Trang-Phuket (VTST-VTSP) Dist: 112 Nm
FLT: 00:23 12-04-17
It is a very warm day in Thailand. The temperature can reach an upwards of 30 degrees Celsius upon sunrise. Today at 05:15 AM we can read that it is almost 25 degrees Celsius. The air is full of moisture as the relative humidity is already at 100%. A dense fog is setting up with no wind so we will have to wait for the sun to dissipate all humidity.
Upon our arrival in Trang Airport, it is difficult to have an exact idea of the horizontal visibility. (It is a major factor for us to plan a takeoff.) We need as a minimum 250 meters of visibility as JAA operator (EASA). In that case Low Visibility Procedures (LVP) must be in force or 400 meters without LVP. The Air Traffic Controller (ATC) is not really sure about the values of the day. No METAR in Trang. The air traffic controller on duty is doing his best to give us acceptable values.
Fog is a real threat for the takeoff, especially in case of a directional loss of control during the acceleration phase. This short time frame can represent a very hazardous situation, for example, in case of an engine failure.
We have to make a decision for our departure and any big delays are not good for us today.
It is once again a very long day of flying. "Safety first," that is the pilot's motto. The only solution is to evaluate the horizontal visibility on our own. We need to measure the horizontal visibility and to check if it is compatible with our minimals. This measurement needs to be reliable and accurate.
It is not really common but we will do a VIBAL. VIBAL stands for Visibilté Balise. In this procedure a human observer (or pilot in take-off position) determines the Runway Visual Range (RVR) by counting specific markers adjacent to the runway or by counting runway edge lights.
If you have a look on the Trang AIP you can see that the spacing between runway edge lights is 60 meters. By doing simple math, we need only to see five lights on each side of the runway as a minimum for our takeoff. After a quick inspection granted by the control tower, we are able to count more than 11 lights on each side. We are good to go! This procedure is not really common, it is only the second time for me in 10 years of flying.
The feeling to walk on taxiways and the runway with your high visibility yellow jacket and your handheld radio is really odd. Most of the time when a pilot lines up on a runway, it is to plan a takeoff. We are inspecting the site!
No special delays forecasted today! Really good news!
The flight from Trang to Phuket was a pure delight! FL150, with a very good visibility, nice cumulus clouds. Perfect lights and great landscapes.
Phuket-Mangalore (VTSP-VOML) Dist: 1453 Nm
FLT: 03:36 12-04-17
The turnaround in Phuket was long. Too long under a really hot sun and so much humidity, we are drenched. MJETS, our handling agents, are efficient, but the airport wants to have us on a stand with a pushback.
After a 30 minute procedure to adapt our tow bar to the tug we are good to go to Mangalore India (VOML.) We were a little bit worried about this “home-made” pushback but ground staff was really cautious and the non-standard operation was smooth and easy.
The flight plan is supposed to be filed at FL400 over the Bay of Bengal, which is the largest bay in the world. After a takeoff from RWY 09 in Phuket we are in Contact with the Bangkok FIR and then with Chennai FIR. This area is overcrowded. We are stuck at FL340 and we cannot obtain or even request our expected flight level. We are thinking about a diversion on the Indian east coast. Hopefully a lot of airports are accessible and can be used as alternates. (Chennai Intl, or Bengaluru...)
Once again we are trying with Philippe to negotiate a higher cruising altitude. The area is a real mess, the L645 airways between SAPAM and DUBTA and the P574 between DUBTA and MMV are congested with a lot of traffic from the Arabic Gulf. From FL330 up to FL370 there are no windows to cross over and the weather is not good. Air liners are avoiding weather cells in almost every directions.
At 03:57 AM the ATC advised us to climb to FL430 and to be level before 04:08. No problem, we can make it. At FL430 our fuel consumption is 209 kgs/hour per engine against 260 kgs/hour per engine at FL 340. Fuel management on this world tour is a very, very time consuming mission and we understand clearly what it is to fly the aircraft up to the range edge.
From the sky India is red, soil is full of oxidized iron. The rust contained in the soil provide this red color. Once again during a couple of seconds we are amazed by the spectrum of colors discovered during this Journey.
Visibility was not the best with a small six kilometers of visibility obtained in a middle of a growing smog.
The weather was fine for an IFR activity. OAT 32 degrees Celsius and a 24 degrees Celsius Dew point. That is pretty humid but it is almost impossible to plan a visual approach due to the unknown area and the weather. The procedure is an ILS Z for RWY 24. The ATC in India is really succinct and understanding a simple clearance to reach the Initial Approach Fix is a real challenge for us.
Mangalore-Dubai (VOML-OMDW) Dist: 1432 Nm
FLT: 03:39 12-04-17
The turn-around was efficient with the airport staff well organized. The fuelling procedure was done by the book. The fuel supplier made some tests on samples collected in front of us to prove the good quality of the fuel. No humidity or sediment. I am amazed because I have only done this procedure once.
Once in Abidjan, Africa and now once in Mangalore, India.
The procedures are really well followed and once again it is great to feel on the safe side.
Fuel is done, and our passports in our pockets. The flight is going to be long to Dubai Al Maktoum but the coasts of India, Pakistan, Iran and Oman will guide us up to the United Arab Emirates.
Fuel is not going to be an issue on this leg. Our flight planning tools and methods of management are great but are really time consuming as mentioned above on this World Tour.
OE-GPL is on course, FL430. We have almost circumnavigate all the world at FL430!
Upon our arrival in Al Maktoum, the weather is really nice but temperatures are hot. The air is dry! OAT: +40 degrees Celsius and DEW POINT: zero degrees Celsius.
It is really hard for us to condition the aircraft for the overnight stop and we are really tired after an eight hour and ten minute of block time. Your sweat evaporates literally.
The drive from Al Maktoum to downtown Dubai is a 45 minutes ride. I will see nothing through the window as I am already asleep.
Dubai-Hurghada (OMDW-HEGN) Dist: 1304 Nm
FLT: 03:54 14-04-17
This is the longest flight of our world tour from a time point of view.
Our departure will be delayed a little bit due to work on RWY34L/16R in Hurghada, Egypt.
The other RWY34R/16L is only available for government and military flights.
In order to manage departures and arrivals to HEGN, Egyptians authorities decided to close the airfield for a two hour frame. Our departure from Al Maktoum will be planned accordingly.
The airway distance is not a factor but we have to deal with a strong head wind all the way up to Hurghada.
We are facing an average wind of 80 knots, in the final moments of this flight the wind will be stronger with a 123 knots value.
On the route the weather seems to be pretty unstable below FL380, we can figure it out, by listening to our colleagues from other companies looking for options in order to avoid en-route weather.
The approach in Hurghada is beautiful – the landscapes are breathtaking! The water of the Red Sea is showing us the best blue ever, turquoise!
I can clearly understand why this place is one of the best place in the world for scuba-diving.
Egyptian ATC allowed us to proceed for a great visual approach. Now on the ground it is time to perform our famous quick turnaround procedure. We are like a Formula 1 team on the pit stop! We know exactly how to proceed to save our precious time- brakes, oil, fuel, hydraulics, tires, and two or three signatures on local paperwork and good to go to Italy!
Hurghada-Taranto (HEGN-LIBG) Dist: 1206 Nm
FLT: 03:23 14-04-17
After a 42 minute stop in Egypt it is time to takeoff for Europe. The departure was a little bit confusing as the airport staff had to provide us a new route on a last minute schedule. To be honest the new route was only known when reaching NABED to NOZ. That was a real mess to join the new one. Everybody was surprised - CREW and ATC.
Upon the arrival in LIBG, Taranto there was only one big towering cumulus, and it was just on our path to reach the final for RWY 35 in Taranto.
We are always a little bit surprised about Taranto. It's pretty hard to spot the airfield in the area.
I don't know if it is the local landscape of this area or the ambient light but it is not a piece of cake to recognize the field. The turn-around will be mastered as usual. Now we want to go home.
The aircraft is behaving great for this final day.
The LIBG field is a great one for fuel stops, as most of the secondary airports Taranto, it is really well equipped.
Handling is efficient, they work a lot with large freighters such as the Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter, the Dreamlifter.
Alenia Aeronautica produces big fuselage parts of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in a hangar located beside airport's apron. The Boeing Monster Cargo plane, several times a month, is tasked with carrying the parts and to fly them to the Boeing factory at Paine Field and Boeing South Carolina at Charleston International Airport.
Our Italian stop is now over.
Taranto-Paris Le Bourget (LIBG-LFPB) Dist: 840 Nm
FLT: 02:26 14-04-17
We are going to come back to Paris right on time with our schedule! What an adventure... we can feel a kind of nostalgia. Call signs on the frequency are not exotic anymore, we are back in our area of operation.
On this final day we spend 10-hours-and-12-minutes working in the flight desk. We were really happy when reaching Advanced Air Support Paris Le Bourget base in H5 to see familiar faces.
We will need several days to cope with this feeling and jet lag. We are so proud about our great adventure.
Here are some figures compiled during this unique experience!
The Figures of Colibri World Tour 2017:
- 20 days on the globe
- 9 days of flight
- 18 legs
- 52 hours of block time
- 48 hours and 30 minutes of flight time
- 23,465 kilograms of JET A-1
- 1.2 liters of Mobil Oil JET 2
- 1 night flight from Hong-Kong to Phuket
- 17,563 Nautical miles on Airways
- 16,589 Nautical miles great circle distances
- Minus 30 degrees Celsius in Iqaluit
- Plus 40 degrees Celsius in Dubai
- 20 liters of water for CREWS
- 6 packs of shortbread cake (5 for Philippe and one for me...)
- Less than 10 spurious CAS Message
- More than 150 Gigabytes of raw data
- One pushback
- FL430 most of the time
- A lot of joy and smiles flying into this adventure for Philippe and I
It is not time to say thank you, but we have to mention now the great support from:
- EMBRAER EXECUTIVE JETS and especially Tim Epping.
- PRATT AND WHITNEY CANADA, Jean-Noel Cheneaux and Paul Mathieu.
- SPEEDWINGS EXECUTIVE JET GMBH and especially OPS DEPARTMENT.
After Africa and now this World Tour, we hope to continue to discover great places and meet great people again with this fantastic airplane.
A very big thank you to my wing mate Philippe for this extraordinary experience shared together. The only wealth is man.
VHHH-VTSP (Hong Kong-Phuket) Distance: 1316 NM
After Japan our stop in Hong Kong was next in our journey to discover the rest of Asia.
Hong Kong is a huge city and we observed its fast-paced lifestyle and environment. I suppose being the world's eighth largest trading entity and one of the world's most significant financial centres has a direct impact on how people live here.
The city is renowned for its deep natural harbour. Cargo ships from all around the world are navigating along its impressive skyline with a high density of skyscrapers. You need a map to spot yourself and if you don't want to get lost. Hong Kong in Cantonese means the "Fragrant Harbour" or "Incense Harbour.” The Hong Kong flag is red with a white Bauhinia blakeana flower. The common name of the Bauhinia is the Hong Kong Orchid Tree.
We stayed in the Sheung Wan area of Hong Kong. The hotels are nice and comfortable. You can obtain a room with a great view facing the main entry of the busy Victoria Harbour just in front of Tim Sha Tsui very urbanized place. To be honest from the 30th floor of your hotel bar you can spend hours staring at the sea and air traffic above Victoria Harbour, especially when the weather is fine. The view is really fantastic. The higher you go, the better it is.
The SkyShuttle company can provide you a ride with the beautiful AgustaWestland AW139 to Macau. The AW139 offers a nice level of comfort and safety for up to 12 passengers. I can't imagine the size of this vessel. I am amazed it can carry four more passengers than our Phenom. Similar to our aircraft, the AW139 is equipped with two engines from Pratt & Whitney. The turbine used to power the Agusta AW-139 is the PT6. It is popular in the world of choppers and turboprops. A very reliable engine with easy maintenance processes is a key to a commercial success.
Our tourist activities were interrupted by our departure management to Phuket, Thailand.The slots management in Hong Kong is really a matter of patience and, sometimes, frustrations.
The complication does not come from Phuket Thailand, but from Hong Kong. A few slots are allocated per day in VHHH and you have to be able to make it within a plus-or-minus a two hour window.
With a 14:10 UTC departure slot time in VHHH you can expect to be airborne between 12:10 UTC up to 16:10 UTC. In local time it corresponds to 20:10 up to 00:10. The trip to Thailand will require a 03:30 flight time. In Thailand you cannot obtain overnight parking in Phuket (VTSP) for private jets, so we have to position the aircraft in Trang (VTST) after dropping our passengers in Phuket. Trang airport is open only from 2300 to 1230 UTC. We will probably have to land in Phuket at 15:40 UTC because of the slot in Hong Kong and with a one hour turnaround we won't be able to go to Trang before the next day! However maximum parking time in Phuket is 03:00 of occupancy. We will need more than 04:30 of parking time in Phuket to be able to take off to Trang. At this precise moment we were not sure that our handling agent was able to negotiate a waiver to extend our stay.
You can now understand how the situation can be tricky and demands a lot from the crew!
We have spent almost a whole day before our departure with Philippe to find solutions to either obtain a better slot, a waiver from Hong Kong airport, or to reconsider our schedule in Thailand. None of our attempts were successful.
Slots in Hong Kong are managed like slots in Geneva through a web portal. You will need to pay between the equivalent of 400$ (US) to 1000$ (US) depending on the services provided through your subscription. With a login and a password you will be able to surf on this web page for ages in the hope of catching a better schedule. On web portals for major international airports, slots allocation and management are really good businesses.
Never mind, we will adapt ourselves.
Here is a kind of view that you can obtain on the OCS website:
Red means nothing available.
Yellow means one slot available in a one hour period.
Green Two slots available in a one hour period.
This coding is displayed on a 24-hour period and is used for departures and arrivals.
Even without being familiar with slots management you can easily understand the problem for our trip to Thailand. A lot of red on that picture...
