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Flight deck - CRM ?

Old 9th Jun 2011, 16:27
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Flight deck - CRM ?

I heard a rumour ... about a captain on a European airline flying a longhaul route who grumbled to the cabin crew because they brought the starter for his meal at the same time as the main course.

If this is true, then I would like to make two points. Firstly, maintaining the "professionalism" of the job is nothing to do with having a first class service in the flight deck: pilots who behave like this make us a laughing stock and worse amongst normal people, who conclude that somewhere around 1960 they lost contact with the real world. Secondly, the role of the cabin crew is fundamentally safety within a team that includes the pilots. Some passengers pay for a premium level of service, and the airline trains the crew in accordance with this. The cabin crew are not there to wait on the flight deck. The fact that they don't shouldn't be seen as a threat to your command authority: the fact that you expect them to betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of the nature of the airline operation.

However, I seriously doubt that a pilot with this attitude to his cabin crew would bother reading a thread on here under a CRM heading.
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Old 9th Jun 2011, 16:52
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One assumes from the tone of your message that you work for that part of Big Airlines where there seems to be simmering undercurrent of resentment among some cabin crew that they should have any communication with those crew members who are actually charged with flying the big hotel and are, therefore, primarily responsible for the safety of all on board.
The problem rarely arises in companies/flights where the crew is integrated and consider themselves one team. Any good captain is only too well aware of the pressures on his cabin crew.
Although this is a rumour site I would suggest the rumour you quote (even if genuine) seems intended merely to stir up a bit of aggro.
It is surely better to be looking to mend bridges than adding fuel to dying embers.
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Old 9th Jun 2011, 21:38
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Well said Scotbill.
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Old 9th Jun 2011, 21:55
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Young Paul

I heard a rumour ... about a captain on a European airline flying a longhaul route who grumbled to the cabin crew because they brought the starter for his meal at the same time as the main course.

If this is true, then I would like to make two points. Firstly, maintaining the "professionalism" of the job is nothing to do with having a first class service in the flight deck: pilots who behave like this make us a laughing stock

So since you've used the "P" word can I ask: In your professional opinion do you think it's the action of a professional to serve the starter and the main at the same time?


scotbill

I would suggest the rumour you quote (even if genuine) seems intended merely to stir up a bit of aggro.
Sadly I'm inclined to agree.
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Old 9th Jun 2011, 22:47
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Actually, I'm a pilot who doesn't fly for that airline, or any airline where the pilots feel they have a right to say what order food is brought into them, and who is severely embarrassed to feel he needs to justify this sort of behaviour from other pilots.
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Old 9th Jun 2011, 23:01
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Do you think it's the action of a professional to serve the starter and the main at the same time?
To whom?? The cabin crew aren't paid to wait on the pilots!!! It is not the job of the cabin crew to be professional waiters to the pilots. It is not the job of the pilots to expect to receive a professional waiter/waitress service. Or is it? What does the ops manual say? And "the starter and the main"?? In what other walk of life do people expect to be served a three course (or more) meal whilst at work??

Why do I raise it? Because I'm ashamed that people amongst the community that I am part of behave in this way, and would like maybe to embarrass some of them into behaving like they live in the 21st Century.
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Old 9th Jun 2011, 23:18
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Young Paul,

You neglected to mention whether or not the Captain was having a warm starter or just a salad?
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Old 9th Jun 2011, 23:25
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Er. There's a reason its called a "starter"
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Old 9th Jun 2011, 23:44
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I suspect Young Paul is heavily involved with a disenchanted member of cabin crew!

(Oh yes, nearly forgot, it definitely is the job of CC to provide food and drink to the flight deck - ever tried going back and helping yourself?).
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Old 10th Jun 2011, 00:54
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Paul, I am envious of you.

I am envious that your life seems so bereft of day to day problems, that you fill the void with anguish concerning something that you don't even know actually happened.

I want a life like that.

