Twin Otter Ferry Flight

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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#26 Post by PanEuropean » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:14 am

Hello All:

We got stuck in Anchorage for a day. There was a thin layer of cloud over the Anchorage airport - supposedly only 3,000 feet thick, but it was dense enough that we could not see through it - and our aircraft does not have de-ice boots. So, no flying. The staff at Great Circle Aviation (a superb FBO at PANC) stored our aircraft in their hangar overnight. The next day (Monday) was great weather, clear blue skies, and we took off headed west to Russia. The flight from Anchorage (PANC) to Anadyr (UHMA) took 5 hours and was quite uneventful. We departed Anchorage Monday morning, and landed in Anadyr Tuesday afternoon. Here's a picture of the track:

Track from PANC to UHMA
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We made kind of a dumb mistake with the SPOT tracking device. This device uses two satellite constellations, the US Department of Defence NavStar GPS constellation to obtain a position fix, and the privately operate Globalstar communication constellation to report position. The NavStar constellation has global coverage, but the Globalstar system does not have complete coverage near the poles. We had placed the SPOT on the right hand (north facing) glareshield (not on the gear leg, as I was kidding earlier), and it could not see the Globalstar satellites to make position reports... hence the spotty coverage of this particular flight.

Before we left Anchorage, we had to load a new terrain database into the Honeywell MK VI EGPWS. This is a Class A TAWS, but the MK VI model only holds one-third of the earth at any one time. Honeywell divides the globe up into Americas, Asia, and 'Atlantic' (Europe and Africa). On this flight, we would be flying off the Americas database onto the Asia database. We elected to load the Asia database before leaving Anchorage. It is pretty easy to do, just connect a little card reader to the EGPWS, stuff the pre-programmed card into the reader, wait 5 minutes, do a TAWS self-test to make sure everything works OK and the new database is loaded, and that's it.

Loading a new Class A TAWS Database
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The photo below shows co-captain Frank Harlow. The little device hanging from the power levers is a pulse oximeter. We use this on ferry flights to make sure we are not getting hypoxic. It measures oxygen saturation of arterial hemoglobin. All you have to do is stick your finger in it and wait a few seconds. The big number is %SpO2 and the little number is pulse. At sea level, Frank and I both average about 97 or 98%. At 10,000 feet pressure altitude, we average between 88 and 92%. We check our %SpO2 about every half hour, and if we are getting below 88%, we begin to use oxygen. When we have to climb higher than 10,000 feet and MUST use oxygen, we refer to this meter to ensure that we are not using too much oxygen (wasting the stuff) or flowing too little (not getting enough). We try to keep our %SpO2 around 90% when we are using oxygen. It is a really neat little device, and it provides a lot of peace of mind at higher altitudes.

Enroute
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The Pulse Oximeter in use
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The scenery is really quite spectacular in Alaska - below is a photo taken between Anchorage and Nome.

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The back of the plane is full of fuel tanks (and food!). This is a 9 barrel ferry system, installed IAW the de Havilland drawings for new aircraft delivery. It holds about 3,000 pounds of usable fuel. With the standard fuselage tanks and these barrels, we can carry 5,500 pounds of fuel. This is enough to travel about 1,300 nautical miles with IFR reserves and a comfortable route reserve. Because the Twin Otter flies quite slowly (about 165 knots TAS), upper winds can play havoc with range, so, we like to carry ample reserves and generally not plan legs longer than 1,400 NM.

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More to follow tomorrow.

Michael
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#27 Post by PanEuropean » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:36 am

The picture below shows Nome airport (PAOM) as we approach it from the east. It's a pretty small town. This is our alternate in case we can't get into Anadyr, Russia (UHMA). Anadyr is 450 miles ahead of us, so, we do a fuel replanning calculation overhead Nome to make sure we have enough fuel on board to go to Anadyr, do an approach, miss, and come back to Nome. If not, we would land at Nome and refuel. Today, we had favourable tailwinds, so we overflew Nome.

Nome, Alaska
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Russian STARs and approaches are quite different from North American and European STARs and approaches. The Russian STARs generally terminate at a fix that is about 10 miles back from the runway, right on the localizer and right at a nice altitude to pick up the glideslope from below. They take some getting used to, but once you are familiar with the concept, they make sense. Unfortunately, the Russians have no protocol to allow pilots to ask for a 'visual' once the airport is in sight. This means that the whole STAR and approach gets flown every time, even if it is severe clear and you can see the airport from 60 miles away.

