Saturday, March 29, 2014

I think it's time for Vegas

Four day done. It was supposed to be a 21 hour 15 minute trip. I finished with over 23 hours. The highlight was the last turn. Took off for the outstation. Once the wheels left the ground a loud whoooshing sound entered the flight deck. For some reason we weren't pressurizing. Since we can't dump fuel we flew around with gear and flaps out for 30 minutes.

More next week. The wife and I are headed to Vegas to celebrate 9 years of marriage.

Mother in law is watching the kiddo.


Hitler Is Told Eagle Pilots Rejected His Concessionary Contract


Friday, March 28, 2014

Republic the ball is in your court

Today the pilots of American Eagle Airlines (soon to be Envoy) sent a message to management that they will not work for less.

Management received major concessions from the pilots of American Eagle last year. They came back again demanding more. One demand was to cap First Officer pay at 4 years...$37 an hour....for 10 years. That is equal to $33,000 a year max before taxes, insurance and the rest. One might say "but upgrade time should be lower," meaning no First Officer would hit the 4 year ceiling.  That might have happened.....but aviation is a cyclical industry that is easily affected by the economy. It doesn't take much to slow things down.

Using an inflation calculator and taking the maximum pay of $33,000 in 2014 with a 2% inflation rate one would need to earn $40,000 in 2024 to have the same buying power as today. Of course this wouldn't happen with the demands of management. Additionally no pay negotiations can start until 2023 and can drag out for 5 years. Potentially meaning a $33,000 maximum pay until 2029. Ridiculous.

Management also wanted to lock per diem at $1.80...for 10 years. Per diem is what is used to pay for food on the road. Food in airports isn't getting cheaper.

That's all in the past now. An astounding 92% of the pilots voted and 70% of them voted no.

Republic Airlines pilots were supposed to have their vote close today, but due to a small loophole requiring paper ballots (even though the extreme majority of the pilots vote electronically) their vote won't close until next Friday.

I have no doubt the pilots of Republic Airlines will also vote down their concessionary contract offer.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

ATP Seminole crash

Two pilots not coming home.


Divers search creek after object seen on sonar

Small plane seen falling from sky Monday evening

Published On: Mar 25 2014 11:11:45 AM EDT   Updated On: Mar 25 2014 07:03:49 PM EDT

Crews search for missing plane

BRUNSWICK, Ga. -U.S. Coast Guard crews and others searching Tuesday for two people who were aboard a twin-engine airplane missing near Georgia's coastline found debris suspected to be pieces of the plane's battery and luggage in a marshy area.

Divers are searching an area near St. Simons Island where something was seen on sonar that may be a small plane that crashed Monday evening, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Shawn Etcher, air safety investigator for NTSB, said the twin-engine plane was seen falling out of the sky about 5:45 p.m. Monday.

He said the Piper PA-44 Seminole aircraft lost radio contact with air traffic control and disappeared from radar about 4 miles east of Brunswick Golden Isles Airport. There were no calls of distress on the flight from Concord, N.C., to Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport.

Witnesses called 911 after seeing the plane fall. Local, state and federal officials have since been looking for plane.

Etcher said crews have only been able to pull out small pieces of wreckage, such as parts of the battery and baggage, out of the marshy wetlands of Wallys Leg near Grants Creek.

"At this time, they've only been able to pull small pieces out of the water," he said. "We have not identified the aircraft at this time since we haven't seen any registration numbers come up on the parts that have surfaced."

Debris suspected to be pieces of the plane's battery, pieces of luggage and an exterior component have been pulled from the water, Etcher said.

If the object in the creek is the plane, Etcher said crews will begin recovering the aircraft and its occupants. The area being searched is 12-15 feet deep, he said.

Etcher said if there are victims, the Medical Examiner's Office will work to identify them. Crews will then gather evidence and transport the aircraft to a facility in Atlanta for further investigation.

Etcher said the weather at the time of the crash was overcast and a little wind, but nothing the plane shouldn't have been able to handle.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Aviation Administration, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Glynn County Emergency Management and local police agencies were assisting in the search efforts, which would not continue into the night but would resume Wednesday.

The plane belongs to the ATP Flight School, which is based at Craig Airport.

