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Captain's Authority Questions

Rumours & News Reporting Points that may affect our jobs or lives as professional pilots. Also, items that may be of interest to professional pilots.

Captain's Authority Questions

Old 10th May 2010, 16:56
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A certain airline had this plan to clamp down on the frequency of pilots adding fuel (which the pilots did due to their extensive experience in the probability of expected holding, weather en route, etc.that the dispatchers couldn't be bothered including) . When the number of diverts for low fuel went off the charts, the policy changed pretty quick. Of course, it helped that the memos to pilots were leaked to the nightly news.

Continental’s 757s Running Low on Fuel on Some Transatlantic Flights | Autopia | Wired.com

" ... reporting a five-fold increase in the number of low fuel warnings made by pilots of Continental Airlines‘ flights arriving from Europe into Newark. According to the paper, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has released a report saying that Continental pilots made 96 "minimum fuel declarations" last year. A statement by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, one of senators who received the report, says that in some cases flights approached Newark so close to empty that they received priority landing clearance, effectively allowing them to jump the line to avoid running out of fuel."

Airline fuel cuts concern pilots - USATODAY.com

Pilots: To Cut Costs, Airlines Forcing Us To Fly Low On Fuel

On the other hand, if the regs let you defer a certain item then I'm leaving without it unless there is some unusual consideration, such as it being your last operating coffee maker etc.

Last edited by IRISHinUS; 10th May 2010 at 17:19.
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Old 10th May 2010, 17:07
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This nonsense has been going on for the three decades I've been in this business.

Until something goes wrong.

Then try to find the:

1, Dispatcher

2. Air Traffic Controller

3. Management du-jour

4. Insert name here - ________ who thinks they have business in the Flight Deck.

When ALL FINGERS point to the Pilot in Command, as everyone else runs for cover.
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Old 10th May 2010, 17:42
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Yes, I too must operate with legally deferred defects. (scary) Fuel decisions where I am at are not scrutinized.
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Old 10th May 2010, 18:10
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At my airline the MEL (original Bombardier) for the CRJ actually states that all the exceptions are thought for having ONE MEL item only, if multiple ones are planned to be dispatched the consequences should be considered thorouly (spelling?).
As Captain you certainly have the final say on go or nogo.

I can take as much fuel as I like, even leave payload behind for it, no questions asked. That right is not excercised often, though.
If it is a stormy day, I will fuel up to the max allowable, just to get the ship to be heavier, get faster approach speeds, and fly a bit "stiffer". I'll do that 4 times a day - still no questions asked. If running behind schedule, I sometimes fuel for 2 sectors, just to avoid another 5 minutes for fueling during a tight turnaround. That might make me take almost double of what the flightplan indicates - still, no questions, ever.

And our FOs can call for a goaround below 1000' and that makes it mandatory to fly one.

Nic
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Old 10th May 2010, 18:41
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Authority

I have now retired, so no longer have to bother with counter-arguments over fuel. Our company had a line for “Reason for extra fuel” On the advice of an old hand referred to above (JW and the red cap), I always put POM as the reason. It was never queried.
Lack of fuel can bite – and how. I was positioning crew on one flight and was called in to help the newly qualified F/O manage the rapidly vanishing gas. We finally landed and the APU stopped after less than 10 mins! From Standby I once accepted an a/c on a calm clear winter day when the captain failed to report. It was all ready to go but had company fuel in tanks. I would have preferred more, but everyone was on board and we were already 15 mins late. On finals, the tower reported wind was suddenly 50 kts across. Diverted to alt. A few minutes before arrival, the airfield went out in a blinding snow storm – unexpected and certainly not forecast. Fortunately there was another airfield within 50 miles. Straight in but ran into snow with virtually zero vis half way down the runway and almost dry tanks. I should have listened to that other old guy who told me that “It is better to be 20 minutes late in this world than 20 years early in the next”.
Wind your shoulders out and do your own thing!
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Old 10th May 2010, 19:00
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767Capt.

