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Flight delay due to optional software update?

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Flight delay due to optional software update?

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Old 1st Jan 2018, 08:18
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Flight delay due to optional software update?

My wife returned from IAD yesterday on British Airways, connecting through LHR to BUD.

Departure of her first flight, BA292, a B744, was delayed by almost five hours, and she missed her connection at LHR, despite time made up during the flight, resulting in her arriving at BUD five hours late.

While they were still sitting on the plane at the gate at IAD, the flight deck crew told passengers the delay was due to their request for a software update for one of the engines, which the crew described as running faster and unable to sync with the other engines.

Interestingly, the crew also mentioned that this issue was first reported on the way to LHR two flights earlier, and a decision was made then to defer the software update and continue to fly the aircraft to IAD. Apparently, this issue was not serious enough to ground the plane at LHR, and it was only at the crew's discretion at IAD to request the update; there was nothing requiring this.

Slam dunk, request for compensation filed, 600 euro, thank you very much.

Considering that every passenger terminating at LHR has a similarly valid claim, as do all those who, like my wife, missed their connections, this would seem to be an awfully expensive discretionary maintenance request.

Any pilots out there care to comment on this? What would you have done?
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Old 1st Jan 2018, 11:22
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Originally Posted by Mark in CA View Post
Interestingly, the crew also mentioned that this issue was first reported on the way to LHR two flights earlier, and a decision was made then to defer the software update and continue to fly the aircraft to IAD. Apparently, this issue was not serious enough to ground the plane at LHR, and it was only at the crew's discretion at IAD to request the update; there was nothing requiring this.
I suspect there's more to this than meets the eye.

The aircraft in question sat on the ground at LHR for 3 days between its arrival from YVR on Wednesday and its departure to IAD on Saturday.
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Old 1st Jan 2018, 13:00
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The crew requesting an optional technical software update away from base is a highly unlikely scenario.....This issue would have been dealt with by maintenance engineers,so is likely to have been maintenance driven (as Dave has mentioned, there is a bound to be more to this)...
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Old 1st Jan 2018, 13:27
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I'm sure that the crew wouldn't have taken the decision lightly (if it was they that took the decision).

Just like the passengers, they also want to get home and not be delayed 5 hours, which makes the flight home very tiring with the lengthened duty day with only two pilots.

[Ex-BA B744 Captain]
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Old 1st Jan 2018, 18:47
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Seems likely that, in the first event, the then crew/maintenance, could safely postpone it. Given the peak time of year that would make sense.

Then the problem became one that, if developed during flight would have been OK (probable shut down) but not to start a flight with that problem.

TopBunk speaks from seat 0A and what the pax/crew/BA got was an aircraft home safely to main base, albeit at a price. The alternative price was to canx the flight for 24 hours. Again, at peak time of the year, whilst down the line and the follow on disruption to many other flights due a/c and crew out of time/place? The choice may well have been easier to decide.

The social media flare up of multiple canx flights at this time of the year is worse than a couple of delays, to yours and, possibly one or two more subsequent. Then back on track.

Lastly, the openess of the flight crew in detailing the problem is to be commended. So often in PPRuNe, we hear of the opposite.
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Old 1st Jan 2018, 19:30
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As other’s have said there must be more to this than meets the eye....

While they were still sitting on the plane at the gate at IAD, the flight deck crew told passengers the delay was due to their request for a software update for one of the engines, which the crew described as running faster and unable to sync with the other engines.
TBH I certainly can’t imagine and have never heard of flight crew requesting a “optional” software update downroute. As has been previously mentioned one option might be the aircraft had an engine issue inbound to IAD which resulted in somebody on the maintenance side of the operation ordering a fix (possibly software related) prior to the IAD-LHR sector.
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Old 1st Jan 2018, 19:44
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Perhaps when the flight crew said ‘we’ve requested’ they meant the company has requested.
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Old 1st Jan 2018, 19:59
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Quite possibly, there’s also the problem that if you try to make a non-startling non-controversial announcement to passengers it can come out all wrong when you try to translate it into pilot or techie speak.

