View Full Version : Frustrated or what?

21st Nov 2001, 20:10
She who must be obeyed has just been looking at the site and commented that there seem to be a lot of angry people in aviation.

More like a lot of people who are desperate to do a good job but are frustrated by the ineptitude of managers !

Any comments?

Notso Fantastic
21st Nov 2001, 22:41
Take her to bed and stop any more frustration in Rumours & News! Now that Guvnerd is unfortunately back on line posting like crazy, there is a lot more irrelevance interfering with the function of this forum which is Rumours and News! Let's stick to something interesting shall we?

21st Nov 2001, 22:50
About ten years ago I remember seeing a newspaper article about airlines and airline management. At the time, there had been quite a few airlines which had grown from small outifts into major forces in the industry, and their days of being managed by a pilot were vanishing - most senior managers nowadays seem to be accountants or lawyers.

The theme of the article was that there was nothing in a pilot's background that would fit him to manage a major corporation. He may be excellent with a small team on an aircraft, and at handling the technology, but that was it.

Ten-ish years on, I put the question the other way around - what training or aptitude do lawyers and accountants have that pilots don't? Their teamwork experience is frequently far less than that of a pilot. They don't necessarily have the experience of direct contact with the customer that the crews have. And often they simply don't understand the business.

An accountant's entire history is of looking at the bottom line. And as anyone who is not an accountant would tell them if they'd only listen, the bottom line tells you very little of the overall picture. An accountant sees a pilot's maximum duty hours, wonders why the company is not achieving that "target" and concludes that he is not "making sufficient use of resources" (i.e., human beings).

Lawyers' experience is of contest, of contention, in which you either win or lose. A lawyer's only experience, usually, of an unhappy customer is when he is banged up for ten years - not many complaints departments in lawyers' practices! Lawyers don't generally need good PR - apart from repeat serial offenders, clients who need to be kept by being kept sweet are corporate clients - not individuals.

A good senior pilot, after ten or twenty years in the business, knows aviation. He knows the business. He knows how to create and foster good team spirit. He knows what keeps the passengers happy.

It's time we sent him off to do an MBA and put him in charge. Accountants and lawyers do not belong in the jobs they are trying (and too often failing) to do.

The Guvnor
21st Nov 2001, 23:38
HugMonster - the last pilot that I can think of that made a decent job of running an airline was Sir Adam Thomson. On the other hand, I can think of many that thought they knew how to do it - and failed dismally.

To do as you suggest would be like getting a train driver to run Railtrack or a checkout person Tescos.

I agree though that lawyers and accountants shouldn't run them either. The best people to do it are the marketers - they, after all, are the people at the real sharp end: those going out and getting the business that pays everyone's salary.

22nd Nov 2001, 02:25
So Guvnor you are the correct people, don't you!

Come on, this a COCKPIT forum.

Pls, go into your "marketers" forum and pls stay there....(of course with all your nice suggestions of how to run a company...).


22nd Nov 2001, 02:48
I disagree with everyone, so far.

Personally, I long for the day when I don't have to work for a pilot-run airline.

There are few pilots, in my experience, that can take a "Mom & Pop" airline and turn it into something great.

On the other hand, I can think of one airline that has done exceptionally well with an accountant at the helm: Skywest.

Two other airlines that are run profitably: Southwest and JetBlue (no pilot management there either).

Good management ain't rocket science but it does take vision, leadership, saavy, integrity and experience.

Skywest, Southwest and JetBlue have all that.

United and USAirways sorely lack some of the more key elements to that equation.

Am I frustrated or what? You betcha. :rolleyes:

22nd Nov 2001, 02:59
Dear zero-zero I respect your opinion but I also disagree with you.

We could spend a lot of time giving examples of companies (like you suggested) of good management, but I could give you on the other hand, a LOT of other companies (and I will not name!) of really bad mngt where, we airline pilots, suffer your on-the-job-training experience.


Fly safe & enjoy life.

22nd Nov 2001, 03:59
So Guv, "marketers", eh?

The same folks who came up with the brilliant idea of stripping BA of it's identity?

