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"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.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Michelle Bassanesi

Friday's Fabulous Flyer 


Chief Operations Officer / Professional Pilot and Instructor / Board Member for non-profit / Aviation Education Consultant

Michelle, a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide, working toward her Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics Degree with minors in Aviation Safety and Management is on not only in the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society, but on the Dean’s List with a G.P.A. of 4.0/4.0, too. Studying Crew Resource Management and Multi Crew Coordination, she has her Master CFI accreditation and has earned various Leadership Awards and Scholarships in recognition of exceptional achievements.

She inspired 300 women in growth, leadership, and empowerment during the Leadership and Female Empowerment Workshop in Rome, the Leadership Development for Women In Aviation Conference in Johannesburg, and the Women Fly program in Seattle.

Michelle signing Karin's Intro Flight Certificate

She’s Engaged, inspired, and educated 60 young women to pursue their dreams in aviation and beyond during the Women Soar, You Soar program. She has provided women the tools necessary to develop their pilot careers and leadership through the Ninety Nines Professional Pilot Leadership Initiative.

Michelle with Luca Private Pilot
Now Instrument Pilot at Georgia Tech

Michelle was an elected board member after less than six months as a member and transformed PWA – Professional Women's Association of Rome into a non-profit organization and successfully set up online payment and reservation solutions. She has facilitated as International Liaison in Europe, aviation support groups for WAI – Women in Aviation International, and SAWIA – Southern African Women in Aviation.

Women of Aviation Dallas Texas 2012

What is so amazing about Michelle—besides the fact she is truly an amazing and giving woman—is she started this stage of her life when she was 38 years old, and a single parent. 

                               Michelle, Mary Feik and me Women of Aviation 2012

Michelle began her aviation adventure in 2000 when she started flying at the age of 38. Please join me as we learn more about what makes this woman tick.

Karlene: At 38-years old, most people are established in their careers. Why did you wait so long to fly?

Michelle: "I came to the point in my life when I finally realized I could start living my dream today.” 

                     hugging the seneca one before taking her commercial multi instrument checkride

Karlene: I know being a single parent and starting you flying career later in life has got to be filled with obstacles. What has been your greatest struggle has been?

Michelle:  “Juggling non-aviation and aviation related work and study life together with life’s challenges. Recovering my mobility after a bad accident that left me three months in a wheel chair in 1993, being a single mum, moving from Australia to Italy at the age of 15, losing my “little” sister to cancer 3 years ago, just to name a few.”

St Augustine, FL as CFI in an Arrow

Karlene: I am so sorry for all your struggles, and your loss. Sometimes I wonder if we are just being tested to see if we are willing to give up.  But you never do, and prove despite all obstacles that we can fulfill our dreams.

One of the most common questions, or concerns, with people who are thinking and dreaming about doing exactly what you are doing—flying later in life— is the question and fear that they may be too old. The fact that you started flying at 38 years old is amazing. What would you tell others about following your path?

Michelle: Just do it! Believe in yourself, stay focused, and have fun.

               The examiner congratulates Michelle on passing her initial JAA flight instructor certificate
Karlene: Sounds simple. But that seriously is the power behind success. I know that both you and your daughter are in college at the same time, and both anticipating graduation in 2015. What will you do after your graduate?

Michelle: PHD together with you on aviation safety and in CRM training improvements, be hired as aviation friendly airport executive, continue flying around the globe in jets (I will be hired as a pilot before I graduate hopefully), at 85 I will fly helicopters and at 105 I will write a book.

Michelle and her daughter at a summer concert
Karlene: Michelle, I have no doubt you will fulfill all these dreams despite the pending struggles that we both know are ahead. And now we’ve said it. 2015 you will be my catalyst to get me back into school.

flight planning on the wing

Michelle is applying for the Delta Air Lines Aviation Maintenance Management/Aviation Business Management Scholarship. Delta Air Lines will award a $5,000 scholarship to a student currently enrolled in an Associate or Baccalaureate degree in Aviation Maintenance Management or Aviation Business Management. I’m hoping this will go to a most deserving woman—Michelle Bassanesi 

 Michelle at Women Soar 2012

Please join me in wishing her the best luck on receiving this honor. And this scholarship couldn’t come at a better time. Her daughter has been facing some serious medical issues, and this may be the year that Michelle might have to postpone renewing her licenses, and take some time off from school. Her dedication and love of the industry, passion for flight, and all she’s done for the hundreds of women pursing their dreams, I hope that won’t be the case.

