Mentour Pilot

The worst feeling you can have after landing.

I decided to write this post after having seen a video of a KC-46 tanker making a very tight approach into the Paris Airshow yesterday. The aircraft made a very tight left turn to align with the runway at about 100 feet for landing but the crew overshot the centreline and used those last 100 feet, trying to get back into a correct alignment to land. The crew eventually got down on the ground, made a firm touchdown and a short landing roll.

This brings me to my point with this article. The worst feeling I have ever had, after a successful landing, is knowing that the landing shouldn’t have happened in the first place. That feeling is absolutely horrible and, if you are like me, it will stay with you for days. So why do we pilots find ourselves in situations like that?

Pilots, tend to always be goal-oriented. This means that we have a bias for trying to fix a un-stabilised approach, even if we deep down inside know that the safe and correct thing to do, is to Go-around . This is a human trait that comes from deep within our personalities and it’s either enforced or worn down, depending on the type of training and safety-culture-thinking we receive from our companies.

Any pilot with a little bit of experience will have a memory of an approach and landing that, it they could do it again, would have led to a go-around. It might have been questionable visibility, late configuration of landing flaps, high speed or a too late touchdown. A landing is, at the end o the day, up to the pilots to decide on and still leaves quite a large room for discretion.

In my company we get told, over and over, that there is a “no-blame” policy for Go-arounds. This might sound obvious but it is a VERY important policy to have and to constantly remind pilots of. When pilots think “go around?” the next thought should always be “no-blame” followed by “call it!”. In almost all circumstances, if a pilot thinks the word “go-around” it is the correct thing to do! We very rarely start thinking of go-arounds if the approach is progressing nicely.

Remember that there are very few companies that will ever thank you for landing from an un-stabilised approach.

The Pilot Monitoring (PM) plays a huge role in stopping approaches like this from happening. The Pilot Flying tends to be inclined to try and “fix” the approach, no matter what it looks like. Him or her could be finding themselves further and further down the “stress cone” as the approach starts to unravel and might, in the end, not even think of go-around as an option even though it should be the obvious thing to do. The Pilot Monitoring on the other hand, should be “monitoring” the situation and call out any tendencies as it happens. As Pilot Monitoring you will have less things to do, hence your workload will be less and making that crucial call; “Go-Around” should come easier and MUST do so.

But in some cases it still isn’t as easy as that. Maybe the cockpit gradient is very high and a young fresh first officer might feel uncomfortable in calling a “go-around” on a senior training captain. Maybe the company culture is such that it makes it hard for the Pilot Monitoring to speak up. It is hugely important that any flying organisation works hard on empowering the role of the PM and especially when the PM is the First Officer. In my role as a TRI/TRE as well as a Line training Captain for my company, I have always been proud over how clearly this has been communicated.

This is also where our pride in our job as well as the role of Standard Operating Procedures comes in.  Any pilot worth her or his salt should be willing to call out an unsafe tendency no matter when or to whom it happens. This has to be a fundamental part of the training and the strength of the personality of any pilot. The Company SOP’s has to provide tools, such as a mandatory Pilot Monitoring “500 ft continue/go around” call on every approach, that MUST be obeyed. Modern tools such as Operational Flight Data Monitoring systems, that monitors the flight parameters and looks for unsafe tendencies, will also help pilots with questionable decision making skills, to make the correct decision. I remember feeling hugely empowered, as a first officer, when the OFDM system was introduced.

A go-around can also be a scary thing to do. In a lot of cases, pilots might not have done an actual go-around in the real aircraft for months if not years. I have even flown with first officers, who are approaching command hours, without having done a real go-around. You might be surprised to hear that but given the enhancement of SOP’s and general tendencies to err on the side of caustion leads up to very few actual go-around in commercial aviation. Obviously Go-arounds are vigorously trained in the simulator every 6 months but it does mean that a real go-around, in the aircraft, could induce a great deal of stress when it happens and that stress, or the perceived onset of that stress, could stop pilots from initiating it.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, pondering wether a go-around is the right thing to do, remember this; I have NEVER regretted a single go-around in my career but I HAVE regretted landings.

