PCDU Episodes:

Here is a full list of all PCDU Episodes since #1 back in 2009. Click on a title to visit the episode page & download or listen to the episode from there.

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 53: A Ditch, Some Dutch & De-Icing

Steve & Grant are joined once again by Bas Scheffers from Adelaide to discuss a few items, including:

  • A follow up to the ADSB discussion we had with Bill Hamilton back in episode 48
  • A discussion of the iPhone/iPad application Bas & a partner have been developing called OzRunways covering what it does & how it came to be
  • The revelation that Grant actually doesn’t like the TV show “Ice Pilots” (oh, the shame! :)
  • Parafield airshow is changing dates to March 25th, 2012 due to weather concerns and to help ensure more Australian Defence Force assets will be available
  • Avalon is coming up soon
  • Bas is going to Oshkosh and as we may not be able to make it, he may have to be the PCDU correspondent for us (not sure how we’ll get him a more Australian accent though!)
  • Hassling Bas to provide a bio for the PCDU “About Us” page

We also have another great chat with our man “Across the Ditch,” Dan Morris from New Zealand, including:

As if all this wasn’t enough, we also have a chat with James Williams from the Podcaster’s Emporium about his recent Business Class trip with Emirates across the ditch to New Zealand & back.

Finally, we wrap up the show with some Listener Mail & Shout Outs, including:

  • Bill Morelli from the USA who flies a Zenith Zodiac (nice plane!)
  • Paul Bridges who supplied the photo of the Qantas DC3 that graces this episode’s notes
  • Colin Sweetman from the UK who has started getting back into his flying and wants to do aerobatics (YES!!!! says Grant :) and also offered to be our tour guide to a number of aviation museums if we can get there (we’ll hold you to that, Colin! :)
  • And finally, a big shout out to the people who decided to take part in the “$50 for Episode 50” concept – thanks folks!

PCDU Episode 49: Hovering Matilda

Rosemary Arnold learned to fly fixed wing in the early 60s then converted helicopters in the mid-60’s, becoming the first woman in Australia to receive a helicopter pilot’s license. From operating her own helicopter business in Australia to flying in locations around the world, Rosemary has had an extensive career in aviation. She has also written a number of books, lectures on aviation history and join the public speaking circuit. As a registered celebrant, she also runs “Chapel in the Sky” performing weddings in a helicopter above Sydney harbour. We chat with Rosemary about her career and her new book, First Females Above Australia, a presentation of the pioneering women involved in aviation in Australia.

We also chat with Dan Morris, a flight instructor in New Zealand who’s joined us previously in a few of our Australia Desk adventures. Dan joins us to discuss his aviation career to date and the flying scene in New Zealand. He also anticipates providing more New Zealand related content in the new year.

This episode is rounded out with another Controller’s Corner segment where ATC_Ben answers some of the many questions that have been raised in our forums and via email. We then move on to listener mail:

  • Braham Sacks asks about careers in aviation
  • Ian Kershaw from Canada has a blog & podcast page that’s worth checking out
  • Luke Murphy writes in from China where he’s working as a pilot
  • Ed Stubbs sent in a link to an interview with one of the pilots from QF32 (the Qantas A380 that had a massive uncontained engine failure)
  • We mention that Anthony Simmons is looking for more feedback on his View from the Lounge segment

We also have some shout-outs:

  • Damian Rose has completed his MECIR and is now working on his Caravan endorsement – congratulations (and yes we are jealous! :) You can follow his details on his blog.
  • Robert E Coli from Thromby airlines has done another great cartoon showing Steve & Grant hard at work in the PCDU studio. You can see it in all it’s glory on our Facebook page.
  • Thanks to Michael & Roselyn from Downwind and the team at Moorabbin Flying Services (MFS) for a great BBQ the other weekend and for making discount TIFs/Check flights available

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 46: Qantas A380 incident – from the Ground Up

On November 4th, 2010 Qantas A380 VH-OQA (“Nancy Bird Walton”) was operating flight QF32 from Singapore to Sydney. During the climb out from Singapore, the number 2 Rolls Royce Trent 900 engine’s Intermediate Pressure Turbine appears to have failed and flown apart, sending bits through the aircraft’s wing in multiple locations and raining debris down on Batam island, Indonesia. After assessing the problem, determining their options and burning off fuel, the crew were able to return the aircraft to Singapore for a safe landing.