We are now faced with the only option available - leaving Hong Kong at 20:10 LT and perform a positioning on Trang airport the next day!
We were into the flight preparation with Philippe. Flying in this part of the world is problematic when you are not familiar with the local procedures. We had to study our flight package and go deep into the details.
We had to check our Jeppesen manuals, the state rules, and procedure for Hong Kong, China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand. The flight package was huge, with a lot of NOTAMS. You have to sort and to synthesize this quantity of information and keep it relevant for your flight.
Reference pages in Hong Kong were also studied during a long period of time, we need to perform that in order to be more familiar with such a big and unusual airport for a bizjet like our Phenom 300. This kind of operation is so far away from our daily operations in Europe.
Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM) (RVSM increases the number of aircraft that can safely fly in a particular volume of airspace) is also a concern in Asia, because China, for example, works with the measurement of altitudes, elevations, and heights in meters. Republic of China implemented metric RVSM on November 2007, but the Hong Kong Flight Information Region (FIR) continued to use flight levels in feet. Air Traffic Control is trying to facilitate your work by giving you the correct reference depending on which direction you are going to. A certain "Confucianism" feel. Within Chinese RVSM, Air Traffic Control (ATC) instructions will be given to the crew in meters since they adopted the metric RVSM, and then a conversion chart must be used to keep the altimeter readout in feet. That is not easy and it can lead to wrong spacing between aircraft in this area.
To end with this really "pilot's stuff" discussion, "To fly in China metric Airspace, you have to fly in feet!" It means, to maintain in China on a westbound track of 11.000 m level you have to be level off at FL341. It is because the metric RVSM table differs from a 100 feet from the classical RVSM table.
The fuel was a hot topic again. Due to the hot temperatures in Hong Kong the fuel uplift quantity was 2,355 kg instead of 2,450 kgs. It means a loss of 95 kg that you won't be able to use inflight. It is a shame because it represents 15 minutes of holding time upon destination.
Taxi time is long in Hong Kong and even when being punctual you can expect up to 30 minutes of delay at holding point. With engine setting on idle the fuel consumption is roughly 220 kg for both engines per hour 110 kg are now missing because of a prolonged waiting time on holding point for RWY 25L.
The legal mini fuel for our flight from Hong Kong to Phuket is 2,185 kgs. We were taking off with 2,255 kg, which means a 70 kg of difference. It represents 10 minutes of holding time in Phuket. It is not a lot, but we were still on the safe side.
Once again we managed to negotiate a higher flight level for our cruising altitude with Philippe in order to have precious amount of fuel left upon destination. We were able to obtain FL430 instead of the FL370 as mentioned on our flight plan.
The departure was also a little bit disturbed by a BATT EXCEEDANCE CAS message on our respective PFD's. This is a yellow CAS (CREW Alerting System) flashing on our Primary Flight Displays (PFD). It does not require immediate action from the crew. It is an abnormal operational or airplane system conditions that require immediate crew awareness and a subsequent corrective or compensatory vrew action. (For Your Information a RED CAS message indicates an emergency that requires immediate corrective or compensatory crew action.)
The annoying matter with the BATT EXCEEDDANCE CAS message can lead you in a situation where you have to first land as soon as possible and if it doesn't improve, land as soon as possible with an electrical emergency.
By sticking to the procedure on our QRH (Quick Reference Handbook), we managed to get rid of the Yellow CAS message and we were able to continue the flight to Thailand.
The night is a great time to fly. On that evening we had a great moon and a clear sky on two-thirds of the flight plan route.
We were surprised about the fishing activity on the East China Sea between Hainan Island and Vietnam. A lot of lights were spread along on the sea. So peaceful to overfly Vietnam, Cambodia, then Gulf of Thailand. The atmosphere is quiet- less communications, and less activity.
The arrival in Thailand was not so calm. Thunderstorms were spotted on our radar in the Surat Thani, Phangnga, Phuket and Krabi areas. The advantage during night flight when thunderstorms are generated by isolated CBs, comes from the fact that it is really easy to spot a danger area by looking for lightning outside.
The CBs or TCUs (cumulonimbus or towering cumulus) were not too high. The average vertical development was from 2,000 feet up to FL290. The air was not too turbulent but the electrical activity was pretty strong. The last thing we need is to be struck by a lightning. We were starting a cat-and-mouse game with our weather radar and areas of strong precipitation.
If you look closer at the aircraft radar printout on the area map, it is pretty easy to understand that all the Andaman Sea was under big adverse weather activity.
After having done our slalom between the storm cells, Philippe and I were really happy to land under the torrential rain in Phuket! That was impossible to intercept the ILS from the south.
We had to overfly the airfield and then intercept by the north. A huge cell was in fact between Phuket Island and Ko Yao Yai.
Our handling agents from MJETS managed to negotiate with Phuket Airport more than three hours of parking! We won't have to go once again into this adverse weather during night time and we will also have some rest after a very demanding flight.
The next takeoff for Trang would be done under day light after a short night but full of sleep and rest...
VTSP-VTST (Phuket-Trang) Distance 120 NM
At least this flight was a reward from the previous night.
Bright sun, blue sky, marvelous islands everywhere, not too high cruising altitude, perfect conditions for sightseeing over Thailand.
The pictures are great.
Let's have some rest in Trang before our way back to Europe via India, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Italy.
Flight RJNA-RJFK: (Nagoya-Kagoshima)
FLT: 1:10 Distance: 395 nm.
We spent several days in Japan and we were very lucky to travel to this country. We visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Nagoya.
We left the Phenom 300 at the Nagoya Airport. (RJNA/NKM)
There are two airports in Nagoya. The "big one," Nagoya RJGG/NGO, is the international airport. The other airport, RJNA Komaki used to be the international airport, but nowadays it is used as the secondary domestic airport.
Nagoya RJNA is a very good airport for general aviation. General Aviation in Japan is not as developed as it is in Europe. There are not many private aircraft flying over there. Japanese aviation enthusiasts fly single or twin-engine pistons aircraft. The market of the very light lets and other small turboprops is not that big in this part of the world.
The handling team over there was so kind and so helpful. Misao "Mickey" Nagae is the manager of Nakanihon Air Service Co.,LTD. His team is always smiling and ready to help you. As I already mentioned, you can’t imagine how sometimes you feel lonely on the other side of the world even when working as a crew like we do with Philippe. Help on the ground, especially provided by people who know well aviation specific areas of operations, is always welcomed.
Our workload and schedule can be very heavy.
The aircraft, as means of transportation, was not used to travel inside Japan. The railway network is really efficient and reliable. We were travelling in Japan on board the Shinkansen trains.
Compared with air transport, the Shinkansen has several advantages, including scheduling frequency and flexibility, reliable and on-time operation, comfortable seats, and convenient city-center. It is very easy to use the "Rails" in Japan. Metro and trains are really easy to book and it is not a big issue to find your way because the signage and information is always available in English as well.
Japanese, just like Chinese writing, is full of exoticism, especially for those using a "cold" writing system such as the Latin alphabet. If you want to dig a little bit further, modern Japanese is written in a mixture of three main systems: kanji, characters of Chinese origin used to represent both Chinese loanwords into Japanese and a number of native Japanese morphemes; and two syllabaries: hiragana and katakana. I don't want to go too deep into this issue, because it will take us too far from our human experience and our great flying adventure onboard the Phenom 300.
There is a very useful app for smartphone that can help you to find your way in the Tokyo metro. As an example, if you want to go from your hotel in Idabashi to the fish market in Tsukiji, you will have to use the blue line from T06 to T11 (Kayabacho), then the grey line from Kayabacho to Tsukiji (H12-H10). This ride will take eighteen minutes and it will cost you around 170 Yen. The app will also provide you the exits for the Tsukiji Market. It will be exit 1 or 2. As you can see, really simple! I recommend this app to travelers who want to use the metro in Japan and to visit main spots of interest. Everybody knows time is a precious asset for pilots. So good tips and advice about how to perform a task quickly are always welcomes!
Japanese are really kind, they will help you all the time. In Japanese culture it is very hard to say no, and sometimes when you are lost it can become a little bit complicated to ask about how to get to a destination. Because if the person you are asking for directions doesn't know the way, it can turn into a very funny situation. They will do their best to guide you even if that means arriving late at work or for an appointment.
The life rhythm is really fast-paced. People are running everywhere, sometimes it is even a little bit robotic, making lines everywhere. Discipline and rigor are omnipresent. Tasks are performed automatically in a very robotic way. A lot of manpower to provide basic tasks, such as train cleaning or so, is done in town by seniors. I don't know what the employment rate is, but it seems to be good. The Japanese have a really strong personal interest in their jobs. You can’t compare their attitude towards work with ours in Europe.
Hyper high-frequency noises and light aggressions come from everywhere. Advertisements are really intrusive and everywhere, Japanese modern music is played a lot in public or private places and pretty loud. It is not easy to get a good rest. In fact, I now understand why Japanese pay so much attention toward the so-called: "Zen" attitude. They need to get rid of all stresses and tensions. Massages, sports, Japanese gardens or even the tea ceremony are here to reduce the stress level.
Food in Asia, not only in Japan, is great and pretty healthy. It will be another story on the Chinese side, but in Japan we had the pleasure of eating well. If you love fish and sea food, you have to go to the Tsukiji fish market.
Luckily, our stop in Japan coincided with the cherry blossom. There are several blooming trees, in particular the Japanese cherry, which is called Sakura in Japanese. To be honest, even if you are not into gardening, you have to see the cherry blossoms. The time frame to observe this phenomena is really narrow. The cherry blossoms in Japan are so important, that every year the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the public track the Sakura zensen (Cherry blossom front) as it moves northward up the archipelago with the approach of warmer weather via nightly forecasts following the weather segment of news programs. The blossoming begins in Okinawa in January and typically reaches Kyoto and Tokyo at the end of March or the beginning of April.
That experience in Japan was really interesting.
Lifestyle over there is really different from what we know. Learning about these different cultures is another reason why I have this job: curiosity about other cultures and discovering new things every day.
Just as the Japanese life, our flight preparation to Hong Kong was really stressful and full of unscheduled surprises. The main issue are the slots in Hong Kong. I will talk about that later on. From now, you have to keep in mind that slots are rare and the timeframes are really narrow. So when planning a two-leg trip with a fuel stop in Kagoshima (RJFK/KOJ) and two customs checks, one in Nagoya and one in Kagoshima, plus an one hour and twenty minutes trip from Nagoya to Kagoshima, and a three hours and forty minutes leg from Kagoshima to Hongkong, things are becoming a true nightmare.
First of all, our slot in Hong Kong forced us to plan our takeoff from Nagoya two hours ahead of our schedule. (07:00 LT instead of 09:00 LT) The problem is customs are not open until 08:30 LT!!!! We tried to request waivers or to obtain a tailored customs check, but it was impossible. It is also part of the culture, you follow the line/process and stick with it. In my culture, we follow the line/process, but also look for exceptions when needed.
Be careful even if you are planning to depart from a non-airport of entry in Japan. You have to wait for customs and immigration.
As general aviation is not common, you have to be careful in case of an early morning departure and check the fuel truck availability. Only two slots were available 05:40 LT and 08:00 LT. The fuel trucks on an airfield like Nagoya are really busy supporting local companies for morning departures. We were supposed to depart at 07:00, so 05:40 was the best option! Really early wake up time indeed, 04:00 LT without breakfast! Breakfast solution was well managed from Nakanihon Air Service. Mickey and his great team provided me with a great breakfast, including a real cappuccino and banana cakes! They also provided us a briefing from a pilot based at the Nagoya Airport. Amazing, just like at major airlines with dispatch service, the pilot provides us information regarding special NOTAMs (notice to airmen) on the airfield and weather information upon departure and en-route. After flying for 16 years it is the first time another pilot is providing the crew a tailored departure briefing! Well done guys and keep on going that!!!!
At least we managed to leave Nagoya with 01:40 minutes of delay. We have to be really efficient in Kagoshima to cope with our heavy schedule delay.
The flight from Nagoya to Kagoshima was standard, weather was fine as usual at FL430. The sun on our faces and the nice purring of the Pratt and Whitney Canada engines, inspired us to take a nap... No way! We were too busy with Philippe sharpening our fuel management and planning a strategy on the Kagoshima-Hongkong leg.
ILS 34 in Kagoshima. Weather was very grey with many low clouds and moisture. Kagoshima airport is situated in the northern area of Kirishima next to Kagoshima bay. This bay looks like almost a closed sea. This is a consequence of the former volcanic activity done by volcanos: Mt Sakurajima and Mt Ontake. The Sakurajima volcano is the most active volcano in Japan. The meaning of its name is Cherry Blossom Island. The lava flows during the 1914 eruption caused the former island to be connected to the Osumi Peninsula.
When performing your T.E.M (Threat and Error Management) briefing in such remote areas, you have to consider this seismic activity and you have also to consult carefully the Ashtams (The name ASHTAMS is an acronyms derived from NOTAMs). These items are the main part of your inactive threat, but it can happen without prior notice. We still remember our earthquake adventure in Magadan.
Our Phenom 300 on gate 2, next to P4. We were now running to cope with our delay. Philippe and I are like a Formula One mechanic crew.
The expected turnaround time was one hour, we've managed to do it in 35 minutes block off to block on... That is a shame and a little bit frustrating, because without, once again, a control from customs and immigrations, including signatures from at least a dozen GENDECS, we would have been able to make it in 20 Minutes.
Never mind one hour of delay would be expected to land in Hong Kong... let's keep our fingers crossed. We do not know how Chinese authorities react to these kinds of situations.
LEG 2: Kagoshima-Hongkong (RJFK-VHHH)
Distance: 1,132 NM
The reasons for a stop in Kagoshima were simple:
- Nagoya is not a direct airport of entry (it can be under certain circumstances but it is complicated to obtain screening medical services mandatory to enter in Japan), so you have to stop at an airport of entry to be clear from Japan.
