Monday, November 22, 2010

Pilot Secrets and my responses to them

I recently saw this on Yahoo and found it interesting.  I thought that I would reprint it here and add my responses to them.  My responses are in bold.  
Reader's Digest asked 17 pilots from across the country to give us straight answers about maddening safety rules, inexplicable delays, the air and attitudes up there—and what really happens behind the cockpit door. What they told us will change the way you fly.

What You Don't Want to Know:

“We miss the peanuts too.” -US Airways pilot, South Carolina
My response: I don't. We actually still have them.

“I’m constantly under pressure to carry less fuel than I’m comfortable with. Airlines are always looking at the bottom line, and you burn fuel carrying fuel. Sometimes if you carry just enough fuel and you hit thunderstorms or delays, then suddenly you’re running out of gas and you have to go to an alternate airport.” -Captain at a major airline
My response: This has never has happened to me.  I always have plenty of fuel and have never been denied a request for more.
“Sometimes the airline won’t give us lunch breaks or even time to eat. We have to delay flights just so we can get food.” -First officer on a regional carrier
My response: True, but not often.  Usually if there have been weather delays, then we can find ourselves in a bind.  I have sometimes asked people to let me cut in a line at a food vendor by announcing that I have a flight in a few minutes.  They have always been accomodating and then I will eat my food at cruise altitude in the cockpit.
“We tell passengers what they need to know. We don’t tell them things that are going to scare the pants off them. So you’ll never hear me say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we just had an engine failure,’ even if that’s true.” -Jim Tilmon, retired American Airlines pilot, Phoenix
My response:  I have never had a failed engine, but I always do try to "sanitize" and ensure that I speak "civilian" to them.  I always ensure that I put passengers at ease about what's going on even as I keep them informed.  If it is a mechanical issue, I try to explain it to them in a way that will make sense and yet stay in simple terms.
“The Department of Transportation has put such an emphasis on on-time performance that we pretty much aren’t allowed to delay a flight anymore, even if there are 20 people on a connecting flight that’s coming in just a little late.” -Commercial pilot, Charlotte, North Carolina
My response:  I actually have delayed a flight under directions from our company because a large group of people were connecting on my flight from a late arriving international flight.
“The truth is, we’re exhausted. Our work rules allow us to be on duty 16 hours without a break. That’s many more hours than a truck driver. And unlike a truck driver, who can pull over at the next rest stop, we can’t pull over at the next cloud.” -Captain at a major airline
My response:  True.  We work our butts off.  When we get to our overnight destination, don't get in our way as we leave the airport to get to our hotel for some much needed rest.  We will run you over!
What We Want You to Know

“Some FAA rules don’t make sense to us either. Like the fact that when we’re at 39,000 feet going 400 miles an hour, in a plane that could hit turbulence at any minute, [flight attendants] can walk around and serve hot coffee and Chateaubriand. But when we’re on the ground on a flat piece of asphalt going five to ten miles an hour, they’ve got to be buckled in like they’re at NASCAR.” -Jack Stephan, US Airways captain based in Annapolis, Maryland, who has been flying since 1984
My response:  I don't know, if we have to brake suddenly while taxiing, anyone standing up will likely be hurt.  At altitude, we can predict turbulence about 90% of the time.

“The two worst airports for us: Reagan National in Washington, D.C., and John Wayne in Orange County, California. You’re flying by the seat of your pants trying to get in and out of those airports. John Wayne is especially bad because the rich folks who live near the airport don’t like jet noise, so they have this noise abatement procedure where you basically have to turn the plane into a ballistic missile as soon as you’re airborne.” -Pilot, South Carolina
My response:  DCA, (Reagan National) is a pain in the butt to fly into.  You put your license on the line every time you fly into there because of the restrictions.  I never have flown into John Wayne, but he's right about noise abatement procedures.  Note:  If you don't like airplane noise, don't buy a house near the airport..
“At some airports with really short runways, you’re not going to have a smooth landing no matter how good we are: John Wayne Airport; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Chicago Midway; and Reagan National.” -Joe D’Eon, a pilot at a major airline who produces a podcast at
My response:  Totally correct.  Greasing it on is not as important as ensuring you don't over run the runway.  Key West is like that and the site of some of my worst landings.
“I may be in uniform, but that doesn’t mean I’m the best person to ask for directions in the airport. We’re in so many airports that we usually have no idea.” -Pilot for a regional carrier, Charlotte, North Carolina
My response:  I can't tell you how often this happens to me.  I may be as lost as you are if it is somewhere I don't fly into very often.
“This happens all the time: We’ll be in Pittsburgh going to Philly, and there will be a weather delay. The weather in Pittsburgh is beautiful. Then I’ll hear passengers saying, ‘You know, I just called my friend in Philly, and it’s beautiful there too,’ like there’s some kind of conspiracy or something. But in the airspace between Pittsburgh and Philly there’s a huge thunderstorm.” -Jack Stephan
My response:  True, we don't make things up just to make your lives miserable.  
“You may go to an airline website and buy a ticket, pull up to its desk at the curb, and get onto an airplane that has a similar name painted on it, but half the time, you’re really on a regional airline. The regionals aren’t held to the same safety standards as the majors: Their pilots aren’t required to have as much training and experience, and the public doesn’t know that.” -Captain at a major airline
My response:  Well, MR Captain at a major airline, I actually fly for one of those regionals.  Our Captains, have an average of 15 years experience.  We have many with over twenty-five years.  I have been flying almost thirty years.  Our training standards are the same as yours and are given to us by the FAA, same as you.  Please let me know when you get on my airplane for a free ride home sometime.  You "major" airline pilots are never reluctant to board one of our flights for a free ride home.  
“Most of the time, how you land is a good indicator of a pilot’s skill. So if you want to say something nice to a pilot as you’re getting off the plane, say ‘Nice landing.’ We do appreciate that.”-Joe D’Eon
Response:  True.  My landings are almost always good (except in Key West) :-).
“No, it’s not your imagination: Airlines really have adjusted their flight arrival times so they can have a better record of on-time arrivals. So they might say a flight takes two hours when it really takes an hour and 45 minutes.” -AirTran Airways captain, Atlanta
Response: True.