Saturday, July 19, 2008

Maybe we should go back to propellers? Closer to wind power?

Eight senior US Airways pilots and the US Airline Pilots Association, which represents the airline's 5200 pilots, have filed complaints with the Federal Aviation Administration. It seems US Airways is pressuring their pilots to carry less fuel than they feel is safe. The union took out a full page ad in USA Today on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 accusing the airline of "a program of intimidation to pressure your captain to reduce fuel loads."

Fuel prices have all airlines scrambling to find ways to cut weight on their airplanes. A heavier airplane burns more fuel. Thus the elimination of many items from airliner interiors lately, including movie players, pillows, blankets, peanuts and magazines. The intimidation charge relates to the "punishment" the pilots received when they recently asked for "an additional 10 to 15 minutes worth of fuel." It seems all eight pilots were summarily ordered to attend training sessions, or "check rides" last Wednesday. Next they'll be sending them to anger management class. US Airways denies the check rides were punitive.

Oh dear. Something else for us beleaguered passengers to worry about. Is there enough fuel aboard? How do we know? Will they start weighing the pilots now? Then they'll really be mad as hell. Worse yet, WILL THEY START WEIGHING US?

But maintaining his positive attitude, Delta CEO Richard Anderson says that Delta's acquisition of NWA (He doesn't even pretend it is a merger anymore) will generate two billion in annual benefits by 2012, assuring that THE BIGGEST AIRLINE IN THE WORLD will lose less money than most of the others. Feel better?

I think we should turn the whole airline problem over to Al Gore.


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