Have a great and safe day out there my friends!

//Petter Hornfeldt

Mentour Pilot


I shouldn’t have said anything…

May 28, 2019 · 0 comments

Yesterday was one of those days where you sit down after the flight and think; “I shouldn’t have even mentioned it”.

I was planned to fly a long, four-sector day. The day included a flight from my home base, Girona, to London Stansted and back and, after that, to Bristol and back. All flights were around 2h long and the weather was fine everywhere with just some light turbulence expected over France and some rain showers in the UK.

During the last few weeks I haven’t been line-training anything due to the kidney-stones I had which rendered me with a restriction to fly with only qualified FO’s. This has given me the chance to fly with more experienced colleagues and help them prepare for their coming command upgrade. Yesterday I flew with a first officer with around 1000h and we started discussing how he should be thinking regarding the coming 2 years until it is time for his command Upgrade assessments.

I started off by telling him that First Officers with his amount of experience often fall into a trap where their confidence is much higher than their experience which can render them open to making mistakes. Basically, you can fly for 1000h and gather quite a lot of operational experience without encountering any real difficulties. Since the operation becomes easier and easier the more experience you have, you can get a feeling of “I can handle anything now, I am EXPERIENCED!” without actually having seen anything really difficult. It is very important to be aware of this and constantly watch your own performance critically. It is part of our Threat and Error response technique of ANTICIPATE – RECOGNISE – RECOVER.

I told him ” You have all of this normal operational experience and then all of a sudden you have a medical emergency, or a sudden unexpected re-routing or technical failure and you end up with extreme pressure. This will lead you to evaluate your knowledge contra your experience and get it more in line with reality”. And “My experience  is also, when things start to happen, they all come together, even if they are not related to each-other”… I wish I hadn’t said that. 😆

He laugh and said that he had heard the same thing from another colleague.

The flight to Stansted was uneventful until, at the very last minute, we did indeed get a very unusual re-routing that required a lot more effort than initially briefed. We laugh at it and I got to say “I told you so” which always makes any trainer happy!

On the second rotation out from Girona to Bristol, we were sitting over France at 36000 feet when suddenly we got a call from our Purser; “I have a PAA (Problem, Actions, Additional information) briefing”. “We have a passenger with difficulties breathing and a num feeling in his arms and hands, we have nurses attending to him but we might have to divert!”. I looked at my First officer and sighed, this was exactly what we had been talking about on the previous leg!

I asked to talk with one of the nurses that was attending to the passenger and she informed me that the passenger was breathing normally, with good pulse and no signs of immediate danger. It would be good if he could be checked up by a doctor on arrival but no need for an immediate diversion or medical attention. I relayed this information to my first officer and we decided that there was no need for a PAN call at this point and that we could continue towards destination as normal. If the situation would deteriorate we could upgrade our status in order to receive ATC priority. Our handling agent was advised, over the radio, and asked to provide medical assistance on arrival. I did a NITS (Nature, Intentions, Time, Special procedure) briefing with my Cabin-Crew to keep them in the loop and proceeded to Bristol where help was waiting.

This was not really a full blown medical emergency but it showed how quickly things can go from a breezy chat in the cockpit to cold reality. During the approach, ATC vectored in a Cessna 3nm ahead of us on Final which forced us to reduce speed to minimum immediately but the Cessna still had to Go-around as we were getting to close.  The turnaround was delayed because of the medical issue with the passenger but we still managed to get away within a reasonable time.

During the return leg, an approach into Girona, we were attacked with green laser from the ground. 😖 This was reported to ATC who contacted the local Police in order to try and catch the person with the laser pointer. Shining a laser at an aircraft is considered an “Attack on aircraft safety” in Spain and most other countries and is punishable with up to 100K Euros in fine and jail-time. Fortunately i only got hit for a split second and my First Officer was pilot flying so we could continue the approach without further incident. Subsequent aircraft, coming in after us, were also attacked.

