drgmobile
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Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:35 am

Does anybody know WHY planeloads of passengers are EVER kept on a plane while it is delayed on the ground for three, four five, etc... hours -- either at the gate or while taxiing?

I was once told that flight crews only get paid for the time while they are on the aircraft with the door closed, but I have never been able to get this confirmed.
 
Mir
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:38 am

Quoting Drgmobile (Thread starter):
Does anybody know WHY planeloads of passengers are EVER kept on a plane while it is delayed on the ground for three, four five, etc... hours -- either at the gate or while taxiing?

Because if they go back to the gate, they lose their spot in the takeoff line. And then you have to get in line all over again and wait.

As far as waiting at the gate goes, sometimes a plane will be issued a takeoff time, but the airline managers will try and negotiate an earlier one from ATC. If all the passengers are off the plane and the takeoff time is in fifteen minutes, you'll never get everyone back on and out to the runway in time.

-Mir
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rfields5421
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:45 am

Quoting Drgmobile (Thread starter):
Does anybody know WHY planeloads of passengers are EVER kept on a plane while it is delayed on the ground for three, four five, etc... hours -- either at the gate or while taxiing?

Jet Blue @ New York last winter - no gates available, ramp too icy to safely taxi, not enough external/ ice covered stairs to deplane passengers onto slick ice covered ramps.

AAL @ KMAF a few months ago - B752 diverted from DFW due to thunderstorms. MAF doesn't have a gate capable of docking with a B752, no external stairs for that high an aircraft.

Frequently in long delays, the crew will go past their allowable time limits and another crew has to be found.

On and on....

Yes, bad planning and stupidity on the part of the airline and airports - quite often - but sometimes stuff happens.

I've been told that general feeling in the airline industry is that if the pax get off the plane, it will take two or three times as long to get them reboarded when a takeoff slot opens back up.

Last month we taxied out to the end of the runway on a flight which was six hours late departing the gate - and the pilot told us that we would have to wait 30-45 minutes for clearance to takeoff and routing around some thunderstorms. He also said he had a choice - leave us at the gate, off the plane. Push the plane back and let the next incoming flight unload, then reboard us and hope there was a clearance window. At least another two to three hours.

BTW one hour of the delay was while the flight crew was driven up to BDL from LGA because the original DFW-BDL crew was past their crew hours and unable to continue the flight.

Quoting Drgmobile (Thread starter):
I was once told that flight crews only get paid for the time while they are on the aircraft with the door closed,

Never heard this. My understanding of crew time limits are based on the reporting time for the start of the first flight of the day and the clock runs continuously no matter if the doors are closed or not.
 
flyf15
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:47 am

Every situation is different. There are too many variables to sum up in one reply.

And yes, it is correct that we only get paid when the door is closed. But, trust me, us pilots aren't the ones making the decision as to when that door is open and when it is closed (aside from a few minutes plus or minus). If we were caught holding passengers hostage for hours to simply increase our pay, we'd be fired immediately.
 
Arcrftlvr
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:13 am

Quoting RFields5421 (Reply 2):
MAF doesn't have a gate capable of docking with a B752, no external stairs for that high an aircraft.

Just out of curiousity, why would they select an alternate airport that wasn't capable of handling an A/C of that size? What would happen if they had to cancel, would they have just left all the passengers and crew on the plane? What if the crew timed out? How would they get the new crew on and the old crew off? Something is not adding up here.

Quoting RFields5421 (Reply 2):
Never heard this. My understanding of crew time limits are based on the reporting time for the start of the first flight of the day and the clock runs continuously no matter if the doors are closed or not.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but it has nothing to do with whether the doors are closed or not. I thought each crew member is paid based on the wheels up time until they chock at the gate.
 
Goldenshield
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:18 am

Quoting ArcrftLvr (Reply 4):
Just out of curiousity, why would they select an alternate airport that wasn't capable of handling an A/C of that size?

You have to use a legal airport that's within fuel range of the aircraft. If MAF was the best one available, so be it. The airline isn't going to waste precious fuel to ensure that an airstair that fits the aircraft is available at that airport.
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rfields5421
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:21 am

Quoting ArcrftLvr (Reply 4):
why would they select an alternate airport that wasn't capable of handling an A/C of that size?

According to TV news reports, the pilot expected DFW to open up and wanted to be as close to the airport and getting in as possible. MAF was the closest that had ramp space.

They were monitoring crew time, and preparing to move the aircraft to ELP when DFW opened up - so the flight did continue to DFW.

The airline has 'supported and defended the pilot's decision to land at Midland' but that sounds like PR BS to me.
 
Arcrftlvr
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:41 am

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 5):
The airline isn't going to waste precious fuel to ensure that an airstair that fits the aircraft is available at that airport.

