In preparation for VATSIM’s Cross the Pond event, where I’ll be flying from Toronto CYYZ to Amsterdam Schiphol EHAM, I’ve been refreshing myself on Schiphol and its procedures. Now, a week to go until the event, it is time to go do the same for Toronto.
I will be flying EHAM-CYYZ as KLM31 (KL691), with a Boeing 777-200, PH-BQG. I’d like to take you on the trip with me and tell the story with emphasis on the procedures used. Here we go!
P3D v4 add-ons used:
- PMDG 777-200LR
- FlyTampa EHAM
- FlyTampa CYYZ
- Active Sky for P3D v4
- Active Sky Cloud Art
- ENVTEX texture enhancement package
- PTA + PTAbsolute for shaders
- PFPX + TOPCAT
- Navigraph Charts + Navdata
Let’s start with flight planning. First we’ll look at the North Atlantic Tracks (NAT) available this morning:
NATs and our direct great circle routing.
It would seem that A and B are the only reasonable ones for us, since winds are somewhat similar on all tracks. While planning routes from EHAM to entry points of these tracks, I realised that an active military airspace to the East of the UK prevents an efficient route from EHAM to NAT A, so NAT B ends up being the best option.
Restricted active military airspace in red.
Route planning on the other side of the pond is way more straightforward and much less limited. We get the optimal route from NAT B’s final fix URTAK to CYYZ. Here’s our route in full:
BERGI UL602 MIMVA L602 TLA DCT GOMUP 59N020W 61N030W 61N040W 60N050W URTAK N746A ALSOP N730A YKL MT YXI IMEBA3
Our initial cruise level will be FL360. As we reach oceanic airspace, we will step climb to FL370 first, then FL380. Later, over Canada, we will do the final step to FL400 around 500 nautical miles from CYYZ.
Now let's see what kind of a weather we can expect enroute. According to the significant weather charts, there is a jetstream and heavy turbulence at altitude at the very beginning of the cruise. Crossing the atlantic, there seems to be nothing concerning us. Near our destination there will be another jetstream around FL300, which may cause some shakes on our descent, but we might just miss it entirely.
Important areas circled in red.
Arrived at gate E9 one hour before departure, with our plane empty and ready for departure prepping.
Stepping into the cockpit
We are starting at EHAM from gate E9. Runway 36L is in use for departures, so we are expecting a long taxi through the fields of Schiphol. Our first enroute fix is BERGI, so BERGI 3V departure should take us there from 36L. Taking a quick scroll through the EHAM NOTAMs, there’s nothing concerning our departure.
Amsterdam Radar has showed up to work this morning. We give EHAM ATIS a listen. Nothing surprising there, and I call Radar for clearance:
Me: “Amsterdam Radar, good morning! KLM31 is a Boeing 777-200 at gate E9. Information Echo, QNH 1016. Requesting clearance to Toronto.”
Amsterdam Radar: “KLM31, good morning! You are cleared to Toronto via runway 24, BERGI 1S departure, squawk 2111.”
I read back the clearance and Radar asks us to report when ready for pushback and startup.
So, instead of the active 36L, Amsterdam decided to give us 24 for departure. Probably because of the shorter taxi, and that’s just fine. We just need to recalculate our takeoff performance.
The taxi we were expecting in red, and the taxi we are getting in green. A pleasant surprise!
BERGI 1S departure that we were given.
At this point we have begun boarding. Here are a couple of airside pictures:
Cargo being loaded in lovely October weather. A Thomson 737 taxiing in the background.
Another KLM triple preparing for pond crossing at E5.
Despite the change of plans, we have the cockpit and FMC ready before all cargo has been loaded. The other KLM 777 has just taxied on their way for runway 24, so we have the apron for ourselves and are ready to start as soon as the ground crew are done with loading. We start the APU and disconnect the jetway.
Ready to go!
Soon after the last luggage tug pulls away. We get to close the cargo doors and ask the ground crew for the pushback truck. At this point we are still 9 minutes to our scheduled departure time of 0940, so we wait a couple of minutes for our slot time.
Ground crew waiting to start pushing.
Eventually we call Amsterdam Radar for pushback and startup. He approves and gives us the new local QNH, now 1017.
Starting #2 during pushback.
Passenger view of the terminal and flaps set to 5 for takeoff.
“Have a good trip!” say the ground crew and scramble for shelter from the downpour.
We call ready for taxi, and get our routing via A to holding point S7 at the end of runway 24.
Turned on the weather radar when leaving the apron. I expected nothing less…
We arrive at holding point S7, configured and ready for takeoff. With no other traffic, we get our takeoff clearance immediately.
Entering the runway.
Rolling, thrust set, and radar looking red as ever! Amsterdam Radar just handed a text pilot off to Bremen Radar.
80 knots, V1, rotate! We leave the runway and immediately the winds reveal their intentions. At 400ft we engage autopilot to lighten the workload, but the windshear is so severe, that our IAS keeps dropping dangerously close to stall speeds. We have to disconnect AP and fly by hand.
Me: “KLM31 airborne passing 1400ft”
Radar: “KLM31, radar contact. Climb FL240.”
We set altimeter to standard and continue climbing along BERGI 1S.
Emerging above the thunderstorm, view from the tail cam.
Wings bouncing up and down!
Finally at FL200, the turbulence eases a little bit, and we engage the AP. When reaching FL220, Amsterdam Radar comes on again:
Radar: “KLM31, climb FL360, direct MIMVA”
Me: “Climb FL360, direct MIMVA, KLM31, thank you!”
With low traffic, we are cleared to climb all the way to cruise altitude, and given a shortcut to our Amsterdam FIR exit point.
Direct to MIMVA. Seatbelts are not coming off until we’re clear of those red clusters!
From here on out it was all very simple. We managed to climb over the last of the storm, and Amsterdam released us to the unicom frequency.
Leaving the last of Scotland behind.
And that’s the departure. I will post the arrival later, given that P3D remains cooperative. Right now we are somewhere between Iceland and Greenland enjoying the view of solid fluffy cloud coverage below us.
Let me know if there's some detail I left out that would have interested you! And thanks for reading