes with her plan. When ATC slows you up during your descent, the minute you change your speed from the ‘profile descent speed’ (found on performance page) to a slower speed, you’ve just taken yourself off profile. Once you’ve taken yourself off profile, you no longer will make your restrictions. The worse part of this scenario is the A330 display stays the same… indicating you are going to make the constraint per the magenta indications. Fascinating.

What can you expect… you’ve interfered with her plan.

This is the problem: The Princess will indicate you’re going to make your level off with her magenta colored constraints when you're not. If you know this, you’ll be fine. The easiest way to determine how far you’re off the profile is on the Progress page. Know that if you’ve been slowed, you will be high. The only way to get her back on profile is with speed brakes.

Watch the deviation on the progress page, use the speed brakes, and you’ll can her get back on the profile. All is good. But always keep apprised of the distance remaining and your altitude for profile planning.

Enjoy the journey!

~ Karlene

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mumbai: A Taste of India

The journey continues... And this time to Mumbai!

Mumbai... my first visit. The airport: BOM. Mumbai was formerly knows as Bombay until the name changed in 1996. It's the richest city in India, 2nd most populous, and 3rd largest. And in 2009 Mumbai became an Alpha City... a Global City... that controls a disproportionate amount of world business.

View from my room
I have a great zoom!

We snuck into Mumbai in the middle of the night, and left the same way. While this may be the richest city, poverty cannot be overlooked. The drive to and from the hotel was in the dark of night, but it didn't mask the shacks, the people, and the poverty that lined the streets.

The feeling of guilt swept over me as entered one of the most beautiful hotels. High ceilings, ornate fixtures, and marble paved hallways to a gorgeous room. A glass wall separated my huge bathtub and king sized bed, that overlooked the swimming pool with a view across the lake to the city.

0100... Party in the Crew Room! Snacks, sodas, and good people sharing laughter after a long flight. It's amazing what getting together with the crew can do for a positive impact with CRM.

I was in bed by 0400 a good nap, and awoke in time to support the economy. I actually bought my husband an Elephant for our 29th Wedding Anniversary! And I did a little Christmas shopping for family and friends. This week is the one year anniversary for my Scribe Sisters and they were with me. Yes ladies, I'm taking notes.

0100 departure in the rain...we headed towards Tehran. Note to readers: Tonight was my walkaround and the rain stopped just before I went outside, and started again the moment I stepped back onto the aircraft. This happens to me all the time.

Returning to Amsterdam, 0615, and the "Night" Arrival was sill in process. I had been told it would take me years to get comfortable in the A330. Tonight... despite my exhaustion, she felt really good. The princess and I are slowly becoming friends.

Schiphol Tower

Tomorrow look forward to some realizations about the A330. She is a Princess and she does lie to you. As long as you know what to expect... all will be well.

Until then...

~Enjoy the journey!


Friday, September 3, 2010

Andy Matthews: Friday’s Fabulous Flyer

He’s a Pilot! He’s a Golf Pro! He’s an Entrepreneur! And he’s helping pilots manage their workload, and increasing aviation safety ... all in a single engine airplane!

Andy's 1st Solo
For as long as Andy can remember he’s loved flying, and anything to do with airplanes, or airports. When he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he’d say, “a pilot!” While he didn’t come from a family of aviators, he did have a library full of picture books, and every version of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Andy says, “I perfected my hangar flying from a pretty young age.” He tells me that he spent many wonderful moments with his dad at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in his hometown, Grand Rapids, MI. “We would just sit, watch, listen, and smell everything. There we had some of our greatest father-son moments ever, and occasionally still do.”

Aside from flying, his “earthly passion” is golf, and he began playing when he was 5-years-old. He spent his summers at the golf course, and traveled all over the country competing in junior tournaments, with his mom. He won his first junior championship at age 11.