Getting set up for the approach to Anadyr
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The landing was uneventful, but wow, was it ever cold when we got out! -27°C with a 30 knot wind. The customs, immigration, agricultural control, fuel, and airport management staff were all very friendly and everyone spoke English. It took about half an hour to fill out all the paperwork, but overall, it was a very pleasant and stress-free process. Very nice hospitality from everyone, we were really made to feel welcome by all the government staff.

Below is a photo taken from my room at the Anadyr airport hotel. The Twin Otter is just out of sight, around the corner of the building to the right.

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#28 Post by Beefitarian » Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:17 am

Thank you so much for posting this. The pictures are great too. Looks like a lot of patches of open water and you managed to get some daylight. It has warmed up from -31 here and I don't miss the cold, good thing to because it was pretty windy yesterday.

I don't mind if you mock me but I have had an interest in crossing the Bering straight for a while, I can't see it happening due to cost. It was possible for a private plane to fly to Provideniya but the information on the internet is getting pretty dated now. http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/hea ... es/russia/

Even though there was a lot of other work to do, the two things that seemed to be the greatest challenge when the Alaskan Airmen did their flight across from Nome to Provideniya was arranging English speaking ATC and they had to bring their own 100LL.

It appears to me Anadyr is even further from Provideniya than Nome is and there's no information regarding private flights beyond Provideniya that I have found.
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Re:

#29 Post by PanEuropean » Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:27 pm

Beefitarian wrote:...things that seemed to be the greatest challenge when the Alaskan Airmen did their flight across from Nome to Provideniya was arranging English speaking ATC...
English speaking ATC is no problem at all. We're actually in Vladivostok now, having crossed all the way through Russia on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, and every controller we have spoken to has had an excellent command of the English language. ATC services are very professional and very easy to work with. Procedures are a bit 'rigid' compared to Canada or the USA, but no more rigid than flying through Central or South America.

As for AVGAS - I don't know about that, I have not seen any evidence of AVGAS powered aircraft anywhere along my route. But everyone has Jet fuel, and the fuel truck always shows up within a few minutes of landing.

What you would need is a dispatch company (back in Canada) to organize overflight permits, ground handling, etc. We use World Air Operations out of Toronto and Auckland, NZ, they are really excellent and look after everything, including overflights, permits, fuelling, organizing local ground handling, hotels, filing the flight plans, the works. I would not even dream of making a flight like this without having a really good dispatch company as the 'third crew member'.

I'll try to catch up on the narrative and the pictures once we get to Korea, scheduled for later today.

Michael
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#30 Post by Beefitarian » Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:00 pm

Thanks again and I hope you have a great flight.
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#31 Post by FriendlyBear » Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:30 am

Thanks for sharing this info Michael! Reminds me of the ferry flights I did for Borek back in the day! Never went "west" over the Bearing Strait though!! Please do keep us informed with lots of photos and trivia.... helps the long winter days pass by faster! BTW, is that Frank from Oregon? I think I met him once over in Germany during a refresher course... maybe, I got him mixed up with somebody else?!
Will the machine you are ferrying be put on floats eventually, or will she stay on wheels? Will you be doing customer training once at your destination? Again, thanks for sharing the trip with the rest of us and I wish you both a great, safe and interesting ferry flight! I guess you guys are kinda following the same route as some of the American lend lease aircraft did during the delivery flights to the Soviet Union!!
Fly safe and all the best! And, don't forget to have fun!
The Bear :bear:
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#32 Post by PanEuropean » Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:23 pm

Hi all:

Yes, that is Frank from Oregon in the right seat. Frank stepped up at the last minute to help us out when the originally scheduled SIC could not make it. He did a great job and I really enjoyed the time we spent together.

Frank and I successfully traversed Russia, landing at UHMA (Anadyr-Ugolny), UHMM (Magadan), and UHWW (Vladivostok). I'll try and share my experiences at each of these airports here in this post, perhaps this information will be useful to others who might fly the same route in the future.

It is not permitted to take pictures from an aircraft while flying over Russia, in fact, the rules published in the AIP obliged us to put our cameras and camera-equipped cellphones in our luggage (in the baggage compartment) while flying. So, all I have are pictures taken while on the ground.

Anadyr Airport Terminal
Very modern facilities - not too many flights, though.
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All of the interactions that we had with Russian officials at each one of the three airports along the way were really pleasant and efficient. Usually, about half a dozen people came out to meet the aircraft - our local handler, immigration, customs, agricultural control, the fuel truck staff, and sometimes a representative of the airport management team. The government officials were simply 'the best in the world' so far as courtesy, friendliness, and efficiency are concerned. They had protocols that they had to follow - stamping passports, registering our entry into the country, giving us an 'import form' for the aircraft (which we eventually surrendered when we left Russia), accepting General Declarations from us, asking if we had any meat or plant products on board - but all of these protocols were carried out quickly and without fuss. We were treated with great courtesy, and although our paperwork was carefully evaluated to ensure it was complete, the observation of our aircraft and personal effects was cursory - the staff looked inside the cabin and the baggage compartments, saw that we really didn't have anything on board except what we needed to fly the aircraft, and that was the end of that.

