Jetstar’s new 787 is here

Jetstar 787-8 Arrives in Melbourne

Jetstar 787-8 Arrives in Melbourne

Jetstar’s shiny new 787-8 arrived in Melbourne on October 9th and we were there to greet it. From being beside the runway to video the arrival, near the fire trucks for the water cannon salute and in the hangar for the celebrations, Team PCDU captured lots of content from the event.

We’ll be including the interviews we recorded in our next episode (in final production at the moment) and loading photos on our Flickr stream & videos on our YouTube channel (as soon as Grant gets them loaded :) ).

Our thanks to Jetstar Australia for inviting us to attend and helping coordinate our access to staff for interviews.

PCDU Episode 92: Helene Young – A Novel Approach to Flying

Episode 92 Cover Art

Kathy Mexted joins Steve & Grant to interview Helene Young, a Dash-8 pilot who’s written three great books based around pilots flying for Australia’s border patrol in the far north of Queensland. In addition to being a captain with the regionals, Helene has managed to juggle her home & social life with work and writing, producing three great books in a relatively short period of time.

Her first book (Wings of Fear) was released in 2011 and throws two female pilots & their crew against a bunch of terrorists attempting to infiltrate the country through the vast, empty stretches of coastline and baked earth in Australia’s north. The second book (Shattered Sky) was released earlier this year and takes one of the pilots into a whole new adventure deep in the Australian outback while Helene’s third book (Burning Lies) has just been released, bringing closure to the trilogy.

We chat with Helene about her career in aviation, what it’s like flying the Dash 8, where she gets her inspiration & ideas for her stories and much more. You can find additional information about Helene & her books via her website and follow her on Twitter via @HeleneYoung.

Helene with her latest book’s promotional poster

The whole episode unfolds as:

  • 0:02:44 – Our chat with Helene.
     
  • 0:42:58 – Steve’s interview with Peter Sobey, the Director and Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) at Sharp Airlines.
     
  • 0:54:11 – Grant’s chat with Chris Dewhirst, the first person to fly a hot air balloon over Mt Everest and also the person who started commercial hot air balloon flights over the city of Melbourne way back in 1986.
     
  • 1:01:54 – Anthony Simmons returns with another “View from the Lounge” segment that takes us Up, Up & Away in a continuation of the ballooning theme.
     
  • 1:06:51 – Our shout-outs this episode include:
    • Kathy says “Hi” to Mike Williamson (her newest online follower).
       
    • Gary Clarkson let us know about the Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre‘s project to restore an Avro Anson plus their fly-in event coming up on October 20th.
       
    • The great New Zealand De Havilland Mosquito restoration project is coming along very nicely with first flight planned for September 29th at Ardmore in Auckland.
       
    • The “Will It Fly” project is almost ready to fly their Pearse replica (check them out on Facebook).
       
    • If you’re not already aware of it, you should be listening to the Wings Over New Zealand podcast, a great effort by Dave Homewood with awesome content that’s well worth listening to.

PCDU Episode 89: RA-Aus NatFly 2012

Way back in April, Steve & ATC Ben flew “Ben Air” from Lilydale (YLIL) to Temora (YTEM) for the RA-Aus NatFly 2012 event, leaving Grant behind in Melbourne attempting to recover from bronchitis. While not as vibrant as 2011, there was still plenty of activity to keep Steve & Ben busy recording the following items:

  • 0:02:46 – Introduction to NatFly 2012
  • 0:03:25 – RA-Aus directors Steve Runcleman & Steve Tizzard discuss the event
  • 0:10:55 – Rohan Wittington talks about the amazing Petrel Amphibian
  • 0:18:28 – Chris Cabot from Wagga Air Centre discusses the Tecnam P2006T
  • 0:28:07 – Peter Wezenbeek walks us through the Wingmate Data Recorder
  • 0:33:02 – Andrew Tricket & his team will be releasing Sport Pilot TV in the very near future
  • 0:39:22 – Graeme from Stawell Aviation steps us through the Air Safaris they run
  • 0:45:51 – Chris Brandon at AirCreation Australia has some very cool trikes available (you know Grant wants to fly them, right? :)
  • 0:54:07 – Greg Robertson from Best Off Aircraft Australia had the Nynja on site for people to examine
  • 0:59:15 – Bas & Rowan from OzRunways talk about their presence at NatFly, the workshops they were running and their future plans for the software
  • 1:09:57 – Steve & Ben wrap up their NatFly 2012 experiences

ATC Ben preparing “Ben Air VH-RCR” for the great journey north

At 1:17:12 Steve, Ben & Grant have a chat about NatFly then we launch into an ATC Q&A where Ben answers questions about runway incursions plus aircraft callsigns and how ICAO handles them.