We are all with you Michelle. Enjoy the journey and 2013 we will come and visit you in Rome.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

 Flight For Safety: 95,388 words, first draft.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Flying the Plane fully Managed

We've been busy taking care of the little ones here in Cyprus... and not sure if the wildlife is more wild with a two and a half year old being all boy running around the house, or the 9 month old crawler...

But, I do know that whether the goats are cresting the mountain top, or the critters are playing in the house at night, life is an adventure.

Bone photography is in full progress... Not your normal kitchen table.

And who said flying the A330 was a challenge? But if you are flying it we're on Day 3 of a six week segment on the phases of flight.

Flying Fully Managed
It’s important to remember that managed speed is available whenever the AP or FD is on, regardless of the engaged mode … and even without AP or FD if you’re in the approach phase. This means that automatic selection of speeds is not only available in managed descent (VNAV) but also in OP DES. This is in contrast to the Boeing requirement of selected speed when in FL CH (i.e., not in VNAV).

Approaching 10,000 feet in the descent on the A330

Managed speed will automatically reduce to 250 for descent below 10,000’. No pilot action is required. This value is set in the speed limit field on a vertical revision page.

The Boeing model uses the “on approach” phase for the final approach. The Airbus approach phase applies to terminal operations below 250 knots, so it’s a slightly different focus.

To slow further, without manual selection, activate the approach. The approach can automatically activate itself, but it is not common in today’s ATC environment.

Automatic approach activation occurs if the airplane flies over the DECEL point in managed nav (the DECEL point is depicted as a D with a circle around it).

There are some minor exceptions to this but that is the basic idea. If the conditions are met for automatic activation, the DECEL point will appear in magenta, otherwise (for example, when in heading select) it will be white.

In a situation where you are flying a fully managed arrival (managed nav and managed descent engaged) and fly over the magenta DECEL point, the magenta speed bug will automatically move from 250 to VAPP. Your actual speed will be dependent upon aircraft configuration. The DECEL point is calculated to provide enough room for a continuous deceleration to approach speed on final.

The approach phase can also be manually activated at any time during the climb, cruise, descent, and go-around phases with the ACTIVATE APPROACH prompt on the current PERF page.

Question number three on your quiz Tuesday, the answer was the target speed would be VAPP. But the airplane will only initially slow to Green Dot after the approach is activated.

The target speed, the magenta bug, will be at VAPP. and usually off the bottom of the speed scale at the time of activation, therefore will appear as a number below the airspeed indicator. The number disappears when the speed bug is visible again. Therefore, the target speed is indeed VAPP, and the airplane “wants” to slow down to that speed. But the autothrust has speed limits. 

On the low side the speed limit is the maneuvering speed for the current flap selection. With the flaps up, the autothrust maintains a minimum speed of Green Dot even though the target speed is VAPP. With flaps selected at 1, the minimum speed will be S speed, and so on.

With managed speed engaged, you could tell if the approach phase was active by looking at the target speed on the PFD. If the magenta bug is at VAPP, then the approach phase is active. If the cruise or descent phase was still active the target speed would be 250 (assuming you’re below 10,000 ft).

With the target speed at VAPP, the airplane is trying to slow down when given the opportunity, and flies at the most economical speed for the current flap setting until it can slow further.

How does Airbus calculate Vapp? Take a guess... and next week I'll share that answer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Difference between Boeing and Airbus FMS

The Reasons I'm in Cyprus: 

Kayla and Ellis
The Bones being researched

The Reason I'm Posting Training Blogs:

 Answers to yesterday’s quiz.

  • What is the major difference between the FMS phases of flight?  The major difference between the FMS phases of flight is the target speed (magenta bug) in that flight phase.
  • How can you tell which is the active flight phase? The target speed is the primary indicator, but the active flight phase is also printed in green at the top of the PROG and PERF pages on the MCDU.
  • When the approach is activated, what is the target speed? When the approach phase is active the target speed is VAPP The magenta bug. 
  • If the target speed is Green Dot, what is the active phase of flight? The target speed in the go-around phase is Green Dot. (Unless you are holding, have a speed constraint, or speed limit.)
  • How do you shift to the climb phase, from a go-around? Three ways:  Change the destination and enter a new cruise altitude.  Activate the approach and enter a new cruise altitude.  Or activate the alternate.

