Archive for Media Aviation Consultant
It won’t be until early 2012 will the full impact of the American Airline bankruptcy be known. However, if the past is any indication of what the future could look like a review of the 2002 United Airlines bankruptcy (BK) is a telling story.
Today, a UAL captain is likely making half of what he made 10 years ago. A captain with 20 years of experience is making $140,000 — 50% of where he was at and well below what he expected when he joined the airlines. The pay picture is bleaker for UAL first officers (F/O) who are making $90,000 annually — more than a 50% drop from the $175,000 salary they had 10 years ago. It’s the UAL pilot retirees that suffered the most answering the call “to save the company.” The salary cuts went along with decreases in healthcare benefit cuts, changed work rules, lower stock value in the company’s ESOP and drops in annual pay increases.
A retired UAL 747 captain responded when asked if the company’s BK impacted his retirement: “My benefits went from about $10-12,000 per month to just under $2000. I am currently getting about 18% of what I earned and paid for with my money over 39 plus years. I lost my retirement home, my airplane, my water ski boat, my symphony and opera tickets… I lost my ability to retire and went back to work and now I’m a FAA consultant. Worst of all, I lost my ability to dream.”
One pilot who joined UAL in the 1990s remembers airline management and the union reps saying “on my first day, they said to start living the (pilot’s) dream… it felt like we basically won the lottery.” The promise of a long-term job and an upper-income lifestyle all the way through retirement was the balance for hard work, long trips from home and shouldering the safety of thousands of passengers.
Now as one UAL F/O said, raising a family of four on a F/O pay means driving used cars and selling the family home to help pay for the kids college. The 747 captain went on to tell us that his son followed in his footsteps and is a commercial pilot. Today he’s responsible for recruiting flight crews for the AA subsidiary, American Eagle. With the pay dropping like a brink in the sky and retirement benefits going out the window the American Eagle manager is finding it tough recruiting the best pilots to AA.
Usually, ACE aims to be objective and represent the fairness of both sides. However, on airline BK it sometimes becomes personal. ACE is unique among aviation-expert witness practices in that the consultants are all UAL pilots each with as much expertise on the ground — from airline finances, manufacturing and flight line operations — as they do in the air. www.aeroconsultingexperts.com
Airlines said they must re-organize financially to keep up globally. The result is often times the shedding of old contracts that kept the airliners locked into unprofitable routes, and pensions and pay agreements that were made during the airlines boom years.
There is the core of the problem, the boom-and-bust cyclical nature of the airline business. Wall Street lenders resist unexpected trends and now require management to smooth out the ups and downs. Employees see greed is behind the dismantling of the nation’s legacy airlines, pointing out that Southwest Airlines does it well having the highest paid pilots, operates a lean system and pays relatively modest bonuses to company executives.
Not since the startup of the U.S. airline industry before the Great Depression in the 1920s has there been as many consolidations and bankruptcies among aviation companies as in the past 25 years. When a company declared bankruptcies in the 1920s the president of the failed business might throw himself under a train; and now a CEO of an airline in Chapter 11 is likely to be handed a golden parachute worth millions of dollars.
November 15, 2011 by AC Carrier
Timeout: B-787 Training Glitch
Japan’s ANA airline — the 787 Launch Customer — moved the number of pilot training days from the Boeing-recommend course of five days to five weeks. United Airlines — the first US airliner to receive the 787 early next year — followed suit allowing at this time 11 days for training 787 pilots, company told The Wall Street Journal, the newspaper that broke the news story earlier this month.
Boeing competitor, Airbus was quick to exploit the apparent double-talk — since pilot training issues are a key decision in an aircraft purchasing. Despite the questions, Boeing holds to its claim that a five day training period is sufficient for a 777 pilot to migrate to the 787. Boeing has said it’s not unusual for airlines to load up a new training syllabus with lots of extra materials, a case that ANA and UAL agreed.
At ACE www.aeroconsultingexperts.com , Rusty Aimer, CEO of the company was hired by Boeing to be a 787 Training Captain following a career as UAL Captain. He points out the difficult many pilots have in learning the HUD (Heads Up Display)
where critical flight data is projected — or float — near the bottom of the windshield allowing the pilot to monitor the instruments while looking out of the front window (saving the pilot of having to scan back and forth between the lower instrument control panels and outside).
