Fragrant Harbour A forum for the large number of pilots (expats and locals) based with the various airlines in Hong Kong. Air Traffic Controllers are also warmly welcomed into the forum.

To Old Fella

Old 9th Mar 2015, 05:05
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: HK- A little bit of industrial China in every breath you take.
Posts: 508
To Old Fella

To Old Fella

It is not my place to apologize for the treatment heaped on you in a previous post, but as I wouldn’t expect the individuals who owe you one to do so, i thought I might start a new thread comparing ‘back in your day’ to now. I hope it doesn’t degenerate to a pathetic mud slinging exercise, but on that matter also, i am not holding my breath.

“When you beat up someone physically, you get excercise and stress relief; when you assault him verbally on the Internet, you just harm yourself.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms

To state the obvious, the industry that used to exist ‘back in your day’ has changed. It all starts at the top. The temporary revolving door at the top hardly instils a sense of stability. Ask 5 Cathay or Dragonair pilots who the CEO is of both companies, and what their stated goals for the future of the organization they lead are... Back in your day, bosses had an intrinsic understanding of the day to day operations of the airline, the staff had access to them, and even knew who they were, and what the corporate direction was.

Back in your day, “Safety First” was not only a corporate slogan, but was no doubt a priority of flight. Unfortunately it really is just lip service now. Rather than expensive safety, we instead divert our funds to ‘Risk Assessment’. It would be interesting to compare the budgets of the safety department and the corporate risk department wouldn’t it? Lets take a recent incident to highlight the difference. MH370. No doubt the corporate risk department could spit out figures as to how exactly two hull losses in a short period of time affected both the passenger numbers and the share price of Malaysian Airlines. There will be comprehensive reports on how a similar event would affect CX shares and day to day operations. On the ‘safety side’, the industry has ramped up to come up with an agreement to look at making aircraft ‘traceable’ starting in the year 2022. We are yet to agree to it, and it is not binding, all dependent on cost of course. Safety first, as long as no cost incurred.

Back in your day, engineering was an integral part of the airline. Engineers were experienced, respected, and by the time they got to work the flightline, they knew their stuff. Unfortunately for them and us, the amount of ‘return to gate’ events that they solved on the headset were never measured, therefore the true value of an experienced guy on the headset was never quantified. Now we have a ‘mechanic’ at best. English language optional, training minimal. The company now providing that reduced level of engineering is doing so because they submitted the lowest tender to offer the ‘service’. Ask ANY 320 pilot how our new “lower cost” engineering provider is working out, expect a colorful reply.

Back in your day, your home maintenance base was probably the place to get work done. We can now ‘transit’ our main engineering port without a signature, or an engineer even sighting the aircraft. Again, they never quantified the value of an experienced set of eyes on the ground picking up faults before they became failures, so we dispensed with them as they were expensive. It has taken the company years to convince the CAD that because reliable ‘new technology’ negates the need for so many expensive experienced engineers, and they should be replaced by cheaper mechanics at best, at worst, no manning at all at certain ports that we service regularly. The irony that appears to have been missed by both the accountants and the managers, but is fast becoming apparent to those of us operating this ‘new technology’, the lengthy time taken to convince the CAD was too long, and in that time, that same technology has become outdated and subsequently very maintenance intensive. ‘Safety first’.

Back in your day, you would have required aircrew to have a certain level of experience to take up a ‘window seat’. We now have the course refined down to 80 hours total time (the equivalent of a single months flying once they hit the line) before you get to operate from the RHS. We simply can’t get experienced pilots to show up for an interview with the current package on offer.

Back in your day, managers weren’t paid a bonus if they are able to reduce your terms and conditions. No points for guessing what this does to manager aircrew relations.

Every industry has perks, (butchers don’t eat ‘chump chops’), one of ours is staff travel. Back in your day, it was probably part of your COS, now it is a ‘corporate policy’ that can be removed at the companies whim. if it is not in the contract, beware at contract compliance times, “they can take it away” is the typical threat.

Back in your day, bonus time was potentially rewarding, a thank you for a job well done. We now have the situation where bonuses are only available to ‘eligible’ staff. No points for guessing which staff category ‘aircrew’ fall in to.

To put it bluntly, we are reducing maintenance levels and experience levels at an unregulated rate. There is no precedence in our industry for this combination of factors, and I take little comfort in the fact that a corporate risk specialist from the safety of his office, has calculated the risks of a hull loss or two on the companies bottom line for the quarter.

Old Fella, please enjoy your retirement, needless to say, you have earned it.

With genuine respect, and a healthy dose of envy.

Lowkoon is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2015, 05:19
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Smogsville
Posts: 1,425
From another PPRuNe thread...

I'm thinking of ejecting. Any last hail Marys out there?

And a quote from that thread

Can I drop a hint of advice. Beware recommendations from the old hands talking about having had "a ball" or "just about to retire, no regrets, yes it was tiring but good money, go for it". That advice is now defunct. They joined in the era of different times and found themselves on the gravy train and high up the seniority/pay scales/ rostering agreements and have been shielded from the reality of finding themselves out on the street post redundancy seeing what it's like to start from scratch under today's terms, Those terms they enjoyed are just about to be overturned as they retire.

Everyone can tell you about what it was like in the past or how it is now but no one (we'd all like to know) can tell you what it will be like during your career time. A clue is its heading one way rather quickly. We're now at levels where trains drivers pull in more than a lot of pilots and have better hours and pensions, or contracts. Monarch, BA. They've all had changes the last year. Don't fool yourself thinking it will stop there. Fine, if the Job costs you nowt to get in but it doesn't.

