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-   -   Are we putting profit before safety? (https://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/61172-we-putting-profit-before-safety.html)

pilotofjet 26th Jul 2002 22:35

Are we putting profit before safety?
easyJet have introduced a new crewing system that is SUPPOSED to save the company a fortune. No problem so far.

However the said system rosters people on a four sector days to change crews four times, positions crews all over the network and generally causes delays and longer hours because half a crew is waiting for the other half who are arriving on a delayed service. On top of this, crew integrity is compromised because half the time the pilots do not know who the cabin crew are , and vice versa, because we are chopping and changig all the time.

All I can say to the people concerned is, if you think the old system was expensive to run, JUST TRY HAVING AN ACCIDENT.

Notso Fantastic 26th Jul 2002 22:40

British Airways pioneered this system in the UK and appears to think it a stunning success!

Wino 26th Jul 2002 23:05

Many airlines no longer co pair the back end with the front end as flight attendants and pilots have different rules governing how much they can work. It is better from the airline's point of view to maximize the productivity of each work group rather than working both to the lowest common denominator, and the sums are large at the end of the month.

As for the cost of having an accident. That is why airlines have insurance. I hate to say it, but its just a balance sheet item to management and as long as they don't run too many of them together in too short a span and thereby attract regulatory interest its no big deal to them. The public doesn't care either. They shop based on price and convienience.


Bally Heck 26th Jul 2002 23:46


The cost of having an accident apart from the human tragedy, is very often an airline going out of business. Where are Pan Am, TWA, Valujet, Swissair, etc now? A UK airline can get one hour more out of cabin crew per duty than they can get out of flight deck crew. If they are rostering to maximums like this to draw the last drop of blood, then they surely will have an accident.

Aircrews, both flight deck and cabin, usually want to fly (it earns them money), they usually want to be productive (job security), and they usually want to have a life (dont we all). If the crews are happy with the rostering, then it is probably a good safe system. If they want to work more, then it is probably inefficient. If they are fatigued, unhappy and permanantly knackered, then I personally don't want to be flying with or on that airline.

Wino 27th Jul 2002 00:03

All the airlines you listed are either bigger than ever or were poorly managed. (VALUJET is now Airtran, bigger than ever) TWA is AA. Swissair and PANAM fell victim to very poor management. Swissair squandered their money and franchise trying to grow via Sabena and other stupid moves that drained the life blood out of the airline.

I know of no airlines that have gone out of business as a result of an accident. The dip in pax booking was tracked and found to last about 2 weeks (which coincided with the length of news coverage) even in cases where there was clear cost cutting to the point where safety was degraded and the airline was was shut down by the authorities(specifically valujet, who is currently kicking Delta's ass in Atlanta).

PANAM had a problem because of a continuing fear of terrorism, since PANAM was THE symbol of America overseas. PANAM made the most money when it was crashing the most jets. At one point they crashed 5 in about a year (all 707s) and made huge profits that year.

I hate to shatter your illusions but that is life in big business. The man in the board room doesn't know any of the people that will wind up in the smoking hole. They are just numbers on a page. No airline competes on claims of "safety" Its simply a can of worms they don't want to open. If they did, then all aircraft would have predictive windshear, HUDS, enhanced GPWS, TCAS etc. The facts are that untill forced to by the government most airlines don't install such things. Eastern Airlines used to order its aircraft without AUTOPILOTS. Rickenbacker said, I pay them to fly, I won't pay for a autopilot as well. The 2 Jets (707 and DC-8) that ran into each other over brooklyn in the 60s that lead to the 250kts below 10 regulations because 1 of them didn't have DME and over shot the fix. Why no DME? It cost money... Air Inter in Stousburg: No GPWS what so ever in an A320!

Sorry dude, I can continue with the list if you like, but a crash doesn't impact an airline's balance sheet very much at all. The aircraft is insured. Infact, in a case where the airline is having hard times it can help the balance sheet by removing the aircraft from service without having to continue to pay the mortgage. Instead the insurance company pays off the note and the airline is now smaller.