While the 787 has a HUD the 777 does not; nor does the 777 have many of the other systems that are standard in the 787, Aimer said. “The only commonality between 777 and 787 is the basic instrument panel lay out, overhead panel and of course two engines,” said Aimer. At first glance the layout and equipment looks the same but the systems are held together by a very expensive web of fiber-optics.
The issue of training pilots on the new 787 is for now the biggest complaint lodged against Boeing in the first full month of 787 flight service. There have a been a few reported minor incidents involving the landing gear systems that weren’t working correctly and another incident where a passenger bridge dinged the side of the jet’s synthetic membrane or cowling.
That raises another background issue about the 787, because of production delays around its revolutionary design. Boeing outsourced around the globe the jet’s design and manufacturing for two reasons. One, the countries that did the outsourced work would be more enticed to buy the plane. Economist argued that the move ironically diminished the ranks of the highly-educated and trained, and heavily unionized workforce — in the Pacific Northwest. Unions used the opportunity to manufacture a new plane to boast wages and benefits. The first decision paid off; and the second one back fired. When all the pieces of this huge jig-saw puzzle were shipped into Seattle for the final assembly it was found that the aircraft did not fit together. It took much longer to retool and redesign the bad parts than if they were thrown away and designed correctly from the start. These manufacturing problems caused more than three years of delays causing some people to call the new jet, “7-LATE-7.”
The Reno Air Race Crash Impact
Almost anyone who has piloted an aircraft, especially a vintage or experimental type, may feel like they have cheated death at one time or another. The fear of death is a natural part of an unnatural act of flying. After all, it’s been said: “If God wanted man to fly he would have given him wings.” No one is immune from the emotions around flying. You can read later in this blog how even the aviation experts at Aero Consulting Experts (ACE) had their brush-ups against death while flying.
Pilots know that the laws of propulsion and physics are on their side giving lift to aircraft. The combination allows for current-day jets to lift close to a million pounds at takeoff and fly at speeds of over 500 mph, while doing it safely. This phenomenon makes flying not only one of the safest forms of travel but makes the entire event seem almost routine.
However, routine was not the case for a vintage World War II P-51D Mustang airplane — aptly named the “Galloping Ghost” — at the September 17, 2011 National Championship Air Races in Reno, NV. The accident killed pilot, Jimmy Leeland of Florida and created one of the largest “mass-casualty situations” in sports aviation history. Tragically, Jimmy’s plane crashed into a group of spectators killing 11 people and injuring nearly 70 other people. It was the first crash in the Reno event’s history where spectators have died (the previous tally was 19 pilots killed at the Reno races since the start in 1964). The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
It is well known that there is a certain amount of risk and danger involved in air racing. People will often say upon hearing of a racer’s death “at least they died doing what they loved.” However, in Reno nothing can be said or done to undo the pain and sorrow that this unforeseen event caused. What we now have — borrowing the words of NTSB investigators — is an opportunity and an obligation to learn the lessons at Reno that could prevent another accident of this type from occurring in the future. In other words, the show must go on. The air race circuit is one of aviation history’s most endearing and oldest traditions.
The era of barnstorming in aviation history in the 1920s was an important stage between the early development of flying (the Wrights) and the launch of commercial aviation in the 1930s (and later the mass production of fighter aircraft used in WWII). Charles Lindberg credits his early barnstorming days as among the best years of his life; when he learned to endure harsh flying conditions and when he was able to save enough money to buy the Spirit of St Louis.
The love and the lore of the solo pilot performer though never died. Today, nearly 75 years later people still crave for the roar of a vintage WWII fighter plane or watch a 1920s era aircraft recreating some of man’s most daring moves in the sky. By the 1950s the era of the exhibition flying was launched again with the Commemorative Air Force and the spinoff of regional air shows.
There are several ACE consultants who know all too well the trill and tragedy around air races and crashes. In fact, one of them, Kent Holiday an avid fan of WW II era flying, and a seasoned pilot in the P-51 Mustang, attended the Reno air races and was at ground zero. He was there at the day of the crash and will soon post his story here. To learn more about this pilot please see Kent’s bio .
The author of this blog, and an ACE aviation public affairs specialist, AC Carrier, launched a journalism career by witnessing and reporting for The Arizona Daily Star on the crash of an A-7D Corsair. This unfortunate accident resulted in the death of two students near the University of Arizona. The experience of witnessing and writing about the Tucson jet crash lead Allen Carrier (AC) to a career with U.S. Rep. Norman Mineta (D-CA) who later became U.S. Transportation Secretary in the Bush Administration during the New York 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.
