Ferry flight from Alderney

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A short ferry trip outside the European Union

The concept of ferry pilots brings thoughts of fearless individuals who fly small aircraft across the Atlantic, surrounded by huge extra fuel tanks and the risk of bad weather, sharks and a cold sea. In my case however, it was just a one hour flight back from Alderney after one of the other share-o-plane owners had flown it out there.

Alderney is outside the European Union though, so qualifies for Duty Frees and tax free fuel.

Flying on an IFR flight plan

The outbound leg allowed me to watch and learn from John, an IR rated pilot. The flightplan was filed IFR rather than VFR, but didn’t involve airways. We climbed to FL50, punching through a few white fluffy clouds without any great concern and then cruised above them with a view through the gaps of various landmarks below. On climbout I spotted the Gloucester artificial ski-slope, then later Bath, then coasting out to the east of Weymouth we got a good view of Portland harbour.

Bath from 5000 feet
Above clouds
Above the clouds
coasting out
Coasting out east of Weymouth and Portland Harbour

Jersey Zone

Once handed over to Jersey Zone, we remained on an IFR clearance and requested the GPS LPV approach for 26 on Alderney. We were then handed over to Guernsey, who we could barely make out on the radio. John used the autopilot to fly the approach but forgot to press the APP button (it was still on NAV mode), so it did everything except capture the glideslope. I completely failed to see that omission either. Spotting that quickly after we had passed the final approach fix, he switched to manual and flew it visually, deliberately keeping high (as seen from the PAPIs as well as the HSI) to avoid the turbulence at about 200 feet on short final. I would not have known to expect it if he hadn’t told me and wouldn’t be surprised if this often catches out the unwary.

Alderney on the right wingtip prior to turning final for 26 LPV approach
Alderney, final 26
Alderney seen out the right hand window, approaching on final for 26
Braye Harbour
Braye harbour, looking right when on final for 26
short final 26
Final for 26 – turblence hits just before the white house, hence deliberately flying above PAPI glideslope

Cheap Fuel

After parking up on the grass, and filling in the GENDEC forms in the office, the fuel truck drove round and filled us up to the brim. VAT and Duty free fuel is much cheaper here, although even less in Guernsey. I kept a copy of the blue GENDEC form which would be needed to get back airside on departure.

refuelling bowser
Refuelling bowser at Alderney – topping up with low cost fuel

After lunch and a tour of the island, I filed my VFR flightplan using SkyDemon at the airport using their free Wi-Fi. I’d bought a bottle of Duty Free at the counter, and this was waiting for me after passing through security who quickly checked my paperwork and ID.

Straightforward departure SVFR to the north

I preflighted and called for start, which ensured they had my flight plan filed a few minutes earlier and would be ready to arrange my clearance via Jersey Zone. Power checks at the hold could be done without specially turning into wind, then I was given my clearance (Special VFR, not above 2000 feet on northerly track, squawk XXXX). I ensured that Jersey Zone’s frequency was on the standby, expecting not to need to talk to Guernsey on the way out as we had when arriving. Taking off to the west, I had been warned of turbulence over the cliffs so delayed any turn until out over the sea, but really there wasn’t much to cause concern.

Over the English Channel

Shortly after switching to Jersey Zone, I asked to climb to FL50 which was granted and a few minutes later was clear of their airspace. They clarified that this meant a Basic service. I climbed higher, to about FL70 and checked this wouldn’t impinge on any airways. There were clouds ahead at this level, but I stayed out of them most of the time.

Bournemouth IFR

Bournemouth were next, and although it was a “FreeCall”, I announced myself as IFR and requested a traffic service. I was given a reduced Traffic Service due to radar limitations and continued on, flying through  a few clouds and trying to convince myself that the slight lean showing on the instruments wasn’t due to poor rudder alignment or other configuration error. I have found that after flying on full tanks there does seem to be a perceptible trim imbalance after one tank has been depleted, so switched tanks. Nobody else has indicated that’s a problem with the TB20, so it may just be my impression.

I requested and was given clearance to FL80 and turn left 30-40 degrees, wanting to keep out of the worst of the cloud if I didn’t need to go through it. This looked pretty innocuous but I knew there were some rain showers ahead. Although you don’t need clearance to do anything in Class G airspace, I felt I did need to clarify what I was doing to the controller when under traffic service and ensure their co-operation.

Over to Bristol

This helped, because he passed my details to Bristol and I only needed to “contact” rather than “freecall” them at the radar coverage boundary. Helpfully, I was given a transit through Bristol airspace, and they also co-ordinated an approach with Gloucester. They (Bristol) couldn’t confirm if the GPS approach was available and suggested I just switch to them and sort it out directly which I did. The RNAV for 27 was immediately approved and I was told to report at NIRMO (the first reporting point). Descending now through 3500 (platform altitude is 2500) I could see some clouds and rain showers in the vicinity of the airfield. The autopilot did its job and I ensured the APP button was pressed in, so that it nicely captured the glideslope at the final approach fix. Gear down and power back, this was looking good, but when I put on the second stage of flaps the speed dropped somewhat (it does balloon more when deploying full flaps under autopilot because there isn’t any anticipation of what’s happening). So I added some power and kept it on autopilot which nicely recovered the glideslope.

Rainshowers over Gloucester Airport

Runway 22 was in use because of a 90 degree crosswind of about 12 knots on runway 27, from a rainshower passing through. The tower offered me the option to break off and circle around for 22, but after considering the wind, I though 27 would be within my limits and good practice. Switching to manual, I lined up for a crosswind landing which was again a bit flat (one of my bad habits). After landing, I backtracked and held for another aircraft landing on 22 and could then proceed back to parking. It was good ATC work to have both runways in use simultaneously and accomodate the mix of different traffic.

Flight and engine logs

Flight Log
SkyDemon flight track from Alderney to Gloucester – routing east for the RNAV approach

Savvy analysis of the flight from JPI engine management log, which samples data every six seconds. The top chart shows EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperatures) and FF (Fuel Flow), while the bottom shows  CHTs (Cylinder Head Temperatures) and Voltage (red line). The sensor for cylinder 1 is positioned further away than others, hence gives a lower reading. We try to keep the CHTs below 400 because the properties of Aluminium change above that, which helps prolong engine life. I’ve found that leaning the mixture affects the EGT temperatures much more so than the CHTs, but am still refining the technique to optimise fuel burn.

Savvy flight analysis
Savvy flight analysis for the above flight.

I stayed on for the Cotswold Aero Club BBQ and met a few new people and old friends there. Nice to have some social activity going on there and be able to join in.

PIC Time Today: 1:00
Total PIC Time: 188:35
Total Time: 291:00

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