Performance throught intimidation

A1TAPE

Well-Known Member
I was looking over ASRS reports on this boring thursday night and found one that was pretty shocking. According to the report, the chief pilot reportedly pressured the flight crew into flying what was pretty much a unairworthy aircraft. What are your takes on this? Have you ever had situations like this and how as dispatchers did you resolve them?

Narrative: 1

MEL 33-1-XY was effective. Aircraft flew for nine days with this MEL, and transited at least eight Maintenance bases in the previous five days. In Captain and First Officer opinions, remaining lighting system lights may not have been sufficient to clearly illuminate all required instruments, controls, and other devices for which it is provided. Also, lighting configuration and intensity from alternate sources may not have been acceptable to the flight crew. Dispatch agreed with Captain on these concerns, and provided link to Maintenance.

After directing Captain in several unsuccessful circuit breaker resets, and without advising Captain and Dispatch, Maintenance brought in Chief Pilot on Call. Chief Pilot did not provide safer alternatives for Crew to consider in operating the aircraft. Rather, Chief Pilot said Crew could be replaced with somebody who was willing to fly the aircraft one more leg. Chief Pilot also stated that nine other Captains operated that aircraft, and implied I should, as well. After thoroughly evaluating cockpit lighting conditions during engine start and taxi, Crew decided it could safely operate aircraft. Crew used overhead flood light in combination with bulkhead lighting to operate the area affected by MEL, however, lighting in many areas was very marginal.

Narrative: 2

Aircraft flood lights physically do not illuminate the FMC keyboards requiring the use of hand held flash lights, creating a safety issue during critical phases of flight. Turning the flood lights up to full bright in order to provide enough and sufficient illumination for the pedestal was so bright it created night vision and glare issues requiring the further use of flash lights and said safety issues during critical phases of flight. The threat here is the Maintenance on Call person and the Chief Pilot on Call.

The Captain called Dispatch to work through this issue and MEL. The Dispatcher brought Maintenance into their conversation, who was unable to resolve the issue. At that point Maintenance hung up, and the Captain and the Dispatcher continued to talk. Then the Captain's phone rang while talking to the Dispatcher; it was the Chief Pilot on Call. The Maintenance on Call person (without advising the Captain or the Dispatcher) took it upon himself to bring in the Pilot on Call to pressure, bully and all but brow-beat the Captain into agreeing the aircraft was ok to fly.

On Call [with] Maintenance person circumventing the process by going VFR direct to the Chief Pilot on Call, he directly affected, in negative manner, the ability of the Captain and the Dispatcher to properly and thoroughly work through this safety issue and MEL (which may have eventually led them to the Chief Pilot on Call anyway). By abruptly bringing the Chief Pilot into the conversation, in mid-thought process, completely destroyed their safety thought process of working through an issue as professionals.

Narrative: 3

Got call from Captain saying when landing at ZZZ he felt that due to MEL 33-1-XY (the control stand lights being out) the Lighting configuration and intensity was now unacceptable to the flight crew. His reasoning was that due to the next leg being conducted at night they would need to use the flood lights to illuminate the center control stand and the reflection of those lights would cause excessive glare in the cockpit. He was therefore not accepting the aircraft. At this point I got Maintenance Control on the line and the Captain explained the situation to him. After questioning pilot for a few min and trying to reset a few breakers he informed him that this MEL has been on this aircraft for days and no other crew had rejected the aircraft. He also informed the Captain that this MEL would drop dead tonight and it would big a pain because aircraft was in ZZZ. The Maintenance controller then said he wanted to talk it over with a few other controllers so he put us on hold. After about 3min we were blindly transferred to Chief Pilot (CP) (CP already knew the whole story, I'm assuming Maintenance Control filled him in) I want to point out that neither the Captain or I requested to talk to the CP. The CP said exactly what Maintenance Control said "9 crews have taken this aircraft over the past few days and none of them had a problem". Captain again explained why he thought it would be unsafe to take this aircraft. The CP repeated what he said before. Captain again said no. CP then said "if Captain did not take aircraft he would get with SOD and scheduling and find a crew that would" both of these statements, in my opinion were made with a very aggressive tone toward the Captain. The CP did say "it's up to [the discretion] and Captain" but then would immediately follow it with one of the above comments. At this point the Captain put CP and myself on hold for a min then came back on and said "how bout if we push the gate, get away from the terminal, and turn the flood lights on" At this point I reminded the Captain that; with me, Maintenance, and the CP (until now) he had felt the aircraft was unacceptable to him. He said they talked it over and said they would push and check the lighting and if it was unacceptable they would return to the gate. I asked if he was sure this is ok with him now, he said it was. I said that would meet the MEL proviso and was good with me. He pushed, lighting was good with him and he took off. My safety concerns with this flight were two. 1. Maintenance should not be going around Dispatch and the Captain to the CP. Then after talking to the CP by himself transfer us over in the blind. 2. I felt the CP may have influenced the pilot's decision solely by his statements and aggressive tone.

