Delhi, India. VIDP

I’ve heard some (bad) things about flying to India before, but I finally got to experience it first hand.

It’s an animal kingdom here.

The frequencies were so busy we couldn’t get a reply for at least 30 sec after initial contact. I also had go call them 3-4 times each time.

The air traffic controller gives us unreasonable clearance late in stage. For example doesn’t advise us of a impending hold clearance, but shoots to us straight in a full format (missing things like EFC time. In Canada this would constitute an invalid clearance).

“KE481. Descent FL300. Hold present position left turn 2 min leg outbound”

Or gave us a vector straight into a CB. We were smart about it and we turned really slow to circumnavigate it.

The approach clearance was received as we were flying through the localizer. If the captain hadn’t pressed the approach arm button, we would have blown straight through the final and we would have needed a new intercept heading.

After landing the tower told us to vacate via an exit that was abeam us at 60 knots, to which I said “unable.”

Continue reading “Delhi, India. VIDP”

48 Hours in Saigon

This past week I had the opportunity to fly to Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon.

It’s one of the places I’ve always wanted to visit: It’s famous for Pho rice noodles, it was the capital of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and The famous Cu Chi Tunnels are nearby.

The weather was good. The flight was pretty fair and square. I flew as the PF.

As usual the South Eastern Asian accent was really hard for me to understand, so I had a lil bit of difficulty finding the waypoints not listed on our flight plan. We were instructed to fly to DALAP, but it took us couple of ‘say agains” to find it.

SGN has a Point-Merge type STAR, so the potential energy would be high when told to fly to the IAF. In our case there were 3 aircraft ahead of us on STAR, so we could track their approach paths, helping us manage our speed and energy.

Airbus FMGS has incorrect vertical guidance on many approaches. This was the case. Our IAF fix altitude was set fairly low, below the 3 degree approach path, so the system indicated that we were high right from the beginning. But I realized after using the Speed Brakes that it was giving us a false guidance, so I resumed the descent thereafter using the v/s mode.

Landing was good. The runway was paved really well for a SE Asian airport. I think I made the softest touchdown on the 330 so far.

To my surprise, I soon learned that a colleague of mine was on a flight that arrived 1 hr before us, and we hung out on the rooftop bar and caught up.

The next morning I got up to a phone call. It was the Captain and he said that he will have to bail on lunch due to a family issue and that he’d be returning back to Seoul and that I’d get a new crew assigned. So I messaged the colleague to grab Pho.

We met up and went to famous Pho Hoa Pasteur and grabbed a delicious bowl of pho.

The colleague said he’ll have to sleep in the afternoon but he wanted to check out a few places in town, so we went over to the War Remnants Museum. It was interesting to see the war stories from the other side of the world. However it was a bit heavy with the gruesome details and propaganda. The artifacts for the most part were enlarged pictures from the war. But for around $2, it wasn’t bad at all.

Next, the infamous Ben Thanh Market. It was basically a big market full of fake brand clothes and bags and etc. Saigon Square was similar but with slightly better quality products.

I really wanted to see the Cu Chi Tunnels but I would’ve needed half a day to do it, so I gave up on the idea. However in the evening I was notified by the hotel that my flight had been postponed by about 15 hours. I went straight to a travel agency and booked myself a ticket for the tour.

I also realized my colleague’s flight was postponed too, so we went out and got some delicious Octopus soup and then grabbed a beer at the Traveler’s street in downtown.

Next morning I was picked up nice and early to go visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. There were many tunnels built by the North Vietnamese soldiers to conduct guerrilla warfare agains the US troops. These were rather tight space for people to crawl into, let alone with weapons. There was also a gun range where you could purchase bullets for many Vietnam war era weapons and shoot. I didn’t go for it, since I had been to the range enough times in my life. But I think it’s a good idea for the Vietnam govt to make money.

I took a 3 hr sleep and then we flew back. During the night flight we heard multiple calls by the Chinese and the US Navy exchanging warning message on our emergency frequency on 121.5. But I think this is a very routine event in this part or the world.

The winds were super gusty at Incheon and the captain decided to conduct an autoland. The Airbus really does a crappy job of maintaining speed in gust, but it does maintain a safe margin for us to avoid stalls. At one point we hit a gust that shot the speed trend way above the flaps placard speed, but it settled a second after. The windshear warning was never triggered, despite the tower saying that there was a 15 kt performance increasing windshear.

Winds were so strong we heard the plane’s doors make howling noise once we started disembarking passengers.