No-one, at any time, even remotely suggested that we 'look after them' - in fact, we tried to give out our company calendars (just a simple 2012 calendar with pictures of Twin Otters on it) to some of the folks who came out to meet us, and they politely declined our offer, explaining that they could not accept anything from visitors, lest accepting it be interpreted the wrong way.

It is absolutely essential to have a 'local handler' at each airport. Besides the fact that the local handler is needed to translate requests for fuel, etc. from English to Russian, the local handler knows what the airport paperwork and security procedures are, will look after getting the aircraft parked where you want it (you move it yourself), will organize transportation to and from the hotel for the crew, and will escort you through all the usual terminal security procedures the next morning (x-ray machines, etc. - exactly the same procedures as in Canada). Note that there is a distinction between the 'dispatch company' and the 'local handler'. Our dispatch company is
World Air Ops. They look after us from start to finish, advising us of the best route to take (the eventual decision is ours, but we make the decision in co-operation with them), getting our overflight clearances, organizing fuel uplift and hotel bookings, and identifying and hiring the 'local handler'.

The 'local handler' is an individual based at the airport we plan to land at who knows the airport and the airport procedures extraordinarily well. Sometimes, this can be a local FBO, sometimes it can be a big national company that has representatives at many airports (e.g. Jet Aviation), and sometimes it can be a local freelancer, such as a retired airport manager or retired airline dispatcher.

At UHMA (Anadyr-Ugolny), our local handler was the commercial manager of the airport. She was a delightful lady who knew the ropes by heart, and looked after us all the way from the door of our plane right to our hotel room, even sorting out minor problems with the hotel reservations.

The airport, like many Russian airports, has two names (Anadyr-Ugolny) because although it serves the major community of Anadyr, it is located well outside that major community in a small village called Ugolny. In the summer, when the bay between the two towns is not frozen, there is a ferry service between the airport community of Ugolny and the town of Anadyr. But, in the winter, the bay is frozen, and the only way to get over to the main town is by helicopter ferry (not cheap). So, we elected to stay in the airport hotel at Ugolny, which is attached to the terminal building. It is a pretty good hotel, not fancy, but quiet and clean. We took a taxi into the village of Ugolny to have dinner. The dinner was great - only cost 500 roubles for a 4 course dinner for two. The 10 km round-trip taxi ride, by contrast, cost 1,000 roubles. Strange economics...

The next morning, it was extraordinarily cold... -38° with a 30 knot wind. It was far too cold to spray the aircraft with the Type 1 fluid that we brought along with us (it would have frozen on the wings and horizontal stabilizer, and just made things worse), and the airport de-ice trucks were all filled with hot Type II fluid (an anti-ice, rather than de-ice, fluid that is forbidden for use on low speed aircraft like Twin Otters). So, I had to get up on top of the wing with a towel, and rub the very thin layer of hoar frost off of the wing. It was kind of scary, because in that wind, I was very worried about being blown off the wing. Next time I come here in the winter, I will make advance arrangements for some kind of scissor-lift to be available to let me get up to beside the wing and horizontal stabilizer to clean it off. I'll also make sure that I bring some "extra-cold rated" Type 1 fluid with me that I can heat up in the hotel room overnight and then spray on the wing and stabilizer the next morning.

Michael

A close-up of the bear visible in the photo above - this critter is huge
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#33 Post by PanEuropean » Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:52 pm

We then flew from UHMA (Anadyr-Ugolny) to UHMM (Magadan - Sokol). This was the longest flight of our whole ferry, at 7.8 hours total time. It was very cold out - as previously mentioned, -38° on the ground at Anadyr, but surprisingly, only -35° up at 10,000 feet. This is the first time I have ever experienced a 3° increase in temperature after climbing from sea level to 10,000 feet, but I guess they do things differently in Russia. About half-way through the flight, the OAT dropped to -40°. Heck, we almost reached the tropopause in a Twin Otter - and without even needing to put oxygen on!

