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Tips from a recent ferry flight.


Old 3rd Feb 2009, 05:26
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Tips from a recent ferry flight.

For those who may be thinking of ferry flying as a career or as an hour building exercise I have just completed a two week ferry flight of a Britten Norman Trislander from Greece to Vanuatu and I offer the following bits of advice to those who may follow me.

Our route took us from Megara (Greece) to Luxor (Egypt), Bahrain, Muscat, Ahmedabad (India), Calcutta, Kuala Lumpur (WMSA), Bali, Darwin, Mt. Isa, Gladstone and onto Port Vila.

1. Overflight and landing clearances. Unless you know someone in the civil aviation authorities in the countries whose airspace you will be flying over/into don't try and organise these clearances yourself. I tried and did not get one single reply to my emails seeking permission for overflight or landing. We ended up using Mike at White Rose Aviation in the UK (Overflight flight clearance Home) and he worked his butt off for us no matter what time of the day or night I happened to call him with a question or last minute change of plan.

2. Charts and plates. I had tried to organise all the Nav stuff we would need through Jepps but understandably my boss baulked at the nearly $3K it was going to cost us. Mike at White Rose suggested a company in the UK I had never heard of called European Aeronautical Group. I called them on a Monday and they had all the necessary IFR charts and plates at our Greek address the next day for a 6th of the price of Jepps. Big thanks to Anita at EAG!!

3. If you can, avoid India like the plague, particularly Calcutta
where pretty much everyone is friggin hopeless and will always have their hand out. The handlers have to collect money on behalf of every aviation authority that may so much as glance in the direction of your aircraft or the crew and we got stung around $950USD in both Amedabad and Calcutta. AVGAS here was the most expensive on our trip at around twice the price of anywhere else. If you do have to use India ensure the handler at your destination has your fuel upload figures absolutely correct or you will be forever waiting hours for anything extra you need. JetA1 probably wouldn't have the same problem but AVGAS is becoming quite rare in places.

On a brighter note if anyone is going through Ahmedabad and are having any kind of mechanical or avionics problems go and see Chief Engineer V.K. over at Ahmedabad Aviation and Aeronautics just off the parking ramp. Our Mode C was still screwed by the time we got to A'bad and he very kindly replaced ours with one of his old ones from his spares cupboard. Turned out his didn't work after we got airborne but we got the feeling there was nothing he wouldn’t have helped us with. Very nice bloke and had the cleanest and best turned out GA training fleet I have ever seen.

One further reason to avoid India. You have to give them 7 days notice to overfly or land and if you are late or early they may deny you access and you will have to go through the application process again which means more cash and more delays! In his latest book Richard Branson describes the poor service culture in India a national obsession. I concur!

2. If you go through Malaysia probably best not to use WMKK. On our 12 hour leg from Calcutta to WMKK we got told half way across we couldn't land at WMKK and would instead have to land at WMSA. The lady in the tower at WMSA told us that WMKK only accept scheduled international flights these days. That was news to both us and White Rose who sends aircraft through there regularly. Our ETA for WMSA was around 3.30am local! The diversion into Kuala Lumpur-Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah was a blessing in disguise and even though we arrived there at 3.30am pretty much unannounced the airport duty manager was waiting and we had AVGAS at the plane in 5 minutes as much as we wanted and at a very good price. Best service we had on the whole trip and they didn't even know we were coming.

3. When you are giving ETA notice to your chosen handlers at your destinations be sure to clearly communicate your specific hotel needs and budget. Understand that the handlers must think that every crew is loaded and wants to stay in 5 star hotels every night but clearly that isn't the case with all. It was a bit embarrassing turning up to be told that we were booked 5 star and then have to re-negotiate a new hotel because of the boss's budgetary requirements.

4. I'm not sure if some handlers are better at having maintenance on hand
than others but we found it quite difficult at most places to get anything
fixed or replaced, Mode C in point. When you are organising handlers it might be helpful to ask them if they have access to mechanical or avionics assistance on the field or nearby so that if you do turn up with a problem they can direct you straight away rather than standing around scratching their heads. This causes delays and after a long day you'll just want to go straight to the hotel.

