3 Links I Love: Selling SkyMiles, One Pilot Onboard, Voices of Dispatchers

Links I Love

This Week’s Featured Link

Delta SkyMiles Investor Presentation – September 14, 2020EDGAR
First it was United, now Delta is using its loyalty program as collateral for a big loan. I’ve skimmed through this, and there’s nothing crazy that stands out, but it’s still a worthy read.

Image of the Week: This is the new stunning canyon art in the new Salt Lake City terminal that opened this week. Here’s a report from someone on the ground.

Two for the road

A320 replacement should be able to fly with only one pilotAirways
There has been talk about a single pilot large commercial aircraft for many years. Airbus appears to be pushing hard for that to be a viable option in the future.

9/11: Voices of the Aircraft Dispatchers$Amazon Prime$
Here’s an hour-long interview with several American and United dispatchers as they walk you through what happened from their personal experience on 9/11. It’s tough to watch. Oh, and yes, it requires a subscrition to Amazon Prime, but is there anyone who doesn’t have that?

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26 comments on “3 Links I Love: Selling SkyMiles, One Pilot Onboard, Voices of Dispatchers

  1. The canyon art is very cool, but I still prefer the “LED tunnel” (they really need to come up with a better marketing name for that) at DTW. The light and music show with that is relaxing, interesting, and even trippy at times, and makes for a fun interlude when connecting between concourses. I always expect to walk into a Rainforest Cafe after I leave that tunnel.

    While we’re discussing art at airports, I’ve always been disappointed with the art at ATL, especially in the underground walkways between terminals (for those who choose not to take the tram). The displays of sculptures and art aren’t horrible, but they are very staid, boring, and underwhelming, especially combined with the worn and institutional-looking walls, floors, and ceilings; in short, they look like an underfunded art museum that is past its prime. I wish ATL would take a page from other Delta hubs like DTW and SLC and do something much more interesting and outside of the box, perhaps some kinetic sculptures, tracks with moving balls, or other concepts that are much more immersive.

    1. it is kind of keeping with the overall vibe of ATL though: bunch of double-wides linked together with a tornado shelter that also functions as a tunnel/tram.

  2. Oh, and yes, it requires a subscription to Amazon Prime, but is there anyone who doesn’t have that?

    I don’t have one & I don’t ever see myself getting one. To me it’s a waist of money.

  3. Thought for sure that you’d link to TPG’s interview with Gary Kelly. Nothing terribly groundbreaking there to be fair, but was an interesting interview, as he explicitly acknowledged that Southwest can/should do things differently now vs. even 20 years ago, that their positioning is more competitive with legacies than with (U)LCCS, and that dropping change fees revises other-airline costs upward in a way that makes Southwest easier to compete.

  4. I have been flying on commercial jets for 54 years.  My favorite aircraft was the Boeing 727 as it had 3 pilots and 3 engines.  I will NEVER board a one pilot commercial aircraft.  Pilots have been known to get sick, and even die in the cockpit.  Who would fly the aircraft when the pilot goes to the bathroom?   Passengers who value their life should not board a one pilot commercial aircraft.

    1. You are wise, Mary. No amount of technology can replace the experience of a well-trained, highly experienced pilot. There are certain in-flight abnormal and emergency situations which require two pilots. No algorithm can interpret the weather ahead or run a critical checklist when the flying pilot is completely engaged (physically and mentally) in an emergency situation.

      My airline, Delta, is moving toward an all-Airbus fleet. After our current fleet consolidation, the only Boeing aircraft remaining on the Delta ramp will be the 737. Everything else will be an Airbus (A-220, A-320, A-330, and A-350). Many Delta Pilots are concerned about this from both operational and safety standpoints. The movement of our airline toward a single-pilot cockpit will be closely monitored. We will ensure that our contract with Delta ensures at least two Delta pilots, current and qualified, occupy the flight deck of every Delta jet, for the safety of all occupants, which we consider sacrosanct.

      You may have noticed that Delta will furlough nearly 2,000 pilots, beginning October 1st. Please also note that no other of the Big 5 airlines are furloughing pilots. This is because Delta has declared war on its pilot group. Airlines in worse economic condition than Delta (both United and American) have not used the Covid crisis to punish their pilots. Delta has. This has created unprecedented animosity between Delta and its pilots, the effects of which will linger for years. So if ANYONE believes that Delta’s move toward an all-Airbus fleet, using single-pilot operations, will see fruition…..let’s say I highly doubt it.