The route flown from UHMA to UHMM
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Later, we climbed up to FL 180 because we had to do so in order to comply with the MEA. This portion of the flight was over the Sea of Okhotsk, where the MOCA would have been about 100 feet above sea level. This was the first time that we encountered an arbitrarily high MEA, but it would not be the last time. It is common for the MEAs in this part of the world to be established based on the minimum altitude that will enable the controllers to observe the aircraft on their primary or secondary surveillance radar. I suppose we could have asked for lower, but we did have a huge oxygen bottle on board, and we wanted to save our special requests for later on, in case we had to ask for a lower than MEA altitude due to icing problems higher up. But, with the temperature at -35°, we were not very worried about encountering icing. Besides, it was a beautiful sunny day, not a cloud visible anywhere. So, we went up to FL 180 during the middle portion of this trip.

Our handler at UHMM recommended a hotel right on the airport property, about a 3 minute drive from where we parked the plane. When we first arrived, we were kind of shocked, the outside of the building was quite decrepit and the building itself looked like something that Stalin built back in the 1930s. Inside was a different story - it had been totally renovated and was actually a very luxurious and very pleasant place. The restaurant was very nice, and we ate borscht again for the second day in a row. The restaurant staff packed us a box lunch to take along on the flight from Magaden-Sokol to Vladivostok.

We never would have found this hotel without the advice of our local handler, this because the airport is located in the village of Sokol (about 45 km away from Magadan), and the hotel is not listed on any hotel guide or website. Below is a photo showing the contact details for the hotel, as well as a photo taken from the front door of the hotel, in case anyone every needs to overnight at Magadan airport. The hotel is located on the 'Road of Bones' (Google that if you are curious).

Michael

Magadan Airport (Village of Sokol) Hotel Details
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This photo was taken at 9:00 in the morning!
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#34 Post by Beefitarian » Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:16 pm

Magaden would be the end of the road kind of. Is there any Airports between Anadyr and Magaden? I would suspect very few if any of similar size. It's very sparse there but I think there are small towns, possibly none with airports.
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#35 Post by PanEuropean » Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:30 pm

We flew over lots of airports between Anadyr and Magaden, but none of them were published or normally available for non-domestic operations.

I am pretty sure that if we had encountered some kind of problem, we could have asked ATC for permission to land at one of them, and they would have granted our request. But, if we had been making the same flight on a cloudy day, we would have been hooped - these airports were not shown on our avionics equipment, nor were they published within JeppView or Jeppesen FlightStar Corporate, the two applications that I use for flight planning.

Michael
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#36 Post by PanEuropean » Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:30 pm

The following morning, we flew from UHMM (Magadan - Sokol) to UHWW (Vladivostok - Artyom). This was another very long flight, because our route was not exactly a straight line, at one point we came within 11 miles of the border of the People's Republic of China. In Russia, some airways are only available to domestic flights. When doing the advance flight planning, it is essential to get a copy of the current version of the Russian AIP (all 4,000+ pages of it), and study the published airways carefully to find out which ones can be used and which ones cannot be used. The complete Russian AIP, including enroute charts, terminal charts, and approach plates, is available free of charge from the Russian Civil Aviation Authority website, and can be found here. It's a bilingual publication, English and Russian, very comprehensive, and available in PDF format. NavCanada, are you listening???

Some airways have different MEAs for domestic aircraft (for example, FL100) than what is available for use by foreign aircraft (FL 180 and up). On this particular trip, foreign aircraft were limited to FL 180 and up along one of the airways, but we did not want to go that high due to concerns about possible icing. So, we asked for FL100 due to icing, and the controllers quickly and cheerfully approved our request.

All the Russian air traffic controllers spoke good English and were very professional and very helpful. They work hundreds of international flights from Asia to North America every day - in fact, on several occasions, we asked Air Canada flights passing overhead to relay position reports for us.

UHMM (Magadan - Sokol) to UHWW (Vladivostok)
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Vladivostok is a pretty busy airport compared to Anadyr and Magadan - it gets a lot of international flights, and there is a lot of trade between South Korea and Vladivostok. Service there was great. The fuel guys thought that the fuel went into the wings of our plane (they had not seen a Twin Otter before), so, they brought a really sturdy portable workstand along to let them get up to the wing. We don't even have wing tanks on this plane, but I used their workstand to get up onto the wing and check the oil levels. It was still cold in Vladivostok (-25°), but the wind was calm - a really pleasant change from Anadyr and Magadan. Good thing that the engines did not need any oil - there was no BP 2380 available at any Russian airport. If anyone plans to do this route, be darn sure you bring sufficient oil with you to take you all the way through Russia (and South Korea, for that matter) - it's impossible to get turbine oil suitable for Western engines at airports that don't have a significant number of Western business aircraft based there.

