View Full Version : Communication and complaints

Gentle Climb
3rd Nov 2006, 12:24
I have been a light viewer of the PPrune website for a few years and have even dared to post on a couple of occasions. I have noticed that the incidence of comments or complaints from SLF on the site seems to be increasing. I see that just last week there was a thread that was critical of an approach in to the Shetlands, by somebody who purported (and may actually) to be be a pilot himself. I am just wondering what is leading to the increase in these complaints as in my (humble) opinion they tend to be over fairly trivial matters and without having the full knowledge of the event (normally provided by a set of instruments and forwards vision) of the flight crew.

Is it down to:-

an increase in the number of non pilot members of the site who have a little knowledge and think that they know how to do your job?

an increasing culture of complaining?

SLF becoming very used to stable and event free avaiation. As soon as something 'different' happens, it creates tension and a feeling that something has gone wrong?

I guess that it might be an amalgam of all three. I do wonder however, if a little communication from the flightdeck when they know that something 'different' is going to happen might help reduce the incidence of complaints. I do recall that when Ba used to take a 747 to Antigua, the landing was often fairly hard. On the occasions when the flight crew had briefed the SLF about the harder landing and that it was normal, that when a harder than normal touchdown occured, that there qs very little concern. On the occasions when no briefing was made, a harder touchdown did seem to upset some passengers and comments were made.

I know that you are all working very hard but I do wonder if at some stage a briefing was made about, the turning approach, the short runway, whatever, it might just make passengers more comfortable with what is going on and to a reduction of journalistic 'I thought we were going to die' comments, potentila complaints and even a reduction in timewasting comments made on this site.

3rd Nov 2006, 13:12
I used to land on a runway in eastern europe made of concrete blocks which shook the aircraft horribly. I always warned the passengers that it was OK but would feel like "riding a bicycle on a cobbled street."

Never a word from the back until one day a disembarking, rather attractive, lady popped her head round the flight-deck door and asked me how much I wanted for doing it again!!

(Sorry, probably for JetBlast ... I'll get me coat.)

Seriously, I think much of it has to do with the compensation culture and the rise of ambulance-chasers and consumer pressure groups. we all appear to be under scrutiny by people looking for 'the main chance' in all walks of life.

3rd Nov 2006, 13:17
as another infrequent poster, my belief that the SLF forum is the very place to ask the things that worry you from a passenger point of view, and usually we are put right or answered in quick time, even if a bit forthright by some posters.

I also think that pprune is becoming better known, and the internet more available, so there are more posters who may have a tendency to post before thinking, which enrages the good souls who seem to spend all their time perusing the forums when not flying.

So, as someone who is detesting flying more and more (and when will BA ever get me to Aberdeen and back on time!), the more I do it, feel free to post what you like on the forum. I've had helpful (if patronising) answers to genuine queries, and found other questions interesting and thought provoking.

3rd Nov 2006, 13:29
I do think aviation consumers, passengers that is ( I hate the term SLF and we don't us it in America) are becoming more and more informed.

Every time I made the visual approach to the south at Washington national airport (DCA and I will not call it ron/reg) I briefed in some detail how many turns including the final one at low altitude...briefing passengers helps alot.


3rd Nov 2006, 13:43
Gentleclimb - All the above is the most correct answer in my opinion!

There will never be a one size fits all remedy.

do wonder however, if a little communication from the flightdeck when they know that something 'different' is going to happen might help reduce the incidence of complaints

In some cases yes, but in many cases, (the thread you mention being one of them) what is 'different' to one person on board is a near everyday occurrence to the other 34 pax + crew on board. We can't brief every aspect of the flight, we'd like to think that the pax trust us to do our job without needing to be taken step by step through the flight!

When something abnormal is going to happen, we'll always do our best to explain in advance if possible, if not we'll try and explain what happened once on the ground.

I think some people are just nervous fliers and everything seems that little bit more dramatic to them. Some just don't like not being in control (esp in the case of pilots transitting as pax!;) ), some just like to have a moan.

The rest read the inflight magazine, have a drink, fall asleep and get on with their day without a second thought about the flight!

As GwynM says, a polite request in the SLF forum will rarely result in abuse. A thread elsewhere in an accusing tone without any real fact or substance to back it up will get our backs up!

3rd Nov 2006, 14:39
I do wonder however, if a little communication from the flightdeck when they know that something 'different' is going to happen might help reduce the incidence of complaints.

and even if a little communication from the flightdeck after the event .... :confused:

I recall a Trident landing in LHR after a long and arduous approach ..... there was certainly no comments from the PAS's before landing simply because I'm convinced everyone thought they were about to meet their "maker" ..... it was a hot sunny summers day but coming in was like riding on the back of a Bull, and yet final touchdown was as smooth as you could ever expect ..... I rem an apology/explanation from up front and an annoucement that if it was any consolation it was the worst landing/ conditions the Skipper had ever experienced too!!!! ......

