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Is FAA Ignoring Controllers To Safety Detriment?  
User currently offlineFanfan From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 54 posts, RR: 0
Posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 2735 times:

You may have come across the jetwhine blog (www.jetwhine.com) and its owner Rob Mark. He has been ranting a bit about the FAA and its ignoring the controllers' requirements for more staff. These people are now working 6 days/week and the fatigue is showing in the number of near misses according to Mark.

He did a podcast with IAG in which he says some tough things: http://iagblog.podomatic.com/entry/2008-02-04T14_45_00-08_00

29 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21589 posts, RR: 59
Reply 1, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 2724 times:

Any actual stats and sources to back it up? I do hear the union complain a lot, but then again, that's what union leadership is supposed to do. Complain about conditions to get more money for less work. So it's hard to know if they are right or wrong because they would say the same thing either way.

As for the near misses, I hear about them, and then the details come out and it's usually a pilot who ignores instructions. A million controllers working 1 hour a year and resting the rest of the time still can't make a pilot pay attention to instructions...  Wink



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlinePHLapproach From Philippines, joined Mar 2004, 1250 posts, RR: 18
Reply 2, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 2696 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 1):
Any actual stats and sources to back it up? I do hear the union complain a lot, but then again, that's what union leadership is supposed to do. Complain about conditions to get more money for less work. So it's hard to know if they are right or wrong because they would say the same thing either way.

NATCA is not your typical union. Of course as everyone knows, they are just about the only union that can't do the one thing that all unions have the upper hand on - STRIKE! Hell, even grievances can be tough. Stats, Sources you say? This isn't the union only speaking, many groups are speaking and you can get the numbers if you look in the right places. D10 (Regional TRACON) and SCT (Socal TRACON) have dropped to a critical number of CPC's for their required staffing levels - therefore more overtime is to be worked which equates to 6 day work weeks because those hours that they don't have enough CPC's to work. Training programs are suffering badly as well because of this. It's pretty much a Catch 22 with training. A good chunk of the Developmentals at Miami Center have been sitting around getting NO training...


User currently offlineFlyf15 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 2690 times:

As an airline pilot, I interact with controllers constantly. I can 100% back the controllers up on this one. All too often is it painfully obvious to me that these controllers are tired, overworked, and understaffed. I'll be talking to controllers that sound like they're on the brink of passing out from exhaustion... talking to controllers who are working multiple other frequencies at the same time and everything is getting confusion / mixed up / riddled with errors. It sucks to be on the other end of the radio hearing this guy working his butt-off, probably on his 8th cup of coffee, tripping over his words and making mistakes even though its obvious that if properly rested and treated, he'd be an extraordinary controller. And, through all this, air traffic controllers remain by far the most impressively professional group of people in aviation. Not a day goes by where I am not proud of the ATC work-force we have in this country, they're nothing short of phenomenal.

Now only if they were properly compensated and staffed so that they wouldn't be overloaded, tired, and prone to errors. The FAA has really screwed up in this department.


User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 4, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 2644 times:

Quoting Flyf15 (Reply 3):
As an airline pilot, I interact with controllers constantly. I can 100% back the controllers up on this one. All too often is it painfully obvious to me that these controllers are tired, overworked, and understaffed.

I'd like to be the first of the a.net controllers to say thank you very much for your words and support. The work force is tired with little relief in sight at locations that need it the most.

Quoting PHLapproach (Reply 2):
D10 (Regional TRACON) and SCT (Socal TRACON) have dropped to a critical number of CPC's for their required staffing levels - therefore more overtime is to be worked which equates to 6 day work weeks because those hours that they don't have enough CPC's to work. Training programs are suffering badly as well because of this. It's pretty much a Catch 22 with training. A good chunk of the Developmentals at Miami Center have been sitting around getting NO training...

All to true. The developmental who should be getting trained in order to help the understaffed facilities get out of the 6 day and even 10 hour work days are stuck working control positions they are certified on for coverage, thus getting no training on other positions in order to finish their entire facility/sector/specialty checkout.

Other locations are having to use their support specialist folks such as QA, Airpsace, and Training Department people to cover shifts which means their jobs suffer in the long run due to them being in the operation covering shifts while office issues are put on hold. Yeah, working on RNAV/RNP, continuous descent approaches, training the workforce to deal with those type of things, then comes along ADS-B and other programs for the NEXGEN system!

