B200 Captain Trip Report – CYIO to CYOW (PART 1 of 2)
Happy New Year Airliners.net!!!***THIS IS THE FIRST PART OF A TWO PART REPORT***
It has been a while since I’ve written a report, but that’s because I’ve had an extremely busy 2016. I’m sure a lot of you can identify with me when I say that “I can not explain where the last twelve months have gone”. From changing diapers at home, to changing “seats” at work it has been hectic year to say the least. Last year started out quite busy. As a matter of fact, I barely made the stroke of midnight on December 31st 2015, because I was just returning to base from Ottawa, flying right seat on the Learjet 35A. I’ve been flying that for about a year at this point and, while I loved the jet, I was looking to move to the left seat, but it was a little hard to do it on the LR35, so in Feb. 2016 I was offered a captain position on the King Air 200, an aircraft that I have previously flown as a First Officer.
In March 2016, I was sent for training at Flight Safety in Wichita, KS. And came back to Canada with a fresh PPC and “Four bars” on my shoulders. I was very proud of this moment, being my first ever “command” job and I was really looking forward to it. Like any new captain, I had my “fears”, but they were mostly about my interaction with my crew members. I wanted to be a balanced leader who is understanding, compassionate, fair but also firm and decisive when the time came. On the operational and technical side of things were easier, because by this time, I had over 2000 hrs of flight time, of which 1400 were as an F/O on the B200 King Air and B1900. My strategy was simple: Rely on the experience and training of the entire crew, encourage dialog (regardless of how irrelevant it may seem at that time), make sure that everyone was on the same page and in agreement with what our mission and tasks are. The collaboration and interaction between the medical staff (flight nurses) and aircrew (pilots) was crucial. The Canadian Arctic is an remote, harsh and unforgiving flying environment. There is very little room for complacency and even less for error. Even the smallest of mistakes can have dire consequences. All of us are on our “A” game from start to finish. The goal is simple: Stay safe, be efficient, stay safe and stay safe…. Also… stay safe…
This trip report, covers an air ambulance mission from Pond Inlet, Nunavut to Ottawa, Ontario, our nation’s capital with one of our B200s, reg. C-FZPW or “Blizzard 206 medevac” around the last week of May 2016. The company has a number of bases in the Canadian Arctic and this particular time, we started at our northernmost base in Iqaluit, the territorial capital of Nunavut, located at the Southern tip of Baffin Island. From time to time, due to scheduling and other factors, the company, like many others will pair up two captains together and one will act as PIC (Pilot in Command) and the other as SIC (Second in Command). This is decided prior to the flight and normally we take turns, from mission to mission. One day I’ll be captain, the next will be my colleague. Such was the case this time and we decided that I would be the Pilot in Command, flying from the left seat (all captains are also right seat qualified).
Our route: Iqaluit – Pond Inlet – Iqaluit – La Grande Riviere – Ottawa – Wabush – Iqaluit
Our route, in more detail:
Like all missions, it started out with a call from our flight co-ordinator “Hey guys, you have a Pond Inlet medevac, going to Ottawa”. Once the call is received, we have 60 minutes to be “engines on”. My “co-pilot” (Capt. J.G.) and myself met outside our crew apartments and then picked up the flight nurse and took a 5-minute drive to our company hangar. Our aircraft was already outside, with the GPU (Ground Power Unit) connected. Once there, as PIC, I verified that the Journey Log Book, etc. was up to date, the aircraft was “airworthy”, and that any upcoming service items would not be “due” for the duration of our trip. I was also in charge of checking the weather, airport conditions, NOTAMS, creating the flight plan, filing it with ATC and of course briefing the crew about the flight. The SIC, did the walk around and cockpit pre-flight checks and ensured that all required documents, maps, charts, plates, etc. were onboard the aircraft. The flight nurse had her duties as well, preparing all the medical equipment for this mission.
