The real deal...from the front line

allegheny1

Member
Oct 1, 2002
84
0
Many Threads...Many opinions...This is what i see from dealing with the
day to day operation.
1. Crew shortage and flight cancellations.
This is not a new problem. It has been an ongoing situation over the
last 13 years...at least. The current shortages have been caused by a
diverse set of circumstances. Some of the problem has been caused by
sick calls...a senior pilot crew scheduler states you can t take 80
pilot sick calls a day and not have a problem. Additional problems
arise when reserve pilot p times..long vs short..are not managed in
a timely manor. Another part of the shortage has been created because
the mtc plan submitted to marketing for each schedule does not come
close to reality causing significant preplanned equipment subs which
depletes both aircraft and crew resources. Yet another part of the shortage
comes from improper planning. You can t schedule crews for a 13 hr 30 min
to 13 hr 59 min duty day operating through phl,lga,bos 3 or 4 times.
The theory that weather was an issue simply is not the case. The weather
only manifests and brings to light the real shortcomings.
2. Mtc planning
In my opinion one of the worst managed areas within the airline. As
stated above the mtc plan submitted to marketing rarely if ever matches
what is required. Heavy mtc requirements do not match nor do the needs
for what are called mtc windows...for the layperson that relates to late
originating aircraft.
We should all remember that summer..not to long ago...when 12 full lines
of 737-300/400 flying were cancelled because mtc got behind on c checks
and had fired the planner who warned senior management that this would
happen. What may not be known is that a team was working on cancelling
3 to 5 lines 757 flying in the days leading up to 9/11. The team was
informed that the f 100 would also be in this position shortly
thereafter. The tragedy on 9/11 effectively cured these problems.
Many of the middle and upper managers that helped to create the
problems are still in charge and similar situations are in the
process of rearing there ugly head. A lie,cheat, and steal attitude
has been prevelant for quite some time and continues unabated.
3. Business travel
Here is a microcosm of what probably are more significant issues. The
operating units were informed that the shuttle made a small profit in
April 2003 and a more significant profit in May 2003 while maintaining
2 spares and weekday standby crews. The marketing response in June 2003
was to split the fleet between 737-300 and airbus equip. and put the
737-300 in the dca market where it is vulnerable to the noise curfew.
Additionaly all standby crews were eliminated and only 1 spare remained
which was alocated to lga and to be used both for mainline or shuttle
needs. Of note is the fact that the spare has rarely been available.
Most of the time it has been pulled out of base to cover mtc downtimes.

What does all of this say. It says that senior management does not have
it s eye on the operation and we are making to many missteps. Middle
management in some of the operating units is still able to pull off the
same tactics that have worked for years. If senior management continues
to rely on only statistics then they need to be reminded that there are
lies, damn lies, and statistics.
In conclusion let me state that there are at least 2 positives. The first
is that the overwhelming majority of our line employees and extremely
hard working and dedicated to seeing this enterprise survive. Secondly
we are in an improving economy and as we have demonstrated in the past
even the worst managed airline can make money in a good enviroment.

Your comments please
 
Allegheny,

What a great post and a great overview of the operational blunders that are "hidden" almost daily. The employees of the OCC have always worked tirelessly to try and make up for the lack of communication between the marketing department, maintenance and planning. I would add a couple of additional blunders that will come to light in the near future if corrective action isn't taken soon.

First and foremost, with all of the recently announced Caribbean expansion we still have only one crew base trained for overwater operations. PHL being the only crew base for the Caribbean is a nightmare waiting to happen. Imagine coming to work on a Saturday morning and there was an overnight blizzard in PHL. The airport has been closed since the night before and remains closed until 10am. Where are we going to get the crews for the island flights out of BOS, PIT, CLT, IAD, LGA and DCA? With the level of Caribbean service out of CLT it is unthinkable that we have not taken the time to train this base on overwater operations.

Next would be the sub fleeting of each aircraft type. While the airbus fleet allows for some scheduling flexibility when it comes to crews that fly them, they are anything but flexible when it comes to routing the airplanes. What on the outside appears to be 3 aircraft types - A319, A320 and A321 - is really 6! Basic A319, Overwater A319, Shuttle A319, Basic A320, Shuttle A320 and the A321. (the shuttle fleet types will go away in the fall) This presents extreme challenges when trying to maintain the integrity of the schedule and the routings of the sub fleet of airplanes. Marketing continues to introduce additional Caribbean flying, but no one is adding additional overwater capable aircraft. Several stations already operate with no operational spares for overwater equipment that is scheduled overwater routes. BOS-BDA is a perfect example. There is only 1 overwater A319 in BOS for an 8am flight to BDA. Should this aircraft have a restrictive MEL or a maintenance issue, the BOS-BDA flight will either have to run extremely late or cancel due to the lack of the proper aircraft for the overwater flight. As we continue to add Caribbean serivce we will be pushing our resources to the limits. Those limits will be pushed even further when the first of the A319's will be inducted into heavy maintenance for their S checks. This will further reduce the number of available overwater airplanes in the active fleet.