I guess just like this time last year, you do get lucky once in a while!

Slats/Flaps Jammed procedure

Recently I was tasked to fill in the PM job for a Captain’s Type Rating flight test.

Most of the manoeuvres went well except the Slats/Flaps Jammed procedure.

We were approaching Incheon and lowered the flaps to Full when “Ping” Master Caution went off with a Flaps Disagree ECAM message. We cancelled the approach, entered a hold and I worked the related checklist. The slats were extended as set, the flaps were stuck between 3 and Full. This usually means the Wing Tip Brakes stopped the flaps from extending for a number of reasons.

The S/F indication and where my flaps were.

I followed the checklist to the letters and followed the condition: Flaps < 3.

I was convinced the flaps were beyond 3 because the flaps were stuck after selecting Flaps Full, and the flaps indication showed the flaps did extend a little more than 3.

The TR trainee was ok with my decision and we were coming into another approach when “Too Low Flaps” sounded off a little below 1000ft AGL. We went around a second time and investigated the cause.

While Airbus FCOM and QRH weren’t clear on the subject, it seems that if the Flaps 3 position index is within the big Flaps Position box (my case) we can assume the flaps are still in 3. I have yet to consult Airbus engineers about this but I’m convinced that was the reason. Anyways, for the next approach we followed the other case (Flaps 2 <=3 and we were fine) I suppose this is a more conservative approach.

I think that Airbus needs to do a better job of explaining this stuff on the FCOM. I’m glad I had this experience in the simulator because the last thing I want to hear after I finish the checklist is to be told by the aircraft that I’m not configured correctly on short final and troubleshoot a second time.

How far should I fly upwind to land on the centreline

Flying a relatively long aircraft, I realized that there is something else that needs to be considered that I had very little consideration for on the 737.

The aircraft pivots around the Centre of Gravity. Therefore when we decrab, the front end of the aircraft, where I am, will move sideways (also add the factor that the aircraft drifts downwind. But that depends on how quickly we decrab and how much bank was used to cancel the drift. So I won’t discuss that today.) Upon touchdown, we’ll find ourselves somewhere downwind of where we aimed to land.

Since the CofG changes every flight, it’s kind of a hassle to calculate it. I’ll just use the main landing gear as my pivot point for this calculation. The distance from the cockpit to the main gear strut is 97ft for A330-300. My calculation will be exaggerating the distance a little bit, as the actual CofG is always ahead of the main gears. But hopefully this will somewhat offset the downward drift during the flare.

My aircraft, on average, does about 135 knots on approach. That’s 2.25NM/min.

The rule of thumb for calculating the crab angle is Windspeed/GS in NM.

Therefore at crosswinds of 10, 20 and 30 knots, my crab angles (CA) are 4.5, 8.9, 13.3 degrees.

To find the lateral displacement, we use the SOH, therefore O = 97SinCA.

According to my calculations:

At crosswinds of 10 kts, I have to be 7.6ft upwind of the centreline.

At XW of 20 kts, I have to be 15ft upwind.

At XW of 30 kts, I have to be 22.3ft upwind.

What does that mean to us pilots?

The standard runway width at ICAO international airports (outside of the US) is 197ft.

Standard dimensions of Runway Markings

Therefore at crosswinds of 30 knots I have to aim about 2/3 of the distance between the centreline and the touchdown zone marking to land on the centreline.

Since the LOC antenna is in front of the cockpit, I have to actually offset the Localizer on short final to make this happen. I’ve seen as much as a 1/4 dot displacement in the simulator experiment at the windspeeds up to 35 kts.

The end.

Airbus Fly-by-wire system

Modern airliners come with a form of fly-by-wire system. FBW system often augments handling characteristics of the aircraft and it often has built in protections so that pilot can’t easily overstress or lose control of the plane.

I come from the B737 background, which has a very conventional flight control system that doesn’t incorporate a FBW. And I’m going into A330, which is one of the most nonconventional aircraft when it comes to the handling characteristics.

By system logic it sounds good. But the problem is that it limits the pilots’ control authority.

As we have seen from the 737 MAX fiasco, limiting the pilot inputs (or making it very difficult for that matter) had often resulted in catastrophic incidents. Many of you have never heard of these but the Qantas 72 and XL Air 888T had erroneous sensors putting the planes into the dive. Machines aren’t perfect and the engineers shouldn’t design systems that limit pilot’s controllability. They should also incorporate a quick intervention system in case the sensors go haywire and act against the pilots’ inputs in critical situations.