I am an old captain and I am prone to grumble from time to time.
(mainly from the time the aircraft settles in the cruise until the time it starts it's Earthward glide some hours later.)

I know that if I asked for my meal to be served in courses, the crew would laugh. They normally laugh at my bad jokes. They laugh at the same story I have told them umpteen times before, and they laugh when I moan and grumble.

Working as a team means that you do just that. People have to be flexible and accommodate different character traits within the group that they work with. Sometimes that means taking the time to understand the dynamics of a group and the individuals within it. A part of the subject that goes under the banner headline "CRM" is about understanding those differences and dynamics.

If a captain somewhere, wants his meal courses seperate, it may be because he is being humerous. It may be for a hygene reason. It may be because he is just a grumpy old git. But is it really important enough for you to get your knickers-in-a-knot over?

If you want to really set your ire on fire, just switch on Sky News, or read the Daily Mail. All sorts of stuff there that may be just as untrue, or badly reported.
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Old 10th Jun 2011, 18:36
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Young Paul

" In what other walk of life do people expect to be served a three course (or more) meal whilst at work??"

On a ship certain people would expect such a service.

The "Captain" for example.
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Old 10th Jun 2011, 20:01
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It interests me that I made a disidentified observation about what I consider to be a flight safety issue (placed in a flight safety forum), and the first response attempted to undisidentify it, and accused me of having an axe to grind. The only axe I have to grind is flight safety. But if the hat fits ....

As I said in a neighbouring post,
people talk about crew and flight deck "working as a team", but the impression that the cabin crew are basically waitresses and downroute entertainment is not really compatible with an understanding that they are part of the crew required for the safe operation of the airliner - it certainly doesn't accord them equal status as team members. "All part of one team" becomes nothing more than a slogan that is recited at the annual CRM training day to get a tick in the box.
It certainly is the role of the cabin crew to ensure that the pilots are fed and watered in the air - and also to confirm that they are still alive on a regular basis. However, the flight crew are part of the same team as the cabin crew. They are colleagues, not premium passengers.

The defence of privilege as part of the status quo by those with power doesn't have a pretty track record.
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Old 10th Jun 2011, 20:10
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Simply being on the same team does not make all the team members, equals.

There are different responsibilities and different qualifications that, together, provide the full range required for the safe, efficient and most of the time commercial operation of the aircraft.

My crew only feeds me a candy bar and a bottle of water if anybody bothers to bring even that and they are bored enough to start on them, so I have no experience with 3course meals.

However, I don't see it as a CRM failure to voice unhappiness about the service, IF your rumour has any truth to it. Why do you?
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Old 10th Jun 2011, 20:15
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PilotsOfTheCaribbean: You're right, I don't moan on the flight deck. I think that my job is a great way to earn a living. To be honest, the crew food is a bit rubbish, and it certainly doesn't come as a series of separate courses (unless you count a bag of snacks and another one of sandwiches as two courses). However, (as best I can tell) I get on well with the crew; I try and make sure I've spoken to all of them individually before we reach the aircraft, so I know a bit about them and they know I'm friendly and approachable (if something happens in the flight I need to know about it!); I help them clean the aircraft on the turnaround if I get time, and certainly when we're getting off; we have a laugh together; and if everyone's still smiling when we get back to the crew room then I consider it a successful day.

My knickers are, I suppose, knotted by this as a safety issue. I now have quite a few friends who work at the airline in question, and it worries me that lessons that other less worthy airlines generally learnt about CRM over a decade ago seem not to have penetrated in some places there. Lack of CRM can kill people. I don't want to hear that it's my friends. Or anybody else's.
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Old 10th Jun 2011, 22:14
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Sorry paul, but I am still at something of a loss to understand why you now consider this a safety issue? I know you alluded it as your secondary point, the primary one being that it somehow brought the whole profession into disrepute. You stated that:
Secondly, the role of the cabin crew is fundamentally safety within a team that includes the pilots.
Without doubt it is. However, I am still trying to reconcile how a captain who supposedly wanted his dinner served in stages, anyway compromised that role? There is nothing in your post that suggests it did. Neither can I see where the captains authority was either compromised or under threat?

