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Author: Chip Wright (page 1 of 20)

Hotel Issues

Living life out of a suitcase is not without its challenges. If you talk to any number of pilots (or flight attendants, for that matter), you’ll hear some common themes when it comes to hotels. These issues aren’t in any particular order, and each carries a certain amount of weight with each person. That said, they are all problems at some point or another, and if you’re interested in the airline lifestyle, you have to be ready for each curveball.

Transportation: One of the most common complaints is that of unreliable transportation. This is usually a bigger issue when the hotel is providing the ride, since they also have to accommodate other guests as well. Shuttles usually run on a schedule, but not always. What is very frustrating is waiting for one that is supposed to be waiting when you come out of the terminal, especially late at night after a long day of flying. This is much less of an issue when the transportation is contracted out to a third-party vendor, but even then it can still happen. That said, this is much less of an issue in the day and age of the smart phone, since apps make it much easier for drivers or front desk clerks to keep tabs on your flight. And that goes both ways: If the van can’t run, you can always take an Uber.

Room readiness: This is a bigger issue on those rare days when you finish early in the morning, and the housekeeping staff is still keeping house. If the wait is going to be of any real consequence, the hotels will usually comp a free meal to the crew. Along the same lines is the rare occasion when you walk into a room that hasn’t been cleaned yet, or is currently occupied, thus requiring another trip to the front desk. It’s worth noting that rooms not being ready upon arrival is pretty common in Europe, since most U.S. arrivals are coming off of red-eyes.

Noise: For some, this is the biggest problem of all, and airlines usually have language in their contracts with the hotel that stipulate certain rooms for crews to minimize noise. The most common culprits are the elevators, ice machines, and people who are drunk, belligerent, or inconsiderate. Often, hotels with a lot of crews will isolate the crews on certain floors, away from the rest of the guests, but it isn’t always possible. Noise can be a major issue for cargo crews, but it’s also a problem when you have an early wake-up and need to go to bed early. Sometimes, it’s just unavoidable: New Year’s Eve, the Fourth of July, and certain local celebrations.

Air conditioning: This might be my own biggest pet peeve, but not being able to get the room comfortable can be a major source of frustration, especially if the hotel is set up on a single temperature based on the time of year.

Everyone has his or her own definition of what makes for a great or a lousy hotel, and in this line of work, you’ll become an expert on hotel-ology and issues. You’ll also find yourself making your vacation reservations based on the experiences you’ve had at work. The hotels generally do a great job of trying to meet the needs of the crews. When they don’t, you need to use the appropriate channels to let those in charge know that the hotel is substandard.

Stay sharp

Learning how to fly is a challenge, and it can be mentally and physically taxing. Flying is one of the few three-dimensional activities that humans engage in, and it’s not our natural state of being. As we progress up the ladder of competence and proficiency, it becomes easier, and we develop a sort of stamina for flying longer and longer periods of time, especially if we limit ourselves to cruise flight and take out the work of practicing takeoffs and landings.

As we move into bigger airplanes, we begin to have more tools at our disposal to make our task of flying easier. GPS, Nexrad, and other goodies become more prevalent. At some point (we hope), a functioning autopilot finds its way into our lives. If so, life becomes much easier indeed. A good autopilot is much more than just cruise control, since it should control both pitch and roll. Once you have experience with an autopilot you’ll realize just how fatiguing the art of flight can be, especially if you’re trying to avoid weather or multi-task.

When you reach the corporate/135/121 world, autopilots are often not just a luxury, but mandatory—especially for RVSM airspace and for some approaches. It becomes very easy to take off, reach the minimum engagement altitude, and turn on the autopilot. On the other end, you might turn it off right before landing. After all, autopilots are smoother than we are, and they can often increase the efficiency of the flight, which in turn saves money because of fuel savings.

The NTSB has found, and the FAA agrees, that it’s very easy to become overly reliant on automation. As you progress in your career, it’s important to keep up the practice of hand flying, and stay proficient without a flight director to guide you along. But even if you use a flight director, practice flying with the autopilot off. Do it in all phases of flight. Throughout my airline career, I’ve tried to do a fair amount of manual flying. I don’t do a lot in the terminal area of a busy airport, especially a hub, because I believe it’s safer to use “George” and keep my eyes outside for traffic. That said, I’ll often climb most of the way to cruise, and I try to turn the gizmos off well before landing. This keeps me proficient on the way the airplane handles, and it keeps my basic flying skills sharp.