I don’t know what the Airbus engineers’ philosophy is, but most modern day pilots from developed countries aren’t that bad at flying the machines. I wish they just gave us the full control authority. We are the people dealing with the system on hand and certainly the engineers behind the simulation can’t always know what we need. I’ve noticed a few characteristics like this while learning the Airbus systems and it’s frustrating.

Mind you, the FBW is very useful in normal day-to-day flying. It makes our job easy. On the Airbus, in the normal mode, it maintains the attitude of the aircraft where you left it. So if you set it well and release the controls, the plane will fly very steadily at the pitch/bank you left it at. This is, in a way, much nicer than the B737, where the plane’s pitch will seek the speed the plane is trimmed for and the bank angle will vary based on the balance of the plane. This can be really good for inexperienced pilots or pilots in developing countries where the training system doesn’t allow pilots to fully develop their manual flying skills before they’re introduced to the line. But is it really necessary?

The A330 doesn’t handle all that bad in direct/alternate law in fact. Direct Law is basically the control logic that makes the A330 like a B737. It’s actually more intuitive to fly it with the FBW protection disabled, since we’re used to flying purely mechanical/hydraulic flight control systems. This is partly because we anticipate the control deflection requirements before we make any input. For example, when I correct my aircraft heading on an ILS approach by banking to the right, I’m already ready to apply the opposite left aileron input because I need to cancel out the rolling moment. And when it’s back on course, I’ll apply another left aileron, followed by a right input to pus the aircraft back on Localizer. In the 330, you don’t have to make such movement because the FBW maintains the bank when you release the stick. I still get puzzled as to why this the Airbus FBW is designed this way. Maybe the engineers had something else in mind, with reference to the special characteristics of the aircraft.

Another problem with the airbus FBW is that there is no way to directly disconnect the FBW’s protection systems. But I dug into this and found a few ways. But it’s kind of off the book procedure and it’s not ideal. The easiest way is to switch off the ADRs. There is no sensor input to the FBW and it wont’t do crazy things. But it does take some time because the ADR is located on the overhead panel behind the Captain’s head. Worse comes to worst, we can switch off all the PRIM computers and the aircraft will revert to the Direct Law. But don’t try this at home, as this is not an Airbus approved procedure.

I still have yet to fully understand the A330 flight control philosophy. I’m a little bit hesitant in criticizing the aircraft just yet, simply because I don’t have that much real world experience in the jet. But I must say that I hope Airbus builds future airplanes that are a little bit more from the pilots’ point of view. I might be one of the rare people who don’t like this kind of flight control logic, but I don’t think Airbus would have designed it this way if pilots were in charge of the designing.

Airbus Transition

Hi all,

I apologize for the lack of updates the last little while. I’ve been undergoing a transition course to my first widebody jet A330.

A lot of concepts are different between Boeing and Airbus. For example, the flight controls fly-by-wire logic that prioritize the aircraft computer output over pilots’ inputs. I’m quite unhappy with this aspect, but there are some good aspects too.

But my overall impression is that Boeing builds planes from pilots’ perspective, while Airbus builds planes from engineers’ perspective. I don’t have enough real-life experience to be judging yet, but I will spend a lengthy amount of time discussing the pros and cons of each design in the future.

Anyways I’d better return to studying, as I have another Cockpit Procedure Trainer session this morning.

Keep you posted.

Manila

Sometimes I get lucky too, I suppose.

Last month I had a chance to spend 2 days in Manila on a layover.

What made the trip even better was that the schedule changed last min and I got to fly as a deadhead crew on the way there. A kickass schedule, I must say.

The Business Class was booked up, so I even got to fly in First Class.

Fast forward to when I arrived in Manila, the Hotel was called The Manila Hotel. It was a massive 5-Star hotel with over 100 years of history. Apparently Gen Douglas McArther stayed there while commanding the Filipino military.

I remembered that one of my favourite beers, San Miguel, comes from this country and went to the hotel bar to grab a couple of pints.

Next morning I got up early, got a massage and went to the Seafood Market. I have a pretty good stomach but the overwhelming smell from the nearby sewage plant killed my appetite. Next I headed to the Mall of Asia. For someone who didn’t have a high expectation, the mall was Massive. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the Mall of America in Minnesota, but I think the Mall of Asia dwarfed it in scale. I grabbed a lunch at a Filipino restaurant and then headed took a look around, grabbed some fruits and then headed back to the hotel.