View of Iqaluit from “The Plateau”, in the vicinity of the crew houses. You can see the main terminal (yellow building) of Iqaluit Airport and the runway, as well as some of the hangars:
Below I have included some SAMPLE SHOTS ONLY
of a typical flight plan and “weather”. THIS WAS NOT THE ACTUAL WEATHER / FLIGHT PLAN USED.LEG 1 – Iqaluit to Pond Inlet
Our first flight segment, Iqaluit to Pond Inlet, with Igloolik (CYGT) as our alternate airport:
The weather was good for all four segments. That day, we would only have enough time in our duty day to fly 4 legs. YFB-YIO-YFB-YGL-YOW. Our patient was also to be transferred to a hospital in Ottawa, then the crew would overnight in there, followed by a next day departure and return to base. Once everyone agreed that we were safe to proceed with this mission, we headed to the aircraft, we strapped ourselves in and I started the RIGHT engine, followed by the LEFT. We completed the required checks and my colleague, being PM (Pilot Monitoring) contacted Iqaluit Radio and requested clearance to CYIO. Iqaluit is not a controlled airport, so there is no requirement for clearance to taxi / take off, but we do need clearance into controlled airspace from Montreal Centre. We did a quick run-up and then I taxied the aircraft via the main apron to Delta Taxiway, then onto runway 34. For take-off, I pushed the power levers forward, my co-captain set the “final” take off power, he called 70 kts, cross-checked our instruments. V1 was 94 as was Vr. I pulled back on the yoke and the aircraft started climbing away. He called “Positive rate”, I replied, Gear Up. At 400 AGL, we retracted the FLAPS. At 1000 AGL, we set climb power, 2100 lbs of torque and 1900 RPM per engine, ensuring we were within allowable parameters (ITT, N1, etc). We engaged the Auto-Ailot and yaw damper with the Heading Mode and FLC (Flight Level Change) mode set at 160 KIAS.
My colleague, contacted Montreal Centre and we were cleared direct Pond Inlet and instructed to climb to FL280. I engaged the NAV mode at the point and the aircraft started following the route entered in the FMS. He then completed the after take-off checks, followed by 10,000 FT UP, FL180 checks and so on... After we leveled off, we set cruise power and cruise checks.
Google Earth view of Iqaluit and its airport:
After engine start, near one of the hangars in Iqaluit:
Iqaluit Airport Diagram:
Iqaluit Two Departure:
VNC of Iqaluit Area: (Note we were IFR, but this is still interesting to post)
IFR High Chart of the route:
Map view on our G1000 MFD of our route and Baffin Island
Nice and smooth at FL280
My PFD. A few things to observe here: The active leg is CYFB-CYIO, distance is 376 nm, bearing 341*T (True). Being so high up in the Arctic, we use True mode, as opposed to Magnetic North. On the right side, are the COM frequencies, while the top left corner are the VOR frequencies. In this case, we were navigating by GPS, with the Auto-Pilot engaged, YD (Yaw Damper) and ALT HOLD FL280 (28,000 feet) with at STD BARO. On the HSI you can see GPS ENR (En-Route). True Airspeed TAS is 253, and Ground Speed of 279 knots. We had a 26 kts tail wind with a 23 knot crosswind. Outside Air Temp -41*C with ISA temp of 0*C. Also notice we have synthetic vision enabled on our PFDs. Our Indicated Airspeed is 163 and Altitude 28,000 feet, while the heading 337*(True). It’s a lot of information, but the G1000 makes this aircraft a pure joy to fly.
A lot of our time is spent monitoring the instruments, checking weather, etc. however we do have some paperwork to do, such as fuel calculations, recording engine parameters and paperwork pertaining to our trip and aeromedical mission. We take turns doing the paper-work, typically the PM (Pilot Monitoring) doing it, while the PF (Pilot Flying), well... flies the aircraft.
As we got closer to Pond Inlet, we “pulled up” the Jepp charts of Pond Inlet on our MFD and I gave my colleague a briefing. Today I would do the RNAV GNSS 20 True approach via waypoint VIGTI. Note that the “screen-shots” of the plates provided in this trip report are from NAV Canada (ForeFlight) and not the Jepp charts we have loaded in our aircraft database. Special care must be followed here because we fly over and around very high terrain. Things get a little interesting at night, but today we were treated to some fantastic views of the mountains.
