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3rd world GenAv... WIBB-WIKN-WIBB and an emergency!

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  • 3rd world GenAv... WIBB-WIKN-WIBB and an emergency!

    I just came back from an all mode multilegged adventure with some crazy occurrences so I thought I’d share it with you. I already did a Jakarta Halim (WIIH/HLP)-Palembang(WIPB/PLM)-Pekanbaru (WIBB/PKU), but I thought this more recent sideleg deserves a trip report of it’s own.

    I left Jakarta for the “jungle” on 26th May when I took the HLP-PLM-PKU trip and has been stuck in a project since. Despite fatigue that caused me to blackout on the 3rd June, I was called in the evening about possibly going to Singapore on emergency, as one of our survey system parts need to be repaired in Singapore.

    The day started at 645am June 4.

    Took our company ride by road to downtown Pekanbaru from the jungle town of Perawang. It’s a good 90mins worth of road rage for the impatient or a 120 min ride for the grannies. In order to arrive for the 8am meeting in a hotel in downtown Pekanbaru, I packed lightly only a laptop, notepad, and spare shirts and a pair of shorts in case I do go to Singapore. Had my crew ID tag and uniform on, and we decided to take a short cut through the Caltex (CalOil & ChevronTexaco) complex which is not open to the public. This is where the uniform was useful. Just before going through the checkpoint, I put on a pair of “4-bars” on my shoulder.

    “Good morning sir, where are you going?” the security guard asked.
    “The Airport”
    “Ah,” he looked at me and, “which airline are you from sir ?”
    “PENAS,” and gave him my crew tag.
    “Go ahead, have a nice day”… off we went.

    I arrived at Furaya Hotel at 0745, not a bad short cut. Took off my 4 bars to reduce attention as I went to the restaurant where my colleagues already started the meeting and shortly after, off we went to the airport to get the aircraft ready.

    Date: 4 June 2003
    Routing: Pekanbaru, Sultan Staf Kasyiim II (PKU/WIBB) – Tanjung Pinang, Kijang (WIKN)
    Departure: NOSID, Runway 36
    Arrivals: NOSTAR, Runway 04
    Flight Time: 1100GMT+7 – 1230GMT+7 (1H30)
    Callsign: PK-VCD
    Aircraft: PT. Survai Udara PENAS Cessna 402B(P)
    Persons on board: 4
    In flight catering: Bottles of mineral water and coffee sweets!

    I arrived with the rest of the crew and began preparing the aircraft for departure. Slapped a transceiver on my shoulder and scanned to hear the traffic. PKU is busy in mornings. A ramp designed for 6 737s sometimes get filled with 6 737s/MD82s and up to 4 planes up to F50 size at the same time. The airport director said his ramp controller had seen too many “footages of aircraft carriers” by the time this level of traffic appeared in PKU.

    No check-in, I just took my bag out of my airport office and went past the security gate and straight onto the ramp. Walking across the crowded ramp required some care, look out for passengers, engine blast/suction, ground handling vehicles etc. Made it across the field and threw my bag in. I ran back to the office to take a tool box to dismantle some “dead weight” off the aircraft since this will not be a survey flight, so to save fuel (no fuel in WIKN) we’d take as much off as we can. With the toolbox on a trolley, I walked up to the ramp again to find the Jatayu and Star Air 737s were starting up. They were parked facing each other and I could walk between them but I didn’t want to risk delaying any of them, besides a Pelita Fokker 100 was holding short of the runway just of to the path I wanted to take. I elected to take the “safe” route by going behind the Star 737. 20 m behind him, I walked across the tarmac. Unfortunately, he was powering up to move at that very time. Of course, it was rather embarrassing.

    So, went in and took our respective seats. In the heat, I opened the side windscreen hole to let some air in as I was on the right hand seat. Although this aircraft is configured for single pilot operations, the pilot was happy that I went along for this ride for some “help” when it is required. He quickly briefed me… “it’s the usual for starts, whichever runway, we’ll go towards PIDON, we’ve filed to cruise at 7,500, and you can take control then.”

