Gonzalo
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Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:52 am

After the serious incident of a 732 trying to land in La Serena ( Close Call : 737 Wingtip Smashed Into Runway (by Gonzalo Jul 19 2012 in Civil Aviation) ) , the ( Sky Airline Pilot ) Union's President reported in a letter that the Pilots are ranked by fuel consumption, and are punished or congratulated depending on the "position" of that pilot compared with the average of the company. He also states that " the Operations management ask the pilots to avoid instrument approaches and choose always visual approaches to avoid long circuits to land, putting additional pressures to the already stressed pilots . This tool to save fuel is perverse".

http://www.24horas.cl/nacional/pilot...sumo-de-combustibles-de-sky-321982

By the way, the man was fired after the letter ( originally "private" according his version ) was made public by a fellow pilot of Sky Airline.
The Chilean Civil Aviation authorities ( DGAC ) are currently auditing the airline's procedures, as a consequence of the incident in Serena and others that involved the airline in the last few months.

Is this kind of policy for fuel savings applied in other airlines ? If so, where and since when ? Any experiences ?

Rgds.

G.
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DashTrash
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:42 pm

Another argument for the seniority system. This, and other similar reasons, is why we have it.
 
Burkhard
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:37 pm

Nothing against an extra 100$ payment for the best fuel saver of the month, but pressure onto employees always is a warrant for bad results - and pressure onto pilots to not do what they find the most responsible thing is a warrant for fatal accidents.
 
DFWHeavy
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:08 pm

No, seniority systems are not right or fair. Compensation and promotions should be on a merit based system. However, it should not be based solely on who burns the least amount of fuel. That could get dangerous.
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seven3seven
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:09 pm

Quoting DFWHeavy (Reply 3):
No, seniority systems are not right or fair. Compensation and promotions should be on a merit based system.

So youre saying some pilots are better than others? And dont you think some pilots would cut corners to get promotions and higher compensation? Its human nature to do whats necessary to get ahead.

Thats why we have the seniority system. And I can tell you no pilot at Southwest Airlines is rated on fuel consumption.
My views are mine alone and are not that of any of my fellow employees, officers, or directors at my company
 
DualQual
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:21 pm

Quoting DFWHeavy (Reply 3):
No, seniority systems are not right or fair. Compensation and promotions should be on a merit based system. However, it should not be based solely on who burns the least amount of fuel. That could get dangerous.

Seniority systems are a needed "evil" in a profession that is as STANDARDIZED as flying. Each one of us is supposed to do it the same way, every time. How do you merit base promote amongst pilots? You can't really discern. Who makes the smoothest landings? Who has the best PA's? The reason for the seniority system is also to prevent merit based promotions being based off of stuff like who still flies sick, takes broken airplanes to ensure an on time departure, cuts the gas close to save money.

It doesn't matter who is in the other seat when I fly, I expect them to do it just like the last guy and they expect me to do it the same as their last flying partner.
There's no known cure for stupid
 
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seabosdca
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:22 pm

Quoting DFWHeavy (Reply 3):
Compensation and promotions should be on a merit based system.

If pilots were compensated and promoted based on merit, far and away the most important criterion would have to be safety. Yet in modern commercial aviation pretty much all pilots will have the same (perfect) safety results. So it is very difficult to judge pilots on safety.

But making compensation or promotion decisions based on any factor that could conflict with safety is a horrible idea for obvious reasons, except maybe if you're using it only to root out people who are much worse than the norm. Fuel usage and on-time performance are two things that can clearly conflict with safety, so they should not be used for evaluations.

So there is a real lack of good, objective criteria on which to base compensation and promotion decisions for pilots, beyond the very basics (shows up for work, doesn't have a pattern of causing horrible conflict, doesn't repeatedly fail FAA check rides). Any evaluation is bound to be subjective. And fully subjective evaluations are rife for abuse and favoritism. That is why seniority works for pilots, drivers, and other safety-critical positions.
 
apodino
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:23 pm

This is actually happening at USAirways. In an effort to save fuel....USAirways hired an expert, who himself is a former navy seal and airline pilot, to look into ways to save money for USAirways. They are very closely tracking how much fuel dispatchers plan on each flght, and whether or not the pilots add more fuel and that the pilots are flying profiles accurately. Rumor has it they have fired people over this at Mainline, and they are putting the same pressure on the regional carriers, demanding names of pilots and dispatchers who are not compliant. They are demanding that the regional partners discipline individuals not in compliance or risk losing the flying contracts altogether. And furthermore, the ability to fly profiles accurately will be a key hiring measure in the future, which means if you didn't comply at the regional level, USAirways won't hire you at the mainline level.