- The leg Nagoya-Hongkong is a 1,431 nm Great Circle distance. Roughly, as a rule of thumb, you have to add 10% to obtain your Airway distance which leads you to 1,574 nm.
We are almost at the comfortable limit of the Phenom 300.
When talking about "comfortable limits," I am referring to fuel reserves.
With the daily weather conditions we can plan the Nagoya – Hong Kong flight with fuel to proceed to Hong Kong and then Macao as an alternate (VMMC). The problem is in Hong Kong. You have to anticipate holding delays, it can be broadcast in the ATIS to expect up to thirty minutes delay sometimes or even more overhead "ABBEY" IFR Waypoint. When you need 30 minutes with a Phenom to hold you have to plan roughly 200 kg of fuel. (Another rule of thumbs is to consider 6.5 kg per minute.)
That is the reason why we had to stop in Kagoshima. Our fuel reserves prior to arrival in Hong Kong had to be least 560 kg. You have to double your final reserve (200 kg times two) to absorb highly probable delays when reaching ABBEY and then add your alternate reserve. (160 kg to reach Macao).
Once again the Flight conditions were really nice. The airspace in this part of Asia is overcrowded. During most of the flight time, we used our G1000 PFD Inset map windows, which showed heavy traffic nearby. The fatigue was present and the early start of the day, plus the stressful speedy turnaround in Kagoshima, were starting to affect us. Luckily, for our situational awareness and fatigue management, the Phenom 300 gives you significant useful tools to maintain this fatigue levels in a very manageable intensity.
As on the flight from Nome to Magadan, Philippe and I were really focused on our inflight fuel management. The figures were really nice, even after reaching FL 430 in forty minutes due to the high congestion airspace in Kagoshima area. On the first fuel check, the acceptable holding time overhead ABBEY was above 40 minutes.
The arrival was done, as briefed, on ABBEY 2B RNAV arrival with a ILS RWY 07 L from LIMES.
Usually, taxi at such a big airport is a little bit tricky. On the VLJ's (Very Light Jet) the crew position is really too low in comparison with other big jets. Most of the time on a conventional medium jet, range from cockpit window down to the ground varies from 4.5 to 6.5 meters. It is easy to spot and track your way on a wide spread markings environment, such as big international airports. Regarding the Phenom and other VLJ's, it is another matter. Pilots line of sight is only at a 1 or 2 meters height maximum above the ground and you have a very compacted view effect. You have to request progressive taxi and be very aware of your final destination on ground and by the same time to catch the right taxiway lines.
Luckily, a friend of ours, Quentin, who works in Hong Kong, was able to give us many tips to be proactive on the ground movement at the airport in Hong Kong. Many thanks to his precious help and tips during our Hong Kong stop.
We left the Phenom 300 on the Signature Flight Support FBO Apron for three days. Once again, we obtained a very warm welcome from HKBAC Signature. They are not used to assisting the Phenoms. Ground handling agents were really amazed and surprised about the way we disconnect the compass on the nose land gear to be able to tow the aircraft.
Let's have a good rest in Hong Kong and visit a little bit this amazing city, before leaving a predicted challenge with the departure slots and our flight plans to Thailand...
Day 4: Nome, Alaska to Magadan, Russia (PAOM-UHMM)
Flight time 03:45
Fuel is a challenge today, we can’t land with less than 820 kgs of fuel, we need 195 kgs for our final reserve and 625 kgs to reach Petropavlovsk.
For this reason, we have to alter the cruise profile. We changed our MSC (Maximum Speed Cruise setting) to LRC (Long Range Cruise setting). We were glad to choose this option as the forecasted wind was stronger. Thanks to Philippe, it was a wise choice which was very well anticipated during our early morning meeting.
Imagine the Nome to Petropavlovsk flight, could have been fine in LRC, but there would have been no way to switch on a lower speed setting to save fuel upon arrival. Our decision was the right one.
The weather in Magadan is once again beautiful and we requested to perform a visual approach for RWY 28 instead of 10. The runway was 3.5 kilometers long and the wind was less than 10 meters per second. In a very pleasant way we received from the Magadan ATC a "Negative, full IFR procedure for RWY 10." Never mind. We will perform a lot of visual approaches up to our final destination.
After the landing in Magadan, we are happy and surprised to see our welcome committee: customs, handlers and police. The Russians are very efficient with the customs. A seaport and industrial city, Magadan is located 435 km east of the town of Okhotsk. It lies on Nagayevo Bay, on the Sea of Okhotsk, on a narrow coastal plain backed by the Kolyma Range.
It is a weird feeling to lose a day. That is what happens when you cross the International Date Line. We took off from Nome, Alaska on March 28th and landed in Magadan, Russia on March 29th after a three-hour and forty five minute flight that same day. The Aircraft tech log is filled on the 29th and the weather forecasts are referring to weather on the 30th which is going to be a real brain teaser for the flight ops department.
We are all extremely tired. The 40-minute ride in the cab to the restaurant was rather quiet because everyone is sleeping.
Before the meal, my Embraer friend Tim Epping tells us about an earthquake (6.6 magnitude) that just happened, Sunday in Petropavlovsk, about 59 miles from our destination. Everybody was anxious because Petropavlovsk was our plan A. We trust that everything is fine now. Luck was really on our side today and we hope it will continue for tomorrow. After our burgers and a walk, we are ready to go to sleep. Tomorrow we reach Japan.
Day 4: Magadan, Russia to Sapporo Japan (UHMM-RJCC)
Megadan. Honestly, before we came here I had never heard of this Russian City. Only Willy from Speedwings, who loves Russian literature, was able to give me information about this city. He mentioned a book “The Kolyma Tales”, by Varlam Shalmamov (I never heard of him either). Now I know what ops are doing in the middle of the night when our aircraft are circling the world.
We land in Magaden because our world tour objective is to be cost-effective and save time on the ground. Philippe and our operations crew have tried to select airports with good ground support and facilities that are not too busy. Megadan is supposed to be relatively cheap and it has all the services you need when supporting such an usual trip. We call Megadan the “secondary airport.”
To get to the city of Magadan from the airport, a taxi is the safest way to get around, but the taxi drivers like to jump on the brake pedals which will jolt you into attention. From the drive, you can admire the Taiga, also called the boreal forest. Taiga in Russian means: "The land of the little sticks." This word comes from the shape of the trees. In this part of Siberia, most of the countryside is Taiga and Tundra.
Being in Magadan is like being in a flashback fifty years ago. Housing conditions are dilapidated and life is rough. I believe that is not great fun to live there every day. Mother Nature and the city’s history have taken their toll on this area. English is not commonly used here and you need a translator for every task, except possibly ordering dinner. Thanks to our lovely translator from Sreamline ops, we were able to get around. She was so helpful with custom agents and hotel front-desk. Taking photos of the restricted area by the airport is impossible and strictly forbidden.
The city is a port town located on the Sea of Okhotsk. It is a gateway to the Kolyma region. The population reaches almost 96,000. This city was a major transit center for prisoners sent to labor camps. The town later served as a port for exporting gold and other metals mined in the Kolyma region. The principal sources of income for the local economy are still gold mining and fisheries. The city also has pasta and sausage plants as well as a distillery. A sample of the sausage was in our breakfast, which was served very early in our tiny hotel rooms. People here are quite helpful and they do their best to accommodate your needs during your stay, even though they are economically challenged.
Night is going well until we are disturbed by the phone calls from Europe regarding the recent seismic activity in the Kamchatka area and our flight planning. The last minute change from Anadyr to Nome is still having repercussions on our trip schedule and organization.
We study the NOTAMS (Notice to Airmen) to alert pilots of hazardous conditions on the ride from the airport. We find out that two volcanos, Klyuchevskoy and Kamblany, have erupted last night which is also linked to the earthquake in Petropavlovsk (6.6 on the Richter scale).
Last night at 5:09 p.m. on March 29, a 6.6 earthquake struck Eastern Russia along the Kamchatka Peninsula. Fortunately, this region is sparsely populated and only one person registered feeling the quake on the USGS (United States Geological Survey). According to the USGS, the quake, which occurred at a depth of 22 km, involved severe shaking at the epicenter and a tsunami warning was briefly issued. So far there are no reports of damage or fatalities. In addition to active volcanism on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the region is also one the most seismically active places on earth. Here is an excerpt of the actual warning as we are told that we are in an emergency stage orange. Flight crews are required to exercise caution due to volcanic ash clouds.
Here is the extract of one of the two NOTAMS for the area:
P1206/17 - VOLCANO KLYUCHEVSKOY 300260 5603N16039E (RUSSIA, KAMCHATKA) IN ACTIVE STAGE. EMERGENCY STAGE CODE: ORANGE. AIR TRAFFIC DIFFICULT WI THIS AREA DUE TO DANGEROUS ERUPTION OF VOLCANIC ASH. FLIGHT CREWS ARE REQUIRED TO EXERCISE CAUTION AND PRUDENCE, INDEPENDENTLY ESTIMATE POSSIBILITY OF FLT WI THIS AREA, MAINTAIN WATCH FOR SIGMET,NOTAM, AIREP FOR AREA REFERRED TO ABOVE. PILOTS FLYING IN VOLCANIC ASH CLOUD AREA AND ENCOUNTERING DIFFICULTIES IN CONTINUING FLIGHT MUST REPORT TO ATC UNIT IMMEDIATELY. SFC - FL270, 28 MAR 09:25 2017 UNTIL 27 APR 09:00 2017 ESTIMATED. CREATED: 28 MAR 10:02 2017
Here is a map of the seismic area:
To be honest in our European culture volcanos are not friendly. The threat and destruction incurred by the volcano Eyjafjallajökull, in Iceland on March 20, 2010 is still fresh on our minds. Our crew knows what kind of approach to use as well as the consequences of this volcanic activity. Thank God, the Petropavlovsk option was not our Plan A yesterday! Imagine spending the night in Petropavlovsk, waiting for secondary aftershock quakes or even bigger ones. That is the definition of a waking nightmare.
The main threat for our aircraft is going to be the ash cloud. It can cause severe damage to different parts of the vessel: engine malfunction (the silicate ashes melt in the hot section of the turbine which can lead to discharge pressure and engine surge and a dual engine flame out), long term engine damage (due to the abrasive effect of volcanic ash particles), and external surface corrosion (ashes can cause significant damages to the exposed surfaces).
At night, St Elmo's fire is created. The charged ash particles are colliding with the aircraft. It can be the first indication that we are flying into a dense volcanic ash. As in Iceland, one of the clues to spot an ash cloud is the smell of sulfur in the aircraft cabin. Hopefully, the ash cloud is too recent and not spread out enough to affect our path in the low layers.
Even in the case of an engine loss, our drift down procedures give us a recovery altitude on reaching FL 270 for a 7200 kgs aircraft weight in ISA - 10° C. It is roughly the figures of today's flight. That means after almost one hour of flight, if we do encounter an engine failure, we will descend from FL430 to FL270 at the drift down speed and we will be able to maintain this altitude, even if one engine is inoperative. Thanks to Embraer and Pratt and Whitney, we are reassured that we can rely on such performance.
Flying in Russia is also an occasion to fly with different measurement units. It is known to be the country of heights given in meters below transition level and wind in meters per seconds.
That means we are not working in altitude. The altimeter setting will not be the sea level pressure (QNH), but the pressure measured on the airport surface (QFE). Magadan area is surrounded by mountainous terrain all around, so in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) you have to be careful especially if you are not familiar with the following settings and if you do not have an easy means to convert feet to meters and vice-versa.
The Phenom 300 is really well-advanced and the Garmin 1000 avionic suite is able to display meters and feet on your altitude tape in your PFD without doing any conversions at the same time.
A lot of Flight OPS departments and pilots prefer to work in QNH even in Russia. Personally, I don't like environments with different altimeter settings. Pilots and ATCs can fail to set the correct one. If everybody works with the same reference, it is easier to keep good situational awareness. As my mum would say, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do!" We operate with our Phenom fleet only twice a year and the crew is focused on these matters.
Hopefully after becoming airborne we will be cleared rapidly to FL 270.
The flight conditions to Sapporo are good, after almost four days of flying in remote places, Philippe and I are now rusty for flying in high density traffic areas. You can’t imagine the surprise upon our arrival in Sapporo and the huge workload from FL180 to the ground. The Japanese-English accent is a little bit surprising if you are not used to it. The airport is saturated and overcrowded.
Landing in Sapporo was a good experience. Snow and rain showers with temperatures around 5° Celsius are here to welcome us. Engine and wing anti-ice were turned on during the approach sequence. The runways are long and grooved, which is good because it can be considered dry even when water or humidity is present.
Taxing to apron K was pretty easy after our landing on RWY 19L, but later on it will lead us to a tricky situation with our avionics.
Upon the arrival, the committee was here to welcome us. Before leaving the aircraft, medical services has to measure our body temperature with an infrared thermometer machine to detect fevers. This situation is not cool because it can send you in a quarantine status, which is not the best way to spend time in Japan. Hopefully the three of us are in good condition.
Bullet trains, planes and automobiles
RJCC-RJNA (Sapporo, New-Chitose - Nagoya)
Distance: 550 nm
Quick turnarounds are not always easy. Today, we are focused on dealing with customs, fuel, handlers and medical services. It is now time to leave for Nagoya and to set the flight plan in the G1000 FMS.
I have set the flight plan without taking too much care to the first mentioned waypoint in my active flight plan. By habits the first point is always right unless the aircraft has been parked in a hangar with a GPS loss of integrity induced by a loss of signal.
My displayed route was not a RJCC-RJNA route but a RJCJ-RJNA. Of course, I was not able spot the mistake the first time. I can assure you, that when you are not familiar with the area, it is hard react to this kind of issue. The SID's are different from CHITOSE to NEW CHITOSE. The GEFFY 2 RNAV departure was impossible to find and load. Good catch by Philippe. Even though he was exhausted, he managed to spot the mistake in the Flight Plan. That is the reason procedures, briefings and SOP's are so important. The two crew operations are a good thing on a complex and long trip. Because even when tired, you can correct a mistake.
