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System Schedule Committee

Ed 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. 
 

MIA A320

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 at MIA. 
 

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. 
 

ORD-HKG

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. 
 

IAD Buildup

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. 
 

747 Classic/400

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.
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