Middle East Many expats still flying in Knoteetingham. Regional issues can be discussed here.

INSANITY

Old 2nd Oct 2015, 14:41
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: UK
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INSANITY

At a social occasion recently I watched two colleagues on 2 different fleets discussing their roster. Both doing 90 block hours give or take a few minutes. One delighted with how much time off he had and the other decidedly distressed facing yet another roster of 8 days off with multiple night turns while trying to coordinate the various things life requires in Dubai in the coming month. He had visibly aged since I last saw him and was into productivity for the 5th consecutive month with leave still some way off.

I’ve been somewhat vague to protect the identity of the individuals but the scenario is common enough.

As the company sees block hours as a measure of both remuneration and more importantly fatigue there is clearly something wrong.

When one examines the Duty Hours each was doing the anomaly is obvious. The former had Duty Hours of around 100 while the latter was closer to 150.

So to summarize the one pilot was working 50% harder than the other, and for this he was rewarded with less rest, days off etc. Looking a little deeper there were no opportunities for CRC rest and few for in-flight seat rest. The former was looking at about 30 hours of his 90 in a bunk. It’s illogical and insane to me. Shouldn’t the bloke working harder have more rest?

The bottom line is that the period before a flight is viewed as non productive and irrelevant to the fatigue process. It’s practically impossible to hit a duty time limitation so it has no effect on limiting the fatigue. You’d have to work the equivalent of 8 hour days for 6 day weeks repetitively at all times of the day and night in multiple time zones. That’s not even expected of our regular routine office workers. How’s it easier for a pilot?

Likewise the time on the ground in a turnaround is not considered valued as work or considered in any meaningful sense for fatigue. And then let’s not forget the duty times themselves, which are simply illegal. Last time I looked, the check-in computer told me I had 3 minutes until briefing started which was 1 hour and 35 minutes before departure. I thought briefing was a task required by the company. I thought duty was “Any continuous period during which a crew member is required to carry out any task associated with the business of the company”. So our poor pilot of the big roster was getting even more fatigued by multiple duties where he put in an unaccounted 35 minutes. On the roster in question this totaled over 7 hours! More insanity.

Is there any attempt to redress the glaringly obvious faults? I turn to the Portal to see if perhaps the FRMS has some wisdom in this regard. This is the only page on the portal that is “Under construction” and has been for the past 4 years to the best of my knowledge. It appears irresponsible and uninformative. Can anyone actually tell me what this magic FRMS actually achieves? Roster and rest balance is clearly not in its remit.

On top of this all, simply to add insult to injury one of flights on the “poor pilots roster” was a “Variation” Duty. That’s just an excuse to break the already inadequate duty time limitation with one provision of giving him rest after the event! Let’s hope he makes it to his bed without injury..

I turn to the “General Principles of the (Flight Time Limitations) Scheme”. Perhaps this offers clarity. I note such phrases:
  • “The GCAA when assessing the suitability of a planned schedule, will take into account the time allowed for pre flight duties…” – Clearly not. No one could do the required tasks to get airborne in the 1 hour scheduled. Hence the 1 hour 35 minutes allocated but not recognized.
  • “The allocation of work patterns which avoid such undesirable practices as alternating day/night duties.” – Well! Poor pilot’s” roster almost looked like this was the objective!
And on and on it goes. Words, platitudes, lip service and an absent FRMS by all accounts. I feel I am living in an alternate world of a different logic. Its insanity to me.

Where is the Regulator in all this? Where is the HR department? Isn’t work, pay and time off what they are all about? Where are the doctors? They are apparently trained to recognise the cause and symptoms. I presume they put sickness against rosters and look for patterns. They will be there.

In basic terms it shouldn’t be that difficult. In most places time at work is what makes you tired and the very reason for pay. In fact we are repeatedly told the time before flight is the most critical. No distractions, it’s a busy time, drinks cards and barred dispatchers are the cure. But apparently this is not work, not tiring and not worth being paid for. It beats me. I cannot fathom how block time, a measurement for engines and airframes has somehow been translated into some measurement of how hard I work, how tired I am or how much I should be paid.