Flying from New-Chitose to Nagoya was like flying in Europe. The flight "rhythm" is barely the same as the one you can find over there.
We landed in Nagoya over a densely populated area. The handling agents from Nakanihon Air Service Company, LTD, Eri and Mickey, were super friendly. It is always a good feeling to have welcoming and smiling people after a twenty-four-hour journey in 4 days. I do admire Japanese education and behavior; they are very organized and proactive.
If you need to visit Tokyo for pleasure or business, our friend Thierry Pouille from Air Journey (www.airjourney.com), says it’s better to land in Nagoya so you can take a 01:40 minute ride on the great Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train). This train’s cockpit looks like that of a fighter jet. The Shinkansen is a high speed train that is famous throughout the world.
All our attention will now be focused on setting the aircraft for a five day break in Japan. The end of the day is beyond our physical limits: bus, train, and taxi all leading us to reach the great city of Tokyo, 3 hours after landing. Philippe, Patrick and I look like zombies. I was unable to get a lunch. Sushi is not going to be an option tonight.
My bed is my best friend.
We will get some rest and we will keep you posted for the next legs of the
Colibri World Tour 2017.
Day 3: Anchorage, Alaska to Nome, Alaska (PANC-PAOM)
Flight time 01:20
After a hard day flying, a full night of sleep is a relaxing treat. We are still suffering from jet lag and the circadian rhythm disturbance is something we need to manage in our “Threat and Error” management plan. We rise early but without the alarm clock.
The people at Signature Flight Support Anchorage are great: friendly and always ready to help us in our task. We leave Anchorage, under a gray sky so as to reach Nome in less than an hour and a half. The sky is now a gorgeous blue and the ground is covered with a blanket of snow. Alaska looks great from the air as we cross the state on a northwest route. Landscapes look like a masterpiece of modern art.
The weather report in Nome is good: unlimited visibility, no clouds, and calm winds. The outside temperature is almost -20° Celsius upon our landing. Philippe has performed a visual approach for runway 28. During winter, the visual approach is confusing because you can’t distinguish the land from the sea. The Bering Sea is totally iced and covered with a layer of snow.
The landing is performed on this ice desert with great light provided by a strong shining sun.
The airport is quite busy on the ground. Bering Air has one of its main bases over there. Many of the engines are covered with a special heating blanket to keep batteries and oil from freezing. Bering Air provides a wide variety of air service; you might even say extreme air service, to Alaska and beyond. It must be difficult to operate every day from Nome because of the frequency of adverse weather.
The turnaround in Nome is going to be long as we do not yet have our landing permits for Russia. We visit downtown Nome for a quick sandwich and a surrealistic walk on the iced Bering Sea. Our friend from Bering Air gave us a ride to the harbor and downtown, which turned into more of a guided tour than a lift. The main activities in Nome are king crab fishing and gold dredging. Gold mining, we learned, was popular in this area from 1898 to 1907, when gold was found in the beach sand for dozens of miles along the coast.
Downtown is quite small but lovely with its quaint fishing boats and antique gold mining prospecting equipment. It almost gives you the feeling of being in a frozen ghost town, except the people living here are exceptionally friendly. Nature here can be so rough and the people are very pleasant and unselfish. In adverse conditions, people are more cohesive because they never know what will happen tomorrow.
Our Embraer and Pratt & Whitney outfits attracted the attention of the locals at the sandwich shop. Everyone asked questions about our world tour and they seemed interested in having something unusual going on today.
After lunch we walk on the frozen Bering Sea. We are surrounded by the sound of silence except for the crunch of snow under our footsteps. Leisure activities on this enormous piece of ice include: skiing, snowmobiling and dog sled racing. During the months of November through March, you can view the Aurora Borealis, a natural light show that fills the sky with an incredible glow of green and white colors.
We just got the call from Renault from Speedwings. The Russian permit is now approved.
Customs in Magadan may have a delay and during that period we might not be allowed to disembark the plane for four hours. We hope to be lucky.
Second day of our journey: Keflavik, Iceland to Iqaluit, Canada
Flight time 03:16 BIKF-CYFB: (Keflavik-Iqaluit)
Distance: 1,206 nm
After a thoroughly nice meal in Keflavik, at Iceland’s famous Kaffi Duus, we are especially enthusiastic about what is going to happen next. The world tour is really taking shape now. Serious things will start as we begin to encounter inhospitable areas during our flights. Rest will be a valuable resource for the journey ahead. The night was short but especially nice.
Today we are flying three legs with two fuel stops. It will probably be the longest day of this adventure, more than 10 hours.
We have great weather for the flight from Iceland to Canada. There is a lot of sun but below freezing temperatures. We were worried in Keflavik about the cold atmosphere because aircraft don't like extreme weather. Too much cold is dangerous for the engine as well as external components such as tires, flight controls, and paint.
When the outside temperature reaches below -10 degrees Celsius, it is time to think about solutions to take care of the batteries and the avionic suite. When temperatures fall to -20 degrees Celsius, it is a common practice to leave the airplane in a hangar overnight and use hot air to heat the cabin and the batteries.
The arrival to Iqaluit is quite impressive. Today we have unlimited visibility, no wind, beautiful sunshine and a climate of -30 degrees Celsius. The landscape is breathtaking: rolling hills, glacial landscapes and tundra. It will be hard for us to leave, but we have less than an hour here to plug in the GPU and charge the batteries.
The frigid weather gives you a weird feeling. When you take a deep breath, it feels like your nose is freezing (at -30 Celsius, it probably is)! Gloves are mandatory for checking the brakes and refueling. The ground is so cold and full of ice that the chocks are useless. The only solution is to put in the chocks and a parking brake with someone standing next to the plane.
Philippe and Patrick managed to get something warm to eat in town. They came back with a picture of a stop sign in three languages: English, French and Inuktitut, which are all the official languages of Iqaluit. The Inuktitut (native Eskimo-Aleut language) writing is beautiful. In Inuktitut, “Iqaluit” means “the place of many fish”; this relates to the fishing activity in Frobisher Bay.
Here is a small sample of Inuktitut: ᓈᒻᒪᒃᑦᓯᐊᕆᑦ , meaning, “Have a good journey!” The three of us need to improve our pronunciation a little bit! (Naammaktsiarit).
Many thanks to the kind handling agents helping us outside despite the cold weather.
Our Passage to the North
CYFB-CYZF: (Iqaluit, Canada - Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada)
Distance 1,275 nm
Our departure from Iqaluit led us to a very northern track. We are almost tangent to the 65° parallel northwest of Coral Harbour, close to the Arctic Circle, before entering the Northwest Territories. Snow and ice are everywhere below the wings. We are flying over an ocean of white colors.
During the flight, most of the time our G1000 delivers the following message when looking for the nearest airport window: “none within 200 nm. Inhospitable areas.”
The weather in Yellowknife is not as cold as it was in Iqaluit. The average temperature is around -7° Celsius. Philippe noticed a lot of snow on the ground and low clouds in the air during our approach. Once on the ground, the activity on the airfield is quite impressive; there are a lot of regional jets, turboprops, pistons taking off and landing on both runways. The apron is covered by at least 15 centimeters of fresh snow.
The Phenom 300, with its hot Brazilian blood, prefers warmer places. The aircraft is very hard to maneuver due to the slippery apron and the snow. We make a 180 degree turn by pushing on the tip of the wing’s leading edge; this is a fantastically cool feature on the Phenom 300. Thanks to Patrick, we managed to do it with ease under the snow.
A fun fact: during the last week of March in Yellowknife, there is a Caribou Carnival that celebrates the end of winter with a variety of activities held on the still frozen Frame Lake.
Yellowknife is also known as the main base of the family-run Buffalo Airways and the famous Joe McBryan (aka "Buffalo Joe"). This airline is the subject of a reality TV show, “Ice Pilots NWT.” Before our departure, one of their company planes had overflown our Phenom 300. Their company motto: "Your passage to the North" became "Our passage to the North!"
Warm Welcome in Cool Alaska
CYZF-PANC: (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories – Anchorage, Alaska)
Distance: 1,055 nm
We leave the Northwest Territories for Alaska. The routine is typical for this day: takeoff weights, landing weights, cruising levels, fuel consumption, speeds are all almost the same for the three legs. The landscape is white and blue and is so beautiful and peaceful. We are a world apart from our daily European operation. Approaching Alaska, we cross north of the Rocky Mountains.
Anchorage is a busy airport and traffic is more international than in Yellowknife. We were in Instrument Meteorological Conditions up to 6000 feet; then the visibility was better.
We had a warm welcome in Anchorage with the great team who were most helpful. The weather is not too extreme, so our Colibri can stay outside tonight. By the time we arrive into Anchorage, we are all quite exhausted. We will also have to work on re-routing our schedule since we found out there is fuel shortage in Anadyr, Russia, tomorrow.
We have three options:
1) PANC-PAOM (Anchorage-Nome) and then PAOM-UHMM (Magadan Russia).
2) PASY-RJCC ( Shemya Eareckson AS) to Sapporo.
3) PADK-RJCC (Adam Airport) to Sapporo.
After careful consideration, we have decided that option one is the best. After such a long day we are all extremely exhausted and the final decision will be made tomorrow. I am so tired tonight, I almost fell asleep during dinner. Fatigue and jet lag, plus a tremendous workload are not good combinations. We will get a good rest tonight.
Have a good journey!
First day of our journey: Paris-Reykjavik (LFPB-BIKF)
Flight time 03:05
Today is the first day of our World Tour with the Lacrosse family aboard the Colibri (our name for the Phenom 300). The departure from France’s Le Bourget airport was almost on schedule, just 25 minutes of delay after adjusting our last details. There was a lot of excitement in the Parisian air today as we readied our Colibri and the crew for our first complete world tour from the west.
Everybody worked really hard to get everything set for this great adventure. (The proposed schedule still needs a little fine tuning, especially on the leg from Alaska to Japan via Russia. More on that later). Thanks to Embraer and Pratt & Whitney Canada for providing us with a special set of spare parts to use in case of failure. The best thing to do with an AOG (Aircraft on Ground) kit is to never have to use it.
Jean-Noël from Pratt and Whitney was here to bid us a bon voyage. He works as a field support representative and our friends from Embraer were not far away either; with Embraer Executive Jet Services really close to our departure stand. Tim Epping, the Customer Support Representative from Embraer, wished us a safe trip to Iceland.
The flight today was especially nice. The departure from Paris on an easterly heading was confining us at 3000 feet for a while due to Paris’s Charles de Gaulle flight traffic. We then had a step takeoff: FL 100 to 190 to 240 and at last FL430. The final cruising altitude was reached fifty minutes after takeoff due to ATC restriction. At FL 430 and ISA, an engine needs 203 kgs each of JET-A1 per hour to obtain 434 KTAS. PW535E engines are almost anorexic but they give you an athlete’s speed and power.
En route, the weather was perfect as oceanic clearance was received over Scotland. I was a little rusty with my oceanic organization. To be honest, HF communications are not an easy task and I take my hat off to Philippe and his ability to understand the non-understandable! HF communications are similar to black magic; sometimes you can even discover a new language.
The approach over Iceland was idyllic, the weather was perfect, and the sun gave off a very nice light. The beauty of this country is really amazing and uncommon. Here you see snow, ice cliffs, glaciers, craggy lava formations, the sea, really dark lands, mossy hills and steaming fumaroles.
A couple of minutes after landing, there was a weird smell that we were able to distinguish in the flight deck, something a little bit acrid. We realized during the final approach that yellow sulfur smoke was on our path.
The arrival in Reykjavik was magnificent and the landscapes here are surreal.
This was not a big flying day, but changing the daily routine for the crew and setting everything up for this unusual long-haul adventure is not an easy task.
We are now on the track to give you day by day news and stories from our great adventure.
Everything is set for tomorrow, it will be quite a long day; our dispatch office from Speedwings has done a great job today.
Have fun and fly safe.
As I mentioned in our last post, we were going to perform an airway marathon.
That was exactly the case. The last three days were really intense. We have flown with Philippe more than 15,1 FLT, which is roughly a 6,500 NM airway. Philippe and I have sweated more than 20 liters of water. (5 for Philippe and 15 for me!)
The Phenom behaved perfectly during this trip! Only one spurious CAS message in 12 days of operation.
Operating conditions were kind of extreme. The highest airport elevation was roughly 6000 feet with a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius.
Reliable? Yes, it is.
The west coast of Africa from the sky was once again amazing. I am surprised by landscapes under our wings -- sometimes arid and sometimes really green. Colors are constantly changing.
The operation over Gulf of Guinea was really intense; the workload was high enough to keep Philippe and I really busy. The equator crossing was not even noticed as the atmosphere in the cockpit was serious. At FL430, we met some CBs, which we had to avoid visually from time to time. Tropopause altitude can be really high at such latitudes. You can expect to get high convective activity up to FL600 and temperatures flirting sometimes well below -70 degrees static. (The maximum authorized limit for the Phenom 300 at FL 450 is -70 degrees Celsius of SAT). As the flights increased, nights for Philippe and I were really "sleepy." We are now used to each other, and as a constituted crew, each of us knows exactly what to do regarding the other.
The stops over Pointe Noire, Abidjan and Laayoune were really efficient. We had some minor issues, but it was more related to logistical snags. A fuel truck arriving a little late to the aircraft, a hotel pickup no-show and a missing flight plan at Abidjan tower. But nothing really serious.
Everywhere we landed, the enthusiasm generated by our presence and the Phenom was a very nice feeling.
This trip was just as impressive as the Phenom’s reliability. Before we departed Paris, Embraer provided us an AOG kit to cover all the major no-go items from the Minimum Equipment List. This kit was well packed in the aft bay compartment and was never moved from there. (We were so happy and confident about carrying our own repair workshop, thanks to Embraer.)
