Wednesday January 31, 2007
“After nearly five decades of strict adherence to a rule whose origin ”still is a matter of debate,“ Administrator Marion Blakey yesterday said US FAA is ready to ”seize the moment [and] close the book on Age 60.“
Well, thank goodness that’s all over! The stress in the industrial ‘Tectonic plates’ has been relieved and the company can start clearing up the mess as they reflect on the damage done and what has been achieved.
The Union (BASSA) sheepishly claims a victory and the company gets exactly what it needs. Perhaps a strange choice of words in the use of ‘needs’ to any Trade Unionist, but that is exactly the case in my opinion.
British Airways has been plagued by union problems that have their roots in the ’70s for years now. It is not that we have a mass of slavering communists imposing their will on a workforce so much as a the human’s natural reluctance to embrace change being bolstered by excessive union power.
Previous CEOs to Mr Walsh had been brought aboard to address profitability issues, or in Rod Eddington’s case, to address poor morale as well. I don’t think I spill any secrets when I say that Robert Ayling didn’t do the best of jobs and lost the support of the employees and the Board in the latter days of his time at BA.
No, Willie Walsh is cut from different cloth and his job has been widely acknowledged as being one of untangling a lamentable situation where the Unions effectively control more of the day to day workings of the company than is healthy. In this latest round of industrial bargaining he has won quite decisively and done so without precipitating the devastating strike that was threatened.
If you listen to BASSA (the Cabin Crews Union) you might conclude that significant concessions were made; listen to other analysts and a different outcome emerges. Put simply, BASSA and the T&G took what was on the table and settled in the knowledge that Willie Walsh has a genuinely clearer picture of how good management/emploee relations really are, and how competent some of his Senior Managers have been in that regard across recent years. Some have been saying that this was the T&G testing Willie and establishing clearly who runs the Heathrow operation; I doubt that that is true though some trace of a realisation might have been gleaned from the exchange.
The whole experience may well prove to be cathartic for all concerned. The company needs to move on and change still further, perhaps everyone has begun to recognise and accept that truth as inevitable. What has also perhaps been realised, is that more considered handling of the people in the machine is absolutely necessary before real progress can be made.
What a shame that it took so much misery for BAs customers and the manipulation of a bunch of fine people to arrive at that conclusion.
[composed and posted with ecto]
The methods used for storing and presenting information to both pilots and engineers is changing. Engineers have had laptops containing a suite of manuals wirelessly connected to ‘mother’ for years. The labour/time saved by not having to traipse from the flight deck of a 747 under maintenance, across inspection platforms and down gantries to the ‘site office’ is huge and a enormously valuable harvest for the industry to reap. Likewise in manufacturing, particularly an aircraft like the 777, the computers place in the scheme of things was fundamental. With change making its way from the drawing office to the manufacturing sharp end in seconds.
Money and time rules all. The savings in time and money at the ultra conservative sharp end of the flying game, the economic case was less clear – the harvest a good deal less certain. It has taken a little more time to get the EFB (Electronic Flight bag) developed, accepted and integrated into the development cycle of the modern airliner.
On reading Rob of Jetwhine’s piece on the technical side of blogging I felt compelled to dash out a line of support.
[rant] I understand that WordPress and other blogging programs are open-source and developed by enthusiasts. But why, oh why, does everyone assume that all those of us that haunt the hallways of the ‘bloggosphere’ are able to understand the first thing about code?
I really did think that we had moved away from this way of thinking, it’s exclusive in the worse sense of the word. If the objective is to spread blogging to the masses, the stewards of the ‘sphere’ are failing miserably by a clannish insistence that, to be able to alter the look, feel and functionality of your blog you need to be able to code. Ever heard of the GUI? Thank goodness Apple has or I would be stuffed.
It isn’t that I have no intention of learning, but like most people here I want to get on with strutting my stuff and getting on with my LIFE, not sitting in front of a screen learning html when I could be learning something useful like Latin.
So, WordPress Aces, please make your fabulous program simple for me to customise and present to the world in the way that I want to look. I have half an idea but the idea of messing with .php and .css files fills me with horror.