But then maybe I’m losing my marbles. Perhaps I’m fatigued.
Pixy is offline  
Old 2nd Oct 2015, 15:14
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Join Date: Mar 2010
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Unfortunately 'Commercial' rules the roost. ALL else is, at best, secondary to satisfying the financial interests of the company.

Concern, regard, appreciation, and/or respect for the employee is not even on the list. We are a tool to be used until worn out then discarded.

Things will never change by any substantial measure. None of the departments you mentioned care a bit about the well being of the pilot group.
Rather Be Skiing is offline  
Old 2nd Oct 2015, 15:20
  #3 (permalink)  
short flights long nights
 
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That would have to be the best post I have read in years. 10 out of 10. Harry will be along, to tell you how wrong you are. However, I assure you, you arev100% correct.

And can I suggest something? Life is short. If what you are currently doing is killing you, perhaps you should give it up.
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Old 2nd Oct 2015, 15:38
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Great post, well written and factual.

Bring on the new hires is the only way things are going to change to the turn around fleets and general conditions.

Let us just talk about a persons work rate here in the UAE, if you can see how hard the manual workers are working and the care (conditions) they they work in then a guy on the A330 or 777 has it easy (so it would be perceived). I agree that it is not right and not healthy AND not allowing for what we pilots would consider a safe operation regarding fatigue.

As SOPS's states, we clearly are happy with the terms and conditions or we wouldn't be here, I am amazed how many spaces up the seniority I have gone this year alone.

Fly safe fellow friends.

J
jack schidt is offline  
Old 2nd Oct 2015, 15:47
  #5 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
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I'm with you SOP's, that was a brilliant post Pixy.

I too for many many years have thought the exact same thing. I used to be in a company where we did short sectors, and I worked far far harder than the Long Haul Pilots, for far less money and far less rest. You hit the nail on the head with regards to one of the busiest times in a cockpit being completely unpaid. Simply unbelievable!

I have the fortune now of being in a company and flying predominantly Long Haul. So my days off and rest are more than adequate. However, my Short Haul colleagues work far harder, always tired, yet get far less rest than I, and much less money. One could argue that after years of flying I've "done my time", but that's complete rubbish. Maybe there should be some benefit of years in the trade, but this system needs to be addressed so folks get paid Whilst in Uniform at work, not after the brakes are released. I get fed up of doing courses by my airline of "fatigue management" when they roster these poor people for ridiculous schedules. In a perfect world, there would be no need for faitigue management by pilots, but by the management to ensure it never became an issue for the crew!

Pixy, it would be absolutely great if this way of calculating work schedules, pay, and rest changed throughout the industry. It certainly needs to! Unfortunately won't happen whilst I'm still in this business. Again, great post
twentyyearstoolate is offline  
Old 2nd Oct 2015, 16:30
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Join Date: Mar 2004
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The industry is broken. Regulators and Companies conspire to keep the myth of Block Hours alive.

But the company could balance the field if they so wished. Simply base Productivity Pay on duty dime and not block time. If it was set between 110 and 120 hours Duty then many things in the company would naturally even out. It might even be “cost neutral” depending on where they put the line. Predominantly ULR rosters would work a little harder and short haul a little less. Or at least get rewarded when they worked hard. The days off, rest etc would also correct naturally as the company rostered to avoid excessive productivity payment.

My guess is they simply couldn’t care less about fatigue. Until there is an unfortunate event.
disconnected is offline  
Old 2nd Oct 2015, 16:57
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Yes, nicely put.

BUT, the only insanity is that we told you this (less grandiosely) when you were making enquiries a couple of years ago before you joined....

yet you still did.

How insane is that ?

Chin up Pixy....you joined a 92 hour joint when we told you NOT to ...now it's 88

What's the song?

"...movin' on up .."

f.
fliion is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2015, 00:11
  #8 (permalink)  
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Chin up Pixy....you joined a 92 hour joint when we told you NOT to ...now it's 88
Ha ha fliion. Funny. At least I hope that was was the intention. Otherwise I think you missed the point. In short (less grandiosely) block time is irrelevant, duty time is what matters.