Synopsis

A flight crew and Dispatcher reported that the flight crew were pressured into flying a B737 with inadequate cockpit lighting.
 

A1TAPE

Well-Known Member
I think the captain felt the pressure from the CP and pretty much went with the lighting check to get the situation resolved regardless of whether it would work or not. Although I found another ASRS of a flight to LAS that had the crew doing gethomeitis and a dispatcher who just got on shift was told by the outgoing dispatcher to make them divert as they were running low on fuel with wx inbound. The relieving dispatcher failed to take command and tell them to divert instead just going along with the flight crew saying the wx was fine and continuing which ended up landing with low fuel.
 

lionrock

Well-Known Member
Jesus freaking christ dude, the last thing I would be doing on a "boring Thursday night" would be to read ASRS reports...

I didn't even read the rest of your post, just calm the eff down.. stop making new threads and just go about your day and whatnot...

Look, we appreciate your passion about the field but if I ever knew you applied to our company, I would throw your resume out in a snap (and I can do that).. I'm sorry
 
F

Flying Saluki

Guest
I was looking over ASRS reports on this boring thursday night and found one that was pretty shocking. According to the report, the chief pilot reportedly pressured the flight crew into flying what was pretty much a unairworthy aircraft. What are your takes on this? Have you ever had situations like this and how as dispatchers did you resolve them?

Narrative: 1

MEL 33-1-XY was effective. Aircraft flew for nine days with this MEL, and transited at least eight Maintenance bases in the previous five days. In Captain and First Officer opinions, remaining lighting system lights may not have been sufficient to clearly illuminate all required instruments, controls, and other devices for which it is provided. Also, lighting configuration and intensity from alternate sources may not have been acceptable to the flight crew. Dispatch agreed with Captain on these concerns, and provided link to Maintenance.

After directing Captain in several unsuccessful circuit breaker resets, and without advising Captain and Dispatch, Maintenance brought in Chief Pilot on Call. Chief Pilot did not provide safer alternatives for Crew to consider in operating the aircraft. Rather, Chief Pilot said Crew could be replaced with somebody who was willing to fly the aircraft one more leg. Chief Pilot also stated that nine other Captains operated that aircraft, and implied I should, as well. After thoroughly evaluating cockpit lighting conditions during engine start and taxi, Crew decided it could safely operate aircraft. Crew used overhead flood light in combination with bulkhead lighting to operate the area affected by MEL, however, lighting in many areas was very marginal.

Narrative: 2

Aircraft flood lights physically do not illuminate the FMC keyboards requiring the use of hand held flash lights, creating a safety issue during critical phases of flight. Turning the flood lights up to full bright in order to provide enough and sufficient illumination for the pedestal was so bright it created night vision and glare issues requiring the further use of flash lights and said safety issues during critical phases of flight. The threat here is the Maintenance on Call person and the Chief Pilot on Call.

