Aviation, Safety, Technology, Travel FAR's & Humor!

Air France 447 – Weather . . .

Here’s a link to a very thorough analysis of the weather in the area at the time Air France 447 was transiting.
This is exceptional, in that there’s very good technical information presented, yet speculation is ‘trimmed’ out.

Well worth a look for professional aviators, meteorologists, and aviation buffs alike.

June 6th, 2009 Posted by | Aviation Safety | no comments

Some Lucky Shots . . .

We took off from Anchorage the other night behind FedEx 90.  We were on the same route for a while. When we got to altitude, it turns out we were 2000 higher and slightly behind.  We were running about .1Mach faster and had slightly better winds… as a result, I managed to get some of the shots you see in this slideshow.  Click the photo for the slideshow.

FedEx 90 over Alaska

FedEx 90 over Alaska

You can also ge HERE to see some raw videos of this flight.

May 24th, 2009 Posted by | Aviation Photography, Photos | no comments

ALPA Warns Pilots about New Low-Viz Rules in Canada

On April 10, the Association issued ALPA Operations Bulletin 2009-02, “Low/Reduced Visibility Operations at Canadian Airports,” to alert members about new rules governing restrictions on airport surface movements in low-visibility conditions that went into effect at Canadian airports on March 12, 2009. Transport Canada will enforce these rules, which may affect the way you operate.Canadian airports are now required to publish the level of service they are capable of providing for each runway. Flight crews must ensure that the visibility conditions are at or above the advertised level of service before taxiing.

Air Traffic Services (ATS) personnel will issue a taxi clearance even if conditions are below the required visibility for taxiing. This clearance does not permit taxiing except in accordance with the low- or reduced-visibility airport operations plan. Thus, it is now possible for flight crews to accept a taxi clearance to or from a gate and illegally taxi on the airport surface because of the new regulations.

Pilots who operate on the surface below the advertised visibility service level will be subject to enforcement action.

(For more on this important safety and enforcement issue, click here.)

April 18th, 2009 Posted by | Aviation Safety | no comments

Crash on the Hudson… my thoughts.

I received this computer animation of the US Airways crash on the Hudson River from a friend. It’s going around the internet like crazy right now.  Graphics . . . not bad – a little hokey, and certainly more time crunched.  It’s 2:07 long, starts with the initial call from Cactus to the NY TRACON departure controller and ends with people standing on the wing and sitting in the life rafts. While this happened incredibly fast, it didn’t happen THAT fast!  Give it a look here, and continue below with three main observations I have about the ever-so-brief conversation this pilot and controller had.

US Airways 1549 Hudson River Computer Animation

Three things were noteworthy to me on this tape. Two are about the NY Departure Controller.

1. After the initial call from Cactus, the TRACON immediately got on the land line with LGA tower and TOLD him – hold all departures – you’ve got an emergency returning. Decisive. No hesitation, no delay, and informative – including answering tower’s somewhat inane question about which engine. (It DOESN’T MATTER which engine(s)!)  Not saying that to ‘cast asparigus’ on the tower controller either… he was not in the loop and was just trying to get more information.

2. The controller was also VERY helpful with the suggestion of Teterboro.  That was almost a viable option, (and with even a little thrust might have been doable). Don’t know whether the flight crew considered TEB before that or not, but it was helpful, succinct, timely, and offered a glimmer of, if only fleeting, hope other than an icy swim. Reminds me of an ORD controller after a Piedmont 737 lost an engine on Takeoff in January of ’89. Looking for the recording now, but I remember thinking at the time that I’ve never heard someone (ORD Tower Controller) say so much, so fast, and so effectively!

Bottom line: A professional controller kept it together and is probably due a little more recognition!

3. The F/O really held it together incredibly well. Another fine example of saying it, keeping cool and professional, and not allowing himself to be overcome by events. I listened to the tape about 3 or 4 times and only on ‘re-listening’ was I able to detect stress in the F/O’s voice.  I’d like to think my voice would be that cool in a situation half that tense!  In all my years in Aviation Safety, I’ve had occasion to either interview, or listen to interviews with several mishap pilots.  The common thread I’ve noticed is that there was a ‘never give up’ attitude, and concurrently, at least one of the pilots never doubted their ability to survive intact.  While I’ve not heard the official post-crash interviews with these gents, it’s clear they held it together and believed they were going to survive this chosen path.

That’s my 2¢ !

March 6th, 2009 Posted by | Aviation Safety | one comment

The “Tokyo Out -N- Back”!