That also trickles down into the upgrades in equipment and programs which don't get all the subject matter experts at all times because the facilities cannot release the folks to travel and be as deeply involved in the development of the programs.

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 1):
I do hear the union complain a lot, but then again, that's what union leadership is supposed to do. Complain about conditions to get more money for less work. So it's hard to know if they are right or wrong because they would say the same thing either way.

It isn't only a union leadership, it is the entire work force that is complaining.....of which I believe many would greatly enjoy 2 days off in a row for a month and less overtime.

[Edited 2008-02-05 04:55:38]


Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently offlineSPREE34 From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 2266 posts, RR: 9
Reply 5, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 2571 times:



Quoting Flyf15 (Reply 3):
talking to controllers who are working multiple other frequencies at the same time and everything is getting confusion / mixed up / riddled with errors.

If one searches the NTSB files, one will find numerous incidents where combined frequencies were a factor. Everyone talking and nobody hearing anything.

".......safety was never compr.........."



I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
User currently offlineCbartolucci From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 37 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 2530 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 1):
Any actual stats

Here's the link to the 2007 Controller Workforce Plan:
http://www.faa.gov/airports_airtraff..._staffing/media/CWFP_final2007.pdf

An updated workforce plan for 2008 is supposed to be published by the end of February.


User currently offlineATCGOD From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 663 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 2478 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 1):
I do hear the union complain a lot, but then again, that's what union leadership is supposed to do. Complain about conditions to get more money for less work. So it's hard to know if they are right or wrong because they would say the same thing either way.

The problem with the union is that they can stand up and say "we want more" and the FAA can say "nah, we don't want to give you more"...and that's the end of it.

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 1):
As for the near misses, I hear about them, and then the details come out and it's usually a pilot who ignores instructions. A million controllers working 1 hour a year and resting the rest of the time still can't make a pilot pay attention to instructions...

No it's not. My experience is that it's been about a 50/50 split. Errors happen...I can tell you it's happened more than I can count on one hand how many times I've cleared an aircraft to land on 28R or 28L and the pilot has landed on the other runway. It happens, and sometimes it's the pilot reading back the wrong runway and me not catching it and sometimes me clearing them for the wrong runway and no one catching it. It happens, it's human nature. We're not perfect, but we are pretty darn close to it. Adding in 10 hour work days and mandatory 6 day shifts doesn't do anything but add stress (home and work) to the mix. The FAA does not acknowledge that there is a problem with staffing but it's their own doing. How else do you explain so many qualified people turning down controlling jobs? It's because the FAA decided that rather than keep the flying public safe by negotiating a reasonable contract they decided to play hard ball at the height of the worst controller staffing crisis. It's bull-headedness on the part of the FAA and NATCA (although I personally believe more on the part of the FAA).

If Congress can get together and mandate some kind of negotiations I think this crisis could be nipped in the bud. But you see at Norcal Tracon and Oakland Center where they have declared an emergency staffing crisis. Our facility is not far behind and many of our developmentals have been grumbling about leaving for the DOD. Something needs to give and neither side wants to budge.

Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 4):
I'd like to be the first of the a.net controllers to say thank you very much for your words and support.

I'll be the second.


User currently offlineSpeedbird128 From Pitcairn Islands, joined Oct 2003, 1648 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 2430 times:



Quoting Flyf15 (Reply 3):
As an airline pilot, I interact with controllers constantly. I can 100% back the controllers up on this one. All too often is it painfully obvious to me that these controllers are tired, overworked, and understaffed. I'll be talking to controllers that sound like they're on the brink of passing out from exhaustion... talking to controllers who are working multiple other frequencies at the same time and everything is getting confusion / mixed up / riddled with errors.

I'll be the third... Although I don't work in the USA, it's great to have some support from pilots for this...

I've worked several places in the world, and this is a common problem. For some reason management think we can work 24/7 365 and not make any errors...



A306, A313, A319, A320, A321, A332, A343, A345, A346 A388, AC90, B06, B722, B732, B733, B735, B738, B744, B762, B772, B7
User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21589 posts, RR: 59
Reply 9, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 2419 times:



Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 4):
It isn't only a union leadership, it is the entire work force that is complaining.....of which I believe many would greatly enjoy 2 days off in a row for a month and less overtime.

