Make your own free website on Tripod.com
 
 

System Schedule Committee Report

The Leading Edge, Fall 1998

Ed Gorman, Chairman
 
NPDMs
The company proposed opening a JFK A320 domicile and requested recommendations from the SSC according to the Allocation of Flying Protocol. The data indicated that the other potential domiciles will not have sufficient departures to make a base viable. The expected growth of the Airbus fleet will probably eventually result in all mainland domiciles being made into an Airbus base. Bids were posted for A320s for a JFK domicile.

DEN B737-200 Base Closing Delayed
With the domestic market doing well, the company is delaying the Denver 737 base closing until the May or June, 1999 time frame. A320 reliability has been poor so a spare is being constituted in that fleet. This is causing flying to be shifted into other fleets, eventually into the B737. Since that fleet's routings are shifting more to the east, this causes an increase in time for the Chicago domicile. As crews are trained in order to staff up ORD, DEN crews will be surplused at about five per month. The company has agreed to use Section 8-N of the contract for these surpluses.

Surplus
Surplus letters were issued for HNL 747 F/Os, SFO 747 S/Os, DEN 737 captains, and O'Hare DC IO crews effective Jan. 3 1, 1999. The DEN and ORD surpluses are in anticipation of those eventual base closings and the surplus is being offered under Section 8.N of the pilot agreement. Additional surpluses are expected in the near future for the SFO B747 crews as that fleet shrinks.

ORD-DEL Non-Stop
The company has been considering a nonstop flight between Chicago and New Delhi (ORD - DEL). The SSC advised the company that the current contract does not permit such an operation because of the eleven time zone limitation in the Delhi side letter and that they would have to negotiate new language before initiating that segment.

Preferential Bidding System
Letter 94- I 1 (Shuttle) states in part:

A Preferential Bidding System (an interactive bidding/line building program) may be the preferred method for scheduling Shuttle pilots. The parties agree to attempt to develop such a system as soon as practical.

The company again is developing software to test a Preferential Bidding System(PBS) for the shuttle. The SSC will work with the company during this evaluation in order to maintain control over the process. We will evaluate the proposed software and the system, as well as monitor the development and testing of the entire process. The concept of a PBS is a fairly revolutionary change for United in the monthly bidding process, although other major carriers use a similar system. Presently, the company first constructs lines of flying which are put out for bid. In a PBS, pilots preference trip pairings and line patterns either by number or by desired ID properties, (such as: PM departures, no all nighters, New York layovers, etc.) and LINE properties (Christmas off, maximum pay, minimum time away, etc.). The program then builds the lines in seniority order, customized to each pilot's requests. Since vacations, training and month end overlaps are know while the line is being built, the schedule can be tailored to each pilot. Secondary lines would either not be needed or be fewer. Vacation credit for the Shuttle was established by Letter #95-15.

EO Lines for International Domiciles
A mediation resulted in new procedures at international domiciles. There are many problems with implementing the system but it was begun in a few smaller domiciles until it can be refined. International only domiciles will have all reserve lines for the pilot displaced from the OE line the same as other reserve line rules. He may designate up to six days in a block as HDOs. Where a domicile has both domestic and international flying, 50% of the OE lines will be designated as domestic reserve rule lines and all days treated as HDOs. Letters and e- notes were sent to the affected pilots explaining the new procedures.

August Vacancy Bids
As a pilot group we have become used to frequent vacancy bid so when the July bids were withdrawn many pilots wanted to know where the 'monthly' bids were. The awards from what was essentially a combined July and August bid, resulted in many of the quirks such as wide seniority disparities, many unfilled bids, and junior successful bidders which were expected. While the waiver benefited a large number of pilots and appeared to have had the company's desired effect of filling the B767 and B777 F/0 vacancies from the experienced F/Os in the

B727, A320, and-300 fleets, others were negatively impacted. However, most of these problems were eliminated in the following round of bids and most who missed bidding opportunities in August regained their bids.

