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Old 11-09-2009, 11:15 PM   #126
PartysOver
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

How accepted are e-cigs for long flights (ie transcontinental)?
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:24 PM   #127
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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How accepted are e-cigs for long flights (ie transcontinental)?
unacceptable for life, unacceptable for flying imo
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:26 PM   #128
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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1. Since it's fairly obvious you don't fly for UAL, can you comment on why your airline doesn't make ATC communications available to pax a la UAL's "Channel 9"?

2. What is your favorite airplane to fly? If not big iron, which is your favorite airliner to fly?

3. Have you ever filed a NASA ASRS form? Does your airline or union do anyting to encourage or discourage use of ASRS?

4. Were you flying on 9/11? If so, TR?
(1) I've always like that too. It's a marketing decision and I'm not sure why it hasn't caught on throughout the industry. American used to have a camera in the cockpit looking forward (only on for takeoff and landing and there were often problems with the lighting) which I always enjoyed (this was in the mid-80s).

(2) My favorite light airplane to fly was my little Grumman Yankee, which had a max gross weight of 1,500 pounds and carried 22 gallons. It was very maneuverable and I used to love to do aileron rolls in it. Of the big iron, I really like the 757 and 767, though the 757 handles more like a sports car.

(3) Yes, I've submitted probably a half dozen ASRS reports in my time. One was followed up by a call from the ASRS people at Moffett Field because it was the first of its kind they had seen. I wrote up a flight I had on a plane with no flight attendant (the J-32) and had a 20-something Down's Syndrome passenger traveling alone who freaked out as soon as we entered a cloud. I had to go back to the cabin to soothe her and find a passenger to help and, when I returned to the cockpit, I found that we had busted an altitude assignment (the FO had been distracted by what was going on in the back).

My company (Delta) also has its own internal safety reporting mechanism, very similar to ASRS and highly encouraged by both the company and the union. It really is a good concept; find the systemic errors and get the word out to the pilots so we can be avoid them.

(4) I was in training in Atlanta for the MD-88 and had just come out of the simulator for a break when we were told of the first tower being hit. Then we all saw the second hit and I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Seeing Atlanta airport, the busiest in the world, with no airplanes moving for the next three days was like a Twilight Zone episode. I expected to see Burgess Meredith come out on the ramp looking for books. (too obscure a reference? meaningless to anyone under 50 probably.)

Six months later I was furloughed for 39 months.

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Old 11-09-2009, 11:27 PM   #129
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

I get absolutely freaked out when I go through turbulence nad the plane starts bouncing around. Please tell me there is no way for the plane to just plummet to earth like a lawn dart.
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:29 PM   #130
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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Seeing Atlanta airport, the busiest in the world, with no airplanes moving for the next 3 days was like a Twilight Zone episode. I expected to see Burgess Meredith come out on the ramp looking for books. (too obscure a reference? meaningless to anyone under 50 probably.)
I'm 34 and I got it. Keep up the good work.
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:29 PM   #131
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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Originally Posted by JJSCOTT2 View Post
Not sure how accurate this is but Boeing is the reference listed for this chart.


Probably pretty accurate. Once we get above 18,000 (Positive Control Airspace; no up there who's not on an instrument flight plan) we can pretty much rule out accidents related to other aircraft (i.e. midairs). The approach and landing is the most critical due to the congestion and time spent at those low altitudes. Communications and vigilance is the order of the day in that environment.

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Old 11-09-2009, 11:35 PM   #132
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

To add to what others have said: Amazing thread, filled with both great questions and great answers.

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BTW, judgment is a completely different arena from skill and there have been a handful of guys who I wouldn't fly with as a passenger and wouldn't let anyone I cared about on their plane either. And I'm not the only pilot who feels this way about some of them.
Can you elaborate on this? What sorts of judgments are you talking about exactly?

