PCDU Episode 100: The Ton

Our 100th Episode – a Ton of great content

When we began producing this show WAY back in July 2009, we had no idea that we’d make it to 100 episodes, have travelled to multiple events within Australia, been to Oshkosh and be just about to cover a second Avalon Airshow with a bigger team than ever before. We’ve learned so much about producing a quality & enjoyable aviation show, had aviation related experiences we never dreamed of, dabbled with video production and even spun off a few side-projects for other shows. We’re also very appreciative of you, our audience. The fact that you’re all still here with us, telling us what we’re getting right (& wrong :) ) and enjoying the results of our efforts makes the late nights all worth while.

For this episode we’ve resisted the temptation to do a retrospective or rehash earlier content (except for a bit at the start & the end of the episode :) ). Instead, we’ve put together some interviews with well known people about a couple of up-coming events and a discussion about the dreaded Biennial Flight Review (BFR), now known as an Aeroplane Flight Review (AFR).

Here’s how Episode 100 unfolds:

  • 0:06:09 – Grant talks a little about his recent trip to Malaysia as a guest of Malaysia Airlines
     
  • 0:11:54 – ATC Ben talks about the proposed new Australian ATC Management system called oneSky with Lockheed Martin being demonstrating their SkyLine Enterprise system as a contender
     
  • 0:15:46 – We chat with Peter Meehan about his career as a RAAF Reserve media officer, doing air show commentary, being the “Voice of Avalon” and even learning to fly
     
  • Paul McKeown is a CFI with Recreational Flying Company in Gympie, QLD

    0:35:48 – Damien Rose talks about his recent Aeroplane Flight Review (AFR) that was previously referred to as the Biennial Flight Review (BFR). He then interviews Paul McKeown, CFI with Recreational Flying Company in Gympie, QLD & his instructor for the AFR
     
  • 1:19:14 – Matt Hall joins us once again to discuss a few things he’s working on including a day-long fly past of aircraft from Super Hornets to Tiger Moths as part of the Bicentennial celebrations for the first crossing of the Blue Mountains in Sydney. He also chats about his new book (The Sky is Not the Limit) and gives us an updated on whether the RedBull AirRace will ever return
     
  • 1:58:19 – We return to summarise the episode and review a few of the key points
     
  • 2:01:34 – Listener mail!
    • David Neafsey sent us a letter and a 100th birthday card – all via snail mail! Yes, remember that? Good thing we have a snail mail address, eh? (PO Box 70, Cranbourne VIC 3977)
    • Ian Kershaw from Calgary sent in an audio message
    • Steve at Warneet asks us to organise an interview with Judy Pay
    • “Mick from the Frankston Line” has sent us a number of great emails that have been a LOT of fun to read. Awesome stuff, mate!
    • Ryan Hothersall writes in to express his disdain of NIMBYS. No argument from us on that one!
    • We give a Shout Out to Carl Valeri from the Stuck Mic Avcast for gaining his A320 type rating! Well done, mate! :)
       
  • 2:10:57 – Steve’s wife Cathey finally joins us on the podcast and, of all events, it’s to help with the drawing of the winner of our “First to 750″ competition. The lucky winner is Gary Murphy who has scored himself a free Trial Introductory Flight with Aus Air Services at Tooradin (YTDN). WOO HOO! :)
     

So there you go, our 100th episode! Thanks to all our supporters for keeping us motivated and lets see how many of you are able to make it to Avalon 2013 :)

NOTE: Check out the blooper reel: It’s a quick montage of glitches from the past four years including our Australia Desk and Flying Down Under shows.

PCDU Episode 99: RAAF C-130H – Into History

C130H Farewell Cover Art

C-130H A97-005 with the ‘Farewell’ tail art

In November of 2012 the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) decommissioned their C-130H fleet, transitioning to the C-130J and reaching the end of an era for flight engineers & navigators in the Air Lift Group (ALG). We were fortunate enough to be invited to partake in some of the decommissioning events including a final media flight over Sydney Harbour, watching a formation flyby practice from RAAF Base Richmond’s control tower and the delivery of C-130H A97-011 to the RAAF Museum at Point Cook.

In the course of these events we obtained a number of great interviews with past & present air crew which are gathered here in our tribute episode to the C-130H in RAAF service:

  • 0:07:48 – Air Commodore Gary Martin’s (Commander Air Lift Group) press conference held on the ramp at RAAF Base Richmond before the Sydney Harbour media flight
     
  • 0:11:39 – RAAF C-130H pre-flight safety briefing
     
  • 0:17:25 – Onboard recording of C-130H engine startup & cruise sounds
     
  • 0:17:50 – Flight Lieutenant Tony Charles, pilot of A97-005 on the media flight over Sydney, discusses the flight
     
  • Steve gets to fly the C130H simulator

    0:19:54 – Flight Lieutenant Richard Aughie, C-130H flight simulator instructor, talks about C-130H performance specs, simulator training, his involvement in the C27J Spartan training program and Steve’s landings in the simulator
     
  • 0:31:41 – Phil Brown, a former RAAF Warrant Officer C130H Flight Engineer & now an instructor with CAE, talks about his RAAF career and the role of the Flight Engineer on the C130H
     