This meant that I had to finish off my 12h day with writing TWO ASR’s (Air Safety Reports) before I could go home and sleep. Report writing is a VERY important part of our ongoing strive to improve safety in the aviation business because it spreads information and helps the company and authorities prioritise threats and deal with them. Always write a report if something safety-related happens to you!

The reason I wanted to write this blog-post was to show you that things DO happen in this occupation and, for some reason, they all tend to all happen together. It is very important to be vigilant and aware that even the most relaxed of days can quickly become considerably less relaxed, very quickly, and we have to be continuously on our guard.

 


Pilot Medical, how does it feel to be grounded?

April 19, 2019 · 34 comments

“I have always been a very healthy person”. Thats something I think almost every member of my profession will say, the first time they run into real medical issues and I certainly did.

3 weeks ago I was travelling home after a week of simulator duties and felt an intense pain in my stomach and lower back. It came and went in waves and after an excruciating night, I went to the hospital where they told me that it was likely kidney-stones.
Kidney stones and associated problems are very, very common. It is likely that you know someone, maybe even in your own family that has suffered from it and they will all tell you that the pain is excruciating.
While some other professions can be safely executed while in treatment for this condition, being a pilot is not one of them. As a pilot we have to be able to be fully concentrated on our tasks during 100% of hour working time and blinding pain does not fit into that picture.
This meant that I had to do something which I have never previously done in my 18 year career. I had to contact my AME to get guidance and help and possibly loose my medical.

Contacting you AME with news that could potentially take away your medical is a very scary thing to do. There is a feeling of loosing control and giving your livelihood away to the judgement of authorities and thats never a nice feeling. On the other hand, it felt very good to get decision making help from professionals.
As expected, I was told not to resume flight duties until the matter had been properly resolved.

I went to several different doctors and made a whole array of tests and, eventually, we found that there was no stone but some kind of minor “gravel” that had ended up in my kidneys, likely because of my low-carb/high protein diet that I had recently started. The problem now became to make sure that the attack I had endured, was a one time thing. This could be done by continuously testing the urine to look for traces of blood or stones as well as just general health checks. This took much, much longer than I thought it would do but getting appointments and test results, as well as relaying these to different doctors, takes time. Count on that if it happens to you.
I was lucky enough to have my various different other projects to work on, while I was cruising around medical centres, but few in my occupation are so lucky. Being grounded really makes you realise just how vulnerable you are in this profession. One day you are working your dream-job, the next day you aren’t. This leads me to an important conclusion, but more about that later.

When my results were good enough, it was up to the AME authorities, in my case the IAA, to make a decision on when I could resume flight duties. A decision was made to let me go back flying with an OML restriction. This means a restriction to fly in only multi-crew operations until my next medical renewal, at what point, the restriction can be removed if everything looks good and my AME agrees

So what are my thoughts about this whole ordeal?
I have to say that it has strengthen my trust in the medical system and the safety of air transport, yet again. I have, at every step, been greeted by professionals that have had the safety of the traveling public, as well as my wellbeing and professional career, in mind during their decision-making. My employer has been absolutely great and supported me during my near month of absence.
What could have been a very negative experience have actually made me even more positive towards both authorities, doctors and my employer. I will not hesitate to contact them again, if needs be.

A other things that I have learnt; Never take your health for granted. No matter what age you are or how well you take care of yourself, you never know what might happen. Always try and enjoy the moment, spend time with your friends and family and have fun!
Also, get a good loss-of-license insurance. I didn’t have to use it but if you end up permanently loosing your license, you will have wished that you had one. Your employer, flight-school or pilot-union will have selected good and trustworthy insurance companies to use, check it out now.
Get one as soon as you are starting to pay money for your licenses, do not wait because you might end up regretting it!

Have a wonderful easter my dear friends and stay tuned for new videos coming up soon on the channel!


Why setting goals is SO important!

