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London to Hong Kong...

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London to Hong Kong...

Old 17th Mar 2021, 04:26
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London to Hong Kong...

If I have understood correctly, a colleague pilot will soon “ride” from London to Hong Kong and upon landing there, get into the flight deck and after the pax exchange, fuel, etc, operate back. Then have 5 days off. I understand the attempt to avoid the quarantine, but would not any one’s body already be significantly exhausted after being on an aircraft for the 12+ hours? I love flying, but I doubt I would like to be the one getting into the hot seat on such operations, nor if I were one of the crew to take it down, would I be overly confident in the other crew to bring me back with sufficient safety margin. The anticipation of having 5 days off, won’t help much on that return flight if anything should go wrong. what pressure could the flight crew feel if he/she didn’t feel up to the task upon landing at HKG and having to take the controls at turnaround?

Is this the new normal for long haul? Will airlines want to try to keep this going after the lockdowns?

any experiences?
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 05:33
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I could be wrong, but I think the ME3 have been doing this sort of thing for quite a while.
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 06:17
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Have you seen the crew rest accomodations on modern long-haul aircraft?

Not exactly a Hilton - but enough to make Navy swabs (especially from the Silent Service) a little jealous. And they have to sleep that way every night!

Of course, it depends on how well one can sleep on an aircraft at all. I'm easy - flying SLF, I've been known to nod off at about the outer marker, and only wake up when the wheels hit the tarmac.

https://simpleflying.com/crew-rest-areas/
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 06:29
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Heavy crew both ways so doubt there’s enough bunk space for everyone ie the operating crew will have relief crews resting.

However business class will obviously be the next best thing for the non op crew.
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 06:46
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National authorities issue all sorts of exemptions these days. Even on narrow-body aircraft with no rest compartments, you can get permission for the crew to take their rest on board so as to avoid quarantine in their destination or upon return. That's exactly how a double-digit number of EU carriers flew to China to transport face masks and protective gowns last year.
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 06:46
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I’m glad I stuck with the 738. Seeing the world is one thing, but just seeing it through windows is another altogether.
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 07:34
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Originally Posted by 70 Mustang View Post
Is this the new normal for long haul? Will airlines want to try to keep this going after the lockdowns?
Concerning, isn't it?
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 07:42
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This was actually not unusual with London based CX crew back in the late 80's early 90's....commuting down / over to HKG, before operating back....

They put a stop to it after a while...
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 08:57
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Even if the authority gives an exemption. Such duties should never be accepted.
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 09:32
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Sounds very unappealing . Regulatory Authorities have relied upon professional and mature handling of rest periods before operating. Glory days saw us "riding" or' Dead Heading' (as we called it) or 'Commercialing' as my American cousins called it before operating but at least 12 hours rest was required, in adequate accommodation before the next operating duty.

Operating directly after DH would mean that the entire cycle was subject to be within pretty strict Flight Time Limitation and minrest after the cycle would be based upon the entire Duty period. DH after operating could go on forever but again, the entire cycle would dictate the rest period.

To suggest that one is adequately rested before operating by being stuffed in a crew bunk or even Business or First class set is a bit of a stretch to me. Then to operate a just as long a period at the stick & face a challenging approach at the end of it is really asking for trouble.

How we wiggle round the rules and regs when needs must eh ? Whatever happened to the 'Safety first' principle ?

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Old 17th Mar 2021, 09:43
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If it's the airline I am thinking about the authority has given exemption for "Extended FTLs" of the sort described, and the crews have been doing similar rotations, for the best part of a year to various destinations in the Far East..

The way it appears to work is one augmented crew operate out (so it's probably the normal flight deck complement for that sector) whilst a second crew take zero part in the operation and get maximum rest on the outbound sector.

After the turn the rested crew run the operation back, but augmented+ with 4 pilots instead of the possibly more usual three for that sector. The outbound crew are stood down.

As pattern_is_full has pointed out the crew rest on most of the more modern Long Haul types is more than adequate and for the off duty crew I think one or more zones of the passenger cabin, presumably/preferably First, is kept completely clear of any passengers being carried to allow undisturbed rest...

If the outbound sector is a night one, as is often was for LHR-HKG, leaving the UK late evening, then outbound resting crew will be trying to sleep at the normal time on their body clock - everybody is different but I know I never struggled for Z's when I took crew rest either in a bunk or passenger seat ex-UK with those sort of rest timings.