As the clockwise African marathon comes to an end, here are some figures to illustrate the performance during our adventure:
-11 legs in 13 days
-7 days of flight activity
-32:42 flight time (not block time)
-12,754 NM airway distance
-33,025 pounds of Jet A1 used
-4 instrument approaches and 7 visual approaches
-1 quart of oil
We have over flown: FRANCE, SWITZERLAND, ITALY, GREECE, EGYPT, SUDAN, ERITREA, DJIBOUTI, ETHIOPIA, KENYA, TANZANIA, ZAMBIA, ZIMBABWE, BOTSWANA, SOUTH AFRICA REPUBLIC, NAMIBIA, ANGOLA, REPUBLIC OF CONGO, the Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Guinea), CÔTE D'IVOIRE, MALI, MAURITANIA, the disputed territory of Western Sahara, MOROCCO, SPAIN, FRANCE.
We have met so many friendly faces and seen thousands of great animals, giving us enough to dream about for a really long time.
It is just the beginning of new adventures.
I would like to thank Philippe and his family for giving me the opportunity to share such an adventure with them.
We also want to warmly thank all of those who supported us:
-Tim, Manuel, Sebastien, Luciana and all of the Embraer community, from the maintenance facility to the worldwide headquarters.
- Renaud and Willy from Speedwings Executive Jet GmbH, our dedicated and efficient operators.
-JETEX, WFS, Colibri -- great team ( Joyce and Hocine)
-All the people involved in this fabulous adventure
-Friends and family
-It is almost impossible to name precisely all the manpower involved in this journey
Once again, thank you for following us.
We look forward to sharing more amazing adventures with you soon.
Our three-day stop in Cape Town was really interesting. Cape Town is a sunny and windy city on the shores of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. Cape Town is often named the City Bowl, due to the mountainous backdrop enclosing the central area. The city has a warm, summer Mediterranean climate with mild, moderately wet winters and dry, warm summers.
Cape Town looks like a European capital at the geographical end of the world. The atmosphere is really nice and it is a really good place to live. People from a lot of different horizons and nationalities live there together in relatively good harmony. The city has museums, aquariums, architecture, sports and so on – everything is there to make you feel happy.
One of the most exciting places to visit is Table Mountain National Park. Table Mountain is one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
The main feature of Table Mountain is the level plateau approximately 3 kilometers from side to side, edged by impressive cliffs. It is so nice to breathe pure air up there while going for a walk or a hike. There are several circuits, from very easy to medium, but make sure you have a good pair of shoes.
A very impressive thing when you are standing at an altitude of 1,084 meters is the sounds you hear from the city, which produces a constant roaring. I recommend walking above this altitude. But be careful, don't lose your cable car ticket or you will have to walk another two and a half hours to reach the bus stop. Sometimes you can walk into clouds at the top of this mountain. This cloud formation is called the "tablecloth." Legend attributes this phenomenon to a smoking contest between the devil and a local pirate called Van Hunks. In fact, this orographic cloud is formed when a southeasterly wind is directed up the mountain's slopes into colder air.
Farther south, you will be able to find the Cape of Good Hope, which was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian oceans. In fact, the southernmost point of the African continent is Cape Agulhas, about 150 kilometers to the east-southeast. By tradition, Cape of Good Hope is considered as this peculiar place where the two oceans rejoining.
From a romantic and poetic point of view, Cape of Good Hope is still considered as this converging point.
Fauna and flora are really rich in this part of South Africa. So many diverse species – penguins, whales, seals, fish, ostriches, baboons and so on.
During our visit to Cape of Good Hope, we were able to see a beached whale. The whale was there for two days and tourists were very enthusiastic about it until the middle of the day, when the smell produced by the combination of the really hot air and the washed-up whale became stronger.
We had more fun observing the penguins playing with the little shore waves.
This morning, we headed back to the FBO to start our Northern African marathon. Cape Town to Paris via four stops and two overnights.
The first stop of the day was in Windhoek, Namibia. A very dynamic airport.
In less than a month, three new operators have started to schedule flights to Windhoek. Qatar and Air Ethiopia have been flying there for a month now, and today was the inaugural flight of the Amsterdam junction, with an A330 from KLM with a lot of officials, journalists, photographers and African dancers.
The 4,000-meter- long runaway is really important, especially when you check the LFE (field elevation) at almost 6,000 feet, where the temperature reached 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees) easily.
How weird, on the aft fuselage of the A330, you can read "The Flying Dutchman." That was the name of the frequent flyer program before the creation of Air France’s Flying Blue, but it is also known as a legendary ghost ship that can never make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever. The myth is likely to have originated from the 17th-century, when a Dutchman came to the Cape in distress from bad weather and wanted to get into the harbor but could not get a pilot to conduct her and was lost at sea. Ever since then, her vision appears in very bad weather.
Hopefully, no ghosts and very good weather en route to Pointe-Noire, which is the second largest city in the Republic of Congo, after the capital of Brazzaville. Pointe-Noire is the main commercial center of the country and is essentially the center of the oil industry in the Republic of Congo, one of the main oil producers in Central Africa.
We were delighted with a fantastic visual approach for RWY 17. Aircraft parked, covered and refueled for our next trip.
So happy to have some sleep.
See you tomorrow.
Yesterday's flight was: FVFA-FACT
Block time: 03:05
We spent the night in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. This place, which all of us have visited, is always great. After yesterday's trip, we decided to go straight to our accommodation for a good night of sleep. Toads and monkeys broke the silence of Zimbabwe's night.
The following morning, we walked to the Falls. The temperature at 10:30 LT (08:30 STD) was almost 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). The sun was really strong! Once again, my skin looked like vanilla-strawberry ice cream! But the difficulty of this 10-minute walk was forgotten once in front of the Falls!
The waterfalls, even during the dry season, are huge! They look like several sheets of water separated by big basalt plateaus. The entire volume of the Zambezi River pours through several gorges! The sound produced by the Falls is really loud, and water spray cools the surrounding area. It is a real wonder, and I imagine how impressive it might be during the rainy season or the river's annual flood! Around the Falls, everything is really green and rich! Monkeys are playing everywhere under the shade of trees sprayed continuously by the Zambezi water.
The indigenous people living in the area surrounding Victoria Falls, the Tokaleya, named it in the Tonga language, the Mosi-oa-Tunya. That means: The smoke that thunders. The width of the waterfall is 1,708 meters and the height is 108 meters. In height and width, it is rivaled only by Argentina and Brazil's Iguazu Falls. It is really spectacular!
After spending a couple of hours at the Falls, it was time to return to the hotel to prepare ourselves to leave Zimbabwe for South Africa! Our cameras are full of nice pictures! After a 30-minute drive, we arrived at the international airport of Victoria Falls. The building is really new. Last renovations of the airport were done less than a year ago!
The building looked really good! Once again, our handling agents did not seem really familiar with private flights, but as in Tanzania, they were efficient. Customs, fuel, preflight and baggage scanning were done in a very reasonable time frame under the strong sun of Zimbabwe! We took off on RWY 12 (more than 13,000 feet long). The airfield elevation was 3,500 feet and the temperature was almost 40 degrees Celsius. But the aircraft acceleration was still good! Twenty minutes after takeoff, we reached BONAL almost at our requested flight level (FL 430). This waypoint is the exit point of Zimbabwe airspace at the border with Botswana. Later, the airway UT916 led us over the Makgadikgadi Pan. This salt pan is in the middle of the dry savanna of northeastern Botswana and is one of the largest salt flats in the world.
We left Botswana at UDLUM waypoint to enter the South African airspace. The arrival at FACT (Cape Town International Airport) was beautiful. The light was nice and clouds were covering the top of Table Mountain! We landed after the ILS Z on RWY 19, the temperature on ground was 20 degrees Celsius and the wind was quite strong, up to 30 knots in gusts. Infrastructures at FACT are like those in Europe, and procedures looked really familiar.
We will spend three days there. Since our Paris departure, we have flown only in a southern direction for almost 6,500 NM airway distance. While we were in Victoria Falls, I saw a painting in front of a hotel that represented the weekly journey of the Solent, a passenger flying boat, that began service in the 1940s. The routing was similar to the one we have used: Southampton-Augusta-Alexandria-Khartoum-Port Bell-Victoria Falls-Johannesburg. I cannot imagine how demanding it was in 1948 to perform such a trip.
It has changed nowadays with the Phenom and technology.
Next time we will use the N344PL, it will be on a northern direction on the western side of Africa on our way back to Paris.
The adventure continues.
Today, we left our base camp in the Serengeti reserve with our bush guide, Jeremiah, and departed Tanzania for Zimbabwe. We were pretty sad because this place was so nice and the Tanzanians were so kind. We will miss them.
We headed to Sasakwa airstrip for a 45-minutes flight on a bush airplane to Lake Manyara Airport. The turnaround was really quick, something like five minutes. Only two passengers left the single-engine turbine aircraft on the Lake Manyara stop. The next leg was a little bit shorter, 15 minutes to HTKJ (Kilimanjaro International Airport), where our vessel was waiting for us on the general aviation apron.
The wings of our aircraft were covered by an orange dust. Fortunately, we had used our nose and windshield covers, which look like big camo-green socks, to protect all sensitive areas such as the pitot tubes, static covers and windshield. This protective covering is really nice, especially when you are in remote areas, as the traditional silver sunscreen is not sufficient. You need something to protect the aircraft from ultraviolet rays. Our ramp agent, Joshua, from Swissport Dar es Salam, arranged everything in an efficient and smooth way; Tanzanians are so helpful. Joshua is always smiling, always happy to help. Despite that, the security check was a little bit complicated. They are not really used to dealing with private flights and things sometimes take longer than expected. Fuel was uplifted and passengers were on the way to the aircraft. Preflight was also done, and we were ready for our departure. Along the runway edges, some little dust tornados were starting to grow right in front of our path for departure.
We took off from RWY 09 at an elevation altitude of 2,900 feet and +31 degrees Celsius. No problem for a Phenom 300, climb performances remind you of the 3,360 pounds of thrust produced by the PW535-E jet engines. As usual, no radio contact up to FL 320, and then the communications were really weak and broken. The squawk was never obtained from ATC, and we decided to set 2000 with our mode S transponder. We have never been requested by controllers to change it on a 1200 NM airway distance flight. It's funny, because we are not really used to this in Europe. Radar coverage is sometimes so sharp that we have to change squawk two or three times on a Le Bourget to Milan Linate flight. The feeling of being alone is omnipresent over Tanzania and Zambia.
FL 430 Mach 0.74 and OAT displays -64 degrees Celsius.
As usual, everything is quiet, with only the communications from Zambia reminding us of human existence. After almost 3:00 of flight time, we were able to see a B337-8 from Springbok (This is the call sign for South African airways.), 10 NM west of our position. I prefer to observe Springboks on a Safari photo trip! Later in the day, after the debrief, Willy, our operations support, confirmed that only two aircraft were present over the Zambian sky! Zambia is bigger in area than France – 752,628 km<sup>2</sup> for Zambia versus 543,965 square Km<sup>2</sup> for France! Try to imagine how alone you are here.
Philippe and I were really excited to overfly Victoria Falls, not only for the arrival needs but for sightseeing. It can be tricky to try to perform 360 degrees at FL 070 at the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia for our passengers’ and our own pleasure! As you might know, in a calm sea, every man is a pilot. Let's try it. In the worst-case scenario, ATC will refuse it.
Thanks to the great Livingstone approach controller who was so helpful to us. He gave us the full procedure to achieve our trick with the air-to-air frequency used by tourism aircraft performing sightseeing flights overhead Victoria Falls. The only concern of the ATC was the fact we were considered a medium aircraft for the wake turbulence, but he was more relaxed when we advised him that we were less than eight tons of total weight! The view was unbelievable!!! The Falls are so impressive! What a great moment. After our little excursion off track, Philippe ended the flight via a well-managed visual approach for the 13,123-feet-long runway 12 at Victoria Falls airport. Tomorrow morning, we will go to the Falls. We will experience another magical moment, which we have been experiencing since our departure from Paris.
The new horizon for tomorrow after the Falls will be Cape Town in South Africa!!!! Take care and best regards!
We have spent the last three days in the Serengeti National Park. The park’s name comes from a word used by the Massai to describe the area -- "siringet," which means "The place where the land runs on forever."
That is so true. It seems there is no world outside this park, which covers almost 5,700 square miles. All this land is covered mainly by wildebeest and other animals, which are now making their annual migration based upon this year’s rainfall patterns. Due to global warming, locals advised us, things are seriously changing and it has an impact on the wildlife in such remote areas.
The best place to observe this migration is from the sky! So Philippe had a great idea about taking a hot air balloon safari at sunrise. Still a little bit sleepy, everybody jumped into the four-wheel drive to the takeoff spot.
We were welcomed by our captain, Mohamed Masud, a highly experienced hot air balloon pilot with roughly 2,500 hours of flight time during the last 15 years. It was a brand new experience for everyone. Safety briefing, weather report and now let’s go where the wind blows!The takeoff was really amazing, as we all sat inside this big wicker basket, like an astronaut in a spaceship preparing for departure. The hot air produced by the burner expanded into the balloon and we rose slowly at 100 feet per minute. The balloon started out slowly dragging, and then we were airborne in less than 30 seconds.
The altitude varies depending on what you want to see. Above this infinite natural reserve, silence once again seemed to be omnipresent. Our balloon’s average cruising speed was between 12 knots near the surface and 20 knots a little bit higher. The maximum altitude on this flight was around 5,500 feet AMSL. Such values are far from our daily parameters when flying the Phenom, but Philippe and I were unanimous: "As long as we are flying, we are happy!!!"
Wildlife and aerology knowledge were perfectly mastered by Captain Mohamed. Once again, giraffes, buffaloes and gnus were present for our great pleasure. After a one-hour ride, it was time to land in Tanzania. Mohamed started to release the hot air from the top of the balloon. He performed a really nice landing and the basket did not tip over. We shared a glass of champagne on the landing site! (What a surrealistic experience to drink a cold glass of champagne in the middle of this Serengeti reserve among gnus and other wild animals!). As explained by Captain Mohamed, it is a tradition to drink champagne when you land in a hot air balloon. The tradition originated with the first balloon flights when pilots were unable to control the path of the balloon upon landing, often damaging farm fields. To prevent anger and aggressiveness from farmers, pilots decided to offer them champagne.