Vacation Deferral
By various methods of adjusting aircraft routings and managing training assignments, the manpower planners have been able to reduce the excess vacation allocation from approximately 680 Man-Months (M/Ms) down to 325 in just two seats. The present overage is 250 B767 and 75 B300 captain M/Ms. To solicit deferrals outside of the February through April 1999 vacation quarter, the company would have needed MEC permission. If it were necessary to wait until the MEC met, it would be too late to defer any vacations except from the last quarter.

However a request for proffers of deferrals was done in September in hopes of gaining a sense of how much of this excess vacation commitment could be deferred, or otherwise be handled. If, by combining deferrals and rescheduling hours into equipment without vacation problems does not adequately eliminate the remaining commitment, then flying will be reduced in the critical fleets between November and April. The company adamantly asserts they will not consider the possibility of a buy back at all. The difficulty in getting MEC agreement, plus the disappointing results for both parties, and knowing that any buy back would require some form of premium pay led to their decision.

The present contract is silent on whether the company can solicit deferral proffers from the pilots. When the language was drafted it was perceived that the last vacation quarter was the least desirable period. It was given to the individual pilot to decide if he would prefer to delay a split into the next vacation year in hopes of being able to re-bid it for a more desirable period.

Aircraft Ferries
A method of halting the practice of arbitrarily using SFOEG crews to ferry aircraft between off-property modification centers for cosmetic modifications is now in effect. A report has been developed by the company to track all ferries by use of a Unimatic page where they are reported to the OPBCM pay desk. When an EG crew is used, which should only occur when there is absolutely no available line crew for a ferry which cannot be delayed, the pay desk will then restore sick leave to pilots on extended sick.

Presently, the selection will be the pilot in the appropriate fleet/seat domicile, which should have had the assignment with the lowest sick leave balance. The SSC will be provided with periodic reports as needed to track this matter.

Unimatic Crew Desk Comments Page
The long sought Unimatic facility for pilots to enter comments concerning crew desk items was put into operation in November. The call for the page will be PLTCM/FN#. It will be a two-way system where both pilots and crew desk personnel can submit reports to the attention of both the company and ALPA.

On-Time Reliability
The company voiced concerns about on-time reliability due to STAR flight delays caused by previous evening late arrivals requiring a rest period past the scheduled STAR flight departure time. This delay, in turn, may impact down line departures throughout the day. They believe that by eliminating short layovers (less than 11 hours), these delays could be significantly reduced. A reduction of six STAR delays per day and the subsequent down line impact is projected to cost $6 million. This figure could be significantly reduced if more "like" aircraft are routed through the outlying stations. The downside of this proposal may include longer duty days, less commutable pairings and some longer layovers. The longer layovers may, in turn, reduce days off in lines. The SSC reserves comment pending completion of the company study.

Bypass Pay for Shuttle Pilots 
Pilots on the Shuttle who are awarded age 59 bypass pay will be paid the full time credit of their line. A report was received from a Shuttle pilot who was told that he would only be paid 85 hours, not the line projection value. Pilots in this situation will be paid their full line credit (TCR) value according to a letter of interpretation that has been positioned with the payroll department.

HNL B747 Domicile
It has been reported for several months now that the B747 domicile in HNL is in jeopardy of losing its viability. Due to economic conditions in the Pacific

Basin the company has been evaluating various plans. The present plan calls for the elimination of all classic B747s in favor of the more economical 400s for the Pacific Basin by next April. Under Letter 91-8 (as modified by Letter 96-3), which established the HNL domicile, there would have been no flying which that domicile could legally operate and would have to be closed. Since this base has been in existence for nearly a decade there are many pilots now living in Hawaii.

An ad hoc committee was established to review the HNL domicile and the consequences of the changes in the Pacific and to report the MEC. This report was presented at the October meeting. The MEC approved lifting the restriction on the level of flying and destinations operated for the B747 fleet only. If it becomes viable to establish a HNL domicile in other equipment, ALPA and the company would meet to draft new language and determine what restrictions might be needed. Presently the company claims there is no benefit in having a HNL domicile in other equipment, but they would bear the expense if the restrictions on that domicile's scheduling were modified.