This may have been one of the things exported from the UK.

Towards the end of the nineties a four engine jet "low cost" operator had a policy of if taking more than 200kg over minimums then tea and biccies would follow.

Now, it is possible that it was designed to focus minds but leaving Munich for Helsinki, a little late arriving and the full load champing on the bit to go, in poor weather with a u/s apu kind of set the scene.

Good luck.
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Old 10th May 2010, 19:01
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I fly for a very blue European airline. In my little world (short-haul - up to 2.5 hours) we are under no pressure to accept any aircraft we don't want to, even though it may put a spanner in the works. Our big brothers, the sky gods who fly big aircraft all over our planet follow suit. To my knowledge, none of my colleagues have been invited for "tea & biscuits" as a result, even for the some of the more crass decisions that have been taken. Major defects are detailed in our briefing packages before fuel order.

Our fuel is our decision as well. We take what we want. But generally we are planned with either economical tanking or minimum fuel (and for our division, an additional 10 minutes of company fuel). However, it is normal for us fly four sectors, back to back, on "minimum" fuel. In some divisions, block fuel and fuel burns are monitored. But after (reasonable) union pressure, they have been de-identified. Typically, I will fly on minimum fuel but will put more on if I think I need it. In the 18 years I've been flying, I've never been in the air wishing I had more fuel - but I'm sure my time will come.

In addition, the way we operate the aircraft is recorded in detail as well. For "interesting flights", especially where the crew appeared not to notice what they did or how close to impending doom they were, we have a program whereby we show them a replay of the relevant section of the flight. This is part of our flight safety programme. Again, this is outside any disciplinary procedures.

In return for this, we operate the aircraft as safely, efficiently and economically as we know how. In general, our fleet managers are also open to suggestions and will normally back up their crews. So, yes as crews, our decisions are respected and they are not subject to disciplinary meetings or review (even though some of them probably should be). How? A respectable company, a "European attitude" to business and union pressure.

What should you do? A diversion or two would help. Instead of using a very sharp pencil to help your company, try using a child's crayon biased in your favour. Make sure ALPA are behind you make sure that you are not the only one outside the tent pissing in.

Best of luck,

PM
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Old 10th May 2010, 19:48
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Bravo

l can only assume that when the crew next have an "interesting flight" they will have learned from the previous film.

767Capt, there you have it.

Never mind good luck, divine help is needed.
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Old 10th May 2010, 20:12
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I have seen TWO instances where the cabin crew refused to fly on aircraft with valid and legal MELs, despite the Captain's insistence that the aircraft was fine. Both flights eventually had to be cancelled.
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Old 11th May 2010, 00:58
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>>>I do not want to mention my company's name here publicly, but am curious about how things work at your individual airline.

Completely understandable. Here's my view (from the perspective of my username) at a US Part 121 airline operating 737s.


>>>Lately, my company has started to put some pressure on Captain's to:

1- Accepting aircraft with a Legally deferred (MEL) item,
2- Tracking/monitoring Captains that increase the Cleared Fuel after dispatcher finalizes his flt plan.

Our MEL gives both the PIC and the dispatcher the ability to decline an aircraft, irrespective of the MEL permissiveness of any deferred MEL item(s). In my own experience and the knowledge of others, it's not often that either a PIC or dispatcher has had to avail themselves of this particular action, but it has happened, with cases having been both pilot-initiated and dispatcher-initiated. Our procedure is basically set-up as a check-and-balance type system, which follows the philosophy of joint PIC-dispatcher responsibility for the safety of the flight that's inherent in the US Part 121 FARs. One of the more “classic” cases in which I had to say “NYET!” was when a MX person was lobbying to get a sick bird one last leg into a MX base, with the PIC being agreeable (so he could presumably avoid an aircraft swap and get home on time). I said it didn’t matter to me whether the aircraft involved maintenance ferried or taxied all the way home on the interstate. MX’s reply (seriously) was that the aircraft was in no condition to maintenance ferry, yet they were advocating operating with passengers? NYET!

