The Fractional Life (Flying to Hawaii)

The Fractional Life

Figured this might be a neat topic for some, so enjoy! As most know, I’ve been actively flying the Challenger 350. I thought I’d share just one of the trips that I did earlier this month. The trip was Monterey, CA - Kahului, HI (KMRY-PHOG). The next day was PHOG-KSJC (San Jose, CA) with a diversion to KOAK (Oakland, CA). One of the beauties of this job is the unknown of where you’re going to sleep the next day. For some this is a scary thought. But if you’re easy going and willing to go along with the flow, its an amazing gig.

The night before our trip to Hawaii, each pilot independently looks over the weather and formulates his own synopsis of what the crossing will be like. Dispatch is good and will often route us through the shortest yet smoothest route. All crossings, especially westbound are topped off meaning we load up with all of the fuel we can take due to potential headwinds that we’ll likely encounter. Our normal show time or reporting time for ‘domestic flights’ are 1hr, but because Hawaii is considered an ‘international’ trip within our company, we’re allotted 1.5hrs for preflight preparations. These preflight preparations include quite a few items including:

  • Clearances
  • HF frequencies
  • Additional time for fueling
  • Weather
  • ETP plotting (Equal Time Points)
  • and anything else worth briefing before the crossing


(Coast Out off the coast of California)

Once we’ve taken off we’re in contact with ATC for about 30-40mins before we’re in a phase called ‘coast out’. A bit goes on in this phase. Once above 10,000ft we tune in our HF frequencies and do a selcal check. Selcal is a way for ATC to reach us by sending us a chime to the aircraft. Kind of like a pager for those who know what those things are. aha. Once you get your Selcal ping, you respond back over HF to ATC and confirm that the check was good. This is just a way for them to get a hold of you if ATC ever needed to while you are not actively listening to HF chatter. Depending on the controller or day, we’re told to Squwak 2000 for the crossing. We then tune in 123.45 (fingers) in our primary VHF and 121.5 (EMER) in the secondary VHF. We then login to Oakland Center via CPDLC. By doing this, we no longer need to make position reports when crossing waypoints. The FMS will automatically send off our time, speed, altitude, wind velocity, temperature, and next waypoint estimates automatically. Or… it should! But we always verify that it is.



(Somewhere over the Pacific. Found some wave action going on with the clouds. Indicative of turbulent air)

And we’re off! Listening to Hawaiian, United, American, Southwest chatting amongst themselves on fingers about ride reports and the various tracks they’re on. Unlike the tracks over the Atlantic, the Pacific doesn’t have ‘designated tracks’, but instead airways that we follow. These can be viewed anytime on charts as they do not change. I’ve included a picture of one of our routes further down in this topic, but you can identify what track we’re on simply based on the waypoints. All of our waypoints began with the letter ‘E’; therefore, defining us on the E Track. When we cross at of above FL400, we rarely talk on the radios for ride reports, because we sit above it all.



(Land Ho! Haleakala Crater (10,023ft) and Mauna Kea (13,802ft) further out and on the left)

As we continue on our flight, 2 minutes prior to our waypoint crossing, we ensure that our track and distance match or within and error of margin as planned on our actual flight release. By the time we verify that info, we’re now crossing the waypoint and we get to work.

- Take note of total fuel remaining
- ATA (actual time of arrival) over waypoint
- ETA to next waypoint
- Start timer for 10mins

We do these things to ensure we’re not leaking fuel or burning more than we should for whatever reason. Keeping a close eye on fuel burn and how much fuel we should have over each waypoint is crucial for ensuring that we’ll make it to our destination with enough fuel. Time is important because ATC is expecting us to hit the FIR boundary for radar contact at a certain time or within a window of time. We repeat this process about 5 times throughout our entire flight until we reach the FIR boundary of the next controlling sector. Long story short, we work for about 15-17mins and then we have about a 40-45min break of where we do nothing between waypoints. All of this we’re plotting on our company issued iPads and taking notes of fuel and times on our master flight log. Screenshots of the plotting and log ultimately get turned into the company which is then stored for FAA auditing should the need ever arise.



(On a right downwind on the LNDHY1 arrival. Overlooking Kahului)

As we approach about 10mins outside of the FIR boundary of HCF Approach (Honolulu Control Facility) we get a CPDLC message informing us to contact HCF on a frequency that they provide. Upon check-in, we tell them who we are, where we are, and what altitude and speed. This gives them an idea of where to look for us. HCF will usually then assign us a new squawk code, and that’s kind of the end of the ‘oceanic’ phase. We’re now operating as if we’re back over land utilizing VHF.



(Right wing down over Wailea. Going over the top of Molokini)

One of the more surreal moments about these type of flights is seeing land for the first time, in the middle of largest ocean, and knowing “you made it”. The work paid off and you’re presented a view in paradise. In this image here, we’re just beginning the right turn over Wailea, Maui to enter a right base for the ILS02.



(Parked at Signature FBO facing North)

The approach and operations alike are as normal as you’d think when going into Hawaii. Nothing is really different from a pilots perspective. Airspace rules are all the same. Hawaii does have a strict agriculture policy in the state to prevent invasive plants, animals, etc from entering to which you must declare. But as pilots, that’s not something that we’re too worried about since we ensure there’s nothing of concern before we even depart.