ORD HKG Operation
The ORD-HKG nonstop flight has been making frequent fuel stops, and has recently operated over 16 hours nonstop more often. High corporate interest in retaining this high profile operation is resulting efforts to bring the reliability back. The optimum route over Russia and China has not been used, and the B747-400s without the Phase 3engines have been used frequently on the route. Air traffic problems in Hong Kong are also causing extended flight times. Dispatch is working on obtaining new route approvals, and priority status for the trip at ORD. This flight cannot be scheduled for more than 16 hours block-to-block under the present contract.

'S.T.A.R.'Trip Performance
Flight Operations has increased sits to reduce the delays caused by crews being illegal after short layovers. Changing the minimum scheduled layover time to I 1:00 hours will reduce delays at a small cost in additional credit time and expense costs. Aircraft routing will add two minutes to every segment systemwide to help trips operate more on time, again with some increase in crew costs. United routes its airplanes linearly across the nation while other airlines regionalize their aircraft routings. This linear routing causes a higher percentage of aircraft to be delayed when one airport has bad weather, creating a greater chaining of down line delays than regional routings would cause.

End of Month Transition
Transitions from one month into the next have been infrequent but have occurred recently. The changes to scheduled trips can change the length of the trip into next month. The revisions to the schedules will be completed prior to monthly bid closing so pilots who have carry-out trips can check and bid around those changes. It is essential that all pilots check their DSPREC/CALREC before bidding.

Cargoliner Debrief Times
There is some ambiguity in section 5.G. I-b. (2) of the pilot agreement. The paragraph reads:

5.G.].b.(2) Notwithstanding sub-paragraph G-1-b-(]) above, a pilot scheduled to fly a cargoliner shall be considered to be on duty until thirty (30) minutes after the scheduled termination of the trip.

The problem is with the word 'trip.' The company has interpreted 'trip' to mean the entire pairing, and was allowing 30 minute debrief periods at the end of trip pairings. In this paragraph, the SSC believes the word trip should mean each segment. When arriving from flying a cargoliner segment, whether at the end of the pairing or just a duty period, additional debrief time is needed to return to flight operations or hotel pickup points. The company is now applying this interpretation to the construction of freighter pairings.

SHUTTLE

AM/PM Mixing and Long Sits
The committee continually protests the mixing of AM and PM times during the same ID. This has become a real problem with minimum time layovers followed by four and five leg days. This not only violates the intent of the Shuttle agreement but can become extremely fatiguing. Pilots flying these IDs are reminded to be especially aware of the fatigue problem. Most of these IDs have been weekend exceptions and only operate a few times during the month.

Scoring of Shuttle Trips Even the problem stated above did not cause the Shuttle scoring to be unacceptable, which clearly showed that the program needs to be amended in the next contract. It was planned that shuttle IDs would operate on a daily basis. Now, with marketing cancellations on weekends, many trips operate only once per week and the scoring system does not adequately penalize the ranking when the trips occur only once a week.

Weekend Trip Drops
When the restriction on weekend trips drops was eliminated some things were not anticipated. Every trip picked up creates another trip drop. The problem is that a one-day trip picked up allows the drop of a multi-day trip, which creates a greater shortage of reserves. This might have to be changed to require an equal day pickup as dropped. More history will be developed before any changes are made. The company will allow pilots picking up time to do so up to the maximum allowable credit time to be able to make crossover.

Excess Open Time
The hours in open flying prior to the big pick are because of more secondaries being built. By not building the secondary lines there would be too much additional open time left for reserves or trading, but most of it would be on those days that already had open time. The shortage of open trips in October was due to the schedule change rather than using them for secondaries. More secondaries could be built except that not enough pilots bid, or are eligible, for unadvertised secondary lines (999 bids) and unadvertised secondaries cannot be involuntarily assigned.

Additional open time appears as jury duty, sick leave and military leave occur. However, if pilots expecting military leave could notify the company before the big pick, those trips would be available for trading. This would also allow the company to build an accurate number of secondary lines and give other pilots the ability to bid.