Saturday, February 5, 2011

London Heathrow via FLL and ATL.

The picture above was taken just west of Anchorage, Alaska en route from San Francisco to Nagoya, Japan.

I'll have a new post up tomorrow... see you then!


I recently came home from a London Heathrow trip, that as you know with DAL now includes domestic flying either before or after a crossing. At least in DTW anyway, I'm not sure about other domiciles. I'm less than enthralled with this arrangement as I find I'm considerably more fatigued now at the end of one of these excursions. Also, my brain bag must weigh more than 50 or 60 pounds with both domestic and international Jepps "squeezed" into limited space. There is good news on this front though. By mid February the 757 and 767 Jeppesens will be maintained on board by the company, so the need to lug around a flightbag will be going the way of the dinosaur. 

I've received my 747 class date and start school on 27 March. This aircraft has already transitioned to the new Jeppesen program so my flightbag will see no duty there either. I think that it will take a little while though to acclimate to this concept. Maybe I'll list it for sale on Ebay!

Anyway, I'm starting a four day London trip here, but need to visit FLL, Fort Lauderdale for an hour or so before departing for ATL and laying over. With all the snow we've experienced in the northeast, this will be my first visit to the de-ice pad this season. Let's see, where is my de-ice info and hold over time guide? It's crowded into my bag here somewhere. Actually I pulled it out, dusted it off and reviewed it a few hours ago in anticipation of needing its guidance. 

We've just pushed off of gate A18 in a B-757 and have been cleared by ramp control to taxi  north on Uniform 9 towards Spot 3 North where we'll switch to ground control. We have limited snow on our wings, but our leading edges are pretty well iced over and need attention. 

After Spot 3 North, we taxied via Uniform, Kilo and Juliet taxiways to find spot 6 in the 4R deice pad where "iceman" was prepared and waiting for us. Prior to our push from A-18, we called "iceman" on a dedicated frequency to advise that we'd need their services. They know our departure runway and coordinate with ground control to sequence us for the appropriate de-ice facility.  There are several on the field, but "holdover" time after being "anti-iced" is limited so the closer to the departure runway the better. 

We've pulled into Spot 6, set the brakes and have configured the aircraft for spraying. You may wonder what that means. The flaps and slats are extended to the takeoff position, the air conditioning packs are shutoff to avoid ingesting fumes into the cabin and the engines are running at idle. Now the de-ice coordinator plugs his headset into the phone jack in the nose wheel well and advises me of the sequence of events. Today, we'll need to be de-iced and then anti-iced before continuing our journey to runway 21L.

A 737 next to us in spot 5

What does that mean?

This is a two step procedure. First, they'll spray the aircraft with a mixture of heated glycol and water to "de-ice" or remove contaminant from our wings and fuselage. If it were not snowing, that would be the end of it, we'd be on our way to FLL. However, it's snowing moderately now so we need to "anti-ice" too. The anti-ice procedure lays on another coating of heated glycol and water that acts as a repellant to the snow. The time of effectiveness depends on the weather and mixture which they vary to meet the conditions. If we expect a ten minute taxi from here, there's no need to anti-ice for 30 minutes as these procedures are very costly. 

It is possible, with delays, to out live the planned time of effectiveness, but a captain can go back and personally check the wings through the window to determine if a departure is safe or a return trip to the pad is necessary.  

We've just finished our two step procedure and the coordinator advises the types of fluids used as well as the start and end times. Consulting my chart, which I enter from the current outside air temperature, move to the precipitation column and finish at the fluids column, I've determined that we have 25 minutes of effectiveness. Perfect... our taxi from here to the departure end of runway 21L should be fewer than 10 minutes.

We've left the pad and are currently on Kilo taxiway to hold short of Uniform behind a Regional Jet as this B-777 makes his way out to the runway. Something that I've noticed that's new this season is that they often de-ice the large airplanes at the gate, as they've done here.