As far as your second item is concerned, a company has the right to monitor its personnel however they want, as it is, of course, their company. From my individual perspective, if I transmit a release and the PIC doesn't like the fuel load it specifies, what I expect isn't an independent automatic uplift without communication, but I do expect a phone call to discuss things. If s/he brings forth an item that I've missed in my planning considerations, great--I'm only human (just as the PIC is), and we'll jointly adapt as needed. (Joint responsibility, again). The only issues I have are (1) PICs that consistently and automatically add N.nn fuel over minimum on every flight, seemingly "just because", and (2) PICs that don't call to discuss anything.

This second point is a sore one, as although a PIC who adds fuel without calling their dispatcher almost certainly feels as though s/he's solving the problem on their specific ABC-XYZ flight, they're creating one (perhaps multiple ones) for the dispatcher. If the ABC-XYZ PIC's concern is a valid one, and the dispatcher isn't in the loop here, how many other flights does the dispatcher have (that the PIC isn’t aware of) that are also destined to XYZ, and could also benefit from the info that the PIC of the ABC-XYZ flight brought forth? The dispatcher can't apply it to other flights if the PIC is playing "I have a secret" or is avoiding contact for other reasons. Sure, "some" dispatchers can seem nitnoid about PICs adding fuel, and perhaps these are the folks that some PICs are seeking to avoid perceived confrontations with, but really, man-up and call--other flights could be affected.

Many PICs flying in Part 121 operations are under the impression that their PIC authority emanates from FAR 91.3, but that is actually incorrect. Sure, 91.3 applies to them if they're flying their own personal aircraft, but once they strap-on an employer's jet, they're operating under the more stringent Part 121 regs, specifically 121.533/121.557 (domestic), or 121.535/121.557 (flag) that cover the same items 91.3 does, but in greater detail. Pertinent FARS below, with my [emphasis]:

FAR 121.533(b): [The pilot in command and the aircraft dispatcher are jointly responsible for the preflight planning], delay, and dispatch release of a flight in compliance with this chapter and operations specifications.

FAR 121.533(d): (d) Each pilot in command of an aircraft is, [during flight time], in command of the aircraft and crew and is responsible for the safety of the passengers, crewmembers, cargo, and airplane.

I have no doubt that many here will take spirited exception with the above FAR interpretation, but the FARs say what they say. The higher legal standard of care involved with US Part 121 ops more than strongly suggests the PICs and dispatchers should be encouraging two-way communications versus looking for ways to avoid doing so.

And, to any folks not operating within the US under Part 121 rules, please note that my comments have been purely in the context of those Part 121 rules, and not the rules of whatever country you happen to be operating in. Ditto for the definition, job description, duties, and responsibilities of a “dispatcher” under FAR Part 121, versus anywhere outside the USA. The OP asked their questions in the context of a Part 121 operation, thus my answers are as well--no need to debate the point that things are done differently elsewhere--everyone gets it.


>>>Until something goes wrong.

Then try to find the:

1, Dispatcher

Oh, we'll be very easy to find--we'll be the one NOT in the smoking hole... One of my past airlines had a fatal accident, and it wasn't a pretty experience, for anyone.

Last edited by SeniorDispatcher; 11th May 2010 at 04:16.
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Old 11th May 2010, 12:50
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In a perfect world, companies would accept the PIC's word on not accepting a/c under MEL relief and give him however much fuel he wants. In this same world, the PIC would be making decisions based on the commercial success of his company combined with his safety responsibility to his passengers and crew.

Unfortunately pilots have become much more mercenary (only looking after #1) and companies are run by accountants who only see figures and completely ignore the safe operation of any individual flight. This necessitates a little fine tuning of procedures to at least get captains to think before only accepting perfect a/c with full tanks. On the same hand, it forces us as captains to carefully detail our concerns, but also to stand firm against any assault on safety.