To me...USAirways has gotten way out of control on this, but any attempts to explain this in terms of safety have fallen on deaf ears, and yet the diversions as a result have increased.
 
rcair1
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:26 pm

Quoting DFWHeavy (Reply 3):
No, seniority systems are not right or fair. Compensation and promotions should be on a merit based system. However, it should not be based solely on who burns the least amount of fuel. That could get dangerous.
Quoting seven3seven (Reply 4):
So youre saying some pilots are better than others? And dont you think some pilots would cut corners to get promotions and higher compensation? Its human nature to do whats necessary to get ahead.

Thats why we have the seniority system. And I can tell you no pilot at Southwest Airlines is rated on fuel consumption.

Merit is better - but hard to measure as noted. However it is not as impossible as some say. You could build a number of weighted measures that would not overemphasize one aspect - and relationship to appropriate delays due to mechanical could be a positive factor. Seniority is based on an assumption that a crappy long time pilot is better than a stellar newby. On average, maybe so - but it has corners that are just as dangerous as focused merit programs.

But - measuring based on fuel? Just plane stupid. There are too many intangibles to perform anything but statistical 'on the average" kind of analysis.
rcair1
 
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ODwyerPW
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:01 pm

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 6):
There is a real lack of good, objective criteria on which to base compensation and promotion decisions for pilots, beyond the very basics (shows up for work, doesn't have a pattern of causing horrible conflict, doesn't repeatedly fail FAA check rides). Any evaluation is bound to be subjective.
Quoting DualQual (Reply 5):
Seniority systems are a needed "evil" in a profession that is as STANDARDIZED as flying. Each one of us is supposed to do it the same way, every time. How do you merit base promote amongst pilots?

Thank you for taking the time to elaborate. Rarely do I side with Seniority trumps Merit, but you guys have convinced me otherwise.
learning never stops.
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:34 pm

Quoting DualQual (Reply 5):
Seniority systems are a needed "evil" in a profession that is as STANDARDIZED as flying. Each one of us is supposed to do it the same way, every time. How do you merit base promote amongst pilots?

Somehow, it works in medicine, the nuclear navy (who make the standardization of aviation look puny), stress engineering, industrial machining, airliner production...I agree it's harder than in some other professions but it's certainly not impossible.

A big hit against seniority is that there's no real correlation between pilots ability to execute the standard procedures and their seniority anyway...if it was really about standardization, we'd promote based on compliance to standards, not seniority.

Tom.
 
rcair1
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:56 pm

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 10):
A big hit against seniority is that there's no real correlation between pilots ability to execute the standard procedures and their seniority anyway...if it was really about standardization, we'd promote based on compliance to standards, not seniority.

  

An extreme example of the "seniority fails" was Korean Air. Specifically the crash of the B74F in Europe when the PF (captain), flew it into the ground because his attitude indicator was failed. Both other worked (1st officer, and backup). The FE noticed and said something ('bank angle" I think) but the 1st officer was silent and did nothing. The conclusion was the junior 1st Officer was not going to 'correct' the senior pilot.
rcair1
 
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yyz717
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:58 pm

Quoting DFWHeavy (Reply 3):
No, seniority systems are not right or fair. Compensation and promotions should be on a merit based system.

Agree completely.

Quoting DFWHeavy (Reply 3):
However, it should not be based solely on who burns the least amount of fuel.

If it is based on minimizing (within safety standards) unnecessary use of fuel, then this ranking is a good idea. Pilots (like all employees) have a stake in the company's financial well-being and should be looking for ways to minimize fuel use. A ranking system is a good start.
I dumped at the gybe mark in strong winds when I looked up at a Porter Q400 on finals. Can't stop spotting.
 
MSJYOP28Apilot
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:06 am

Dispatchers are ranked at most airlines by fuel use. Regionals will frequently make attempts to take action against dispatchers that give too much extra gas and also against pilots that ask dispatch for more fuel. Typically, pilots are only given a small amount of fuel they can legally upload without dispatch authorization. This means dispatchers at some regionals are basically told to do everything possible to talk pilots out of taking extra gas on top of what is released.