My co-captain loaded the RNAV approach from the FMS and I would let the autopilot fly the approach. The G1000 allows you set up Vertical Navigation as well, so we set up the system to be at a certain altitude or just use the standard approach altitudes provided with the database. Before descent, we contacted Edmonton Center and requested clearance out of high level controlled airspace. This far North, anything below FL230 is uncontrolled airspace. Once the descent checks were completed and clearance received, I engaged the VNV selected. Once our TOD (Top of Descent was reached) the auto-piloted captured the VPATH and I brought back the power levers so we don’t over-speed the aircraft.
Amazing terrain around Pond Inlet:
VNC map of the terrain around Pond Inlet:
Google Earth view of the area around Pond Inlet:
RNAV rway 20 into Pond Inlet:
Once we reached our first point on the approach, VIGTI it was then followed by IRLET, SAVUV and our FAWP (Final Approach Way Point) of URSOX. At VIGTI, I had the aircraft slowed to under 200 KIAS and asked my co-captain to set FLAPS to APPROACH. Prior to URSOX, I asked for PROPS – FULL FORWARD, below 181 KIAS, GEAR DOWN, FINAL CHECKS. Once we passed our FAWP, I asked for FLAP DOWN and flew the aircraft at Vref (100 kias) + 10 kts. Landing checks were completed at this point. As you can imagine, Pond Inlet is not a controlled airport so we made the appropriate radio calls on the Airport Radio Frequency. I crossed the thresh-hold at REF speed and started reducing power and flared, touching down on the gravel runway. Once all three gears were firmly on the runway, I brought the power levers into “BETA” and gently brought the aircraft to a slow speed, ensuring though I don’t stop and I do continuous 180 degree turn and backtrack to the apron. This is probably the hardest part of the flight, because, due to the loose gravel, we can damage the propellers if we slow down too much and have to “power our way” out. Use of brakes and high power application is not recommended. It’s an art that is learned as you get better and better as a captain.
Some fantastic views: Note that these photos were made with a remote mounted / timed cameras.
Final runway 20:
Backtracking to the apron:
After I taxied off the runway, I taxied the aircraft on the main apron, near the “fuel shed” and shut down the engines, along with all the checks.
Main apron in Pond Inlet, with our B200 and a visiting American Registered Pilatus PC12
The Pond Inlet “Airport” Terminal, with the passenger waiting area (2nd pic)
We would stay here for a little over an hour, while the nurse went to the local health center to pick up the patient. In the meantime, I checked the weather, filed the next leg with ATC and made sure we had the proper fuel for the next leg, back to Iqaluit. With everything said and done, this leg was about 2.5 hours long. LEG 2 – Pond Inlet to Iqaluit
CYIO-CYFB with CYVP (Kuujjuaq, Quebec) as our Alternate:
Our next leg to Iqaluit was more or less the reverse of what we’ve just done. This time, though, I was the PM (Pilot Monitoring) and my colleague, was PF (Pilot Flying) from the right seat.
After loading the patient, I started the engines, we went through the checklists again and my colleague taxied the aircraft to the runway and a continuous take-off roll. I set the take-off power, he took off and I retracted the gear and did the after take-off checks. He did a visual climb over the water and we climbed above the 25nm sector altitude before proceeding on course. Before reaching FL230, I contacted Edmonton center and requested clearance into high-level controlled airspace and climb to FL270.
Our King Air 200 on the ramp in Pond Inlet:
More or less, the climb-out before proceeding on course:
En route to Iqaluit:
Closer to Iqaluit, we were switched to Montreal Centre again and switched our HSI from True to Magnetic Heading. My colleague briefed me on the approach we would do, RNAV 34, via DEPMO, IPTOV and EPROK.
And this is the ILS to rwy 34:
Final rwy 34 in Iqaluit:
If you notice here, the top of the PFD is showing we’re on “pink needles” RNAV approach, flown by the “First Officer”, on his FD, while on my side, I had the VOR tuned up and Green Needles. I must’ve been testing the VOR or something like that. I normally have the RNAV on my HSI as well. I can’t remember why I had that up.
After configuring the aircraft for landing, my colleague did a fine job landing the B200. We taxied back to the hangar via the main apron, where we fueled up, took the required bathroom breaks and I flight planned / filed for the next to La Grande Riviere, Quebec for our 3rd leg of the day. LEG 3 –Iqaluit to La Grande Riviere
CYFB-CYGL with the alternate airport of Moosonee, Ontario.
