Due to the fact that Express aircraft DO NOT have Acars, you are at the mercy of the flight crew for getting times. Normally a crew will call the Out time but you won't hear back from them until 10 minutes or so after departure. Every once and a while, the crew will call the Off time when they take the active runway. But, procedure is not to call Off until you are airbourne. Thus the delay in getting times into the system which are manually inputted.
Last night I arrived at ROC for my return to LGA early and found that flight 4798 was being delayed due to a mechanical delay on the inbound 4797 from LGA. It seems the culprit was a lightbulb. The agents at ROC (Thank you Brian and Tom) did their best to keep us informed as to what was happening, and even informed us that rather than changing a lightbulb, they were going to do an equipment substitution. As the loading and departure from LGA slipped and slipped, I was beginning to wonder if it would have been quicker to just change the bulb (I am not a mechanic but it was supposedly the rear position light).
Finally the aircraft was pushed back at 7:50 or so, and the system did not update until around 8:25 that it actually took off at 8:00.
My questions--was it prudent to swap aircraft rather than repair a bulb?
Does the system often take up to a half hour to update?
The ground crew in ROC did a wonderful job of keeping us informed, but the perception to other passengers wasn''t good (no accurate information from system, etc.). They were also joking like How many mechanics does it take to....
The crew did what they could to make up for lost time, and although we departed about 90 minutes late, our actual arrival was only an hour behind.
I am just thinking aloud here...and my thoughts are with all my friends at US who are affected by the latest round of downsizing.
Itrade..when I worked in Commuter World for USE (CCAir) The crews called in thier On/In and Off/Out times to the operations tower..or dispatch in a pinch. That held true for all the USE operators I encountered in CLT....Thankfully that is but a footnote in my personal history with this company.
Art, There are a number of possible reasons for delays, equipment swaps or outright maintenance cancellations.
(1) The info on a simple Light Bulb could have been bogus?
(2) The light could have been in-operative in conjunction with another light not working(Previously Defered) and that made the aircraft non-dispatchable per the MEL (Minimum Equipment List)..and FAA Regulations
(3) The location of the light in question , could have hampered things? I have seen DHC-8's go out with defered tail lights , due to the ground support equipment to reach the tails hieght being broken too.
(4) Then the last but not least possibility was the required bulb was not in LGA's Line Maintenance Inventory to begin with? Contrary to popular mis-conception...we do not have the luxury of stocking every possible needed item in every station. I only wish we had the luxury of that!!...but so does every other airline too!!
(5) The flight crew themselves , may have been questioning the legalities of an applied MEL to thier Flight Release?
(6) I can think of about a zillion reasons why something like this could have happened..and I'm sure there are a million more besides , that I haven't seen or heard either.
(7) Keep in mind..The DHC-8 or any aircraft has things installed that may not be generic or applicable to another type aircraft. The luxury of going next door to mainline or another commuter to simply borrow a new bulb , may have not been an acceptable or legal option?...It happens my man!!
Art, I fly the Jungle Jet for a different carrier. There are two nav light bulbs in each wing tip and two in the tail. Only one in each wingtip is active at a time, and a switch in the cockpit swaps them if one burns out. However, BOTH tail bulbs are active all the time and BOTH are required (at night). No, I don't know why. And it takes a 22 foot stepladder to change them. As Roseanne Roseannadanna would say, It's always somethin'.
On 10/29/2002 2:57:40 PM Dea Certe wrote:
Hey! How many mechanics *does* it take to change a light bulb? No one answered that question!
dea certe..It takes two!! One to remove the Lens Cover..and dis-connect the bulb from the socket..then replace it..and then he hands the bulb to the guy who's gonna throw it at the wise-cracking comedian ..Check the IAM contract!! [img src='http://www.usaviation.com/idealbb/images/smilies/9.gif']
On 10/29/2002 2:20:01 PM ITRADE wrote:
How is does the pay clock run? In the cockpit? Door closes? Reported out time?
In Delta aircraft, the meter starts running with the beacon turned on and all passenger doors closed. In most cases that means when the forward door closes for push.
I work for Allegheny as a dispatch supervisor, and that was not our flight, but maybe I can shed some light on your general questions.
The decision to swap aircraft can be a complex one. It usually takes a minimum of 20-30 minutes to complete an aircraft change, so for any repair of less than that time it is usually not worth the disruption. In addition, a number of people have to be contacted almost simultaneously: both crews; both gates; operations personnel to change gate info in the terminal; rampers who will have to unload and reload bags on one or both aircraft for a second time, while other departing flights wait for their services; fuelers, who may have to be recalled to add or remove fuel based on the pax loads. Dispatch must reissue flight releases, pax must be moved from one gate to another; I've seen the process take more than an hour, just because people get confused, lack of rampers, or the fuelers are busy elsewhere or refilling the trucks. If another aircraft is sitting for two hours, the crew may have left their bags on board as they were supposed to take the same aircaft outbound; before you can swap, you must try to track them down to get their bags off so they don't get lost, but since they aren't expecting to be found, we may not be successful.
I also must decide if I am creating more problems than I am solving; the flight with the broken aircraft may have a backup flight in 90 minutes with plenty of seats, but swapping may put a questionable aircraft on a full flight an hour from now with no good alternative should the aircraft be down for hours. Certain aircraft are also routed to arrive at overnight maintenance bases for work that cannot be deferred for another day, so I sometimes can't use an aircraft sitting right next to the broken one.
It's all a judgement call on my part, based on information from maintenance that may or may not end up being accurate, and the clock is always ticking.
On the issue of flight times being entered in the computer, since we don't have ACARS, crews must call stations on the radio after departure, the station takes the times and records them on a sheet, then enters them into SABRE. A busy night, a ringing phone (or several), demands and distraction from co-workers, and the times may get skipped. We track our aircraft on an Internet system that uses real-time ATC data, so we know where they are, and often have to call the stations in question and remind them to enter the times. Happens many times a day.
Just my 2 cents from my corner of the world. And, ditto to everything AOG-N-It said above....
[BLOCKQUOTE][BR]----------------[BR]On 10/29/2002 3:57:45 PM luv2fly wrote:
[BLOCKQUOTE][BR]----------------[BR]On 10/29/2002 2:20:01 PM ITRADE wrote: [BR][BR]How is does the pay clock run? In the cockpit? Door closes? Reported out time?[BR]----------------[BR][/BLOCKQUOTE][BR]In Delta aircraft, the meter starts running with the beacon turned on and all passenger doors closed. In most cases that means when the forward door closes for push.
[P]If that's the case, then my last few Delta flights all started 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. [/P]