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rjsampson
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Does WN start engines faster?

Wed Nov 27, 2019 2:45 pm

On nearly every on-time flight I've taken, I've noticed:

1) WN almost always starts #2 seemingly ASAP during push.

2) Almost every other carrier starts up once positioned.

My understanding is that typical SOPs are to start as soon as it's safe to do so, yet: I honestly cannot remember any other carrier starting so quickly (and often not at all) during push. Why wouldn't they?
"..your eyes will be forever turned skyward, for there.." yeah we know the DaVinci quote. But GA is so dang expensive these days! :(
 
Lpbri
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Wed Nov 27, 2019 3:04 pm

It's all up to the push crew. The engines can be started when clearance is given by the ground crew.
 
stratosphere
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:19 pm

Lpbri wrote:
It's all up to the push crew. The engines can be started when clearance is given by the ground crew.


Exactly I have pushed airplanes and taxied them pushback driver dictates when clear to start. However, I am sure given SWA culture at least in the past they are motivated to turn aircraft as quick as they can so everyone is on the same page to start asap. Still won't do it until clear to do so safely. There are still airlines that have a reputation for certain things like taxi speed SWA has the reputation for fast taxi and AA has a reputation for being the slowest. Any current pilot want to chime in?
 
Zeke2517
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:21 pm

Lpbri wrote:
It's all up to the push crew. The engines can be started when clearance is given by the ground crew.


Well sure, but to the OP’s question, would one airline’s push crew tend to give that clearance earlier or later based on company policy?
 
unimproved
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Wed Nov 27, 2019 5:17 pm

I've noticed the same on EU carriers, engine 2 start as soon as chocks are removed. Then #1 when tug is gone.
 
dakota558
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:02 pm

When I was working on the ramp at my previous job, at an European airport, we would tell them to start both engines in sequence once the brakes where released. The only exception was if the ground was slippery.
 
bigb
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:08 am

Depends, we usually will start up number 2(number 1 on FFD) during the push at my shop.


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e38
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:26 pm

rjsampson, I thought somebody would have posted an explanation of the engine start process by now but nobody has so I'll give you a brief description of why there are variations in the engine start process.

First of all, I don't think this has anything to do with Southwest Airlines. Ideally, all airlines would like to start engines immediately after beginning the pushback from the gate--the idea is to get the engines started and keep the operation moving. However, it's not always possible to do so due to environmental restrictions--both airport/ramp layout and weather conditions.

At the airline at which I work, the pushback crew consists of three people--a pushback coordinator (normally the tug driver) and two wingwalkers--one on each side of the aircraft. Once the pushback begins, we are not allowed to start engines until we receive a verbal "clear to start" from the pushback coordinator. As I mentioned, he/she will normally issue this clearance immediately after the pushback begins--and the coordinator is looking at both the area behind the aircraft and the wingwalkers to ensure there are no issues that would prohibit a safe engine start. An immediate start is not always possible.

Every pushback--and every situation--is a little different. It's not possible to give you an example of every gate and every airport in the world but here are a few examples (in the United States) where an immediate engine start after beginning the pushback is not possible . . .

Have you ever been to the food court at the Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport (MSP) and sat for hour watching the activity taking place on the ramp between the E and F concourses? You may have noticed that as aircraft begin to pushback from the lower, odd-numbered gates (E1, E3, E5, F1, F3, F5) the tail of the aircraft (and the exhaust/jet blast of the engines if running) are pointed directly at the terminal building and to start engines immediately after pushback could damage the terminal and ground equipment adjacent to aircraft on the other concourse and cause injury to personnel working around aircraft parked on the other concourse. As a result, pushback coordinators will delay the engine start until the aircraft is both parallel to the concourses and far enough forward of the terminal so as not to cause damage. Often there is a line painted on the ramp that designates a safe start point. This restriction is particularly applicable to "older" style airports with parallel concourses or terminals which use "alleyways" for gate entry and exit.

A few other examples are Washington National Airport (DCA)--the areas around gates 15,17 and 24, 26 and also gates 23, 25 and 36, 38 (i.e., the alleyways). The tail of aircraft are maneuvered quite close to the terminal building when pushing back from these gates.