At 1:29:12 we then move into Listener Mail:

  • Lavan Ruben is a 14 year old aviation enthusiast who got to visit the 787 ZA003 at Melbourne (YMML), posting some videos on his YouTube channel: My Travels and Spotting
  • Jack Miller wrote in to say Hi and talk about his Aussie aviation blog General Aviation Australia
  • Andrew Brown writes in from the UK to say he really enjoyed the Geoff Whitty interview
  • Howard McClernon writes in to say he’s been sifting through the archives and enjoyed Lang Kidby’s talk about his flight re-enactments wwaaayyyy back in Episode 14

Temora’s making us all feel welcome

We then wrap up the episode (1:34:46) with a chat about helping to keep councillors from contemplating the closure of Kyneton airfield near Melbourne then a great shout out (at 1:36:50) to GippsAero for the first flight of their GA10 turboprop aircraft.

Notes:
* The Aus Air Services advert is provided courtesy of Star FM 94.3

PCDU Episode 88: Dreamtime

787 Dreamliner (photo by Steven Pam)

787 ZA003 provides our Cover Art for this episode

Boeing have been taking their 787 Dreamliners on the DreamTour, a series of 7 multi-stop flights, or segments, that take one of the 787 test aircraft around the world. Each segment visits multiple countries, allowing airlines & invited guests to get up close to the advanced new airliner. Perhaps saving the best for last, the DreamTour came to the Dreamtime during it’s 7th segment. As part of this segment, the aircraft visited Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Auckland (yes, that’s New Zealand, we know) and then on to Cairns before heading north of the equator once again.

Team PCDU were invited to tour the 787 while it was in Melbourne as guests of Qantas & Jetstar. Despite the cold, grey weather & occasional rain, our spirits were high & we were excited to once again encounter the Dreamliner. We’d met ZA001 at Oshkosh 2011 but been too busy to go through the interior so with ZA003 parked on the BAe Systems ramp, this was our chance to finally check out the cockpit.

After chatting with Reid Templin, one of Boeing’s flight test engineers, we recorded an interview with Captain Todd Abraham, one of the Boeing 787 technical pilots flying the aircraft on segment #7. Todd answered our questions about the training program, the electric brakes, the engines, the fly-by-wire system, adherence to the Boeing philosophy and the tactile feedback provided by the control yoke & throttles. Like the other Boeing airliners, the computer systems on the 787 supplement & assist the pilot but do not override, despite being fully computerised.

Our interview with Todd starts at 02:11.

Steve & Grant on the Flight Deck of 787 ZA003

Following this interview we climbed on board and checked out the cockpit (cool!!!!!) before heading back through the demonstration interior which featured example seating arrangements, galleys, toilets, large dimmable windows, high ceilings (with the new storage bins) & crew rest areas. All very impressive but the chance to hang out & chat with some more Boeing flight test engineers at the rear of the aircraft & talk about systems, structures & designs was fascinating.

Eventually we left & went back down to the tarmac to get some more photos of engines, landing gear, vents, inlets & more. From there we returned to the bus & went back to our vehicles, coming back to the reality of a cold, grey Melbourne day.

Team PCDU would like to thank Qantas & Jetstar for inviting us to join the 787 DreamTour here in Melbourne. We’d also like to thank Boeing for bringing the 787 down under and for allowing us to interview Captain Todd Abraham as well as spend so much time chatting with their flight test engineers.

Naturally, we’ve loaded our photos from the day as a 787 set on our Flickr stream for you to check out. We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and that you can appreciate the need to balance a short-length ‘quick-cast’ episode against getting our interview published while the DreamTour is still underway.