This incident, in conjunction with some other recent engine failures on Qantas 747s, has overshadowed Qantas’ 90th birthday celebrations. While the story is still unfolding and it will be some weeks before the ATSB’s preliminary investigations are completed, we have decided to quickly produce an episode dedicated to the incident.

To begin with, we talk to Captain Richard Woodward, Vice President of the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA). He discusses what the crew would have experienced on board as the incident unfolded, including the systems alerts & alarms, the processes to be followed and the roles over the various people on board. He also discusses the A380’s systems & redundancies and the options available to the crew when flying & landing a crippled aircraft.

We then chat with Steve Purvinas of the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) about the changes that have occurred in Qantas as they have moved from an exclusively in-house engineering operation to one that relies more on outsourced maintenance performed overseas. We discuss the implications of the changes and other paths Qantas could have followed.

This episode was conceived, implemented and released within the week of the incident occurring as we felt it important to present our listeners with good background information about the aircraft, the crew’s likely experience and some of the changes at Qantas that have seen their engineering force reduced significantly compared to their heyday of the 70’s & 80’s.

PCDU Episode 42: Wings Down Under

This episode we’re joined by Will Horton from the Wings Down Under blog to chat about recent aviation news items. We also have Anthony Simmons returning for another View from the Lounge segment and a chat with Damien Rose about his flight training up in Toowoomba. The episode wraps up with some listener mail and a shout out so it’s a little long but that should make up for the three Election QuickCast episodes we released recently :)

The list of topics we discussed with Will Horton include:

  • A review of the recent Asia/Pacific Aviation Outlook Summit in Sydney
  • The Asia/Pacific outlook for airlines includes a prediction for strong growth
  • “Buy local” for Russia (Sukhoi) & China (Comac) plus India building up its local aeronautics capabilities along with Mahindra & Mahindra buying into Australian aviation companies such as Gippsland Aeronautics
  • Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 777-300 and Airbus A350-900 order
  • V Australia’s 777 useage in Fiji & Bali plus the use of wide bodies (eg: 767/A330) on domestic routes due to slot restrictions
  • Qantas wanting to fly 787s into China & on to Europe
  • Jetstar being boosted over Qantas (if it’s new it’s JQ) and using Singapore as a hub into Europe
  • Qantas’s new smart card system for check-in that relies on elite frequent flyers who are with Qantas, not Jetstar
  • AirAsia setting up a Frequent Flyer program
  • Crawford Rix @ Tiger Airways is against frequent flyer programs as they’re anticompetitive and is hinting that Tiger could go down the RyanAir path (standing seats, pay loos, etc) – at least for the publicity :)
  • Customers in Australia and Asia/Pacific wanting a higher level of standards
  • Tiger setting up a franchise in Thailand (51% Thai owned but still Tiger Thailand)
  • China more likely to have standing seats as the Chinese can lay down the law for their own operations – no need to align with FAA/EASA standards although they’re investing in highspeed trains)
  • AirAsia wants to enter the Australian domestic & trans-tasman market
  • The high quality of the AirAsia experience (a discount carrier that doesn’t nickle & dime their passengers) will hit Jetstar hard
  • Pacific Blue is pulling out of the New Zealand domestic market
  • Repurposing of V Australia’s 777s off the Fiji route
  • United is not worried about Delta-V
  • Qantas’ financial results

Steve & Grant also talk afterwards about Virgin Blue’s financial results which came out after we spoke with Will, along with their news about adding A330s, dropping the E170s (while keeping the E190s) and linking up with Etihad.