Too much "gravy" on your haggis, lad.

22nd Nov 2001, 06:46
zerozero, Southwest was founded by two men, a flamboyant lawyer, Herb Kelleher, and an introverted pilot by the name of Roland King. Kelleher was a lawyer from New Jersey who knew nothing about aviation or airlines. The brainchild of Southwest was King. He put together the airline and Kelleher fought the legal battles. The original formulas that King put in place are still the foundation of the airline.

I think Gordon Bethune has done a good. He’s a pilot. Continental has come a long way under his stewardship.

PaulDeGearup, (I like your moniker) I believe you are right about the frustration. PPRuNe is often an outlet, a place where we can vent a little steam in the company of our peers. I can remember a time when managers respected a Captain’s opinion. Now we are nothing more than a commodity to them. Like Cokes or fuel. All they are interested in is getting us for the lowest possible cost. I have given up trying to talk to management. They never listen. I guess they all have to learn the hard way. Watching their learning curve can be very frustrating. Whenever we get a new manager he invariably decides that we are going to save a lot of money by only carrying minimum fuel. Then the inevitable happens. After a good scare they try the opposite, tankering fuel, and in their zeal they go overboard with that too. We get delays while fuel has to be offloaded. Once it’s offloaded it can’t be used again. And there are the inevitable holding patterns on rough winter nights to burn off enough fuel so we can land on icy runways. Eventually we come full circle and we’re back to where we started. I got tired of the fuel merry-go-round a long time ago. I load the fuel I want or I don’t take the jet. In the evenings I’m relaxed and over diner I listen to noticeably frustrated pilots recount their days adventures on the management fuel merry-go-round.

The Guvnor
22nd Nov 2001, 10:54
LevelFive - Bethune previously worked for Boeing and as far as I'm aware he never flew commercially as a pilot? I do know that he's 757 rated though.

Don't forget Nikki Lauda who also used to fly his aircraft. But would you call him a pilot? No, he's an entrepreneur.

However, I do agree with you that if you're paying someone to do a job, then s/he should be left to get on with that job. Want to load extra fuel because you know there will be wx or hold problems? No problem by me. You're the Captain - you have the experience in that role and that's what you're paid for.

22nd Nov 2001, 13:12
We’ve strayed a bit off topic from PdeG’s post – “ineptitude of managers !” If a pilot is running an airline, they’re not a pilot, they’re a chief executive! Sure, their original training is that of a pilot, but it’s a whole different set of skills, which have to be learned.

We’re left with the sweeping general question of “can pilots more easily make the transition to airline chief executive than lawyers or accountants (or check in clerks or cabin crew)?” and whatever general answer you give to that, there will always be exceptions.

There are two major factors which dictate what sort of person should be running any business, the first being the stage of that company’s cycle (not the industry’s) and the second the size of the company.

On the first one, there are many external and internal factors affecting a company at any time. Call them the organisational hot potatoes. This may be pilots wage demands, intended expansion of the route network, replacement or disposal of so called elderly or costly aircraft, or whatever else is occupying the attention of the senior management and the board at that time. What is important to remember that the chief exec who is good at dealing with one set of hot potatoes may be absolutely crap at dealing with another set, and therefore could seriously prejudice the airline’s future.

On the second, the chief exec who can successfully grow an airline from scratch to four aircraft will probably not be the right person to grow it from 80 to 100 aircraft.

So, in summary, its necessary for airlines to change CEOs periodically, and there is no one group of people who have some divine right to be airline CEOs. Its not a group who’re running the airline, but an individual, and they should be selected as being the best person available at the time. It also follows that those who have sucessfully grown airlines in the past few years may not be the best people to be at the helm at present.

Max Continuous
22nd Nov 2001, 13:44
There will always be exceptions to the rule, of course, but most pilots are followers, not leaders. We follow rules, regulations, SOP's, put safety first and generally do as we're told. We're not that good at the "people" thing and have to be trained in CRM. We're not risk takers, flight time limitations stop us working all day and all night even if we wanted to. Our mind set is simply not geared to running a company.