AOB – October 2017

26 October 2017

A day of reflection and sadness across much of Thailand as the country says goodbye to Rama IX after a reign of 70 years. I have written elsewhere about today’s ceremonies.

But it is not just sadness that is in the air – it is also uncertainty – and this note from Chatham House captures that:

“Thailand thus faces a series of interlocking uncertainties: over the evolution of its distinctive form of systemic legitimacy; over the monarchy’s relationship to the military that wields ultimate force; and over the prospects of democracy in a deeply divided society. Managing this complex challenge will require more creative solutions than the ‘winner-takes-all’ approach that often prevails in Thai political culture.

In the best case, a new balance of authority, power and consent will emerge to underpin a reign of stable, inclusive growth that creates a more equal, less divided society. In the worst case, political and social order may fracture, with serious consequences for Thailand’s stability.”

17 October 2017

From a post on facebook:

“Dear Donald Trump. It doesn’t matter what you undo that Obama did. It doesn’t matter if you erase everything he accomplished. It doesn’t matter if you somehow manage to erase his name from the history books. It doesn’t matter what you do, you will never, ever be half the man that President Obama is. You will never be half the President that he was. You will never be loved by any decent people. You will go down as the worst mistake this country has made this century. You will be remembered as a joke. Your name will be synonymous with trash until the sun sets for the last time. You will not be remembered fondly. P. S. Obama probably has a bigger dick than you too.”

15 October 2017

Oh dear –

“Due to Kan Air’s aircraft has been maintained. We are unable to provide services at this time. We deeply apologies for this inconvenience cased.”

As stated on their website.

We found their Cessna Caravan at Nok airfield where it had flown to for an engine overhaul. However, it also needed a replacement prop which apparently the airline could not afford – so the airplane sits there – basically in a field!

“U.S. law, lobbying and PR firms have consistently shown that they are willing to work for any tyrant, abuser, international pariah or dictator, even a foreign country that is trying to undermine the United States, if there’s money to be had. I don’t know how some of these folks sleep at night.”

Comment under this article on GCC lobbying efforts. 100% agree.

Qatar Spent Nearly $5 Million on U.S. Influence Campaigns

Actually I will go a bit further – I do not know how some of the western journalists working in the GCC media (yes I am thinking of you Gulf News) can sleep at night.

13 October 2017

It is four weeks to the day since Tai and I moved into our Chiang Mai home….

The team at Rochalia Residences have been a huge help – no request is ignored…(though we do still have to get rid of Roland!) I love my study (“man cave” as a friend christened it the other day.)

The same friend (he is wise) talked about the importance of shared experiences in a relationship. Dubai gave Tai and I the opportunity to travel and see the world through eachothers’ eyes. We both fulfilled long-held ambitions. I finally learned to fly.

Dubai also gave us lessons of its own – and challenges! More than any other place that I have lived I think people know when it is time to leave Dubai – and it was our time.

Now there will be less travel – but I think we have found a happy home – and that is as good a place as any to start a new chapter.

Across Chiang Mai the people we have met have been interesting and interested….welcoming, non-judgmental and always helpful….

There are two spare bedrooms waiting for visitors – do not be shy…

Today was the one year anniversary of the death of Rama IX. His cremation is in 13 days.

For many Thais this remains a time of sadness and reflection. Moving forward will not be easy…but moving forward is the necessary option.

This was announced in the Royal Gazette today…

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has bestowed a royal decoration – Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao (ladies) – on Gen Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya.

This was published in the Royal Gazette on October 13, 2017.

Gen Suthida is currently Commander of the Special Operations Unit of the King’s Guard.


Yesterday’s Hang Dong flooding – too many new roads and buildings in this area – the old systems for drainage are lee available and less effective. The water was waist high in places.

What on earth is:

♫♫♫ DJ NAKARA – Acid Techno ♫♫♫
♫♫♫ ORGANIC SPACE – Techno, Bassline & Breaks ♫♫♫
♫♫♫ ELECTROMASS – Glitchop & Ghetto Funk ♫♫♫
♫♫♫ DJ CATTACO – House ♫♫♫

A friend is off to a Chiang Mai event featuring the above – I have no idea.

Air Berlin had announced that its last flights would be on 28 October 2017.

In the least surprising news of the month Lufthansa has agreed to take over a large part of the airline, which went bankrupt a couple months back after years of mounting losses and the withdrawal of support from Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, its key shareholder and creditor.

I do wonder just how much Etihad poured into Air Berlin over the years. And for nothing in return – other than a monumental headache and a whole on its balance sheet.

Lufthansa will take over 81 of Air Berlin’s 140 leased aircraft and 3,000 of its roughly 8,000 employees, while investing €1.5 billion ($1.8 billion).

The downfall of Air Berlin was swift and sudden. After years plugging along as a minority subsidiary of Middle Eastern giant, Etihad (which became Air Berlin’s largest shareholder in December 2011), the Abu Dhabi-based carrier withdrew its ongoing financial support on August 15, 2017.

This triggered a bankruptcy filing on the same day and set off what amounted to a death spiral.

By September 25 the aircraft lessor AerCap, from whom Air Berlin leased its fleet of Airbus A330-200s, decided to repossess all ten of the carrier’s A330s, forcing the cancellation of all long-haul flights by October 15.

For now wholly-owned subsidiaries Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter (LGW) and Niki will continue to operate.