Checking the Oil in Vladivostok
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The fuel guys at Vladivostok showed up with the most amazing (terrifying?) fuel nozzle assembly I had ever seen - basically, a pistol-type nozzle that plugged into the buckeye that is used for pressure refuelling. I've seen smaller mechanical assemblies on the top of oil wellheads in Alberta. It was very difficult to get this huge nozzle into the standpipe of our ferry fuel system - it barely cleared the cabin ceiling.

The Vladivostok Fuel Nozzle - OMG!
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As usual, the airport was located 60 km outside the major city (Vladivostok), in the village of Artyom. Driving - or being driven - in Russia is not for the faint of heart. We stayed at a hotel in downtown Vladivostok. Although the drive in and out of the city was, I suppose, interesting (Vladivostok looks a lot like Edmonton), it was an hour each way and I would have rather had the extra two hours in bed. Next time, we will stay at the newly constructed Venice Hotel, which is located right on the airport property. This is a pretty sharp-looking hotel, we had a look at it on the way back to the plane the morning of departure, and it looks like it would not be out of place in Switzerland.

Michael
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#37 Post by angry inch » Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:01 am

Michael,

You have put a lot of effort into sharing this with us while you surely have many other things on your plate during the trip. Thank You, it's fantastic!
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#38 Post by PanEuropean » Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:42 am

After 4 days and 3 nights in Russia, we had reached the southern end of the country, and it was time to leave.

All things considered, the ferry through Russia was both pleasant and uneventful. In part, this was due to a lot of careful planning and investigation that was carried out weeks before we ever entered Russia by our dispatch company, World Air Ops. But, a lot of credit has to be given to the Russian people themselves - although everyone seems kind of rough and almost belligerent at first, once you break the ice and establish a working relationship, they are really friendly and helpful people. I would quite happily ferry through Russia again in the future, without hesitating a moment before making that decision. The one HUGE hurdle that has to be overcome is getting a business visa (not a tourist or transit visa) before entering the country. I think I mentioned this in an earlier post - it's a slow (about 20 business days) and expensive (about $600 Canadian) process, and it cannot be hurried up. But, once you have that visa, and once you have done all the advance planning, the actual trip is a breeze.

Our route out of Russia was another 'somewhat less than a straight line' one, this time because we needed to transit the North Korean FIR to get to South Korea, and those two countries are not exactly the best of friends with each other. There was only one airway published that we could have used without going to Japan, and that was the one we took - it sent us straight south until we left the North Korean FIR, at which point we made a 90° right turn and headed for the South Korean coast. We needed oxygen on the first portion of the trip, because the MEA out over the East Sea or Sea of Japan (same sea, the name varies depending on who you ask) is FL 190 - again, to ensure that the aircraft can be seen on primary or secondary surveillance radar.

Route Flown - UHWW (Vladivostok) to RKPK (Busan, South Korea)
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The winds were not in our favour for this trip. In fact, the upper winds would eventually wind up being right on our nose, and with sufficient strength to cause me to worry that were were going to get blown right back to Vancouver Island. Below is the weather forecast (a screen-shot from Jeppesen FlightStar Corporate, which automatically downloads weather via the internet), and below that, a picture showing our crab angle as we flew south on the first half of this leg.

The Upper Winds
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25° of crab - this is ridiculous
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The wind strength going south did not bode well for the future, when we had to turn west straight into the wind. Sure enough, when we finally turned west, the results were kind of frustrating: 550 pounds per hour of fuel flow, indicated airspeed just a few knots below the redline, and a 94 knot groundspeed. Reminds me of a time long ago when I flew a Beech Skipper from Toronto to Saskatchewan during the winter, and the trucks were going past me down below on the Trans-Canada highway.

We were sure glad we had 5,000 pounds of fuel on board to accomplish this (theoretically) only 650 nautical mile flight.

This flight is going to take forever...
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Our destination, Busan, is a city of about 4 million. It is South Korea's second largest city, and the 5th largest port in the world. The city has grown up around the airport, and as a result, the noise abatement and approach procedures are rather complex. We were grateful that the aircraft has the ability to display the extended runway centerline on the situational awareness display (bottom middle display) as well as the actual position of the aircraft overlaid on the Jeppesen chart (top middle display). Despite all this wonderful technology, though, we're two 'long in the tooth' pilots with sufficient grey hair to give us a healthy scepticism for electronic toys - hence the paper Jeppesen chart sitting on the chart-holder just to the right of the keyboard.

Situational Awareness going into Busan (RKPK)
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We eventually found our way to the runway. There are acres of greenhouses located off either end of the runways - I guess that fruits and vegetables are not noise-sensitive.