To answer the original question: I am expected to take legally deferred a/c and can take 20 mins fuel over (admittedly generous) sector fuel without any questions. On the other hand, the Co is happy to listen to any changes to the above and although we sometimes have a little disagreement with dispatch, the captains will be backed up by management pilots if their concerns are legit.

As with most things, a mature (as in adult) approach to differences in opinion usually has a satisfactory result. Only start throwing toys when all other avenues have been exhausted...
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Old 11th May 2010, 13:20
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I couldn't care less if the most junior cabin crew member has the right to decline accepting an aircraft, provided that the Captain is the only one with the right to accept an aircraft.
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Old 11th May 2010, 14:42
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The original questions are excellent issues to raise and discuss, as many times as need be to maintain an informed position when called to act on them during operations. There are a number of underlying themes. One truly useful method of understanding some of this stuff is to read through the portion of FAA Order 8900.1, Flight Standard Information Management System (FSIMS) that addresses operational control. Naturally, they have an embedded linking system in their web based access, so I can’t post a specific URL; however, the relevant section is: Volume 3, General Technical Administration, Chapter 25, Operational Control for Carriers.

Communication between the dispatcher and captain is an essential part of genuine CRM. In my experience, a talented dispatcher can be a remarkable asset in times of stress. Familiarization is most certainly a two way street and must be not just encouraged, but facilitated. At my previous airline, I taught quite a lot of CRM, and we made a point of including the dispatchers in applicable portions of the classwork, particularly the scenario portions.

However, I noted the suggestion from SeniorDispatcher that the PIC authority does not emanate from FAR 91.3, but rather FAR 121.533. My read of several opinions from the FAA Chief Counsel leads me to affirm that Part 91 very much applies to Part 121 operations, and has been the deciding factor in quite a few decisions by NTSB administrative law judges and other courts. Part 91 is superceded by Part 121 operations only in cases where Part 121 is more restrictive or specific. FAR 121.533(b) provides more specific information regarding responsibility for planning and regulatory compliance; 121.533(d) specifies that the PIC is in command of the crew. Neither of these rules supercedes the requirement under FAR 91.3 that the designated PIC is the final authority as to the operation of the aircraft.

Under the concept of operational control, the PIC and the dispatcher each have the authority to stop the flight, but neither has the authority to prevent the other from stopping the flight. This is the dual veto idea. If the dispatcher’s decision regarding fuel or MEL items is the more conservative, then it is final because he/she has that regulatory authority under US Code. However, if my decision is the more conservative, it is also final, because I also have that authority under the US Code…and because I am the guy who releases the brakes. In other words, if I want more fuel, the dispatcher cannot refuse it within the framework of operational control. Nor can the Director of Operations, etc.

Outside of the framework of operational control, the company owns the airplanes (at least for the purposes of this discussion) and they do have the right to tell me how they want the airplane flown. My job is to decide whether that is compliant with the applicable regulations and, more to the point, whether it entails risks that I am unwilling to take. If I do refuse the operation, it is my professional obligation to have some pretty solid reasoning…matters of public safety are poor places in which to engage in a power play. In point of fact, I have not felt a need to add fuel very often at all during the years that I spent in the left seat, but I have stopped a couple of flights due to MEL issues.

The Boeing preamble to each of their Master MELs states the following:
Operators are responsible for exercising the necessary operational control to ensure that an acceptable
level of safety is maintained.
The ICAO Master Minimum Equipment List/ Minimum Equipment List Policy and Procedures Manual, Appendix D, actually substitutes the word “required” for Boeing’s “acceptable”…imagine that.

The PIC’s decision is very much a part of the operational control requirement. The PIC has a regulatory obligation to make a decision under both the FARs and JAR-Ops. Professional standards require that decision to be an informed one.