How well did you do on the quiz?

Both Airbus and Boeing use flight phase changes as a means of managing the speed profile as the flight progresses. The takeoff, climb, cruise, descent, approach, and go-around flight phases each have a unique speed profile. Each FMS changes the flight phases to reflect the desired speed profile for that portion of the flight.

A primary difference between Boeing and Airbus airplanes is the automatic target speed selection, and how it is handled by the FMS.

The greatest differences occur in the approach phase. Many Boeing models rely primarily on pilot selection with the speed window. The Airbus allows the FMS to manage the target speed all the way to touchdown. But like Boeing, Airbus also enables the pilot to manually select the speed at any time.
This design allows normal deceleration with flap extension that requires no manual speed selection. It also enables automatic selection of approach speeds with wind additives due to the groundspeed-mini function, protecting against decreasing headwind windshear on final approach.

Now you know the difference… tomorrow we will fly the Airbus A330 Fully managed.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Flight To Safety first draft: 93,523 Words

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Understanding Airbus Flight Phases Day 1.

Update... we made it to Cyprus...

An A320 flight on Cyprus Airway from AMS to LCA. Coming up... everything you wanted to know about the phases of flight on the A330... and the 320 I supposed.

Unstable approaches and flap overspeeds have occurred worldwide in the A320 and A330 aircraft. All resulting from misunderstanding the operation and use of managed speed in Airbus airplanes. Serious consequences have occurred. So while I'm on my journey in Cyprus, I will be sharing the intricacies of the A330 Flight Phases.

First thing to remember is activating the approach is a memory item, and normally not on any checklist. Why wouldn't something so important be on a checklist?

Airbus and other US operators of A320/330 aircraft do not have it on their checklists because there isn’t anywhere to put it. Descent checklist is too early. Approach checklist is too early if you use the Deceleration Point to auto-activate the Approach phase, or if you fly the plane per design by remaining in the Descent phase until a speed reduction is desired. Placing it on a checklist that is done before the activation leaves “To-go” items, creating the unintended consequence of an uncompleted approach checklist. The Landing checklist is too late.

Before we can understand the impact of activating the approach, it’s important to know the flight phases. Take the following quiz to test your knowledge, and tomorrow I’ll share the answers. Along with a better understanding of the speed system.
  1. What is the major difference between the FMS phases of flight?
  2. How can you tell which is the active flight phase?
  3. When the approach is activated, what is the target speed?
  4. If the target speed is Green Dot, what is the active phase of flight?
  5. How do you shift to the climb phase, from a go-around?
Thanks to the information sent by an A330 Check Airman Bill Palmer, in pursuit of helping to eliminate unstable approaches, I've been privy to share this information with you. I've taken a not so creative license to edit the information for Flight To Success and in hopefully six lessons, you too will know more than the average Airbus pilot.

Live From Cyprus... Enjoy the Journey!

XO Karlene

Flight For Safety update:
92,334 words... six chapters remaining for the first draft

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Motivation: Job Security

“Better to die on one’s feet than willingly live on one’s knees”
American Airline Pilot

 American Airline Pilot's feelings about the contract:

“Coming soon to a theater Near You…

The Sell Job

Bums the Rush and John Q. Pilot.

Date: August, 2012.
Location: Paris, France, Marriott Hotel Crew Room.
Discussion: State of the Industry.

Last week we spent an evening with some of our friends over at American Airlines who shared some interesting facts on the proposed contract—which was voted down. I’m not surprised after reading the terms of the offering.  

Stress is apparent, and with reason, shaking up and penetrating many of our flying counter parts at American.

The current offer was not just voted down by a slight margin, it was voted down with 61 percent saying, “no.” The battle has just begun. One captain said, “Shoot ourselves in the leg, or give the company the gun to shoot the other leg.” Either way, they are left without a leg to stand on. And so goes their struggle.

How far can you push a pilot before they break?

Frustration and anger are brewing—with reason.

