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World trip resumed (flyer for...)

Post by mikehallam » Wed May 10, 2023 9:12 pm

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Re: Taking the long way home: Katamarino's Round the World flight
By Katamarino
Tue May 09, 2023 20:28#1964732
Well, the longest ever round-the-world flight is ramping up to continue. Since my last update of October 2021, we discovered that the newly replaced camshaft and lifters were already failing in less than 1 year, and 260 flying hours. 5 of 6 exhaust valves were also shot. The manufacturer reviewed the engine monitor data and the parts, and determined that I had done nothing wrong, so all parts were repaced under warranty.

It took a year, with part shortages, to get everything rectified. In November of 2022 I returned to Australia and flew 90 hours around the country again over 3 weeks, making sure the engine was good to go. That’s written up on my website so I won't repeat it here; but there's a few hundred hours flying in total written up on there since my last write-up here of July 2020. ... stralasia/ ... ia-part-2/ ... ia-part-3/

I thought I'd write a bit about the preparation for the Pacific crossing, to give an idea of why the bureaucracy and funding is the hard part of a round-the-world flight. The flying is easy.

First, the route:


I'll talk through the preparation in sections, for each leg of the route.

Part 0: in Australia
Before departure, the ferry fuel system needs to be dusted off and tested. I can do this myself. The HF radio also needs to be re-installed and tested; I've organised for it to be mailed back to the guy whose hangar Planey is in, so it's ready for me to install when I get back down there.
I’ve also obtained a device that reads marine traffic AIS (ADSB for boats) and plots it on Foreflight, in case one gets into trouble in the ocean. That needs to be tested in the plane.
I am currently on “international” insurance, which excludes the US (the US is in company with the other excluded countries such as Iran, Somalia, North Korea, and similar. Read into that what you will). I need to get US insurance lined up for my return. American Samoa is a challenge; international insurance regards it as the US and excludes it, and US insurance regards it as foreign and excludes it.
I’ll carry out an oil and filter change at a local field before departure, but allow a couple more flights after that and before the first oceanic leg to be 100% sure there aren’t any leaks.
Most Pacific countries (as well as Australia and NZ) require arriving aircraft to show proof of dis-insection in flight. The aircraft specific insecticides are a pain to find. I am hoping to pick up a couple of cans from an FBO at Brisbane if their shipment comes in time.
Finally I need to reactivate the Garmin InReach for tracking and messaging and ensure it’s operational.

Part 1: Brisbane to New Caledonia

One has to depart from Australia from an international airport; Brisbane International is the closest to New Caledonia.
Brisbane is a slot controlled airport, so you have to contact the slot coordination team to have these allocated.
Once landing/departure slots are issued, you contact airport ops to get a GA apron parking allocation.
Separately you need to contact Australia Border Force and submit a request for an "Off Terminal Clearance", so they will come to the apron to clear me outbound. Without this it would be a $500+ payment to a handling agent to drive me around the airport a couple of times. Documentation needed at this stage includes a General Declaration (GenDec) and a NIL Cargo Manifest; pretty straightforward.
Finally, it's best to call the fuelers in advance to check availability of Avgas, and ensure they can meet you at the GA apron. The fuel load required for the flight to New Caledonia puts me over max landing weight, so I can't fuel up at the local GA airport before hitting the international.
The international flight plan then needs to be filed 24 hours in advance, including en-route times to the FIR boundary etc etc.
For arrival in New Caledonia a GenDec and Passenger list need to be provided. Self-handling is allowed, and the airport authority are pretty responsive, so this is an easy arrival.

