August 10, 2009

Continental Flight 3407

Well, it has been a while since I have blogged. Mostly due to my new daughter, but here is my take on this contreversial crash. I know that the official investigation is not complete and everybody has an opinion. I just wanted to voice my opinion as an airline pilot. Here are my impressions.

1) FATIGUE: This was a perfect storm of fatigue. Two pilots both VERY tired flew into bad weather at night(worst flight conditions) and just were behind the airplane. The plane was flying them not the other way around. I know the families of the FO have been defending here, but I am EXHAUSTED after 16 hours of work on a full nights sleep, this she didn't have. So don't tell me they weren't tired.

2) PILOT TRAINING: This is SOOOO over stated. EVERY pilot fails exams. In fact the FAA judges its effectiveness by pilot failure rates. They never even said what tests he failed. Private pilot? I mean if we didn't fly pilots who have failed tests we wouldn't have any pilots.

3) PILOT PAY: This is WAY understated. If you don't think pilot pay has anything to do with this, well your an airline exec or naive. The FO had to have a second job the year before just to pay bills. Having just had a child who stays up all night sometime I had to go to work the next day. My wife has to work to help pay our bills. So if you want rested pilots then pay them so they CAN be rested. You want professionalisim, start paying a professional way (not $20,000 a year)

Just, my $.02, I pray for all those who lost their family members that day, including the crew. I am just sad because I know that as long as pay and rest rules stay the same this WILL happen again. Its only a matter of time before more die. Its just sad the FAA doesn't really care because they are too much in the lap of the airlines.

Truckers - 10 hours max day
Train Engineers - 12 hours max day
Pilots - 16 hours max day

Sleep on that.

January 22, 2009

Passenger(s) Count!

Recently us pilots have become more and more concerned about the lack of accurate "passenger counts" A passenger count is a sheet the gate agent sends to the pilots saying how many people checked in for the flight, and that number should match how many people on board. It is sad, but more often than not the count is wrong. How can they get this wrong? I mean are people sneaking onto the planes? Are they getting on wrong planes? Worst of all the gate agents rarely care to find out what causes the error as they are in a hurry not to delay the aircraft.

We are just concerned as this may be a security issue. I am sure that the FAA, or the Tombstone agency(as we call it, cause they don't do anything unless people die) will start to enforce this more stricktly when something bad happens.

That being said 99% of the Captains do an outstanding job making sure the job is done right and accuratly. Unfortunatly this isn't their job, but if we didn't do anything that isn't our job, no planes would ever takeoff anywhere. I just give credit to the great pilots who work so hard to make this poorly managed industry run.

January 7, 2009

Freezing Rain

Well, I lost some flying (and pay) by not being able to get out of Providence on time this morning. So, if you passangers ever wonder if we hate delays, double yes cause they can cost us our paycheck. That being said it was just really bad weather.

If you ever wondered what is probably the worst type of weather to fly in, well its freezing rain. I mean aside from a hurricane, tornado, blizzard, or a thunderstorm right over an airport. (as you couldn't fly in these) Freezing rain is pretty bad. It can prevent you from flying if bad enough. Its liquid rain, and as it hits the cold metal of the airplane, it almost instantly turns to ice. Ice is very bad.

So, if you wake up in the morning to go to the airport and the roads are all iced up and there is freezing rain out. Bring your patience cap and be kind to the flight crew as they could very well be losing money due to the weather.

January 6, 2009

Windshield Wipers Can Ruin Your Day

I started my day by flying from Washington DC to Providence RI. When we got to 28,000 ft. all of a sudden my windshield wiper started moving on its own. My Captain said, "What the heck?" and I responded quickly with a "I didn't touch ANYTHING!" Well, 280kts isn't the ideal speed to operate your windshield wipers. We slowed to 170kts (recommended speed) then landed in Providence.

When we got on the ground it took us a while to get things settled out. Maintenance wanted us to fly it, but the Captain was alert enough to know the rules better and know we could do what they wanted us to. So, after calling the big bosses the Captain was proven to be correct and we needed the wiper to be fixed in order to land or takeoff at any airport with rain. Problem is it would be raining in D.C. all day.

So, to the hotel we went as we left the disappointed passangers behind. I felt bad, but we did the right thing and stuck with safety over profit. It is safe to say the good guys won this one even though the passangers were not getting to where they wanted to go. I was happy, because the good guys don't always win.

This is how your day can be ruined by something as simple as windshield wipers.

January 5, 2009

Lost Carry Ons

Today I was riding in the back to get into position to work (deadheading). A passenger didn't get their carry on back at the jetbridge.

Well, I ran down to the ramp and caught the bag cart just before it left. No bag had a "carry on" tag so I couldn't take any of them up to the passenger. So, I made sure that all of them had destination tags so that if here bag was on there then it was going to get to her destination. I came back up to explain how the tag must have fallen off, and TSA won't let us bring it into an unsecure area(the terminal).

I was pleasently supprised by her understanding. Maybe people are getting used to this system as much as we are. Hopefully she does get her bag and it isn't lost somewhere.

I sure wish TSA rules were different and made more sense, but then again that is a whole other post in itself.


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Richmond, Virginia, United States