Do this and I will pay for it! In doing this you will inspire the heavy hitters in the coding world to reach new heights of creativity in their attempts to make space between their lofty selves and ‘code numpties’ like me.[/rant]
Good spot Rob!
PS: Just in case this sounds ungrateful, thanks all you open source engineers who have made this superb software. Make it greater and you will win more even more of the ‘blogsiverse’ out there. As for the theme developers, where would we be without you?
So much has been written about this man that I will leave it to others to sketch in his career and accomplishments. He is someone I have admired from afar for years and to see him perform is to watch a magician at work, what a pair of hands, what a brain and what cohones !
Let’s hope he will be with us for many years to come, he has managed those he has had so far rather well! Happy birthday Bob, 85 yesterday.
Listen to ANNs aerocast with Bob Hoover here.
Podcast: Play in new window
The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Boeing ends plan to put wireless on 787 Dreamliner:
Boeing has abandoned its plan to install a wireless inflight entertainment system on the 787 Dreamliner, a system it had touted earlier as saving weight and complexity through eliminating wires.
Boeing will substitute a wired system with cables running to each seat row, instead of a wireless antenna at each row, to feed movies and music to the passengers’ seats.
Mike Sinnett, director of 787 systems, said the switch will ease the plane’s development schedule rather than cause any delay. And paradoxically, he said, the change will reduce weight.
“We’re putting in about 50 pounds of wiring and taking out about 200 pounds of other gear” including wireless antennae, wireless access points and thickened ceiling panels, said Sinnett. “And from a schedule point of view, it makes life easier for us.”
So the dream of removing those troublesome wires is on hold. Strange isn’t it? You would have thought a wireless system would have reduced weight and complexity. The big setback last year for in flight connectivity was the closing down of Boeing’s Connexion Division, the in-flight internet access service. That initiative might just have changed a lot in the in-flight information gathering world. Perhaps a little later in the development cycle then?
British Airways said Thursday said that it is canceling all flights from London Heathrow airport for two days next week because of a strike by cabin crew.
The airline said, however, that it still hoped to reach an agreement with the Transport and General Workers union to prevent a 48-hour walkout on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“If we postponed the cancellation of flights until the eve of a strike, customers would have virtually no time to make alternative arrangements” said Willie Walsh, the airline’s chief executive.
“We remain absolutely determined to search for a negotiated settlement and our door remains open to the T&G, day or night.”
It’s three minutes to midnight. Let’s hope sanity is abroad.
Seldom do you come across someone who has an eye for a photograph that is so acute that the images they produce make you draw breath. Steve Morris is one such, Dennis Anderson is another. That is why I have chosen to give them both and their impressive works an airing here.
I spent seven very happy years in the right hand seat of the 747-400. Hand flying the aircraft or simply the act of operating it was, and is, a pleasure. For a machine so large it feels like a fighter in its responses and it has a comfortable and well laid out ‘office’. It never ceased to amaze me with its capacity to lift and haul over huge distances and at the time the 747 fleet seemed destined to remain ‘the place to be’ in our company.
Then there was a shift in the order of things, the 777 arrived and our new CEO (who arrived a little later) had a ‘beanfest’ with the accountants. Suddenly, with oil at $36 a barrel the aircraft of the future had morphed into the 777. A sea change in opinion, a surge in the oil price and the ‘Jumbo’ was old news. The A380s emergence into the news further threatened the old girl with performance figures and glitz hammering away at her reputation and popularity until the ‘-400′ was seen as being ‘a jet in decline’.
We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have an interest in how others perceive us would we? Pilots were probably best understood when they flew aircraft covered with canvas, their career span was measured in weeks, their passing marked in a blaze of glory, often with a flaming accompaniment.
The public of the day could relate to that with admiration – fear of invasion or military defeat added spice to the image they created in their minds. Those aviators were closer to the general experience of life and flight, they fought for and pioneered a new transportation medium when they left the service and basked, forever infallible, in the eyes of an admiring and grateful population.
Not so our modern aviator with his silk scarf and leather helmet discarded in the wardrobe, banished for weekends or private moments on a windswept grass field far from the urgent howl of turbines and the reek of burnt jet fuel. Yep’, things have changed a great deal.