A couple of war stories to buttress the ideas: many years ago, I gained some short-lived corporate notoriety for refusing a Metroliner that had the oxygen system deferred under the MEL. The requirement was simply to operate below 10,000 feet. However, the emergency procedures for smoke required that the oxygen mask be donned…kind of pointless when there is no oxygen cylinder attached to the other end. The following day, the Director of Training issued a memo stating that the emergency procedure mask requirement was only applicable if the system was operable. (Where do we find such people?) A few months later, the union asked me to argue this point in front of the FOEB, which I did successfully…the MMEL was revised to remove allowance of the oxygen system deferral.

More recently, I refused to fly a 757 across the Atlantic with the APU inoperative. You might consider this to be extreme…the DO certainly did…but let me outline the circumstances. The airline did not yet have ETOPS approval. It was in the demonstration phase, meaning that all maintenance, etc., was done to ETOPS standards. However, the company was still required to dispatch with a 60 minute alternate; they had craftily solved this problem by listing Narsasuaq as the alternate between Gander and Keflavik. This met the requirements as interpreted by the local FAA but, as you might imagine, there was no one who actually considered going to Narsasuaq for any reason. The flight was essentially a de facto ETOPS flight, completely approved but really a paper exercise. At the time, the MEL required that the APU be operative for dispatch on an ETOPS flight. My position was that although we could depart without the APU because it was legally not an ETOPS flight, it had been planned in a manner as to make it identical to an ETOPS flight. I felt the ETOPS requirements for the APU were there for a reason and, in this case, should be adhered to. This resulted in quite a telephone shouting match, but we all survived and used another airplane. Oddly enough, the same situation came up a week later. This time, the dispatcher and I conspired to avoid the issue by replanning the flight so as to use Sondrestrom as the intermediate alternate, which is what I should have done the first time. Not ideal, of course, but at least one could actually imagine safely landing there without the special training that the Air Greenland fellows use for 757 qualification into Narsasuaq. The Master MEL for the 757, by the way, has since been changed. The APU is no longer required for dispatch under the 120 minute ETOPS rule. Your company MEL may be more restrictive.

In a simpler case, I recall watching the captain of a 727, on which I was the FO, engage in yet another heated telephone discussion over a yaw damper being deferred under the MEL. The flight was to go to Miami, and from there up to New York. The captain did not want to be restricted to FL 290 (or was it 260…can’t recall) under the MEL because there was a good chance of thunderstorms over the Gulfstream on the way up to New York. He also prevailed…we took another airplane.

These are complicated decisions. There are often ways to re-plan the situation to alleviate the problem. This is where the dispatcher can really be an asset. That said, the earlier one can see these situations coming, the better one can intervene and effect a change before tempers flare. Knowledge is key. But the bottom line is that the captain is not the only authority, but he/she is the final authority.
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Old 11th May 2010, 15:01
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However, the company was still required to dispatch with a 60 minute alternate; they had craftily solved this problem by listing Narsasuaq as the alternate between Gander and Keflavik. This met the requirements as interpreted by the local FAA but, as you might imagine, there was no one who actually considered going to Narsasuaq for any reason.
Narsasuaq receives B757 aircraft on a regular basis (weather permitting)...and yes I've been there, many times over the years.
Therefore, your company, nor the FAA was not being unreasonable...
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Old 11th May 2010, 15:18
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This nonsense has been going on for the three decades I've been in this business.

Until something goes wrong.

Then try to find the:

1, Dispatcher

2. Air Traffic Controller

3. Management du-jour

4. Insert name here - ________ who thinks they have business in the Flight Deck.

When ALL FINGERS point to the Pilot in Command, as everyone else runs for cover.
Johny767 - I just completed a cycle with a VR based F/O who is soon to be promoted - that's exactly the one bit of warning/heads up I had for him!

