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Monday, September 2, 2013: Day 9 - Colombo-Palembang, Indonesia
090213 Preparing to depart Colombo Sri LankaToday we were up again at 0400 and ready to go to the airport at 0500. This is becoming a normal procedure, as we once again were led through customs and immigration at the head of the line. We stopped by the flight planning office since ATC wanted to better understand our overwater routing. They were comfortable with our plan so we headed to the aircraft, and though we did not make our planned departure of 0600 (photo left: preapring to depart Colombo), we were airborne at 0646 and on our way to Banda Aceh, Indonesia. This time we climbed all the way up to 25,002 feet; the climb took us 19 minutes, and we burned 43 gallons which included 9 gallons for a slow and long taxi and holding for an Airbus. We are now cruising at 280 knots TAS and burning 68 gallons per hour. On this leg we have a 20 knot headwind--which was not meant to happen--we were meant to have tailwinds! We have been in clouds since TOC, and about half way we picked up some intense ice for about a 15-minute period. We are now in an area of isolated embedded storms associated with the ITCZ. Most of this leg we were on HF giving position reports to Columbo. We started our descent into Banda, and again were given the ILS. It seems to be that in this area of the world you just go and do the ILS on your own--no radar vector, no advised procedure--just do it. Our descent from FL250, approach, landing and taxi were all handled by the tower, and the controller was a trainee.

After landing in Banda, we were greeted by several smiling faces. Rafi was our handler, and he was determined to make us welcome and happy. After fueling the aircraft we were escorted to the Garuda Airline 1st Class Lounge for some coffee and cake.

090213 Tusnami-ravaged area of Banda AcehBanda was badly hit by the tsunami 8 years ago--250,000 people were killed in the low lying areas--and you could still see the effects of the devastation as we crossed the coast on our approach (photo left). Consequently, Banda now has a beautiful new terminal building. Rafi Prop Comparisonbrought back our passports already stamped with a 7 day crew visa for Indonesia. A good handler on a trip like this is a must.

We departed Banda for Palembang, and even though my Indonesian and their English does not seem to be working very well at the moment, I know where we are heading so I think it will all work out. Once we begin talking with Jakarta Control, we both understand each other very well, and we are now given a direct track to Palembang at FL250. This is a short 801 mile leg so its time to use normal cruise and do a comparison between the Hartzell and MT-Props. On 7/12/12 N50ET with Hartzell props was at 25,000 feet, -19 degrees, 72 gallons per hour and TAS 303. Today N50ET with MT props was at 25,000 , -18 degrees, 72 gallons per hour and TAS 305 (photo right). Both tests were taken with 186 gallons on board. This 2 knots faster is the difference from my last test which showed 2 knots slower. I am consistently 10% quicker on climb and 10% less fuel for climb. The cabin is 15 Dba quieter and also smoother.  This information was provided because I had been asked by several people.

I wish we had not had that cup of coffee, because when we approached Palembang there were intense storms for miles in every direction. Base was 300 feet, visibility 3,000 meters in heavy rain. Approach cleared us for the VOR approach, but the field was below minimums for that approach. I requested the ILS, and we broke out at 300 feet in torrential rain. After landing Mike and I handled our own baggage with two umbrellas that had little effect, as we were wet through. Tomorrow we go to beautiful Bali for the night--I can't wait.