Right, but even though MAF was within legal fuel range, it seems the contingency plan when planning the divert would have to take into account if the crew timed out or the flight had to cancel. They would waste more fuel re-positioning to a more suitable airport in this type of event, so it doesn't seem that the airline is all that concerned about fuel consumption. So, in the event of a time out, how would they have planned to extract the crew from the plane without the appropriate airstairs? The A/C would not be able to take off again a without a legal crew, so how would they have gotten the crew into the A/C? Again, something isn't adding up.
 
Arcrftlvr
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:43 am

Quoting RFields5421 (Reply 6):
The airline has 'supported and defended the pilot's decision to land at Midland' but that sounds like PR BS to me.

Complete BS
 
flyf15
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:51 am

Quoting RFields5421 (Reply 6):
The airline has 'supported and defended the pilot's decision to land at Midland' but that sounds like PR BS to me.



Quoting ArcrftLvr (Reply 8):
Quoting RFields5421 (Reply 6):
The airline has 'supported and defended the pilot's decision to land at Midland' but that sounds like PR BS to me.

Complete BS

etc.....

Wow guys. There is a LOT that goes into a divert. A lot of circumstances, a lot of planning, and a lot of people. Its not just the pilots that make the decision. Customer service is in on it, dispatch, crew scheduling, maintenance control, the diversion station, and most importantly dispatch.

There are a lot of things more important than what kind of airstairs exist at the alternate. Heck, occasionally we'll divert to airports that don't even have airline service or passenger terminals. You know why? Because based on the given set of circumstances, it is the best option available.

Additionally, sometimes things change and plans don't work out. Nobody is perfect. Say you have a great alternate set up and when it comes time to divert... you can't go there. Say you make it to your alternate with plans of only gassing up and departing and you end up spending 8 hours there due to a MX issue. No plan is perfect, but everyone does their best. With the thousands upon thousands of airline flights that go every day without a problem, it is not surprising to see one every once in a while where everything doesn't work out right. You can't do it 100% perfect every time. And, you as passengers, don't really understand what goes into all of it. It might not seem like a good plan, but all things considered, it may be the best option.
 
Goldenshield
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:53 am

Quoting ArcrftLvr (Reply 7):
Right, but even though MAF was within legal fuel range, it seems the contingency plan when planning the divert would have to take into account if the crew timed out or the flight had to cancel.

Dispatch, crew planning (not scheduling,) and and CSC are in the same office for a reason. As was said by RFields (since I never saw said report,) they decided to hold longer to try and get into DFW. I'm positive a further alternate was chosen originally, and as time went on, alternate fuel was exchanged for holding fuel; I've done the same thing several times before. During the time the aircraft was extending its holding, the system coordinators for DFW would have been working with the crew planners to ensure that MAF was indeed a workable, and timely alternate to use (not a legal one—that's the dispatcher's job.)
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rfields5421
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 4:03 am

Quoting RFields5421 (Reply 6):
The airline has 'supported and defended the pilot's decision to land at Midland' but that sounds like PR BS to me.

The part in quotes is the BS part to me. The airline has done everything possible to portary that incident as a single decision by a single pilot/ captain - not a decision made by/ with consultation airline dispatch.

BS

Yes, you are right - you gotta go where you gotta go - and when a big airport like DFW closes for hours - there is chaos and there is not enought capacity anywhere for all the passengers to deplane. Other than returning to origin of all the flights and telling them to reschedule another day.

But don't blame individual pilots.

As far as access to the aircraft, they did bring extra water and food on board with a catering lift truck.

Something we haven't mentioned on this thread is lawsuits.

Airlines are scared to death of taking passengers off aircraft anytime except through jetways or regular stair facilities at those airports where it is necessary. One person slips and turns an ankle, and the airline has a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

If you watch some of the video of people getting off Ryanair and other LCC's in Europe, you know US lawyers would be at such an airport passing out business cards to sue for the 'inconvience and trauma' of having to go down rain slick stairs.
 
Arcrftlvr
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 4:25 am

Quoting Flyf15 (Reply 9):
And, you as passengers, don't really understand what goes into all of it. It might not seem like a good plan, but all things considered, it may be the best option.

I don't think it's that I don't understand, I was merely questioning the feasibility of an airport that couldn't extract passengers or crew on or off the plane, should the need arise. However, the answer that I received was that an alternate airport is solely selected based on fuel consumption, which I have a hard time with. It seems from a customer service and crew scheduling standpoint, access would be necessary at an alternate airport. Why even involve C/S and scheduling in the equation if their needs cannot be met? It seems that if the airline is selecting an alternate airport solely based on how much fuel will be used, then they are not adequately examining all of the possibilities that could arise. Thus, could end up burning more fuel in the long run rather than saving if they need to re-position to another airport.

