System Schedule CommitteeEd Gorman, Chairman
The Leading Edge, Winter 1999
Change to SSC Meeting Process
The SSC has instituted a new meeting process to attain closure on local
schedule committee items during the meeting. Starting in December, we asked
to be provided local problems and protested ID's by the day before the
meeting. LSCs were requested to forward their items to the SSC at the MEC
office via CompuServe or other means. If WHQCM disagrees as to the quality
or safety of the items, they will consult with pilots in Hart Langer's
office as to whether they think an ID is unsatisfactory. This process does
not change our need to continue to document pairings that the pilots find
of poor quality or tiring for the purpose of being on the record of protesting
certain scheduling practices in the event these issues are grieved. We
noted that, with the realignment of WHQ's Flight Operations, the SSC no
longer meets with the overall authority for the crew desk. This could be
resolved by having Capt. Dave Ringwalt attend the meetings as his responsibility
covers both Crew Desk and OPB sections.
LAX B777 Plans
There appeared to be a good chance that United would be successful in
its application to serve an additional route to Brazil. The requested market
was LAX to GRU (Sao Paolo, Brazil). That route, added to the LAX- LHR (London)
ones, would cause a need for a B777 domicile at LAX. The route was subsequently
awarded to Continental who will serve the market from Houston. The company
went ahead with plans to open the LAX B777 base anyway after assurances
from marketing there would be at least one, if not two, London trips in
that airplane for the future.
With the current economic situation in Latin America, United anticipates
a serious over-capacity problem in that region. Current proposals are to
reduce the gauge in that market by using Airbus A320 equipment on routes
which suit its range and capacity. Caracas is already planned to be served
by A320 next Spring and possibly Lima, Peru, could be converted. Pending
that event, the SSC requested a formal NPDM from the company so that we
can make our recommendations in case an Airbus base should be proposed
B767 International Base
Further 'Right Sizing' of other international markets is causing consideration
of having more B767-300 equipment replace B777 on some routes. This could
increase the number of routes from ORD which will be operated in B767.
When the issue of an ORD international B767 domicile is brought up, the
company asserts it is too expensive to initially qualify the entire base,
and that maintaining currency and qualification would be extremely difficult.
If ALPA desires they would be agreeable to revisiting the split base concept.
For the past several months we have been receiving briefings by various company personnel about the inability to reliably operate the trip within the 16-hour contractual limit. Using a measuring standard of a rolling three-month period, the reliability had fallen well below a 50% standard in the September to November time frame. As was stated previously, the SSC expressed its doubt whether the trip could be reliably operated under that limit during the winter when it was first announced as a year 'round trip about this time last year. History has confirmed those suspicions. The company has improved the ground delays at ORD by coordinating with the city and airport officials to obtain priority status for the trip.
However, the problems in Hong Kong have not improved. Unplanned vectoring in the airport area causes fuel stops by pilots uncertain of their arrival fuel. In spite of all the efforts by the company, and the cooperation of the ORD crews, the flight has had a very poor record of staying under the 16-hour contractual and FAR limit.
In January Mr. Ron Smith, Manager, Flight Dispatch, again briefed the
committee on the latest efforts to reduce the flight time for the segment.
As was also touted in the Flight Ops Flyer, on Jan. 20, the flight
flew the nearest to a direct Polar route without actually passing over
the North Pole. If this 89N route were to be routinely available it would
shorten the flight time by between 25 to 40 minutes. However, the route
is still experimental and might not be usable for several months. The SSC
expressed to the company its dissatisfaction with the results of their
efforts so far. We also stated that ALPA would not be at all tolerant of
another fall and winter season with a performance as was seen last year.
They were notified that they would either have to take measures to ensure
the trip would operate within the CBA, or that they should seek need new
language. The trip will most likely be under the 16-hour limit beginning
in May for about five months.
The company plans a buildup to 119 departures from IAD beginning in
May. They plan to have about thirty one 737-300 trips, fourty A320 flights,
and the rest a mix of various equipment. They also plan a B400 from IAD
to LHR and FRA, starting in April. LAX crews will likely fly the LHR trip.
