AOB – September 2017

30 September 2017

Sorry – too lazy to write anything at the end of the month!

24 September 2017

Splendid from the CEO of the New England Patriots:

20 September 2017

Another note on PPRUNE on issues at Emirates:

“The role of trainer in any reputable Company is a role usually reserved for the most dedicated and able individuals. It’s a position to aspire to and one in which the remuneration and benefits reflects the expertise that’s being provided. Airlines recognise the fact that training provides the basic building blocks of operational knowledge and thus promote a culture of pride within the role. Unfortunately, EK is different.

Although we still have some excellent individuals, we have also lost a large number due to the short sightedness of fearful and incompetent managers. This shortage reflects on the often brutal EK training rosters which eventually leads to discontent and frustration amongst those undertaking such an important role. Their only option is to resign, putting further strain on an already broken system. To fix it, the Company accepts a policy of employing temporary trainers, at the very time we should be retaining the experienced ones. ‘Captains’, who effectively will have been in the left seat for only 6 months and may never have previously held a command, can now apply for a star to add to their shiny four stripes. With the challenge of a variety of training duties to undertake and prepare for, the most inexperienced trainers will now be setting the bar for those they instruct. In some cases, this will be very low time recruits off turboprops. Because they are part time, they will invariably be less current than the full time instructors and thus, ironically, their knowledge and exposure to training events will be reduced. You only have to see the FDM playbacks on the current RTGS day to see how wrong this policy is.

Now, combine these threats with the current climate which I believe is getting worse rather than better. Not one pilot, hand on heart, would want to compromise safety. We know that some individuals are not suitable for a command but we must also realise that many are, especially if they’re afforded the quality of training and encouragement that’s often promised but rarely delivered. There simply must be more emphasis on training rather than checking, especially with lower experience levels compared to say ten years ago. We were always being assured that the standards have remained the same but I beg to differ. Why are we now seeing an increasing number of events and why the necessity for the big stick approach? We operate to many challenging airfields, with little or no continuity and cover all the major Continents throughout the World. We have an exhaustive set of procedures, sometimes vague and confusing, occasionally contradictory and quite often, difficult to access. As a pilot, EK is a challenging airline to work for.

If EK focused more on it’s core business rather than spending millions on sporting advertising and PR, we might not be in this situation. Decent rosters with little to no restrictions with a reduction in hours to acceptable levels, especially given the challenge of our flight timings and range of FDP’s. Yearly increments and salary rises in line with inflation. Perhaps most importantly, a management culture of support rather than punishment and the occasional phone call, rather than a day off meeting for a pointless interview after which a pre written warning letter is produced. Perhaps then not only would we retain a larger number of pilots, thus improving experience levels, but we might also recruit a higher calibre to begin with. Just culture? Far from it in reality. Despite the wonderful and reassuring support from Gary Chapman and Tim Clark that’s printed all over the company premises, the real culture is what goes on in the offices.

Unless the Company takes ownership of some of these causal factors, the number of serious events will only increase. You can not ignore fatigue. You can not ignore fear (whether real or perceived) and you can not ignore a demotivated and disengaged workforce. Management MUST take some responsibility for this increasing debacle we face. Failure to do so is not only naive, it’s also downright negligent!”

Reality is that this culture does not just apply to cockpit crews. EK cabin crews are nothing more than a commodity. They can be discarded at any time without explanation or recourse. There are another 20 your people queuing up for the job of every cabin crew member that leaves.

So when the capable and competent crew leave Emirates does not even blink. The great thing about Tai was that she just got on with her job. No fuss. No issues. No summons to meet with her manager in eleven years – well just one and that guy was a complete idiot – subsequently removed. Tai was the model EK staff – the one that requires no management effort and that makes no demands. She did not party; she flew, ate and slept. She was polite and respectful to passengers; even those that lacked any manners or respect.

But she left – because it was time – because she was tired – because the body can only take so much of 100hr rosters, 3am departures and through the night flying. Fatigue takes over. The body still performs but only just.

Now how must this be in the cockpit. Yes, pilots can take controlled rest….but it is not quality sleep. Fatigue is like alcohol – it severely impairs your ability to perform; or even to recognise a situation that needs to be dealt with.

If I am driving and too tired to function I will stop and rest. You cannot do that in the sky.

17 September 2017

So we have been in Chiang Mai for almost a week.

We left Samut Songkhram on Sunday 10th – a long drive to Kamphaeng Phet where we stayed overnight by the river. Almost 7 hours of driving.

Then on the Monday we drove early from KP up to Chiang Mai. We checked out the house in the afternoon and it is in good shape. The quality of the work is high. Take note Dubai Properties.

We stayed in the hotel until Friday morning as Tai’s mother said that we should not move in until 08.09am on the Friday morning.

Tuesday morning our shipment arrived from Dubai – via storage in Bangkok.

Tuesday afternoon we got our title deed and did the formal handover from Rochalia.

The rest of the week was then spent shopping, unpacking and building furniture from flat packs.

It feels like it has been a long week.

We are still waiting on our bed for the master bedroom and our dining table and chairs.

We had internet access by Thursday….and TV just in time to see Watford get demolished by Man City on Saturday night. 0-6. In fairness City were very good.