And yes it's very fatiguing. I've done seriously long hours of manual labor in a past life and although felt tired, never knew what true fatigue was. I thought I did in an arrogant way as I had experienced hard graft but little did I know how by a train you could feel after years of airline flying, I've done short, medium and long haul and it all takes it out of you. Maybe not in the old days when you had decent rest but with min rest and shifts/ night turns/stress/family pressures it all takes its toll.
Things were better before I joined and have steadily declined and will unfortunately continue to do so as cutting costs is the only mantra that matters apparently.
SMOC is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2015, 06:53
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: HK
Posts: 41
Yep - as the slogans go "now everyone can fly". The reason for that is that costs have been relentlessly lowered every year - more efficient aircraft, less customer service, more hours, online booking etc. etc. and just about all the reduction has gone to the customer.

So far, it hasn't shown in the safety statistics.

To be fair, it is constant across all industries. The % of national income going to labour has dropped worldwide about 10 percentage points, and "the death of the middle class" is a thing.
Freehills is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2015, 07:26
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Nippi
Posts: 241
Agreed, conditions just keep getting worse. I had a month off and I finally felt normal. I never realized how fatigued I had become.
DropKnee is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2015, 09:17
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Up there
Posts: 200
As the link above mentions, seniority is now benefiting employers more than employees we simply can't leave these deteriorating conditions to self impose the lowest conditions at the bottom of a new company under exactly the same deteriorating conditions. Time for a new career.
CCA is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2015, 13:00
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Oz
Posts: 234

Great post, particularly because of the lack of politics !

Where will it leave the next generation . . . . . who knows !?

Australia2 is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2015, 13:39
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: far west
Posts: 152
Had a knee injury some time ago therefore forced recovery for 2 months.
First week I slept 9 hours every night. I was a new man…...
positionalpor is offline  
Old 10th Mar 2015, 10:28
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Wingham NSW Australia
Age: 81
Posts: 1,344
Back in my day

Lowkoon, thank you for your post and your sentiments. I am enjoying my retirement, immensely. As for an apology from those who took exception to my comments, I did not expect an apology nor do I make any apology for my comments. I do understand, and appreciate, that things are vastly different in the airlines today compared with what we enjoyed during my working life.

The one thing that has not changed, as far as I am aware, is that everyone has the right to resign if the conditions of service do not meet their expectations. Frankly, if the comment offered by some on all manner of issues is an indication of the maturity of the posters then I am pleased that I am unlikely to ever have to entrust my life to their care.

I am sure that the majority of CX cockpit crew, whilst they may have issues with the company, are intelligent enough to know that things will not always be better elsewhere.

Happy flying Kowloon and all those "fair dinkum" crew in CX.
Old Fella is offline  
Old 10th Mar 2015, 12:22
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Up there
Posts: 200
The one thing that has not changed, as far as I am aware, is that everyone has the right to resign if the conditions of service do not meet their expectations.
That's the exact problem, you can leave but go where?

Straight to the bottom of a new seniority list on the lowest pay and conditions, it's not like you can leave and go live in Sydney and fly for Qantas at a comparable rank.

So I'm afraid to say many can't leave until they are financially stable enough to retire or find a different job, continually deteriorating conditions mean one must stay longer and longer.
CCA is offline  
Old 10th Mar 2015, 16:58
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Nippi
Posts: 241
Gee, I wish I was independently wealthy so I could just quit.
Wish it were that simple.
DropKnee is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2015, 00:40
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 1,120
A scale pilots could spend freely as their Defined Benifit P fund guaranteed their retirement funding.

B scales had to take continued risk by investing whatever they could save from their salary. Having housing made it possible for most of them to be able to achieve this.

C scales with no housing means that if you have any money left over each month, you will have to spend it on rent instead of investments. This means that achieving a comfortable retirement is going to be impossible.
Frogman1484 is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2015, 03:35
  #12 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: HK- A little bit of industrial China in every breath you take.
Posts: 508
Agreed Frogman, not to mention insurance, both loss of license and medical, oh and there is schooling, exorbitant cost of living if you wish to dine outside of a wet market, and of course there is your IQ air filters. THEN invest everything that is left over, and live large!
Lowkoon is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2015, 03:36
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Polar Route
Posts: 6

Exactly correct
cxorcist is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2015, 04:04
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Wingham NSW Australia
Age: 81
Posts: 1,344
A - B - C Scales

Frogman, as I indicated I am aware that there is no comparison with the pay scales of my day and those on offer today. Dropknee seems to think that, or at least infer, that I may be independently wealthy. Unlike a lot of others in my era I resigned at a time of my choosing, not because of any issue with the company, but simply because I had a desire to live back in my homeland. I did not leave with a sack full of loot. I did not complete ten years of CX service so I do not have any travel entitlements and I did not spend freely whilst in HK. I realised early on that the "bubble" had a limited life and so I saved as hard as I could without being a hermit. Life after CX has been kind and I am happy living out my retirement with modest means. Your comment on C scale crew would, I think, be the very reason that they should look elsewhere despite the comments of CCA. I cannot think of any worse situation than working in an environment where conditions are such that life is one long unhappy cycle and no light exists at the end of the tunnel. I sincerely hope that conditions improve and that others can look forward to going to work, as I did. Good luck to all.
Old Fella is offline  

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