Checklist Discipline

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That New Airplane Smell

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The great thing about a new airplane, besides the “new plane smell” is how it feels. Like a new car every surface, every knob and every switch is smooth, not only to the touch but also in it’s respective operation. Push the thrust levers forward and there is no hesitation as the motors effortlessly, in unison, spool up to takeoff power. Pull back on the yoke and you are treated to a positive response as the airplane gently breaks it’s bonds with the earth. Turn right or turn left the plane heads off in the direction you point her.

Sitting in the cockpit and looking around you are struck by the freshness of your surroundings. Gone are the layers of grime the older ships have accumulated through out their yeas of service. knocks and crannies are shinny and clean; free form the human hair, dead skin, dust incased mire that oozes from older aircraft. When I sit in the captains chair gone is the funky stench rising from the sheep skin covered seats. I am awe struck at the easy my chair not only moves forward and aft but also up and down. My lumbar has finally found much needed support. Under food white socks remain white. Yellow toenail clippings have yet to make an appearance, while the bottom of your shoes are free from globs of chewing tobacco that seem to metastasize every day both in number and size.

Give this new girl one winter and she will fit in along side the rest of the fleet, dripping, oozing with a funk only the well traveled seem to have.

The Regional Airline Industry In Decline

Comair_CRJ100ERSo I have been poking around the web reading what I can relating to the regional airline industry. I came across two articles in Aviation International News (Aviation International News.) that reenforce my argument why we, as a pilot group at Pinnacle Airlines, should vote yes on amending our current contract. In short, as I said in a previous post the economic realities demand it.

“…it became clear that at least one group of losers would emerge—namely the employees of the regional airlines who owe their jobs to the bloated fleets of 50-seat jets no one else seems to want anymore.”

There is no secret that Delta Airlines will phase out the 50 seat jet from their fleet.  Delta is replacing the smaller CRJ aircraft with the larger 76 seat CRJ900, to be flown by Delta’s Connection Partners, and 88 Boeing 717’s, to be flown by Delta’s own mainline pilots. By the numbers, Delta plans to park 343 CRJ200’s accounting for 17,000 seats and idling 3430 regional airlines pilots. With the addition of the announced 70 CRJ900’s plus the 88 Boeing 717 aircraft Delta will add back into the system 15,616 seats flown by a combination of 1580 regional and mainline pilots. To state the obvious, that is half the number of pilots and aircraft to fly basically the same number of people. I am assuming five crews per aircraft, it could be more, doubtful it will be less.

“A new pilot contract ratified by the pilots of United Airlines on December 15 will open more opportunities for “large” regional airplane flying by United Express affiliates but likely result in another large-scale grounding of 50-seat regional jets.”

Now that United Airlines has come to terms with their pilot group; it seems all but certain that they will also be removing 50 seat jets from their fleet. Like Delta United will be replacing the 50 seat jets with a combination of larger 76 seat regional jets and narrow body Embraer E190/195’s and Bombardier CSeries CS100 aircraft to be flown by mainline pilots. It is not hard to infer that the all but certain merger between American Airlines and US Airways will see another mass grounding of 50 seat regional jets.

While to some it may seem the regional airline industry is sinking and Pinnacle is rearranging the deck chairs on a doomed ship, it is in fact an industry in transition. Continued consolidation and mergers are inevitable how we vote will determine if the Pinnacle pilot group will be employed or competing against thousands of other out of work regional airline pilots.

As always I invite you to join the discussion and post your thoughts and comments below.

Pilot Deal Signals Big Changes at UAL, United Express | Aviation International News.

AIN Blog: Proposed Delta Scope Clause Could Break the Back of Small-RJ Fleets | Aviation International News.

Why I Am Voting Yess

Pinnacle Airlines CRJ900

In simplest terms a yes vote keeps Pinnacle Airlines flying, at least for a few months longer. On April Fools Day of 2012 Pinnacle Airlines filed for bankruptcy (http://tinyurl.com/c2kez6r) throwing my twenty three year carrier in the airline business into serious doubt. The gauntlet has been formed and now I am forced to take large cuts in pay and benefits or become just another out of work airline pilot. While neither prospect is very appealing, at least acquiescing to the economic realities keeps me employed for a undetermined amount of time into the future.

I Vote YES!