December 27, 2018 · 33 comments

When I was 14 years old I was given a test lesson in a Cessna 172, by my parents as a birthday gift. This was the start of my life in the airline business but i had no idea about that, then.
It was a wonderful, cold autumn afternoon when I took off together with the flight-instructor, Mats and he let me fly the whole hour with just some minor instructions and inputs. We flew over my hometown, over my village and we did a few different manoeuvres before it was time to head back to the airport to land. During the landing I kept waiting for Mats to take over but he never did, he just kept giving me instructions until the aircraft was safely on the ground and I had taxied it onto the ramp, in front of out red club-hangar.

My father asked me if I liked the birthday present and i looked at him and said; “This is what I want to do when I get older”

This was the start of a series of events that would lead up to the man, father and pilot I am today. On that day, I took a decision that formed the goals of my life from that point onwards.

Before I decided that I wanted to become a commercial pilot I had been a mediocre student. Not bad at all but not particularly good either. I had been viewing school like I think most 14 year-olds do, something that needs to be done but nothing more. Now it was different.

My dad had sat me down and explained to me that in order for me to become a pilot I would need to have some kind of long-term plan. Becoming a pilot is potentially very expensive and requires a lot of determination and stamina. I would need to find the best flight-school, I would need to assure that I had sufficient skill and knowledge to get through the course and be successful in finding a job.
I went about this task with the burning passion that only a 14 year-old on a mission can. I started looking for schools and quite quickly found a government sponsored program in Sweden that would pay for all my licenses, IF I WAS ACCEPTED. The problem was that there were only 30 spots availible in the whole country and they started the selection based on school-grades.

This gave me my first tangible goal. I knew that in order for me to have a chance I needed PERFECT grades. Not mediocre. I started working harder than I ever had in my life. I went from a 3,5 (out of 5) average and increased that to 4.3 in 1,5 years. This was done through pure determination and hard work. When you see a clear reason for your studies it is SO MUCH EASIER to do so.
During my first year of Junior College (Swedish Gymnasium) I managed to achieve my gaol and graduated that year with perfect grades in all subjects, finished in that year. That gave me the valuable guarantee to reach the test-stage of the government sponsored program and later that year, I managed to squeeze through the gruelling test battery that gave me a spot in the program.
The most fantastic 2 years of my life followed with a chance to pursue my passion alongside 29 other students with the same goals and determination. It was the most rewarding and hard course that I have ever had to go through but it showed me, in blinding clarity, how far you can get by setting goals and keeping your stamina.

The point I want to make with this story is that anything is possible if you really put your mind to it and set up workable, realistic, achievable goals for yourself along the way. You need to brake down the ultimate goal into many smaller parts and attack them separately, otherwise the overall task will feel overwhelming.

In aviation we use several different acronyms for decision making models and in my airline we use PIOSEE. You can use that in life as well in order to achieve a larger goal. YOU can use this technique as well when it come to achieving your goals, no matter what they might be.

1: Define the PROBLEM. What is it? How big is it?
2: What INFORMATION can you gather to help you solve the problem or inform you about the tasks needed to be completed. In aviation that can be airports, weather, technical faults, passenger situation etc. In life it could be schools availible, grades needed etc.
3: What OPTIONS do you have? How can you solve the problem?
4: SELECT an appropriate option. Do not fluff around, use the info you have gathered and select it.
5: EXECUTE the option
6: EVALUATE the outcome of the execution. If something doesn’t go the way you intend it to go. Start the process from the beginning again.

In 2019 I wish for all of YOU to have clear and defined goals to work against. You might not achieve them all but you are GUARANTEED to reach further with them, then without them.


How is life in a suitcase

December 21, 2018 · 4 comments

Hi my friends!

I just want to write a short update to my previous story about my temporary winter base.

I have been working out of one of our simulator centres for almost 3 months now and I have started to notice a few things.

1: Living your life out of a hotel room is really boring. You never realise how much you appreciate being able to sit in your own sofa, drink from your own coffee cups and take a dump on your own toilet until you can’t do that anymore.

Living life in a hotel very quickly becomes like “Groundhog day” where every day looks exactly the same. 1: You wake up 2: Have breakfast 3: Go to work 4: Come home, get dinner 5: Surf internet, watch CNN 6: Go to sleep …. And Repeat.