  • 0:54:37 – Squadron Leader Rob Sokol, pilot of the final flight of A97-011, talks about the flight to Point Cook, his time at 1FTS at Point Cook, his RAAF Reserve service and his “day job” as an A380 pilot
     
  • Special tail art for the C130H farewell

    1:00:29 – Air Vice Marshall (ret) Greg Evans (DSC, AM) talks about his RAAF career as a C130H pilot from 1983 to 1992 including:
    • His exchange posting to the USAF and Little Rock AFB with the 40th Tactical Airlift SQN between 1998-90 (which naturally leads to comparing notes with Steve about flying the skies of Arkansas :)
    • Some “interesting” missions & training flights he flew with the USAF & RAAF
    • Comparing the C130H to the older C130E
    • The differences encountered with the C130J
    • The advantages of the C27J Spartan
    • Being Commander Joint Task Force 633 MEAO (Iraq) during 2004 & 2005

Thanks to Eamon Hamilton (ALG Public Affairs Officer) & Ben Wickham (ADF Regional Public Affairs Officer for NSW) for arranging our access to the events & people so we could gather the content used in this episode.

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 84: Geoff Whitty: Pidgin Tales

The Apron at Aropa

We’re joined by Kathy Mexted and her brother Geoff Whitty who is a real adventurer, having worked in Papua New Guinea managing aviation operations. As we learn in this episode, he has a LOT of very interesting tales to tell.

Starting with Ansett in their reservation system, Geoff moved to Qantas and then in 1989 got a job working with Air New Guinea in Papua New Guinea (PNG). He’s now working with PNG’s 2nd largest RPT carrier managing airports & operations.

While there are some well built roads in parts of PNG (mostly thanks to the mining companies), air travel is one of the only viable methods of transporting people & equipment regularly about the rugged landscape. From Chevron’s “C130 Air Bridge” through to current “Fly In, Fly Out” (FIFO) mining operations, flying in PNG offers some amazing experiences for pilots with some saying 1 year in PNG is worth 10 years mustering cattle in the outback.

Customs & Quarantine Staff at Kieta

In addition to supply chain management & keeping mining operations happy, Geoff has also managed the training of PNG nationals who operate the airline, learn to fly and also do aircraft maintenance in-country (except for heavy maintenance). Thanks to the demands of the mining companies and CASA, they are, perhaps, the most audited aviation operation in the world.

A major aspect of having a foreign company in PNG is that they are required to train PNG nationals to fly aircraft, run the airline, and perform maintenance in-country (except for heavy maint). They are flying ATRs & Dash8s and Geoff believes the ATR is more suited to their needs than the Dash8, although they’re running both at the moment. They’ve also had Caribous & Dash-7s and are running a diverse range of helicopters as well as lighter aircraft from Twin Otters down.

As if the rugged environment and rapidly changing weather systems weren’t enough to cause problems flying or running an airline, people in Papua New Guinea also have to contend with tribal warfare, the volcano at Rabaul and local ground staff throwing as much cargo on an aircraft as they can. Weight & balance? What’s that? :)

It’s a fascinating chat with Geoff and we really enjoyed learning more about life in our northern neighbour. We’d like to thank Geoff for his time chatting with us in the studio and with Kathy for introducing us to him.

On Finals at Aropa

After our chat with Geoff & Kathy, Steve talks with Tammy Augostin, the Promotion & Marketing Manager of the Parafield Airshow. They discuss the acts that have been lined up for the show and the issues involved in putting it all together.

Many of our listeners in Sydney have been commenting to us about seeing a number of Army Blackhawk helicopters flying around Sydney Harbour. It turns out they were part of a training exercise that was also open to media to ride along & experience a typical training flight. Sadly, Steve & Grant weren’t able to get up to Sydney for the flight (despite their best efforts) but Anthony Crichton-Browne was. In addition to getting lots of great photos, Anthony also recorded a quick chat with one of the pilots.

Finally, we wrap up the episode with another of Anthony Simmons’ “View from the Lounge” segments. This time, Anthony is looking at aviation in the media, ranging from movies through to jingles.

You can find Kathy’s work in many places, including:

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 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 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 29: What’s in a Checklist?

Some in-cockpit audio provided by a listener triggered a discussion on the differences in pre-landing checklists (GUMPS vs BUMFTH vs BUMFOH vs whatever). All of Grant’s aviation books & manuals are still in boxes after moving house so he had to rely on his memory with predictable results. Talk about incentive to go out and get current again…

Given we couldn’t do a whole episode around the concept of “gas” in different countries, we also discuss recent aviation news items (so many to chose from lately) and have a collection of interviews we recorded at the RAAF’s Air Pageant at Point Cook.

Here’s how the episode hangs together this time:

As usual, our theme music track is “YouNameIt5″ by Brian Simpson (aka t3cat5) and our sound effects come from SoundSnap.com.

The Jetstarisation of QANTAS is not over yet

Thanks to an opportunity presented by Shashank Nigam, Grant’s just had an article about the ongoing Jetstarisation of QANTAS published on Shashank’s Simpliflying site.

It provides a background on the birth of Jetstar, its growth to date and how it is destined to consume more of QANTAS’ mainline routes & aircraft. Head on over to Simpliflying and check out the article.

Thanks to Shashank for giving us the opportunity to gain further exposure to the global aviation world, it’s very much appreciated :)