5. Ensure your Mode C works on your transponder. UAE is very strict about this as is Indonesia and Iran. As I’ve worked in ATC it took some fancy footwork to negotiate onward clearances rather than long diversions or worst still, turnbacks! Thanks to the South African controllers in both UAE and Muscat for their patience and for organising onward clearances. If the guy in UAE remembers us in YJ-OO19 PM me and one day I’ll make good that promise to buy the beer at a Wallaby v Springbok game.

HF is also invaluable over long overwater legs. Make sure it’s working before you leave!

6. If you are transiting Australia ensure customs, immigration and quarantine are notified in good time of your arrival at the point of entry. I did notify them via a customs email address in Canberra but they did not notify Darwin and justifiably we had some interesting questions on arrival as they had about 10 minutes notice from ATC. The customs boys mentioned that if we hadn't been able to prove that we had given someone notice of our arrival (glad I had kept that sent email!) then they had every right to tear the plane apart and have us put it back together again. Make sure someone in those agencies acknowledges your notice of intended arrival!

Also if you plan to leave Australia from a non designated international port for fuel reasons etc then you must give an agency called the National Passenger Processing Committee at least 30 days notice of your intentions. Even if you don't have passengers on board apparently! Believe it or not these were the hardest people to deal with on the entire trip.

7. If you want your family and friends to see where you are on your route, Spidertracks was a great tool for keeping them informed.

8. Finally, if you can, TAKE YOUR TIME. I would recommend no more than 3 days flying before taking a break. Unfortunately we couldn't do that due to our boss's tight schedule and a number of delays in Greece. We were exhausted on our arrival in Vila and I still have a sleep debt. The plane had no auto pilot and a lot of the flying was full IFR. On 6 to 11.5 hour legs it gets pretty tiring.

On the positive side some of the scenery was breathtaking. My favourite sights were the extinct volcanos and old lava flows in Saudi Arabia (Yes, Saudi!), Bali always a favourite, and how green everything was from Darwin to Longreach. Now if the rain will stop the good folk up there can get back to business!

I'm sure there's more but if anyone has anything to add please feel free. Above all if you are offered the opportunity to do a ferry flight, go for it! The good far outweighs the bad and as long as you keep a sense of humour even when someone is trying to bend you over you'll make it out alive and happy.

A couple of quick thank-you's.

To Mike at White Rose - couldn't have done it without you.

Tim the ex BN engineer who was instrumental in getting Big Bird flying - great effort and hope you bring your portable A/C with you to V2. I sweat just sitting still.

To the management and staff at Hotel Maniatis in Sparta for tolerating all our requests for faxes and copies. They never thought they would see the back of us.

V.K. in Amedabad - thanks for all your help. The encoder is on it's way back.

The airport and refueller guys in WMSA - fantastic service at short notice VERY early in the morning on Chinese New Year. Nothing short of top marks.

My mate Tony Lloyd-Jones in Gladstone - for the short notice stop over you'll always be welcome in V2. They've just installed a new casino for you to plunder!

To all the ATC guys and girls from Greece to Vanuatu. Thanks for your patience and tollerance of a 90kt CLIAS aircraft in your arrival and departure flow. Particularly to the Calcutta departures controller who didn't realise how slow we were and gave us runway heading as a departure instruction while the tower controller lined up jets for take-off behind us and with multiple jets on ILS final. I've never heard so many jets get spun off an ILS in my life! That poor bastard is probably still in the nut house cursing our call sign!

To all our friends, family and loved ones for the constant stream of good wishes, thoughts and messengers. You kept us moving.



Last edited by Super G; 3rd Feb 2009 at 06:57. Reason: for grammar
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 05:36
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Yep, plenty of pics and as soon as figure out how to get them to a size that won't have the mods yelling at me I'll post a couple.
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 06:32
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Hey. Read your original thread on this and am glad it went well for you.
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 07:17
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Excellent and useful post. A good read as well.
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 07:24
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Great post.

Very detailed and insightful
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 08:18
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Awesome stuff mate!
Can't wait to see your pics.
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 08:22
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Best post I think I have ever seen on PPRuNe. This site should contain more of this instead of the usual PPRuNe know it alls getting on here and posting rubbish. about you turn PPRuNe into a factual posting site? or would that be too hard? A bit of dirt on an individual or an organisation and a conspiracy theory is what you guys thrive on isnt it?
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 08:49
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Thumbs up

Great trip. "Almost" makes me miss ferrying. In fact, I actually do miss it at times, even without your help. There were many times that I said "WHY am I doing this?" But the new places, the adventures and the people all add up to good memories and good tales. The worse things are the stuff of the good tales, heh? I am glad that someone else appreciated the aerial geography of Saudi. In the high-flying aircraft, it is such a blur, but down low.....