If you need proof, look no further than the 2009 Air France flight over the Atlantic that crashed, as well as the 2013 Asiana flight into San Francisco International Airport (SFO) that hit the seawall. Obviously, in both cases, more was involved. But basic piloting skills had been eroded, which was totally preventable.—Chip Wright

The jet-setting life

One of the perks of airline employment is the ability to travel for free. It isn’t always what it seems, but when it works out, it’s marvelous. There are some tricks and tips you can use to maximize your enjoyment of your flight benefits. In no particular order, here are some of mine:

Have the time off. If you’re going to travel for fun, make sure you have the days off you need, and give yourself time to get home. Most companies will cut you some slack and give you one freebie if you get stuck somewhere, but they won’t give you more than one, and they won’t buy you a seat home. In the same vein, make sure you return to work rested. You owe your employer that much.

Go off season. This is especially true of hot spots and beach destinations. We all want to get a few days on the beach in January, but the people who pay our paychecks—the passengers—book their trips months in advance, and the airplanes are usually full. So, if you want to go to Hawaii or Florida, go in September/October. School has just started, and people aren’t clamoring for a vacation just yet. There are usually a handful of flights that will have a bunch of open seats, and you can come and go fairly easily.

Check the discounts. All airlines have negotiated discounts with various travel vendors, including hotels, rental cars, or resorts. You may need to get some help from your company’s travel department to get a proper employee verification letter (Disney is a stickler for this), but the legwork is worth it, as some of the discounts can be substantial. Also, ask around for advice. There are a few car rental discount websites you can use that will net huge savings—I rented a car through Thrifty on one of these sights in Hawaii that saved me over 50 percent. On another trip to Hawaii, my company discount saved me 70 percent.

Be willing to keep it short. My wife and I found out that our favorite restaurant in Honolulu was going out of business in a few weeks. We decided to manipulate the calendar a bit, and we went out for two nights. We had one full day to enjoy Oahu, and having been there before, it was easy to decide how to make the most of our time, but the trip really was about going to dinner. That remained our focus, and we had a great time.

Know your options. There are several avenues you can use to get accurate passenger load information on flights for almost any airline in the world. Be willing to get creative. If you’re married, make sure your spouse is OK with getting split up. That means making sure your spouse knows how to (quickly) buy a discounted ticket on another carrier if necessary. You may need to ride on the jumpseat, even on a long flight. It’s often a seat of misery, but hey, it’s free, so don’t complain. And remember, the more people who are involved, the more complicated it gets.

Watch the loads. You may need to cut your vacation short and leave early if flights are filling up. Cancellations, equipment changes, and weather can wreak havoc with your plans. Stay flexible, and be ready to leave or early or spend a few extra bucks to stay late. Here’s an example of the unexpected: My family and I were enjoying some days off in St. Petersburg, Florida, when the Tampa Bay Rays won the American League Championship Series to reach the World Series, which was to start a few days later. The next day, flights began filling up rapidly. We had to leave a day early and take a bit of a circuitous route home. Such are the breaks.

The jet-setting lifestyle is a bit of a misnomer, but when it works out, it’s a great perk. Be smart in your planning, and, as with an IFR flight, always have an out. And when it doesn’t go your way, find a way to make the most of it.—Chip Wright

Dragging passengers

It has happened again: Last week, a passenger was dragged off a Southwest flight. Unlike the infamous United incident a few months ago, this passenger was carried off by police officers, and there is no “it wasn’t our flight, but one of our regional partners” argument to be made.

However, it does appear that the passenger in question had a number of reasons or excuses ready to go at the beginning of the incident as she tried to stay on the airplane, first claiming a severe allergy and working her way through the ever-popular “I need to get where I’m going.”

I can’t speak for what the policy is at SWA with respect to pilot actions in these kinds of incidents. Every airline has its own protocols to follow, and while the captain is generally considered the final word once the airplane leaves the gate, the final say-so is sometimes a bit murky at the gate. Gate agents don’t like having their judgment questioned after they’ve let a passenger on. Further, they don’t want to be blamed for a delay, and they don’t always know what a crew had to deal with once the doors close. That said, more than one agent has been guilt of trying to pass the buck and just get the airplane off the gate.