I will have to find a way to get “going to the gym” into that routine soon. 🙂

I think this is a problem that faces all pilots that are away during large portions of their working weeks so you will have to come up with some kind of plan to handle it.

2: You miss your family much more than you might think.

I knew this would happen but the first couple of weeks were quite ok since everything was new and I needed to prepare fro sessions etc.

Now that everything has become more routine you spend more time thinking about your kids and family. Skype or Facetime is a great help but its not a replacement.

3: You get really good at packing a suitcase quickly and still…. You always pack to much clothes for the time you will spend away. 🙂

4: Doing only sim is not bad at all!

Its very nice to know exactly how the day will turn out, no matter what the weather is outside. The guys in the simulator and the simulator engineers are great people and its very interesting to see different solutions to different problems.

I do miss flying but the weather has been quite bad over Europe during the late autumn and winter so the workload has been much lower in the simulator than on line.

I would never be able to do this for an extended period of time though. The flying is to fun to miss but being away from it is a great way to appreciate it.

5: I would love to do more typerating training and work with cadets. Doing LPC’s (Simulator checks) can be interesting but its instructing that I really love. I love explaining something to a student and see that “light” appear in their eyes when they understand what I mean. Instructing typerating cadets is like writing on blank sheets of paper. They soak up all the information you give them and apply it immediately. Its a really rewarding form of instruction, especially when the students are well prepared and highly motivated which tends to almost always be the case.

6: I have much more time to think about YOU guys and how I can expand the channel, my apps and everything to help you guys and make your experience an even better one.

I have a lot of new things coming up but I would like to hear your opinions.

What would you like me to explain to you? Would you like me to try and teach you how to actually set up and fly the 737?

Would you like me to show and explain more cool manoeuvres (Like in my app “Mentour 360“)

Would you like more competitions and quizzes? 

Please let me know in the comments below. I will do my best to try and satisfy your wishes.


Being constantly checked, life as a pilot

December 21, 2018 · 0 comments

Hi everybody!

Yesterday I did my triennial IPC (Instructor Proficiency Check) .

This is a line-check that all line-training captains have to do, at least every third year, in order to show the airline and the authorities that we are competent to do the job as instructors.

With this IPC it brought the number of checks that I have been subjected to, THIS month, to 3.

I started of the month with an annual line-check. This is a check that all pilots have to do, every year to show that they are competent in handling the normal day-to-day operation of the aircraft and that we are following all relevant Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s).

I then pursued with completing my annual Licence Proficiency check (LPC). This is a check that is done in a simulator every year to satisfy both the Aviation Authorities and the Airline of my competency to handle the aircraft in both Normal and Non-normal situations. The LPC (valid one year) and the OPC (Operator proficiency check, valid 6 months) are probably the checks that you have heard most about. These are the checks that a lot of pilots fear because failing theses checks means that we are taken off line, not allowed to work until we have received re-training and done another check. These checks also tend to be the trickiest to do since they have loads of failures in them and we very rarely have ANY failures during our daily flights.

In association with the LPC there are also 2 written exams that we have to do on a computer. The first exam is a technical test comprising of 25 multiple choice questions on different technical systems and the other test is a 25 question SOP exam. The pass-rate is 75% on both.

After that I had my triennial Fire and rescue course and now, lastly I had the IPC (Instructor proficiency check).

In my case it’s a little bit extreme since I have managed to get all my checks in the same month but the same amount of checks are done by all commercial pilots (Well, a few more for instructors. 🙂

This is just one of the reasons why the aviation business are one of the safest in the world. The checks should not bee seen as threats but as critical safety barriers where the general public is protected but also where we, pilots, are protected from ourselves. If we have lost our skills in any area we need to be made aware of this and practice that area to proficiency again before we fly another aircraft. 

Even though this is the case, a lot of pilots dislike the checks heavily. As you can imagine, its not nice to have your knowledge, skill and livelyhood “questioned” every 6 months but my experience is that if you come prepared, do a bit of studying before, there is very rarely anything to worry about.

I have come to thoroughly enjoy my checks since it gives me valuable feedback, something that can be a bit scarce otherwise as a linetraining captain and TRE.