Obviously, I understand that in a fuel emergency, ANY airport would be sufficient. Just wanted to put that out there...
 
PGNCS
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 6:26 am

Quoting ArcrftLvr (Reply 12):
However, the answer that I received was that an alternate airport is solely selected based on fuel consumption, which I have a hard time with. It seems from a customer service and crew scheduling standpoint, access would be necessary at an alternate airport. Why even involve C/S and scheduling in the equation if their needs cannot be met? It seems that if the airline is selecting an alternate airport solely based on how much fuel will be used, then they are not adequately examining all of the possibilities that could arise. Thus, could end up burning more fuel in the long run rather than saving if they need to re-position to another airport.

Sometimes range is compromised to the point that the closest suitable alternate has to be used (MGE for ATL, for instance) even if it is completely undesirable. The alternative is sometimes to either stop for fuel (delays and possible crew duty limitation issues) or kick passengers or their bags off to take more fuel at the origin. In general the airline professionals involved (pilots and dispatchers mostly) are EXTREMELY knowledgeable about the options and are very concerned about making the best decisions possible. It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback; it's hard to make correct operational decisions in real time.

Quoting ArcrftLvr (Reply 4):
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but it has nothing to do with whether the doors are closed or not. I thought each crew member is paid based on the wheels up time until they chock at the gate.

You are wrong. Depending on the aircraft involved, ACARS and time reporting normally starts when the beacon is on and all doors are closed, or the beacon is on and the parking brake is released. If you keep manual times all bets are off. Some newer aircraft, BTW, start the clock when motion is detected on pushback with several other parameters met.
 
Arcrftlvr
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 6:56 am

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 13):
It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback; it's hard to make correct operational decisions in real time.

I agree that it's extremely easy to sit here and be a Monday morning quarterback and it is tough to make the correct operational decisions. But, it is also the job of all involved to make the correct operational decisions in real time, all the time. For example, if I can't rely on my operations managers to make the right decisions in real time, my business will fail. Certainly any time the incorrect decision is made, I would hope the airline involved works with the team to evaluate why the decision was made and how a better decision can be made in the future. I believe this would help mitigate a lot of the issues that the airlines have been encountering.
 
PGNCS
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 7:06 am

Quoting ArcrftLvr (Reply 14):
Quoting PGNCS (Reply 13):
It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback; it's hard to make correct operational decisions in real time.

I agree that it's extremely easy to sit here and be a Monday morning quarterback and it is tough to make the correct operational decisions. But, it is also the job of all involved to make the correct operational decisions in real time, all the time. For example, if I can't rely on my operations managers to make the right decisions in real time, my business will fail. Certainly any time the incorrect decision is made, I would hope the airline involved works with the team to evaluate why the decision was made and how a better decision can be made in the future. I believe this would help mitigate a lot of the issues that the airlines have been encountering.

So what's your point? That the pilots and dispatchers don't do a good job? That we don't learn from our mistakes? We first and foremost endeavor to do a SAFE job everytime; whether or not any given decision turns out to be the optimum can sometimes only be seen after the fact. If the forecast for ATL is great for 12 hours from now when I take off from Rome with MGE as my alternate, it is prudent to file MGE as an alternate. The alternative is normally kicking passengers off the 767, especially in the summer. In the extremely rare even that we do have to divert because the weather is completely different than forecast, then maybe it would have been wiser to kick ten passengers off in FCO and put on another 2,000 lbs of fuel to go to BHM. Regardless of the hindsight involved, the decision to keep the passengers on was prudent at the time of departure from FCO. From that point on, the situation is addressed from the standpoint of safety first, passenger convenience and schedule preservation second.
 
Arcrftlvr
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 8:00 am

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 15):
That the pilots and dispatchers don't do a good job?

Never once did I imply anything of the sort. In fact, you make excellent points. I totally accept your explanation. Had someone provided an explanation like this prior, then I wouldn't have even bothered re-posting. The information that I took away from this discussion (prior to your post) was that the main criteria for a diversion is the closest airport, regardless of services. The reason being, is the airline does not want to 'waste precious fuel' diverting to an airport that can accommodate a certain size aircraft, which didn't seem to make a lot of sense to me. I would think that access (air stairs, jet bridge, etc.) to the particular A/C, coupled with proximity to the destination, would be the two largest factors in determining the diversion airport and those two factors are the main criteria for a diversion airport. I wouldn't think the airline would want one without the other.
 
kalvado
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 8:01 am

Quoting ArcrftLvr (Reply 4):

Quoting RFields5421 (Reply 2):
MAF doesn't have a gate capable of docking with a B752, no external stairs for that high an aircraft.

Just out of curiousity, why would they select an alternate airport that wasn't capable of handling an A/C of that size? What would happen if they had to cancel, would they have just left all the passengers and crew on the plane? What if the crew timed out? How would they get the new crew on and the old crew off?