Comm's certainly worked on that occassion ..... :)

3rd Nov 2006, 15:10
I would just like to add that I am not a pilot, nor would I like to become one, I have friends who are and others who own their own craft.
Plugging into this site has allowed me to overcome a fear of flying which I developed from a bad experience a couple of years ago, until that point I really enjoyed flying.
This forum has allowed me to understand what actually happens in the flight and the industry, warts and all!
I am now able to fly anywhere in the world and have done so extensively this year.

So to all on this forum.....A very large thankyou from me.:D

P.S. I do like it when the jet banks over so much that you feel the armrest pressing into your side, I also like the takeoff power of the 777, but you can`t beat a 747 for windy landings....Always looks as though the wing tips are going to touch the floor:ok:

3rd Nov 2006, 18:48
P.S. I do like it when the jet banks over so much that you feel the armrest pressing into your side, I also like the takeoff power of the 777, but you can`t beat a 747 for windy landings....Always looks as though the wing tips are going to touch the floor:ok:
I always thought that the idea was to "keep the Turn-and-slip centred, so as not to spill the 1st class champers"!

Years ago, I used to work for an airline, looking after their computer-reservations equipment. Had a few fairly scary flights within UK and NW Europe. Working for another airline, I was usually on the jump-seat and had a lot more idea of what was going on. These days I do quite a few short-hauls around the Mid-East (as a pax) and long-haul Mid-East to Europe to USA and the flights seem always smooth. Occasionally there is an "interesting" X-wind landing, and I appreciate that the runways don't always line up as we would like them to, and sometimes we have "which of those landings is the arrival time logged against";)

On one trip, short haul and not within Europe or North America (say no more) I had a 10-11 arrive late and have the Houchin blowing air over the wheels on one side, then go away without touching the other side, before boarding the pax. Looking out of the window, I could see the engine cowls on #3 raised as we waited for taxi, then a several-hundred-foot "lurch" to one side after take-off. (And the muddy footprints all over the "no step" on the wings - all aimed at making me "just a tad" nervous!) Something from the Captain might have helped! I was "white knuckled" for the entire 90-minute flight:uhoh:

("Ladies and gentlemen, the right-hand engine is a heap of **** and we are waiting for a spare to replace it, when we can afford it, but please be assured that this Lockheed L1011 is perfectly safe on 2 engines only and we are proceding to our destination and will arrive on-time" - well, maybe not! - I suppose it could also have been turbulance, but it would have been nice to know!!)

(yes, this thread is probably going to end up on "pax & SLF" forum;))

And I did fly London-Aberdeen a year ago - and take-off/arrival were on-time both ways :ok:

3rd Nov 2006, 19:15
I would put a shilling on some plain vanilla PPL's being part of the problem.

I myself am one and recall a conversation between two "pilots" offering a free critique to anyone in earshot on the approach and landing of a CX flight into Changi. It was conducted in a loud tone to the point I asked them if it was acceptable for fellow pilots to criticise the flight crew in such a public way - even if they were a bit pissed.

In the following five minutes I established they were both PPL's (VFR) with a total of 180 hours between them. I suggested that rather than discuss it loudly in the cabin, they should ask to speak with the flight crew when disembarking and express their specific concerns.

It was more embarrassing than rewarding to see them scurry down the stairs and out the door.

The Wombat

3rd Nov 2006, 23:51
I've never had SLF complain (or comment much) but the tower controller expressed dismay at our height on 5 mile final, about a year ago.
Yes, the First Officer was flying, and he planned his visual approach...just slightly wrongly.
Happens to everyone once in awhile.
Anyway, finding himself in a fix, he suggested that he might forward slip the aeroplane.
Not a good idea, says I, but as the flap limit speed on this particular aeroplane is 200 knots, I suggest he close the taps and put the nose way down.
At 500 agl, nicely stabilized, power up, and he rolls it on very nicely, at the 1500 foot mark.
The tower controller then comments...'I've never seen a heavy jet do THAT kind of approach, well done."
And, it was, perfectly executed.
The First Officer is very experienced on type, and clearly was trained to do what you have to do, under the circumstances.
The aeroplane...Lockheed TriStar.
And yes, this fellow does a perfectly executed dive and drive NPA, every time. Proper training and experience makes the difference.