Less seriously, I've had a theory for a long time that airlines deliberately inflate the "estimated arrival time" by 10 or 15 minutes, because flights always seem to arrive a little earlier than scheduled, and I think the airlines just want to make the passengers feel like they're getting in early when actually they're just right on time. Care to confirm?
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:37 PM   #133
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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any idea what happened to that air france plane that fell out of the sky a few months back?
They haven't issued a finding on that one yet, but there was initial talk of it being related to pitot tubes being iced up. Those really are essential to safe flight and it's why we have triple redundancy and also why they are continuously anti-iced (heated) during flight. This is just speculation at this point.

One thing that can kill any airplane is a really mature thunderstorm; we avoid these things at all costs and will go hundreds of miles out of our way to avoid really bad storms. If they were having problems with their weather radar and flew through one, that's a possibility, but not sure if this could ever be determined. We do see lots of convective activity around the equator. They call it the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) and it's where the Northern and Southern hemispere airmasses masses meet and produce storms. It's been a rare trip to Brazil where I haven't seem some lightening near the equator.

Because of where they went down and the lack of radar data, this one may never be completely explained.
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:39 PM   #134
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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have you read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell? he has a section about pilots and how certain countries based on cultural norms (how people deal with superior officers) can be a major influence if flight errors/plain crashes, do you think there is much merit to this?
There absolutely is and I know that Korean Air, for one, has gone to great lengths to train this cultural tendency out of their flight crews.

It used to be that way in U.S. airlines back in the 40s and 50s. Read "Fate is the Hunter" by Ernest K. Gann for a great look at these early days. It's a great book, probably my #1 aviation book ever.
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:41 PM   #135
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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This would make sense. When taking off you are obviously the most vulnerable if something goes wrong, loss of engine(s), control issue etc. When you're at altitude you would have more time to find somewhere to land in an emergency. IIRC the glide ratio on a Cessna 172 (4 seater prop plane) is ~10:1, meaning for every mile AGL (above ground level) you are, you can glide for 10. If you're flying VFR (Visual Flight Rules) you should be able to find a highway/field/etc. to land. I only have my PPL, and I haven't flown in almost 4 years, so this could be way off.

Very interesting thread W0F0X.
Thanks AU2006 (gold?). And your answer is right on the money.
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:55 PM   #136
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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What's the deal with not using electronics during take-off and landing (and certain ones throughout the whole flight)?

Do they really interfere with your hardware? If so, to what extent?

Do some interfere more than others? Are some completely safe to use? (ie my headphones are battery powered and have an on/off switch, are these going to screw things up)?
Answered previously, but I think the whole thing is way overstated. Just my opinion, but we all know that electronic stuff has been left on during flight (I've done it accidently) and somehow we survived.

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What's the best way to get upgraded to business/first class?
Buy a ticket.

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What happens when people get caught doing it in the bathroom? Is it just a warning and "don't do that again" or are there harsher penalties?
Never been faced with this situation and never heard any good stories, but the flight attendants would probably just give them a reprimand.

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Any interesting stories about someone falling ill on board and having to ask if there was a doctor on board?
This is not uncommon and I've seen it on about 4 of my flights in the last two years. When we have a medical situation, we make a PA for doctors or nurses and we contact UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) over our SATCOM. This provides a phone patch directly to a doctor who then helps advise us on the correct course of action and whether or not a precautionary landing is advisable (a big deal when flying to Europe and the divert fields are Keflavik Iceland or Lajes in the Azores). So far, I haven't had to divert. The last guy I flew with has had two DOAs in the last year.

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What exactly happens when I press the "call attendant" button on my armrest? I ask because there are times when I press it and someone comes almost immediately, and there are times that I press it 3 times without a response, yet flight attendants have walked passed in a rush several times. Is it simply a matter of how busy the flight is, or what kind of mood the attendant(s) are in?
It dings a chime and lights a light over your seat. There's no annunciator panel at a Flight Attendant Command Post buried under Cheyenne Mountain. The response is a direct reflection on the kind of cabin crew you have (and how busy they are right at that moment).


