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Pilots And Turn-around Questions?

Wed Apr 28, 2004 1:04 am

I'm not sure if this has been posted before and they are probably dumb questions but i'll ask anyway.

1. What do pilots do during the turn around time at the gates?

2. Do they deplane like the pax or stay on board?

3. Do they only fly the same routes during the days they work (eg. ATL-DEN for the 3-4 consecutive days they work?) or would there be other routes?

Anyone with any info please let me know...

Thanks in advance.

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RE: Pilots And Turn-around Questions?

Wed Apr 28, 2004 1:09 am

it depends. usually if there is a crew change pilots will leave the airplane. if there isn't one and the plane will sit on the gate for an extended period of time the crew will get off also. if there is a quick turn on smaller a/c then one crew mwmber will usually go buy food while the other is on the a/c, then they switch. one crew member must always be abord the a/c while boarding and deplaning is taking place.
"...cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home."
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RE: Pilots And Turn-around Questions?

Wed Apr 28, 2004 1:13 am

FutureFlyer, I will give you what I know, albeit from Europe, but imagine its similar everywhere. there is an awful lot to do during the turnaround, especially if its a short LCC turnaround. Crew will stay on-board, although the Captain or FO will at some point go and do the "walkaround" outside.

They will be completing paperwork from the last flight and preparing paperwork for the new flight. For example looking at the flightplan for the forthcoming flight, entering neccesary data into the aircraft systems, reviewing en-route weather etc etc... as well as leasing with ground crew (gate agents, dispatchers etc) about boarding times, pax numbers, cargo, even fuel figures. Before they know it they're radioing ATC for clearance for the next flight!

It is not a restful time!! Obviously it is not always pressured, depending on the time you have, some crews will eat etc..

Hope this helps

Topic Author
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RE: Pilots And Turn-around Questions?

Wed Apr 28, 2004 1:19 am


Thanks for the info, but one other question. I know pilots do the "walkaround", but are they actually looking for something (eg. visible damage, wear and tear) or do they just do it because they are supposed to and are there any penalties if they do not perform the "walkaround"?


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RE: Pilots And Turn-around Questions?

Wed Apr 28, 2004 1:27 am

Pilots do not do this because if they dont they get in trouble...
They do it because there about to fly a multi million dollor aircraft, with thousands of working parts. On top of that the lives of themselves, there crew, and there passengers rely on that aircraft. They check for any abnormalitys, damage, proper function of parts etc etc.
When i fly i make damn well sure that my plane is in tip top shape. If theres any question regarding saftey of the aircraft, or the flight, I dont go.

Most crews will do the walk around on the first flight of each aircraft they fly that day.
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RE: Pilots And Turn-around Questions?

Wed Apr 28, 2004 1:41 am

The idea of the walkaround has always intrigued me; how often does a Pilot/FO spot a serious problem (that wouldn't be spotted by someone else before take-off) that would subsequently have caused a crash? Do these get recorded in the public domain or do they remain confidential? How well do the pilots know the technical workings of their planes (e.g. I can drive, I can check my tyre pressures before setting out but this doesn't mean I won't get a blowout on the motorway)? As I said this has always intrigued me so any observations would be most interesting!
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RE: Pilots And Turn-around Questions?

Wed Apr 28, 2004 8:13 am

Most of the time they don't spot anything that hasn't been noted already by the ground engineers, as they do a walkround on arrival anyway, although I'm sure there are instances where they have noticed things.

Some of our pilots regularly comment that the APU is making funny noises. On some particular a/c they whistle and on others they don't but they think that something is wrong.

At the end of the day though, it's the flight crew's a$$ that will be plummeting to the ground if something is wrong and they haven't done their walkround - (think back to the Air Florida that crashed into the Potomac) not the engineers.

"She Rolls, 45 knots, 90, 135, nose comes up to 20 degrees, she's airborne - She flies, Concorde Flies"
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RE: Pilots And Turn-around Questions?