Andy is filled with gratitude for his parents who enabled him the great opportunity to follow his dream and play on the PGA Tour. Shortly after he graduated from the University of Michigan, he turned professional in 2003 and earned fully-exempt status on the Canadian Professional Golf Tour. He’s played in 6 PGA Tour events (1999, 2007 Buick Open ... 2007 US Open ... 2009, 2010 Puerto Rico Open ... 2010 Honda Classic), spent two seasons on the South African PGA Tour, and most recently notched his first international win this April, at the Mexican PGA Championship in Mazatlan, Mexico. Now he’s much closer than ever to competing with the best players in the world on the PGA Tour.

“I can't talk about my flying without talking about golf as well, because one provided the catalyst for the other.”

In 2006 a family friend purchased a new Cessna 182, and knowing Andy’s love of airplanes, his friend took him for a flight. It had been awhile since he’d been up in a single-engine plane, and this flight reminded him of his desire to learn to fly. He purchased a Cessna Pilot Kit the same week of that flight, and began reading, studying, and watching the DVDs.

He was fully immersed in the golf season, so he wasn’t able fly much, but studying gave him the chance to be productive on the road. He slowly progressed through his training. Unfortunately... or was this a good thing... in the fall of 2007, he suffered an injury and was forced to put away the clubs for the remainder of the year.

When a door closes, another opens. Instead of heading to the golf course each day, he headed to the library to study, or to the airport to fly.

His first solo flight… “I will never forget the rush of adrenaline and feeling of accomplishment the day I flew solo for the first time!” Andy earned his Private Pilot's Certificate later that year. "Of course I wanted my dad to be my first passenger."

In the process of planning their first sight-seeing flight out of Ionia County Airport (Y70), Andy’s dad noticed the large number of aviation-related websites Andy visited, and how much time he spent planning for their flight.

On their way home his dad suggested the need for a simpler way for pilots to complete all those “critical pre-flight tasks.” His dad saw this as a major safety issue. Andy took his dad’s idea, and ran with it… All the way to his college roommate, John Burnside, the founder of Huron One Solutions, a web development firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Together, they began to lay the foundation for what is now

Andy says, “We looked at what was in the market and noticed that it was the current selection of flight planners that was contributing to the issue of pilots needing to visit multiple sites, because not one of them offered a complete solution. It was then when we made the commitment, that if we were going to take iFlightPlanner to the market, it was going to be the best and most comprehensive flight planning application available.”

 iFlightPlanner is dispatch for the general aviation world. Something we couldn't live without at the airlines, is now available to all pilots!  is the result of their commitment to safety. Andy and John have made retrieving certified weather briefs, computing weight & balance, and filing flight plans easier than ever. Their newest feature brings pilots a Google Maps interface with animated RADAR, seamless VFR and IFR charts, and color-coded weather along routes.  They’ve really put together a fantastic product, and they even have a logbook feature.

Not only do they listen to their users, but they follow through on the feedback. Their map feature was inspired by users’ requests, and now sets them apart from the competition.

Andy says, “By presenting pilots with all the information they need in an accessible and easy-to-use interface we are helping pilots plan more efficiently and fly safer.”

For a man who loves flying, and playing golf, he’s had a great time watching the idea for  iFlightPlanner manifest itself into a product that is truly helping pilots. Whether he’s golfing, flying or increasing aviation safety, Andy is an inspiration to all.

“It has been a lot of fun watching the idea for iFlightPlanner manifest itself into a product that is truly helping pilots. At the same time it has reminded me that you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to. Setting goals has always been a part of my character, but little did I know that my answer when I was asked, "what I wanted to be when I grew up?" was going to take me here. I will always be a golfer, but could not be more excited to have added "pilot" and "entrepreneur" to that list as well!"

Focus. Dedication. Commitment.
It's easy to see why Andy is a success on so many levels.

Mom and Dad... you both have impacted your son's life in so many ways. Dedication, support, and inspiration did your child well. You've done great!

Enjoy the Journey!