    The engineer sat at the rear most seat and my camera operator sat behind the captain with the camera control rack behind me. The engineer shouted, “we’re ready” as he closed the lower door but left the top half open.

    “Kasim Tower, Papa-Kilo-Victor-Charlie-Delta has filed for Kijang Airport 7,500 on W22, request start on stand.”
    “Victor-Charlie-Delta, start on stand approved, weather is wind 130 at 5 knots, temperature 32 dew point 24 QNH 1011 expect runway 36, report ready for taxy”

    After the readback, the captain said, “Number 1 start”…
    The engineer shouted from the rear, “number one clear” and closed the door.
    “Starting one”. Just like a car starting up in the morning, after a few coughs, the left engine started and the instruments came alive.
    “Number 2 start”
    I looked out of the window and said “number 2 is clear”
    “Starting 2”

    “Tower, Victor Charlie Delta ready to taxy”
    “VCD, taxy to runway 36 via B, hold short of runway after TWO air force hawks, you are cleared to backtrack for 36 call when ready”

    As we made the readback, the pilot pointed to 2 planes in front of us on downwind… 2 low and fast Hawks. As we held short the first hawk touched down in the distance, parachute opened and stopped just after the turn off for the airbase. He went a few meters further before releasing his parachute. The second one followed. As the 2 hawks made their back track to their turn off, we backtracked to the 36 threshold, a long downhill ride. Control surfaces visually checked (yes, the elevators were visible from the cockpit). At the end of 36, we turned 180 and tested the feathering on the engines.

    “VCD, ready”
    “VCD, Tower, runway is now clear, wind 130 at 5knots cleared for take off”

    Brakes on, boost pump on, check engine oil, power to 25%, check prop rpm, then brakes off, full power. Engine fuel trim and prop rpm was controlled as the captain adjusted the controls to keep us on the runway.

    “Airspeed alive” I called… “80 knots…”
    We rotated at 110knots and gear was raised.
    “VCD, airborne time is 0405, call approach on 120.80 good day and happy landings”
    “Calling 120.80, VCD” he clicked off the mike and I changed the freqs as he had his hands full in trimming the plane.

    As he called approach I dragged the Garmin 295 from the floor and slapped it on the Velcro on top of the instrument panel. After notifying our estimates, we were cleared for 7,500. The only traffic was a Merpati F27 to our left from Malacca, doing a wide base leg to steer clear of us as he was going into runway 18, and another Merpati F100 from Medan descending to going into downwind for runway 36 streaking in front of us at about 6 miles but above us at 4000 going down to 2000. We were told to maintain visual separation with the F100.

    As we climbed at 500fpm at 110kts we had to weave around clouds which were forming up pretty quickly in the heat and made our ride pretty bumpy as they ranged from 2300 to 6000 feet, some topping off at 10,000.

    At 7,500, he handed the controls to me. It was all easy flying as the route was just simply heading 083 into Singaporean airspace. Some cloud dodging had to be done. We were then ordered to call Singapore Approach (West), whose radio was horrible to say the least. We couldn’t understand the ATC talking. Initial contact was clear…

    “Papa-Charlie-Delta, say your estimate for JITLM” A few mins later, he called us again with some very very bad radio signals ! The pilot and looked at each other trying to decipher what he said… and many “Say again for Papa-Charlie Delta”…

    A few tries later, “Papa Charlie Delta, I’ve been calling us for the last 5 mins with no reply, can you confirm your transponder is working?”
    “Affirmative for Charlie Delta. We’re squawking 7215”
    “7215? Confirm it is working?”
    The signal dropped again, so we just slapped on IDENT and he said “Ahh, since think I can see you, confirm your position is 30miles west of JITLM?”
    “AFFIRMATIVE” we shouted just to make sure he heard us.
    “Aaah, OK, Papa-Charlie-Delta, I will call you in five minutes hopefully the radio will be better”

    5 mins later we heard him loud and clear and we were handed off to SIN Radar.
    We called ready for descent as soon as we were handed off to Singapore Approach (South/East). I descended the aircraft to 3000 with some major cloud dodging. At 4000, we were handed off to Kijang Approach and I handed the controls over back to the Captain.