Quote:
Thanks for doing this thread. One of the most insightful "ask me" threads I have read so far.
Thank you very much for that, I really appreciate it. I've enjoyed it so far but I really should put a disclaimer to everyone that I could be wrong on some of this stuff. I'm not a spokesman for my airline and though I've been flying for over 30 years, I'm still learning. So if any pilot reading this (PilotMatt?) wants to correct me on anything, you won't hurt my feelings (well, maybe a little bit).

I'll post some good Chief Pilot stories from my time in that capacity at my previous airline. You wouldn't believe some of the knuckleheads I dealt with. Any Chief Pilot will tell you that 2% of the pilot group give you 98% of your headaches.
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:58 PM   #137
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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Flight attendants...easy or just pretending
Probably depends on the game you bring to the table. I'm sorry to say that this was never my strong suit. Had a friend at my previous airline who told me a flight attendant left her panties on his hotel room doorknob. Subtle huh?
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:05 AM   #138
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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how laughable is the sense of security that we have at airports
Extremely! You struck a nerve with this one. I still remember when they confiscated my fingernail clippers at security in Jackson MS 3 weeks after 9/11. The guy said I had to break off the little pointy part that folds out (never knew what that was for anyway). I told him I couldn't do that. He asked why not and I told him since he had just informed me that it was potentially lethal I couldn't take a chance of injuring myself and delaying the flight. He was not amused.

A few months later on an overnight in Norfolk, I purchased a manicure set at a dollar store because I saw that it contained cuticle scissors and my wife had just been saying a day earlier that she needed cuticle scissors. I thought, "For a buck I get to be a hero." Next day, TSA confiscates the set because of the cuticle scissors...little half inch curved scissors! I said to the guy, "You do realize that I sit in the cockpit and have available to me there a razor sharp crash axe?" He called over his supervisor who wanted to know if I had a problem. I said "No, I realize you have your rules, but this would not pass any reasonable person's litmus test for sanity." Again, not amused.

Yes, it's a joke...eyewash so that politicians can tell their constituents they have addressed the problem.

After the shoe bomber, they had us all removing our shoes. Why couldn't it have been a bra-bomber?

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Old 11-10-2009, 12:07 AM   #139
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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Easy for everyone else...pretending for him
Damn, you're on to me!
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:08 AM   #140
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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I love this thread. Thank you.

I hadn't flown in years until the past year or so. I've had about 12 flights since then. They've gotten easier as I've learned what to expect. I enjoy flying now for the most part as I love looking out the window. I just wish I wasn't 6'2". I can never fall asleep.
Condolences on the lack of room for you big guys. It can really be torture enduring a long flight in a coach seat.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:10 AM   #141
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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I think you are referring to the Paris air show accident a few years ago?

It wasn't that the plane wouldn't allow max thrust, the pilot just never selected max trust (TOGA detent on the bus). The way i understand it and they told it in ground school for the Airbus was that the test pilot was trying to show that if he pulled full aft on the stick the plane would automatically add TOGA thrust (ALPHA Floor protection would activate) and the plane would begin a climb. The problem was that it is inhibited below 100 feet on the radar altimeter to allow a flare and landing, otherwise everytime you tried to land it would start a climb automatically. If you watch the video you can see that he indeed pulled full aft of the stick since it bobbles up and down slightly (the low speed protection you referred to in the hudson river accident) and the thrust comes up at the last second when he released the plane wasn't going to do it and did it manually.
Thanks for the clarification Matt. I've never flown the bus and couldn't remember the specifics, just that it was the software that was somehow involved.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:11 AM   #142
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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how long have your people secretly controlled the world?
My people? I don't have people.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:12 AM   #143
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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I would think Burbank, CA (Bob Hope Airport) would be tough. Super short runway. Feel like a nosedive going in there and quick stop. Going out, they have to limit the amount of fuel to ensure the plane makes it over the gate. Southwest had one of their most serious accidents there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southwe...es_Flight_1455
Never flown in there but I've heard it discussed by other pilots and, you are right, it would be on any short list of unsafe airports. Actually, I hate to say unsafe as we have the performance data to operate safely. So let's say "not optimum."