I would imagine that boarding 5-6 airline employers in good physical condition is one thing, and dealing with 200 pax including kids/older guys/sick/disabled is quite different... from insurance standpoint at the very least.
 
Goldenshield
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 8:47 am

Quoting ArcrftLvr (Reply 16):
The reason being, is the airline does not want to 'waste precious fuel' diverting to an airport that can accommodate a certain size aircraft, which didn't seem to make a lot of sense to me.

I know you're poking me here, and I'm sorry I never got back to you, but A.net isn't my life (unlike some people.) If you bothered to read my second reply, you'll see my reasoning reasoning for why I said what I said. I never said that it was the golden rule. Also, if the airport is approved for that aircraft in the FAA approved OpSpecs, then it certainly can handle that aircraft. You as a passenger may not like it that you couldn't get off, but at least the airline got you on the ground, rather than crashing and burning enroute to a place where you could get off and do whatever your heart desired.

Quote:
I would think that access (air stairs, jet bridge, etc.) to the particular A/C, coupled with proximity to the destination, would be the two largest factors in determining the diversion airport and those two factors are the main criteria for a diversion airport.

Whether an airport has airstairs that fit the aircraft is last priority. Hell, even when air airport DOES have them, the equipment may break. Getting the aircraft on the ground to an airport that can handle the aircraft LEGALLY, THAT it is FIRST priority. In the heat of the moment, when you need to get that aircraft down, you don't care what it has. When you have multiple aircraft fighting for your attention, then you DEFINATELY do not care what it has, as long as it's legal to use it. So, to reiterate, the two largest factors for a diversion airport are: 1) is it open, and 2) is it legal.

Quote:
I wouldn't think the airline would want one without the other.

Can we say, " Jetblue, Republic, and American?" These airlines, and several others have had instances where this has happened. And, guess what? It will happen again some time. Until you are out there making the operational decisions, don't think you know how to make them.
Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
 
KAUSpilot
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 9:02 am

Yes, at almost all airlines, flight crews are payed from the time all aircraft doors are closed and the parking brake is released to the time a door on the airplane is opened again.

What the average passenger does not understand is the difference between "DUTY TIME" and "PAY TIME". Airline crews routinely work for 14+ hours in a day, but cannot work more than 16 by federal regs. This is called "DUTY TIME". Crews are not payed their hourly wage for "DUTY TIME", they are only compensated for "PAY TIME" which I described in the first paragraph of this post.

But the reason why lengthy ground delays are endured has already been stated, if you deplane the passengers you lose your place in line many times. What does this mean? The flight now has a very high liklihood of being cancelled. Why? Well there are probably other flights leaving for the same destination at the same time now, the flight crew cannot be "on duty" for more than 16 hours in a day, etc. Trust me, crews do not enjoy lengthy delays any more than you do.....we are already prohibited from being scheduled for more than 100 hrs of "PAY TIME" per month, so that number is relatively fixed.

So many times it's a choice, go back to the gate and cancel the flight or endure "another hour" and hope that you are able to depart.

Personally, my rule is 3 hours.....at the 3 hour point I'm going back to the gate and deplaning if I don't have a definite departure time; don't care if the flight will be cancelled or not. Works pretty well for my flights. I will not board the plane if I have an indefinite departure time.
 
iairallie
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 9:08 am

Quoting ArcrftLvr (Reply 4):
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but it has nothing to do with whether the doors are closed or not. I thought each crew member is paid based on the wheels up time until they chock at the gate.

It depends on the contract. Some from when the cabin door closes to when it opens again. Others from block out to block in. Some when the engines start to when they shut down. There are all sorts of contractual agreements regarding pay for ground delays. Some crews do not get paid for ground time in a delay.

Quoting ArcrftLvr (Reply 12):
the answer that I received was that an alternate airport is solely selected based on fuel consumption,

It's not solely based on fuel. But that would be one of the more important factors.
Enough about flying lets talk about me!
 
Arcrftlvr
Posts: 393
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 9:55 am

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 18):
1) is it open, and 2) is it legal.

Like I said in reply 16, I completely get that. Other than if a fuel emergency arises, it seems that there are several other factors that should be taken into account, without compromising safety, when establishing the diversion airport.

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 18):
Until you are out there making the operational decisions, don't think you know how to make them.

It seems like you think I'm questioning your ability to do your job, which I am not. However, I don't think you can say that every operational decision made by B6, AA, F9, UA etc. has been the corrrect one. So, am I only allowed to comment on their decisions if I make them? Come on, that's not the point of this forum...
 
OPNLguy
Posts: 11191
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 1999 11:29 am

RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:15 am

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 18):
Until you are out there making the operational decisions, don't think you know how to make them.