Mohamed was also really proud to have a group of French on this flight, reminding us that the first manned balloon flight, which took place on October 15, 1783, was piloted by a Frenchman named Pilâtre de Rozier. That was almost exactly 233 years ago. The magic was still there all these years later and we were delighted to have had such a nice experience.
Tomorrow is our departure for Zimbabwe! Everything is ready. Our Speedwings Jet Executive GmbH team from Geneva has once again well managed our day trip. A big thanks also to Fanny from World Fuel Services, who has made our fuel delivery easier.
I am now impatient to reach new horizons.
After two days of our journey and our fourth stop, we will finally reach Kilimanjaro.
We spent the night in Arusha. Everyone is tired but very happy and delighted. Once again, it will be an early wake-up, but we have a great day ahead: The Safari.
We are going north of Tanzania, not far from Lake Victoria, on a bush plane that is capable of landing at the Grumeti Airstrip. Philippe and I were happy to be standard passengers today, allowing us to view the splendid landscapes of Northern Tanzania at FL85.
Bush pilots: What an adventure!
No autopilot, no retractable undercarriage, no anti-icing or deicing systems or Visual Flight Rules, and an unpressurized aircraft! It is a tough job and so different from our type of operation, but impressive and interesting.
We missed our fabulous Phenom 300 with all of its nice onboard features. Airstrips are not part of the daily routine of Embraer planes.
The flight was really nice, the air was smooth and still. We were airborne around 07:30 LT, and the outside air temperature was quite nice -- not too hot, something like 17 degrees Celsius. As far as I can remember, the Outside Air Temperature reading at FL 085 was 14 degrees Celsius.
To be honest, it was even a little bit too cold in the bush airplane, especially on the second leg, which took roughly 50 minutes of flight time because we had to make a stop for other passengers going into another wild reserve. As I was tired, I fell asleep. Philippe sat in the right seat next to the pilot, so everything was under control, except for the buffaloes or gnus herd wandering on the Grumeti Airstrip as we were established on short final and fully configured for landing. The pilot had to perform a go-around due to wild animals crossing the runway. It was an unusual experience, especially when you are used to flying in Europe to destinations such as Geneva, Paris or Farnborough.
After a low pass over the Grumeti runway, we finally landed on the airstrip.
The second part of the day was now starting after a warm welcome from our great guide, Jeremiah. We were ready for a really cool Safari!
All cameras were fully charged to capture the beauty of Tanzanian wildlife: Crocodiles, hippos, elephants, cheetahs, monkeys, wild dogs, gazelles, impalas, lions, giraffes, ostriches and much more.
Eyes and head are fully loaded with so many nice views and moments.
A nice sunset over beautiful Tanzania and a good dinner. It's time for bed and more dreams about this fabulous and exciting journey.
Second day of our Journey: HECA-HDAM-HTKJ
First leg: 03:55
Second leg: 02:55
That is a really long day, but such a great day, full of joy, adrenaline and astonishment! Africa here we are! Yesterday was the start of our dream today we are part of the dream.
The departure from Cairo this morning at 06:30 UTC was supposed to be really routine. Cairo is a big international airport with three very long parallel runways. It is like Europe but there is no more CFMUs ( Central Flow Management Units).
We were not expecting any surprises on our departure. FPL was filed and acknowledged by Egyptian services, everything was checked and briefed the day before by Speedwings Executive Jet GmbH, our operation provider. So on that lovely Morning in Cairo everything was fine, we were perfectly on time, one engine running for our convenience. I asked the start up on delivery clearance and the ATC was really surprised! "N344PL I do confirm we do not have your FPL!!" After 35' trying to find a solution with our ops in Geneva and the local ATC we managed to start the taxi.
Takeoff from Cairo with at least 01:00 of delay and we were now towards Khartoum FIR. The track was pretty simple all along the Red Sea to Djibouti. Philippe is an adventurer and he knows pretty well all the Phraseology subtlety: HF, primary and secondary frequency or IFBP on 126.9.
IFBP (in flight broadcast procedure is peculiar), you have to make a position report roughly every 10' or when crossing an airway and you can spend a long time trying desperately to hear a familiar voice to guide you over the immensity of Africa. This is a really remote area and I was glad about Philippe's experience in this region and his pedagogy to show me the trick! The SLOP procedure was also mandatory in this part of Africa. You have to make a track offset of 1 or 2 NM on the right for spacing reasons between all traffic.
The flight was long, but I have noticed when you perform a flight in the European area from Corfu to Brussels it seems to be an eternity, even if landscapes are great, but here, it is Africa, the workload was so high with ATC and overfly permit management that for us this almost 04:00 of block time seems to last a couple of intense minutes.
Overfly Permit!!! Thanks again to our ants from Switzerland, I am talking about Willy and Renaud, they are able to follow us on real time with a little GPS tracker even in remote areas! The satcom was so useful to gather information such as the acknowledgment of the overflight permit send 2 months ago via email.
Landing in Djibouti was nice and the sandwich meal brake was a delight for all of us.
Fuel uplift with our friendly handler from Djibouti and chocks removal and we are taking off to Kilimandjaro! Now it is show time - we will cross the equator - my first! And we will play with the ITCZ (inter tropical convergence zone) this is an area where weather phenomena can be really tough! You can expect CB's up to FL 530 and even higher with very low SAT temperature, ice crystals and other cool stuff that pilots don't like... But for the Phenom, no problem, a good flight preparation, fuel and a good radar are the best tools to feel comfortable in such regions.
The arrival in Tanzania after Kenya
Tanzania with Mont Kilimandjaro as landscape - what an amazing view! We landed on Runway 09 in HTKJ with a beautiful sunset. Thanks to our Egyptian delay the magic of our arrival was even better then forecasted. This evening all of us are tired but very happy about our flights. Philippe and I were behaving as kids with this fabulous toy on such a fantastic playground!
This adventure continues everyday and it is getting better and better! I was so happy tonight to share this part of our journey to Tim Epping, operations and my family.
We will rest a little bit and get some rest before next page of this tour on 26/10/16...
First day of our journey: Paris-Taranto-Cairo (LFPB-LIBG-HECA)
First leg: 02:10
Second leg: 02:25
What a great day today! The atmosphere in Paris was really nice, and everybody in Paris was really hyped about this first day of our marvelous trip around Africa.
Tim Epping and Sebastien Abouly have managed a great departure for us, with N344PL parked next to his brother, the Legacy 450. The weather was a little bit cold and cloudy, but smiles on everybody's faces reminded us how warm the journey would be.
After half an hour of talking around those two great aircraft, it was time to request our startup for our first turnaround in Italy. Weather was really nice, engines and aircraft were running smoothly at FL450, our ground speed was around 450 KTAS with almost a 40 kts tailwind component all the way toward south Italy.
A few minutes after takeoff, we were heading east above the cloud layer, with our faces fully exposed to the nice, warm sun filtered via our windshield. There was a little bit of light chops above the Alps, as usual in this area, and our cabin was quiet as passengers were just recovering from the early wake-up.
We landed in Taranto for a fuel stop and a quick meal of delicious sandwiches, baguette and French pastries. After a 90-minute lunch break, we resumed our trip toward North Africa. Flying at FL450 above the clouds, we were not able to contemplate the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea. Philippe and I were discussing our different flight experiences and most of the time discussions were diverting to the great qualities of the Phenom 300.
Philippe's kids are really enthusiastic about our trip; they simply don't know where we are going. It is a surprise, and they try by any means to find our final destinations.
As you might expect, we were often trying to give them clues about destinations and sometimes joking about the situation.
The arrival in Cairo was really cool and soft. We landed on RWY 05C after an ILS performed in a light desert haze and a yellowish mist with a little bit of ocher sand dust everywhere. Night was not far away, but Philippe knows this aircraft perfectly and we return to ground and reality with a gentle touchdown.
Let's see what news our trip brings tomorrow.
Ever since he was a child, Philippe Lacrosse had always dreamed of becoming a pilot. Soon after earning his pilot license, his passion for flying transformed into an opportunity to discover the world with his family aboard their Phenom 300, named Colibri.
The family’s first trip was in April 2013, when they flew from Paris to the Maldives, where he was told his aircraft was the first Phenom to land on the island. The Lacrosse family hasn’t stopped flying since then, and now they are preparing to fly around the globe.
The first leg of their journey will begin in France on October 21 and end in Morocco on November 2. Throughout their trip, they will share their experiences with us through this blog here. Follow the Lacrosse family’s adventure by checking out their posts, images and videos.
Trip dates: 21 Oct. 2016 - 2 Nov. 2016:
Trip itinerary: France - Italy - Egypt - Ethiopia - Tanzania - Zimbabwe - South Africa - Namibia - Congo (Point Noire) - Ivory Coast - Morocco (Occidental Sahara)
David Currier wears many hats in his dual role as Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) coordinator and Facilities Department lead at Embraer Executive Jets in Melbourne.
Among his wide-ranging EHS duties are overseeing environmental management, safety audits, maintenance of aircraft-assembly tooling equipment and forklift training. David has gained expertise in many areas since joining Embraer Executive Jets in early 2011, keeping his knowledge and skills up to date through annual recertification courses.
His many responsibilities as a facilities lead include serving as the focal point for ordering all of the supplies needed to maintain equipment and buildings, managing aspects of security, health, and the well-being of workers.
David’s tasks and expertise have increased as Melbourne’s aircraft assembly facilities have grown. The job is challenging, he said, but the pace and variety suit him. “I’m not one that can sit in one place for long. I don’t like doing the same thing every day.”
His path to Embraer began while he was working as an electrical superintendent for the company that constructed Melbourne’s production/administration building. David said he was hired after his extensive knowledge caught the eye of an Embraer manager, who told him he knew the building better than anyone, including everything in the ground, walls and ceiling.
David’s passion, dedication and work ethic were recognized in 2012, when he was named one of Embraer’s two most valued employees in Melbourne, earning a six-day trip to Brazil with award winners from other Embraer sites.
Although he doesn’t build aircraft, David and his team are critical to keeping all of the facilities and equipment running smoothly on Embraer’s sprawling Melbourne campus and other nearby sites. “I like seeing the growth. I like the direction we’re going.”
David said he loves his job and the family atmosphere at Embraer Executive Jets. It’s just a great organization. Everyone is friendly, and it’s been that way since day one. They take care of their people. They think safety first; they stress that.”
Tremain Williams is capable of working as a quality inspector in every station of Embraer Executive Jets’ Phenom assembly facility in Melbourne. That’s because he has worked as an inspector throughout the assembly line, as well as in flight preparation and delivery, since joining Embraer when the facility opened in early 2011.
Last year, Tremain was promoted to quality lead inspector, supervising 14 workers in production, flight preparation and the delivery center.
“I’m kind of the floater between every station … I make sure we have the manpower where needed. I’m kind of everywhere, not any one station.”
It’s an ideal role for Tremain, who has 16 years of diverse aviation experience and has been passionate about airplanes since childhood. “I love building airplanes, I love inspecting airplanes … I really just like being around aircraft.”
Before joining Embraer, Tremain worked at Piper Aircraft in Vero Beach for 11½ years in such jobs as assembly technician, fabrication inspector and lead assembly inspector. That broad experience made him a valuable addition to Embraer Executive Jets’ new production team. “Embraer was looking for people with a heavy aviation background so they could help train others when the company opened. We trained on the airplanes in Brazil since we didn’t have them here yet. I did well there, so I helped train other guys who are still here now.”
Tremain said the assembly-line processes at Embraer ensure the business jets meet the highest safety and quality standards. “I see aircraft take the first flight and come back with minimal discrepancies, so that’s a testament itself to the quality we put inside the aircraft.”
He is thrilled to be part of the dedicated production team that is rethinking convention at Embraer. “I’m very proud to work here with a company that can create, produce and design aircraft, moreso than anyone in the industry. It’s great to be part of something of this magnitude.”
Tremain is excited about the future as Embraer’s Melbourne campus continues to grow. “To see a company build as fast as we are is a wonderful thing to be a part of. Plus, giving me the opportunity to excel within the company is a good thing because one of Embraer’s core values is ‘Our people are what make us fly.’ I’m glad I’m part of that.”
When Jay Colon was hired as a team leader at Embraer Executive Jets in Melbourne in early 2011, he arrived to a huge empty production building.
Fast forward five-plus years, and every station of the Phenom 100/300 assembly line is bustling with activity and production is underway in the new Legacy 450/500 manufacturing facility.
Joining Embraer “was a perfect opportunity because building aircraft was what I was doing for 24 years before coming here,” Jay said. He spent most of those years in Boeing’s C-17 program in Long Beach, California, in such positions as an aviation mechanic, manufacturing analyst and supervisor.
After working as a team leader with Embraer for about a year, Jay was promoted to production supervisor, leading the newly created second shift. Another second-shift supervisor was added last year, and together the two now oversee about 125 workers. “For second shift, I’m their voice pretty much. The guys know what they’re doing … My functionality is to help them get what they need to build these aircraft.”
The production-line processes at Embraer ensure every jet is built correctly to the highest standards, Jay said. “We have electronic capabilities to access the work orders – all electronic, no paper. In there, they can also access their technical standards. They take laptops in the plane and they build per print. If an issue arises, a line worker reports it to their lead and then to their manufacturing engineer “and we make sure we’re building it properly.”
Jay doesn’t hesitate to declare why Embraer is a fantastic place to work. “The people, the culture. Our people are what make us fly. We have a great group of people.”
Helping to lead the team building the Phenom 300, the world’s most-delivered business jet for three straight years, is “awesome,” he said. And Jay is thrilled the Legacy 450 and Legacy 500 – products of Embraer’s commitment to rethink convention – also will be assembled in Melbourne. “The sky’s the limit for those planes … Whatever they need from me, I’m there.”