Cheers,

'Taco
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Old 11th May 2010, 17:45
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Most of this discussion is fruitless, as we all work for different companies, in different countries, flying different aircraft types over different routes. The point should not be to argue about do's and dont's or yes or no, but to listen to the stories and learn.
Now, here is my part:
1. There was only one pack operable, perfectly acceptable acc. MEL. The flight was from Europe to DEL, routed over the Caucasus mountains and over the Hindu Kush. That was too much risk for me, as there are no procedures for flying unpressurized over high terrain, and the packs are somewhat unreliable on this a/c, anyway (s.abv.). After conferring with maintenance and them stating that any action would result in a major delay, I then called dispatch to have them plan a reroute, which resulted in a 50 min. longer flight time, as Iraq had a no-fly-zone than, and we did not have traffic rights for Iran. Announcing this fact to my co-pilot, with the maintenance guys overhearing this, they then come up with a quick solution of changing the PRV. Delay only 15 minutes.
2. Flight was planned to PHL, with a chance of low clouds around ETA. We took 50 minutes additional fuel and barely made it. Low clouds hinder visual approaches usually used by commuters for the small runways; with low clouds there will always be delays in PHL. We had fuel for 3 more minutes in the SPUDS holding when we were picked up for vectors to land.
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Old 12th May 2010, 02:17
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There is a lot of very good and informative postings and exchanges so far.
That was exactly the goal of starting this thread.

Companies names are not important. I just wanted to know if other airlines were having similar issues, and if so, how you all handle them.

I think it is very important to maintain the "Captains Authority" in these challenging economic times by using all the resources available, while remembering commercial interests of our companies.

But SAFETY should never be compromised under any circumstances.

I know the ash clouds are back in Europe, and will take the attention away from this thread somewhat, but please keep them coming.

Thanks for all the well thought out replies.
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Old 12th May 2010, 05:08
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>>>However, I noted the suggestion from SeniorDispatcher that the PIC authority does not emanate from FAR 91.3, but rather FAR 121.533. My read of several opinions from the FAA Chief Counsel leads me to affirm that Part 91 very much applies to Part 121 operations, and has been the deciding factor in quite a few decisions by NTSB administrative law judges and other courts. Part 91 is superceded by Part 121 operations only in cases where Part 121 is more restrictive or specific. FAR 121.533(b) provides more specific information regarding responsibility for planning and regulatory compliance; 121.533(d) specifies that the PIC is in command of the crew. Neither of these rules supercedes the requirement under FAR 91.3 that the designated PIC is the final authority as to the operation of the aircraft.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks for your comments, but a few clarifications are in order.

As far as your statement “…Part 91 very much applies to Part 121 operations…”, please note that I never made any general statement (or inference) to the contrary. Certain, in fact, many Part 91 regs do indeed apply to Part 121 ops. However, as you go on to note, “Part 91 is superceded by Part 121 operations only in cases where Part 121 is more restrictive or specific” and I’d submit that a close read of applicable FARs below indicates that to be precisely the case that supports my position.

§ 91.3 Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.

(a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

(b) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.

(c) Each pilot in command who deviates from a rule under paragraph (b) of this section shall, upon the request of the Administrator, send a written report of that deviation to the Administrator.

§ 121.533 Responsibility for operational control: Domestic operations.

(a) Each certificate holder conducting domestic operations is responsible for operational control.

(b) The pilot in command and the aircraft dispatcher are jointly responsible for the preflight planning, delay, and dispatch release of a flight in compliance with this chapter and operations specifications.

(c) The aircraft dispatcher is responsible for—

(1) Monitoring the progress of each flight;

(2) Issuing necessary information for the safety of the flight; and

(3) Cancelling or redispatching a flight if, in his opinion or the opinion of the pilot in command, the flight cannot operate or continue to operate safely as planned or released.

(d) Each pilot in command of an aircraft is, during flight time, in command of the aircraft and crew and is responsible for the safety of the passengers, crewmembers, cargo, and airplane.