When I originally released and launched this one the normal route last week, I was using STL and IND as the alternates. Once enroute, the east-west line north of Chicago finally moved south over MDW (It was already hitting ORD), I had this guy head north to DBQ/MSN and come in behind it, once it cleared MDW. I'd changed the alternate to MKE. He held over both DBQ and MSN, and eventually got in, but if I would have had to divert to MKE (which we don't serve), doncha just know there'd be griping about having ended up in MKE and that we should have gone to _____ (fill-in alternate airport of your choice). IND was the line's next target; STL, MCI, SDF, and CMH already had multiple diversions; and a return to OMA was out due to the weather bearing down on them. Hopefully, this demonstrates some of the variables involved.

I guess it's too much to expect folks to make the default presumption that the airline personnel responsible for these kinds of decisions know what they're doing... Nah...  Wink

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ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
OPNLguy
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:18 am

Quoting ArcrftLvr (Reply 21):
However, I don't think you can say that every operational decision made by B6, AA, F9, UA etc. has been the corrrect one. So, am I only allowed to comment on their decisions if I make them?

No, but it'd sure help you understand them alot more..  Wink
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
RJdxer
Posts: 3523
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 11:40 am

Quoting RFields5421 (Reply 2):
AAL @ KMAF a few months ago - B752 diverted from DFW due to thunderstorms. MAF doesn't have a gate capable of docking with a B752, no external stairs for that high an aircraft.

I bet the dispatcher just about had a stroke when that acars popped up!  laughing 

Quoting RFields5421 (Reply 6):
The airline has 'supported and defended the pilot's decision to land at Midland' but that sounds like PR BS to me.

Sounds like someone still got a free trip to the Chief Pilots office.

Quoting Flyf15 (Reply 9):
Say you have a great alternate set up and when it comes time to divert... you can't go there.

Then someone wasn't paying attention because the alternate(s) is/are always supposed to be legal.

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 10):
During the time the aircraft was extending its holding, the system coordinators for DFW would have been working with the crew planners to ensure that MAF was indeed a workable, and timely alternate to use (not a legal one—that's the dispatcher's job.)

That sounds good and maybe it did happen that way, me thinks though someone made a command decision without a whole lot of consultation.

Quoting KAUSpilot (Reply 19):
Personally, my rule is 3 hours.....at the 3 hour point I'm going back to the gate and deplaning if I don't have a definite departure time; don't care if the flight will be cancelled or not. Works pretty well for my flights. I will not board the plane if I have an indefinite departure time.

That is a damn good plan!

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 22):
but if I would have had to divert to MKE (which we don't serve), doncha just know there'd be griping about having ended up in MKE and that we should have gone to _____ (fill-in alternate airport of your choice).

Not to mention the immediate and ceaseless rumor that would have begun about how WN was "opening" MKElaughing 

There is so much that goes into holding a plane out that it would just take too much bandwidth to cover it all here. First of all you have to decide whether you are talking about an FAA groundstop or a weather hold or even a company self imposed delay program to mention but a few. Then there are the ground delay programs, ESP, playbooks, and so forth and so on. If an aircraft blocks out with a wheels up time of say 1500z and the groundstop is continued with an update at 1530z, does it make sense to bring the aircraft back, no. But what if that update then gets pushed back to 1600z, then 1630z, then 1700z each time at the half hour? Do you stay out or come back and risk having the ground stop lifted and you are caught out of position. I've had it go both ways. I''ve had the aircraft just parked on a gate return when the gs was lifted, sent them back out without the jetway even being brought up to the ac, only to have the gs reinstated before the ac could make it to the end of the runway. Talk about frustrating. I've also had the satisfaction os seeing that the weather was dissipating and asking the crew to hold out a little longer, and low and behold the gs was lifted 5 minutes later. It's not only the passengers that feel put out, the employees have to work a lot harder when things like that happen as well. There is more than enough stress to go around. If it is a weather delay, and the weather is over the field you're at, the ramp may be closed due to dangerous conditions. The hardest weather delay to get across to the public is the enroute weather delay because as sure as the sun comes up the person at airport A is talking to whomever is meeting them at airport B and they become very suspicious since neither airport has a storm going on. When I workd at hub ops I knew a lot of gate agents that would come into the weather room and ask for a print out of the latest satellite picture so they could post that behind the podium and point to it when the passenger, sure in their own mind the airline was just screwing with them, came up and loudly proclaimed they could board up and leave now because they had first hand knowledge that whatever weather the airline was worried about at point B was gone now. Some days you just can't win.
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OPNLguy
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 11:46 am

Quoting RJdxer (Reply 24):
Not to mention the immediate and ceaseless rumor that would have begun about how WN was "opening" MKE.