And that is where we find ourselves today: starring at an air accident again. Even the next day after the Reno crash, a pilot died in a West Virginia air show in front of hundreds of spectators. All of this comes a month after seven people from one family died in a crash in Alabama when the plane’s engines failed less than two miles from the airport. And so it goes, the great flying tradition continues. It is part of the human spirit, this competitiveness that pushes us to try and outdo one another. The air race will continue.
Welcome to the first blog report from ACE — Aero Consulting Experts. We are a group of aviation enthusiasts, commercial airline pilots, experts in flight equipment and avionic technologies who are not only passionate about flying and surprisingly committed to justice and fairness. You see, we have channeled our love of aviation into careers — ranging from the cockpit to the policy tables in Congress — and in to law by serving as expert witnesses and aviation consultants. As flight experts we are committed to seeing the best representation of the flying industry wherever it may show up — from the courts of law to movie studios. It is our goal with this blog to share some of our insights around federal and international law, aviation history, technology and regulations that govern the growth and expansion of the global airways.
At the start of this blog we said this was the first ACE blog in an industry out-done by firsts. In fact we’re entering a new era of flight having just closed out the first century of modern flight. That is if you are counting — like we are — that the birth of aviation as we know it started in 1903 when the Wright brothers of Dayton, Ohio (my home town!) launched the first successful sustained powered flight by power near Kitty Hawk, NC. The record was set by brother Wilbur who on a second turn at the helm flew 852 feet in about one minute traveling about 30 miles an hour into a strong head wind of 20 mph.
Next year, in fact we’ll sadly be remembering the lost of the great aviation pioneer, Oliver Wright who died in 1912. By the way, brother Wilbur went on to live until 1947.
Before we go too far, we don’t want to lose some of our readers who may in fact rightly argue that the Wright brothers may have flown the world’s first airplane but they weren’t the first men to take to the skies. Setting aside the French balloonists and the English “flying parachute” inventors from the mid-1880s, some people might say the modern aviation movement started at the end of man’s first flight into air. That would be the intrepid German hero, Otto Lilienthal (1848-1896) who launched off a hillside outside of Berlin in 1896 in a “flying-wing” contraption that lifted him 50 feet into the air before the glider stalled and he fell back to earth. Lilienthal — his back broken — died of his injuries the next day.
So in the coming decades we’ll be celebrating many of the achievements of the first century of flight. And hopefully, we’ll capture most of them in this blog. Until then we’re concentrating on what we do best and that flying passengers and goods around the world while on earth we contribute our expertise to the legal community to make sure truth and accuracy exist in the courtroom. While we captured here many firsts about flying we’re again acknowledging our own firsts at ACE — this blog — and our new website AeroConsultingExperts.com as well as the launch of our expert witness consultating business. See you in the skies!
There are alarming increase in reports from pilots who think they have been zapped by laser inflight.
From what I understand some of these encounters have come from police, traffic and news helicopter pilots.
Most of whom operate at low levels, in congested metropolitan areas and mostly look down through floor board plexiglass type openings typical in these rotorcraft.
Commercial and fixed wing pilots spend less time in low altitude flying and typically look slantly down to the ground during take off and landings.
Laser encounter can momentary cause blindness in pilots and occupants and obviously dangerous to the safety of flight.
Fractional ownership companies have been near the epicenter of the business aviation industry’s economic turmoil, and their leaders seized on challenging times to reduce flight operations and shrink cost footprints, says a new report. “The largest players—NetJets, NetJets Europe, Flexjet, Flight Options and CitationAir—have realigned their operations, reduced debt, lowered their employment base, cut back fleets, and reduced expenses such as charter purchasing, sales and marketing,” reports Plano, Texas-based consultancy Rolland Vincent Associates. At least two major fractional players—NetJets and Flexjet— already have returned to profitability. “NetJets generated pre-tax earnings of $158 million in the first nine months of 2010, which wipes clean the aggregate pre-tax losses that Berkshire Hathaway had previously incurred since acquiring the company in 1998,” Rolland Vincent says.
We will soon have this blog up and running which will help you better locate an aviation expert for your project. We support attorneys, media, owners and operators both new and existing. Please visit our main website www.aeroconsultingexperts.com