PCDU Episode 38: Dick Smith: Around the World in Many Ways

Dick Smith is an entrepreneur well known to most Australians, ranging from the country wide chain of Dick Smith Electronics stores he created to Dick Smith Foods and Australian Geographic.

Another very important aspect of Dick’s life has revolved around aviation. In addition to owning & flying his own aeroplanes & helicopters, he has also flown around the world multiple times, made the first helicopter landing at the North Pole, and flown balloons across Australia as well as from New Zealand back to Australia (against the prevailing winds). He was on the board of (and then director of) both the Civil Aviation Authority and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Dick is also a very vocal champion of air space reform in Australia and aviation safety in general.

We were very fortunate to have been given some of Dick’s valuable time to discuss his early days learning to fly, his adventuring around the world and his thoughts on a number of different aircraft he’s owned & flown. We also touch briefly on his time with the CAA/CASA and his thoughts on aviation safety & airspace reform, all of which will be covered in more detail in future interviews we hope to bring you as soon as Dick’s schedule permits.

PCDU Episode 37: It’s “Flight Attendant,” Grant

It seems that Grant has always had troubles with the label “Flight Attendant” ever since his sister joined Australian Airlines and mistakenly told him she would be a “Trolley Dolly.” Ooops :)

In this episode we’re joined by Janene Murdoch, Tania Tracey and Amelia Kelly. Janene used to be a flight attendant with Ansett in the 70’s & 80’s, Tania was with Australian Airlines & Qantas in the 90’s and Amelia is currently working in the industry. We have a great chat with them comparing “then & now” in recruitment, work environments, passenger expectations and challenges.

It was a great chat and we hope to have the ladies back with us again in the future to continue exploring the “then & now” of being a flight attendant.

For those of you who want to keep up with Amelia’s latest news, you can follow her on Twitter (traytablestrvls) or through her blog (Tray Tables Travels).

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

PCDU Episode 30: Antarctica: The Last True Wilderness

The first aircraft to be used in Antarctica was Henry Mawson’s Vickers REP monoplane. Sadly, it had been damaged in Australia before arriving in Antarctica and was used as an “air tractor” to pull sleds. Even that didn’t work out and it was dumped, eventually being found again only recently.

Given that inauspicious start, it’s hard to believe that there are multiple ice & snow runways in Antarctica receiving visits from C130s, C17s and now an Australian A319 carries scientists on regular flights to the ice. It is also possible to go on one of the QANTAS sight seeing flights that are proving to be very popular with their great views of the ice & mountains.

With all this in mind, we decided to put together a special episode focusing on the land that’s even more “down under” than we are. To kick things off we have an interview with Captain Dan Colborne of Skytraders. Dan flies the Airbus A319/ACJ from Australia to the Wilkins Blue Ice runway in Australian Antarctic territory. He also flies the CASA 212-400 aircraft that are based in Antarctica for the summer, including the long ferry flights at the start & end of the season.

We chat with David Vanderhoof about Air New Zealand Flight 901, the DC-10 that tragically crashed on Mount Erebus during a sight seeing tour over Antarctica in the 70’s. We also discuss some of the other runways on Antarctica and the aircraft that visit them.

The final section in this episode has a discussion with Phil Asker from The Captain’s Choice Tours and Croydon Travel who has been arranging Antarctic sight seeing flights for many years. Working with QANTAS, the flights are in Boeing 747 or Airbus A380 aircraft and are very much in demand, especially the New Years Eve flight.

We talk with Phil about what’s involved in preparing the flights and what passengers can expect to encounter. We also talk with David Halls about what it was like as a passenger on the New Years Eve flight on Dec 31st, 2009. Finally, we prove that nepotism is alive & well in podcasting by bringing Grant’s sister Tania on the show to talk about her time working as a Trolley Dolly (sorry, Flight Attendant) on an Antarctic flight. She also gives Steve LOTS of material to use against Grant, much of it unfit for public consumption (even in the outtakes).

So, put your survival suit on and prepare to meet some penguins as we talk about Antarctica.