Hey, a JAX-HOU flight "re-started" BPT a couple of weeks ago....  Wink
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
JayDub
Posts: 359
Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2006 4:14 am

RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 12:18 pm

Quoting RJdxer (Reply 24):
Sounds like someone still got a free trip to the Chief Pilots office.



Quoting RJdxer (Reply 24):
That sounds good and maybe it did happen that way, me thinks though someone made a command decision without a whole lot of consultation.

In regards to the DFW-bound AA flight that diverted to MAF...what makes you say this? Based strictly on the info I have, I see nothing that happened here that would neither constitute a visit with the chief pilot nor indicate a decision made without consultation with all parties involved.

It sounds to me that the captain and dispatcher agreed that holding as long as possible due to a possible break in the storms long enough in order to get in. It seems that they held as long as they could hold and went to the nearest suitable alternate airport when they needed to refuel.

DFW thunderbumpers tend to, in most cases, come and go fairly quickly. Storms impacting the field at DFW for long periods of time just don't happen. I'm sure this was considered when the decision to divert to MAF was made.

If the storms are coming and going quickly...and all flights that diverted will be released to continue to DFW on a higher priority (assuming the ATC strip was filed with DVRSN in it)...then why do they even need airstairs? With the exception of the FO needing to do a quick walk around (and that CAN be accomplished in other creative ways than the use of airstairs)...no one else needs to depart the aircraft for a "Gas 'n' Go" divert.

[Edited 2007-07-25 05:33:48]
"Travel is only glamorous in retrospect." - Paul Theroux
 
OPNLguy
Posts: 11191
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 1:10 pm

Quoting JayDub (Reply 26):
DFW thunderbumpers tend to, in most cases, come and go fairly quickly. Storms impacting the field at DFW for long periods of time just don't happen. I'm sure this was considered when the decision to divert to MAF was made.

Concur. What's a pain is when an E-W or SW-NE line is headed this way, and suddenly changes sppede, either slow and speeds up, or fast an slows down. Screws the timing up something awful. I had a line speed up 2-3 months ago such that everyone coming around the south end via JEN was no longer going to get in ahead of impact at the airports, and I turned 4 flights around and sent them back to MAF, LBB, and AMA. Once the line cleared town, we re-launched on the normal routes.

What really takes the cake is when a line comes in and trains over the airport. That hapened over in Ft. Worth a couple of days ago, and is what was behind that big DFW furball back at the end of December last year

Quoting JayDub (Reply 26):
If the storms are coming and going quickly...and all flights that diverted will be released to continue to DFW on a higher priority (assuming the ATC strip was filed with DVRSN in it)...then why do they even need airstairs? With the exception of the FO needing to do a quick walk around (and that CAN be accomplished in other creative ways than the use of airstairs)...no one else needs to depart the aircraft for a "Gas 'n' Go" divert.

I was hoping someone would bring that up...  Wink Diversions for fog are more likely to involve a flight cancellation than a diversion for thunderstorms will. Storms move (eventually), and you'll gas-and-go when able, but if an airport goes below landing minimums in fog, it can sometimes be for the rest of the night.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
Arcrftlvr
Posts: 393
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:30 am

RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 1:20 pm

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 23):
No, but it'd sure help you understand them alot more..

That's the reason why I asked the question initially!!
 
rfields5421
Posts: 5563
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Wed Jul 25, 2007 11:11 pm

The point of the MAF example is that the airline - American - has gone to some lengths to convince the public that the decision to land at that airport was a Flight Crew decision - made without adequate information and without airline approval.

I still say that's PR BS.

Everyone understands the need for diversions. Everyone understands that on rare occasions that will mean putting an aircraft into an airport without facilities to provide normal service.

Everyone in the industry want to talk about safety - yet wants to ignore passenger safety issues.

When there is no fresh water on an aircraft - passenger safety is compromised.

When there are overflowing/ no working toilets on an aircraft - passenger safety is compromised.

When the temperature on board the aircraft rises above 85 degrees without active ventilation, or 90 degrees with ventilation, passenger safety is compromised.

When the temperature on board the aircraft falls below 60 degrees, passenger safety is compromised.

When an airline has aircraft backed up for two hours awaiting departure and continues to board passengers, the safety is compromised.

When an airline has an aircraft in an airport without service facilities and is not actively working to find a way to provide some services of at least water and food, passenger safety is compromised.

Passenger safety is not just physically getting the aircraft and passengers to the destination - it also includes not endangering their health.

Certainly you can cite specific examples - and I certainly understand complaints about weather delays need to be taken to a chapel, not the gate agent or pilot.

However, the general attitude and tone of the airline industry has been for years - get them on the plane and don't give a danged after that.

And yes, we all understand flight crews are trapped just as much as the passengers.
 