Given the rotation at IAD it is perhaps possible the inbound crew had an minor engine issue (?software related) which was either written up on arrival (or transmitted to the company whilst in flight), and maintenance made the decision to do the fix, whatever it was, on the turn...now maybe that action could have been done a sector or two prior, who knows, but it is therefore quite possible the outbound (IAD-LHR) crew for the 292 arrived at the aircraft to find a decision had been made and there was already work in progress, so had to pick up the delay and make soothing announcements.

More likely that happening than the outbound crew simply arriving at the airport and then opting for an optional upgrade.
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Old 1st Jan 2018, 20:05
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While they were still sitting on the plane at the gate at IAD, the flight deck crew told passengers the delay was due to their request for a software update for one of the engines, which the crew described as running faster and unable to sync with the other engines.
As others have noted, they didn't give you the whole story - or quite likely any of it. The Engine Controls (FADECs) on the 747-400 are not on-wing software loadable. To change the FADEC software, the box needs to be removed and replaced (software loading is only done in a shop environment and requires the box be literally opened up, after which a pass-off functional test is mandatory).
Educated guess, there was an existing engine control fault that they dispatched with via the MEL (FADECs are redundant, fault-tolerant system and time-limited dispatch is allowed for loss of redundancy faults). However if another fault occurs it can put the engine control into a no-dispatch state and maintenance action is mandatory.
Futhermore, since we're talking Rolls Royce, the engines really are not "FADEC" - rather the RB211-524G/H on the 747-400 has a "Full Authority Fuel Control" - FAFC - unlike FADEC it doesn't control the inlet guide vanes or bleed valves. The vanes and bleeds are controlled by a fluidic mechanical control system - no electrons involved.
It's quite possible since they specifically mentioned 'running faster' that the fluidic vane controller went south and needed to be replaced to prevent an N2 overspeed issue (the fluidic vane controller has been rather problematic in service).

Last edited by tdracer; 2nd Jan 2018 at 04:22. Reason: fixed typo
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Old 2nd Jan 2018, 00:52
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My thanks to all for such detailed responses and technical explanation of the 'back story' to get the Cabin off to a good start for 2018.

OK, that's my magnanimous bit over for the year.
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Old 7th Jan 2018, 07:21
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Thanks to all for your explanations. I wish I could have provided better info initially, but English is not my wife's first language, and even then, when it comes to anything remotely technical....

At least in my wife's case, she took it all in stride. Can't speak for others on that flight.
We're both pretty experienced travelers and don't generally get upset by these kinds of delays. Overall, she was quite pleased with BA's handing of things.
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Old 2nd Feb 2018, 09:03
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Kudos to BA

After one month, and with a little prodding from me due to lack of response, BA has agreed to remit full compensation for this delay. No haggling, no issues. It was a pretty straightforward case.

The hangup was due to the fact that I was making the claim and requesting payment sent to my bank (as I paid for the ticket), but my wife was the passenger, and so BA requested her to sign an authorization form, which I emailed back to BA this morning and was then notified of the compensation within about 20 minutes.

Now let's see how long it takes for the funds to arrive in my account. I don't anticipate any delay.
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Old 2nd Feb 2018, 11:24
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... ahh, that can of worms. Who does the airline have a contract with? The passenger whose name is on the ticket, per Warsaw and MC99? Or the person paying, per most civil contract laws.

If you are travelling on business, where your company has paid for your business class ticket, and you are downgraded to economy who is entitled to the compensation? You or your company?

Dilemma.
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Old 2nd Feb 2018, 15:47
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Are you sure they didn’t say an “operational software update”?
Regards
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Old 3rd Feb 2018, 08:40
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I wouldn't get too caught up on the wording.. odds are it was a half truth or something more or less made up to sound more comforting. If you announce 'we are stuck here a bit as an engine is knackered and we have been flying it kinda broken but we are gonna change a part and go ' to a 747 full of people a few will want off. The public generally expect planes to be flawless and entirely reliable so even a fairly comfortable flyer can get a bit unsettled re tech issues.
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Old 3rd Feb 2018, 09:29
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If you are travelling on business, where your company has paid for your business class ticket, and you are downgraded to economy who is entitled to the compensation? You or your company?