In the evening, I decided to play around in the pool and exercise at the gym. There I ran into the sole male flight attendant that came with me, and we talked about life in general. It’s quite true that a lot of young male pilots are jealous of them because they get to work and travel with pretty female flight attendants. In fact I have a colleague who tries so hard, unsuccessfully, to go on dates (read: harass them) with them, and he’s straight up envious of the male flight attendants. but according to him the truth was quite far from it. Apparently as a minority in a female team environment, it’s pretty hard to get along with coworkers and they end up being isolated from the female group. Just like how he was at the gym.

That evening I had fruits as dinner and I watched the sunset over Manila Baywalk and passed out early so I can do the real tour of the city the next day in the morning and sleep throughout the afternoon for my overnight flight back home.

The next day I took the taxi the first thing in the morning to check out Fort Santiago. I guess my expectation was a bit too high, since I was used to the Canadian and European Citadels.. It was a little disappointing, but the history behind Jose Rizal was interesting.

Next I walked down the street to see the Manila Cathedral and I walked towards the Rizal park, when I felt that I was going to get robbed, so I hailed a taxi and went back to the hotel.

Filipinos are very nice people in general and I generally felt safe in the streets. But the streets of Manila were really really really dirty. I’ve been to quite a few countries in SE Asia, but I think the Philippines is at the bottom of the list for cleanliness. This is a bit strange because I always thought of the Philippines as a reasonably developed country with almost everyone speaking English fluently. Also, most of my Filipino friends in Canada are affluent. But I felt that the country could do a bit better cleaning up and had a lot of potential for improvements. Perhaps I felt that way because I’ve mostly been to the tourist destinations in SE Asia, whereas Manila was the capital of the country not geared towards tourists or vacationers.

That evening, I grabbed some really good seafood dishes at a nearby restaurant (almost lost my appetite again on the way haha) and then napped for the remainder of the evening for the 2am departure out of Manila.

Manila Airport was quite difficult to navigate around as a pilot, due to the inadequate signage and nightly constructions. This is why they had sent a 737 there in the first place. Because of the closure of the main runway, only 737s can take off from the shorter secondary runway at night. Luckily that night, the secondary runway was under repair so they opened the main runway. We took off from there and flew 4 hours back home.

Despite the nap earlier, it was a tiring flight. Usually when you land right before the sunrise at the end of a 4-hr redeye you lose a bit of depth perception so you end up flaring a tad high at Incheon. I became cognizant of that fact beforehand, briefed about human limitations during the landing brief. The winds were relatively calm, so I didn’t have to de-crab. Because I was aware of the visual illusion I was able to flare at the right timing, leading to a soft touchdown.

It was a fun trip, but I think I’d prefer to fly to tourist destinations of the Philippines. But once in a while, layovers in populated cities really help you understand where the majority of the world population live, rather than giving you a false sense of the world based on tourist spots.

Tokyo Express

Well I think the schedulers one day decided to just keep sending me to Tokyo.

I’ve had the chance to fly to Tokyo 3 times in the last 3 weeks. Two overnight quick turns to Haneda and one layover at Narita. Both airports have pretty crappy taxi routes. Haneda because of noise abatement regulations and daily constructions and Narita, because of the stubborn residents that refused to sell their lands to the government. So the airport was built around it. It’s quite hilarious actually.

All the closed & unlit taxiways at Haneda

Complex taxiways at Narita

Aside from the complex taxi routes, Tokyo is situated east of the mountains, so the air is usually very unstable coming into land.

I was the PF landing at Narita/Haneda all 3 times. (Well I asked for that so I can gain more experience rather than taking the easy route back to Incheon.

Haneda quick turns allow us to leave the aircraft for shopping in the terminal for 2 hours. I once had ramen and I usually buy Japanese chocolates (for my gf) and cookies (for me). I like shopping in Japan. Everyone is so nice and everything is so exotic. Although I’m very healthy, I have urge to spend a lot of money at Japanese drug stores. They’re just full of interesting stuff. This time I bought this thing called “Stoppa.” The product claims that it can postpone bowel movements for 2 hours. Considering the hygienic situations in most Asian bathrooms, I thought this thing will always earn me enough time to make it back to the hotel instead of using dirty bathrooms. I have yet to try it tho.

The air traffic controllers are so nice in Japan, although their English is very hard to understand and they don’t understand me if I say anything out of standard ICAO aviation phraseology. (Sometimes you have to explain to them your special requests in plain English but it’s hard to get it across). Another nice thing is they try to let us fly direct to waypoints, instead of making us fly the airways. This ends up saving us anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes of flight time. This is quite a contrast from Chinese ATCs, who make us hold, delay us to let their national carriers jump in front of us, fly to a weird waypoint 80 miles away from our routing without an explanation.