At some airports, the airport authority has designated "mandatory start points" for aircraft.

At Portland (PDX), there is a "tow box" between Concourses C and D, in between Gates C6 and D6, and aircraft are not allowed to start engines until stopped at or forward of the tow box.

At Miami (MIA)--another airport with many linear concourses--there are "engine start lines" painted on the apron between some of the concourses.

At Chicago (ORD)--portions of the terminal which were designed in 1961 and are still in use--there are MANY alleyways which can present potential hazards if engines are started too quickly--take a look at the ramp areas between Concourses E, F, G, H, K, and L.

Similar situation between some of the terminals at LAX; and the same thing occurs at New York LaGuardia airport (LGA), although the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) is working on these issues with new terminal design.

Modern terminal design is getting away from the linear, parallel concourse concept that incorporates "alleyways," but there are still quite a few airports where this design still exists.

Finally, sometimes weather and/or ramp conditions will dictate the proper time to start engines. At some airports where there is snow, slush, and/or ice on the ramp, I've had the pushback coordinator state over the interphone, "due to ramp conditions, you will be clear to start engines only after we have disconnected and are clear of the aircraft; watch for hand signals."

So, that's the basics of Engine Start 101. It varies from airport to airport, gate to gate, and dependent on weather and ramp conditions, but it all revolves around what's behind the aircraft and at which point is it safe to start engines. Sometimes it is immediately after beginning the pushback, sometimes not.

My guess is that from your experience on Southwest, it's just a coincidence that they seem to start engines sooner than on other airlines. I think it may have more to do with where you were parked and environmental conditions.

All airlines want to get the engines started as soon as possible after pushback and get the operation moving.

e38
 
INFINITI329
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:28 pm

rjsampson wrote:
On nearly every on-time flight I've taken, I've noticed:

1) WN almost always starts #2 seemingly ASAP during push.

2) Almost every other carrier starts up once positioned.

My understanding is that typical SOPs are to start as soon as it's safe to do so, yet: I honestly cannot remember any other carrier starting so quickly (and often not at all) during push. Why wouldn't they?


Unless there are facility limitations, clearance to start is given once the push commences. Given the longer start-up time of the LEAP engines Maxes are sometimes given permission to start right prior push to get the ball rolling on the start sequence if an immediate push back is not possible.This is to reduce the time of sitting in the alley. Facility and safety considerations take priority, however.
 
Lpbri
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:28 pm

I have found that from a ground perspective and a cockpit perspective, it's best to wait until the tow bar is disconnected before starting engines For the push crew, it's best to communicate with the flight deck and other ground crew without the racket of the engines running. For the flight crew, it's best to wait and not be distracted during engine start while setting the park brake, communicating with the ground crew and acknowledging tow pin removal.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:53 am

Lpbri wrote:
I have found that from a ground perspective and a cockpit perspective, it's best to wait until the tow bar is disconnected before starting engines For the push crew, it's best to communicate with the flight deck and other ground crew without the racket of the engines running. For the flight crew, it's best to wait and not be distracted during engine start while setting the park brake, communicating with the ground crew and acknowledging tow pin removal.


Waiting like that adds a lot of time. The engineer can't disconnect his/her headset until engine start is complete. And he can't show us the pin until he's walked clear of the aircraft. Starting engines during the pushback is more efficient. I don't think most airports would be very happy if every aircraft added a minute or two to their push and start sequence, while blocking the taxiway.