Let me rephrase.

First, I did say I don't know the answer, but I generally hear from the leadership of the NATCA on TV/radio shows etc. and they contribute ALL near misses/runway incursions to understaffing. This isn't true. We at a.net know that for a fact. We have problems here at LAX for example, and every time there is a near miss, NATCA spokesholes say it was because of understaffing during the requisite "are our skies deadly?" news reports. But in 2 of the recent ones, it was due to pilots not listening/following instructions on a runway. So we had NATCA using an incident for their own agenda even though it wasn't anything to do with them. And the TV/radio people, knowing nothing about the situation, didn't challenge them.

That said, I am not saying there isn't understaffing. All I'm saying is that union leaders ALWAYS say they are understaffed and overworked, because they hope to have more members and more dues. So it becomes difficult for the average person to know when a particular union is "serious this time." Cry wolf syndrome.

And the rank and file also generally tow the union line because it would mean more pay for less work for them, too. The teacher's union in CA has this down to a science. Most people never bother to look at the pay numbers, which can be looked up. I did and I was shocked to find out just how much teachers actually make in CA. With benefits, it's more in 9 months than most people make in 12 months. Then we have the longshoremen in Long Beach. Extorting money while preventing the implementation of safety and screening devices, and holding a strike that crippled our region for months. It's these same extortion tactics that led to the NATCA not being allowed to strike.

But that doesn't mean ATC is fine and the NATCA is lying. There is something wrong, and it's both technological and staffing related. But I wonder why all the stressed out ATC people don't find other jobs. What makes you stay if the conditions are so poor and the pay so bad? If the stress at work and home is so awful, isn't it time to find something else to do?

BTW - 60 hour weeks are not fun, but they also aren't unheard of in many other non-union industries. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, consultants, bankers, brokers, engineers, etc. all routinely work 60 hour weeks. Which is not to say they don't make mistakes in those 60 hours, and that's where ATC is special and their health so critical. (Well, doctors are too, and they make mistakes and people die as well.)



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineSpeedbird128 From Pitcairn Islands, joined Oct 2003, 1648 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 2406 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 9):
But I wonder why all the stressed out ATC people don't find other jobs. What makes you stay if the conditions are so poor and the pay so bad? If the stress at work and home is so awful, isn't it time to find something else to do?

Because I (we) love my (our) job(s)... I have dedicated every day of my working life so far to my job in ATC... I literally went through hell to get to where I am, so...

I don't consider the 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going' a solution...

That's how I, and most of my colleagues feel...



A306, A313, A319, A320, A321, A332, A343, A345, A346 A388, AC90, B06, B722, B732, B733, B735, B738, B744, B762, B772, B7
User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 11, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 2388 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 9):
But I wonder why all the stressed out ATC people don't find other jobs.

Just as Speedbird128 said, we love our jobs and take pride in our work! Fill a 6 mile hole on final and have the pilot tell ya "great job" or "nice work" when you switch them to the tower, they know the ride on downwind could have been another 20 miles.....our work is fun, challenging, rewarding, and much more, that is why I stay...and call me greedy but I love the pay and benefits (retirement is coming soon)  Smile

Quoting Speedbird128 (Reply 10):
That's how I, and most of my colleagues feel...

 bigthumbsup 

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 9):
What makes you stay if the conditions are so poor and the pay so bad? If the stress at work and home is so awful, isn't it time to find something else to do?

I for one have never even mentioned stress to anyone in any place, never! Some are cut out to handle stress better than others. If one doesn't deal well with stress then they probably are in the wrong career! There are stressful situations no lying about it, but tis how each individual handles it within themselves.

The conditions are not what they were 10 years ago but they are still way better than what other careers offer, and the pay, well it could be better but again, I'm not complaining about that either.

For me, it is about the lack of bodies to do the job of staffing 17 control positions with 19 CPC's and 3 developmentals who don't get any training that day as they are working the few positions they're qualified on. Those type of numbers don't work in any industry that require employees take breaks while keeping the positions open.

In some industries you are able to sit at your desk then get up to get a cup of java or bottle of water, take 10 minutes surfing the web or chatting on the phone, that is a break from your duties. ATCr's can't just wander off leaving the position vacant to grab a cup of java....I can hear it now, "we're sorry all of our tower controllers are busy now, remain on the line and the next available tower controllers will be with you shortly".  biggrin 

Off the soap box.