Steve Anderson never forgets how privileged he is to have a hand in building innovative aircraft at Embraer Executive Jets.
“It’s easy to get caught up in all of the technical details and daily tasks that are part of any manufacturing facility, so I think it’s important to remember how lucky we are to do what we do,” said Steve, a manufacturing engineer who joined Embraer when the Phenom assembly plant opened in early 2011. “Whenever I get the chance to see an Embraer aircraft in flight, I take that moment to enjoy the sense of accomplishment and pride, and remember that, ‘Hey, that’s pretty cool.’ ”
Steve, who has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, is in charge of Embraer’s MES (manufacturing execution system), a paperless system that controls and documents the production process. “I have interaction with almost every department that we have. I have an umbrella perspective to see how everything needs to work together, how the whole operation ends up producing an aircraft for our customer.”
Before an Embraer business aircraft is delivered to a customer, every aspect of that jet has been checked and rechecked, he said. “There are many final documentation checks and balances that I hadn’t seen at other companies, making sure that the delivered aircraft meets all of the design requirements, it is built as it was designed and has all the essential equipment installed.”
Steve’s diverse background working at two start-up general aviation companies, including helping to design production facilities, prepared him well for his position at Embraer Executive Jets. “I got to see the entire process of a startup aircraft manufacturing company, going from the design into prototyping, into obtaining the type certificate and production certificate to produce aircraft. That was a big, wonderful learning experience.”
Today, Steve said he’s proud to tell people he builds business jets for Embraer, a company that has provided him with a wealth of technical, cultural and travel experiences “beyond anything I could have imagined 10 years ago.” And it keeps getting better as the Melbourne campus continues to grow.
“It’s very exciting to be part of an organization that is growing like ours is. It’s probably unheard of, growth of this magnitude in this short period of time.”
Embraer Executive Jets assembly technician Eric Sneed became proficient at maintaining high standards while working under tight deadlines when he performed avionic maintenance on fighter jets during the Iraq War.
“I was a shop supervisor during Operation Iraqi Freedom, so basically every aircraft had to fly as much as possible,” said Eric, who spent eight years in the Navy as an aviation electronics technician in Virginia Beach.
Eric said repairing wires and cables on F-14B and F/A-18 jets as efficiently as possible provided him the expertise to adapt to the ramped-up assembly-line pace at Embraer, where he installs electrical harnesses and antenna cabling on Phenom 100s and 300s. Since joining Embraer in January 2012, demand has continued to grow, especially for the Phenom 300, which was the world’s most-delivered business jet in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Eric always remains focused on building the best and safest executive jets possible, ever mindful of the customers who will fly in them. “I understand that 20 years from now, people are going to be in this aircraft. So I have to do my job to the best of my ability at the highest quality.”
He is proud to be a member of a knowledgeable aircraft-building team that continually rethinks convention, including fellow technicians and manufacturing engineers who have worked on military jets and the space shuttle.
One especially gratifying aspect of building Embraer aircraft is occasionally spotting one of the executive jets he helped to build. “If I’m not at work, I’m always pointing out Embraer planes and say, ‘I think I built that.’ Any time I pass by an executive airport, I’m always looking to see if there’s one parked there.”
Given the many years he has spent working on military jets and the Phenoms, Eric said he would love the opportunity to use his experience to assemble Embraer’s larger, technologically advanced business jet aircraft – the Legacy 450 and 500 – after production begins in Melbourne in 2016. With the expansion expected to add 600 U.S. jobs over the next few years, he sees a bright future with Embraer.
“I hope and expect to be here for many years. They take care of their people and they have really good benefits. It’s just a great place to work.”
Carlos Roque has the ideal job for a lifelong airplane enthusiast who challenges the status quo and happens to be a perfectionist.
“I have a streak of perfectionism in me that is often considered a liability,” said Carlos, who has worked as an assembly technician for Embraer Executive Jets since March 2012. “But here, I have a very constructive outlet that allows me to practice perfectionism in my job. I can’t imagine doing anything less than the best when it comes to airplanes.”
Carlos began studying airplanes as a young child and later earned two associate degrees in aviation-related subjects, along with a private pilot license, a commercial pilot license and an airframe and powerplant (A&P) license. Before joining Embraer, he pursued his passion in wide-ranging commercial and general aviation jobs, ranging from an airline mechanic to piloting a small plane doing traffic surveillance for a radio station.
“I wouldn’t really want to do anything other than aviation,” he said. “I was always a hands-on person, always wanting to know how things worked and then how to operate them. I always looked up to aircraft as the epitome of machines.”
At Embraer Executive Jets, Carlos prepares smaller components and the main electronics rack for installation on Phenom 100s and Phenoms 300s. To ensure the business jets meet Embraer’s highest standards of excellence, quality assurance inspectors monitor assembly processes daily and FAA inspectors pay visits to the facility, he said. “I have to be able to explain to a quality inspector or an FAA inspector exactly what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. I have to have my references – blueprints, parts lists – right at hand. I have to be able to demonstrate competence over all our processes.”
Carlos said he is amazed at Embraer’s uncanny ability to rethink convention and consistently develop innovative business jet designs that appeal to customers.
“Somehow, Embraer sees exactly what the market needs and designs an airplane to meet those needs. Even if the market didn’t know they needed it before, once that airplane is available, they’re buying it. It’s all very exciting."
As an engineer, Megan Leggett works in a field typically dominated by men, yet she feels more than at home working at Embraer Executive Jets. In fact, the manufacturing engineer cites her hardworking team members in the Phenom assembly facility as one of the best parts of her job.
“The guys are all great. They’re so knowledgeable and dedicated,” said Megan, who joined Embraer in April 2012, after eight years as a mechanical engineer with United Space Alliance (USA) at the Kennedy Space Center, where she worked on the space shuttle’s solid-rocket boosters.
Megan, who has bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering and civil engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said her shuttle experience made for a smooth transition at Embraer, because of the similarities between the two jobs. At Embraer, she writes work instructions that technicians follow to assemble the Phenom 100 and Phenom 300, making sure production issues are promptly addressed to ensure the affordable executive jets are built to the highest standards of excellence.
“I learned quite a bit at United Space Alliance as far as the manufacturing process, so a lot of it just rolled right into this job,” said Megan, who works second shift in the assembly plant. “It’s pretty much doing the same thing. All the rules and requirements are different, but the tasks that you do day in and day out are the same.”
Megan said she’s excited the Legacy 450 and 500 production facilities will open in Melbourne in 2016, and given her experience, she’s sure she will eventually work on the two aircraft featuring full fly-by-wire technology. But for now, the former space shuttle engineer is happy working on the Phenom and with her career at Embraer Executive Jets, which treats its employees well and offers “fantastic” benefits.
With Embraer Executive Jets’ rapid growth and success during its first 10 years, Megan is optimistic about the business aviation company’s future: “The sky’s the limit. I’m definitely proud to say I work at Embraer.”
When Pedro Holanda relocated to Florida from his native Brazil to work in aviation 15 years ago, he had no idea he eventually would work for a global executive jet maker with a Brazilian heritage.
Pedro is thrilled his career path led to Embraer Executive Jets in Melbourne, brimming with enthusiasm as he talks about the company and his work as an avionics technician in the Phenom assembly plant.
“Embraer is something that makes us really proud to be Brazilian,” said Pedro, who joined Embraer in April 2012. “Being an avionics technician is something really cool. I like my job. I am proud to work for Embraer. The environment is great.”
Most of Pedro’s work takes place in the cockpit, where he performs exhaustive operational checks and avionics tests to ensure that all of the innovative electrical systems are functioning correctly. “We go through every knob, every single little button in the cockpit to make sure everything works properly. It’s really fun to sit down in the cockpit and get to understand how every single system works on the aircraft.”
Manufacturing engineers lend their technical knowledge to rethink convention “because we really have to get into the guts of the electrical side of the aircraft,” Pedro explained. Quality assurance inspectors also work closely with technicians, monitoring processes and completing documentation showing the work complies with the FAA’s and Embraer’s highest standards.
Pedro sharpened his skills while working as an avionics technician with a local aircraft manufacturer, and later as an electrical mechanic on the technologically advanced Boeing 787 Dreamliner at a final assembly plant in South Carolina. When production of the Legacy 450 and 500 begins in Melbourne, Pedro said he would welcome the opportunity to learn a more sophisticated and complex system.
The Brazil native is effusive in his praise for Embraer Executive Jets, which continues to grow in a competitive market, offering customers the broadest portfolio in the business jet market.
“It’s so exciting to see the company growing. Not every company out there is doing so great like Embraer. Embraer is so strong. It’s a massive corporation that’s not going anywhere. They’re here to stay.”
When you are looking for a new business jet, you will likely interact regularly with our team members on the front line. But you probably won’t have the opportunity to meet the people who build Embraer’s executive aircraft. Day in and day out, each of these talented professionals plays an integral role in challenging the status quo and building our brilliantly engineered airplanes – one wire and one bolt at a time.
We at Embraer are launching a new series of profiles to highlight a handful of the highly skilled technicians and manufacturing engineers who work in our assembly facilities. Through these profiles, you will see how much dedication, expertise and care is devoted to each phase of every single aircraft we build.
Our teams in Melbourne and Brazil include people who spent years working on the most advanced projects in the world, from NASA’s space shuttle to highly respected military and commercial programs, before joining Embraer. In addition to their expertise, each of these employees exudes unbridled enthusiasm when describing his or her role in building our jets.
As you get to know our employees, you will understand that at Embraer Executive Jets, our mission is to continually redefine what’s possible and our commitment to excellence and serving you is paramount in everything we do.
We were delighted to see our journey around the world featured in Forbes Magazine!
Thank you all for your support. Wishing you and your loved ones happy holidays and a wonderful 2015!
Business Aviation: A Legacy in the Making, written by Tony Velocci
The night before a complex flight tends to be a sleepless one. I imagine that many other pilots endure their own painstaking habits and rituals before pulling chocks on similarly elaborate missions. In my case, the next day’s events haunt every dark corner of my hotel room. My eyes burst open from restless sleep at the slightest sound, and thoughts immediately begin racing through my mind – did I miss the wake-up call? No, thank goodness. But what does the weather look like outside? Will we be able to take off? And what about the weather at our destination – will we have to be rerouted? What about our flight plans? Did I file everything correctly?...
Yesterday, though, the sun rose on a cool and partly cloudy morning in London. The plan was to fly from there to Teterboro where we would deliver three of our passengers, and then to depart for Naples, Florida, where the remaining few would deplane and bid us a final farewell. All paperwork filed accordingly, all passengers accounted for, and clear skies on the eastern coast of the U.S.
Since we always try to surprise our principal, we decided to try something novel to celebrate the last day of our travels. We cooked a rack of lamb in our convection oven and served it with equally impressive accompaniments. The meal was considered a huge success by our passengers, especially complemented by the decadent pastries that we had procured in London and served for dessert. Taking our passengers into consideration is our priority, of course. So, once they had expressed their awe and gratitude, the Crew and I were assured that the remainder of our voyage would be a success.
Up in the clouds, my anxious mind quieted, we crossed the Atlantic at 40,000 feet destined for home. Peaceful reflection surfaced memories from our trip, which once seemed so long but now seemed to have come and gone in the blink of an eye. My uniform could just about fly the airplane by itself, I swear, so we took turns strolling through the spacious cabin zones to stretch our legs. We kept lively conversation going, raided the galley for snacks, and marveled at the successful mission we were about to complete.
Today, after a full night of sleep in my own bed, the appreciation I have for these past few weeks is overwhelming, and indescribable. I hope that, one day, I will be able to share these types of experiences with my children. Amazing, isn’t it, though? You can travel around the entire planet, only to find that your whole world is right here at home…
Thank you for coming with us on this journey, my friends.
Our flight plan from Dubai to London reflected a flight time of just under eight hours, covering Iran, Iraq, Turkey and the Black Sea, and the entire continent of Europe. We arrived late last night and, as fellow aeronauts can relate, my entire being was fatigued, as if I had run the whole route! Planning these complex multi-nation flights requires arduous mental processing, tedious calculations, special permissions and logistics… it’s enough to cry “vertigo”!
Now, as I sit in the enchanting chamber of our London hotel, many images from our latest adventures run through my mind. Did I mention that I was asked to do an interview with Forbes?! It was my very first media interview, and a welcome opportunity to talk about my passionate focus on the philosophy of Global Excellence.
Today’s world often ignores the indifference to detail that has spread to so many people. I am one who is not afraid to take ownership. As Manager of Aviation at our company, I am willingly and fully responsible for the quality of our passengers’ flight experiences. My aim is to excel at providing my customers with the highest level of services, from cleanliness and timeliness, to the anticipation of every whim. This is one of the reasons that I work with Embraer – the practice of Global Excellence is reflected in our every interaction with them.
Speaking of which, “Muito obrigado!” to LES and KEITH, two more representatives of Embraer’s outstanding support team. Thank you for burning both ends of the night with us!
On Monday we cross the Atlantic one more time. After we clear customs in Maine, we will bring a few of our passengers to New York before finally returning to our own families in Orlando. I can’t wait to see my best friend – my wife, Robyn. She is the driving force in my life and an inspiration to everyone who knows her. She is the mother and full-time educator of our three children, who have blossomed as individuals over the past decade.
Lucca, six years old, is not just a MineCraft expert; he is also one of the most highly recognized veterinarians in the stuffed animal community. Noah, my protégé, is nine years old and has already made science and flight tracking two of his favorite hobbies. And, Chloe, my teenager, is going to conquer the growing world of website development before she graduates, I just know it. I encourage all them to live like me, like Peter Pan – to seek new adventures with youthful spirit, always with “happy thoughts” in mind. For me, my “happy thought” is the promise of the biggest, tightest, five-headed hug of my life, and that thought will carry me home. My family is, after all, the real reason I can fly.