Marshall Wood, marketing director of Malone AirCharter at Craig, says he was trained by ATP years ago. He calls the company very reputable.

"I know them to be an outstanding company. They do some great training," Wood said. "I've used their service. I was very satisfied."

Wood says the Piper Seminole aircraft that the company uses are very economical and safe.

Tom Boland, one of the residents who heard the plane fall out of the sky, hopes the plane is found quickly.

"You think of how hard it was for them to find this plane where they knew just about where it went down versus the Malaysian airline, where they're searching thousands of square miles," Boland said. "It's a tragedy."

  • Copyright 2014 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Best month ever

I've been at my airline for 78 months. For most of those months I've been paid just monthly guarantee. Every now and then I'd pick up extra flying, but with a wife whom travels and a kiddo, there's not much extra time.

March was a good month. My line was originally 73 hours. I traded the trips around to get to 80 hours. I then picked up three turns worth 5 hours each. Each of those turns was on a day the airline was short on staffing (pilot shortage??) thus I was paid an extra premium.

After all said and done I will fly 88 hours but get paid for 104 hours. It gets really complicated due to dead heads and such, but it will be a good month. I will gross at least $4700 for March. Not bad, but far from the norm. I do think this summer could be "better" and "worse" as I predict very tight staffing.

In other news another Captain bid was recently posted....but none for my base. I'm putting in a bid for my base on the off chance enough Captains in my base transfer out and they refill their seats.

If it happens great...if

Thirty Seven Years later....

Day 4 of a 4 day. I began this posting sitting in a Townplace Suites somewhere in Indiana.

I was supposed to be sitting in a Hilton in Florida.

The trip was fine for the most part. The first Captain was a senior guy here for the paycheck.

The first flight out was telling for the rest of the trip. At 12 minutes to departure he was no where to be seen. The passengers were on board, fuel loaded, cargo loaded, flight plan loaded...but no Captain. I headed up to the gate and there he was chatting with the gate agent with a bag of food in his hand. He said he'd be down in a minute.

I assumed he was a commuter and running late. Nope. That was his style.

He sat down and took his time. When the door was closed we ran the checklists. He said he'd made an extra hour last week "without really trying."

I saw how he wasn't trying. He didn't run a checklist until the door was closed (not the norm), he taxied very slowly, climbed at a slow speed and flew slower than planned.

At each turn he'd leave the airplane and come back on board 10 minutes to push. I would do everything else.....until day 2.

I had had enough. Before leg 4 to the overnight the Flight Attendant and I needed food. I put my bags in the plane and headed out to get food for the two of us. We were already running late. This time I arrived back at the plane 15 minutes to push thinking he might be there. Nope.

When he arrived I had most thing done again. He took his time. The door closed then he read the MELs. We had two annoying for an erratic low fuel caution sensor and one for a ram air valve not working.

"Did you stick the tanks to measure the fuel?" he asked.

"Nope....didn't know I had to." I replied.

"Crap, Hey (yelling to the flight attendant) we need to reopen the door." said the Captain.

"I don't think we need to do that." I replied.

"Oh wait, never mind." he said as he read the MEL requirements.

The ram air valve being inop meant we had to fly lower than normal. We had plenty of fuel on board.

My leg out. I climbed at normal profiles. At Top of Climb the fuel numbers were better than planned. The Captain insisted I fly a little slower than planned  to "save fuel."

Long flight. Landed 2 minutes late. Super slow taxi and we  blocked in 10 minutes late....with an extra 400 pounds over planned arrival fuel.

Day 3 started with a 4PM van. Captain was late getting to the van. A little annoying as there was another crew on board. He had vacation the next day. He had one leg to the hub and a deadhead home. He had a 40 minute connect time. The rest of us had a 40 minute connect time to the overnight.

The plane was late coming in. Instead of leaving at 5:05PM we left at 5:45PM. Scheduling had already pulled the rest of the crew from the overnight. We would be staying the night in the hub (not where we are based). Hotels were to be provided.

Suddenly the Captain was in a hurry. He ran checklist early and taxied faster than normal. He attempted to rush me through a checklist. I politely stated I was not ready and neither was the Flight Attendant.