The Narita flight was during daytime, so we got to see the Mount Fuji poking above the cloud deck. It was so beautiful.

And on the night flights, the night scenery of Tokyo is something to see.

Well I don’t have any more flights scheduled to Tokyo, but you can bet that I’m building a “to buy list” for the next visit.

An unexpected layover in Osaka

So one morning I was on a home-standby. I was minding my own business, listening to music and cleaning the house when it started to snow.

So I open up the curtains and it was snowing like crazy. It was a surprise because the forecast had a brief period of mist that day. I immediately knew something’s up and started to get my layover bag ready. But my phone stayed quiet.. So I returned to doing my own things.

Lo and behold, I get a call from the scheduler saying she urgently needs me to take over this 3 day pairing from another FO that had to divert to another airport. Obviously a Captain also had to be called on a short notice.

So I got dressed and headed out the door with my layover bag.

For some reason my phone didn’t work. I couldn’t call taxi, I had to hail one just like in the 90s (In Korea you use an app)

First leg was a domestic sector, followed by a layover (Awesome)

When I showed up to the cockpit I was surprised to notice that the APU was out of service. It seemed like we had to do a cross-bleed start, shut down, de-ice, and do another cross-bleed start. Well s***.

Luckily it had stopped snowing well before I showed up, and they de-iced the plane for us already on the spot.

So we got ready and fired up our #2 engine on the spot, pushed back, and then did a crossbleed start of the #1 engine.

Off we went.

Checked in. Slept.

The next day, I checked out and headed for my second leg: Kansai.

Unfortunately it was the weekend (all banks are closed in this country on the weekend) and I had no way of obtaining Japanese Yen. I had some Japanese money left from the last trip to Japan but I forgot to bring it with me because of the short notice.

I converted about 6,000 Yen at the airport and headed to the plane.

The visibility was super low, and we didn’t have the required visibility to depart from Gimhae. Despite a strong push from the gate agents to board the passengers, the Captain said no. Korean people are quite short-tempered and I’ve experienced first hand what they’d do if they have to be locked up in a tight space, like the cabin of an airplane. His decision was right. Another company aircraft right next to us had a full on riot going on and I could see that through their windows… Poor flight attendants.

About an hour later, the wind started to blow some of the fog away and we were able to start the boarding.

Off we went. It was a bit choppy enroute, but the destination weather was good and I landed in Kansai about 1.5 hours later.

Checked into hotel and I immediately switched on my traveller brain and headed out.

I headed out to Osaka Housing Museum, which I didn’t get to see last time I went with my gf.

But on the way I realized that the place closes at 5pm. I was supposed to get there around 3:30 and I figured it’s best left for a later time. Instead I looked up things to do in that area: Found a very popular sushi place and a bunch of things to buy.

The wait at the sushi restaurant was over 40 minutes and I had a whole kinds of sushi. But my absolute favourite was the tuna belly sushi. It was out of this world. Japanese yellowfin was also good, but it was overshadowed by the creamy meat of the tuna belly..

img_3239.jpg

Top is the tuna belly. Bottom is the regular tuna meat.

I really craved some quality Japanese sake, but I usually don’t drink the night before my flight, so I decided to pass. Next time.

The train ride back to the hotel took about an hour, and I went to the mall to buy some gift and when I got to the hotel, it was already time for me to go to bed.

The next day, we flew to Incheon on our last leg of the pairing.

It was an unexpected layover trip started from a home-standby but 3 short legs over the span of 3 days was pretty awesome. It turns out also, that there was a huge fire at a major telecom company’s network facility and that’s why the phone didn’t work. I don’t think the high-speed internet would’ve worked at home anyway.

This trip reminded me how important it is to stay mentally ready, even though you’re on a standby. Some people drink the night before (12 hours in advance, obviously). If sh*t hits the fan, you need to put your brain in the pilot mode in a matter of minutes.

I don’t foresee another layover in Japan for a while, but I hope to get another trip like this, so I can finally see the Osaka Housing Museum.

Palau

Palau’s one of our two EDTO routes on the 737.

It’s also labeled an “isolated airport” where our dispatch rules concerning alternate airport is exempt, simply because there is no suitable alternate airports nearby.