ORD crews will be deadheaded to IAD to fly Frankfurt. The company indicated
that, due to manpower constraints, they might have to fly FRA with JFK
crews now and then. We notified the company that mixing crews on market
pairs in the same month has been strongly opposed by the SSC in the past
and would not be acceptable.
JFK B767 Plans
When the Delhi trip ends in April, JFK B767 crews will fly the London
to Boston trip as a 'W', and JFK to Buenos Aires (EZE). This will sustain
the 767 base at the current line level. Plans are also to start MIA to
LIM in A320 equipment in April with JFK crews. In May, the JFK- CCS and
MIA-CCS (Caracas) trip will be changed to A320 equipment.
LAX New B777 Base
The company will open the LAX 777 domicile in April because of the laterals
into LAX on the initial bid. The company also said that they would send
each pilot an E-note besides the official activation notice that will be
posted. LAX will fly the added LAX-LHR trip, which will build around eight
lines. IAD will continue to fly the other LAX LHR flight until LAX is staffed.
Adding to the need for another base is the announcement of the conversion
of seven B747-400 options to nine B777 orders.
ANC Freighter Changes
The DC- IO freighter operation now is starting ANC JFK and dropping
SFO and Taipei (TPE).
777 in the PAC
The company is considering operating the B777 in the Pacific sometime
this summer, possibly as early as July. Initial expected routes will probably
be the SFO NRT and SEA-NRT routes. This is considered an "ambitious" startup
target date, with early fall being more likely. Routes and city pairs are
not yet firm.
The company is planning to use both aircraft types for hub-to hub flying
this summer replacing present wing-tip operations. There will be no crew
airplane changes at DEN on through flights as the short airplane turn around
time does not allow them. After the summer the B400 will return to international
operations in the Pacific and not be used for as much domestic segments.
Vacation Unimatic Screen
The vacation (VACA/FN#) screen will be locked out while the monthly
vacation awards are being finalized. Pilots will only see their award after
it is final. Pilots have been able to access that screen while the company
is working on vacation awards and sometimes found information that was
not finalized. This led to problems when pilots thought they had a different
vacation than was actually awarded. Changes will still appear in the unassigned
day values since that is dynamic and cannot be locked.
Changes to SSC Meeting
Because of the increased time the monthly SSC meetings are requiring, we are changing the pattern of our meeting as mentioned here last month. The four MEC SSC members will arrive in Chicago the day before the scheduled two-day meeting. The company has agreed to bear the additional expense this will entail. The agenda for the next day's meetings will be finalized the next morning before the company meeting. If the company meeting is on a Monday the Committee will arrive the night before and meet in the MEC office on the morning of the published meeting date. The company meeting will begin at noon and is expected to be completed by about 1500. The meeting with the LSCs will begin at 1800.
Obviously, this will require the LSCs to submit their gripes to the SSC at least one day earlier. Since items usually presented are ones which have been known a while, it should be possible to have LSC comments before the meeting date. Last minute problems can still be presented at the evening meeting.
In conjunction with this change, the first hour of the SSC meeting will
also revert to the old style meeting format and be between the SSC members
and the company, so that they can present any sensitive information which
they may have for the MEC. After that, LSCs are still welcome to have one
member observe the meeting.
LAX "Bank" Operations
In order to create opportunities for better connections at LAX, there
will be a shift back to schedule "bank" operations for LAX Mainline flights.
On the Shuttle, this was recently changed the other way in SFO and LAX
to improve Shuttle turn efficiency by a program called "LASOR." The SSC
expressed concern that recreating banks might adversely affect Shuttle.
Personalized Bidding Test
The expected completion date for the programming for the Personalized
Bidding System (PBS) has moved forward so the possibility for a test is
now sooner than anticipated. Originally, it was not expected to be sooner
than the end of 1999. Now it could be mid year. Because of this, the SSC
will become intensely involved beginning with a full briefing on the status
of the program the day before the February meeting. Further meetings will
be scheduled with the participation of this committee and other individuals
who have experience with such systems. A PBS system was always anticipated
for the Shuttle as the Letter of Agreement specifically directs the company
to develop and test a system.