RJdxer
Posts: 3523
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Thu Jul 26, 2007 11:52 am

Quoting JayDub (Reply 26):
In regards to the DFW-bound AA flight that diverted to MAF...what makes you say this?

Experience.

Quoting JayDub (Reply 26):
Based strictly on the info I have, I see nothing that happened here that would neither constitute a visit with the chief pilot nor indicate a decision made without consultation with all parties involved.

I have seen nothing that says anything different. But diverting to a field that does not have all the necessary facilities suggests a lack of prior planning. Yes it's was legal, yes, technically it was safe, but was it smart?

Quoting JayDub (Reply 26):
It sounds to me that the captain and dispatcher agreed that holding as long as possible due to a possible break in the storms long enough in order to get in.

Maybe you have more information than I do. But given what was presented here, I see no info to point to any conversaton between the dispatcher and the pilot much less anyone else. If the pilot invokes his emergency authority he can go to MAF without consulting the dispatcher beforehand.

Quoting JayDub (Reply 26):
It seems that they held as long as they could hold and went to the nearest suitable alternate airport when they needed to refuel.

Nothing says he or she did that here but I find it strange that if the aircraft was holding that long, again I'm not sure where, that AMA and LBB weren't discussed and are about equidistant from DFW to the west. I don't know what the weather was like on that particular day at that particular time but IAH, OKC, SAT, and AUS are all closer as the crow flies to DFW than MAF and I know for certain those airports can handle a 757. I would think they would have been much more suitable than MAF.

Quoting JayDub (Reply 26):
I'm sure this was considered when the decision to divert to MAF was made.

Again, I see no information presented here to determine what went into the decision to go to MAF but given it's lack of facilities if a problem were to develop that required the deplaning of the passengers, it seems that there were a number of other airports that could have fit the bill a little better.

Quoting JayDub (Reply 26):
If the storms are coming and going quickly...and all flights that diverted will be released to continue to DFW on a higher priority (assuming the ATC strip was filed with DVRSN in it)...then why do they even need airstairs?

If nothing else FAR 121.570(b)says that "Each certificate holder shall ensure that at all times passengers are on board prior to airplane movement on the surface, at least one floor level exit provides egress through normal or emergency means." Now you can take that to mean blow the slides if everyone needs off but that basically incapcitates the airplane for a lot longer than a gas an go, or even a tire change takes. I am not familar with AA's fom but if it is similar to at least two other airlines fom's that I am familar with, during refueling at least on door will remain open with either a jetway or airstairs in position to assist in deplaning in the event of a major fuel spill or fire.

Quoting JayDub (Reply 26):
With the exception of the FO needing to do a quick walk around (and that CAN be accomplished in other creative ways than the use of airstairs)...no one else needs to depart the aircraft for a "Gas 'n' Go" divert.

What if there had been a bird strike on final doing enough damage to ground the aircraft? What if a tire had blown on landing? Or the airplane was struck and damaged by a service vehicle? Now you've got a bunch of people on an airplane that can't go anywhere and no real easy means of getting them off. As I said above, a lot of information is missing but from a dispatchers point of view, if I'm going to divert an aircraft somewhere, unless it is a real emergency, it's at least going to have a minimum level of service equipment available which would include a way to get the passengers on and off quickly through some other means than the slides. I don't know what AA's ops specs say nor their fom, I'm sure everything they did was completely legal, but did it make sense?

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 27):
Diversions for fog are more likely to involve a flight cancellation than a diversion for thunderstorms will.

Oh tell me about it!! First thing I look for when I sign in are flights to Mexico, and then flights to YHZ, YQM, otherwise known at Haligor and Moncgor. Most dreaded of all YYT, better known as St. Gander. Ya gotta love those 6, 12, and even a few 18 hour Canadian tempos and probs like tonites 6 hour for YYT...FM0600Z 25008KT P6SM FEW002 FEW060 PROB40 0612 1/2SM FG VV002 ...talk about hedging your bets.  laughing 

Quoting RFields5421 (Reply 29):
When an airline has aircraft backed up for two hours awaiting departure and continues to board passengers, the safety is compromised.

This is the only one I would disagree with. Passenger saftey is not compromised by boarding passengers two hours early. If the plane is still at the gate and the main cabin door is open the passengers can usually still get up and walk around or step out onto the jetway. It would take a gate agent or pilot made out of stone not to allow that.
Warm winds blowing, heating blue skies, and a road that goes forever. I'm going to Texas!
 
Goldenshield
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RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Thu Jul 26, 2007 12:22 pm

Quoting RJdxer (Reply 30):
Nothing says he or she did that here but I find it strange that if the aircraft was holding that long, again I'm not sure where, that AMA and LBB weren't discussed and are about equidistant from DFW to the west. I don't know what the weather was like on that particular day at that particular time but IAH, OKC, SAT, and AUS are all closer as the crow flies to DFW than MAF and I know for certain those airports can handle a 757.