(e) Each pilot in command has full control and authority in the operation of the aircraft, without limitation, over other crewmembers and their duties during flight time, whether or not he holds valid certificates authorizing him to perform the duties of those crewmembers.

§ 121.557 Emergencies: Domestic and flag operations.

(a) In an emergency situation that requires immediate decision and action the pilot in command may take any action that he considers necessary under the circumstances. In such a case he may deviate from prescribed operations procedures and methods, weather minimums, and this chapter, to the extent required in the interests of safety.
[/SIZE]


In a Part 121 operation (domestic/flag) , the FAR 91.3(a) verbiage is covered in greater detail by FAR 121.533(a)(b), with 121.533(b) adding the aircraft dispatcher as being jointly responsible with the PIC for the preflight planning, delay, and dispatch release of a flight in compliance with this chapter and operations specifications. FAR 121.533 continues to expand on the basic FAR 91.3(a) requirements by adding dispatcher-specific requirements in 121.533(c)(1)(2)(3), and PIC-specific requirements in 121.533(d)(e). Please also note that 121.533(d) limits PIC total authority to during flight time alone.

In a Part 121 operation (domestic/flag), the FAR 91.3(b) verbiage is covered in greater detail by FAR 121.557(a), with 121.557(b) adding dispatcher emergency authority. The reporting requirements of 91.3(c) are covered (with changes) in 121.557(c).

All I’m trying to point out here is that such differences in applicable regulatory structure are subtle nuisances that are commonly lost in the apparent airline management and flight crew zeal to apply the “KISS” philosophy in situations when it shouldn’t be. There’s another party involved in the airline safety process, and while the dispatcher doesn’t have the ultimate authority the PIC does (under 121.533(d)), that fact doesn’t render all the other FAR responsibilities the dispatcher does have as being moot points.

As I mentioned before, a proper awareness and understanding of these subtle nuisances is needed. PICs and dispatchers need to be looking for ways to enhance operational communications, and not to avoid them (or have them negated) based upon management and flight crew misunderstandings, misconceptions, or misinterpretations of the regulatory intent of the aforementioned FARs.

>>>Under the concept of operational control, the PIC and the dispatcher each have the authority to stop the flight, but neither has the authority to prevent the other from stopping the flight. This is the dual veto idea. If the dispatcher’s decision regarding fuel or MEL items is the more conservative, then it is final because he/she has that regulatory authority under US Code. However, if my decision is the more conservative, it is also final, because I also have that authority under the US Code…and because I am the guy who releases the brakes. In other words, if I want more fuel, the dispatcher cannot refuse it within the framework of operational control. Nor can the Director of Operations, etc.
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That said, there still needs to be communication between PIC and dispatcher with such fuel discussions/uplifts so that any valid concerns the PIC may have can be applied to other flights. The PIC is watching the “bubble” around their flight (and rightly so), but the dispatcher is also looking the big-picture systemic view of multiple bubbles to multiple destinations.

Please call us….
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Old 12th May 2010, 16:36
  #39 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by svelte yelk
I couldn't care less if the most junior cabin crew member has the right to decline accepting an aircraft, provided that the Captain is the only one with the right to accept an aircraft.
So you are away from base, on a multi-sector day, and a hydraulic guage fails (as an example). As Captain, you examine the MEL and agree with the provisions of relief, and the MEL is then written up & approved correctly according to the regs.

A Flight attendant looks over your shoulder as you sign the book, and says "If this aircraft is broken, I'm not flying on it - and neither is any of the crew I am working with."

... and you are OK with this?

If the Captain takes the decision to fly the aircraft - as a question of authority according to this thread - who should be able to gainsay that decision?
An engineer?
A dispatcher?
A Flight Attendant?
A Passenger?
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Old 12th May 2010, 16:43
  #40 (permalink)  
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Certainly am - crew member off-loaded, operate with minimum crew OR ring company and leave it to them.- simples.
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