The Captain called Dispatch to work through this issue and MEL. The Dispatcher brought Maintenance into their conversation, who was unable to resolve the issue. At that point Maintenance hung up, and the Captain and the Dispatcher continued to talk. Then the Captain's phone rang while talking to the Dispatcher; it was the Chief Pilot on Call. The Maintenance on Call person (without advising the Captain or the Dispatcher) took it upon himself to bring in the Pilot on Call to pressure, bully and all but brow-beat the Captain into agreeing the aircraft was ok to fly.

On Call [with] Maintenance person circumventing the process by going VFR direct to the Chief Pilot on Call, he directly affected, in negative manner, the ability of the Captain and the Dispatcher to properly and thoroughly work through this safety issue and MEL (which may have eventually led them to the Chief Pilot on Call anyway). By abruptly bringing the Chief Pilot into the conversation, in mid-thought process, completely destroyed their safety thought process of working through an issue as professionals.

Narrative: 3

Got call from Captain saying when landing at ZZZ he felt that due to MEL 33-1-XY (the control stand lights being out) the Lighting configuration and intensity was now unacceptable to the flight crew. His reasoning was that due to the next leg being conducted at night they would need to use the flood lights to illuminate the center control stand and the reflection of those lights would cause excessive glare in the cockpit. He was therefore not accepting the aircraft. At this point I got Maintenance Control on the line and the Captain explained the situation to him. After questioning pilot for a few min and trying to reset a few breakers he informed him that this MEL has been on this aircraft for days and no other crew had rejected the aircraft. He also informed the Captain that this MEL would drop dead tonight and it would big a pain because aircraft was in ZZZ. The Maintenance controller then said he wanted to talk it over with a few other controllers so he put us on hold. After about 3min we were blindly transferred to Chief Pilot (CP) (CP already knew the whole story, I'm assuming Maintenance Control filled him in) I want to point out that neither the Captain or I requested to talk to the CP. The CP said exactly what Maintenance Control said "9 crews have taken this aircraft over the past few days and none of them had a problem". Captain again explained why he thought it would be unsafe to take this aircraft. The CP repeated what he said before. Captain again said no. CP then said "if Captain did not take aircraft he would get with SOD and scheduling and find a crew that would" both of these statements, in my opinion were made with a very aggressive tone toward the Captain. The CP did say "it's up to [the discretion] and Captain" but then would immediately follow it with one of the above comments. At this point the Captain put CP and myself on hold for a min then came back on and said "how bout if we push the gate, get away from the terminal, and turn the flood lights on" At this point I reminded the Captain that; with me, Maintenance, and the CP (until now) he had felt the aircraft was unacceptable to him. He said they talked it over and said they would push and check the lighting and if it was unacceptable they would return to the gate. I asked if he was sure this is ok with him now, he said it was. I said that would meet the MEL proviso and was good with me. He pushed, lighting was good with him and he took off. My safety concerns with this flight were two. 1. Maintenance should not be going around Dispatch and the Captain to the CP. Then after talking to the CP by himself transfer us over in the blind. 2. I felt the CP may have influenced the pilot's decision solely by his statements and aggressive tone.

Synopsis

A flight crew and Dispatcher reported that the flight crew were pressured into flying a B737 with inadequate cockpit lighting.
If you ever make it to the dispatch desk, you can count on the fact that at some point, you will be pressured to release a flight against your better judgement.

This is where your integrity comes in. If in your considered opinion you think the flight cannot be release safely and legally, you have a legal and moral responsibility to say "No!" That's tough to do, especially when you are a newbie. You need to stand firm. But you also need to be open to new information that is presented to you in the course of the discussion.

But, at the end of the day, remember: "It's always better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6". The worst an airline can do is fire you.
 

Mainline_or_bust

Two days before, the day after tomorrow
Jesus freaking christ dude, the last thing I would be doing on a "boring Thursday night" would be to read ASRS reports...

