Topic Author
Posts: 254
Joined: Sat Jul 15, 2000 9:31 pm

Safety Breaches At Airlines?

Thu Sep 26, 2002 10:23 pm

There was an article in the Airways mag a couple of years ago, which dealt with pilot's layover on Trans-Pacific flights. The author, basically, wrote (if I remember correctly) that the pilots don't get enough rest and this causes a threat to safety.

Can somebody confirm this? Is there really a safety problem?

I've also read somewhere (think it was Airways again...) that America West have constantly postponed technical checks of their aircraft to be able to operate that longer in between the checks...

Are there any other safety breaches that have become the norm so to say?
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Joined: Wed Apr 24, 2002 8:04 pm

RE: Safety Breaches At Airlines?

Thu Sep 26, 2002 11:18 pm

Pilot rest time is one of the big items being discussed between the regulatory authorities, operators, and unions. The pilots at my company have already stated that crew rest periods will be an important issue during contact negotiations.
Crew rest has been determined to be a contributing element to the American MD-80 accident in Little Rock, AR, a couple of years ago and a Kaletta DC-8-61 accident in Cuba.

As part of most operators maintenance program, there is an item called "A short term escalation". What this means is that in the operator's maintenance program is the requirement that each airplane must receive a specific maintenance check within a specific time period (this may be hours or a calendar period). Written into the program is the ability to extend this period for up to 10% of the interval or "A Short Term Escalation".

The reasons for the escalation can include that the airplane currently in a heavy check is running late and the operator would have to cancel flights if the following airplane were inducted at its normally scheduled time.

From what I understand, the operator in question was using the Short Term Escalation to stretch out the check intervals on many of their airplanes, instead of just one, in order to reduce their maintenance costs. Usually, doing this will result in airplanes that have a higher delay and cancellation rate due to maintenance problems, so the money saved in delaying the check is more than paid out fixing unscheduled maintenance problems and taking care of irate passengers.
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Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2001 6:47 am

RE: Safety Breaches At Airlines?

Thu Sep 26, 2002 11:37 pm

A slightly vague subject.... but I do share your main concern Dexter. I have often wondered to what extent the relief crew provisions vary between airlines. For example, on AA from US to Japan, there's almost always two crews (at least from Chicago, which is about 14 hours to Tokyo) but on JAL, from LHR to NRT which is 12 hours, there's only one crew flying the entire way. I know I feel like sh** on arrival after 12 hours, so what must the pilots be feeling trying to land the plane (one of the times requiring the most concentration). Anyone have any thoughts on use of relief crews on long flights or know how airlines differ in this respect?

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Joined: Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:01 am

RE: Safety Breaches At Airlines?

Fri Sep 27, 2002 1:41 am

Pilot duty time is a big issue in the European Union at the moment -- you might want to check out the (huge) document which went through the Parliament a few weeks back.
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Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 1:32 pm

RE: Safety Breaches At Airlines?

Fri Sep 27, 2002 2:16 am

The crew rest time is a great concern; I mean I've have had to stay late in order to get the last flights out, and those pilots on those flights were supposed to turn around and do one of the first flights out of those cities. One night things were all shot to hell, bad weather led to major IROPS, we had rampers bailing out on us, and by 1 a.m., our entire ramp crew consisted of about 12 people, three rampers, six ramp leads, and the three overnight guys. We didn't get our last flight out until 4:15 in the morning, and that flight had been delayed about 5 and a half hours, due to the weather and MX on the a/c. We didn't get our ops back on track until late in the afternoon that day, because so many of the morning flights had been cancelled because of crew rest requirements, and it took that long to get everything back in order. Now with int'l flights, I think there should always be two crews on board, even on an 8 hour flight, just in case. I mean do the flight in shifts, a few hours on, a few hours off. Now with shorter flights, delays can really add up in how much time a crew is actually in the cockpit, sometimes they may fly their daily max, and on top of that sat and waited for about that long; many pilots face 12+ hour days, and may only be in the air for half of that.

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