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently offlineSaab2000 From Switzerland, joined Jun 2001, 1619 posts, RR: 11
Reply 12, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2381 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 1):
Any actual stats and sources to back it up? I do hear the union complain a lot, but then again, that's what union leadership is supposed to do. Complain about conditions to get more money for less work. So it's hard to know if they are right or wrong because they would say the same thing either way.

As for the near misses, I hear about them, and then the details come out and it's usually a pilot who ignores instructions. A million controllers working 1 hour a year and resting the rest of the time still can't make a pilot pay attention to instructions...  

Yeah, those overpaid, underworked union pilots are the cause of all the problems. Same with the overpaid, underworked unionized controllers.

Get a 'effin clue and go flying sometime. You'll hear overworked controllers all the time.

This isn't about union whiners. This is about YOUR safety and I can guarantee you that the system is at the limit, both for pilots and controllers. And none of them are overpaid or just union whiners.

Why is it that you anti-union folks can't just give it a rest? This is NOT about unions. They have no power anymore so they are just a cheap and easy scapegoat for the failures of the management.

Those of you who think this is some kind of joke need to listen in on some type of frequency going into ANY major airport virtually any time of day nowadays. ATC is grossly understaffed

I took off once not too long ago from PHL and one controller was doing ground and tower for the whole airport and it wasn't like 3 AM or something. It was about 11 PM, when it can be actually pretty busy if there has been a tough day. I had the same thing at ORD once too. These are major airports kids. One controller. Oh yeah, the unions are guilty for this.......... Just doin' what they do.

Ever wonder why there are so many delays on the east coast? Lack of staff is one of the big reasons.



smrtrthnu
User currently offlineATCGOD From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 663 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2380 times:



Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 11):
and call me greedy but I love the pay and benefits (retirement is coming soon)

Ah, you must be a "green booker". I am close to CPC status and my pay will be almost $15000 less than what I would have been making under the green book.


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21877 posts, RR: 55
Reply 14, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2361 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 9):
Which is not to say they don't make mistakes in those 60 hours, and that's where ATC is special and their health so critical. (Well, doctors are too, and they make mistakes and people die as well.)

Except that doctors only kill them one at a time.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineSphealey From United States of America, joined May 2005, 378 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 2353 times:

Don Brown, a retired Atlanta controller, discusses these issues extensively on his blog.

sPh


User currently offlineSpeedbird128 From Pitcairn Islands, joined Oct 2003, 1648 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 2352 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 9):
Doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, consultants, bankers, brokers, engineers, etc. all routinely work 60 hour weeks.

Thing is, none of these occupations require 100% concentration. A surgeon maybe, but how many of his 60 hour week is done with a scalpel in the hand?

Our career is unlike any other on this planet.... If you're behind the screen and tired, you cannot just close your eyes for 5 minutes, or go make yourself some coffee and grab some fresh air. Even taking a crap when you're understaffed and busy is a major mission.



A306, A313, A319, A320, A321, A332, A343, A345, A346 A388, AC90, B06, B722, B732, B733, B735, B738, B744, B762, B772, B7
User currently offlineJgarrido From Guam, joined Mar 2007, 340 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 2313 times:

So many good responses. Let me just add that the 6 day work weeks are not simply 6 days of working 9-5 like many people imagine. Virtually every week I start out working an evening shift and end it on a grave yard. In between I'll have at least one pairing of shifts that only affords me 8 hrs from the time I get off until the time I have to be back at work. And that is when we have adequate manning that does not require any overtime. Last week from end of my shift on Wednesday to the beginning of my shift Friday I had 16 total hours off. This week I started out working an 8hr overtime followed by 2 10hr shifts and I'll end it working back-to-back grave yard shifts.

Why don't I just get another job? In spite of the fact that 80% of the public thinks air traffic controller are the ones with the "light sabers" who help park the plane; and 90% of the time I don't get an "attaboy" from the pilot, I get a great satisfaction doing what I do. Myself and many of my coworkers put great deal of pride in what we do. Often times it's doing your job without making an impression the pilots/passengers that means you've done a good job.