The only way to get better is by training, studying and receiving and accepting critique and feedback.

If you want to see a few of the exercises we are being tested on during the LPC/OPC you can download my app by pressing here and see it for yourself. I promise that you wont be dissapointed. 

Have a fantastic day my friends!


Sudden changes in your job and how to deal with them

December 21, 2018 · 1 comments

Hi my friends!

Sometimes circumstances in this business changes very quickly. This is one of those things that you will have to be prepared for if you are looking to join the airline world.

During my 15 years in this business the industry has gone up and down, airlines have come and gone and bases have opened and closed. The business is famous for its volatility and unpredictability where everything from oil prices to terrorism can change the face of the industry over night.

Several of my colleagues and friends have changed company, country and continent multiple times, thats just the way this industry works.

Humans are not designed to appreciate change. We tend to feel most at ease when we have stability and predictability around us. Pilots are no exception from this and the older we become, the more our family becomes the most important beacon in our life.

I very rarely touch on the negative aspects of being a pilot but this potential uncertainty can be one of those.

As always in this life, the circumstances that you are faced with are always multi faceted and very few things are ONLY positive or negative. It will be up to you as an individual to choose how you look at circumstances that are outside of your direct control.

One of the most important reasons that I am doing my work with “Mentour Pilot” and “Mentour 360” is to give people an insight into the life of ONE airline pilot and to give you the benefits of the experience that I have gained over my 15 years inside this unique and constantly changing machine that the airline business is.

I am always open with the fact that what I tell you is only MY view of how things are and you will have to form your own opinion about this life when you are inside of it yourself.

Due to the unpredictability of the industry and importance that predictability will inevitably have on your life I always advice people to try to choose an airline (If you have a choice) that have stable economy and good future prospects. The reason for this is that small political problems inside an airline are much less importance than the survival of the airline and your job with it. If you work for a profitable airline you will have a much higher chance of predicting your future once you have settled somewhere. Changes can still happen but they are less likely to completely disrupt your life which might be the case if your employer would suddenly go bankrupt after you have moved to a different country to work for them.

So, why am I telling you all this? Well, the reason is that I am in the middle of such a change right now. The base that I am working from and where I have my family, is operating on a very seasonal schedule and due to a large downsizing over the winter months I will have to operate out of different bases over the winter.

This will mean longer time away from my family and more time spent on airports looking for commuting options. (Possibility for coffee meet-ups:)

This is obviously not ideal but I am choosing to see this as an opportunity to get to know more new people, get new experiences and grow.

I know that the decision to downsize over the winter is one of those decisions that I would have made myself if I was in a managerial position (Having your own company changes your viewpoint slightly).

My employer have been forthcoming with trying to find a workable way of doing this over the winter and I am happy with the way this will work.

As I said before, I have learnt that these types of changes are an unfortunate part of the otherwise fabulous line of business I have chosen.

I am actively choosing to look at this positively because I know that thinking like that will make my life much more enjoyable and that doing the opposite will potentially have a very negative impact on my life quality.

Remember my friends; YOU are the masters of your own life. YOU choose if you are a victim of circumstaces or if you can play these same circumstances to work in your advantage. Never forget that!


Always be ready for a go-around

December 21, 2018 · 0 comments

Yesterday was a reminder that you always have to go in to every approach with the mindset of executing a missed approach.

I will tell you all about it but I will start by explaining how we go about selecting what approach to fly and why.

First of all, we always try to use the most accurate and precise approach availible. This is normally an ILS and we would only fly a non-precision approach, like a VOR or NDB approach if there is no ILS availible or if we need it for training purposes.

There are a couple of ILS approaches availible. The most common type is ILS Cat 1 where we fly down to a decision height of 200 feet (or more) above ground. With a Cat 1 we have to execute the landing manually.

The other types of ILS’s are Cat 2 (DH more than 100 feet Radio Altitude) and Cat 3 (DH more than 50 feet radio altitude). These type of approaches are normally flown completely on autopilot down to, and including, landing. 

