flyenthu From United States of America, joined Dec 2012, 102 posts, RR: 0 Posted (7 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 1818 times:
Yesterday I flew on Southwest 903 from FLL to AUS. It was a short 2.5 hours flight, but it was interesting. The plane changed altititude several times to find smooth air (see the bottom of the page in the link below where the altitude/speed charts are). We hit mild to moderate turbulence immediately after take off and it got worse over the Gulf of Mexico. The captain first went up briefly to 40,000 after leveling at 38,000 I believe to find smooth air. No luck and back to 38. No luck again, and kept searching for stable air until he found at around 30.
It was great that the captain would keep us fully informed as to what he was doing. My question is that for such a short flight, why not just ride the bumps out? Is this pretty normal procedure? I really appreciated his effort. I have been on long hauls flights that have been choppy for hours. So, I was a bit surprised. Any response will be appreciated.
Reminds me of a story one of my buddies told about a guy we flew with that he also flew with in the DC-8 days. They were getting the crap beat out of them in a DC-8 freighter on a long flight and the FE finally asked this Captain if he wanted to maybe go down and try a different altitude because he couldn't drink his coffee or see straight, he just turned around and said "why, we are gonna start down in a couple hours to land anyways". I guess you had to know this guy but he's a legend and a pretty typical story.
I always like the controller that has the space available to allow you a discretion decent and if you find a smooth altitude on the way down, just let him know and you can level off and try it out for a while.
PGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2636 posts, RR: 45 Reply 4, posted (7 months 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 1659 times:
Quoting flyenthu (Thread starter): My question is that for such a short flight, why not just ride the bumps out? Is this pretty normal procedure?
Because many passengers are afraid of flying and even seasoned travelers largely loathe turbulence. Passenger comfort is always a consideration, though there are competing issues including ATC, ceiling/weight issues, and fuel consumption vying for the flightcrew's attention.
To sum up: yes, it's completely normal. I did it this morning.
flyenthu From United States of America, joined Dec 2012, 102 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (7 months 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 1546 times:
Thanks all for the insight. I have further questions.
I am curious about some transatlantic/transpacific flights I was on in the past where the flights were significantly bumpy for a couple of hours (2-4 hours). Food services were stopped. In those scenarios, the flights operated at about 30-31 level with 777 or 747. I remember quite clearly that we did not do level changes of the range of 10,000 feet. Is that because, compared to 737, these flights with 777 and 747 were too heavy for such maneuvering? Or are there other reasons? As you can see I am a lay person just interested in aviation.
That is any combination of things. The airplane could be too heavy to climb at that time. Over water in a non radar environment requires greater separation and the higher altitudes may have been saturated at that point so even if you could climb, there is no space for you to be able to climb up to. And some days over water the ride is lousy no matter where you are.
PGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2636 posts, RR: 45 Reply 7, posted (7 months 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 1501 times:
Quoting flyenthu (Reply 5): I am curious about some transatlantic/transpacific flights I was on in the past where the flights were significantly bumpy for a couple of hours (2-4 hours).
Like I mentioned there are competing factors in play. On long segments a significant altitude change has much greater fuel implications; secondly, it is much more difficult to change altitudes in oceanic airspace as there is no radar coverage. I have been on the NATS across the Atlantic many times when the only option was to grin and bear it for several hours.