Over the past few years airline people have been coming under the spotlight as the public rightly become more curious about the technical, safety and environmental aspects of air travel. This interest has been exploited and developed.
Over the last couple of years elements of the UK press have been seeking out and even encouraging indiscretions among flying crews to produce lurid headlines designed to tantalize and shock a curious public. The odd ‘journalist’ seems to have a vendetta running with the prominent airlines and takes any opportunity to denigrate both the profession and the people who work within it (some reading between the lines and a knowledge of the UK press and media required there.)
It is not surprising that increasingly the business of taking to the air with large numbers of the general public aboard has come under deep and cynical scrutiny, often unqualified and ill informed scrutiny at that.
We look on all this with something approaching despair. The only light on the horizon is that occasionally some good can emerge from the interest. Regulations change, assistance is shaped for individuals who need it, and procedures get put in place to protect employees and the public. I refer here to alcohol related incidents that seem to be a rare but significant problem in the industry worldwide.
As for on the job public relations; the days when we could welcome people into our ‘office’ have gone, but even when we could, we saw change coming writ across the face of the visiting callow youth; studied indifference signaling that they had seen it all before on a screen near their breakfast cereal.
Oh well, just shrug the shoulders and keep trying; there was always the ‘aviator in waiting’ who has always been worth the bother and would maintain the faith.
With the changing times, isolated and locked in our steel defended workspaces, we are unable to put the alternative view to the traveling public or even gently and respectfully educate them unless we want to chance the use of the public address system, a method fraught with limitation and hazard.
So why the rant?
A British ‘newspaper’ has plumbed new depths by committing to print quite the most ridiculous piece on the subject that I have seen for a while.
This time they have had a pop at the Flight Attendants as well as pilots. Clearly they fail to understand that the authorities sole purpose in requiring cabin crew presence aboard public transport aircraft is to establish an uninterrupted flow of humanity through the door in the (unlikely) event that they need to make it clear of a blazing, smoke filled aircraft.
Over the years many of these ‘pointless’ individuals have lost their lives doing their job, namely enabling people to save their own lives. There have been instances during the immediate aftermath of aircraft accidents where, before the emergency services make it to the scene, cabin crew have returned to the blazing aircraft to recover those overcome by fumes or unconsciousness. It is sad to note that they have  occasionally lost their own lives in the process.
Over dramatic? You decide.
I don’t mind people taking a pop at us, we are on a bit of a pedestal and expect to take some flack now and again. I do resent ignorance and stupidity propagated in the name of journalism, and the lowering of our profession in the eyes of the traveling publics. I dare say the ‘newspaper’ does not retain an Air Correspondent or the sad hack who wrote the piece would have got his ears bent.
Thank God the vast majority have more sense than believe this drivel.
A British ‘Newspaper’
“What is the point of employing stewards and stewardesses anymore? It’s an old idea. What exactly do they do? Their entire job seems to boil down to selling Pringles and overpriced cheese sandwiches. Their next piece of genius is to explain where the loos are on the plane.
I know we’ve had ten years of a Labour government, but surely even the most half-witted passengers can find a lavatory in a 50-yard straight line. The safety display seems pretty pointless aswell.
Being told how to blow a whistle is not going to be helpful if you’re in a vertical dive at 600mph, and heading to meet your Maker. Unless you want to tell Him you are on your way, and would he mind popping on a cup of tea.
The only reason they employ a co-pilot is incase a pilot snuffs it. Plus, it’s somebody for the pilot to have a drink with when the stewardess turns down his invitation for a night-cap in his room.
After all, planes these days basically fly themselves. The co-pilot sits there explaining in some detail how his golf swing is improving, and how much his home in Sussex has improved in price. The airline should make him start cutting up sandwiches and, depending on how good he is, he can earn stars and extra money, as employees do in MacDonalds.
The co-pilot can also do voice-overs for emergancy tapes like the one I heard in a private jet once.
The pilot came on the tannoy and said, ”If you look out of the starboard window, you will see the starboard engine alight. If you look out of the port engine, you will see the port engine alight. If you look below you at the Atlantic, you will see two figures in a dinghy. This is a recording“
That was a gag. The actions of the cabin crew are not funny. I don’t wish them well.”