Because of the higher precision needed for auto-land there are special requirements on the airport, runway and ILS. This is why we don’t always fly these approaches. It will require the airport to implement bigger separation between landing aircrafts and the aircraft auto-land actually requires more landing distance than a normal, manual landing does (140 m).

Normally we have a quite good idea of what weather we can expect at the destination even before we take off but in some cases the weather deteriorates more and faster than forecasted. That was the case this Monday.

We were en-route from Paris to Girona and, as always, we took the latest weather when we were approaching our top of descend to prepare for the approach.

The weather was ok, as forcasted with 5 km visibility in Mist and overcast clouds at 700 feet. This weather is good enough to fly a normal ILS Cat 1 and we don’t even have to fly a “monitored approach” which we would do if the weather would be marginal for a Cat 1. 

When flying a monitored approach the First Officer becomes Pilot Flying during the approach and the Captain takes controls and lands if he/she gets sufficient visual references to land before minimums. If that is not the case, the FO flies the go-around.

But this time the weather was so good (relatively speaking) that I elected to fly a normal approach with me as Pilot Flying for the whole approach.

I was very confident in the possibilities landing and since it was the last flight after a very long day I was already thinking of going home.

We flew the approach in a completely normal way and ATC gave us landing clearance without mentioning any changes in the weather. 

I had instructed my First officer to call out any visual references he saw and when we passed 500 feet descending without any sign of the runway I started suspecting that the weather might have deteriorated quite a bit.

We reached “Minimums” without a single sign of any approach lights so I promptly executed the Go-around and started climbing. 

We cleaned up the aircraft as per procedure and I kept the controls while I instructed my FO to complete the “after TO checklist” and start preparing for a CAT 3 approach.

I made a PA to the passengers, explaining what had happened and briefed my cabin crew.

We then flew the Cat3 approach to a successful landing. 

It turned out that the cloud-base had gone down to overcast at 100 feet with a RVR of 1000 meters.

This served as a great reminder to me that you have to enter all approaches with the mindset of having to go-around. Any landing is supposed to be seen as a bonus. 🙂

If you want to see how to fly a cat 3 approach and a Go-around from a Cat 3, then download my app and enjoy!

Have a great day!!


Positioning an empty aircraft

December 21, 2018 · 0 comments

Hi my friends!

I am very sorry that I haven’t updated the blog for a while but the summer schedule has kept me very busy.

I am also working on a surprise for you guys. The only thing i can guarantee is that you wont be disappointed when I reveal it. 🙂

I would however encourage you to get yourself a pair of VR googles soon if you haven’t already. You can find a sturdy, simple version here on the website or you can get the more advanced “Merge VR” ones as well.

Today I will talk about something that few passengers ever think about. I will be talking about positioning flights!

From time to time it is necessary to move aircraft around the network without passengers. It might be due to technical malfunctions in other aircrafts, where we need to help the p[passengers get to their destination or it might be repositioning the fleet for tactical reasons. In any case these positioning flights have to be done and I got to do one the other day.

I had finished my instructor week in our training centre in the UK and I had positioned as passive crew back to Barcelona. Since I had started my week from Girona I now had my car there and I had landed in Barcelona, 110 KM away from my car.

Normally this means that my company hires a taxi or a rental car for me to get back to my home base. On this occasion they had a much more dignified transportation in mind. 

I had been rostered to fly an empty Boeing from Barcelona to Girona, a flight that could potentially take around 15 minutes to do. 🙂

My first officer had been positioned from Girona to Barcelona and we met up at Burger King and went to the crewroom to print and check the needed flight-plans and paperwork to do the flight. 

After we had prepared everything (which was quite quick to do 🙂 We contacted the ramp agent who came and picked us up. Since we were travelling alone there was no need for cabin-crew so it was just me and my FO. 

We proceeded with completing the normal preflight with the added items of having to check that all trollies in the galleys were secured properly and that the forward slides were armed and crosschecked. There have been incidents in other airlines where the crew have forgotten to secure the trolleys and they have been coming rolling down the centre isle, during the landing roll.