I'd hate to burst your bubble, but since you're a dispatcher, you should know that planes don't hold OVER the airport of destination to wait to get in, and then divert to an airport. The only reason why I can think of as to why they chose MAF over other cities was that they were holding at Wink VOR, PHILS, or Tuscola VOR on the Glen Rose 8 arrival, and guess what? MAF is the closest airport capable of handling that size aircraft (airstairs aside) to those three waypoints. Now, we don't know the weather picture of what happened that say at that very hour, though, so it's quite possible that going further east was not possible, and ELP and ABQ were also socked in with storms.

Quoting RJdxer (Reply 24):
That sounds good and maybe it did happen that way, me thinks though someone made a command decision without a whole lot of consultation.

I've had that happen to me at least once already when an ACARS went NO COMM, and the had a backlog of 10 other aircraft.

Quoting RJdxer (Reply 30):
As I said above, a lot of information is missing but from a dispatchers point of view, if I'm going to divert an aircraft somewhere, unless it is a real emergency, it's at least going to have a minimum level of service equipment available which would include a way to get the passengers on and off quickly through some other means than the slides.

I don't think that's a problem for you. They can use a kitchen step-stool as a stairway to get out of those planes.  Wink
Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
 
OPNLguy
Posts: 11191
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 1999 11:29 am

RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Thu Jul 26, 2007 12:33 pm

Quoting RJdxer (Reply 30):
talk about hedging your bets.

Before TAFs replaced FTs here, I remember the old days..

DFW nn1616Z CLR 20 SLGT CHC 1/4 T+RW+ 04030G50..  Yeah sure (If memory serves, that's pretty much what the FT was calling for DFW the afternoon that DAL191 went down....)  Sad

Now days, they don't just hedge their bets, they just blow the TAF and wait until the cell coming over the fence drives the SPECI, and -then- issue the TAF AMDT.. I bet they even have the software set-up to do it that way..  Wink Sure -seems- like it!
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
RJdxer
Posts: 3523
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2006 1:14 am

RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:52 pm

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 31):
I'd hate to burst your bubble, but since you're a dispatcher, you should know that planes don't hold OVER the airport of destination to wait to get in, and then divert to an airport.

You're not, that's why I qualified the statement with:

Quoting RJdxer (Reply 30):
Nothing says he or she did that here but I find it strange that if the aircraft was holding that long, again I'm not sure where,

and:

Quoting RJdxer (Reply 30):
I don't know what the weather was like on that particular day at that particular time

You may be right and MAF may have been the closest field available but I find it odd that a field without the proper equipment to take passengers off, if it became necessary, was chosen if the command center was involved in the decision making. I've diverted more than a few airplanes to off line stations, which MAF would not be for AA, and before I make that decision I always call to a. see if someone is there, b. they can actually fuel and have enough gas to get me what I need, c. have stairs or a jetway available. I remember the taf amending for SLC one night and calling an fob who shall go nameless in OGD. An old woman, who sounded quite nice, informed that they were no longer 24 hours and that she was on the way out the door to get her husbands dinner ready. So I ended up using a farther away alternate and losing a few passengers in the process.

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 31):
I've had that happen to me at least once

You're lucky.  razz 

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 31):
They can use a kitchen step-stool as a stairway to get out of those planes

This is true.  laughing  I keep waiting for the day they have the FA stick their head out the door at departure time and yell "ALL ABOARD"!

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 32):
Before TAFs replaced FTs here, I remember the old days..

I have to admit I wasn't there, back in the day when they "rode the beam".  duck 

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 32):
they just blow the TAF and wait until the cell coming over the fence drives the SPECI, and -then- issue the TAF

That's the EWR way! ABE will be reporting the end of the earth and EWR is clear and a million with a GS.
Warm winds blowing, heating blue skies, and a road that goes forever. I'm going to Texas!
 
JayDub
Posts: 359
Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2006 4:14 am

RE: Ground Delays, Hours On A Plane

Fri Jul 27, 2007 8:12 am

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 32):
Now days, they don't just hedge their bets, they just blow the TAF and wait until the cell coming over the fence drives the SPECI, and -then- issue the TAF AMDT.. I bet they even have the software set-up to do it that way.. Wink Sure -seems- like it!

Gotta love "aftcasting".

Quoting RJdxer (Reply 30):
Ya gotta love those 6, 12, and even a few 18 hour Canadian tempos and probs like tonites 6 hour for YYT...FM0600Z 25008KT P6SM FEW002 FEW060 PROB40 0612 1/2SM FG VV002 ...talk about hedging your bets.

Ya gotta hand it to the Canadians, though. They really cover all the bases. Hahahaha...
"Travel is only glamorous in retrospect." - Paul Theroux

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