Notes:
* Cover art image courtesy of Steven Pam from SmartShots
* Thanks to Owen Zupp and also the crew at Junior Flyer for technical help with this episode
* Intro by Andrea Crook of Scripts & Voices

PCDU Episode 87: Wings Over Illawarra 2012

HARS Connie flying at Wings Over Illawarra 2012The Great PCDU Road Trip of 2012 covered over 1,700km in the course of a single weekend. From late on Friday night to early on Monday morning, Steve, Grant & Allan drove from Melbourne up to Wollongong (just south of Sydney) to attend the Wings Over Illawarra 2012 air show. Firmly ensconced in the Southern Biplanes hangar with a great view of the show unfolding beyond “Lilly Warra” (their big red Boeing Stearman), the mobile studio was set up (thanks Allan! :) allowing Steve, Grant & Anthony Crichton-Browne to record stacks of great content.

Most of that content has wound up in this episode, although we have saved a couple of bits for later. For now, kick back & enjoy:

  • 0:03:19 – Flying Officer Daniel Kruger & Warrant Officer Brett Lewis from RAAF 37SQN talk about operating the C130J Hercules (& a bit about the C130H too)
  • 0:16:35 – Joel Haski (Red Baron) & Jeff Criddle (Combat Dragon) talk about flying the A37 Dragonfly to & from the show
  • 0:19:13 – Lieutenant Commander Todd Glynn & Lieutenant Rob McBeeth from the RAN walk us through their careers getting to the SH60B along with a few typical missions and the Kanimbla Blackhawk crash
  • 0:38:17 – Andrew Musgrove from Southern Biplanes talks about the company and the adventure flights they’re offering
  • 0:45:01 – Barry Sandry, Marketing Manager for NSW Air, talks about the Commercial Pilot training courses & charter/scenic flights they offer
  • 0:52:28 – Army Red Berets Parachute Jump Instructor Warrant Officer Adam Paris tells us what it’s like to become a paratrooper & get on the Red Berets demo team
  • 1:11:13 – Chris Clark, chief pilot for Southern Biplanes, tells us how he got into flying, why they got a Boeing Stearman (and where they found it) and what’s involved in their barnstorming adventures in rural NSW
  • 1:18:37 – Harry Mitchell from Australian Aerial Patrol talks about their history and current fleet
  • 1:28:34 – James Gray, Officer Commanding of the Australian Air League‘s Albion Park Unit (and brother of Dave Gray from the Lifestyle PodNetwork :) runs us through the benefits & goals of the AAL

Finally, at 1:40:07, we start to wrap up the episode with a series of big “Thank You’s” to:

  • Southern Biplanes for the use of their facility during the day
  • Owen Zupp for letting us take a break at his place on the way to Wollongong (ace hot cross buns, mate! :)
  • The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) for putting on such a fantastic event and also giving us full access to the show (thanks to Russell Field for the safety walk around & the parking permit :)
  • Josh Masterton for his help on the weekend
  • Allan Van’t Padge for his fantastic support as PCDU Roadie & for riding shotgun the whole way up & back. We couldn’t have done half as well without you, mate! :)

Lilly Warra, Southern Biplane's Boeing Stearman

Southern Biplane's Stearman

With luck, we’ll recover in a few weeks and be ready for the next epic journey, but for now, we’re already working on the next couple of episodes :)

Notes:
* Cover art image courtesy of Cameron Hines

PCDU Episode 79: Flying Low

Steve’s finally picked up his instructor’s rating although it’s in trains, not aircraft, but don’t worry, we’re not switching the show over to Train Crazy Down Under :)

Once again we’re joined by Kathy Mexted and this time we’re discussing what’s involved in being an Ag Pilot and how the industry has developed here in Australia. We then switch to Kathy’s interview with Georgia Maxwell in Gunnedah. Georgia is the first female ag pilot in Australia qualified to fly the Air Tractor 802 with Pay’s Air Service. Georgia discusses what it’s like working in the Aerial Application world (aka being an Ag Pilot).

After the interview we talk about the Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia and how the season is booming following the breaking of the drought. Anthony Crichton-Browne joins us to continue talking about Ag pilots & the nature of their work.

Anthony has recently been at Red Baron Australia’s open day chatting with Joel Haski and the guys from Combat Dragon who are now basing their A37 at Red Baron’s hangar. We get to sit in on a Combat Dragon briefing, then listen to the sound of the A37 starting its engines before discussing the A37’s typical departure from Bankstown (YSBK).

We then play Anthony’s chat with Joel Haski about the latest developments at Red Baron and their new hangar facility. Anthony talks briefly with Jeff from Combat Dragon about their missions and working with Red Baron. You can hear more about Combat Dragon from an interview Anthony had with them in episode 2 of his podcast, Flying Ant.