"Shouldn't we hold short a bit of this taxiway to not block other flights since we aren't ready?" I asked.

"It'll be fine." he replied.

We only blocked traffic for about 90 seconds as we waited for the Flight Attendant to finish the safety briefing.

Up and away we went. He climbed very shallowly and at a much higher rate of speed than normal.

"Not worried about fuel today eh?" I asked.

"I've got to make my deadhead home, I have vacation tomorrow." he replied.

After copious amounts of Jet A being burned we arrived 20 minutes UNDER block time and burned 600 pounds more than planned.

The Captain packed his things and ran to make his dead head home.

For the rest of us things got crappy.

The plane we brought in was going to our ORIGINAL overnight. It was being re-crewed with reserves. For my Flight Attendant and I , we were assigned a different overnight leaving AT THE SAME TIME as our original overnight. The new overnight flight was twice as long. We'd stay the night and dead head home in the morning.

The overnight was fine. The next morning we hopped in the hotel van and headed to the airport. Neither one of us had overnighted there before. We actually got lot in the somewhat small airport.

Long 2 1/2 hour dead head. I arrived home at the time my original flight was supposed to arrive.

When I walked in the door my wife and daughter were sitting at the table wearing birthday party hats....I turned 37 the day prior.



Friday, March 21, 2014

Cash grab

One week from today the pilots of Republic Airlines and American Eagle Airlines vote on Tentative Agreements.

For Republic things will improve overall, but is it enough? For over 7 years the pilots of Republic have not had a real contract. They've been negotiating with management all this time to improve pay, quality of life and training. Seven years. Almost out of the blue Brian Bedford (CEO) decides enough is enough and whips up an agreement (along with the Teamsters whom represents the pilots).

There are great improvements overall....but only about 60% of what the pilots wanted. Their demands were not outrageous. My understanding is they wanted to be brought up to industry average. With the new TA they are brought near industry average....but not quite there.

All of this while Republic parks 27 smaller RJs to help staff the larger RJs.

For the pilots of American Eagle things are murkier. I blogged a month ago that the union voted down concessions. Well there was some backstabbing in the union and the end result is the pilots will have to vote on concessions.

The pilots of American Eagle are already working under a concessionary contract that was agreed upon during the bankruptcy of parent company AMR.  Management hasn't lived up to the obligations of that contract.

Now the "new" management has stated the bankruptcy contract isn't enough to keep flying forward. More cuts are needed. The cuts won't affect the current pilots much, but will really lower the bar for all pilots new to the airline. This while the parent company will make 3+ billion in PROFIT this year.

Both votes close on the same hour apart.

All the comes as the Regional Airline Association wants relief on the "1500 hour rule" and the new rest rules. Coming later this year a pilot must spend $15000+ to get an ATP rating as they will need six hours of training in a Level C or D (full motion) simulator.

I suspect both airline CEOs see the storm coming. They want to lock in low rates now before the storm hits. Later when pilots are even harder to come by they can "raise" the rates to show they are trying to help the situation.

All regional airline pilots deserve to be fairly compensated for their skills.


Friday, March 14, 2014

I carry some great passengers

I'm pretty sure I've been given this note once before. Really nice to know some passengers care.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Respect the gust

For the most part most of my landings have calm winds or winds down the runway. After all most airports are designed so that the runways favor the prevailing winds in the area. I saw most because I know of one airport that always has crosswinds...KLIT...Little Rock, Arkansas.

Weeks can go by without a decent crosswind landing. Last night my streak ended.

Strong cold front is blowing across the country. The day was just a leg day. Very late start with a 3:40PM van. The inbound was late so the van was pushed until 4:30PM.

Instead of departing at 4:25PM we left at 5:20PM. My leg. Easy two hour flight. I tried to fly fast to make up time, but with 100+ knot headwinds it didn't help much.

Arrived almost an hour late. My original schedule had an hour sit...which was of course now gone.

We blocked out 30 minutes late. With a 100 knot tailwind I was able to make up 15 minutes.

Winds at the outstation were reported at 310@15G30. Landing runway 36.  The base VREF speed for the weight was 129 knots. My airline uses half the steady state wind + all the gust to set approach speed. Maximum additional speed is 20 knots. With the reported winds I got the full 20 knots so the approach speed was 149 knots...or 170 MPH.