User currently offlineSaab2000 From Switzerland, joined Jun 2001, 1619 posts, RR: 11
Reply 18, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 2292 times:



Quoting Jgarrido (Reply 17):
In spite of the fact that 80% of the public thinks air traffic controller are the ones with the "light sabers" who help park the plane; and 90% of the time I don't get an "attaboy" from the pilot, I get a great satisfaction doing what I do.

Attaboy!

At ORD we got Attaboys all the time. At PHL and LGA we just get yelled at and "Who called?" and "Wisconsin who?" and "X-Ray is current" after callling for taxi with X-Ray....

Trust me, I know you guys are overworked and understaffed. From one pilot to the controllers, "Good Job!"

If the public only knew....



smrtrthnu
User currently offlinePanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 8
Reply 19, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 2277 times:



Quote:
Yeah, those overpaid, underworked union pilots are the cause of all the problems. Same with the overpaid, underworked unionized controllers.

Get a 'effin clue and go flying sometime. You'll hear overworked controllers all the time.

This isn't about union whiners. This is about YOUR safety and I can guarantee you that the system is at the limit, both for pilots and controllers. And none of them are overpaid or just union whiners.

Why is it that you anti-union folks can't just give it a rest? This is NOT about unions. They have no power anymore so they are just a cheap and easy scapegoat for the failures of the management.

Excellently said!!

In the rush to Wal-Mart and outsource everything in this country, the U.S. has adopted the mentality of "less pay for more work" and "anything that takes away from my $99 transcon fare is somebody's fault!". We want everything perfect, we just don't want to pay for it!! Well, we're getting what we DON'T pay for.

Quote:
The teacher's union in CA has this down to a science. Most people never bother to look at the pay numbers, which can be looked up. I did and I was shocked to find out just how much teachers actually make in CA. With benefits, it's more in 9 months than most people make in 12 months.

With all due respect, unless you have done MY job, do NOT assume that I am overpaid, underworked, and sit around thinking only of how to protect my job while destroying young people's lives. You do not have any idea of what comes through my classroom door or what I am expected to do with it. I make no such assumptions about anyone else's.  box 



Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
User currently offlineSpeedbird128 From Pitcairn Islands, joined Oct 2003, 1648 posts, RR: 2
Reply 20, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 2236 times:



Quoting Saab2000 (Reply 18):
From one pilot to the controllers, "Good Job!"

If the public only knew....

Thanks!



A306, A313, A319, A320, A321, A332, A343, A345, A346 A388, AC90, B06, B722, B732, B733, B735, B738, B744, B762, B772, B7
User currently offlineKraw From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 45 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 2221 times:

I have a bud in the Tracon that's been working 6 day weeks for nearly 2 years now. He hates it. He said when it first started, they were offered a form that said do you or do you not want OT. He said no

Yet he is made to work it???

it sucks. We haven't hung out in a long time  Sad



Pastey White!!!!!
User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 22, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 2215 times:



Quoting Saab2000 (Reply 18):
From one pilot to the controllers, "Good Job!"

And another thanks!



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently offlineP3Orion From United States of America, joined May 2006, 544 posts, RR: 2
Reply 23, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 2141 times:



Quoting Saab2000 (Reply 18):
At ORD we got Attaboys all the time

At times, I can get terse on frequency; but if a pilot helps me out; I try to let him/her know. Also, when working Inbound or Outbound Ground, if I miss a traffic call; I apologize.



"Did he say strap in or strap on?"
User currently offlineStratosphere From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 1658 posts, RR: 5
Reply 24, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 2116 times:



Quoting ATCGOD (Reply 13):
Ah, you must be a "green booker".

Umm would that mean he was working during the 1981 PATCO strike?. If it was he would be more than a "green booker"
in my eyes.



NWA THE TRUE EVIL EMPIRE
25 P3Orion : A "green booker" is a FAA controller who worked under reclass; pre summer of 2006. The new, imposed work rules are refered to as "the white book." Co
26 Hiloboy1 : Fellow Controllers and Pilots, you gotta love folks who have no clue as to what we do or endure but will pass judgement that we're overpaid spoiled cr
27 ATCGOD : You hiring?
28 Hiloboy1 : ATCGOD, We just hired 4 folks; but I've got 2 guys dying to go back to the Mainland so when they leave I'll drop you a line.
29 IAHFLYR : What's your point? Thank you for the explanation!
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