Final Approach into Busan
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At this point in our voyage, after flying for 6 days, we decided to take a day off and rest up. Ferry flights are 'tortoise and hare' exercises, in which the slow and steady tortoise always finishes ahead of the 'let's do two flights a day' hare. As you have probably gathered by now, we only plan one flight a day (typically about 6 hours in duration), and we don't push ourselves. We know that spending 6 hours a day aloft at 10,000 feet can be tiring, and a good night's sleep is essential to ensure we are fully alert. Trying to get two flights done in a single day is pointless - because you just wind up dead-tired at the end of the next day, and have to then take an unplanned day off to rest up and stay medically fit for flight. Doing one flight a day, we can comfortably fly for 6 days in a row, and just take one day off each week as a rest day.

Michael
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#39 Post by PanEuropean » Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:01 am

angry inch wrote:You have put a lot of effort into sharing this with us while you surely have many other things on your plate during the trip. Thank You, it's fantastic!
Thank you for your kind words. When I first started doing research for this ferry flight a couple of months ago, I found that there was very little information available anywhere about flying through Eastern Russia. I made a post on PPrune, and received some very helpful advice from a few forum members there. As a result of that, I thought it would be a good idea to document this trip in detail to make it easier for others to do a similar trip in the future.

Michael
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#40 Post by PanEuropean » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:12 am

Well, Busan (RKPK) proved to be a very pleasant city, with a nice hotel and friendly and gracious people, but I just about had a heart attack when I saw the bill for ground handling in Busan. Let's just say that I have bought cars for less money. So, even though everything went very well in Busan, and we were very professionally handled there, I ain't going back simply because it is way too expensive a place to land. Perhaps I'll try Pyongyang in North Korea next time - maybe the new Kim that is running the show there might decide to have a sale on ground handling services to attract visitors to his country.

Seriously, though, the huge bill I got in Busan for ground handling reinforces a basic principle of ferry flight planning that I have always held dear but kind of neglected on this particular leg of the voyage: Always land at the smallest possible town! The smaller the town is, the less it is going to cost you for ground handling. When I go east across the Atlantic, I like to land in Churchill, MB, and then in Broughton Island (Qikiqtarjuaq) NWT. These are both small towns that offer really competent handling, all the services I could possibly want, only a 10 minute trip from the airport to the hotel, and they are not at all expensive (well, maybe the fuel is expensive up in CYVM, but it's not their fault, they have to barge the stuff in from down south). Similarly, when I land in Iceland, I always land at Akureyri (BIAR) up on the north side of the island, never at Reykjavík in the south. Akureyri is about a quarter the size of Reykjavík, and a quarter of the cost for the landing, parking, customs, handling, and hangar... not to mention that the hotel is only 5 minutes from the airport.

I've got to find a new place to land in South Korea - ideally some really small town with a 2,000 foot runway, customs services, and a jet fuel truck. If anyone knows a such good place, let me know, please!

I left out one kind of funny picture from the post above about our stopover in Busan. This photo is kind of funny (to me, anyway) because it shows a couple of water bottles that still haven't thawed out from the -30° temperatures in Russia, even though we spent about 5 and a half hours flying from Vladivostok to Busan with the cabin heat on all the way. Mind you, Busan was no tropical paradise, but at least the temperature on the ground was above freezing when we landed. Note also the 'pilot uniform' - steel toed safety boots, jeans, and warm clothes. I never wear one of those costumes with the gold bars (my boss knows that if he ever wants to make me quit, all he has to do is start handing out pilot costumes). Contrary to popular myth, you don't need a fancy pilot costume to transit airport security, etc. Not to mention that the fuel guys (and girls) are a lot friendlier when you are wearing jeans, safety boots, and Mechanix gloves.

Long after leaving Siberia, the water bottles are still frozen
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You can see our oxygen bottle in the very foreground at the bottom of the above photo. It is a huge (60 cubic feet) 'P-size' bottle that we purchased from Aerox. I have learned the hard way, on many prior ferry flights, that there is not yet a 'universal' industry specification fitting used worldwide to fill oxygen bottles - the size of the connector on the bottle and the thread specification varies all over the world. This means that if you buy a bottle in North America, you can generally count on being able to fill it up again in North America, but all bets are off once you go to another continent.

I didn't want any headaches (literally or figuratively) arising as a result of the oxygen bottle running out somewhere in Asia, so, I filled this thing up in Victoria, filled it up again in Anchorage, and knew I would have about 15 hours worth of oxygen inside it for the the two of us to make it all the way across Russia on oxygen, if that became necessary. Fortunately, we only used oxygen for about 4 hours during our flight across Russia, and for another few hours on the Vladivostok to South Korea segment. The pressure gauge on the bottle is not a very accurate way of determining what is left in it (I weigh the bottle whenever I want to know what is left in it). But, I don't carry a scale in the aircraft that is precise enough to let me weigh it while enroute. It is necessary to have a scale that is precise to a 10th of a pound to weigh the bottle with confidence.