United and Delta both have fuel auditors that look at the fuel their dispatchers and the regional dispatchers give. If they see a trend of one guy giving more than others, he is brought into a meeting with management and told to give less gas or risk the loss his job. Pilots have a better union than any dispatch union so pilots are much better protected from fuel harassment than dispatchers are.

At one regional airline, I had to justify in writing giving even a hundred pounds of extra fuel on a regional jet otherwise I risked an email from the boss reminding me to be in compliance with fuel policy. Sometimes, management will disagree with reasons for extra gas even if the reason is a good one which still goes on the dispatchers permanent record.

The biggest issue for airlines is controlling contingency/extra fuel use. Regulations are not very clear on how much extra gas should be taken. For domestic flights, you need fuel to get to the destination, the alternate if required, and 45 minute reserve fuel. The regs call for enough fuel to be given to cover changes in wind and ATC, etc but dont give a numeric value on it. The approach taken by some airlines is to have strict guidelines while others trust their dispatchers to make the right decision with some counseling on how much fuel is typically used versus carried.

In the winter, alternate fuel can be a real pain for airlines. Most dispatchers would rather go farther away from a destination to find a better alternate than to use a barely legal alternate closer to the destination. Managers often times will demand dispatchers give an explaination for the alternate choice if it isnt the closest available alternate, legal or not. Occasionally, there may be some unscrupulous supervisors that try to get dispatchers to use illegal alternates to save fuel or allow for additional payload to be loaded on the aircraft.

A good example above will be a flight arriving into LGA. SWF is a close alternate for fuel use. Lets say LGA requires an alternate and SWF is reporting in its metar vis 1/2 sm and ceiling of 200 feet. The TAF is forecasting 1sm and 500 ft at the time the aircraft would arrive at SWF. The wind is forecast calm and the runway is reporting braking action fair to poor with more moderate to heavy snow coming. ALB is farther away and has metar of 2sm and cig 800 ft, TAF forecast of 2 sm and cig 900 ft, braking action fair to good with light snow forecast. The dispatcher looks and decides on ALB but management thinks SWF should have been used because its legal, less fuel used, and more payload can be uploaded instead of losing money by bumping pax and cargo.

For contingency fuel, the biggest variables are hold time and ATC re-routes for weather. These are two variables that are difficult to plan for without loading a bunch of extra gas. The general consensus among airline management is that unless ATC specifically states there will be holds and re-routes, that dispatchers should give normal fuel and just take gate returns and and diversions for more fuel in case things change unexpectedly. Most dispatchers find themselves in this situation balancing the interests of safety, management, pilots, FAA and stations.
 
Flighty
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:51 am

Just the ranking itself would be fairly tricky. You'd need to employ a few people just to do that in a fair and balanced way -- taking winds into account, ATC interventions, to normalize these numbers so they are appropriate to be ranked. Well, that is why airlines have Operations Research, probably.

Are they ranking pilots vs. some sort of consistent dispatch model that already builds in day-specific info?

[Edited 2012-09-26 17:59:21]
 
infinit
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:05 am

It's a stupid idea to rank them by fuel consumption. It could impair their judgement without them even realising. When it comes to making it another go-around or landing in somewhat unsafe conditions, they might choose the later because subconsciously they know they're going to "lose points" if they consume more fuel.
 
futureualpilot
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:15 am

Yep...as with most airlines it's $afety first. Whomever even thought to create a system like this ought to be fired and banned from the transportation industry completely. What a joke.
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steex
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:19 am

Quoting rcair1 (Reply 11):
An extreme example of the "seniority fails" was Korean Air. Specifically the crash of the B74F in Europe when the PF (captain), flew it into the ground because his attitude indicator was failed. Both other worked (1st officer, and backup). The FE noticed and said something ('bank angle" I think) but the 1st officer was silent and did nothing. The conclusion was the junior 1st Officer was not going to 'correct' the senior pilot.

You're mixing two different issues there - a promotion system based on seniority and poor CRM. It doesn't matter which mechanism is used for promotions, poor CRM will be dangerous. The counterpoint would be that crews made up entirely of members promoted based on seniority have had remarkable evasions of disaster because of good CRM. The two issues need not be related.