While I applaude the expansion efforts, CCY needs to look at how and where we allocate our resources. Correcting both of these problems is a huge must.
 
AGC1 & MarkMyWords....Very insightful, informative, and on the money! You are so right that resource planning/scheduling have been a problem for a long time!

Let me add another, bit of scheduling nighmare...Called a CLT Captain to start a PIT B-737 Trip....consisting of a CLT-PIT Deahead, fly PIT-EWR-PIT...on paper only, Captain only has :31 minutes of duty, before his 15 hours cooks him. Gets to PIT, walks on the aircraft at departure time, flys the PIT-EWR with a line of WX between....on return to PIT, can't get a clearance/release because New York Center is retarded and can't cooridinate westbound flights out of EWR/LGA.....:10 minutes prior to the Captain running out of a 15 hours duty day...Captain returns to gate....out of time/flight CNX! Why was this Captain even called to do this!
 
SetMax -

Since I am not in crew scheduling, I really can't answer that. If I were to make an educated guess, I would say that it was because that our crew resources were exhausted in PIT for the 733/734 equipment and the only person that was available was the time senstive Capt/Crew. Once again, our resources are stretched to the extreme and you have to work with what you have available.
 
That's a great question Max. Working in EWR we got to handle all these Happy Customers with our fine Replacement agents, oops I mean Kiosk Machines.
 
Touché to all!
The previous posts really say it all and reinforce what's wrong with the organization.
Those in the trenches, may not nor can't know all the facts but we've been around long enough to realize how things are run:
1. Many departments, run like seperate fiefdoms rather than in coordination,
2. From supervisors on up to middle management, many conduct their jobs with their eye on how things appear to those from above, rather than those impacted below, such as the passengers themselves and the agents with whom they are in constant contact,
3. Only Macro-managing, using statistics and graphs, as if the customer were only point on a cartesian plane, and not human.
4. Communication throughout is fractured, incosistent, full of spin, rarely reaches its intended audience,
5. no follow through, oversight, verification from the corporate level and out to stations in the far-flung system, that things are run the way they are supposed to be. Just blind faith that all is well out there in Presque Isle or Athens, GA or Los Angeles, or because the managagers in charge report it so.
 
MarkMyWords....Bingo!! You win the extra bag of cashews! That was me last month....CLT based Reserve Captain...I never even flew a CLT trip last month....every trip I flew was either KPHL or KPIT....one additional point...due to there sub-optimal resource planning....short on BOTH PHL & PIT Capt/FO's!
 
Speaking of the Kiosks, our Manager is more interested in their usage than the day to day operation. Memo's all over the freakin place about the percentage of their use and our system rank. You are correct that they worry more about stats than what is going on in the real world. Who the hell cares how or where the passenger buys a ticket or checks in. The main point is that they buy a ticket period. They should concentrate more on filling seats than these stupid ticketing robots.
 
----------------
On 8/5/2003 12:47:22 PM allegheny1 wrote:

2. Mtc planning
In my opinion one of the worst managed areas within the airline. As
stated above the mtc plan submitted to marketing rarely if ever matches
what is required. Heavy mtc requirements do not match nor do the needs
for what are called mtc windows...for the layperson that relates to late
originating aircraft.
We should all remember that summer..not to long ago...when 12 full lines
of 737-300/400 flying were cancelled because mtc got behind on c checks
and had fired the planner who warned senior management that this would
happen. What may not be known is that a team was working on cancelling
3 to 5 lines 757 flying in the days leading up to 9/11. The team was
informed that the f 100 would also be in this position shortly
thereafter. The tragedy on 9/11 effectively cured these problems.
Many of the middle and upper managers that helped to create the
problems are still in charge and similar situations are in the
process of rearing there ugly head. A lie,cheat, and steal attitude
has been prevelant for quite some time and continues unabated.
----------------​

As a former planner, I wholeheartedly agree. It seemed like when you got more than two layers up in planning management, smoking the proverbial corporate bong was a part of your job description
2.gif

You would not know how many times planners would go to production and planning management and tell them that something was absolutely not going to work - only to be blown off. Then, exactly what was forecast happened.

I think my biggest pet peeve was when they would approach manpower issues with the mindset that what takes 1 mechanic four hours to do, can be done in one hour by 4 mechanics. It's a little hard to fit four mechanics in the hellhole of a 737, if you know what I mean.