Bally Heck 27th Jul 2002 00:47

Wino.............you've gone of thread old chap. I may beg to differ with you on a few points, particularly that the man in the boardroom who "doesn't know any of the people that will wind up in the smoking hole" presumably flies occasionally on his own aircraft.......however, the thread is about rostering, and your comments about being poorly managed does strike a chord.

To thrash aircrews to within a minute of their permissible duty hours (or over) is poor management, and very few UK (or Irish) airlines still do it. The ones that do are pretty well identified on other threads in these hallowed forums.

A rather worrying thing which I read today is that you chaps in the US are allowed to work duties in excess of 16 hour duties. That is considerably more than we poofy limeys are legally permitted to do, and rest assured we get pretty knackered at those girly limits.

Would I be wise to avoid travelling with US carriers because their crews work too hard?

Wino 27th Jul 2002 01:39

You would most certainly be wise to avoid the non union or weak union ones for just that reason. Stronger Unions tend to protect their employees. AA Pilots have limits that are actually similar to CAP 371 with a certain amount of circadian rythm protection (which we are hoping to improve on this time around).

However, even without union protection the 16 hour duty limit, is overlaid usually by an 8 hour flight limit. So you have to be really poorly managed or abusive to hit the 16 hour limit (and many airlines are).

At the top of the list for abusive scheduling practices would be the nonsked or charter operators. And that holds true on both sides of the Atlantic. Its just the nature of the beast. However, accident statistics have not really pointed to worse safety records, atleast the last time I looked which was about 2 years ago.

And good scheduling practices do not always make for more rested crews. The airlines that pay their crews well and treat them better may allow some of them to pack more "living" into their life resulting in their being more fatigued than the person who is chained to his aircraft. Fatigue is a very funny thing to try and pin down.

Many of the objections to copairings wind up being the disruption of the crews. Who are we laying over with etc. When we used to pair for the whole month, you really got to know each other and the layovers became very enjoyable. That goes away when you change crews every leg, and certainly detracts from the enjoyment of the job, but it can be argued that non copairing improves safety because it tends to make people more by the book. When you fly together for an extended period of time, despite the best efforts you can drift away from SOPs in the free and easy work envirnment as you do what "just works." When you fly the first time all you have is SOPs... Now you get into the discussion of the value of SOPs...


dik dastardly 27th Jul 2002 01:44

going back to the rostering system..BA pioneered it but with turnarounds in excess of 1 hour. Not 20 mins. I would have thought that so many changes and such short turnarounds must be a nightmare.
Last I heard was that this was changing due to the number of complaints and delays caused. Sounds like somebody is listening.

Bally Heck 27th Jul 2002 02:40

Funny thing, rostering in airlines. I work for a charter airline Wino. But really we do a schedule. Same flights, week after week, during the summer season. And to be honest, the rosters aren't too bad. Lots of time off, lots of work. A reasonable balance. Few of us complain.

But......rostering in airlines. So....I have an airline. I have X number of aircraft. Therefore I need 5 or 6 or 7 times X crews.

I have a Fire Service (or police, or hospital, railway operator, or car factory, or whatever, shift working) therefore I need Y number of crews.

Funny thing is that people in these industries can tell you what they are doing during Christmas 2003. I can't tell you what I am doing this time next month.

What is the problem with airlines that they cant predict what crews are doing four weeks hence, but the rest of the world can predict more than a year hence.

Rocket science = incomprehensible formulae.

Rostering = For 1 aircraft you need three crews (or whatever) a day.

It is not rocket science.

(Sorry. Very slightly off thread)

Wino 27th Jul 2002 03:01


I did the charter thing too (Airworld, Flying Colours, JMC, Apple Vacations) and the charter company's know their flying schedule much further in advance than the scheduled airlines do. Yet they are chronically incapable of scheduling a pissup in a brewery...

The flights are set years in advance. There is never a change of guage so why can't they schedule? They should hand you your schedule the day you are hired for the next decade or so <G>....

As near as I can figure, the deliberately screw up the scheduling so pilots can get in an uproar and than they can say they fixed something. Funny thing though, they never actually get around to fixing it.