You know, it takes all sorts.....as they say.

From what you have alleged might have happened somewhere, the worst scenario you can arrive at, is that some captain got grumpy about something fairly trivial, and in the process might have upset one or more of the other crewmembers.

If you are setting up a firing squad for that particular offence, you might as well use me for target practice! There has been more than one occasion in my professional life, when I have been sharper than I needed to be with someone, or a little less sensitive than perhaps I should have been. On more than one occaision I have had to apologise later, or buy a drink and make amends. It is part of the territory with being fallible and sometimes grumpy. I take some comfort in the fact that it is a reasonably rare occurrance, and not always a one way street.

So a captain somewhere might have a foible about wanting his dinner in seperate courses? I have diffficulty sharing your opinion that is somehow a serious indictment on the whole profession, moreso that it might in some way be a safety issue.

As I get older I realise that that the skill in this aspect of CRM is being able to rise to the challenges that different aspects of personality and character can sometimes present. Some people find it difficult to adapt to those changes. In my experience younger people (who often make up the larger portion of the junior crew) are, in fact much better and very good at rising to those challenges. Most, but certainly not all.

We all have faults. If somebodies only fault is that they have a requirement to eat their meal in seperate courses, I really have some difficulty with this as a "red flag" issue. How it affects safety is beyond me.
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Old 10th Jun 2011, 22:44
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The whole story from the OP sounds like a pointless winge from a disenchanted member of the CC who possibly has a 'chip' about Flight Deck as well.

If the flight deck are, in fact, feeding from First Class then it has to fit in with the F class service which, from aperitifs to liqueurs, can take up to three hours on long haul. It is a simple matter to serve starters to crew when the pax are having theirs as well, but, as in my last airline, if crew wanted First Class food they had to wait until the entire service was complete in the cabin, then the whole caboodle would arrive on one tray, if an F class pax wants a second starter instead of desert, for example, it is not acceptable to tell them it has all gone. That said, every airline that still provides a proper first class service have their own way of doing things. Again, in my last employer, we would rarely bother with F class food as we were catered for and could have a J class 'trayed' meal any time we liked. In some airlines it is a Crew Meal, take it or leave it.

From my experience any opting out of the team usually came from down the back, "We don't mix with Flight Deck", or "He may be the Captain in the FD but I'm the captain of the cabin and you are my crew" etc. both actual but very, very rare occurrences.

Crew food is not and should never be a flight safety issue, divisive behaviour may be and should be addressed immediately.

Last edited by parabellum; 10th Jun 2011 at 23:21.
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Old 20th Jun 2011, 12:56
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Try being a pilot with some operators in Vietnam. The company supply one free bottle of water to last all day. No in-flight service for the pilots who have to bring their own noodles for the FA's to heat up. Five sector days...
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Old 20th Jun 2011, 15:35
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For what it's worth ... the original incident was not being "raised" by crew at all: it was raised by me, a pilot. A crew member was reflecting on the airline he previously worked at, with the understanding from some captains there of what it meant to work as a team. In contrast to this, he remarked about the captain on this trip who, whilst he had actually been a decent person, seemed unengaged by what was happening in the cabin beyond expecting to be served his courses according to first class standards. It was me who was shocked enough by this to post.
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Old 24th Jun 2011, 18:43
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Another example of one of the "all sorts" that it takes, maybe?
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Old 24th Jun 2011, 19:25
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Well, not really. I think even the most "common sense" challenged of individuals, spoiling for an argument wherever they can find it, would see the distinction between that event, and......

I heard a rumour ... about a captain on a European airline flying a longhaul route who grumbled to the cabin crew because they brought the starter for his meal at the same time as the main course.
Even if both events were broadcast to the world, one wouldn't raise an eyebrow (normally,) whereas the other quite clearly would, and has.
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