It's a cultural issue within the airline at that time that caused FO and FE not to correct the PF, not strictly seniority.
 
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longhauler
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:30 am

Quoting odwyerpw (Reply 9):
Thank you for taking the time to elaborate. Rarely do I side with Seniority trumps Merit, but you guys have convinced me otherwise.

Understand also that seniority offers the opportunity to advance, it is capability and merit that allows it. And no, not every Captain candidate is successful.

Quoting infinit (Reply 15):
It's a stupid idea to rank them by fuel consumption. It could impair their judgement without them even realising. When it comes to making it another go-around or landing in somewhat unsafe conditions, they might choose the later because subconsciously they know they're going to "lose points" if they consume more fuel.

This is the big draw-back, consciously or sub-consciously, one's decisions may be based more on fuel use than passenger safety. Certainly continuing an unstable approach as you state is an example, other's might be .... going to a lower altitude because its smoother, but don't because it uses more fuel ... deviating "too close" to weather because further burns more fuel ... not holding for weather to improve, and just going to one's alternate without waiting.

It is a slippery slope. During the investigation of KE007, the reason for being so far off course was of course the prime riddle. One of the considerations, (before the cause was determined) was that the Captain may have elected to cut corners across restricted airspace to save time/fuel as Korean Air Lines gives a bonus for reduced fuel use!
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
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longhauler
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:38 am

Quoting steex (Reply 17):

It's a cultural issue within the airline at that time that caused FO and FE not to correct the PF, not strictly seniority.

That is it precisely!

It is an Asian culture trait, not to question a superiors actions. This has caused many Asian accidents/incidents. The advent of CRM has helped, also adding to checklists and SOPs that lower ranked crew-members are now expected to add their input.

Further adding to the problems at Korean specifically was that often the Captain was an ex-patriot, and the F/O, F/E or R/P were not. That too has been addressed and I am told it has been basically "solved".
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
loggat
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:48 am

These stupid rankings are what happened when the bean counters took over airline management.

If a Captain is ranked and scrutinized based off his fuel consumption and loading, then a Captain that flies ORD-LGA-ORD on a summer morning vs a summer afternoon is going to have a better ranking than the Captain that has to deal with afternoon summer thunderstorms for the whole season. I'm sure they don't have those kind of variables built in. Either way, as a Captain, I would never let a stupid ranking system get in the way of what I felt was appropriate for the safe operation of my aircraft. I'd like to see them try and fire/punish me for being last in the rankings. The Feds would have a field day.
There are 3 types of people in this world, those that can count, and those that can't.
 
BMI727
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:09 am

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 10):
A big hit against seniority is that there's no real correlation between pilots ability to execute the standard procedures and their seniority anyway...if it was really about standardization, we'd promote based on compliance to standards, not seniority.

Of course how do you rank pilots based on compliance to standards? Either they comply to standards, which all pilots should, or they don't which means that they need remedial training or be let go. I'm all for setting better standards than the ability to show up to work and not get fired, but for pilots I cannot think of any better metric.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
 
JAGflyer
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:22 am

How does the airline track fuel use per pilot? Do they actually look so closely as to who was flying the plane at a given time (captain or FO) and then match it up with the fuel level prior to uplift at the next airport?
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tdscanuck
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:05 pm

Quoting JAGflyer (Reply 22):
How does the airline track fuel use per pilot? Do they actually look so closely as to who was flying the plane at a given time (captain or FO) and then match it up with the fuel level prior to uplift at the next airport?

Yep. The routing and monitoring systems know how much fuel goes on at each stop, how much is onboard at block out/takeoff/landing/block in, and which crew was on what flight.

Tom.
 
norcal
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:22 pm

Quoting DFWHeavy (Reply 3):
No, seniority systems are not right or fair. Compensation and promotions should be on a merit based system. However, it should not be based solely on who burns the least amount of fuel. That could get dangerous.

Merit isn't possible. We all fly in a standardized method.

Let's say you did merit based promotion partially based off most on time or early arrivals.