I have a theory about drug testing of pilots. I suspect that drug testing was implemented to make sure that the pilots never got the big picture, becuase they must be smoking something illegal up in management...


blueball 27th Jul 2002 03:18

If it's legal , Shut up and fly the trip, otherwise quit and let somebody that has the desire to be a professional do it!

jumpseater 27th Jul 2002 04:21

blueball, perhaps a professional would pay a little more attention to detail than you have, legality is not the issue here and I'm not sure any of the above have commented on it. The issue is the efficiancy or otherwise of rostering patterns and their potential impact on safety! do keep up old chap :D

Wino 27th Jul 2002 04:41

Blueball sounds like management to me.

Doesn't matter whether its safe. If its legal you take the plane or are fired....

BANANASBANANAS 27th Jul 2002 05:38

Just to get back to the point of the thread

"Are we putting profit before safety?"

Whats a profit? To the best of my knowledge we have never made a profit.

zippyz 27th Jul 2002 08:59

Is this an answer to the question?
Ladies and Gents,
The thread was started to garner opinion on whether we in the airline industry are putting profit before safety.
It was asked with relevance to Flight and Duty time limitations and the rostering of a single crew for a full days flying. There are a number of issues raised as side lines in the replies we have seen so far but the inital question still hasn't been answered.
The originator was referring to the easyJet system currently prevailing with a number of individual crew members changing in and out of the crew during a multisector day. The Carmen system is supposed to be an all singing, all dancing rostering system it is supposedly successfully used by a number of airlines around the world. The rostering software is not the subject of the question however, the swapping of crew members and excessive positioning is.

"However the said system rosters people on a four sector days to change crews four times"

First and foremost, SAFETY: We are all highly trained, and at eJ the training is as good and better than anywhere else, to operate as a crew within our respective roles. It should make no difference to a crews operational effectiveness if members are changed in or out during the day, as long as there is sufficient time to meet the requirements of airmanship and safety regarding crew briefing, flight preparation, TAFs, Fuel load, Wx, NOTAMS, Cabin Prep, Pax safety etc. If this cannot be achieved within a 20 minute turnaround scheduled then so be it.. that means DONT RUSH .. it means do your job properly and to hell with the schedule, this is the only point at which crew changing becomes a safety issue and that issue is immediately resolved with a conscientous approach to your duties. Our prime responsibility is to our passengers safety, airmanship, flying discipline, operational effectiveness etc etc etc. lowest of all priorities is on time performance. If management want to try a system like this then give it a shot, do your best to meet the targets .. just do you job properly and if the OTP falls away then let management address it.

"positions crews all over the network and generally causes delays and longer hours because half a crew is waiting for the other half who are arriving on a delayed service."

The issue of positioning crews all over the place is a whole different kettle of fish. What we on the ground see as ridiculous and unnecessary {and often the view from way up on the management mountain is so blurred we may well be correct} but the guts of it is that we are paid to fly (operate machines) and that involves positioning, unsocial hours, no public holidays, few free weekends, broken appointments, unexpected nights away etc etc. If the Company chooses to move people around everywhere, and as long as issues such as personal safety and comfort are adequately addressed, ie you don't send people on trains, busses, ferries etc then there should not be a problem. If these moves mean delays and disruption then it is up to the company to recognise and fix it. Sure it's a drag and quite demotivating to sit in a cab for 2 hours on the M1, but if it is burning duty time and the company is happy with that then that is their call,they are paying the bills. We are employees = tools to be used when and as the company sees fit, within the law. The issue of reasonable working hours is one for unions to negotiate as each company has different requirements of their employees, this however will only be achieved if unions are supported and are able to negotiate effectively.
The only really objectionable thing here is the use of maximum flying duty hours without regard for the time taken to position home etc but this is a result of the 'committee'approach to JAA (remember the camel) and the formulation of what is, in many opinions, a loosley worded, weak and unwieldy set of 'guidelines' = CAP371 without regard for circadian rythym, normal and reasonable lifestyles etc. What other shift worker (let alone one involved in a multitude of highly complex and challenging tasks) you can name works the ridiculous sorts of hours permitted under these guidelines. Who else would accept a 6 day duty period starting with 3 cinsecutive 0330 getups, then a 1720 sign on for an 8 hour duty period and back and to cap it all off (no pun ;) ) to finish with a split duty starting at 1940 and knocking off at 0700? Now go and enjoy your days off.. yeah right.. snore snore snore!
And I am sure there is much worse out there.