Another bad idea, that was implemented was the 3-day 737 "C" check fantasy that they tried down in Tampa a few years back. Based on their current available manpower, it would take 4-5 days to do a C-Check, even with a light work release. Then, management got worked up when they took, gasp, 4-5 days (or longer on the GhettoJet 737-200s....it's always nice to find some lav corrosion or fuselage cracks.)

Planning is the illegitimate children of the maintenance world. The planning managment lives in a fantasty world that comes from scheduling. ("Of course we can do a "Q" check in two days, Mr. Siegel.") The floor planners are often too short staffed or insufficiently trained to do their jobs properly - and when they tell management the truth (You can't do this with xxxx amount of people in yyyy amount of time or without zzzzz parts.) they tell you to shut up, but then yell at you when it doesn't happen on time.

I think Planning is the most "Dilbert-esque" department in all of US Airways.

513
9.gif
 
PineyBob.....Consumer Affairs.....1.336.661.0061....if this doesn't meet your requirments....let me know and I'll take you higher..
 
Bob,

While I respect your vigor in trying to right the wrong with US and USX, I would say that you may not have all the facts with this situation. I am sure the reason that the gate agents are restricted from calling the PSA dispatch office is because there is a chain of command in every hub. Imagine the volume of calls that could be generated by one weather or mechanical event. The Pilot, Agent, Supervisor, Tower Coordinator, Manager, Flight Attendant and Mechanic all trying to contact a dispatcher for information. The dispatcher would never get anything done. It is better to have a central point of contact for all problems. With relations to having to wait for a crew member that was coming in on another flight, it happens and there are several reasons why. The inbound flight could have been delayed due to MTC or WEX and the crew member you were waiting for needs to be in that city to bring the flight back. You may be asking why the crew member taking it over couldn't just bring it back, perhaps they were illegal to do so. Why didn't they call out another crew member? Perhaps it would have taken more time to call a new crew member out then it would to just wait for this one. Again, there are many factors that go into what we do that aren't as easy as one would think.

Again I appreciate your wanting to help, and I am very sorry that you were inconvenienced by the delay, but you may not have all the facts.
 
Piney....You should follow your inclination....VP level action is essential, given the many challenges, and thats from both consumers and employees..

Let us all know what the outcome is...
 
----------------
On 8/6/2003 11:23:21 PM N513AU wrote:


----------------
On 8/5/2003 12:47:22 PM allegheny1 wrote:

2. Mtc planning
In my opinion one of the worst managed areas within the airline. As
stated above the mtc plan submitted to marketing rarely if ever matches
what is required. Heavy mtc requirements do not match nor do the needs
for what are called mtc windows...for the layperson that relates to late
originating aircraft.
We should all remember that summer..not to long ago...when 12 full lines
of 737-300/400 flying were cancelled because mtc got behind on c checks
and had fired the planner who warned senior management that this would
happen. What may not be known is that a team was working on cancelling
3 to 5 lines 757 flying in the days leading up to 9/11. The team was
informed that the f 100 would also be in this position shortly
thereafter. The tragedy on 9/11 effectively cured these problems.
Many of the middle and upper managers that helped to create the
problems are still in charge and similar situations are in the
process of rearing there ugly head. A lie,cheat, and steal attitude
has been prevelant for quite some time and continues unabated.
----------------​

As a former planner, I wholeheartedly agree. It seemed like when you got more than two layers up in planning management, smoking the proverbial corporate bong was a part of your job description

You would not know how many times planners would go to production and planning management and tell them that something was absolutely not going to work - only to be blown off. Then, exactly what was forecast happened.

I think my biggest pet peeve was when they would approach manpower issues with the mindset that what takes 1 mechanic four hours to do, can be done in one hour by 4 mechanics. It's a little hard to fit four mechanics in the hellhole of a 737, if you know what I mean.

Another bad idea, that was implemented was the 3-day 737 "C" check fantasy that they tried down in Tampa a few years back. Based on their current available manpower, it would take 4-5 days to do a C-Check, even with a light work release. Then, management got worked up when they took, gasp, 4-5 days (or longer on the GhettoJet 737-200s....it's always nice to find some lav corrosion or fuselage cracks.)

Planning is the illegitimate children of the maintenance world. The planning managment lives in a fantasty world that comes from scheduling. ("Of course we can do a "Q" check in two days, Mr. Siegel.") The floor planners are often too short staffed or insufficiently trained to do their jobs properly - and when they tell management the truth (You can't do this with xxxx amount of people in yyyy amount of time or without zzzzz parts.) they tell you to shut up, but then yell at you when it doesn't happen on time.

I think Planning is the most "Dilbert-esque" department in all of US Airways.

