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14/07/2008 – US Airways Reduces Fuel On Aircraft To Reduce Fuel Expenses!
Recently US Airways announced it would be removing the in-flight entertainment systems from approximately 200 aircraft in an effort to save fuel. In theory I am sure this make sense, but then again the entertainment screens on the US Airways’ Airbus ‘A320 family’ of aircraft swing down from the overhead every few rows. I am sure removing integrated monitors is quite expensive and then those ‘gaps’ need to be filled.
Does the removal of in-flight entertainment mean US Airways crews will go back to doing the pre-flight safety demonstration rather than having us watch a monitor?
I an quite interested in the pre-flight safety briefing because US Airways has recently butted heads with pilots over the airline cutting back on the fuel being loaded onto their aircraft.
Airlines have stripped us of meals, some airlines charge us for soft-drinks, there are fewer-to-no pillows, blankets are a hard to find commodity, even the pretzels can be a hard find on some flights. Airlines have also reduced the value of the frequent flyer programs terribly over the last year. I can deal with the reduced ‘amenities’ on the flights I take the reduced value of my frequent flyer miles.
What I cannot fathom is actually reducing the amount of fuel loaded onto an aircraft.
The flights that this affects the most are the trans-Atlantic (TATL), Pacific/Hawaii (TPac) and trans-Continental (trans-con) flights. Currently eight senior captains with US Airways have been sent off to take fuel conservation training after ordering additional fuel for their aircraft, before departing on trans-Atlantic flights. US Airways states that pilots are able to determine how much fuel they need, but those who order additional fuel, on-top of what was delivered to the aircraft by the airline directly, will be required to take fuel conservation training.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for conserving fuel.
Aircraft now push out from their gates on one engine, rather than two engines (or three engines, or four engines), some airlines use a ‘tug’ to pull their aircraft further out into the field to save fuel. Aircraft generally shut down at gates now and are powered by auxiliary power while at the gate for lights, air, etc.
The place a pilot does not want to start thinking about their fuel needs is at end of a 3,728 miles trans-Atlantic flight when the tower is telling them they need to abort the landing and go around because something out of their control is blocking their approach.
US Airways corporate media relations’ states “We’re not instructing pilots to make a decision that could even remotely compromise the safe operation of their aircraft to save fuel.” However if they use intimidation tactics to prevent pilots from operating their aircraft within the safety limits they believe is required to fly the aircraft then the safety and lives of the passengers the pilot is responsible for is compromised.
I have disagreed with many of US Airways’ decisions in the past year. I had been a US Airways ‘Platinum” frequent flyer and moved all my frequent flyer miles to another Star Alliance airline due to their anti-passenger tactics, while still flying on their aircraft. US Airways is the only airline at my ‘home airport’ (New Haven – HVN) and on trans-Atlantic flights I have preferred their Airbus A333 (A330-323x) service over quite a few other US flag carrier airlines. These tactics are not ‘anti-passenger,’ they are potentially reckless and will probably go unchecked until a plane falls out of the sky as a result of the corporate decision to reduce fuel being delivered to aircraft.
……I can’t in Good Faith end this entry with ‘Happy Flying!’