Haven't a clue
4th Nov 2006, 08:25
We live in a time when citizens are continuously told (spun, if you like) what is happening. You all know what I mean. Those helpful road signs advising of impending roadworks and recommending that you use (a probably non existent) alternative route; those that refer to essential maintenance and apologise for any delay for example. It's a bit of "we've told them so that's all right then" and it's not our fault there's a 20 mile tail back... The electricity company putting a letter through your door apologising that your supply would be turned off all day because important network upgrades... etc etc

So Joe Public has got used to expect an explanation for something out of the ordinary. Joe Public is also now flying a lot more often and has "experience".

Now the airline world is often slated for it's silence or perceived mis-information "We apologise for the delay which is not our fault but we haven't a clue when you will board, if at all..."

Silence from the flight deck after what seems unusual or unsettling can worry pax; positive comment can reassure, as other posters have said.

My personal favourite was the Captain's pre take off brief on Heathrow Concorde departures "48 seconds after take off we have to comply with noise abatement procedures and reduce power. For those of you sitting in the rear cabin it will go quiet. Very quiet. It's all perfectly normal so don't be alarmed". And it did go quiet, and nobody worried....

Master Mariner
4th Nov 2006, 08:51
Flying to the Faklands with Crabair a few years ago with work, go through all the RAF organised grief that is necessary before flying (at 2300). Finally got onto the Tristar after 2 hours more delays due to "Top Brass" being late.

On takeoff,the Pilot applied power and started to roll, got up to a fair speed before we went full astern and full brakes, shuddering to a stop.

In a very clipped RAF accent the following comes over the intercom.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Captain, we have a small problem with our tea making machine and unfortunatly, therefore the flight is delayed at least 24 hours!"

The whole of next day the aircraft was tested doing takeoffs and landings....while we watched from the pub at the gate....before we all got back on again at midnight.

Happy Days!
mind you nothing compared to flying internally in Russia but that is a different story.:)

4th Nov 2006, 09:18
If planes never crashed, and pilots never made mistakes people wouldn't worry. Unfortunately, pilots (like everyone else) DO make mistakes and planes DO crash. Every profession has seen increasing scrutiny of their role. Surgeons, accountants, teachers, police officers; they are all scrutinized, criticized and their performance is judged, both by their peers, and by "independent" assessors. Aviation will inevitably go down the same route so get used to it. The reason people complain on boards like this is that they don't yet have anywhere to go with their complaints. When aviation gets its own OFSTED inspectors, watch out!!!!

4th Nov 2006, 09:53
In the following five minutes I established they were both PPL's (VFR) with a total of 180 hours between them.

That's made my Saturday morning lie-in! :}

4th Nov 2006, 18:49
Another one here who is SLF and prefers to keep quiet and just read. Yes it is becoming increasingly irritating to read what these armchair experts have to say, and frankly it wouldn't happen if they just put their brains into gear before their fingers.
Now I'll go back to me corner and quietly read for another few months :}


5th Nov 2006, 01:41
All summed up by the old sayings

"You can please some of the SFL all of the time, and some them all of the time but never all of them all of the time."

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

Unless its a subject I know like the back of my hand I prefer to keep quiet although temptation can often cloud the the process. :E

5th Nov 2006, 02:05
Always used to make me feel like screaming out... Approach and landing at Schipol ..10 kts wind straight down the 2 mile long runway.. grease it on and the pax thought you were Chuck Yeager... Approach and landing at Plymouth, night in filthy vis, cloud down to around a couple of hundred feet... gusty crosswind off the hills, can't select full flap until visual so they've only just stopped traveling as you come over the threshold.... make a harder than usual touchdown to the short runway and the pax think you're cr*p.. :(

5th Nov 2006, 02:14
Positioning from ORD to JFK on a TWA 707 (yeah, it was a long time ago), I noticed the Captain just after takeoff come back into the cabin and make himself comfortable...for about 30 minutes, chatting up some broad in First Class.
As he was walking back up the aisle, a guy in the front row mentioned...'Why were you in the back for so long?"
The Captain says...."It's none of your damn business, mister Nosey Parker."
The guy in the front row then says...."My name is not Parker, but here is my form 110*, and now it IS my business"
The Captain turned white as a sheet, and disappeared forward, pronto.
*Form110...FAA Inspector ID.

An absolutely true storey.

5th Nov 2006, 07:23
In reference to the thread mentioned in the first post, in the case of the Loganair island services these approaches are not abnormal and a large proportion of the passengers are regular travellers who don't even look up from their Daily Records, so an announcement would be pretty much superfluous (I don't think the approach in question was into Sumburgh by the way, but as the other thread is now closed we'll never know). In general though I agree that a nice comforting PA is not a bad thing, in the same way as if you know in advance about icing or turbulence. It's easy to forget how much these things really do terrify some people.