Calcutta......sigh.....there I have actually self-handled twice(!) Only people who have been there, know what that means! With regard to hotels, I have tried to save on Indian hotels and do not recommend it. I discovered that if you order from the hotel window in the terminal," wearing your uniform shirt," you will get great rates at the best hotels. . . excellent service, in fact, excellent food, airport transfers etc. Trying to save, I ended up at a dump, with a mouldy mattress, no breakfast, shit service and poor restaurant.....the second time, I got Legionaire´s disease, that plagued me for months, baffled the doctors and could have killed me. (Hope you didn´t stay at the Airport Hotel in Calcutta. If you did and you start getting coughing and fever, PM me....your doctor will never figure it out. I know of a Danish engineer that got the same, same place...should be condemned!)

Another person that bends over backwards, all hours of the day and night (and who would have sent you to "the old airport" in KL), is [email protected], based in Denmark. He has been sending the Globe Aero pilots, as well as a lot of free-lancers all over the world for years and is a great resource.

I agree with the people that think you wrote a great forum topic and glad I chose to open Prrune today! Brings all the memories and good times flooding back. It has been a year since the last trip.......hmmmmm....I have 14 days coming up......LoL!
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 09:15
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Thumbs up

Great trip, great post! All that remain are the photos
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 10:31
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A breath of fresh air, great post
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 10:32
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Pure gold mate
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 11:04
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awesome post, many thanks for the great read! Pics would also be great to see
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 11:13
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One thing you really forgot. If you can take a flying spanner with some critical spare parts, were worth our weight in gold. Just think of it as insurance.

Great tips to.
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 11:27
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Thanks for all the positive replies guys. Very gratifying.

To the chap who asked how to get into ferry flying - I just lucked into it. I am only a 500-600 hour pilot who happened to be in the right place at the right time. My employer needed to get this aircraft here and I was the guy doing the least for him at the time so I got the gig.

Jim Hazelton is the guy in Australia who is the guru when it comes to ferrying aircraft and may take enthusiastic young pilots along with him on ferry's. There are other ferry organisations in Australia to whom you may want to apply.

And yes, if you can take a LAME or AME with you, grab them with both hands and do not let go of them until the end of the flight. Fortunately the boss, who is also a mechanic and can fix just about anything, was with us on the flight and solved many, many problems which would have had us two dumb pilots still sitting back in Bahrain! I'll overlook the fact he accidentally tried to kill us due fuel starvation into Gladstone. Lucky the Tri has excellent crossfeed!

Pics to come.



Last edited by Super G; 3rd Feb 2009 at 11:39.
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Old 3rd Feb 2009, 12:53
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Well done and welcome home.

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Old 4th Feb 2009, 00:01
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Well written, thank you.

Before leaving watch Slumdog Millionaire
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Old 4th Feb 2009, 00:34
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Whats the best country to have your aircraft registered in when doing a round the world flight. If yours is VH registered you blow a cylinder in a foreign country, its going to be very expensive to get a CASA LAME flown out there to fix it.

Its a shame that there isnt some somr of reciprical agreement, whereby a FAA A&P can sign off maintenance on a CASA MR, even at the factory where they built the aircraft.

Love the thread, keep it going.
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Old 4th Feb 2009, 01:11
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First attempt at posting pics here.
Always good to come back to Darwin
Follow the Nile all the way to Luxor
When I grow up.........
Old Volcanos of Saudi.
The wet. NW QLD

Ok, I give up. Have tried 5 times to post the pics as per instructions from the Mods to no avail. Any advice?

Last edited by Super G; 4th Feb 2009 at 02:39.
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Old 4th Feb 2009, 01:30
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Damn, first attempt at photos may have failed, I can't see them....
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Old 4th Feb 2009, 02:56
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You mean like this?

Always good to come back to Darwin

Follow the Nile all the way to Luxor

When I grow up.........

Old Volcanos of Saudi.

The wet. NW QLD
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