I didn't even read the rest of your post, just calm the eff down.. stop making new threads and just go about your day and whatnot...

Look, we appreciate your passion about the field but if I ever knew you applied to our company, I would throw your resume out in a snap (and I can do that).. I'm sorry
Have to say I disagree completely with this. Many dispatchers spend too few of time familiazing themselves with INFOs, ACs, FAA Interpretations etc. The best time to do so isn't when you have a situation and you're concerned if you can do something legally. It's in advance of said problem or after someone else has an issue.

I would say wait until you can be signed off and ask other competent seasoned dispatchers their opinions. If you question the answers you get then bring it here. What you do for X scenario is usually driven by the rules of the company you work for.
 

A1TAPE

Well-Known Member
If you ever make it to the dispatch desk, you can count on the fact that at some point, you will be pressured to release a flight against your better judgement.

This is where your integrity comes in. If in your considered opinion you think the flight cannot be release safely and legally, you have a legal and moral responsibility to say "No!" That's tough to do, especially when you are a newbie. You need to stand firm. But you also need to be open to new information that is presented to you in the course of the discussion.

But, at the end of the day, remember: "It's always better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6". The worst an airline can do is fire you.
Yet Im sure that the people pressuring for a barely legal or illegal release dont realize that they are jeopardizing your ticket, the PICs ticket, their ticket by extension, and putting the airline in the crosshairs with the FAA should something happen. Or they realize all of that and are pushing for a D0 100% factor regardless of what happens. They might be thinking well as long as it pushes from the gate it counts for D0 even if it doesnt arrive at its destination and has to divert or worse. Crash.
 

flyingmedic

Well-Known Member
If it bothers you that much, you could always tell the Duty Mgr. you’re not comfortable, and put it on THEIR desk. Don’t let em give you the crap that the union won’t let them work a flight. They will. The union just prevents them from taking it off your desk.
 

A1TAPE

Well-Known Member
If it bothers you that much, you could always tell the Duty Mgr. you’re not comfortable, and put it on THEIR desk. Don’t let em give you the crap that the union won’t let them work a flight. They will. The union just prevents them from taking it off your desk.
Well take a look at what happened when a dispatcher tried that by holding flights at their gates to reduce workload.

Narrative: 1

I worked with a XA00Z start time. At XC30Z I identified a workload safety issue, where I would have 20-22 flights out at the same time. This is an excessive number of flights to be flight following while also having 4-5 more flight plans to release in the next hour. As the Dispatcher I took steps to maintain the safety of the flights under my operational control and I notified the IOC Director, Sector Manager, and Chief Dispatcher of this workload issue. I spoke with 3 Captains on the phone and instructed them to remain at the gate until released for departure due to the pending workload issue. At XD10Z, another Dispatcher offered to take some of my flights. I sent him a total of 4 flights, 3 of which I was holding on the ground due to workload issues.

At approximately, XD30Z the IOC Director on Duty, came to my desk to intimidate me about doing the high workload in the future. He stated that it was a VFR day and that no one else ever complains about the workload on this desk. He also stated that he cannot be moving flights off this Desk every day. He then proceeded to ask me if I needed "additional training." I believe this visit occurred to intimidate me to do the high workload in the future and to not ask for help. I believe [my company] is in violation of CFR 121.395 at this time and immediate action is needed by the FAA and company Management to prevent an aircraft incident or accident. Reduce the number of flights on the Dispatch Desks.

Synopsis

Air Carrier Dispatcher identified a workload safety issue, where he would have 20-22 flights out at the same time while also having 4-5 more flight plans to release in the next hour. He elected to hold flights on the ground and was admonished by a supervisor.
 

flyingmedic

Well-Known Member
I have
Well take a look at what happened when a dispatcher tried that by holding flights at their gates to reduce workload.