Next up, Pieter Johnson from XTP Media in the UK takes time out from his “Across the Pond” segment in the Airplane Geeks to bring us his first “From Up Here to Down There” report. In today’s report, he provides an interview with Matt Falcus about his Far East and Australasia airport spotting guide. If you’re spotting in the Asia/Pacific area, you should check out Matt’s book.

Having listened to Pieter’s chat with Matt, Anthony chats with us about a pilot’s view of the ‘plane spotters’ he sees at most of the major Australian airports.

After the break, we return to Grant’s chat with Geoff Morrison from GT Gyroplanes at Echuca. We talk about Geoff’s background in aviation in New Zealand hunting deer & working on warbirds before he came over to Australia to work on gyroplanes with his brother Alistair. After that we get into a discussion about gyroplanes in general, the Australian Sports Rotorcraft Association (ASRA) and their Kruza gyroplane in particular.

We then have a discussion about gyrocopters before bringing Pieter Johnson back onto the show to chat with us about his background in aviation, his goals for linking Australian/NZ flying with the UK and his interview with his father.

Moving onto Listener Mail, we have:

  • Andrew Brown from the UK talking about our Qantas Grounding episode
  • Voice mail from Ian Kershaw in Canada
  • Chris Howard-Bath who likes the C130 & works with ATC Ben
  • Peter Anderson talks about our website

If you want us to send you a CD copy of our content, please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:

PO Box 70
Cranbourne VIC 3977
Australia

Don’t forget about our Aus Air Services + PCDU BBQ & Fly In on December 17th at Tooradin Airport (YTDN). Come on down and say HI, folks :)

The Aus Air Services advert is provided courtesy of Star FM 94.3

PCDU Episode 66: That Wasn’t in the Script!

It’s been a while since we got down & dirty with the Australian commercial airline scene so with that in mind, we called up Ben Sandlilands from the PlaneTalking blog on Crikey.com.au for a chat. There’s some amazing developments going on in the “big iron” side of people moving here in Australia and we went through the following subjects:

  • The joys of ash clouds (Thanks Chile!)
  • Virgin Australia taking on Qantas & Jetstar with their new pricing structures & business class, including just what kind of passenger they were targeting at the front of the cabin
  • Qantas & JetStar’s industrial issues with their unions
  • Tiger regrouping & focusing on routes where it can do the most damage to the others (watch out Melbourne <-> Sydney and maybe even the Golden Triangle of Melbourne, Sydney & Brisbane)
  • Strategic’s foray into the Pacific

In this episode we also include an interview with Kathy Mexted, a freelance writer who we met *way* back at the Centenary of Flight airshow in 2010. Flying is in Kathy’s blood by birth & by marriage and she’s been writing articles for a variety of aviation magazines as well as working on a book about being the spouse of an airline pilot. We’re very happy to announce that Kathy’s also going to be producing some content for us in the near future mostly covering Recreational & General Aviation areas.

Finally, we’re including some new music in our show as Steve’s found out about the royalty free production music by JewelBeat. Watch out for whole new background tracks & cross-over music in this & future episodes :)

PCDU Episode 52: The Misty Dawn of Avalon

Every two years Avalon Airport is the home to one of the biggest airshows & aviation expositions in the Southern Hemisphere (the biggest, according to many). One of Australia’s premier aviation events, Avalon Airshow (also known as the Australian International Airshow) draws aircraft from around the world and attracts scores of people from the general public through to aviation enthusiasts & professionals, especially for the Friday night airshow.

From the early days of the airshows produced by the Schofields Flying Club through to today, a consistent presence throughout it all has been Ian Honnery. CEO of Airshows Downunder. We were fortunate to spend some time with Ian to discuss the history of the Avalon Airshow and it makes for fascinating listening.

Sadly, our sound gear wasn’t configured correctly for the space we were in and so the audio quality is not up to our show’s (and especially Steve’s :) usual standards. The content itself is incredible so after doing as much work as could be done to correct the sound issues, we’re finally able to release this interview. Our thanks go to Domenic at Audio Visual Media for his help in massaging the raw audio.

We’re looking forward to attending the airshow in March this year as it will be the 90th anniversary of the RAAF. Look out for more content about Avalon, how it’s managed and what to expect this year as we get closer to March 1st.

