Living the Dream Part II

Part two of the awesome Lego animation depicting my life as an airline pilot! Love it! If anything, skip ahead to around 4:20. That is spot on!

Pilot Shortage Caused by Extremely Low Wages & Legacy Airlines' Greed

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.

This was the only article that I read that truly understood the bigger picture. Many other articles state that the voting no by and large by the pilot unions for not only better pay but work rules led to this in time but none of them detail the fact that some of those contracts were in fact largely concessionary. Just yesterday, The Dallas Morning News pointed out that the U.S. airlines scored their first $5 BILLION dollar quarter!

By the way, my previous employer, ExpressJet Airlines formerly known as Atlantic Southeast Airlines and owned by SkyWest Inc who also owns and operates SkyWest Airlines, is hiring. JetBlue will also be opening their pilot application in the VERY near future. So stay tuned!

Here's a formal picture in my Captain uniform at ASA / XJT when I volunteered in pilot recruitment that is still used today =) 


Do Pilots Still 'Fly' the Plane?

True, these days pilots spend only a short amount of time with their hands on the control column or stick. But that does not mean we aren’t controlling the airplane throughout the entire flight. Our hands might not be steering the airplane directly, as would have been the case in decades past, but almost everything the airplane does is commanded, one way or the other, by the crew. The automation only does what we tell it to do. On the 767 that I fly, there are multiple ways to set up and command any routine climb, descent or change of course. Meanwhile, more than 99 percent of landings, and a full 100 percent of takeoffs, are performed manually.

Exactly what I'd tell you when you ask me, "Isn't it always on autopilot anyways?" Great Op-Ed by Patrick Smith.

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

My Life at Work... in HD

The way it works here in the US is that rules disallow crewmembers from using an electronic device that is non-essential for duty while on the flight deck. Good thing another guy filmed it for me at his seat on his plane or his airline or made a compilation (read: it's not me) but a job has to be cool enough in order to be away from family right?

This is my life. (the music helps a lot too)

I still miss my family everyday I'm gone.

Avoiding Turbulence

Stronger computing power, improved satellite and radar technology and more sophisticated scientific models have all given airlines a more detailed understanding of flying conditions. This means they can better plan their operations before flights — for instance by canceling flights early and avoiding stranding passengers at airports. During flights, they can better navigate around storms and avoid turbulence.

Just so you know, we definitely try our best to analyze and determine the best flight path for our guests. You're welcome and thanks for flying with us.