NEW Palm islands being built in Dubai. Imagine a coastline full of them! Human enterprise meets extreme engineering…
Soaring temperatures in Dubai disturbed our fuel density. Here we are flying late into the night after a thirty minute stop in Prague.
Reaching over 10,000ft. as we transition from Iran’s desert landscape.
Watching the sun set over Baghdad after passing through Iran. It’s not every day you get to do that in an American airplane!
We have eight hours ahead of us as we leave the warmth of Dubai for the cooler autumn weather of London. Our bodies have had a chance to rest, and our circadian internal clocks seem to adjust with more ease than we have experienced over the past couple of weeks. We can feel home drawing nearer with each leg completed.
Our flight will take us over Iran and Turkey, ultimately carrying us north and west through most of Eastern Europe. Our airplane awaits us, prepared with over 20,000 lbs of fuel to transport incalculable numbers of mementos, a fully stocked galley, five delightful passengers, three diligent crew members, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Just kidding!)
With the holiday season upon us, a longing for family togetherness seems to occupy every quiet moment. In spite of a truly awe-inspiring and highly productive tour around the world, we are all anxious for our impending homecoming. We are looking forward to spending time with our loved ones before we depart for our next adventure. But for now, Big Ben and fish and chips, here we come!
Today we departed Bangkok for Dubai. Our carefully planned route had us flying at 40,000 feet over the Bay of Bengal in India, and then over the Arabian Sea before descending toward this amazing destination, where we will spend the next few days of our lives.
There really is no place like Dubai. Its people have combined the classics of Middle Eastern culture with modern life and luxury to create a unique charm that can only be found here. With London, Hong Kong, and Moscow located nearby at almost equal distances, it's no wonder that Dubai is a magnet for successful businesses and discerning travelers. This is a city of worldly enterprise, lavish retreats, and tremendous achievements in architectural and engineering innovation.
I love to visit the Emirates, and Dubai is certainly one of my favorites because its existence validates my love for corporate aviation in a way that no other place does. Dubai requires-... no, wait-... Dubai clamors for private executive travel to connect this regional gem to the rest of the world. For that, this city has conquered my heart.
Just like my daughter says...
Dubai. Enough said.
Although he typically uses his aircraft for business and pleasure trips, our principal's high level of commitment to philanthropy demands an aircraft fully capable of sustaining his charitable missions. He and his wife are widely recognized as active humanitarians, providing aid and relief to multiple organizations around the world. In our home country of the United States, we have visited numerous children's hospitals, and esteemed universities, admiring our employer and his family for selflessly offering their time and resources to help improve the lives of our nation's young people. Overseas, similar acts of inspiration occur regularly. With our Legacy 650, our principal and his wife are able to visit places where their generosity is most needed. They meet the people who maintain these charitable organizations, and those who depend daily on the kindness of others. The connections that are formed during these visits are invaluable, and the warmth and humanity that we witness is tangible. These meaningful relationships are the result of, and the driver for, our principal's continued benevolence, at home and abroad.
Like our company, Embraer has taken a proactive approach to building and fostering a sustainable future, worldwide. For example, the company's high school program in São Jose dos Campos prepares students for an evolving, world-wide society at no cost to their families. Embraer doesn't just provide aircraft support to our endeavors; they encourage the ideals and values that we share in everything they do. Synergetic views like this are very important to us. These shared beliefs bring people closer together in a world that seems to grow smaller every day.
We depart Thailand shortly, knowing that we will be back again shortly to follow up on the charitable opportunity we came to investigate. A final THANK YOU to those we met during our visit. We can only hope to reciprocate your unrelenting hospitality one day soon.
Our flight plan and miles traveled
Pinned! With the Embraer pin.
They let me drive the bus!
When I started my flying career I lived inside one of these while attending flight training in Florida.
1 November 2014
Good morning from Chiang Mai!
We got here last evening. This place is completely out of the fast track world, but the high end tourism attraction is strongly established here, beginning with lavish hotel accommodations. We are at Le Meridien luxury resort, and I could definitely see myself here for a few more days. There is much to see, and we are all finding exotic treasures during our spare time that we plan to take home to share with our friends and family.
We can clearly see that the suitcases are becoming heavier with each stop. With 1,000 lbs of baggage carrying ability, we have no trouble accommodating the extra shopping bags and the bulging suitcases. Our passengers have been able to optimize the abundance of baggage compartment space, utilizing every space with much left to spare! They have multi-packed, meaning they have different suitcases for different locations. Hanging bags for dresses and business suits; golf bags awaiting the fairways; parkas and sweaters standing by for colder climates... All of it fits neatly into the aircraft until needed.
Thanks for following along, my friends, and keep sharing your photos on your social media pages! We love to see photos of you all showing your support for our team as we find ourselves nearing the end of our journey!
Since we are headed around the world and time is a constant topic in our conversations, I thought that giving the crew matching watches would be a significant gift after we complete 1 year together.
Wednesday, 29 October 2014
Those of us traveling aboard our Legacy 650 have been settled into yet another hotel since Tuesday. We will spend a bit more time here before departing on Friday - Singapore is one of our most relaxing stops. It has been nice to see some new sights, although the view in the cockpit is never unpleasant. Tomorrow we will spend some time with our supporters at Embraer's office in Singapore. I always enjoy meeting with people who have been helping us from a distance. The fact that we are always welcomed as friends is a quality that remains constant throughout all of our Embraer encounters.
The hotels we stay in are nice, as you can imagine. Picture us walking through a cavernous reception lobby, being welcomed by a desk full of smiling hotel staff. The staggering number of reward points that a pilot carries with him typically warrants V.I.P. status among the Property Managers, so we are treated very well. Still, the Legacy really feels like the closest thing to "home" that we can find on a journey like this. Having the flexibility to live on your own schedule is rare, especially in the sky, but our aircraft never limits the way that our principals live their busy lives.
For example, our team prepares for every flight by planning a thematic value to add to the experience, no matter how short the flight may be. Everything from catering to decorations is tailored to that theme, whether it relates to destinations, seasons, or just an idea that we decided to explore. Once the theme is chosen, we are constantly amazed to watch Sim, our In-Flight Concierge pull decorations out of storage and set the stage. Somehow, we have been flying around the world with a selection of menus and decor that Martha Stewart would be proud of! All of this intimate festivity is greatly appreciated by our passengers.
Privacy can be a scarcity when traveling, even flying in first class, or staying in the most luxurious of hotels (some of which are located right here in Singapore, by the way!). One of the advantages on the Legacy 650 is the ability to close the galley's pocket doors, giving our passengers complete privacy. Behind these beautiful closed doors, we prepare meals discreetly, utilize the Crew bathroom... we even use this area to simply stretch and talk, never interfering with the passengers' flight experience. With a hand picked crew and an aircraft that delivers an unbelievably quiet passenger experience, our principals are assured that their private matters and business enterprises will remain private.
Friday, 24 October 2014
Sapporo – Tokyo (some thoughts)
Such a long flight to Tokyo through Sapporo required a high dosage of concentration! We had to use all of the onboard technology to deal with the quick changes in arrival procedures, approaches, and runway assignments! I have spent many years flying, but the absolute need for technology in the cockpit has never been more obvious to me than it is today. Without all of this at our fingertips in such complex air spaces, we would be far behind the curve.
During our flight across the ocean, we had emailed the Contact Center using our Global Internet system. We mentioned that we had a galley food preparation table that would not operate quite correctly, and a refrigerator that was not cooling as much as we'd like. Our expectation was just to provide notification to the Contact Center so that we could have these items rectified when we returned to our base in Orlando, Florida. How surprised were we when Embraer had already made plans to resolve these minor issues upon our arrival to Singapore! Now THAT'S true customer support at the highest level!
Whenever I provide consulting services to future aircraft buyers who are either purchasing their first aircraft or right-sizing their fleet, I apply a "Global Excellence" approach to the process. To me, this means emphasizing the importance of long-term relationships when selecting a product, or brand. Twice today, we witnessed examples of the long-term investment that Embraer has in its products and its people. Around the world, Embraer proves itself time again as an OEM, a Partner, and a friend. Our relationship with the men and women of Embraer solidly confirm the confidence we have in our purchase.
Anime craze in Tokyo
Parked in Tokyo
Shortly after arrival in Tokyo, Japan.
We are not the only Legacy 650 in Tokyo!
Our flight map from Sapporo to Tokyo.
A rainy, yet beautiful day in Tokyo.
Exploring history in Kyoto, Japan.
Friday, 24 October 2014
Sapporo – Tokyo
We departed Sapporo in the afternoon for our next leg to Tokyo, leaving behind a superb ground support team now decorated with shiny, silver Embraer Birds! All of us were treated so well by this team that we were happy to share these highly sought-after lapel pins. If you are lucky enough to have one too, we would love to see pictures of you and The Bird on your social media pages! Post photos of you with The Bird, using some of the hashtags we suggest (below) to share your support For The Journey!
We landed in Tokyo today and were immediately welcomed by Elton Lima, Field Support Services Representative from Embraer's Singapore office. He was here to make sure we received the support and assistance that Embraer is known for around the world. The airplane performed flawlessly on this complex flight, and I would love nothing more than to share all of the benefits that make the Legacy 650 the perfect flying machine for our voyage. But, needless to say, jet lag has taken its toll... With unmatched efficiency, we were escorted through security procedures and whisked off to our next hotel. I now eagerly await some resemblance of a sunset in order to draw the window shades down and go get some sleep!
Don't forget, my friends, I am here to share my travels with you, so please feel free to ask me anything. I am eager to address your questions in my spare time!
The flight map of our trip from Anchorage, Alaska to Sapporo, Japan.
The Globe - the Distance. Anchorage, Alaska - Sapporo, Japan.
Thursday, 23 October 2014
Anchorage - Sapporo
Part of having a successful operation is to have a strong operations team supporting the Crew, we just can’t do it alone. This evening, our partners at ABS Jets (operators of seven Legacy aircraft) alerted us of the very strong wind flow over the North Atlantic routes and suggested a stop. Although it normally takes three days for permits to be arranged, the ABS Dispatch team managed to secure all permissions for a stop in Sapporo before we continue on to Tokyo.
Having the ability to use CPDLC and ADS-B on the Legacy 650 gives us an amazing advantage. We have the ability to digitally send our position reports and the privilege to be monitored by air traffic control continuously, even in areas not serviced by radar. Some might think that this advantage is only applicable while crossing the ocean, but, for example, we used it just yesterday for the entire route over Canada. The ADS-B provides us with enhanced traffic avoidance and awareness safety, and the ability to clearly identify the air traffic around us in remote regions.
With our global Internet system and satellite phone, our CEO can stay in touch with our head office and continue to make critical decisions while in flight. This alone justifies his investment in the Legacy 650.
At the FBO in Anchorage, Alaska
Arriving in Alaska
Another selfie, this time in Anchorage, Alaska
Our morning crew in Anchorage, Alaska. From left to right, Andre, Garry, and Juvenal.
Taking pictures of the sunrise in Alaska as we depart for Japan.
Landed in Japan! Refueling.
In Japan with ground support and the Embraer pin.
We landed in Tokyo and were greeted by Elton from Singapore's Embraer office, who was there to make sure we received the support and assistance Embraer is well-known for.
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Naples – Chicago
We safely arrived in Anchorage today after nine hours of solid flying. We were greeted by stunning vistas and the friendly staff at Great Circle Aviation. We could see over 200 miles with crystal clear weather. Thanks to the SATCOM system, we were able to research an excellent restaurant and make dinner reservations for our principal and his family before we deplaned in Alaska. They were quite impressed, of course.
Now we are off to the hotel for some much needed rest. Tomorrow – Japan!
Flight track to Chicago
As we were leaving the Chicago FBO, a Lineage 1000 pulled in.
Arriving in Chicago
Tuesday's send-off: Embraer Executives wish Andre and his team "boa viagem" as they depart from NBAA 2014.
The Legacy 650 just before taking off for a 21 days journey around the world
Andre, the pilot taking the Legacy 650 on the around-the-world journey
Andre's first selfie, the first of many during this journey.
Good times during the brief sendoff ceremony with family, friends, and the Embraer Executive Jets team
The sendoff ceremony included Brad McKeage (left) - Embraer Executive Jets' VP of Flight Operations
Always good to listen to our customers. Jose Costas (left), the VP of Marketing and Andre Fodor(right), the Legacy 650 pilot.
A brief exchange before take off
Getting ready for pre-flighting
Stepping onto foreign land is humbling. Every time. My own importance is tossed out of the spotlight, and into perspective, as reality illustrates how infinitesimal each of us truly is. Nothing in these foreign places is mine except a bag and its contents. The air we breathe, the waters we’ve crossed… even the sky that seems to be our only companion in flight – none of it belongs to us. We share this world with so many people, so many cultures, and each time we land, the tremendous range of diversity leaves me feeling momentarily lost. I am forced to abandon all that is familiar to me, to constantly remind myself that this place was not designed for me, but for its people. This discomfort is the greatest gift, in my opinion. It allows me to approach everything with humility, as if for the first time. On our journeys, we take nothing for granted.
The life of a pilot is blessed, and brutal. We have studied for years, trained and re-trained, pored over countless charts and forms, and sacrificed terrestrial comforts, all for the sake of airborne freedom. We touch the skies, reaching heights that some people will only ever dream about. We are aviators. We see the world in a different way. Today we have begun our epic journey around the world and we invite you to see it with us.
It was Andre Fodor who first came to Embraer Executive Jets, telling us about his plans to fly around the world in the Legacy 650 he pilots for his employer. His excitement was infectious, and together our teams have worked hard with tremendous enthusiasm, preparing men and machine for this elaborate three-week mission.
From the U.S. to Asia, through the Middle East and onward to Europe, we will be monitoring the progress of our friends, ensuring their safe passage as they explore the world. We are honored to support Andre, Claudio, and Sim during their travels. With much gratitude, and on behalf of everyone at Embraer Executive Jets, we wish the entire team the very best of experiences.