    It was a relief to go back to an Indonesian controller, all but the last Singaporean controller we talked to were incomprehensible.

    “Kijang Approach, Victor Charlie Delta on 3700 for 3000”
    “VCD, descend to circuit altitude and weather is 140/8knots, Cloud base 2300, visibility 6000m, temperature 31, QNH 1009, expect visual runway 04 and report runway in sight.”

    The usual game of “who can spot the runway first” went on, and I lost !

    Landing into Kijang Airport is actually pretty easy from all directions but the north. Just look for a long strip with a huge brown/yellow patch of a cut hill on the northern end… We did a straight in into runway 04, with nice cross to tail wind. We touched down and backtracked.

    “Victor Charlie Delta, taxy back to the ramp via B, and errr… park anywhere you like but recommend you park where the marshaller is.”
    We switched languages… “Anywhere ? don’t you guys have traffic here?”
    “Not really.”

    The ramp is pretty small. Putting 2 F27/50s side by side in a parallel direction to the runway will be an arduous affair. We parked right in front of the tower and shut down the aircraft. We hopped out of the aircraft and the whole of the airport’s staff on duty went out to meet us, all 6 of them!

    The terminal is small, and very quiet. We closed our camera hole, took our bags, and one of the ATCOs offered us a ride into town. Here I part with my Captain and Engineer as they would stay in Tanjung Pinang while my Camera Operator will go straight to Singapore and I would go to Singapore via Batam.

    I called B747-437B who was waiting in Batam for me to arrive. After contact was established, we took our ride to the harbour.

    Date: 4 June 2003
    Routing: Tanjung Pinang Harbour, Bintan Island – Pulau Lobam – Tanjung Pagar, Batam Island
    Equipment: 1 Custom Made Speedboat with 3 engines where the passengers had to sit on a huge gas tank.
    Persons on board: 30

    After I sent off my Cam Operator on his 1430 boat to Singapore, I rushed off to get to the Batam Ferry dock. An Aircrew uniform helps in these situations as no one would give you a hassle. While someone at the airport mentioned that the fare would be 30,000 IDR (US$3.5) one way, there were a lot of “scalpers” selling ferry tickets. One woman came up to me offering me a one way ticket for IDR 50,000, I told her, “Don’t Kid Me! Get me cheaper or I’ll buy proper tickets.”

    “Are you an aircrew sir ?” She asked, I nodded and showed her the ID tag… “Aahhh, special price for you then sir, IDR 15,000!”
    I bought the ticket in disbelief !

    Sat in this dilapidated boat driven by a speed demon and somehow managed to reach Batam Island. Took a taxi to the holiday in, again same deal… show an crew tag and on comes the discounts ! I “landed” in Holiday Inn at 1615 and B747-437B came down to the lobby to meet me… The directions I gave him was simple… “just look for a weary idiot wearing a black baseball cap and crew uniform.”

    Date: 5 June 2003
    Routing: MT Senimba, Batam Island – World Trade Center, Singapore
    Equipment: A Nicer Boat!
    Persons on board: Dunno

    Nothing much to comment on this ride since it wasn’t a plane ride, however, being thermal scanned on arrival was a bit of an odd experience.

    Date: 7 June 2003
    Routing: Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, Singapore – Tanjung Pinang Harbour, Bintan Island.
    Equipment: “Penguin” Speed Ferry
    Persons on board: Errr, a Lot.

    Nothing much to comment on this leg apart from we ended up in the wrong ferry terminal to start with, and managed to catch this one in time. Being close to Changi, I managed to see an Indian Airlines A300-B4-200 and Silk Air A320 and 2 SQ 772s taking off. Furthermore, I spent the whole trip noting down en route weather report from my Pekanbaru office while wondering if a wall of CB clouds over Batam would prevent me from going.

    Date: 7 June 2003
    Routing: Tanjung Pinang, Kijang (WIKN) – Pekanbaru, Sultan Staf Kasyiim II (PKU/WIBB)
    Departure: NOSID, Runway 22
    Arrivals: Visual, Runway 18
    Flight Time: 1200GMT+7 – 1400GMT+7 (2H)
    Callsign: PK-VCD
    Aircraft: PT. Survai Udara PENAS Cessna 402B(P)
    Persons on board: 4
    In flight catering: Cans of Softdrinks and coffee sweets!