A few interesting concepts on the proposed contract:

Fatigue pay—not granted.  Sick leave—not granted. Loss of military benefits. Give away 50% of their domestic code share. Six-year duration. Pay cuts due to increased health care costs. My personal favorite is that “the pilots cannot protest bonuses given to management because of management’s sacrifices.”  Speaking of sacrifice…The proposed pay was well below industry standards.

Another interesting fact—we were told that just over 10% of American Airlines Pilots have filed personal bankruptcy.

Does this sound like a chapter out of

As the American Pilots say,  
“No Pilots. No revenue. SWA would love to be in DFW.”

From your friends in the sky worldwide, we all are standing with you in the interest of job integrity and ultimate safety. It was great to share the evening with you guys… fly safe, and enjoy the journey. May your future be bright. Remember, nothing worth having comes easy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Wright Brothers....

Friday Fabulous Flyers...

Happy Birthday Alex!!!

Today is Alex’s 17th Birthday so I asked him who is most motivating person in Aviation history is for our Friday Flyer, and he said....

“Tough one, I have too many. But I have a clichè answer: The Wright Brothers. Imagine when they saw birds flying... Can humans fly? They proved that nothing is impossible. They hadn't given up on flying. Because of them, I knew I was born to fly, that my soul belonged to the skies, and the airplanes are a part of me. 

They created something that I could fall in love with, my passion. Commitment, leadership, brainstorming, physics, mathematics, ambition, courage, strong minds, strong souls, confidence, trust, challenges, the sky and the air, the magic!  They had all these characteristics, and I don't know what would our aviation situation be with out them, despite Santos Dumont also did the "same" invention after the Wright Bros. Maybe I have to thank them?

Imagine how complex it was to build something that could fly heavier than air! All airlines and airplane manufacturers exists mainly because of them. It is a true example of never giving up, even if you are experiencing big problems!”

And there you have it, from the mouth of the birthday boy. Please take a moment to wish Alex a Happy Birthday!!! And tell us who your most motivating aviation person in history is.

Today... Paris. Minneapolis. Seattle. 
Enjoy the journey! I'll be home soon.

XO Karlene

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Navigating the A330...

Where Are You?

When Navigating and monitoring progress on the A330, how do you know where you are? Looking at the MCDU below, we can see we're abeam (AB) some point 070D. Not unless we select the prompt to the left will we know what that point is. 

However, looking at the point below N65W080 one might assume we are navigating to North 65 West 080. What do we see when we line select that point?

We are not flying 65.00.0N/080.00.0W, But actually flying 6.15.00N 080.19.2.W. How can that be?

Did you know that when you select "Abeam" on a Lat/long waypoint the AB doesn't show up because there aren't enough digits? The "name" of the waypoint remains the same. But with further investigation we can see where we are actually navigating across a different point in space. 

The point is... When checking your route, take the time to expand the waypoints to see where you are going. Taking that extra moment can save you an enroute deviation in the event something other than what you planned was uploaded.

Where am I? 

The morning was gorgeous flying in. With the sun rising, wisps of fog drifted across the countryside. Winds calm. Many planes arriving and in competition for the radio. After a beautiful landing by the Captain... the day began with a short nap and then a walk to Luxembourg Park. He jogged, I wandered around and did a photo shoot. I can totally see Darby in this park with a glass of wine.

Who would like to join her? Perhaps in 50 Shades of Aviation. Until then... enjoy the photos. 

Enjoy the Journey....  and stay on course!

XO Karlene

Flight For Safety: 89,932 words  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Security Clearance Required

On time departure, and we landed 45 minutes before schedule. With all early arrivals, there never seems to be a gate ready for us. But today there was more of a challenge...

The following photos require a Security Clearance. Total ground time: 1.5 hours. Why? No gate, followed by all airport operations ceased while there was a "VIP" ready to depart. The tower wasn't allowed to say who it was. But due to the fact Vice President Joe Biden was in town and Airforce Two was at the airport... we highly suspected the problem.

The flight was uneventful. Greenland gorgeous as usual. I got another landing. Auto-Thrust and Autopilot off. And Princess Fifi and I are becoming friends.

Paris next, and then I get to go home. How do you know when it's time to go home? That's part of the adventure. 

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene