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So You’ve Had To Divert!

Here are some things to think about after you’ve landed and parked if you are required to divert. The
list contains the things required to be completed in the worst case, i.e. an Off Line Port and no ACARS
support (you’re on your own!).

See Vol 2 Pt 2, 3-1-8 Diversion/Unscheduled Landing

Maintenance Support
If you lob into an Off Line Port, it is likely you will have to fend for yourself – totally! If you’re lucky an
Airbus qualified Ground Engineer or other maintenance support personnel (refuellers, mechanics, etc.)
may be able to help you. Ensure if you accept their help that you are legally covered (if someone
cocks up the refuelling and they’re not suitably qualified, you’re the one who is going to cop it!) They
may also want to charge you for it (how are you going to pay for it?)

Logbook
Follow the instructions in Vol 2 Pt 2, 3-1-8. This details how to conduct a “Pre-flight Inspection Check”
and how to write up the logbook and what to do if a defect had occurred in the last sector (3-1-11
gives an example of a completed logbook).

Refuelling
The above reference also gives some guidance on refuelling, in particular “…ensure refuelling is
conducted in accordance with Company procedures.” (Vol 2 Pt 2, 3-1-8).

If nobody can refuel you, then use FCOM 3.04.28 (Automatic Refuelling).

Don’t forget to complete the Refuel Record form and obtain a water check.

Administrivia
Once again, if you have to fend for yourself, make sure that you’ve double checked everything (get the
other pilot to independently calculate fuel, Loadsheet, Take Off Performance and Flight Plan), and
then compare what you get. The pressure may be on (especially if AFTL’s or curfews are a problem).
Make sure you’re safe and legal. Don’t rush into mistakes.

Communications
Keep the Company informed by whatever means is the most expeditious (Satcom is usually the
easiest). They in turn will be making decisions and guiding you towards the best possible outcome.
They probably have more information and definitely more resources, so unless there is a compelling
reason not to comply with their directives, do so. Refer to Vol 2 Pt 2, 3-3-2

Handling Agents
The diversion Port may have a Handling Agent listed if a CX Port Page covers it. The mini-Jepps list
the ports (2 eng or 4 eng) that are included in the aircraft’s Jeppesen library (Vol 2 Pt 2, 1-1-1). If you
are lucky and a Handling Agent is available they can help with all the other stuff.

Flight Plan
Request a Flight Plan via ACARS if possible. If this is not available build one yourself using the INIT
function of the FMGC (be familiar with this function before you are required to use it). This will give
you the route and waypoints, along with an estimated Block Fuel when you complete all the required
fields.

You may have to find out where the Flight Planning Office is and submit an ICAO Flight Plan yourself.
Use the info from the FMCG (print out the flight plan on the printer and take it with you). Take the
previous CFP with you also, as page 2 has the previous ATC Flight Plan and you can use it as a
template for your new one. The AERAD also has examples of how to fill in an ATC Flight Plan.

If there are absolutely no ATC facilities at your diversion port, the last resort is to file the Flight Plan by
HF or Satcom to an ATC agency (lots of potential for a cock up there!), or get airborne and negotiate
clearances while remaining OCTA (even more potential for a monster cock up). All flights must be
conducted under IFR (Vol 2 Pt 2, 1-1-4).

Fuel Required
Use the info from an ACARS simplified flight plan if possible (Vol 2 Pt 2, 3-1-33) or from your INIT
Block Fuel calculations from the FMGC.

Loadsheet
Get an ACARS Loadsheet if you can. If not complete a No Change To Traffic Loadsheet. The
procedure is fully detailed in Vol 2 Pt 2, 3-5-27. Three copies are required. The Manual Trim Sheet
will also be required to obtain the fuel index to calculate the Laden Index, MACTOW and Stab Trim
(see Vol 2 Pt 2, 3-5-22). Both of these forms are in the aircraft stationary wallet.

NOTOC
Just use the previous one. The departure Port will be different, but nothing else should change
(except maybe the flight number if you get given another one).

Weather METARS/Forecasts and NOTAMS
Use ACARS to get updated WX and NOTAMs. If unavailable, use the previous sector’s WX and
NOTAMs, updated with HF Volmet, VHF AERIS or Met and NOTAMs obtained from the airfield ATC.
You might be able to get Met briefings when you file your Flight Plan, if you’ve got to visit the on-field
ATC office.

Take Off Performance Data
Use the ACARS RTOW if possible. If that doesn’t work it will be unlikely that the Port will be included
in the list of Ports in the Simplified RTOW charts. If none of these works then you’re pretty well stuffed
and IOC and you will have to formulate some sort of plan.

Curfew
Can you get out before a local curfew or arrive at your intended destination before a curfew? Curfew
information for certain ports are included in the heading of the Port in the Company NOTAMs. Ask
IOC to negotiate a late departure/arrival if possible.

Landing Permits
If you land at a USAF Base don’t forget about the Landing Permits tucked away in the aircraft
documents on the cockpit door. Vol 2 Pt 2, 3-1-44 also lists all the US Authorised Airports.
AFTL’s
Calculate your maximum FDP. Give IOC all the Duty times via ACARS or Satcom and get them to
come up with their best guess and compare it with yours (after all they are supposed to be the experts
and they’re probably under less pressure and have more resources available).

Vol 1, 2-3-1 has the Approved Flight Time Limitations Scheme. Know it backwards before you’re
required to use it in anger. Make sure you are legal.

If Commander’s Discretion is required (Vol 1, 2-3-12 Extension of duty or Vol 1, 2-3-17 Reduction of
rest), make sure you’re legal and fill out a CDR (in stationary wallet).

Don’t forget that the Cabin Crew have slightly different FTL’s to the Tech Crew and you’ll have to
calculate it for them (I’ve yet to meet any Cabin Crew who can work it out). Normally the tech crew is
the most limiting but not always. Crew called out from reserve, acclimatised, unacclimatised,
integrated patterns or inflight rest periods (extension of duty, which may be different for tech and cabin
crew) can all make a combination of different FDP’s.

If you are stuck and required to handle all the passenger accommodation and administration
requirements due to a lack of Handling Agents, this will blow out your Duty Period (not your FDP).
Your minimum legal rest requirements are based on the Duty Period, so don’t let all your crew spend
all night looking after the pax or you’ll never get out of there. Ensure that the minimum required
number of Tech and Cabin Crew for the next sector(s) disengage and get their required rest as early
as possible. Some of the Cabin Crew, excess to requirements, will need to stay with the pax to act as
your liaison and handling agents and therefore will not be available for duty on the next sector.
Minimum crew is 2 pilots and cabin crew not less than the number of aircraft doors (FCOM 3.01.20
P1).

Passenger Handling
It would be much easier if you did this diversion thing in a freighter. However, you will have a bunch of
paying passengers behind you confused and/or angry about not having arrived at where they paid to
go. You will most likely be required to put your hat and tie on and go and pacify the masses – it may
even require pressing the flesh and kissing babies. Put on your best politician imitation and bullshit
and charm your way through.

If you’re lucky you’ll be able to get away to your original destination with minimal delay (best option). If
you can’t get to your original destination you may have to go to some other port and hand over the
punters to the Handling Agents (next best option).

If the diversion port has Handling Agents and you cannot depart for whatever reason, off load the
punters to the handling agents and scuttle off to the nearest Hotel/Pub. The worst option is to be
stuck at your diversion port with no Handling Agents. You and your crew are now responsible for the
great unwashed.

Disarming Doors
If the doors are required to opened by the Cabin Crew, then the ISM will inform the Commander and
he will give the approval (Vol 2 Pt 2, 1-8-14 & 3-1-8).

General Service Guidelines
If you can communicate with IOC (Satcom, HF, phone, ACARS), use their resources. Get them to
make decisions. Off load as much as possible from yourself. Use all the resources available to you at
the diversion port. Remember “The Captain will have overall authority during all diversions to an Off
Line Port.”

Refer to Vol 2 Pt 2, 3-1-8. This gives guidance on what services should be obtained depending on
length of time on the ground (e.g. refreshments, meals, phone/fax services, IFE, amenities, holding
lounges or hotel day use). Be creative and flexible – utilize all crew members (they may have local
knowledge). You may have to pay for stuff with your credit card and get a refund later.

Obviously, Handling Agents will smooth the way, but if you’re by yourself then some creative thinking
will be required. Make full use of the ISM and the Cabin Crew – you’ll probably be busy doing other
stuff. Keep the punters informed, but don’t go overboard and don’t bullshit. If you don’t know how
long the delay will be then say so – you are not a miracle worker.

Disembarking
This will depend on ground handling equipment available (air bridge or stairs), transport requirements,
lounge/holding facilities and Customs and Immigration requirements. Get the local authorities
approval first before disembarking. If CIQ facilities are not available you may be stuck on the aircraft
as the authorities may not allow you to disembark.

Try to avoid disembarking passengers if possible. Once they leave the aircraft you have lost some
control of them and it could be a pain in the butt to get them rounded up and all back on (especially if
things change quickly). On the other hand you can’t reasonably expect the pax to remain confined on
board if the delay is going to be quite long (how long? Your guess is as good as mine!) The smokers
may revolt if trapped on board (Taiwanese/Japanese/Koreans!)

Formulate a plan with the ISM before shifting passengers. In fact get the ISM to plan the “Escape
from Alcatraz” long before you are required to use it and liaise with the local authorities. You want to
keep as much control of the pax as possible. Members of the Cabin Crew should accompany the
passengers.

Leadership – Be A Leader Not A Manager
People will be looking towards you and will take their lead from you. Project confidence and authority
and don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. Remember that other people (Ground Handling Agents
etc.) just want you to go away as you are a complicating factor in their lives. Don’t let them fob you off
– use them to the max. Give them directives (orders?), but keep them on side. Try to give them
win/win solutions to problems (or at least minimum cost solutions). If they can’t help you, talk to their
boss and see if he/she can.

Keep your troops informed and actively solicit suggestions from them – involve them, make this their
problem as well and then give them the authority to get on with their assigned task. Use the chain of
command both ways – downwards to disseminate your tasks/orders and upwards to receive
feedback/ideas. Use SITREPs and Commander’s Conferences regularly.

Actively use all resources at your disposal. This may even be the punters themselves. They may
have a wealth of local knowledge that you can use and local contacts. Keep them informed with
regular updates via the PA or by personal contact (especially first and business class pax – these
people are the upper echelon of business and usually appreciate/expect the extra attention).

If you have the time and inclination, put a face to the disembodied voice on the PA and mingle with the
punters. Get them on side – after all you’re all in this together.