What's the song?

"Im so confused.."

K9.


Last edited by K9; 3rd Oct 2015 at 00:32.
K9 is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2015, 03:33
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��
Tis my point...he's actually had a raise (used loosely) ...if you can call OT paid less than regular - just that.

All that is happening was advertized on here for the last few years. Anyone joining knew the template.

Not enough pilots (well there are but the Co won't pay for them ) - too many planes

It's been posted constantly ...many were told the fatigue levels can be intense

Anyway the point is for those looking and asking: "Can it really be that bad?"

The anwswer which is articulated a la Pixy is a resounding "Yes"

Caveat emptor....

Again

Last edited by fliion; 3rd Oct 2015 at 03:50.
fliion is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2015, 04:53
  #10 (permalink)  
 
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Too much!

Well done Pixy, great post!

I like Kap & SOPS and many others am on the way out. Handed in my letter recently and felt VERY comfortable in doing so. Hesitation, second thoughts?? - NONE!

This place (EK & DXB) is dangerous, toxic and in a steep decline!
Rotaiva is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2015, 05:08
  #11 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
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It would take one day to solve your problems if you all had balls to coordinate, park the planes and show the finger. Lets say a thousand pilot...what will they do fire you all, arrest you all? Or just go buy you new Iphone and stop complaining please.
furbpilot is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2015, 06:23
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Join Date: May 2007
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fliion wrote:
Yes, nicely put.

BUT, the only insanity is that we told you this (less grandiosely) when you were making enquiries a couple of years ago before you joined....

yet you still did.

How insane is that ?

Chin up Pixy....you joined a 92 hour joint when we told you NOT to ...now it's 88
I don't work for EK but the briefest of research reveals that Pixy has been posting about EK since 2003 and clearly worked there since before then.
radlettrejoin is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2015, 06:49
  #13 (permalink)  
 
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R.

You are indeed correct. I believe I am mixing Pixy up with a like minded name that was on here a couple of years ago.

Did a search - could not find.

When I'm wrong, I'm wrong.

I stand corrected.

Apologies Pixy.

fliion.
fliion is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2015, 06:53
  #14 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Furbpilot.

It would take one day to solve your problems if you all had balls to coordinate, park the planes and show the finger. Lets say a thousand pilot...what will they do fire you all, arrest you all?
The answer to your question is YES.

If a thousand pilots coordinated, refused to work and then showed them the finger they would all certainly be fired, face prosecution, likely be fined, possibly jailed and definitely deported.

This place may look first world but scratch a little and below the surface some aspects can be very third world, the legal system being one of them. Many expats here have found this out after being injured, raped, robbed or even questioning the system. There are different rules for different folks. It depends where you are in the food chain. There are some shocking cases of injustice, and some expats have discovered this too late.

With a high profile demonstration like pilots downing tools, the authorities would take very severe action. It is no longer about the airline. It becomes about the whole country and to avoid anyone else getting ideas the consequences would be severe.

In fact a far less radical solution would probably be effective. If only 10-20% of our pilots simply had the stones to write to their managers in the nicest possible way, with examples, the obviously glaring disparities and inadequacies of the system, things would change. They have before.

Unfortunately most suffer from a persecution complex, and are too apathetic, too cowardly or too stupid to do so. These qualities ensure the status quo.
disconnected is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2015, 07:19
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According to a post twelve years ago when he refers to having already been there 9 years Pixy seems eminently well qualified to post on how things have changed. The direction is one way. Pilots have become a commodity with as the textbooks say price transparency.

However the discrepancy he highlights also occurs across many airlines. Emirates A330 fleet is similar to the short haul fleet of many national carriers. With seniority people people normally have more choices.

Just to be fair there are also some benefits on the junior fleets, e.g. less jet lag more time at home, faster progression to the left seat, becoming a trainer etc.