This regional jet is holding short of Uniform for the triple-7, but will continue shortly for a de-ice pad dedicated to this type of aircraft. When they move, we'll make a left turn on Uniform and a right turn on Yankee and follow the triple-7 to 21L. We'll also cross runway 9L which now requires a specific clearance to cross. Until a year or so ago, a clearance to taxi to a runway implied that you were cleared to cross all intermediate runways too.  No more. 

We've adopted ICAO procedures for uniformity much like the "Line up and wait" phraseology versus cleared into "position and hold." The phraseology that I've not heard in the US yet and don't like is "cleared into position to hold behind the departing/arriving aircraft." I see room for errors here!

I think that this triple-7 is leaving for Hong Kong as it goes into position on 22L and dramatically reduces visibility behind it in blowing snow.

In position on 22L at DTW

OK, now it's our turn to 'line up and wait." Not that it's a problem today because we have sufficient ceiling and visibility, but those center line lights play a significant role in determining departure minimums.

We're airborne off DTW and headed towards FLL. Is this a Delta or Northwest 757?

We've broken out on top of a very interesting winter sky. Wispy clouds at altitude with a mackerel sky below.

We're DAL 1153 cruising at FL 370. We crossed Volunteer (VXV) at 2214Z, the OAT was -50C, estimating Jacksonville (CRG) at 2300, cruising at Mach .80 with a wind out of 254 degrees at 110 knots. Our fuel at VXV was 19,900 pounds and we're estimating FLL at 2358Z. Just about everything you need to know on the Progress Page 2 and Position Report page.

We're not the only ones out here!

Now at ATL on Ramp five, we're awaiting access to our gate. As soon as this B-777 moves we'll be able to pull in, secure the aircraft and complete another on time flight. Off to Heathrow tomorrow.


  1. Yes, -232 would make it a Delta 757. I think a Northwest would be a -251?

  2. We've have ship sets for the Jepps in the fragrant harbor. Makes for a MUCH lighter bag! I'm sure you will enjoy it. And no more revisions! It's amazing the airlines haven't done this for years. It must cost a fortune to buy Jepps for 12K pilots!

  3. Hi Rand:

    Happy very late new year from MEX :P.
    How are you doing with all this severe weather? Great to read you again and thanks for great images... I will be posting in my blog a new scientific development that is being developed in Mexico for airplane deicing issues.

    So, are you bound for the 747? Wooow... more than congratulations :D its superb !!! I'll keep in touch. Have nice trips...

  4. Hi again Rand:

    As promised, I share with you the note of the anti-freezing fluid for airliners being developed by Mexican scientists:

    Hope to hear from you soon... best regards.

  5. Rand

    Do only certain fleet types have the Airside ship sets?


  6. Definitely a Delta bird -232's are DL...

    Interesting to read about the de-ice/anti-ice procedures - long time since I've seen those being in South Florida!

    I bet you are looking forward to the 747 class!! Would love to be able to see those training flights doing touch-and-go's - what a photo opportunity!!

  7. Any Photos from London?

  8. Enjoyed flying this trip with you Rand!

    James Reeman
    Delta 757/767 FO
    Air Guard F16 LtCol

  9. Congratulations Bruce and Mark, yes 232's are Delta birds and 251's are old NWA.

    J and Devan, we're so happy to be transitioning to "airside shipsets" and ditching the 50 pound flightkit. To date, the 747, 777 and 757/767 have made the move while other fleets standby.

    Miguel, muchas gracias para su informacion acerca de "de-icing," muy interesante.

    Fighterpilot was my FO on this last trip, you'll be learning more about the Colonel later!

    Thanks to you all.


  10. Is the fight of the plan going to London, England?

  11. Rand,
    I really enjoy reading your blog and your colorful history. After a 42 year flying career, Military, FAA, Civilian, Designated Examiner, I experienced a stroke. Now I must fly with others. thanks for your blogs. BG (Ret) C.E. Martin