PCDU Episode 47: Bull Me!

The 2010 RedBull AirRace season was exciting, eventful and disappointing all at once. From Adilson Kindleman’s crash in Perth to Hannes Arch’s pylon hit and Matt Hall’s “walk on water” incident, G-Stalls were everywhere. Then came the news that the last two races were cancelled and, finally, that the whole 2011 season was cancelled. As if the end of the season wasn’t bad enough, we were all stunned by the news that Alejandro Maclean had died in an aerobatic training accident.

We have already presented our “End of Season” chats with Hannes Arch and Matt Hall in previous episodes so in this one, we present our chats with Nigel Lamb and Pete McLeod.

We also officially announce the winners of our Flight City Simulator Centre B777 sim session prize (Graham Neal) and two runners up (Greg Spencer & David Mitchell), both of whom win PCDU T-Shirts.

We talk briefly about Qantas’ recent 90th Birthday event at Melbourne airport and play the quick chat we recorded with Juan Serrano, John Travolta’s chief pilot.

After another View from the Lounge segment, this time paying tribute to those serving in the military, we dive into our mailbag:

  • Steve Horton form Perth is worried that the RedBull AirRace will never return to Perth and lets us know about his great photo site
  • Peter Baxter wrote in asking about jet engine technology and again to share a great story about an Air New Zealand DC10 that helped a ferry flight in trouble over the Pacific
  • “brettkp” has some great feedback about episode 46 in our forums on Downwind

We give a shout-out to Pieter Johnson (@NascotHornet) in the UK who has just become a very proud father: welcome Beatrice :)

PCDU Episode 33: Four Degrees of Separation from Ben Sandilands

In this episode we join noted aviation journalist Ben Sandilands from Plane Talking to review the latest news & information. When we called Ben, he was experiencing a heat wave of 11 degrees Celsius at his home in the mountains near Canberra. Meanwhile, here in Melbourne we were thinking winter was upon us as the temperature dipped to 15 degrees Celsius. Four degrees of separation but a very different pair of perspectives on cold vs hot.

Fortunately, we were all spot on with our news analysis, including such topics as:

  • Use of composites in airliners and the indications that it won’t really be effective for another 10 to 20 years
  • QANTAS still claiming that they’re going to get their 787-9s on a date that would be before Air New Zealand (the launch customer) despite Boeing making a statement contradicting this
  • The changes that are afoot with the Virgin Blue group being under new leadership:
    • Brett Godfrey’s farewell bash
    • John Borghetti not getting the top job at QANTAS but, perhaps, getting something better with running Virgin Blue
    • Fleet choices and the possibility that they’ll get A330s or B767s, especially on high density routes like Sydney to Melbourne
    • The likelihood that they’ll rebrand the group (Virgin Blue, V Australia, Pacific Blue, Polynesian Blue) under a single name
  • Singapore Airlines having veto rights over the name Virgin for any new international airline
  • Tiger Airways recording a profit and becoming more of a stable, solid threat in the market
  • Australia’s transport minister Anthony Albanese wanting to restrict cockpit access to only the two pilots flying and any check pilots or safety reviewers
  • The F35 and how Australia seems to be one of the few countries NOT getting upset about all the delays and problems

After chatting with Ben, we have an interview with James Baldwin & Glen Somerville from EmptyJets, an organisation that gives you the chance to get rides in charter aircraft that would otherwise be flying empty on positioning flights. From helicopters to Gulfstream Vs, they’re all on the list and well worth checking out.

After that we dive into the mail bag where:

  • Matt McCabe compares the cost of learning to fly here in Australia against the USA
  • Errol Cavit enjoyed the Red Bull show and will be catching up with us when he comes over from New Zealand (for a Sci Fi convention, no less)
  • Vince Bezzina who volunteers at the RAAF Museum at Point Cook was checking if we knew about the DC6 coming to Australia from South Africa. Oh yes, do we ever!

We also have a couple of shout outs to:

  • Damien Rose who is now a private pilot and on his way to a commercial license (and speaking of the cost of learning – Damien sold his house to fund all this! He must have a VERY understanding wife, that’s for sure :)
  • Steve Cooke from the Flying Podcast in the UK has released his latest episode on a topic that’s very important for Grant: ballooning