And now the best part of the job begins, going to the hotel and enjoy what Hawaii has to offer. Amazing food, a neat culture, and beautiful weather.



(Wing view at FL450 on the ferry flight back to the US Mainland)

About 90% of the time, our trips to or from Hawaii are a ferry flight. What this means is that we’re only flying passengers one of the ways and we’re empty going the other way. We’re unable to fly roundtrip to & from Hawaii in the same day due to flight and duty times. So its always a one way trip for us. Score! Can’t complain. That said, us pilots will rotate a few times on the crossing. We’ll go to the cabin and eat lunch, relax some, and enjoy the luxury lifestyle that we don’t typically experience on a normal basis. haha. We never compromise the safety of flight, but when both pilots are proficient and comfortable with one pilot leaving the cockpit, we will do so time and workload permitting. Also helpful if you have a Spotify or music playlist downloaded for flights where there’s no wifi. Helps the time pass by quickly.



(Plotting chart for leg PHOG-KOAK)

Actual plotting chart used on our return trip. ETPs for Engine, Medical and Depressurization plotted. If we have any one of those 3 issues before the defined point, we turn around and head back to our departure airport since that’s the shortest route. Shortest in time, not distance. If we pass those defined ETPs and we have an issue, we continue, again because its the shortest in time to a suitable landing airport. Purple pins reflect our 10 min points beyond our waypoint crossing. Purpose of these? idk. But regulations tell us that we need to do them. lol. On this flight we actually needed to divert to KOAK for operational needs. No emergency. Company needed us to bring the plane to Oakland to do another flight to Boeing Field later that same night.



(Cockpit Screens in cruise FL450 / M.80)

For pax carrying flights or revenue flights we fly at M.82. Time is money in this case and we realize our pax are paying a premium fee for our operations. So we give them best forward speed conditions permitting. Ferry flights we cruise back at M.80 for fuel economy. We’ll also try to go up to the service ceiling if ride conditions and weight permit us to do so. This will further increase our fuel economy. In this picture here we’re burning 800lbs/per engine for a total of 1600lbs/hr while doing 532kts GS. Not too bad. And then we do it all over again. Plotting of points, position checks, the whole 9 yards.


Conclusion

Hopefully this provided a little insight on what its like to do a crossing to Hawaii. Its quite a bit different than ‘overland’ flying. When you’re out over the water, you’re it. You and the plane become one. These type of flights really put life into perspective. How small we as humans are on this planet flying over such a vast area of water. It was weird, the Captain I was flying with and I got deep into a conversation about how much we rely on GPS but we don’t appreciate it as much. The convo ended something like, “Imagine if we lost our GPS. If we were off by as much as 3 degrees some 1500nm or further out, and we never realized it, we could totally miss Hawaii and never even see it.”

The tolerance for things to work just right so that you reach your destination is so small that its truly our lifeline. Stay sharp on your skills and use all of your available resources because you never know, one day, you may just need to get yourself out of a pickle.

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Amazing topic, Matt! What a lot of info!

I can’t wait to fly the Challenger 350 in Infinite Flight - and “test its capabilities” (lets say that)…

Have a great rest of your day!

Makes me look forward to the CL35’s arrival into IF!

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Great topic Matt, and thanks for the insight.

In a previous stream, you mentioned a “Mach hold” on the CL35 or something along those lines… is that what’s being displayed on the speed column of the PFD? Is this displayed on regular airliners as well, or is this specific to the CL35?

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Man, I am excited for the CL35 to come to Infinite Flight!

Endless route possibilities and endless views!

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Admit it, you were playing games weren’t you? 🫢

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That’s correct. Mach Hold is what we call a “poor mans” autothrottle. The throttles don’t physically move. But the N1 will change within ±3% of the value that you pressed the button. So it’ll try to hold you within that speed.

But as soon as turbulence or mountain wave is encountered, its pretty much useless. It can’t keep up because of how slow the % changes with Mach hold enabled.

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Rich person benefits without the rich person price, NJ really should just put that on their pilot benefit profile.

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Matt, you are really just living my dream life! Great post!

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I can’t. If we put unauthorized apps on our company iPads, it locks us out of it until the company can remotely remove them. #DeviceManagement

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Deer creating a topic because he’s spending 5 hours seeing nothing outside and being stuck next to a captain he doesn’t like

Just kidding (kinda :)

Wonderful pictures and very nice narrative, lots of info packed into a single post, very nice to read!

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Do diversions like these happen frequently? Either way, thank you for sharing your journey with us, it was a very interesting read. Hopefully, we can reproduce it in Infinite Flight soon.

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I smell a potential event from OAK-HOG when the Challenger 350 arrives in Infinite Flight, headed by the Challenger 350 king himself.

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They happen about 5% of the time. Usually only on our ferry flights. That said, they’re kinda rare, but they do happen from time to time.

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Have you ever flown into SNA?

I have a few times. Fun airport

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I fly there every summer when I go to Disney land

First Challenger 350 flight is go to be ADS or DAL to DeerCrusher land APA hey @DeerCrusher do you like Addison or Dallas Love better both have significant Netjet operations

I saw one time a helicopter doing pattern work

I could imagine the rich people wouldn’t be too happy finding out they’re going to Oakland midflight.