Every time there we do something different it is a potential for errors so we need to be extra careful and properly discuss any extra items we need to think of. 

You might think that it is easier to fly without crew and passengers but the reality is that pilots like when everything stays close to the normal procedures. Anything out of the norm tends to leave an un-easy feeling, a feeling of having forgot something.

Thats because everything we do is so rule bound and tied to scan-flown and normal procedures.

Having said that, I really enjoy doing these types of things. It brakes the routine a bit and make me feel alive!

When all was done we started our engines and taxied out for Takeoff at Barcelona runway 25L.

It is about 15 minutes of taxiways and an aircraft designed for weighing around 65 tonnes does not taxy very well at 42 tonnes. It sits to high on its dampers so it vibrates a lot and accelerates even at idle thrust.

My First officer was Pilot Flying for the leg and we took off and steered north west. Due to the complex routing structure around Barcelona we couldn’t fly straight to Girona but had to fly a big circle around Barcelona, overhead Girona airport and through a procedure turn to join the ILS for runway 20.

This meant that the total flight-time was close to 30 minutes at the end.

Another thing that is very different with a very light aircraft is the approach speeds. They were around 20 kts slower than normal and the aircraft behaves a bit strange at those speeds. The energy level is low but its a bit sluggish in the controls and not as nice to fly as when it is heavy.

Anyway, we landed in Girona where the weather was beautiful and turned the aircraft over to the engineers who was waiting to do its inspection for the coming days flights.

Have a fantastic day my friends and remember to download the app “mentour 360” from the website. If you have already downloaded it, I would really appreciate if you could go in and give the app a review and a grading on the appstore. It helps the visibility of the app and makes more people find it.

Until next time, have a great day!!


Controlled rest for pilots

December 21, 2018 · 0 comments

Can pilots sleep when they are flying?

This is a question that I have been asked a lot of time on my youtube page .

The answer to this is YES, but only if the company have a approved procedure for it and it is done in a controlled way. Hence the official name of it: Controlled rest.

So, how is it actually done? Can a pilot just sleep for a while when he or she feels tired?

No, the way the procedure is normally done, and this varies between different airlines, is that in case a flight-crew member feels like he/she would like to take a nap it has to be discussed with the other flight-crew member. The flight have to be long enough to safely accommodate the rest and the Cabin-crew have to be informed.

The minimum flight time needed to do controlled rest is normally 145 minutes. The reason it is that long is that controlled rest cannot be used during critical phases of flight. This means that during climb and descend, both pilots needs to be alert and ready. After top of climb, the Captain can decide on a timeframe of maximum 45 minutes when one pilot can take a rest. This timeframe is selected when there is a period of relative calmness without any complex operation like multiple FIR crossings or anticipated level changes. When this is decided the Cabin Crew have to be informed since they normally call in to check on the alertness of the pilots every 20 minutes. During the time of controlled rest the roles will be reversed so that the operating pilot will call the cabin-crew every 20 minutes instead to allow the resting pilot not to be disturbed. If this call is not made, the cabin-crew will call anyway.

45 minutes of rest is chosen to allow a maximum of 30 minutes of sleep, this is to avoid that the resting pilot goes into “deep-sleep”. 

After the rest is finished the resting pilot needs a minimum of 20 minutes of “recovery” time during which he/she is not allowed to take controls of the aircraft. The recovery have to be finished at least 30 minutes prior to Top of descend in order for the crew to be properly prepared for the descend and approach phase of the flight.

In most cases it has to be recorded on the travel documents when if and when the rest have been done as well.

As you can see, there are very robust rules surrounding the use of controlled rest and the purpose of this procedure is to make sure that the crew avoid microsleep etc during very long flights. It is considered better to have a controlled procedure rather than having pilots dose off on their own.

There are alos other procedures that include Augumented flightcrew. That is when there are more than 2 pilots forming part of the flightcrew but that is normally only used on very long, long-haul routes.

I hope that makes sense to you all. And I want to stress that not all airlines utilise this kind of procedure. It has to be pre-approaved by the local CAA before used.

Have a fantastic day !


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