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Old 11-10-2009, 12:14 AM   #144
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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Just want to say that this is a great thread by the OP...i'd love to be a pilot one day but I have atrocious hearing and that probably isn't the best profession for me, haha.

Also, the best times in a plane are flying into Wellington Airport in NZ. I don't think I can remember landing there without a vicious crosswind. Fun stuff!
Crosswind landings are the best! I love teaching them.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:17 AM   #145
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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Wait, is pilotmatt different than OP?
Yes. PilotMatt is another pilot who has chimed in and I welcome his input. I'm sure he can fill some of the holes in my knowledge base.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:19 AM   #146
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

What's the closest you've ever come to having an accident? What's the worst conditions you've landed in (if not the same as the first question?).
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:24 AM   #147
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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Why do planes fly so high? Are there parachutes on board for the flight crew? How hard is it to fly in fog? Do you ever lose your luggage or do you keep it w/ you? How do Hurricane Hunters get to the center of a hurricane?
Jet engines are much more efficient at high altitude. Optimally, we would leave our cruise altitude in one continuous descent to landing. When we get down in the airport traffic area and get vectored around down low, we are burning fuel at a much higher rate than we do at altitude.

No parachutes on board and they wouldn't be much use without ejection seats. The last person I heard of who parachuted from an airliner was C.B. Cooper, and there's a lot of speculation that it wasn't successful.

Flying in fog? Easy. Landing in fog? Harder. The B-767 can do an autoland and land in zero visibility conditions, though we are not allowed to attempt a landing if the visibility is less than 500 feet horizontally.

We don't check luggage...it stays with us in the cockpit.

Hurricane Hunters actually fly right into the storms. The Navy uses a specially beefed up P-3 Orion and there are also some C-130s doing this job. Not a job I would care for.

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Old 11-10-2009, 12:42 AM   #148
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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After the shoe bomber, they had us all removing our shoes. Why couldn't it have been a bra-bomber?
oh wow, lol.

On the topic of security and you having mentioned fires on board being one of the biggest causes for alarm, why is it that it's still so easy to take a lighter on board? (my GF used to smoke and the first time we flew together I said "you can't take that on board", her response was something along the lines of "I do it all the time, they don't say anything").

It's quite ridiculous that I have been stopped for taking a pen on board (I kid you not, more than once, actually) and yet nothing for this.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:59 AM   #149
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

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LOL, can't really answer that. People are people and they all have their own interests at heart. There's no shortage of stuff to ***** about in this industry.

United Airlines has been on life support for a couple of years now. Their CEO, Tilton, has raped the company. After keeping the company afloat on the backs of labor (huge pay cuts), he awarded himself and other top managers mega-millions in bonuses and then even declared a stock dividend, which is rare at any airline and unheard for one which just exited bankruptcy and remains in such a precarious state. But he was the majority stock holder, so he did ok. They recently parked all of their 737s and many people think their demise is imminent. Ironic, because just 10 years ago United was the pinnacle of the industry and the place many pilots wanted to be.
lol. I'm ex UAL "management" (which basically means I was not in one of the unions) in the ground safety group, so I had the double whammy of being a representative of management with the pay and status below most union members. I know a few of the ground safety folks in your company. good people, very dedicated and quite knowledgable. hope your management doesn't mess with them like ours did. I agree, though, that tilton ran us into the ground. with the latest upper management hires, though, we were turning into your company, as many of the new occupants of wacker drive and elk grove village were once with your airline (I'm assuming I know which carrier you fly for).
without going into names and assuming my guess is right (did your ex flight safety director go to ual?), what's your opinion of him (MQ)? I worked under him a little while before I left but didn't get to form too much of an opinion. nothing hugely negative, though.
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Old 11-10-2009, 01:07 AM   #150
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Re: Ask me about being an airline pilot or flying in general

1. what is the nicest airport (architecturally/technologically/etc...) you have been to?

2. there any tips you can give average folks about air travel? just any general bits of useful info, or are we all doomed.
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