Flight attendants are the ones who have to deal with the passengers once the door is closed. They are on the lookout  for passengers who might be a problem, whether from intoxication, anger or frustration at broken travel plans, or a fear of flying or claustrophobia. If they sense that a medical issue could (or already has) materialized, they want to deal with it on the ground. In their mind, and with good reason, their preferred course of action is usually to have the passenger removed.

The pilots are in an odd spot at the gate. While they are clearly the final say once airborne, they have to trust others to do their jobs before leaving. Generally speaking, if the cabin crew wants someone off the airplane, the pilots will accommodate that request, and will often risk a scene to do so. Sometimes, passengers make it easy to make a decision by acting in an inappropriate fashion. All of this said, the captain is responsible for the safety of the flight as a whole, and anything that happens on his watch can be thrown back in his face—and will be.

I’ve had to deal with a few of these at-the-gate types of incidents in my career. Three stand out. They aren’t easy to deal with, they’re unpleasant for all involved, and while tact is often desired or needed, sometimes it just doesn’t help or have a place.

I wasn’t there for either of these two events. The crew, in my opinion, could have taken a stronger stance by simply announcing that the flight wasn’t going to go anywhere until the passengers in question removed themselves from the airplane. This is a harsh line in the sand, but it may be the most effective choice under the circumstances.

The chances are that another crew is not going to be handy to call to gate to operate the flight, and even if there is, once they hear about what is going on, they aren’t likely to step into a minefield by taking the flight. In my experience, even if the Chief Pilot’s Office got involved in something like this—either in person or on the phone—they tend to back up the pilots and agree that the flight will not operate until the offending passenger is removed.

A secondary option, though one that is not always available, is to push for an equipment swap if another airplane is available. This would require everyone to deplane and move to another gate. At the new gate, the gate agents and airport police can prevent the offending passenger(s) from boarding.

In the three cases that I can recall in detail involving passenger disruptions at the gate, one ended with a trio of intoxicated men agreeing to leave with no resistance when the police came on board. The second required intervention from a family member traveling with the individual in question, along with an assertive discussion with the gate agent, who felt she was going to be blamed.

The last one was the most similar to the UAL and SWA incidents. The passenger was a belligerent woman who was being extremely uncooperative and verbally abusive. To allow her to stay on would have undermined the authority of my flight attendant, and could have therefore affected her safety. I had to explain to the woman that we were having her removed and why, and when she began to say she wouldn’t get off the airplane, I made it clear we’d cancel the flight outright. I had to make the same comment to the gate agent, since he was pushing us to keep her. When he realized he’d be responsible for rebooking an entire cabin of passengers versus just one, he agreed to work with us.

All of this brings up another point that was lost in the shuffle of the Republic/UA debacle. Back in the day, regional airlines had their own gate agents. They don’t anymore. The agents are either contracted from a third company (and get paid around minimum wage) or are employees of the mainline brand. This often creates tension and a disconnect, because when situations like this arise, not everybody is on the same team. All anyone knows is that somebody at HQ is going to start asking questions, so everybody gets defensive.

As the pilot, it is best to remember who is ultimately going to be held the accountable, and for that matter, who has the most to lose. The answer is simple: It’s us. That’s no different in a Cessna 150 or a Boeing 747. If you’re willing to exercise the responsibility of being pilot in command in one airplane, you need to be ready, willing, and able to do it in all.

In either of these cases, it would have just taken one pilot to stand up and say they weren’t going to take a problem passenger. To emphasize how far this goes, the same can be said if the problem is one of the cabin crew. Fly for an airline long enough, and you’ll also have to deal with a flight attendant who shouldn’t be at work that day.

When it comes to the passengers, though, no matter how upset they are or how bad their day is going, once they step on the airplane, they have to behave themselves. They can file all the complaints they want later. But from entering to exiting, they need to play by the rules, even if they are asked to leave the flight. And as operators of the airplane, we need to recognize that everything we do is likely being recorded, and make sure that we do whatever we can to avoid someone being dragged off.—Chip Wright

New regional first officer pay agreement

Every month it seems that more evidence comes out about how extreme the pilot shortage is getting. I got an email tonight that was as clear as could be that it’s getting worse. ExpressJet Airlines, which at one time was the regional feed for Continental and is now owned by SkyWest Airlines, has been struggling for awhile to find enough qualified pilots to staff its airplanes. The union leadership at ExpressJet and ASA (also owned by SkyWest) has agreed to allow the company to hire pilots with previous FAR 121 experience and pay them based previous years of service.