Ok that encourages the following bad behavior:

- Taxiing at dangerous speeds
- Rushing through checklists, briefings
- Flying closer to thunderstorms in order to save time
- Waiting late to configure on approaches resulting in a higher incident of unstable approaches
- Ignoring mx write ups in order to leave on time or avoid cancellations

Fuel scoring

- Wait till the last possible moment to start the second engine (could lead to inadequate engine warm up time)
- Refusing to run the APU to save fuel regardless of the temperature in the back of the plane
- Departing with bare minimum fuel


There are a ton of reasons we don't do merit based promotions in the industry because often times being "company man," can lead to taking safety short cuts in order to save money.
 
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seabosdca
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:27 pm

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 10):
if it was really about standardization, we'd promote based on compliance to standards, not seniority.

How much difference is there, really, between major airline pilots with respect to compliance with standards? (It's a real question, not snark -- I've never worked in airline ops.)

My experience in a safety-sensitive, seniority-based position involved driving, where there is a fair bit more leeway for deviations from standards. And, even though work assignments were done by seniority, if drivers were regularly written up for doing something wrong, there was no way they were going to advance to supervisory or management positions.
 
rcair1
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:44 pm

Quoting steex (Reply 17):
It's a cultural issue within the airline at that time that caused FO and FE not to correct the PF, not strictly seniority.

Not strictly - and certainly not just time in seat - but seniority was certainly a factor. One reason the capt was a capt was his seniority in military service - it would be an 'insult' to make him a 1st officer. However, his experience was nearly all single engine aircraft - so the CRM factor is

Quoting longhauler (Reply 19):
That too has been addressed and I am told it has been basically "solved".

Yes

Quoting norcal (Reply 24):
Merit isn't possible. We all fly in a standardized method.

Merit is possible - it is always possible to measure performance. That does not mean it is easy.
rcair1
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:34 pm

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 25):
Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 10):
if it was really about standardization, we'd promote based on compliance to standards, not seniority.

How much difference is there, really, between major airline pilots with respect to compliance with standards? (It's a real question, not snark -- I've never worked in airline ops.)

There's meaningful difference. It's almost never in areas that matter, but it's there. If compliance was 100% nobody would ever get caught doing anything wrong on line checks, and that happens when people are intentionally trying to do full compliance. There is always some drop off between what's trained, what's assessed, and what's actually done.

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 25):
And, even though work assignments were done by seniority, if drivers were regularly written up for doing something wrong, there was no way they were going to advance to supervisory or management positions.

This is where aviation gets wierd...most pilots are pilots because they like flying. They don't want to get to supervisory or management positions, they want to get to better pilot positions. And seniority will keep pushing you up there regardless (unless it's grievous) of your ability as an actual pilot.

Tom.
 
Semaex
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:40 pm

Quoting rcair1 (Reply 8):
Seniority is based on an assumption that a crappy long time pilot is better than a stellar newby. On average, maybe so - but it has corners that are just as dangerous as focused merit programs.

This is the reason why airlines who take safety for serious all have a non-punitive and anonymous reporting system. If you as a newbie FO report that your long time Captain on the last flight has commited serious violation of known procedures or rules, than it is up to you to report such a mishap. That doesn't mean that the Captain gets fired right away, but it's the sum of the similar complaints which will get him at some point in time.
As far as a "crappy pilot" goes, who's the one to judge? If you make positive landings all the time that might be called crappy airmenship, but if they're still safe then there's no point discussing the matter.

In such an industry Seniority is just the right thing.
If however you really want to make a name for yourself and achieve levels of responsibility that a simple Captain won't have then the merit system is still there to get you into Chief Pilot, subfleet or even fleet secretary. That merit is however not based on anything that jeoperdizes safety. It's based on the respect you earn from fellow pilots, which usually is promoted by safe and accurate flying.

On the OP case: That airline should seriously be investigated by the authorities. I can't believe in the modern world such a ranking system based on fuel consumption exists. Makes me shake my head in fear for the lifes on board.
// You know you're an aviation enthusiast when you look at your neighbour's cars and think about fleet commonality.
 
Gonzalo
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RE: Pilots Ranked By Fuel Consumption

Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:56 pm

Quoting Semaex (Reply 28):
That airline should seriously be investigated by the authorities.

It is. The Chilean Civil Aviation authorities are auditing all the airline's procedures, and there are ( unofficial ) versions about a very, very painful economic sanction ( as usual, see to believe ).

Thanks to all for your very informative inputs.

Rgds.
G.
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