flyenthu
Topic Author
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SWA Flight Level Changes, 5/19

Mon May 20, 2013 9:03 pm

Hello,

Yesterday I flew on Southwest 903 from FLL to AUS. It was a short 2.5 hours flight, but it was interesting. The plane changed altititude several times to find smooth air (see the bottom of the page in the link below where the altitude/speed charts are). We hit mild to moderate turbulence immediately after take off and it got worse over the Gulf of Mexico. The captain first went up briefly to 40,000 after leveling at 38,000 I believe to find smooth air. No luck and back to 38. No luck again, and kept searching for stable air until he found at around 30.

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/S...3/history/20130519/1710Z/KFLL/KAUS

It was great that the captain would keep us fully informed as to what he was doing. My question is that for such a short flight, why not just ride the bumps out? Is this pretty normal procedure? I really appreciated his effort. I have been on long hauls flights that have been choppy for hours. So, I was a bit surprised. Any response will be appreciated.

Thanks!
 
LimaFoxTango
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RE: SWA Flight Level Changes, 5/19

Mon May 20, 2013 11:20 pm

Riding out bumps makes uphappy passengers. Plus minor bumps sometimes leads to heavy bumps which could lead to injuries to passengers and crew. So pretty good on the captains part.
You are said to be a good pilot when your take-off's equal your landings.
 
KELPkid
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RE: SWA Flight Level Changes, 5/19

Tue May 21, 2013 1:08 am

Quoting flyenthu (Thread starter):
My question is that for such a short flight, why not just ride the bumps out?

Are you a glutton for punishment? And the captain doesn't like the bumps any more than you do...  
Quoting flyenthu (Thread starter):
Is this pretty normal procedure?

Depends...sometimes, it just isn't possible due to airspace congestion. If ATC approves it, I'd be hunting for the best ride, too!
Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
 
tb727
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RE: SWA Flight Level Changes, 5/19

Tue May 21, 2013 2:14 am

Quoting flyenthu (Thread starter):
It was a short 2.5 hours flight, but it was interesting.

Reminds me of a story one of my buddies told about a guy we flew with that he also flew with in the DC-8 days. They were getting the crap beat out of them in a DC-8 freighter on a long flight and the FE finally asked this Captain if he wanted to maybe go down and try a different altitude because he couldn't drink his coffee or see straight, he just turned around and said "why, we are gonna start down in a couple hours to land anyways". I guess you had to know this guy but he's a legend and a pretty typical story.

I always like the controller that has the space available to allow you a discretion decent and if you find a smooth altitude on the way down, just let him know and you can level off and try it out for a while.
Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
 
PGNCS
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RE: SWA Flight Level Changes, 5/19

Tue May 21, 2013 3:18 am

Quoting flyenthu (Thread starter):
My question is that for such a short flight, why not just ride the bumps out? Is this pretty normal procedure?

Because many passengers are afraid of flying and even seasoned travelers largely loathe turbulence. Passenger comfort is always a consideration, though there are competing issues including ATC, ceiling/weight issues, and fuel consumption vying for the flightcrew's attention.

To sum up: yes, it's completely normal. I did it this morning.
 
flyenthu
Topic Author
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RE: SWA Flight Level Changes, 5/19

Tue May 21, 2013 2:01 pm

Thanks all for the insight. I have further questions.

I am curious about some transatlantic/transpacific flights I was on in the past where the flights were significantly bumpy for a couple of hours (2-4 hours). Food services were stopped. In those scenarios, the flights operated at about 30-31 level with 777 or 747. I remember quite clearly that we did not do level changes of the range of 10,000 feet. Is that because, compared to 737, these flights with 777 and 747 were too heavy for such maneuvering? Or are there other reasons? As you can see I am a lay person just interested in aviation.  

Thanks.
 
DualQual
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RE: SWA Flight Level Changes, 5/19

Tue May 21, 2013 3:52 pm

Quoting flyenthu (Reply 5):

That is any combination of things. The airplane could be too heavy to climb at that time. Over water in a non radar environment requires greater separation and the higher altitudes may have been saturated at that point so even if you could climb, there is no space for you to be able to climb up to. And some days over water the ride is lousy no matter where you are.
There's no known cure for stupid
 
PGNCS
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Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 5:07 am

RE: SWA Flight Level Changes, 5/19

Tue May 21, 2013 3:53 pm

Quoting flyenthu (Reply 5):
I am curious about some transatlantic/transpacific flights I was on in the past where the flights were significantly bumpy for a couple of hours (2-4 hours).

Like I mentioned there are competing factors in play. On long segments a significant altitude change has much greater fuel implications; secondly, it is much more difficult to change altitudes in oceanic airspace as there is no radar coverage. I have been on the NATS across the Atlantic many times when the only option was to grin and bear it for several hours.
 
flyenthu
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RE: SWA Flight Level Changes, 5/19

Wed May 22, 2013 1:39 pm

Thanks for educating me on this. Greatly appreciated!

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