Meanwhile in Emirates news – it appears that there was an A380 close call with a near CFIT incident on approach to Moscow.

Down to just 500ft – 8 miles out – is the rumour. Both pilots suspended.

Here is the EK issue – well put on PPRUNE:

“You are not allowed to do pilot stuff in EK. You have to recite endless SOPs and follow them regardless, if you don’t, the fear and punishment clause will take over. If the boys on the 777 had used some common sense, and done a bit of pilot stuff, they would have landed safely, taxied in with a perfect aircraft and gone home.
But the fear and punishment clause in their heads was stronger than the common sense/do pilot stuff, and we all know the result.”

It is not quite that bad – as long as the pilot is assertive and competent. But it is the mentality.

9 September 2017

The EK fleet as of today: from the corrected page on Wikipedia.

Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
F C Y Total
Airbus A380-800 97 45[4] 14 76 399 489 Largest operator of the Airbus A380-800
427 517
0 58 557 615
Boeing 777-200LR 10 8 42 216 266
Boeing 777-300 3 8 42 310 360 6 in fleet, 3 active, 3 stored. To be retired by the end of 2017.
Boeing 777-300ER 129 2 8 42 310 360 Largest operator of the Boeing 777-300ER
135 aircraft in fleet, 129 in service, 6 aircraft stored.
304 354
306 356
0 386 428
Boeing 777-8 35
Deliveries planned to start from 2022[6][7]
Boeing 777-9 115
Deliveries planned to start from 2020[7]
Total 239 197

8 September 2017

There are climate change deniers – but there is too much activity to argue that climate change is not affecting our planet.

To add to the woes in the Americas the strongest earthquake to hit Mexico in a century has left at least 32 people dead, toppling houses, damaging hospitals and government offices, and sparking mass evacuations.

The magnitude 8.1 quake struck off the country’s southern Pacific coast, 100 miles (165km) west of the state of Chiapas just before midnight on Thursday local time.

The Miami weather service has warned people in south Florida to make urgent plans to seek safety, saying:

“This is a potentially deadly situation!

Residents and visitors must now implement emergency safety plans.

Preparations to protect life and property should be completed by Friday night.

Take final shelter by early Saturday morning.”

This is a big deal.

The silence from the South East Asian nations over the abuse of the Rohingya people by the government of Myanmar is shameful.

But not surprising. ASEAN has a policy of non-interference in the affairs of its member countries.

Over the moon! From Boston before we left on the 4th:

1.2M Florida residents are under a mandatory evacuation ahead of Hurricane #Irma. Maybe more will need to evacuate ahead of the storm as its path becomes clearer.

The trouble is where do people go. Gas stations are sold out. Convenience stores are empty.

And it is gridlock on the two main roads north – the I75 and the I95. This is the I75 yesterday.

Barack Obama has been very quiet through the indignities of the Trump presidency.

Trump talks about Obama almost daily – always critical, often near abusive and often deeply misleading.

Obama has mostly ignored Trump. It is what American presidents do when they leave office.

But that also leaves the USA without a leader of the political opposition; without a clear spokesperson for the majority of the nation that did not vote for Trump.

Now, at last, Obama has begun to speak up. It is never too late. He responded to Trump’s decision to end the DACA program:

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an American immigration policy established by the Obama administration in June 2012. DACA allows certain illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. Approximately 800,000 such young people (referred to as “Dreamers” after the DREAM Act) were enrolled in the program as of 2017.

In November 2014, President Barack Obama attempted to expand DACA to cover additional immigrants, but multiple states sued to prevent implementation of the expansion and it was ultimately blocked by the courts. On September 5, 2017, DACA was rescinded by the Trump administration, but implementation was delayed six months to give Congress time to come up with a solution for the population that was previously eligible for DACA.s.[

This statement is from the Obama facebook page on 5 September:

“Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up.

Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated.

It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray.

What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation.

That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.”

We need more Obama – and to be honest much less Trump!

6 September 2017

Boston was good. Great to see Alex. Such a smart guy. Very proud of him. He probably knows that.

Monday was good – nice weather – a long lunch by the harbour and then the 90 minute historic harbour cruise under a warm blur sky.

EK238 left at 11.15pm for Dubai – just 11 and 1/2 hours and an OK flight. A three hour connection at Dubai and then EK374 at 10.30pm over to Bangkok – so basically back to back night flights. No wonder I feel tired.

Arrived BKK at 8am this morning! 26 hours door to door.

Flights were fine. Just long.

Watched all ten episodes of the first series of The Good Fight – a successor to The Good Wife. Liked it. Good intelligent tv. Made for CBS’ streaming service so language is more realistic.

3 September 2017

Last full day of our vacation before we head back to Thailand.

We arrived in Boston late on Friday night.  American from Cancun to Philadelphia and onto Boston. A long afternoon and evening in full A320s. Pretzels and water – on a flight over three hours! Yes you could order food for a fee.

Nice sunny day on Saturday and lunch with Alex and Katie at the No Name restaurant on Fish Pier at the Waterfront.

And lunch in Chinatown today – although the weather changed to a wet, cool, early fall day.