The engineer has a headset. He can hear us over the engines. And we can certainly monitor engine start while being pushed. How distracting is the push? The only thing the engineer will tell us is to set the park brake, which isn't very involved. Look outside to make sure you're stopped and turn the handle, then check the indication and tell the engineer "park brake set".
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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southwest1675
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Tue Dec 03, 2019 5:59 pm

We typically tell them cleared to start once the pilot tells us we’re cleared to push. Of course it’s all depending on the nature of the push during some certain situations. There’s construction going on at my station so we wait until the engines are turned away from the workers and construction area at these certain 3 gates.
Herb Kelleher 1931-2019
 
strfyr51
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:11 am

with many airlines having Ramp personnel now doing pushbacks? Starting engines is and when is a matter of choice. At United many years ago at SFO we did one man pushbacks so it was impractical to start engines before the pushback was complete unless the APU was inop where you had to have a second man to clear the way which was usually the Lead terminal Mechanic for that area. Many times we pushed them back to a Blast fence spot off the north terminal but now? That blast fence is gone and there's a terminal where it was so I'm not at all sure of what the procedure is now as there are widebodies coming and going in and out all at the same time now.
 
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rjsampson
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:02 pm

e38 wrote:
rjsampson, I thought somebody would have posted an explanation of the engine start process by now but nobody has so I'll give you a brief description of why there are variations in the engine start process.

First of all, I don't think this has anything to do with Southwest Airlines.


I appreciate your explanation. That said, I am indeed familiar with the majority of what you wrote (although I did learn a couple of things, so thank you!). Of course for any given date, airport, condition, etc. start time / pushback will vary. However, with straightforward conditions (and with all things being equal): I've departed from the same terminals at the same airports under similar conditions: WN cranks up #2 with absolute minimal delay compared to any other airline I've flown:

southwest1675 wrote:

We typically tell them cleared to start once the pilot tells us we’re cleared to push. Of course it’s all depending on the nature of the push during some certain situations. There’s construction going on at my station so we wait until the engines are turned away from the workers and construction area at these certain 3 gates.



BINGO! Looks like my observations are confirmed by an actual WN employee in the know. Which begs the question: Why don't other carriers operate this way? Same terminal, same airport, same conditions... Very rare (in the US anyway) that "cleared to push" leads the crew to say "clear to start." Seems like valuable time is potentially being wasted. Thoughts?
"..your eyes will be forever turned skyward, for there.." yeah we know the DaVinci quote. But GA is so dang expensive these days! :(
 
jetmatt777
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Sat Dec 07, 2019 11:07 pm

rjsampson wrote:
e38 wrote:
rjsampson, I thought somebody would have posted an explanation of the engine start process by now but nobody has so I'll give you a brief description of why there are variations in the engine start process.

First of all, I don't think this has anything to do with Southwest Airlines.


I appreciate your explanation. That said, I am indeed familiar with the majority of what you wrote (although I did learn a couple of things, so thank you!). Of course for any given date, airport, condition, etc. start time / pushback will vary. However, with straightforward conditions (and with all things being equal): I've departed from the same terminals at the same airports under similar conditions: WN cranks up #2 with absolute minimal delay compared to any other airline I've flown:

southwest1675 wrote:

We typically tell them cleared to start once the pilot tells us we’re cleared to push. Of course it’s all depending on the nature of the push during some certain situations. There’s construction going on at my station so we wait until the engines are turned away from the workers and construction area at these certain 3 gates.



BINGO! Looks like my observations are confirmed by an actual WN employee in the know. Which begs the question: Why don't other carriers operate this way? Same terminal, same airport, same conditions... Very rare (in the US anyway) that "cleared to push" leads the crew to say "clear to start." Seems like valuable time is potentially being wasted. Thoughts?


At United as soon as the captain tells me cleared to push I clear them to start the engines. 9 times out of 10 one engine is completely started by the time I tell them to set brakes. if they have some more work to do sometimes they won't start right away. (waiting on a new clearance or something)
Lighten up while you still can, don't even try to understand, just find a place to make your stand and take it easy
 
bigb
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Re: Does WN start engines faster?

Mon Dec 09, 2019 3:55 pm

rjsampson wrote:

BINGO! Looks like my observations are confirmed by an actual WN employee in the know. Which begs the question: Why don't other carriers operate this way? Same terminal, same airport, same conditions... Very rare (in the US anyway) that "cleared to push" leads the crew to say "clear to start." Seems like valuable time is potentially being wasted. Thoughts?


Again, there many carriers and many places that will crank up on the push. At my shop, that is exactly what we do unless there is some sort of limitation that we must comply with. It is not a WN only thing....

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