Wed Apr 28, 2004 8:26 am

Turns! Depending on our schedule at my airline we may be flying "turns" one day and then trans-con the next. It all depends on what we are scheduled for. If we are heading out with the ship we came in with we'll set up the FMS for the next flight, brief the flight, hit the head, grab some grub, or do whatever depending on how long we're on the ground. At my airline it isn't rare to get a SEA-LAX flight in the morning and then sit at LAX (in the terminal with your F/O) and then grab a jet later in the day and head back to SEA or wherever. Boring is all I can say! And as we speak I'm at LAX, on a turn! The F/O and I just walked over to In & Out Burger and now are waiting...

If the airplane is one piece, don't cheat on it...ride the bastard down! -Ernest K. Ghann
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RE: Pilots And Turn-around Questions?

Wed Apr 28, 2004 11:27 am

Well, for us we normally do a 1 hour turnaround at out ports. The sequence roughly goes like this:

We arrive at the gate, shut down the engines, do the shutdown checklist. The captain grabs the logbook and fills it out, while the FO fills out ACARS for any delay codes, prints out an admin report for the captain to sign, and takes care of the paperwork, filing the flightplan, Cargo manifest, loadsheet, takeoff data sheet, and putting the rest into our recyling bag.

We then put our charts away and grab the charts for the next trip. After this someone opens the cockpit door to let the engineer and ground staff in. However this only happens when all the passengers have got off, and with almost 400 passengers, this can take a while!

ETD -50 mins we get the paperwork, and we have a chat to the engineer about any defects, football scores etc.. before we have a look through the paperwork. The next 10 minutes are spent going through the various mouds of paper (Flightplan, NOTAMS, weather, expected load, ATC filed route etc..) before we decide on the fuel figures.

ETD -40 mins and the PF starts punching in the numbers into the FMC, and the PNF goes on his/her walkaround, stopping to tell the cabin crew the flying time, putting in our drinks order and stopping by the loo.

ETD -30mins, passengers start boarding

ETD -25 and the PF has finished programming the FMC, and the PNF is back from the walkaround. The PNF starts looking through what has been put into the FMC, and the PF now has a chance to stretch his/herlegs for 5 mins and visit the loo and have a sip of that drink. At ETD-25, we also get the final Zero Fuel Weight figure through ACARS. Based on this, we decide if there is going to be any change to the fuel required, and we send off our Fuel On Board, Takeoff Fuel, and Trip Fuel. These figures are needed to construct the loadsheet.

ETD -20 We start our various briefings and things. First is the instrument cross check, checking our altimeters and headings all match and we do the before start checklist. Next we run through a departure briefing, cross checking our charts with the FMC data. At this point we also get the loadsheet. We print out an extra copy and both check the figures all match and that we have not exceeded any weights. We then go to ACARS and sent out a request form for our Takeoff data based on our weight.

ETD -15 We get a reply through ACARS with our takeoff data, and we go to the FMC and fill input our performance figures (weight, climb speed restrictions, takeoff speeds etc). We then do an EFIS check and arm various modes and cross check our displays.

ETD -10 We normally get a minute or two to relax....or at least I do. The Captain has a final check with the engineer, and signs the logbook once again, that the aircraft is fit for flight.

ETD -5 We start chatting to ATC, giving them a 5 minute call, and at this time the traffic staff should be up to tell us that all passengers are on board. We give him/her one of the two loadsheet copies and they leave, closing the aircraft door behind them. We then check in with the engineer on headset who we will speak to for the pushback. We check with him that the cargo doors and main passenger doors are closed and locked and that we are cleared to pressurise hydraulics.

ETD -2 We ask ATC for push back clearance, pressurise the hydraulics, do a Start checklist, release the brakes and off we go.

Obviously, that was a very rough guide. Sometimes it is a lot faster, sometimes we have missing passengers and we go beyond the one hour point as we wait for them. Sometimes there are engineering issues, sometimes ATC delay us etc. For a short route with minimal flight planning, it is quite leisurely. For a long ETOPS flight, where we have to check a few more things, flight planning takes longer.
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RE: Pilots And Turn-around Questions?

Wed Apr 28, 2004 2:29 pm

Wow flyboy, that was quite possibly the most informative and entertaining post I've ever read. Welcome to my respected list.

You're line of work fascinates me.

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