    We arrived at the airport at 1100 local time to find it deserted. There was no one at the ATC office, airport administration office nor terminals. We managed to find someone was the weather office who told us everyone left to a funeral. It took 30 mins to drag the people out back to the airport in order for our plane to take off !

    Spent the time waiting talking to the Captain about Kijang Airport. The end of 22, is a mountain, which requires a threshold displacement of 400m. Interesting.

    The engineer spent the time being concerned about the left main fuel tank cap. We disassembled it and reassembled it. However, he always prefer to have a duct tape handy. This would prevent the vibration from rotating the cap into the open position. We found some Merpati Cargo Airwaybill stickers and used them instead.

    “Kijang Tower, Victor Charlie Delta ready for Pekanbaru, request start on stand”
    “Charlie Delta, start approved report ready taxy, wind is 150 at 10 knots, QNH 1010, runway 22 for departure.” We wondered where we recognized the voice, it’s the woman who owns the cafeteria !
    The usual start callouts and before we knew it, we were lined up on runway 22.
    “Victor Charlie Delta, Maintain runway heading, climb 3000, cleared for take off”

    We took off and the wind was horrible today. We struggled to keep a smooth ride. At 3000, we were told to call Singapore Approach, who to our relief, was someone with clear speech and a good radio signal.

    “Papa Charlie Delta, confirm your squawk is 0612, and can you IDENT please?”
    “Affirmative 0612 for P-CD.”

    One thing I hate about Singapore ATC is that they keep asking you about what altitude you are. Well, maybe if they’d steered a Lion MD82 a bit further away from us he would have no problems. All of a sudden the engineer shouted… “The sticker’s gone!”
    We looked at the fuel tank, and the cap was still there, “Keep an eye on it” said the captain.
    I looked at the cap and it was rotating slowly. “Oh Damn!” I said to myself…
    I told the engineer and the captain… one replied “I saw that too, but it stopped… I’ll keep an eye on it”
    I looked back at my instruments just for a check and then…

    “****! THE FUEL CAP’S GONE”
    “Holy ****, turning back to Kijang!”
    “Singapore Approach ! Singapore Approach, Papa Kilo Victor Charlie Delta request immediate return to Kijang Airport!”
    “Charlie Delta, Approach, confirm you require return to Kijang ?”
    “Affirmative for Charlie Delta”
    “Charlie Delta, Batam is nearer and Changi has rescue service ready, confirm you want Kijang?”
    “Affirmative, can we get vector to go to Kijang immediate?” He then told me… “Watch the left fuel gauge! If it starts dropping tell me!”
    “No leak!” the engineer shouted...
    “Just watch the damn hole!”
    “Charlie Delta, you can errr….. turn….. errr….. left to 080”
    “Left 080, Charlie Delta”
    “Charlie Delta, do you require assistance?”
    “Negative for Charlie Delta, we just need to go back to Kijang and sort this”
    “Charlie Delta, What is the problem? I can still give you Batam or Changi sir…”
    “Charlie Delta has a fuel cap problem, no need for assistance on ground thank you”
    “Errr, Charlie Delta, you have a fuel leak is it? I can still give you Batam or Changi sir…”
    “Negative! We want KIJANG ! If we need assistance, we’d call for it!” We were angry by this time…
    “Charlie Delta, OK OK, understood ah… but what is the problem ?”
    “Charlie Delta has lost main left tank fuel cap… not dangerous but we need to get back to Kijang quick”
    “YOU’VE LOST YOUR FUEL CAP ?” The ATC was bemused, puzzled and all those tones we did not want to hear!
    “Affirmative, can we descend or not for Charlie Delta?”
    “OK OK, sorry, Charlie Delta, descend to ahhh, 3000…. You need assistance sir ? Batam is closer and Changi is available.”
    “Descending to 3000, Charlie Delta, and NO, can we try solve the problem first instead of you pushing us for assistance?”
    “OK OK, Charlie Delta, call Kijang Approach now, good luck”…

