Another Take on Pilot vs. Co-Pilot

I'll add my two cents soon but for now, here's another take from NYC Aviation on the topic of pilot vs. co-pilot.

Now on to pilot vs co-pilot. I’m not sure why or how this perception came to be, but it seems that much of the general public doesn’t think the co-pilot is a real pilot or is somehow grossly inferior to the actual “pilot pilot.” To better describe their roles, let’s get away from pilot and co-pilot, because they’re both pilots, and start with the actual industry nomenclature. We have a captain and a first officer. Both pilots have ATPs and type ratings to fly their assigned aircraft. In fact, when a captain and a first officer are paired together to fly, they typically split the flying 50/50. If the pairing has them working 4 flights together, the captain will act as flying pilot for two flights, and non-flying pilot for two flights. The primary distinction between the roles of the captain and the first officer, is that the captain carries the weight of responsibility and authority. The captain, or pilot-in-command, in addition to being proficient at flying the aircraft, also assumes the role of in-flight manager. This role of authority is often more effectively accomplished when the captain is not piloting the aircraft, especially in an abnormal or emergency situation. With the first officer at the controls, the captain is allowed to widen his or her scope of attention, to be able to gather input from all available resources – from the first officer, the flight attendants, dispatchers and air traffic controllers to determine the course of action that would result in the most positive outcome.

via NYC Aviation

Tales from the Cockpit

It's pretty awesome how a foreign carrier like KLM is able to post videos such as these that educate the public on what we pilots really do. This is just Part One of a great series. Yes, we actually do touch and play with all those buttons and switches on the panels and even some of the callouts are similar too. As you can see, even with the autopilot on, there is still a lot of continuous monitoring until it is taken back into manual control prior to landing but in this case, the Captain is demonstrating an autoland sequence.

I wish that I could share with you my personal experiences and videos. Maybe sometime in the future with permissions from the FAA, VP of Flight Ops, Safety, etc... you get the point. A lot of hoops for this kind of educational video in the US.

Dashcam Captures TransAsia ATR72 Plane Crash!

This is a ridiculous video from a taxi cab dashcam of the TransAsia Flight GE235 that just crashed moments ago. We'll be hearing a lot more of this accident throughout the day and I'll be including updates as well. Almost surreal.

Unfortunately, today's accident takes place just less than a year after another TransAsia ATR 72-500 crashed near Magong Airport (MZG) Taiwan last July resulting in more fatalities.

Here's another view from another car further back.

Update from Popular Mechanics:

What we know: - TransAsia flight GE 235 crash landed into the Keelung River near Taipei. - The aircraft lost contact shortly after takeoff. - Reuters reports at least nine were killed.

Update, Wednesday, 12:46 AM ET: Rescue efforts are underway in Taiwan after a TransAsia flight GE 235 hit an elevated bridge and crashed into the Taipei River around 10:45 AM local time. At least 9 were killed so far in the crash, according to Reuters.

The flight had just taken off from the Taipei Songshan Airport, headed toward the Kinmen island chain. The cause of the crash of TNA 235, an ATR-72 propeller plane, isn't yet known. Dozens of passengers still await rescue — 58 total were onboard the flight. The dramatic video and pictures cropping up on social media are staggering; footage of the crash was caught on several drivers' dashcams.

Aviation enthusiasts chiming in posting their observations on twitter: 

Do You Actually Fly the Plane?

And a copilot becomes a captain not by virtue of skill or experience, but rather when his or her seniority standing allows it. And not every copilot wants to become a captain right away. Airline seniority bidding is a complicated thing, and a pilot can often have a more comfortable quality of life — salary, aircraft assignment, schedule and choice of destinations — as a senior copilot than as a junior captain. Thus, at a given airline, there are plenty of copilots who are older and more experienced than many captains.

One of the best paragraphs that sums up who the "co-pilot" of an airliner really is or can be. I had no choice whatsoever in my progression. It took me seven years to the day to where I was able to hold a Captain seat at my previous airline and now that I've moved on, I'm back to being a First Officer / Co-Pilot / Co-Captain / Right Seat by virtue of my hire date. It will take pilots above me leaving or retiring and / or the airline expanding with more aircraft and routes before I can hold the title of Captain again. Even at that point, it'll also depends on where I am in my life in terms of having to be away more since I'll be on reserve. More on that later.

