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Positioning crew to remote destinations

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Positioning crew to remote destinations

Old 26th Sep 2011, 15:15
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Positioning crew to remote destinations


This question arose from reading a thread on the Flight Deck forum. It said that an airline needed to use a replacement crew to operate the return sector from a remote destination. The reasons involved are not relevant to this thread: I simply want to understand how this is operationally possible.


- that this is not a base, so there are no stand-by crew;
- that the crew need to fly / be flown to the point of departure and you can't drive them there;
- that the airline has no imminent flights to the point of departure before the sector is to be operated (as I realise that's the easiest way to position crew)

...how does the airline get them there?

Presumably, they would not operate an empty aircraft, as you'd then have one aircraft too many and no one to bring it back?!

Are the crew 'chartered' out on a smaller aircraft? Are you reliant on another airline having a flight that the crew can fly on?

I realise there are flight time limitation issues and of course substantial delays. I'm not seeking an explanation of them here!
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Old 26th Sep 2011, 16:09
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I think the airline would normally send the crew on the next available passenger flight to the said airport, or an airport close by then a taxi ride to the airport. I've never heard of a flight positioning out empty to drop off crew, but I would guess it's probably happened before! Never heard of airlines chartering business jets etc for crew, but maybe that's happened too. I think I'm right in thinking Jet2 (or Dart Group?) own a PA31 which shuttles crew around the UK.
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Old 26th Sep 2011, 16:21
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If theres an empty company aircraft going to where the crew are needed, obviously that would be first choice (no cost). On occasion, I've managed to get crew onto a jumpseat with another carrier via an ops to ops call (to return the favour when required. My previous companies have all had interline agreements (preferential seat rates) with major airlines (and taxi / coach companies) so interline travel would be next choice (wether direct or with flight connections). Full fare tickets with lo-cost carriers are frequent (EZY / RYR etc). During ATC strikes we once even hired a coach with 2 drivers and popped a crew into Europe via the Channel Tunnel. Have positioned crews to pick up aircraft on Kingairs, PA31's, Citations (normally a twin engined aircraft)to avoid impacting the flying programme(sometimes delays can go on for days during peak periods)... even positioned an engineer and some spare parts on Challenger Jet (UK - Africa) because it was the quickest way.... as long as there is budgetary approval, anything is possible....

Duty time does have an impact... as long as the crew are well rested (normally a rest period equal to the duration of the journey ) it works out.
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Old 26th Sep 2011, 18:10
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During the volcanic ash cloud drama , earlier last year , I was asked to present myself at London Gatwick to travel to Bergamo, near Milan , to rescue an A320.The airspace was closed so we went in a taxi to Newhaven Harbour on the south coast to catch a ferry to Dieppe in France. There a coach took us to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris from where we took another taxi into town to the rail station behind the Gare de Lyons where we were supposedly booked on a night sleeper over the Alps to Milan. The train station was just closing as we arrived and the Milan express was just pulling out two hours earlier than our tickets indicated.
After finding a hotel , the Company dispatched a minibus from Milan to pick us up - it arrived two days later . No-one was sober by this time and the driver was sent to bed for a midnight departure . After an 800 km. night ride we arrived in Bergamo and did a couple of sectors before we were out of duty time and time to come home!
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Old 26th Sep 2011, 19:36
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Quiet a common occurance but each situ can be different. Airlines don't tend to use prop jobs such as PA31 because they are Perf C and take ages so tend to use smaller citations, sometimes King Air if only a few crew. That said i've also chartered two Challengers to get a DC10 crew from BGI to MBJ.
For a scheduled airline the easiest option can be cancel a rotation so the inbound crew can be used but this also means leaving the aircraft on ground whilst they take rest. Airlines will do anything and everything to find a way. In my current Company we've hired a biz jet just to avoid a 2 hr delay. Like i said each situ and airline is different
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Old 27th Sep 2011, 14:43
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backofthedrag, its possible we worked for the same company - I seem to remember that incident also!
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Old 29th Sep 2011, 21:45
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We were regularly positioned by smaller charter planes. Gulfstream lll from BGI to Samford, B1900c & D,Twin Otter and 227AC Metro around the islands of the Caribbean and also Shrike Commander for flight deck only,also around the islands. We were also positioned on regular flights too..if there was time.
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Old 1st Oct 2011, 14:02
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There are a vast range of different ways to organise this, limited only by the ingenuity of the operations department, with a cost-vs-revenue mindset applied to it. Some of the more noteworthy ones include :

A Netherlands carrier (maybe Martinair) some years had a range of low frequency/weekly operations from Amsterdam to various Caribbean islands. It would have been inconvenient to have crews stop for a week, and the inter-island schedules were not favourable, so they actually purchased a turboprop, I think it was a Bandeirante or Brasilia, and used it to move crews around. Of course, it was not just flight deck, but whole widebody cabin crews as well that they were taking.

Actually diverting scheduled flights to position crews or engineers. An example came to light in a press report when a BMI flight from East Midlands to Malaga was diverted to stop at Jersey to deliver an engineer and parts/tools to another BMI AOG aircraft there.

Chartering light aircraft has had a chequered background, there was a bad accident at Glasgow about 10 years ago to a Cessna 404 carrying a full 757 crew, which really put the kibosh on such arrangements afterwards.

My local taxi company here in London has a contract with companies at the airport and the drivers tell me that they sometimes get "brilliant" journeys moving crew - North of England being about the limit of their range. More than once they have apparently managed to combine the trip with repatriating some mishandled pax luggage upcountry as well !
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