That means that a former Comair pilot with 15 years of experience can get hired and get paid at year-10 pay. The news release doesn’t get very specific, but since ExpressJet only has an eight-year scale for first officers, it could mean that the 10-year pay includes captain time.

If so, that would mean that a new hire with the appropriate experience will get paid $81 per hour versus $37 per hour—a difference of $44. Further, the benefit of previous experience is also being extended to the 401(k) plan and vacation. The new pilots will still be at the bottom of the seniority list, so they’ll be on reserve, they’ll be junior FOs, and they won’t be hired as “street captains.”

Still, this is a huge step. It’s an admission that current recruiting efforts for pilots are not bearing any fruit. To take that a step further, it’s of even greater significance that the union agreed to this, because this practice goes against almost 100 years of industry norm.

It has the potential to ruffle some feathers among the pilots on property, but—in theory—it shouldn’t, since those hired previously are still getting paid based on total experience. If I read the press release correctly, pilots who were previously hired and would have met the requirements to get paid more will also get a pay bump. The only catch to this new rule is that the new-hire pilot is required to have left his or her previous carrier on good terms. In other words, it’s OK to have been furloughed or to have resigned, but if you were fired, you’re out of luck.

There’s virtually no chance of this sort of deal coming to fruition at the majors, since the number of pilots applying for those jobs far exceeds the number of jobs available. It also helps that the pay at the majors is also substantially greater than the pay at the regionals.

Still, this is a deal that can’t be made without at least some blessing of management at the majors, since they’re the ones that pay the regionals, and this is going to drive up the block hour cost of regional flying. For regional pilots who have checked out of the industry for awhile, this just might be the enticement they need to come back. We’ll see how the details pan out, but this could be a golden opportunity for many.—Chip Wright

Getting Lucky

One of the coolest things about working in the aviation field is that you get to see and experience a lot of really cool, unusual events with a view that most can only dream of having. Some aren’t so great, but it’s the good ones that you remember and cherish. I’ve seen the space shuttle launch from abeam Cape Canaveral on the Fourth of the July; that same day, I saw the oldest ship in the Navy, the Constitution, under sail in Boston.

Recently, I was scheduled to fly during the total solar eclipse. Prior to the flight, my captain and I did some research about the path of the eclipse, and we each took some screen shots of various maps and time tables. Our flight plan from Houston to New York had us crossing Nashville within a few minutes of the cone of totality. An ATC ground delay worked in our favor, and we were able to adjust our speed such that we would cross the path of the eclipse at the exact time that the moon would be blocking out the sun. As luck would have it, I had the only unobstructed view on the plane. The sun was almost directly overhead, but my window curved up just enough that I was able to look up and back (with my viewing glasses on, of course!) and watch the moon and sun cross paths.

The excitement was evident everywhere. Our passengers were chatting about the eclipse as they boarded, and the traffic on the radio was amplified. There were a number of NASA aircraft following the event, recording observations and collecting data that will be studied for years. As we neared Nashville, a number of aircraft were asking for vectors and even holding patterns with the hope of being able to experience the entirety of the eclipse. They were all denied.

By the time the sky began to darken to a noticeable extent, the sun was mostly covered. When the eclipse was actually taking place, the outside air temperature dropped enough that the smooth ride we were experiencing began to deteriorate to continuous light chop. We should have anticipated this, but we didn’t, and while my view of the eclipse—sans glasses—was spectacular, getting a decent picture was virtually impossible because of the ride. That said, I was able to get some video of the darkness with just a hint of light off in the distance. The ground was lit up, and stars were visible in the sky. It was an unforgettable experience.

My logbooks are mostly mundane flights from A to B, but there are, sprinkled throughout, events that will stay with me forever: 9/11, the loss of the shuttle Columbia, my first flights with my kids, first trips to certain locations, and some sunrises and sunsets that are etched in my memory. My job has allowed me to see much from both the ground (I also seen a total lunar eclipse) and the air that I’d never see otherwise. Those hours, and those memories, are to me a treasure chest filled with gold that I’d never trade.

Storm Operations

As I write this, the remnants of Hurricane Harvey are still working their way towards Tennessee and Kentucky. Houston is underwater, and the totality of the destruction is just beginning to be understood. I was on the ground in Houston as the rain began to fall, and I flew around the storm on my next flight to go south towards Central America. The next day, the weather up and down the east coast was effected. And as the storm dissipates, all eyes are wearily turning toward Hurricane Irma, which is still a week away and forecast to become a Category 4 fury of wind and rain.