      1. In response to Anonymous:  I am retired from Continental Airlines (now UA).  United has announced it is laying off 2850 pilots, and over 6,000 F/As starting Oct. 1. Good luck at Delta.   I occasionally flew Delta on passes, and they were very nice to my children and myself.   I also found their Reservation Agents very cooperative.

        1. Mary….Unlike Delta, United and their Pilots have found a way to mitigate those furloughs. I believe (but not certain) that the United Pilots are voting on the agreement. Unfortunately, Delta has so far taken a far more Draconian path, as I described above. Thank you for the kind words concerning your experiences flying Delta over the years. We ALL work hard at providing a positive travel experience, which makes the current Delta Management intransigence even more hurtful.

    2. Marytravels – I’m not taking a position, but a single pilot aircraft would have to have the ability to be controlled from the ground in an emergency.
      There’s plenty of precedent for that with drones, so presumably it can be done. But of course, there are real safety concerns.

      1. All….Federal Air Regulation 91.3 clearly states that the Pilot-In-Command has full authority over and full responsibility for the aircraft, including during an emergency. No one on the ground can usurp that authority, even if only one pilot remains due to incapacitation of the other pilot.

        FAR 91.3 continues by saying that the Pilot-In-Command may deviate from any other Federal Air Regulation in meeting the needs of the emergency. And it concludes that the Pilot-In-Command may be required by the Administrator of the FAA to file a report concerning the nature of the emergency and the steps taken to meet the emergency.

      2. I wonder if there were similar concerns expressed when the navigators and flight engineer positions were eliminated.

    3. I’m not going to say “never”, but with today’s technology I definitely wouldn’t want to board a mainline commercial aircraft with only one pilot. Beyond the concern if a pilot gets sick or has a medical emergency (which does happen on a regular basis), any aircraft that can be remotely controlled from the ground as a backup can be hacked, or the “control from ground” feature may not be operable when it is needed most). There’s also a safety factor in having two sets of eyes and two brains, especially in emergencies and bad weather, or even when there are things like flocks of birds/hot air balloons/VFR pilots in the airways that need to be avoided.

      That said, I’m okay having only a single pilot in very small commercial aircraft, such as the 9-seater Cessnas that do EAS flights, so long as their is no door to the cockpit… At least in situations like those, pax have a chance to recognize that the pilot is incapacitated and try to land the plane themselves.

  5. LOL I thought it was Walmart’s fault.

    You didn’t say anything about those shops except that they’re local and downtown. Those aren’t selling points. They have higher prices, less selection and are more of a pain to get to than Amazon. To the degree that stores offer a valuable in-store shopping, cultural or hang-out experience, hooray. Otherwise, customers are just picking the retailer that better meets their needs.

    1. Wow… I’m speechless. A country dependent on Amazon, Wal-mart, Target etc. is a real problem on so many levels. Yeah I get it, the public has spoken & they spend their money as they see fit, but we only look at the here & now & not what might result later by our choices.

  6. I personally don’t ever see planes going to single pilot. However, if they did, I could imagine seeing something like a dead mans switch like a train engineer would use. Like after a certain amount of inactivity the F/A’s would be automatically notified and maybe control passed to the ground. I would also imagine F/A’s going through some sort of training to operate the FMS so the autopilot could do it’s thing. It’s a scenario that could work, but I don’t see it happening nor do I want it to happen.

    1. We learned an important lessen on single piloted aircraft thanks to Robert Hayes & yes I am serious. Who knew Airplane! the best comedy film of all time could be a teaching tool.

  7. What are we going to see first?

    – commercial plane with just one pilot
    – fully electric commercial transport plane
    – supersonic passenger jet

    1. I suspect we’ll see single-pilot operate safely in cargo operations (Amazon, UPS, FedEx, etc) for quite a while before it switches over to passenger flights, and even then it will probably be with new airlines in developing countries first. American passenger airlines will be one of the last to switch. But Airbus needs to build in the functionality now for when each country authorizes it.

  8. I watched the documentary last night. It’s definitely worth one’s time! I was surprised at how (at the time) junior a couple of them were.

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