Back to the topic, I've known Captains downgrade to First Officer due to a lifestyle change where they wanted more time at home. Some are able to afford to take the 35% pay cut but in all circumstances, their skills did NOT degrade just by switching seats or epaulets. The media needs to get this right and do a better story overall on a pilot's life. I'm starting to get rather annoying. Just my Tuesday rant.

Make sure to read the entire post via Patrick Smith's AskThePilot

Major Airlines Creating Their Own Pilot Shortages

This is one of the most comprehensive views on the current state of the airlines in the United States. Read the article in its entirety. I'm living it along with some of my best friends and it's getting rather ugly.

The nation's big airlines want you to know that there's a dreadful pilot shortage and they apologize profusely if their commuter-carrier partners cancel flights to your hometown airport due to the debilitating shortfall.

The nation's big airlines don't want you to know that their commuter carriers, which operate half of all the nation's commercial flights, often pay pilots so little that it's often financially wiser to drive a truck or flip fast-food burgers than fly a plane.

A first-year co-pilot at a commuter airline may earn as little as $19 per flying hour. After five years with a commuter airline, the average salary is just $40 an hour. For the lowest-paid pilots at a carrier such as Mesa Air Group, which operates flights for both United and US Airways, a 60-hour work week means an effective pay rate of just $8.50 an hour. That's barely above the national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and below the more than 10 bucks President Barack Obama is making federal contractors pay their workers.

american eagle e170

At American Airlines, senior management that came from US Airways to run AA netted $79 million in stock sales during the last month. At the same time, however, American pressed for another concessionary contract at American Eagle, its wholly owned commuter airline.

Three Flights Down to One Long Extended Flight

Something things go right sometimes they don't.  Yesterday wasn't something out of the ordinary but I guess some of you never experience the frequency of weather or maintenance that we encounter working at an airline.  Looking at the weather prior to our departure from Dallas-Ft. Worth, we knew that we could expect some thunderstorms during our approach into Charleston, West Virginia. Blocked to just a little over two hours, and looking at the terminal aerodrome forecast (TAF), we took off with confidence that we could "beat" the storm.  Whether or not to jet east and then up and around the front or penetrate earlier in the flight and fly behind it, we chose the former.  Usually you chose the latter, but once we were in the air, the weather didn't look that bad.

Almost an hour after our scheduled arrival, we made a safe approach and landing safely getting all our passengers to the terminal.  It wasn't without bumps and initially the weather at CRW wasn't calling for landing conditions, but after 45 minutes, the initial thunderstorm cleared and calm winds presided.

Acey 2502 DFW-CRW

Arriving at the gate, the plan was to leave as soon as we could board up, refuel and clean the aircraft but things changed. The plane gave us a flashing light notifying us of a maintenance item which after two hours of coordinating with dispatch, maintenance control and crew scheduling, ultimately led to the cancellation of the flight. Repositioning the aircraft to another portion of the airport, coordinating a shuttle and hotel stay our day came to an end with nine hours of sleep.  We also had the opportunity of riding the hotel shuttle back to with some passengers who were taking the cancellation well.

So back to present time, scheduling had us report at 5:15am this morning and to no surprise without a phone call or notification from anyone back at company, we came down for the scheduled shuttle back to the airport only to find out that the aircraft wasn't ready. I'm now back in the hotel room killing another two hours before our next scheduled van ride. At least I can now grab some coffee.

update: I just got a call a couple of minutes ago notifying us again for a change to 6:45am which as I spoke to her was actually six minutes in the past.

Cheap Tickets, Airline Tickets

Yes you read the title right. airline tickets are cheaper than ever before.  We might feel like we are paying more these days and complain about the cheap, no-frills experience but what do you want and how much are you willing to pay for it?  Bottom line is this: tickets are on the rise, pilot pay is at an all time low with some companies asking for more concessions and the airplanes have never been this full.  Can the ticket prices get any higher?

LAX to JFK

Unfortunately, maybe.  Even my buddy passes have either disappeared or are impossible to use because of the high load factors.

In 1974, it was illegal for an airline to charge less than $1,442 in inflation-adjusted dollars for a flight between New York City and Los Angeles. On Kayak, just now, I found one for $278.

via The Atlantic: How Airline Ticket Prices Fell 50% in 30 Years (and Why Nobody Noticed)

LUV is in the Air

What a concept from CEO Gary Kelly of Southwest Airlines.

His formula is so basic, yet so seldom applied: Take care of employees, employees will take care of customers, customers will take care of the company and its investors.

Now if every company followed this rule, I think we'd all be happier.

via The Denver Post: Southwest CEO Says All You Need Is LUV