Our third leg of the day, would take us from Iqaluit, Nunavut to La Grande Riviere, Quebec where we would just fuel up and continue our flight to Ottawa.
After all the pre-flight task were completed, we started the engines once again, obtained clearance and once again taxied to runway 34 via the main apron and took off North-bound with a left turn toward the South and eventually en route to CYGL, on the Eastern side of the huge province of Quebec. I was once again the PF (Pilot Flying). We climbed up to FL280, heading SSE, flying over Kimmirut, NU, crossing the Hudson Straight into Northern Quebec, East of Kangiqsujuaq, Umiujaq and eventually La Grande. En route tasks were similar to the previous legs, fuel calculations, checking weather, etc.
MFD, with center pedestal: the two power levers, prop levers, condition levers and A/P panel.
My PFD (Primary Flight Display)
And the captain... (me). One note here, We used to wear white shirts / black tie, epaulets ,etc. While it looked nice and very professional, I think the flight suits we have now are a lot more practical for our type of work. I like them a lot.
Fuel Gauges and left engine / prop:
The approach into La Grande was pretty straight forward, again flying the RNAV approach, this time to runway 31:
Google Earth View of La Grande Riviere Area:
Main Apron in La Grande: (This is an older photo, I took on a different day. I did not have one on this trip, so I used one from a previous trip)
After landing in La Grande Riviere, we took on fuel again and I filed the last leg of the day, La Grande Riviere to Ottawa, with our alternate Montreal (CYUL)LEG 4 –La Grande Riviere to Ottawa
Once we were ready to go again, we started the engines, ran the checks, obtained clearance and taxied to the active runway. Again, CYGL is also uncontrolled so we do not need clearance to taxi / take off, but we do need clearance into controlled airspace. As you can see, being a pilot is very repetitive. Every leg, we (hopefully) do the same thing over and over again, with minor variations to accommodate specific conditions or requirements. My colleague, Co-Captain J.G. was PF (Pilot Flying) this leg. Once airborne from CYGL, we proceeded en-course toward Ottawa. This would be the busiest leg of them all, due to the more “complex” airspace “down South”
Our route: CYGL – CYOW
IFR High Chart of our Route:
MFD with, with “traffic” showing 1000 feet above us.
Nice clear skies en route to Ottawa for most of the way.
We left the snow covered peaks of the Arctic behind and now we were more or less flying into summer weather. Lots of beautiful lakes over Northern Quebec.
As we approached Ottawa, we had some cloud cover / build ups, but nothing significant. It was a little bumpy though at times:
Closing in to CYOW – Ottawa International:
Prior to descent, we briefed the ARRIVAL “Leammy Three” (although, it was called “Leammy Two” arrival last summer) and RNAV RWAY 25. We flew via BEMOG, ALIDO, and DUNUM, then we were “broken off” the arrival and cleared direct TEFLY
Ottawa VNC area:
Descending into Ottawa:
Google Earth Area of Ottawa, with arrival on to rwy 25:
Crossing the Ottawa River from Quebec into Ontario:
We switched from “Ottawa Arrivals” to Ottawa Tower and cleared for the RNAV 25 via TEFLY. My co-captain landed on runway 25 and taxied via the main apron / Bravo taxiway to the Shell FBO, where the ambulance was waiting for the patient and nurse.
Final, rwy 25 CYOW:
A picture of the Shell FBO I took on a different day, as I was departing Ottawa, as a passenger, aboard an Air Canada flight to Toronto:
After transferring the patient to the ambulance, my colleague supervised the fueling and I did all the required paperwork for that day. It had been a long day, with more than 10 hours of flight time and a duty day of almost 14 hours. We were both tired and once everything was completed, including securing the aircraft for the overnight stay, we made our way to the hotel for some well-deserved food and rest. The next morning we would do it all over again, this time, returning back to our base in Iqaluit, via Wabush, Labradord.
Part two will follow soon. Thanks for spending the time to read this. Comments are always appreciated
. I hope you enjoyed it. I should have the next report either today or tomorrow:
Superior decisions reduce the need for superior skills.