LGW is a German regional carrier based at Dortmund that flies a fleet of 20 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprops on most domestic routes. Meanwhile, Niki is an LCC based at Vienna with a fleet of 31 aircraft (17 of its own) serving 50 destinations across Europe and North Africa.

The deal leaves Lufthansa, a traditionally high-cost ‘flag carrier’, in an improved position to compete with the likes of EasyJet and Ireland’s Ryanair.

Lufthansa’s stock price has sky-rocketed in recent weeks, and hit a fresh 15-year high in Frankfurt early Thursday.

9 October 2017

More on EK55 and thoughts on training from PPRUNE:

“I used to offer a ‘no jeopardy’ 35 knot crosswind landing in the A380 sim if there was anytime left. I reinforced the offer by having a go first thereby fine tuning my own skills (!) and hopefully encouraging les autres. The offer was usually accepted and I hope that (particularly) first officers knew that I meant the no jeopardy statement. How else will they learn? I (probably misguidedly) mentioned this at a training meeting and cue large intakes of breath. ” Oh, if they screwed it up you have to give them a 1/2.” I rest my case. There has to be a complete cultural sea change in attitude. I must stress that there are some stellar instructors/ examiners @ EK for the sake of balance.

Also, yes the A380 is relatively easy to land (well, in the sim) in a crosswind. As a previous correspondent said you do need to be careful with the rudder. Plus, tech knowledge helps. The normal law in the air versus direct law on the ground issue can make the subsequent arrival ‘untidy’ in a not dissimilar manner to the video.”

Is the A380 hard to land in a crosswind:

“The 380 is an easy aeroplane to fly in strong crosswinds; both take-off and landing!

Start kicking the rudder though (as on any type) and she’ll bite ya!”

As for the EK55 video: here you go:

Dubai92’s reaction was “Can This Pilot Fly Us Every Time Please?
What a landing, what a hero!!! Our hearts are in our mouth.”

Now I know they cannot criticise anything about Dubai or Emirates (in the UAE you really cannot bite the hand that feeds you) – but what a load of bollocks – the only way to meet this pilot should be in the training simulator!

8 October 2017

Video of an Emirates EKA380 and a very iffy crosswind landing at Dusseldorf is all over the internet.

Many people – usually the ones based in Dubai say what a wonderful job the pilot did.

Nonsense. This is an unstable approach with far too much rudder correction and close to a very nasty accident.

Given that it is just a couple of weeks since the near CFIT at Moscow EK does appear to have something of an experience issue in the A380 cockpits.

Here are the comments of one of my favorite Emirates contributors onto PPRUNE:

“A training day should be exactly that. Training. There’s absolutely no point in having glossy posters all around the training college promising a confident, non threatening environment in which to learn when the majority may feel the opposite. An experienced trainer should recognise the mistakes and correct them. If it needs to be done on numerous occasions, so be it. If that trainer feels that the standard has been met at the end of the session but it took considerable input to achieve it, then the trainee should be brought back within a shorter timeframe for another ‘training’ event. Whether we like it or not, our profession requires us to be tested and to reach a minimum safe standard. If you can’t accept that basic philosophy then you’re in the wrong game. When the engine blows for real on a dark and stormy night, we get one chance and one chance only to get it right. There’s no flight freeze in the real World.

And while the concern about training standards and the reducing experience levels is a valid one, I also think some of the problem lies with the pilot community in general. Despite the policy of allowing hand flown departures and arrivals below 10,000ft, very few do. Why? Because they’re ‘scared’ of screwing up and ending up in the office. Yet so many recent events have involved aircraft with the autopilot and automatics fully engaged. Ironically, if more people decided to use automation less, not only would their skills improve but the PM might actually wake up instead of sitting there with fingers up backside. F/O’s are flying with Captains who resist their requests to hand fly. They never single engine taxi, they always use full reverse. They never go to max altitude because ‘it’s dangerous’, they screw up VNAV approaches and struggle to do basic 3 times table arithmetic.

But, and here’s the rub, at the end of the flight we’re all so quick to shake hands and say what a wonderful job we’ve done, regardless of whether we have or haven’t. Sadly, many F/O’s will never know because most Captains will never tell them, nor do most F/O’s request such feedback. It’s not in our culture within the airline to do so. Nobody wants to get a ‘reputation’ for being the bad guy. Yet, that’s how we learn, from others.

Many individuals post regularly about how EK management is at fault yet are completely blinkered when it comes to their own management on the flight deck. We don’t need to be trainers to pass on information that one day may prove useful to the spotty kid in the right seat when he transitions to the left.”

This is a guy that I would have learned a lot from if I was flying commercial….leave your ego behind and use good old practical common sense; it applies in any workplace.

1 October 2017

Away with Tai for the next few days as we try to sort out my visa status for Thailand. I think we have all we need.

AF66 yesterday from Paris to Los Angeles ended up diverting to Goose Bay. The picture tells you why.

5 October 2017

Sad to see the Spanish tearing their country apart.

Awful events with the mass shooting in Las Vegas. But come on America -saying you are sad and shrugging your shoulders is not the was to deal with gun crime. Get real; grow some balls; take on the NRA and control access to and ownership of weapons.

HSBC are quickly reaching new levels of uselessness.

Visa done – non-immigrant O visa. The actual process at the Thai consulate in Suvannkhet was very straightforward.

Getting there was something of a pilgrimage!