KhenleyDIA From Sweden, joined Feb 2005, 427 posts, RR: 0 Posted (10 years 11 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 4995 times:
Late last year, my fire & rescue department and I responded to a plane crash approximately 10+ miles South of the Sun Valley airport. Unfortunately both people on board died. The plane was a Caravan chartered by UPS and it was coming in on a day that had low clouds and potential icing conditions.
Since the incident, I had heard rumors that UPS pilots are pressured more then Fed-Ex pilots are, to get into their airport. So, regarding that thought, I have some questions:
1. Do cargo plane pilots follow the same rules as passenger plane pilots?
2. Are cargo plane pilots pressured more to make it to a city since they don't have passenger plane pilots?
3. Are all commercial planes, be it cargo or passenger, held to the same standards for maintenance?
4. Are there any other differences between the two that could potentially put the crews in harms way?
Thank you for any input.
Why sit at home and do nothing when you can travel the world.
Skywatch From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 923 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (10 years 11 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 4923 times:
I know that sometimes cargo planes are more likely candidates for accidents because these companies often use previously owned aircraft. While most of the time these craft hold up, there are times when accidents do occur due to the aircraft's age and condition. And no, I am not bashing any of the good ol' classics! Sometimes an aircraft just decides to give out before expected. This burden usually falls onto the cargo companies. And I am not bashing the cargo companies either. These companies do buy many new aircraft too! However, I have no clue if the maintenance regulations are different in between passenger and cargo.
Aogdesk From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 936 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (10 years 11 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 4899 times:
1. Yes. Pure and simple. Yes.
2. This might generate a lot of discusssion, and I think in order to get a good understanding, you have to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. This flight that was chartered by UPS was just that....no connection to UPS (the airline) with the exception that they do work for UPS on a regular basis.....So, they're under pressure from THEIR company to deliver consistently to UPS, and quite frankly, UPS is demanding in itself. However, any pressure or coercion (if there were any) to sacrifice safety for the sake of managing the clock is met with fierce resistance by the UPS pilots union (Indpendent Pilots Assn). Its very likely that non-union pilots such as the unfortunate individuals that lost their lives don't have the support infrastructure behind them to 'just say no' to unsafe practices and procedures.
3. Yes. Not really. Nice answer huh? If you ask the feds, they'll say "Of course". BUT, I can tell you from personal experience that I've worked on cargo and charter aircraft that were less than desirably airworthy. Thats the best way I can describe them. Not necessarily ready to fall out of the sky, but if you said that they were maintained to the same standard as say the airplanes of UPS, you'd have to look at the airplane with one eye closed from a distance of no less than 300'.
4. I can't think of any situations that would favor one or the other, but a UPS flight crew member could probably answer that better than I could.
Pilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3164 posts, RR: 10
Reply 5, posted (10 years 11 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 4899 times:
Most of the feeder aircraft are operated under part 135 rules which apply to charter and air taxi operations. They have to adhere to these rules when it comes to weather regardless of if their passengers are boxes or people. Fed Ex, UPS, etc fly under the same part 121 regulations that govern AA, UAL, etc. Their pilots have the same limitations in terms of duty and other requirements.
In cargo, I have found that there is more pressure on the pilots to force it in. Time is money. Many of these operations are single pilot. Statistically, this is a much more risky endevor than having two rated pilots in the cockpit.
A couple pilots I know that fly feeder routes for the larger cargo carriers have had their motives questioned and have been ordered to fly when it was illegal and they refused. One went so far as pulling out his FAR/AIM and pointing out the weather minimums to a the ramp manager. This pressure to press on can come from anybody at any time. It has caused accidents in transport category jets and cessna 172s. The FAA is making a big push to incorporate "personal minimums" into flying. This means that even though a pilot can legally fly into certain conditions they should let their ability and other external factors determine saftey of flight rather than what the regs say(Of course, this means to err on the side of caution rather than just doing as you feel).