Clear night. Turning a 6 mile final the MFD was showing winds at 290 at 55 knots and gusting.

Bumpy ride down the glide path. The plane was rocking and rolling from the gust. I didn't try over correcting for the wind. I just kept the plane on glide path and made small corrections for lateral movement. The airport is surrounded by trees. Once below the tree line the gust died down. Around 10 feet I kicked the nose to the right and added a good chunk of left aileron. Like butter.

Another long overnight. It's very odd having a 4:35PM van.

Two legs today and three tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Small planes

I fly a Regional Jet....a small one. One so small I can barely stand upright without my head hitting the ceiling...guess I'm a little taller than average.

At least once a I day a passenger walks on board and says "Oh this is a small plane!"

I used to get annoyed by this. I don't walk into their office and make comments. I know just label them ignorant.

MOST (but not all) of the routes my airline flies are to smaller cities. Places like Cedar Rapids, Peoria, Fargo, Highfill (Walmart) and Montgomery. Most of the time the flights aren't full thus using a RJ vs a 737 makes sense. Small cities get small planes...for now.

My crystal ball (remember I'm a pilot with a degree in Journalism and have in fact stayed at a Holiday Inn I'm an expert!) forecast bigger aircraft serving these small cities, but at a price. The price for the ticket will be higher and the frequency will go down.

For example, instead of 3 flights a day from Cedar Rapids (7AM kickoff, 12PM midday and 5PM evening) there will likely be just a 7AM kickoff. Instead of 3 flights a day to Cedar rapids (9 AM kickoff, 3PM midday and 8PM evening) there will just be one 7PM evening flight.

So the passenger who wants to go from Cedar Rapids to Hawaii will have to take that 7AM flight and just wait around the terminal for hours until the flight to Hawaii leaves. When they return at 6AM from Hawaii (due to the time differences several Hawaii flights return to the mainland early in the morning) they get to wait all day long until the 8PM evening flight. Worry not though it will be on a "big plane".


Friday, March 7, 2014

Bonus night at home

Day 3 started the same time Day 2 started. Early.

On day 3 the aircraft I would be flying had no APU. Not a big deal, but a little annoying as it was humid outside and the ground crew did not connect the ground air. If the APU had been operating it would have been a non-issue. Up and out we went.

Arrived early. Instead of a 2 hour sit before my dead head I had a 2 1/2 hour sit. My crew was to deadhead to an out station and fly the aircraft back. We'd then have a 65 minute sit before heading to the overnight.

I went down to the crew room. At least once a month I over hear some pilot having marital problems or family problems. Pretty sad.

One of the union representatives was at a computer and talking about the trips for next month. Due to managements lack of foresight the trips are really bad. Mostly 4 day trips. Most of the times the trips are 5% day trips, 20% two day trips, 25% three day trips and 50% four day trips. Things have been getting bad for a while. Two years ago I was easily holding 3 day trips, weekends off and 18 days off. Nowadays I get 4 day trips, partial weekends off at best and 14 days off. The beatings will continue until moral improves (or we work for less).

My deadhead was scheduled for 10:55AM. I noticed the First Officers name as he was a buddy of mine.

At 10:30AM I was up at the gate....but there was no aircraft or crew. Around 10:35AM the crew arrived as they had just parked at 10:25 several gates away. Still no aircraft.

Announcements were made that the aircraft was coming from the hangar and would arrive at 11:30AM. In the mean time I chatted it up with the crew.

The First Officer is about 160 numbers senior to me company wide. In base he is about 40 numbers senior. He was hired 7 months before me. He is able to hold 2 day trips for now as a First Officer. He recently bypassed an upgrade to Captain. His reasons are the same as mine as it's not worth it to commute across the country regardless of the money as it will mean much less time at home. We both have young kids. We agreed that when the kids are older and don't think we dads are cool anymore it will be fine to be away more. For now we stay put.

Gate change.

We pushed back at 12:07 PM....more than an hour late. There went my 65 minute sit.

Once at the out station we did a quick turn and blocked out in 24 minutes. My flight back. I climbed really shallow but at a high rate of speed, hoping to make up some time.

