Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer One-Liners

I always scribble notes on my OFPs, but I don't always get time to transform them into blog entries. Here are a few.

This is an oldie that has come back.  Many types of flight require a flight plan, a notification to air traffic control of where and when you want to fly your airplane. You "file" the plan either electronically, or still the old fashioned way by telephone. It's often easier to make a phone call than to get an internet connection. When you call to file a flight plan you start by specifying the call sign, the registration of the aircraft. The specialist can sometimes look up the aircraft in his or her database, removing the need for the pilot to specify the aircraft type, onboard navigational equipment, aircraft colours, and other details that don't change from flight to flight. It's common for the controller to double check that they have the right database entry by saying the type after they find it. There's a flight service joke that I first heard as a student, still stumbling over the required information for the flight plan. The specialist takes the callsign, and then says, "Ah yes, here it is, Boeing 747 on floats."

The correct answer to this is obviously, "Nah we put it on skis over the winter, haven't swapped them back yet." Or perhaps, "Nah that's GOLF Mike Tango Foxtrot. People get us mixed up all the time."

One the flight plan is filed, you need a taxi clearance, permission to drive the airplane on the ground to the runway, or maybe from the parking space to the place you pick up your passengers or buy fuel. Much of the ground may be uncontrolled, not requiring a clearance, but at an unfamiliar airport it is not always clear exactly where the controlled portions of the apron are. One always errs on the side of caution and asks for taxi clearance. Or even if I know it's uncontrolled, I'll usually call and tell the controller, so he or she isn't wondering where this airplane is off to. The controllers are usually happy to give directions on the uncontrolled portion of the airport, to help pilots find a particular hangar. So it's wasn't completely bizarre to hear a ground controller say this to another pilot, just funny.

Ground controller, "If you know where you are going, continue."

Then you take off, and the controllers help you stay clear of other traffic.  You know you're pretty far north on a clear day when you hear the words, "you'll be following a VFR 737" and you're not in the approach phase of the flight. One usually expects aircraft as large as a B737 to fly IFR for most of their trip.

But by the end of the flight on a good day everyone is cancelling IFR to make it easier for others to get descent clearance. Descent for us means a chance to take off our oxygen masks, the context for my final quote, from my co-worker. "Taking off an oxygen mask is like taking off ski boots."



Majroj said...

I can imagine that "Ahhhh!".

Aluwings said...

We used to fly a YUL-YUY-YVO-YUL triangle in a Diesel Nine. The second leg, being so short, was often flown VFR at around 7,000 feet, to save time and avoid airspace 'blockages' with IFR traffic in a non-radar environment.

The day that the cruising altitude regulations changed to add 500' to VFR flights revealed which Captains actually read their ammendments...