Skywatch From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 923 posts, RR: 5
Reply 6, posted (10 years 11 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 4871 times:
UPS stays pretty busy. I noticed on President's Day that MEM had only around 7 FedEx arrivals until nightfall ( very unusual) and that the only thing going into ILN was one DHL. However, Louisville was nearly as busy as ever, sending flights in and out like always. So, to answer your question, UPS seems to put the pressure on a little. FedEx, supposedly "The World on Time," usually flies over my house 10 minutes late!
Caboclo From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 203 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (10 years 11 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 4797 times:
Here's my 2 cents worth, as a current UPS feeder pilot: the rules are all the same, it's just a question of how well they are followed. At the mainline level, I expect UPS and Fedex pilots have very similar deadlines, and none of them are ever called on to break the law. At the feeder level, there may be a little bit of difference, because UPS outsources all their feeder action through simple charter; Fedex (I think) owns all their feeder planes, and just hires other companies to operate them. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong there.) Therefore, Fedex may have a greater influence on their feeder pilots to fly safe, whereas the management of the UPS contractors may be rumored to pressure their employees to a greater extent. Maintenance rules are all the same, but Fedex aircraft are probably equipped better than the average UPS feeder. (My company doesn't put auto-pilots, wx radar, etc in their planes) Also, all airlines have specific individuals at the FAA who are responsible for keeping that airline accountable; the system works fairly well: consistent, repeated rule-breaking will be caught and penalized before too long.
Now, that's all theory, here's the real life scenario. 1. Single pilot night freight is one of the most demanding jobs in aviation. 2. Most of the pilots in this type of operation are very young and inexperienced. (Yes, there are minimum experience requirements; most pilots get that experience doing something significantly easier, or at least different, therefore the night freight job is a big step forward.) Given those points, it's easy to see why this niche in the industry accounts for more than it's fair share of statistics. Even without breaking the rules, it's not hard to misread the approach chart in turbulence, or lose a de-ice system in icing, or lose an engine on take-off, or fall asleep...
Now to get to the point of the thread: I think very few companies or individuals within a company will knowingly pressure a pilot to fly illegally. Again, there is a system of government oversight in place, you don't get away with being stupid for long. I think most of the pressure pilots feel is all in our heads; it's our first good flying job, we haven't been with the company for very long, we feel the need to prove ourselves, we know there are a thousand other people trying to get our job and are therefore paranoid about getting fired, and we end up doing something stupid. I've been there, but I eventually got over it, and realized that the boxes really aren't worth my life and/or FAA record. Most, if not all, the stupid things I've done were of my own volition, not because the boss told me to. The airfreight industry is time-sensitive, regardless of who the customer is, but everyone understands that that there are limits, and I've rarely been asked to exceed those limits.
EMBQA From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 9402 posts, RR: 10
Reply 10, posted (10 years 11 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 4652 times:
Fed-Ex does have their own plane
FDX charters their Feeder aircraft as well, but requires the operators to paint them in FDX colors. Empire Airlines, Mountain Air Cargo, Wiggins Air, Baron Aviation and WestAir are some of the many under contract to provide the Feeder service.
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
LTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13764 posts, RR: 17
Reply 11, posted (10 years 11 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 4627 times:
Could such 'pressure' been a factor in the FedEx crash at EWR several years ago? It was a flight from Japan, via Anchorage, arrived in the morning at EWR, lost control upon landing, partial broke up and burned, so a w/o. I have heard that the time lag, time behind the yoke, fatague were all possible factors. At least with packages, you don't have to make emergency landings as somebody is sick, the packages don't hijack you, although cargo can shift creating balance problems. If I am also correct, FedEx has very sophicated radar and instrument landing equipment to allow them to fly in very bad conditions, adding strain and pressure on such pilots.
UPS Pilot From United States of America, joined May 1999, 871 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (10 years 11 months 6 days ago) and read 4539 times:
UPS Airlines Safety record is amazing. I'm sure with every airline, they want to reach their destination but none will compromise safety to do so. Both Fed Ex and UPS as well.
One poster stated that UPS never had a plane go down but we did have a 76 go off the runway at EFD during a tropical storm a few years back. There have been other incidents such as tail strikes, wing tips hitting fences on pushback, and smoke and fire incidents as well. Knock on wood UPS airlines has never had a hull loss or fatality.