Emirates is interesting because of its scale. Pan Am of course spanned the world, but was a much smaller airline. But even with their 'catch me if you can' lifestyle the pilots all tended to look a lot older then they were. It would be interesting to see a study of life expectancies and what effect our worsening conditions are having.
lederhosen is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2015, 07:38
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Totally agree with you Pixy.

And I suspect the 16 Capts and FOs who've resigned in the past two weeks would agree with you as well.

16 more rosters to be shared among our pilot numbers....numbers that haven't increased much at all (if any) in the past 12 months.

Big fanfare over EK receiving four shiny new jets on the same day a few weeks back. Not a squeak from the PR machine about the fact that there are no pilots to fly them.
Kamelchaser is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2015, 08:54
  #17 (permalink)  
short flights long nights
 
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I would think Lederhosen, in the future, someone will do a study and conclude that what you are currently being subject to, is killing you.
SOPS is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2015, 09:45
  #18 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: milky way
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The answer to your question is YES.

If a thousand pilots coordinated, refused to work and then showed them the finger they would all certainly be fired, face prosecution, likely be fined, possibly jailed and definitely deported.

This place may look first world but scratch a little and below the surface some aspects can be very third world, the legal system being one of them. Many expats here have found this out after being injured, raped, robbed or even questioning the system. There are different rules for different folks. It depends where you are in the food chain. There are some shocking cases of injustice, and some expats have discovered this too late.

With a high profile demonstration like pilots downing tools, the authorities would take very severe action. It is no longer about the airline. It becomes about the whole country and to avoid anyone else getting ideas the consequences would be severe.

In fact a far less radical solution would probably be effective. If only 10-20% of our pilots simply had the stones to write to their managers in the nicest possible way, with examples, the obviously glaring disparities and inadequacies of the system, things would change. They have before.

Unfortunately most suffer from a persecution complex, and are too apathetic, too cowardly or too stupid to do so. These qualities ensure the status quo
I think you just have no balls. And than what? Who will fly their planes?And how about international media.You might be right on the legal framework but remember there is a public opinion, and doing something like imprisoning 1000 pilots and deport them, beside being impossible , would have terrible consequences for EK image. I'm 100% sure that a pilot strike, legal or not legal would solve all your problems in one week. They count on you being all of the money only, no solidarity, macho, superman, individualist idiot breed and apparently quite righteously and profitably. Admit it.. you are just slaves.
furbpilot is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2015, 09:51
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Join Date: Dec 2010
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It’s practically impossible to hit a duty time limitation so it has no effect on limiting the fatigue
I'm not sure how you come to that conclusion. The Variation flights regularly reach the limits. Some are planned to within 5 minutes of the extended (30 minute) limit despite the combined sector time being greater than 7 hours. Management are cute about this by saying the rule refers to a single sector, not to 2 X 4hour sectors together. The inevitable delay means discretion is required or the pilot goes home or to a different duty. Not many choose to press this point and the limit is exceeded. If this happens to your friend then he needs to stand up for himself.

Where are the doctors? Their integrity is compromised and they are relegated to attending to your minor complaints and dispensing a little SK or SKF here and there. They won't touch the larger issues.

Can anyone actually tell me what this magic FRMS actually achieves?
Yes. It provides an illusion of action by demonstrating intent by the company in the area of fatigue management. But you already know this.

It's time to leave, Pixy.

Full points, though, for the standard of your written English which is light years ahead of the usual in here.
Fack5 is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2015, 10:24
  #20 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
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furbpilot

This has nothing to do with balls.

If you live in this part of the world, you will quickly learn that figuratively holding a gun to ones head and making a demand is not how to bring results. EK and airlines in the Middle East as a whole, will never ever be seen to have been brought to its knees by any part of their workforce. They would happily throw cash down the drain to a point in order to save face. That's what its all about in the Middle East and yes it is childish.

Lastly, the public easily forgets it's moral conscience when it comes to flying and buying most goods in fact. Such moral conscience momentarily vanishes when we reach for our credit card.

Airlines have had striking pilots and will continue to do so. The travelling public would perhaps have far less empathy for our plight here at EK, since most of the public can't see past the finely tuned PR machine and the tax free salary.
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