I’ve always wanted to go there because it’s ‘s only reachable by our 737 fleet due to the short runway. I didn’t have much hopes because we operate there twice a week and it’s reserved to relatively low timed FOs (I was approaching the end of my low time period) due to the company’s rules on Captain-FO experience requirements. (Meaning experienced captains fly with new FO’s and vice versa). So I was very lucky.

When I departed from Incheon, there was a Typhoon (Named Solik) brewing from just west of Guam. Conveniently, it was supposed to be along route route.

Because of that, the dispatchers tried to change our routing. However they couldn’t get a different overflight permit from the Japanese FIR in time. So we decided to depart with the routing and request wx deviations. Over the ocean, we tend to be able to deviate a lot more than over land. At the end of the day, the Typhoon wasn’t supposed go be penetrating through our route, but rather we’d be scratching through the western edge over the Pacific Ocean.

We got to the aircraft and immediately started setting up the plane for departure. Because it’s an EDTO flight, we had to check the fuel crossfeed, check our HF Radio and SELCAL during setup and leave our APU on for the duration of the flight

All of the sudden the firebell went off in the cockpit. “Fire Warning. FWD Cargo.” I immediately remembered that they were spraying insecticides in the cargo hold so I advised the captain and we just cancelled the alarm and went about doing our things.

When our time was up, we got our clearance and departed on time.

In the air, we checked our crossfeed valve and weather at our EDTO ERA and fuel and we entered our EDTO flight south of Japan. We were flying over the ocean alone. There were no other aircraft nearby and our VHF radios started to become a little bit unclear with static noise. Fukuoka control handed us off to Tokyo Radio and we were on HF. I called in and asked for our SELCAL check and soon the chime sounded in the cockpit, confirming our SELCAL is working well.

Every hour or so, I printed the new weather using our ACARS but as we got to our EDTO ETP, We couldn’t receive anything because we didn’t have a SATCOM in this aircraft. We decided to carry on, since the weather at Palau was supposed to be pretty good. Adding to the difficulty was the storm which was adding a lot of static to our HF radio. At some point we just couldn’t understand a thing they were saying. It was about a balloon launch but I couldn’t make out the coordinates or time. We contacted our second HF frequency. It was to no avail. We went back to Tokyo Radio and asked them to relay Oakland Centre’s message. But Tokyo Radio couldn’t understand my English. We gave up for about 10 min and then our EDTO Exit point was approaching. The HF radio started to become audible again and we were given our “cruise clearance” to Palau. With such clearance, you can descend whenever you wish and conduct an approach. They reserve the airspace for you for a while.

We turned off our APU at the exit point and cruised for another several minutes before we started to descend. I contacted Koror radio for our intentions.

The arrival wasn’t particularly difficult but the visibility was about 3 miles with patches of dense fog. We were able to see our runway before we got to our MDA and we continued to land.

 

After landing, I called the office to report our arrival and we walked straight to our crew shuttle.

Palau is a quiet island in the middle of the Pacific. It felt very untouched by humans aside from the roads and airport. We stayed at Palau Pacific Resort and had a really good time there. I got myself a scuba licence while I was there. It was a magical experience with the turtles and giant clams and the tropical fish.

Even snorkelling from the hotel’s beach was very fun. I was able to see beautiful diverse marine species.

It was a truly beautiful island. And I was very thankful for the 4 nights of stay created by our schedule. It was a paid vacation, basically.

But those 5 days passed by rather quickly and it was already our time to head back. Solik was just off the west coast of Korea and I was hoping we’d be delayed but that didnt’t happen.

Luckily we were given an aircraft with SATCOM this time, so the stress about communicating on our crappy HF was relieved.

Due to the variable winds (in which we assume we have a tailwind) and our heavy load, we decided to take off using Flaps 15. But otherwise the departure was normal.

At one point we couldn’t establish radio contact with Oakland centre so we called them up using our SATCOM. There was a super grumpy controller on the line and he snapped at us “what do you want! Why are you calling me?” What an unpleasant arsehole. We kept our conversation short and I warned them if he talked like that again, I’d file a complaint. He hung up on us.

We kept on checking the weather to check on Solik’s progress. It seemed to go right through Korea but without much damage. Even the winds weren’t that bad.

Finally when we arrived at Incheon, the winds were quiet manageable and we arrived without any challenge. The Typhoon had already made it’s way to the east coast of Korea and it had been downgraded to a Tropical Storm half way across Korea.

l

It was a magical stay and I’d love to go back there. Hopefully I get another chance to go there before I upgrade to a widebody.