Originally Posted by SaulGoodman View Post
Even if the authority gives an exemption. Such duties should never be accepted.
I understand some of the comments above but from what I've heard from some of those who have volunteered to work these sort of trips/patterns it's turned out to be not as fatiguing as some of the duties they've performed in "normal times"...it also has the advantage of avoiding some potentially very unpleasant and in themselves very fatiguing conditions in some government quarantine facilities downroute....

Will airlines want to try to keep this going after the lockdowns?
Not if it means blocking off a First class/club class cabin zone to allow for crew rest. That would cause a major loss of revenue.

Last edited by wiggy; 17th Mar 2021 at 10:09.
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 09:50
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In the early seventies I had to renew my (RAF) Hong Kong (Kai Tak) clearance for the Britannia. I did this on an RAF VC10, which comprised of a passenger ride from Brize Norton to Hong Kong, on the flight deck to watch the landing in Hong Kong and then in the back of the aeroplane for the return journey to Brize Norton. I seem to remember I did six or seven sectors without getting off the aircraft. I do know I was totally knackered and very hungry when I arrived back at Brize!
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 10:27
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Originally Posted by 70 Mustang View Post
I’m glad I stuck with the 738. Seeing the world is one thing, but just seeing it through windows is another altogether.
I guess you haven't noticed that the world is different place at the moment.

Do not fear, it's not the new normal.
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 10:39
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We're doing this from the UK with an alleviation from the CAA to get round Covid rules in place in HKG. It won't be allowed under *normal circumstances . . . . (*famous last words)
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 12:01
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I'm as sceptical as the next person about how companies will behave but I think the sight of e.g. 12+ First Class seats or even 12+ Club seats/an entire zone being blocked off on two long haul sectors will provide the accountants with enough leverage to ensure normal circumstances return.

(though as you say "famous last word")

Last edited by wiggy; 17th Mar 2021 at 12:18.
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 12:56
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Seeing as it requires 2x the number of crew it OBVIOUSLY will not become “normal” after the pandemic. Having 1 crew in a hotel is significantly cheaper than the 2 crew option. Unless you have minimum wage crews staying in the Ritz downroute. The CAA are very hot on these extended flight time limitations sectors too, they do not see it as “normal” in any way.
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 15:25
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I have done mainland Europe to Atlanta up & down with a coffee a cold carpark to get some fresh air during the turnaround (I did the first leg). It was very unexpected "one-off" call. Came home, immediatly puked the catering out. It wasn't the companies idea but it ended up this way because sometimes... things happen... and this was a solution.

The bizar aftermath was that some fellow pilots actually liked the idea as opposed to spending their time in boring hotels... but why these pilots want to fly intercontinental and prefer such "no-hotel-just-go-back-home" lifestyle... I don't know?

All it takes is a couple of unfit calls, sickness leaves and the idea will be banned quickly. But we're a funny bunch of people, I'll admit that..
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 15:44
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I know what you mean but I think (from what I've heard) one big issue that is driving this type of rostering ATM is what happens at the destinations if the crew actually does get off..e.g. the nature of testing on arrival, the quality of quarantine facility, and the actual nature of the quarantine - being locked into a very basic room for 24 or 48 hours won't float many boats..

I did one down route quarantine, locked in room (literally) for 48 hours at the start off the epidemic in a decent hotel and it sure took the shine off what until then had been a very attractive slip/layover..I'd hate to have done it in a more basic facility.

Sure a heck wouldn't want to fly those sort of trips as a matter of routine though.

Last edited by wiggy; 17th Mar 2021 at 16:21. Reason: spolling...
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 16:21
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I’ve done nearly a dozen of these trips and similar and found them to be tiring but less fatiguing than a 2 crew Atlantic trip. It helps that everything is set up for maximum rest on board, something that isn’t the case on a normal trip. I found it works better without cabin crew, as the less people on board the better. Would I want to do it with pax on board? No.
However, as cargo only with minimum crew, I was beginning to see the attraction of cargo flying full time.
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Old 17th Mar 2021, 17:49
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With the greatest of respect, the aircraft which are operating these flights are normally the newest which in turn has much better air conditioning than in years gone by so you get off less fatigued than in, for example, a 747.

These flights are only in place due to the restrictions down route. To get off in the Far East at the moment isn’t a nice position to be in and anyone I know who’s done it would much rather stay on board.

As others have said, these flights are a lot less nackering than a transatlantic and usually a lot more fun and no difficult, sick or late passengers!
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