And; diverging slightly, but it has happened, at least in my experience as crew and hotels: who gets the airmiles or points? In my case I tried to join the Hotel Loyalty program of our crew hotels. It was deemed that the company financial director had paid for the rooms and therefore was entitled to the points. Nice little earner on the side for his holidays. On the other hand all my mates, who are so lucky to have a company pay for their frequent business class SH & LH tickets, earn the airmiles and lounge privileges etc. Nice little earner for them as they fly for free on holidays. Surely that would be a taxable benefit? If the CFO had an idea to keep all the airmails for themselves; wow, free tickets for life.
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Old 3rd Feb 2018, 12:44
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I am reminded of a trip from HKG back to LHR in the mid 1990s on a VS 340- cannot remember but probably a 300? We were all boarded when told by the FC that they had to reset the power on the 'entertainment system' so as to ensure that it was all good for the sector. Power down of COMPLETE a/c and emergency lighting only for two minutes. In other words, they re-booted the whole machine.

I learnt, months later, that when preparing for departure, if the five (?) flight computers did not agree with each other, then you had to reboot the aircraft. Best not to tell the SLF about that before a 14 hour sector with no spare seats at the start of Chinese New Year ...

RAT 5. Nowadays, on corporate purchased tickets, one of the terms for discount = no miles given. Although one can be sure that someone sitting round the big table gets a few perks.
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Old 3rd Feb 2018, 19:02
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Working for Boeing, originally they said all loyalty points/miles earned on company travel belonged to company. However the union argued that since we often travel on our own time (and engineering was not allowed to charge for or take credit for travel time after hours/on weekends) that we'd 'earned' those miles/points. Since the whole thing was a logistical night mare Boeing finally relented and allowed the employees to keep the points/miles (though insisting we still had to use the lowest cost travel options regardless of loyalty programs). In my case it ultimately saved the company a little money since, for the last ten years I worked there, my Delta miles kept me silver or gold medallion, which gets you free checked baggage.
However, any refund or compensation due to getting bumped or downgraded still belong to the company.
Interesting side note - many years ago while on a trip to Rolls in Derby, my co-worker suffered a medical emergency and ended up spending about a month in the hospital there - long enough that his wife flew over on her own dime to be with him. When he finally was cleared to fly home, he had a business class ticket on BA, while his wife's ticket was coach. So he asked if they could possibly upgrade his wife to that could sit together. 'Oh no, we can't do that' - so he responded 'OK, then downgrade me to coach so we can sit together and refund the difference to Boeing'. The BA agent suddenly saw a couple thousand in airfare floating away back to Boeing and quickly found a way to upgrade his wife to business
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Old 3rd Feb 2018, 19:28
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Originally Posted by RAT 5 View Post
If you are travelling on business, where your company has paid for your business class ticket, and you are downgraded to economy who is entitled to the compensation? You or your company?
I usually have the option of having my company buy the ticket or buying it myself and then claiming on expenses. I usually take the second option so any subsequent compensation definitely comes back to me.

When the company pays I can ask them to add my FF number to the booking, so I get the goodies anyway.

I suffered a weather related cancellation recently. I didn't get any "compensation" as such but the carrier paid for my hotel and that money came back to me. I booked myself onto an alternative flight with another carrier, expensed that flight and had the original booking shifted to a later date.

I recently woke up in a hotel to find there was no hot water available in the bathroom. The hotel chain has a 'full refund if dissatisfied' policy. I was invoiced for the full price of the stay, and that went onto my expense claim. I was then refunded for the 'bad' night to the credit card I had used to pay for the invoiced amount.

Originally Posted by RAT 5 View Post
And; diverging slightly, but it has happened, at least in my experience as crew and hotels: who gets the airmiles or points?
Me! I choose to spend my employer's money at that hotel so I get the points.

Originally Posted by RAT 5 View Post
Surely that would be a taxable benefit?
Points/airmiles schemes always declare the earned points to have no cash value, for this very reason.
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Old 4th Feb 2018, 07:24
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Don't give the govt ideas on tax. Have spent years schlepping round the globe on business missing wedding , christening, etc etc. The only upside I get with Mrs Mac is that we do not have to pay for holiday flights, apart from odd hops to the med where the carriers I use would mean an extra stop, or indeed just do not do the routes. However all LH holidays paid for by carrier through FF, as well as some hotels. Downside you have to have a very strong relationship with your partner, who puts up with you and your companies wonderings. Often asked what is the favourite city I visit, or a view from a plane, many are surprised when I say Stockport on approach to MAN !
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