04 September 2013


Our neighbours busy making hay
The winds have changed.

The receding view of the Kuala Paka coastline
After missing out on flying the EC225 for nigh a year, the raucous controversy and the heart rending despair over the unforseseeable return of the 225 to flying service, we are back in the air at last, drawing to an end the unrequested long hiatus in clocking offshore hours and finding a purpose to my post Nuri days. Our neighbours across the tarmac have had long enough a time of squeezing out the last drops of poor grade humour over our extended leave and I am sure I shall not miss it.

Clouds reflected on the mirror-smooth sea
The timing could not have been better, even if hellaciously delayed, as the resumption was in time with the change of the tradewinds from south-westerly to north-easterly, bang on the date when I started my September's cycle upon completion of my Line-Oriented Flying Training in EuroCopter Malaysia's simulator centre in Subang. North easterly winds favour the left-hand seated pilot in making approaches to the rigs the way their platforms are oriented in our sectors, mostly easterly platforms with the obstacles and structures on the left. It is the pilot who can keep his eye on the obstructions throughout the approach who owns that approach. As approaches must be into wind, it follows that the north east monsoon favours the copilot. I think I would have been sore indeed to resume full flying duties only to sit and watch the captains have all the fun of making approaches, which in this discipline is the proof of the pudding, or that which separates the boys from the men.

Tangga Barat Alpha floating upon the mirrored sea
The initial change in wind direction is a testy time for the left hand seated pilot. The winds are weak, as the north east monsoon is not yet in full bloom. The entire process of judging the closure speed on finals approach to the platform is more difficult in incipient winds, because the speed decay curve is not as rounded, demanding more precision than a windy day would call for. Stronger headwinds help the copilot to gradually reduce the approach speed at a more amicable rate. Yet, I shall not complain as dealing with a difficulty degree can only serve to make me better at approaches, if I do not prematurely yield to despair at my messy approaches. So far I shall say, it has been rather good, and more than anyone else, I have to be happy with what I am doing before anyone else can.

On deck TBA, on a sunny day
It is with much relief that I return to the EC225, an aircraft whose intuition in reducing the pilot's workload makes it a virtual magic carpet ride. Yet, it was not a week in the air before more bad news came out of Aberdeen, the offshore Mecca, announcing the catastrophic crash of the Super Puma L2 in which four out of eighteen passengers perished. While it would seem like a bad year for Eurocopter, looks can be entirely coincidental. Throughout the the months of the EC225 grounding, I do not suspect any of the pilots worrying about flying the machine. However, the industry is rife with pressure groups, and workers unions exert a lot of force upon the decisions made by offshore flying service providers. There was an initial knee-jerk reaction even to this incident, and unfortunate as the crash was, the real cause can be lost in the noise of the impact. Preliminary speculations over C-FIT and erroneous employment of automation hover and abound. In the meantime, the Super Puma L2 has been returned to flying status when technical and design faults were ruled out. 
Flying Into Oblivion
One year away from the EC225, and one month on the Super Puma L2, seems to have done me some good. I believe in my complete resignation towards events in my life that I struggled to control but could not, I have also settled down completely in the EC2225 cockpit. No more wrestling. No more desparation. No more arguing with the aircraft in a language that she would not understand. I can finally just sit back and enjoy going up there into oblivion, whatever the weather, deliver the goods and come back home to face another day of flying on the morrow. The events and non events of the past ten months did make bleak a future I had hoped would not include marginalisation. But we really cannot fight every issue that crosses our patio. At times, we really have to let that which passes, to pass. Other things may come, will come, but this day must pass first. 
A rainbow visiting the supply boats
It is true then. It is an ill wind that blows no good.


  1. Love the crisp and clear pictures which blend in nicely with your journals like coffee and cream. Interesting.

    1. Thanks for the kind comment Anon. You happen to have mentioned amongst my two greatest early morning vices :)