Oxygen Bottle Weight marked on the side of the bottle (this is a P-size bottle, from Aerox)
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The SIC on this flight, Frank Harlow, left us in Busan and headed back to Portland. I was then joined by Tony Skelton, the pilot from the company that purchased this aircraft. Tony will be responsible for supervising operation of this aircraft once it is put into service, and a ferry flight is a great way to familiarize a pilot with prior Series 300 Twin Otter experience with the new avionics on the Series 400 aircraft.

Heading out of South Korea, it was again possible for us to carry our cameras and camera-equipped cellphones in the cabin of the aircraft. The picture that Tony took (below) shows me driving, and also illustrates the quite substantial forward tilt (to reduce parallax error) of the Series 400 instrument panel. The glareshield on the Series 400 is much smaller than the glareshield on the legacy aircraft, and this greatly improves visibility out the front window. As you have probably guessed by now, this particular aircraft is not equipped with an autopilot.

Michael driving, heading out of South Korea to Taiwan
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The journey across the South China Sea was quite uneventful, and we didn't get slowed down by the upper winds. We had a pretty strong crosswind all the way, but at least it wasn't a headwind. The significant weather analysis showed a 180 knot jetstream right above our route, so, we tried to stay as low as we could on this leg of the ferry. The radioactivity symbol in the upper left of the sigWX analysis is unique - that made me grateful that the wind was blowing east and not south.

No-one taught me this weather symbol when I did my ab-initio training
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I forgot to turn off the SPOT tracking device when we took the day off in Korea, and it sat on the glareshield for about 36 hours, ticking away like the Energizer bunny. We were kind of worried that the batteries would not last for the remainder of the ferry, so, we only turned it on for a few minutes whilst taxiing at origin and departure, this to create a few track points so that the folks back home could tell where we were.

Track from Korea to Taiwan
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The weather at Taipei was worse than forecast when we arrived - lots of layers of cloud from about 6,000 feet down to about 800 feet, although the viz was pretty good once we got below the lowest layer. This was the first time we had encountered anything other than fine clear weather on this ferry. I guess that's the problem associated with flying when the air temperatures are above freezing - the darn moisture gets in there and contaminates the air and makes it difficult to see the surface of the earth. At least we didn't have to worry about icing, the freezing level was around 10,000 feet, and it was +18° when we landed. The two water bottles had still not thawed out from their trip through Russia, though.

Final Approach - Taipai
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Handling in Taipai was first-class, everyone was very efficient and very helpful, and we were in the Novatel hotel (located right on the airport property, a stone's throw from our parking spot) about 20 minutes after we finished filling the fuel tanks. The ground handling bill in Taipai was one tenth the price of the Korea ground handling bill. So, pending review of the fuel bill when it arrives (you never know what the fuel costs until weeks after the flight) it looks like Taipai (RCTP) is a 'keeper' so far as future ferry flights are concerned.

Our Ground Handling Team from Sunrise Aviation in Taipai
The hotel is visible in the background, just behind the rudder. That's about the exact distance from the parking spot that you want the hotel to be.
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We were parked next to a rather unusual looking aircraft (it looks kind of like a bratwurst with wings on it) at Taipai. This was the first time since leaving Alaska that we had seen another aircraft that weighed less than 100,000 pounds. General aviation activity is quite uncommon at international airports in Asia. None of the airports we landed at in Russia, Korea, or Taiwan had FBOs at them.

It's a unique looking thing, that's for sure
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Michael
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#41 Post by amraam » Wed Feb 01, 2012 7:16 am

Michael,

Thanks for sharing the story about your flights, you've got some great, and very useful information here.

Is there anything you'd have done differently, other than the stop in South Korea?

amraam
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#42 Post by PanEuropean » Wed Feb 01, 2012 7:41 am

amraam wrote:Is there anything you'd have done differently, other than the stop in South Korea?
Yes. Based on my experience so far, I would do the following things differently:

1) Pack more food (especially chocolate bars) before leaving home base. Normally I throw a case of water in the plane, but that was not possible on this flight due to the cold temperatures that were foreseen enroute. But it would have been nice to have more 'munchie' food (cookies, chocolate bars, etc.) available.

2) Tell our dispatch company to tell the various handlers along the way to not bother providing us with weather forecast packages. I'm sure we were charged for these weather briefing kits, and they were all useless. Far, far more accurate, up to date, and detailed information is available via the internet, either through Jeppesen FliteStar or just by going to Accuweather.com or checkWX.com.