Part 2: New Caledonia to Fiji

There is no Avgas at the international airport in New Caledonia; only at the local airport in town, which is not international. The fuel load for the flight to Fiji is heavy enough that it puts me well over max landing weight, so I can't refuel and then reposition to the international to clear customs. Therefore a request for departure from the local airport, Magenta, needs to be lodged and approved with immigration.
There's no apparent way to contact them, so this is done through the international airport management; nobody at the local airport answers their emails.
The Fiji AIP is not available online without paying $350+. Most countries make it freely available. Luckily I manage to get a copy from someone on a UK flying forum. Handling is mandatory at Nadi airport and the only company on their list charges $1,000 base fee. I managed to find someone who can do it for $500; bargain.
As I’m paying the handler, I may as well use him; I sent my Certificates of Airworthiness, Registration, and Insurance so he can get going on the various permissions and clearances. They also need a GenDec.
It’s a $750 customs charge if you arrive after 4pm, or on a weekend.
The fuelers at Fiji will only accept payment through a “fuel release”. This needs to be done through a company such as World Fuel Services. Why they can’t just accept a credit card or bank transfer is anyone’s guess.

Part 3: Fiji to American Samoa

On this flight, the international date line rears its head. American Samoa is a day behind Fiji, which can cause confusion for things like hotel bookings. I will depart from Fiji on a Tuesday and arrive in Pago Pago on a Monday.
Fuel in Pago Pago is only available from drums, and availability is not guaranteed unless you buy in advance. I bought mine a little over 3 years ago and it is apparently still waiting for me. One needs to carry ones own bung wrench, pump, filter funnel and fuel hoses as availability of these is not guaranteed.
I have a handler here too (the fuel supplier), so I’ll have him handle the paperwork.

Part 4: American Samoa to Kiritimati

Kiritimati is east of Pago Pago. However it is part of the Kiribati island chain, the majority of which is well west of there. To avoid one part of the country being a full day behind the rest, the international date line here has been stretched out to loop around Kiritimati. This means that I will take off on Thursday and land on Friday despite no overnight section.
Kiritimati is even more remote than the islands so far. Once again, drums of fuel need to be ordered well in advance so they can be brought in by boat. My fuel apparently “expired” in 2021, but in sealed drums AVGAS is effectively immortal.
Flight notification needs to go to the airport manager at least a day ahead. Otherwise the permit side seems simple. The latest version of the AIP is from about 1992 though so who knows for sure?
The 4 towns in Kiritimati are called London, Paris, Poland and Banana.

Part 5: Kiritimati to Hawaii

The date line, yet again. I arrive a day before I depart.
There’s the typical CBP/EAPIS stuff to sort out for the international arrival. The toughest part is often actually getting through to someone by phone to confirm the day ahead, as well as trying to conform to a 15-minute arrival window that they want. Hopefully they’ll show a bit more flexibility given that it’s a 10+ hour flight.

Part 6: Hawaii to California

Domestic flight, so no CBP to worry about!
Given that the ferry tank will be full, an overweight Special Flight Permit (SFP) is required.
The Hawaii FSDO has been very helpful with that. The guy I’m dealing with is very responsive and pleasant. He’d never done one before so it’s been slow, but that’s fine as I started very early. I do think his experience with light aircraft is limited; he kicked back my W&B calcs saying I needed to use 6.7lbs/gal fuel weight and not “round it down” to 6!
The FSDO is on Honolulu but I depart from Hilo and they say that once the permit is issued I am not allowed to carry out any flight other than the one it is for. So they don’t know how I can fly from Honolulu to Hilo. This clearly can’t be the first time the issue has arisen so I am waiting for them to figure it out.
Here more than anywhere one has to strictly follow Oceanic procedures which are a whole new world. The key issue is that one needs a successful HF check to be allowed to continue out of VHF range. I *think* this can be done on the ground; I really don’t want to get 100nm out and then be told I have to return and burn off fuel for 10 hours before I am light enough to land again.
This will be an overnight flight. Probably about a 3pm departure, leading to about a 10am arrival in CA.
I’ll carry out an oil and filter change here and once again do a couple of internal flights before the big oceanic leg.

After that it’s just crossing the US, easy.

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