After twelve years on Phase Check, I finished my time with Air Canada in Winnipeg - for now, at least. Several years ago, AC decided to split off its maintenance branch into what eventually became a separate company called Aveos. In April, we all had to decide whether we would stay with AC or go to the new company. Lots of us, including me, chose to stay with AC. Having chosen AC, I had to decide whether I would bump to an unknown location (to be decided by seniority rules). I elected to be laid off, because I had no intention of getting sent to Toronto, which we all felt would be where we would end up.
The transition to the new company was supposed to happen in July, but it took a bit longer than was planned. Therefore, all the AC employees were seconded to Aveos for an indefinite period of time. In October, I received a lay off date, 18 Feb. I did not assume I would actually be laid off, because with AC you can never say for sure until you're actually out the door, but of course I did start planning. Over the last few months, I arranged a short term full time air force reserve position at the base. There was also a three year contract coming up that I had a good shot at getting. So I wasn't too worried about what might happen.
As the date got closer, it became pretty obvious that they were actually going to go through with it. I started a countdown on my Facebook page, complete with a video of my last A320 ground run. Someone asked me, why the last? (Obviously not paying enough attention.) I replied, unless something dramatic happens, I'm laid off in a week. On Monday 13 February, something dramatic happened. AC offered me a recall to Ottawa. For this lay off, we were allowed to designate up to three AC stations to list for possible recall. I listed Regina, Saskatoon, and Ottawa. All of them are small stations. Regina and Saskatoon have only eight or so employees, and Ottawa has about twenty. Ottawa is considered a very desirable station, and I had no realistic expectation of ever getting a recall there - or to the others, either, really. The union is very particular about its seniority rules. Someone must have retired or quit after the bumps were done for all the other AC employees, so that they were already designated to a base. However it happened, on the 13th I was called to the office, and presented with a recall letter. It was the last thing I was expecting.
With only 72 hours to decide, I spent a lot of time thinking about it. The opportunity was great - I would get a couple of aircraft courses, the Embraer (boo) and the 767 fairly soon - and I have always preferred line maintenance over the hangar. It was quite unlikely that I would ever get a recall to Winnipeg line maintenance. There were, of course, a lot of potential problems. What would I do with the house? Where would I live? What about the cats?
|From Air Canada|
What made it plausible was the existence of good flight connections between Winnipeg and Ottawa, and the discovery of a website that advertised people looking for roommates, at about half the cost of renting an apartment. Since the shift would be 4 on, 4 off, evenings, I didn't want to pay the going rate for an apartment. Anyway, I concluded that I should be able to commute relatively easily. Anyway, after much consideration, on Thursday morning, I accepted the recall.
I will be working from 4 pm to 3:20 am, doing mostly service checks and snags - lots of tire changes in my future. AC doesn't have a hangar in Ottawa, so everything will be done outdoors. The 4 x 4 shift means that in any month, I should be in Winnipeg on days off fifteen days. That doesn't sound so bad.
If I find I can't do it, my only option is to quit AC, and go back to plan A. I can't lay myself off (of course, AC can still lay me off whenever it suits them). If I can do it, at some point down the road, I will have to decide whether I want to continue commuting, or start moving my life to Ottawa. I expect that decision will be a long way off.
If I decide to live there, well, there's the annual Challenger winter fly-in, the aviation museum, and lots of other attractions for me. I also have friends there, mostly from the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. My long term hope, though, is a recall to Winnipeg line maintenance. It's unlikely, but not impossible, and I would have said a recall to Ottawa was impossible. So who knows?
From mid-February to the end of March, I'm working at the air force base. After that, instead of going to Ottawa, I will be going to Vancouver for a month for the Embraer course.
After seven years of keeping my Challenger at the Oak Bank airfield, northeast of Winnipeg, I had to move. The airfield owner sold it, and the new owner didn't want to keep it as an airfield. Over a period of a few days, I moved the airplane to Lyncrest, and much of the other kit to St Andrews. On Monday the 27th, and on Wednesday the 29th, I made a few final circuits at Oak Bank. It's a shame, really, Oak Bank was a great little strip, 2,600' long, with excellent drainage. I could usually get flying with only a week or two between the ski flying season and the wheel flying season.
|From Challenger Ultralight Flying|
The Challenger arrives at her new home in Lyncrest