513

----------------​
As a former Planner in Heavy Maintenance myself, I can 100% support N513AU's observations.
Three Day C-Checks are a complete joke. Sure we sneak one out here and there..but to say that this is a routine fact based figure would be a complete lie in regards to ageing aircraft like the fleet of B737-300/400's we operate. This will only worsen as the Airbus Fleet matures too !!!.
(1) When an aircraft is opened upand cleaned for inspection purposes (the intial inspection) One never knows what will be found on the other side. ( Issues of the affore mentioned corrosion are always going to have a fair chance of being found...and cracks in certain frameworks and structures are almost certainly to be expected too.
(2) Then we have the hot-button issues of insufficient manning levels to do the work. This starts with the mechanics doing the open up..and the utility folks doing the initial cleaning before the inspectors get involved.
(3) I have witnessed C-Checks being done with as few as 8 mechanics on a shift..and I have seen countless examples of Heavy Q-Check Acft being worked with as few as 5..because their crews were robbed to aid in the C-Checks that are do out much much sooner. This of course takes place only when the heat is turned up on the Management side of the coin. Then you can follow this up with threats to your very jobs...If the work is not turned out on time?
(4) This brings us to yet another flaw in this thinking. Parts !! C-checks and Q-checks always have forecasted issues ...and other things will always be exposed in kind , yet with all of our years of expierience with B-737's...and other Boeings , we refuse to maintain proper levels of items to smooth the road to routine repair scenarios...and of course a quick return to service time.
(5) Robs..or in simple terms "Canabalizng Parts" This is yet another factor in the maintenance business..this holds true for the military as well as the commercial side of the coin. Robs are a necessary evil...no business could stay profitable by owning spare everything...even Boeing and Airbus themselves don't stock everything in a spare part realm.
This brings us to lead times on procurement. Lead times can range anywhere from 30 days to almost a year on certain "Low Utilization" items. This has to factor into the situation as well. Robs constitute duplication of effort and lost time...You Rob one plane to make another fly...then you have to replace what you have robbed.
Imagine if you will? Exchanging engines in your own families cars to get one going for work on monday morning. That's the sum of things.... and thats what is involved at times
(6) The final issue is always the close out Inspectons , Power Run-Ups ..and in most cases the ever popular "Test Flight" in a post heavy maintenance scenario. The results of said test flight can drastically impact the aircrafts return to service time too.
This is further complicated by being short staffed to make the needed corrections at times. Rest assured that its done properly regardless of whatever the outside stimulous that impacts things are?.
(7) The final issue is the cleanliness of the finshed product...again , all too often the Utility Dept. is so horribly under-staffed that real attention to detail on cleaning is not being handled properly , this of course can be stamped off (Pencil Whipped) by a Foreman with his/her arse in a sling already for other time related issues. This of course has no bearing on "safety of flight"..but it does hamper having a presentable product on the gate for the final judge to see ( The Customer)
Rest assured...USAirways takes extreme pride in its Acft...and all aspects of safety regarding this or that Acft's operation...Nothing will ever leave un-finished or un-safe in any aspect or form...the issue as we see it , is the un-realistic timframes that are being hammered at us , with all the other obstacles placed in front of us while doing the job.
Resolve will never be 100%...because no two situations are going to be identical in regards to inspection findings or actual noted damage to a given Acft Planning and production may never see eye to eye either...usually it's Planning Supervision and Maintenance Mgt.that fails to see eye to eye with reality.
Yes...benchmarks have to be set regarding a completion of any project...but those benchmarks need to include ideal support and staffing in every aspect to achieve optimum results. One without the other is futility and "Bean-Counter" nonesense/ You also have to factor in the un-foreseen issues. That's called "Planning"....anything thing else is called "Reacting"
 
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setmaxthrust

A very real and right response re a meeting of the minds.
Several of the day to day operating units have offered..numerous
times...to make presentations to senior management on how we see
the operation, what we beleive are our strengths and weaknesses,
what interaction needs to take place, and what we beleive are fixes
to any number of problems.
This offer has been on the table approximately one week after mr. seigel
became the ceo, repeated numerous times, however the only conclusion
I can make is that senior management is not interseted in what these
very senior,very dedicated,very professional employees have to offer.
 
AOG-IN-IT....That was not only very informative (from a line pilot's perspective) but also showed me, that like myself, there still are proactive and committed professionals there in the MTC division! Very interesting, regarding inventory stocking, etc. for the B-737. And it seems that the same application of cost optimization business practices (as the example I provided, earilier) exists system-wide within USAiways. I do believe, however, that the light bulbs are coming on systemwide....but bottomline, that big bulb must be illuminated at the very top, with Mr. Seigel. Goal incongruency between senior management and the frontline employees must be resolved....and I'm not talking the frontline aligning with senior management goals....there must be a meeting of the minds within this organization!
 

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