The Captain sent in our estimated arrival time. The onboard printer spat out our next assignment, the flight to the overnight. As of then we were all still going even though we were an hour late.

Things were looking great until we were assigned the furthest runway from the terminal. The taxi in time is at least 15 minutes. We blocked exactly as scheduled, 1 hour. Of that one hour over 25 minutes was taxi in and out time.

After parking at gate 19 we packed up and walked down to gate 14. The Captain went to print out the flight release while the Flight Attendant and I walked down the jet bridge.

I noticed a gate agent sitting at the bottom of the jet bridge.

"Oh great, looks like they used a standby Flight Attendant to board your flight." I said to my Flight Attendant.

"But wait, the APU is on...." I continued.

I asked the gate agent if the flight was boarded up for Cedar Rapids. She confirmed it was. I then saw the flight deck door open and it hit me.....they staffed the flight with reserves.

"We've been pulled off," my Flight Attendant stated.

We marched back up the jet bridge. The Captain was still reviewing and printing the flight release. He had just signed his name when I pointed down to where he signed and said, "That's not our names, they pulled us off."

He was upset. He doesn't commute but lives 80 miles outside of town, a 2 hour drive in traffic. The Flight Attendant does commute. She didn't care as she is very senior and was already setting up her non-rev home. I of course live 10 minutes away.

We didn't have to be back until 12:30PM the next day.

I headed for my car. I texted my wife the good news.

As I pulled up to pick up my daughter from day care she saw me from the window. She had a huge smile on her face as she was not expecting me.

I got to spend the night at home with my family instead of a hotel room in frigid Iowa. Additionally I had a 3 hour sit after arriving in the morning, now I would spend it at home.

I still get paid for the flight which is good. Some regional airlines don't have that protection.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Flying for warmth....FAIL

On day 2 of a 4 day.

This trip is a 3-4-4-3 worth a decent 23 hours.

The Captain is very the top 1% and 63 years old. I am in the top 61% and 36 years old. Very different worlds...but thankfully we both enjoy our jobs. Sometimes it's a bit too much enjoyment as the Flight Attendant said a few passengers could hear us laughing up front. Hey if you can't laugh you can't live.

This trip has double Florida overnights. I was hoping for warm weather. Well last night it was in the 40s while today it's in the 60s. Tomorrow night I'm in Cedar much for warmth.

One perk of double overnights at this out station is free dinner! The hotel serves dinner each night for free. Additionally they have free breakfast but we leave too early to get it.

This morning started with a o'dark thirty departure. My leg out. This Captain likes to trade every other leg vs the more normal swapping at the out stations. No biggie I get paid the same.

Fairly standard first flight.

The second leg was fine until we got close to the airport. Haze and dust prevented us from finding the airport visually. We both knew where the airport was as we'd be there before, we just couldn't see it. We were vectored for an approach instead. I didn't call the airport until about a five mile final straight in. Windy and dusty. Landed fine. A Cirrus behind us went missed due to the high winds.

My leg back. Taking off to the north and told to climb to 6000. There was a Cessna entering a right downwind also at 6000. Again very windy day.

While climbing out the tower verified the Cessna had us in sight. I saw the Cessna on TCAS but not visually until about 5600 feet. At this point we got a yellow TCAS caution.

The Cessna was being blown toward us due to the wind. I pointed the Cessna out to the Captain and no sooner we got a TCAS Resolution Advisory "Climb, Climb". We are not allowed to ignore TCAS RAs. I pushed the thrust levers up, pulled the yoke back and used the VSI to climb into the green recommended rate to avoid a collision. The TCAS then stated "Increase Climb" so I pulled back a bit more.  The green arc indicated 2500 feet per minute.

The Captain advised we were responding to a RA. Clearing 6300 feet we got the "Clear of Conflict". Now there will be paperwork to file as we are required to document any TCAS RAs.

The rest of the flight was fine. The flight back to Pensacola was ok as well.

Back at the same hotel I went down the gym for a quick workout then met my Flight Attendant for dinner. It's nice to work with people who have a sense of humor. Great meal and now off to bed as tomorrow will be long.