In addition to the personal preparation and, in too many cases, the aftermath, companies and businesses have to cope as well. The airlines all had their own strategy, some borne of experience, and some based on the particular dynamics of the storm. Harvey developed very quickly, and didn’t provide a lot of time for contingency planning.

As the track of the storm became more certain, airports were shut down. Houston Hobby (HOU), which is further south, was shut down first. At Intercontinental (IAH), the initial plan by United, the main stakeholder, was to run a full schedule through the storm. In order to allow the employees to tend to their personal situations, Southwest and United flew in employees from around the country who volunteered to work in Houston. However, the storm stalled, and like a well-planned military invasion, the plans were drastically altered as soon as the first shots were fired.

Both companies began flying evacuation flights to move as many people as possible, and eventually shut down operations. IAH sits at an elevation of nearly one hundred feet, and is north of the city, so it had less exposure to the brunt of the storm and the rain, and as soon as the airport authorities felt it was safe to allow people to and from the airport, it was opened. The first flights in were humanitarian, bringing back stranded flight and cabin crews, food, water, and other critically needed supplies. In the meantime, damage assessments must be made of the terminals, parking garages, etc. From a navigation standpoint, the ILS antennae, VORs, etc. also need to be checked, and possibly flight-tested.

The recovery from the storm—any storm of this magnitude—takes even more work. Planes are stranded, and may be out of their normal maintenance schedule. Crews are all over the planet, and many of them just want to get home to help their families. Hotels in and around the two airports are full, assuming they can even open. Crews that live and are based in Houston may not even have uniforms they can wear to work.

Behind the scenes, hundreds of people are working extra shifts, flying extra flights, and doing the jobs of three people, all while trying to juggle the disruption to their own personal lives. Passengers, after all, still have tickets, and extra seats are hard to come by on other carriers.

And all eyes are turned east, to the Atlantic, hoping that Irma will turn to the north, but knowing that if she doesn’t, that this scene may be repeated in just a few short days.

Picking a domicile

One of the never-ending challenges in the airlines is deciding which domicile to choose. This is not to be confused with choosing the airplane you want to fly, since, as a new hire, you’re usually not given much choice. Besides, you can be “frozen” in an airplane for a while, but you can still move from domicile to domicile in that particular airplane.

There are a couple of factors to consider when choosing your base. For most pilots, the first consideration is getting off of reserve and getting a regular line. A line means more money, more days off, and peace of mind knowing what you’ll be doing and when, versus waiting for the phone to ring—which is what reserves do. Generally speaking, the best way to get off of reserve is to pick the largest domicile.

Larger domiciles also offer the best variety of flying, as you’ll see a combination of longer and shorter flights, trips that may range from one day to four, and trips that offer report times that suit your personal preference.

Pilots also pick domiciles based on how easily they can commute to and from work. If a domicile is in a major hub, commuting usually is pretty easy. If it’s at an out station or a smaller “focus city,” the commute may be much more difficult.

When I was at Comair, we had a small base  in Greensboro, North Carolina. The base existed because the company had built a hangar there, but it was a challenging commute, since direct service was offered to only four or five cities, and not all of those had a great deal of frequency. Most of the pilots tended to live within driving distance.

Our Cincinnati, New York, and Detroit bases had a number of options for getting back and forth to work. Taking multiple flights to work is never a lot of fun, and it greatly diminishes your enjoyment of the job.

The last consideration that usually comes into play when choosing a domicile is the time it takes to upgrade to captain, or, to take that a step further, to have the best schedule as a captain. At the regionals, that upgrade is critical so as to accumulate your pilot-in-command time as quickly as possible. Ironically, a smaller or less-desirable domicile can be the best option for upgrading quickly. It depends on the carrier.

Generally speaking, if you’re considering a base that isn’t a hub, you should consider it a base that is forever at risk of being closed down. The economy can change, and a viable outstation base can suddenly be losing money. Hubs tend to stay hubs.