Bottom Line: we have FTLs laid down in law, both in CAP371 and each JAA compliant Company Operations Manual but most importantly you are again governed by your obligations to your professional status. This means that if you are too fatigued then DON'T FLY! Use your judgement and to hell with anyone elses opinion. You alone are the only person qualified to determine your fitness for duty. The conformation of an assigned duty period with the law is irrelevant.

"On top of this, crew integrity is compromised because half the time the pilots do not know who the cabin crew are , and vice versa, because we are chopping and changig all the time."

With all due respect, my personal opinion is that this does not affect operational effectiveness or 'crew integrity' whatever that may be, perhaps the writer means cohesivness? While it is all well and good to be on first name terms with everyone, when it comes down to it that is not relevant to your performance of your assigned duties. CRM is about optmization of information flow throughout the crew, eg teaching F/Os to be assertive when appropriate, teaching Cabin Staff to speak up when necessary and Captains to listen and make good decisions. Names are not critical to this process although it makes a much more pleasant working environment and everyone I work with prefers it that way.

I am sure that some of the things I have written here are contentious but they are my opinions and freely expressed so spare me a flame war and just post a reasoned answer, preferably only from Pilots, Cabin Crew or those actively involved in rostering. Are we putting profit before safety? I don't believe so.

Edited for my lousy typo's :D

BOAC 27th Jul 2002 09:33

Excellent post, zippyz, and this:

"If this cannot be achieved within a xx minute turnaround scheduled then so be it.. that means DONT RUSH .. it means do your job properly and to hell with the schedule, ...."

is so right. It does, of course, depend on any particular company's response (perceived or actual) to a Captain who 'disrupts' the schedule accordingly?

Bally Heck 27th Jul 2002 10:31

What exactly is this new system?

Does it really "rosters people on a four sector days to change crews four times, positions crews all over the network and generally causes delays and longer hours because half a crew is waiting for the other half who are arriving on a delayed service"?

Do not Easy Jet in general fly base to base?

Can anyone give a more detailed concept of the rostering system being discussed? Surely any manager is not going to tolerate a system which which causes delays, disruption and added expense, even if he doesn't give a toss about safety!

Capt Homesick 27th Jul 2002 11:27

Swapping crew memebers during a duty doesn't seem very cost-efficient to me- our SOP includes briefing for the entire crew (pointy end and cabin). If you have to repeat this every sector as the crew changes, doesn't it erode any potential time savings?

The Puzzler 27th Jul 2002 11:35

Puzzle me this....Zippyz and BOAC,

Why do you think we go to the crew room to have a pre flight briefing? Why waste money on them when we can do all our pre flight briefs on board the aircraft? Did you stop to think of the distractions encounterd when you're on a 25 minute turnaround with a fast approaching slot and you're already 30 minutes late? And then the No1 tells you that one of his/her crew will run out of hours on the next sector because they've done 3 sectors already on top of positioning in from Timbuctoo:eek: Can you start to see where I'm coming from? On board the aircraft, on short turnarounds, is not the place for a full pre flight brief. There is no need to do it, it does not add to flight safety, it has been introduced at eJ purely to save money and is therefore, in this case, putting cost before safety.

There are numerous safety issues in addition to the one I have listed here but as they are unique to eJ's SOP's I wont bore you with them on this thread. Suffice to say that to follow our own SOP's is nigh on impossible:rolleyes:

411A 27th Jul 2002 12:41

Profit before safety...depends.
IF the crew (pointy end or cabin) are unduly rushed in their respective duties all the time, due to changes, yes safety is compromised.

OTOH, if cockpit and cabin are interchanged on a regular basis, just why would this result in compromised safety? Pilots do their brief as required, same for the cabin. To intregrate the brief of cockpit and cabin all the time is a complete waste of time, in my opinion. As each work to their respective standard procedures, there is no need to constantly brief together.

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