3) Try harder to find smaller airports. At the big airports, you get a 'follow me' car coming out to meet you when you exit the runway, and you can be sure that is not free of charge. Similarly, it is not uncommon to have a crew bus come out to drive you from the aircraft parking position to the terminal, and it is impossible to 'say no' to these buses, which are generally quite expensive. At a small airport, you don't encounter these unwanted services. Similarly, at small airports, the charges for parking overnight are usually a lot less than they are at the big airports.

That's about all I can think of.

Michael
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#43 Post by Airtids » Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:52 pm

Absolutely nawesome, Michael!! Well done!
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#44 Post by Beefitarian » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:01 am

Michael did you decide to put down roots in Taipai? You left us hanging here, I know I was mostly interested in Russia but the other stops became interesting because of your excellent posts.
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#45 Post by PanEuropean » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:09 am

Hi:

No, I made it all the way to Singapore - after Taipei, I went to Puerto Princessa in the Philippines, then to onwards to Singapore. But, after arriving in Singapore, I had a ton of work to do to sort out all the paperwork arising from the ferry flight, and I two days later, I flew on to Australia (where I am now) to do some other work. So, I kind of ran short on time to keep the story up to date.

Not much happened after leaving Taipei. The flight to Philippines was pretty uneventful, and it was nice to watch the OAT increase by one degree every 30 minutes or so as we flew south. The final flight to Singapore was also quite nice, except that we arrived just as a massive thunderstorm was sitting over the airport, and we had to hold for an hour just offshore to let the weather clear.

I have to do this same route twice more in the coming months - so, I'll try and complete the story for the second half of the route around the middle of March, which is when I should arrive in Taiwan with another new Twin Otter.

Michael
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#46 Post by Beefitarian » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:00 am

Thank you. I figured you must have made it there as you were getting close. Waiting out a storm is never fun. Good to hear it let up so you did not need to divert.

I was at www.gpscity.ca and noticed there is a new spot that sends test messages. They also have a DeLorme brand unit called inreach, you can use it with an android cell phone to send texts and it receives text messages both via sattelite. That could be nice. You might already have an Iridium or something but I thought it was worth a mention.
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#47 Post by PanEuropean » Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:07 am

Agreed, holding for thunderstorms is no fun. The Singapore controllers did a good job, they didn't keep us waiting any longer than necessary - in fact, we were the first aircraft to land at Seletar (WSSL) after the airport opened up again. The photo below shows us just to the north of Changi (WSSS), heading towards the NDB that is the start of the visual procedure to Seletar airport. The green line on the lower screen shows our course to the NDB. The NDB itself can be seen on the approach plate above, it is in the lower right corner of the approach plate. The airport is at the far left of the lower screen, about halfway between the top and bottom of the lower screen. The cyan lines on the lower screen correspond with the control zone boundaries visible on the approach plate in the upper screen.

If you look closely at the lower screen, you can see that we were just off the end of the two ILSs at Changi, not much more than 3 miles from the airport, getting radar vectors through the departing traffic. The Changi controllers were launching all sorts of stuff of the two parallels as we snuck through - Airbus 380s are like seagulls there, they are everywhere.

The size and proximity of the thunderstorm speaks for itself. It is common to get quite big thunderstorms in Singapore in the late afternoon.

Michael

Approaching Singapore, after leaving the hold
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#48 Post by Lurch » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:19 pm

Maybe I missed reading it somewhere, but why would you elect to go on such a complex route when it would be so much easier to just go to Hawaii and then across to the south pacific? You wouldn't have to deal with nearly as many over fly permits or Visa's.
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#49 Post by just curious » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:13 pm

If there isn't a good tailwind, you swim for part of the way.
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Re: Twin Otter Ferry Flight

#50 Post by PanEuropean » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:50 am

Lurch wrote:...why would you elect to go on such a complex route when it would be so much easier to just go to Hawaii and then across to the south pacific?
The aircraft doesn't have the range to make it from the West coast of North America to Hawaii. Several people have tried this in the past - some succeeded, but at least two Twin Otters have been ditched in the sea just short of Hawaii while making the attempt.

In a best-case scenario, with both wing tanks and a 9 barrel ferry system fitted, the aircraft can carry 6,253 pounds of usable fuel. Assuming a specific range of .266 of a nautical mile per pound of fuel burned (keep in mind that the aircraft is operating at very high weights, hence SFC is worse than usual), that works out to 1,660 miles before all the fuel is exhausted. The shortest point-to-point distance from North America to Hawaii is over 2,000 miles. It just can't be done legally or safely.

Michael
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