My last flight was on the 4th of July. So, after more than 2 weeks of inactivity in the virtual skies, I'm back with a nice 3 and a half hour flight from Auckland New Zealand to Sydney Australia.
QF 50 is a real world scheduled early morning flight from NZAA to YSSY on a daily basis according to the timetable on the Qantas website. Departure time is 06.15 so I loaded up my flight half an hour before, as I always do. The 30 minutes are usually enough for me to go through the preflight and I'm usually done in 15-20 minutes. I'm very familiar with the NG so it even goes faster in its case.
Unfortunately, the SID/STAR file I installed required some tweaking, mainly due to my old Airac cycle, all of which took an extra 10 minutes. I was still ready for engine start by 06.10.
Traffic was moderate at NZAA, the local carrier commencing its morning flights. I love it when the ATC is alive as soon as you load up the flight.
The 1200NM or so trip was mainly over the Pacific Ocean.
Calm morning at NZAA
The weather in Auckland was winds 161 at 5 with clouds 2000 broken and a chilly 11C, winter time in the southern hemisphere.
Lining up 23L
I took off on an OT5 departure and continued on to waypoint MAPED to join the N774 airway for the crossing. The Jepp enroute chart also indicates that at MAPED you leave the New Zealand FIR.
After a bumpy climb with clouds as far as the eye could see, I settled at FL 360, the ride was smoother at higher altitudes. The already heavy headwinds got worse as the flight went on with wind speeds upto 95NM!
Cruise flight was going to be at least 3 hours so I let the A/P do the work as I went off to check out one of my new WAR dvds, Luxair Dash8 - E135 - 737NG. I watched 2 roundtrip flights, to EDDF in the Dash 8 and to EGLC in the E135. The approach into London City's tiny airport lookd very interesting. It must be tried in FS.
Nearing Australia, I came back to my "cockpit" to do the approach briefing. The arrival weather was already bad with thunderstorms and heavy rain during preflight. A quick look at the Active Sky weather radar revealed no improvement so the approach was going to be interesting with stong winds, low visibility and rain. Once cleared to runway 34R, I flew the MANFA1 arrival.
In Al's latest review, he flies to Singapore with a really low visibility landing (check it out here) I was very jealous to say the least and was looking forward to a CAT3 approach myself. CAVOK landings are pretty "yawn" if you see what I mean.
T-storms to the left
A wx radar would have come in handy in these conditions and would have also produced nice visuals with red and magenta returns on the ND. During my descent the ride got very turbulent below 25000 feet and between 20000 and 16000 feet I had to disengage the A/P as the aircraft went berserk. I saw the FPM plunge to -5000 before I went manual.
Things calmed down below 15000 feet, relatively speaking but at least the A/P was able to control the aircraft.
Kingsford Smith Airport seemed (and sounded) pretty much unaffected of the storms as AI traffic was very dense. ATC wouldn't stop for a second.
I was able to intercept the localizer just before an arriving Virgin Blue 737 but I had a really hard time slowing the aircraft down to Vref due to turbulent weather. Only the lowered gear helped bleeding off the excessive airspeed.
Final, ILS 34R
Weather at YSSY was winds 257 at 14 with 4 miles visibility and clouds ceiling 3000 broken, 1500 few. Heavy rain was also reported.
Although the conditions were not CAT3 the crosswinds made the approach very fun and I landed on the upwind main gear first as instructed in the manuals
My landing was good, considering the tricky winds. I chose 34R on purpose to extend my taxi time so I could do some spotting at this large airport. I was able to hear/see carriers from all over the globe, Air Canada 33 landed just before me.
This VOZ freeware YSSY is very well done. Their other airports are good too.
At gate A14, heavies in the background
No ideas for the next flight. I'm thinking on doing some GA flying in Alaska but everything is possible.
Thanks for viewing