Narrative: 1
BOG SNIP
Air Carrier Dispatcher identified a workload.
I have NO trouble believing that story myself. I’ve seen it, many times. The better SOC’s would have the Duty Manager trying to help you out. That is, after all, their job.
In my opinion, as you related it, the issue was holding them at the gate. As you know....Ops NEVER takes the delay code . Causes all kinds of unrest at the morning meeting. It’s things like this that you would think the union would back you up on. They won’t. The feds would. That’s great, but your still “spoken to” or worse, fired.
 

A1TAPE

Well-Known Member
So the only code worse for ops than a delay code is an overdue/missing/crashed aircraft? *sarcasm

Also if you let the aircraft block out but then hold it at a ramp does that count for a delay code? technically it pushed on time so...
 

ppragman

Direct Yeska
Yet Im sure that the people pressuring for a barely legal or illegal release dont realize that they are jeopardizing your ticket, the PICs ticket, their ticket by extension, and putting the airline in the crosshairs with the FAA should something happen. Or they realize all of that and are pushing for a D0 100% factor regardless of what happens. They might be thinking well as long as it pushes from the gate it counts for D0 even if it doesnt arrive at its destination and has to divert or worse. Crash.
So...

Not to be the "jaded pilot guy" but make no mistake, basically nothing happens to a company if they have an accident other than the financial costs of the accident and the bad press. In the "cross hairs" of the FAA is by and large meaningless and FAA enforcement of companies is by and large non-existent for all practical purposes. Basically, if the managers of the airline act like they want to make things better the feds don't bother companies that much. The feds will issue some sort of thing like, "give us your plan of action to solve this problem so it doesn't happen again, it needs to be done by <date>" and that's pretty much the end of it if they target date is met, or at least appears close to being met. They will issue fines - but those can be negotiated a lot of the time and they aren't really that big of a deal unless you are ALREADY on the rocks financially.

Generally speaking, while the FAA does have teeth if you don't appear cooperative (see LAB) the truth is, they aren't going to shut down major components of transportation infrastructure in a region or across the country. They also aren't going to put people out of the job if the company they work for makes it look like they care when they meet with the inspectors.

If you're a pilot or a dispatcher, the best advise I can give you is that if you screw up, both the company and the FAA will do their damndest to make you the scape goat just so they don't have to deal with the associated paperwork of a corrective action - but make no mistake, real oversight is unlikely to increase.
 

A1TAPE

Well-Known Member
what do you mean by see LAB? Also Do companies and the FAA ever fight over the authroized airport lists? Or do they just go with what seems practical?
 

ppragman

Direct Yeska
what do you mean by see LAB? Also Do companies and the FAA ever fight over the authroized airport lists? Or do they just go with what seems practical?
LAB was a 135 in SE Alaska that was shut down by the FAA it's one of maybe a handful of companies I've ever heard of getting shut down. I cannot think of a 121 carrier that was gutted due to non-compliance.

They can - but the authorized airport list is basically an OpSpec addition. It's not hard to get new airports added. Your biggest obstacle to acquiring scheduled service in the first place is economic authority. The Feds will violate you if you don't use an approved airport, but the truth is that they're probably never going to catch an incorrect alternate or an inaccurate manifest unless there's an accident directly related to that flight. Even then they miss a bunch of stuff (the NTSB does not however - professionals to beat the band over there). Regardless, "being in the crosshairs of the FAA" doesn't really happen in the sense that you're inplying.

They'll find responsibile certificated people to blame and give a suspension to a dispatcher or a pilot and the company will probably never actually be under scrutiny. "The pilot/dispatcher failed to comply with Manual A-1-345 pg 37. Not our fault, we trained him i.a.w. the training program!"

Protect yourself the company will be fine.
 

flyingmedic

Well-Known Member
But you can make up for it in the air by requesting direct where available.
Maybe the PILOT could. Certainly not a Dispatch function. I can tell you, 95/100 when you ask for a Direct, you already know if you’re going to get it. In busy airspace, or crap weather....you’re most likely not going to get it. YMMV.
 
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