Picking a base is not always as cut and dried as it seems, but it usually comes down to one or two factors that drive the final decision. This is especially true if you’re going to live in base.—Chip Wright

The non-memory-item memory items

Just about every airline or corporate flight department—and for sure the military—has a certain number of checklists that are considered to be memory items. That is, they are considered so important that, when needed, the pilot doesn’t have time to look up the checklist and go through it line by line. Therefore, the checklist must be committed to memory. Some of these are fairly obvious, such as certain fire warnings, sudden cabin depressurizations, or a rejected takeoff.

Most of the time, the carrier determines the checklists that are designated as memory items, and there is usually a bias toward certain items based on the experience of the company, or of the fleet manager. Sometimes, the memory items are determined by one of the local FAA oversight personnel—again based on his or her past experience and/or unfamiliarity with a particular airplane—and sometimes by the manufacturer. Some carriers take things overboard and have far too many memory items.

But what about non-memory-item checklists? Are any that are not memory items actually memory items? Yes. A common example is the rejected takeoff.

Considering the speeds at which a rejected takeoff can take place, this makes sense. In nearly every jet airplane, the speed brakes should extend when the thrust levers are brought to idle, thus killing the lift of the wings and getting the weight of the airplane back on the tires, which improves stopping performance. The operative word is “should.”

Some operators have a specific rejected takeoff memory item that includes checking or manually deploying the handle, and thus the speed brakes. This shouldn’t really be necessary, because you can feel immediately if the speed brakes have deployed, but somewhere, somebody decided this is a good idea. And so it is.

Another non-memory-item memory item is the wind-shear recovery procedure. Again, this is something that is occurring in a fast-paced, dynamic environment, close to the ground. Considering the severity of the situation, it isn’t the time to be pulling out a manual to look something up.

Generally speaking, a memory item is something that you only have one chance to get right, and survival may depend on the outcome. But, as I mentioned, airlines can go overboard with this as well. At my first carrier, we had to memorize an unnecessarily complex emergency evacuation procedure that was too easy to mess up, and would have been difficult to perform correctly in the stress of an emergency with adrenaline pumping and your mind racing. A good memory item is one with only a couple of steps, and when possible, it is similar to other checklists to ease its recall.

However, the procedures that are not necessarily referred to as memory items but need to be committed to memory are just as important. Learn them, commit them to memory, and review them, so that when you need them, your performance is flawless.

Get ready to use pounds, not gallons

In general aviation, fuel is ordered in gallons. Fuel capacity is stated in gallons, and the fuel burn of a Cessna 172 is eight gallons an hour. The only time fuel is measured in pounds is for the sake of weight and balance, and most of those problems (if we’re honest with ourselves) are only done during checkrides.

But when you start burning Jet A, the rules change. Jet fuel is measured in pounds because the volume of the fuel can change based on temperature, whether it’s Jet A, JP-4, etc. This is especially critical at high altitudes where the temperature will be minus-40 to minus-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Further, fuel is burned by mass, not by volume.

But where this really comes into play is in weight and balance. In larger airplanes, the weight of the fuel becomes a much greater part of the total equation, and therefore it becomes a major consideration. The 737-800/900 burns roughly 6,000 pounds of fuel an hour. The CRJ 100/200 burns roughly 3,500 pounds the first hour and 2,500 pounds an hour subsequently. That’s a lot of weight, and it needs to be properly accounted.

Another consideration that will be new to you as move up the ranks is the concept of zero fuel weight (ZFW). This is a number computed by the manufacturer, and it simply means that all weight above that number must be in the form of fuel. The basic operating weight, passenger load, and cargo added together must come in below the ZFW. At times, it may even be the limiting weight for takeoff. On the CRJ, this would happen on very short flights flown at low altitudes, but it rarely created a problem in terms of payload.

Pounds has become the universal standard in fuel units. Part of this is due to the famous ‘Gimli Glider’ accident, Air Canada 143, a Boeing 767 that ran out of fuel in 1983 during a transcon. Part of the problem was confusion in ordering fuel in kilograms, which could be measured in liters, and then converting it into pounds for the sake of operation, along with a chain of other events. One of the results of the accident was the movement to an industry standard of pounds in order to mitigate the risks of another airplane running out of fuel.

In the United States, using pounds also helps when it comes to doing quick-and-dirty calculations regarding max landing weight for a diversion or return to the departure airport, etc. There is no need to convert from one unit to another, which is especially helpful during a busy, stressful event.

So, get used to using fuel totalizers and computing fuel in pounds. It’s a sign of the step up to the big leagues, and it really does make your job much easier.

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