I just completed a few ‘firsts’ this week.  Considering I’ve been doing this for more than 13 years, this is somewhat remarkable.  I left the house at 0545 Wednesday morning, and walked back in about 5:15 pm Friday evening.  That’s a total of just under 60 hours.  In that time I flew from BOS to MEM and started my official pre-trip crew rest.  At 0315 Thu morning we launched for NRT (New Tokyo International Airport – Narita)

The route is displayed here: This is roughly the path and the speed we flew.  While on a map, it appears to be that we ‘curved’ north – perhaps to follow a route close to land, the fact is, this is a ‘great circle route.  If you were to take a piece of string and lay it on a globe from MEM to NRT, this is the path the string would show as the shortest distance between two points.

It was about 13:49 air time, (average 80 knots headwind) and 14:30 block time. As we landed in NRT on Friday morning (local time) the visibility and ceiling were unrestricted, thus allowing for a fabulous view of snow-capped Mount-Fuji shortly after sunrise.  This is the longest flight I can recall doing since I’ve been flying.  The other long flights I’ve operated are Paris to Manila, and Osaka to Memphis.  I then waited in NRT about 4.5 hours, and took the next flight home… NWA 12 from NRT to DTW then BOS.

Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji

From the time I left MEM at 0320 and arrived in BOS at 1520 was about 36 hours. In that time, I spent about 28:45 on moving airplanes. OUCH!  The big trick to surviving this is 1. Hydration. Lots and lots of water. 2. Good rest. While I can’t and DON’T take anything as an operating crew member, as a passenger on NWA, I did take a ‘simply sleep’ and managed to get about 7.5 hours straight sleep on the flight from NRT to DTW.

While this type of flying is ‘once in a lifetime’ for many people, it’s just part of what I do. I frequently ride passenger carriers to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, Frankfurt, Delhi, etc and get paid to do it. I try to always remain conscious of how special it is, and how lucky I am to get to do something that many people would love to do, but will never or only rarely have the opportunity.

Semper Fly!


November 21st, 2008 Posted by | Aviation Photography, General Information, Travel | no comments

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good! (This is both)

It isn’t often anymore that I am TRULY AMAZED by a feat of aviation. Seriously, I’ve seen some astounding things over the years: A C-141 with a wing ‘blown off’ on the ramp because it was refuled without proper venting of the tanks. A mid-air between a jumper and a Pitts that killed both. A Harrier pilot bring a jet back safely inspite of one of his nozzles being stuck out of position. An F-15 landing with most of his righ wing missing (A real testament to MacAir’s design).  But this is truly one of the most amazing feats I’ve ever seen / heard of.  This took a lot of skill and even more good luck to pull off.


November 7th, 2008 Posted by | Amazing | one comment

Osprey takes off from KIND

Osprey takes off from KIND

Originally uploaded by boxav8r

I thought I’d posted this some time back. It’s a rare bird, and was fun to see up close!

September 16th, 2008 Posted by | General Information | no comments

Moonset over Paris?

, originally uploaded by boxav8r.

I had just awakened and looked out my hotel room window when I noticed what appeared to be the moon setting in an almost ‘solar eclipsed’ position. It wasn’t until I put a 10X zoom on it that I was able to see the gondola hanging below and the flags hanging from the lines.

This photo was taken on 14 September from the Hotel Meridien Montparnasse in Paris, France.

September 14th, 2008 Posted by | General Information | no comments

SwissAir A-340

SwissAir A-340

Originally uploaded by boxav8r

We passed this jet just south of Moscow on Sep. 12, 2008. Beautiful viz and a relatively smooth ride!

September 12th, 2008 Posted by | Aviation Photography, Travel | no comments

Russian Airplane Video

Shot some stills and even managed a little video of an Antonov AN-22 Antheus today.  Put the Russian Nat’l Anthem to it because I could… don’t read anything into it. :) It held the distinction as the largest airplane in the world from 1965 to 1969 when the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy came into service. It was a very big airplane, and it seemed to take as long as any I’ve ever seen to get off that runway. Once it did, it certainly didn’t ‘leap’ into the air. A very lumbering, cumbersome, lazy climb. From the start of the takeoff roll until it rotated was more than 40 seconds. I edited down for time, and because it took so long I was unable to maintain focus over the 3 miles or so distance as the aircraft climbed away. The final ‘still’ is pulled from the video on departure.

Some of the other stills you’ll see are of the MMi-8 “Hip” helicopter, IL-76, and the TU-154 “727-ski”… a very close cousin of the Boeing 727!

Thanks for watching! I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

September 12th, 2008 Posted by | Photos, Travel | no comments