    “At least we got rid off that hustler of an ATC and I can concentrate on getting this plane on the ground” the Captain said… “Kijang Approach, VCD at 3000 visual with airport request immediate.”
    “VCD, Kijang Approach, Wind 150/10kts QNH 1010, expect runway 22, report on right downwind.”
    “expect runway 22, report on downwind, VCD… err can we get 04 sir?”
    “Negative, runway in use is 22.”
    “Oh Come on! I need to get this landing quick. Lost fuel cap.”
    “Ah, OK, call tower and see what they say, Good Luck”

    Tower immediately allowed 04 landing and cleared us. We took a very fast and high approach to the runway. The wind knocked us almost everywhere, but we managed to get onto the slope and flared in time… “Boy that was quick” the Captain said…
    “Victor Charlie Delta, backtrack and enter via Bravo, park on the same spot”

    We parked, and kept the engines on. The engineer climbed on top of the wing behind the props and took the aux tank cap and put it on the main tank. He then climbed back into the cabin and close the door. We checked the fuel levels and taxied off again…

    “Victor Charlie Delta, the tank on the wing is open, is that deliberate?”
    “Yes, otherwise we’ll spend another week here!”
    “OK, no traffic, backtrack to 22 and cleared for take off when ready…”
    Once we were airborne, tower said “VCD, contact Singapore Approach, good luck and our prayers are with you!”

    Nothing happened in the flight except being a little concerned about seeing fuel sloshing out of the aux tank. We had no choice, if we stayed, we’d be stuck for another week.
    30 mins into the flight, I was napping on the right hand seat when the plane suddenly shuddered and vibrated continuously. Woke up and saw the captain retrimming the fuel and changing tank feeds… he looked at me and said… “condensation in the aux tank”…

    We hit mainland Sumatra and we could see the ground was covered by smoke. The fires have started. I spent the rest of the flight noting down positions of fires as part of the Hazard Reporting Program for my client. Turbulence got worse and so did the visibility. The captain said his minimum RVR is 2000m visual or ILS as our cessna’s ILS is pretty cr4ppy. If it goes down below 2000m we’d divert to Dumai (WIBD) or Jambi (WIPA), due to commercial security reasons we cannot divert to Pelalawan (owned by RAPP, my client’s rivals and we were carrying confidential information).

    Descent was made at about 40 miles, and we entered IMC immediately. Visibility was down to a few hundred meters. We reported the condition to Pekanbaru Approach and they told us where the traffic was. A Helicopter was in the vicinity at our height but his transponder was faulty, we were descended lower below him just in case.

    “Victor Charlie Delta at 1500.”
    “VCD, maintain 1500, fly heading 270 for base leg report when runway is in sight”
    Soon we broke through the cloud of smoke and visibility was back to 6000m but still very hazy. The pilot and I kept looking at our GPS map display and looked for the runway. We finally saw the town of Pekanbaru and I looked for the runway and he looked for a visual cue point. We found a shopping mall and looked for the runway from that direction and we managed to see the road off runway 18 treshold. A few seconds later, the runway edge appeared.
    “Victor Charlie Delta is visual with the runway”
    “Charlie Delta contact tower on 118.1, Happy Landings”

    We called tower and was given a straight into runway 18. Landing on 18 is always tricky, the upslope on the runway was pretty steep, which peaked off at Txy A and went downhill from there. We touched down about 100m off the edge and stopped at A. As we landed, a Star Air 737 was having problems in starting and asked for a Start Cart (borrowed Merpati’s), while the Batavia 732 decided to wait for him to clear off.

    As we parked, the crew car was waiting and our PKU crew rushed to find out why we were delayed. They were all relieved to see us make it back in one piece at least, and so were we. It was one hell of a trip. We managed to get our camera system part repaired, but now must wait to get a replacement fuel cap sent in!

    So, while we wait, I wrote this trip report to share the experience with you all ! Sorry if it’s too long.

    I love the smell of Jetfuel in the morning... it smells like *sniff* FLYING !

  • #2
    Good report, the longer the better, glad you got down safely.