One of the biggest worry for airlines and their employees, is the fuel price. In the past few years, we have seen it reach well above the 100 dollars mark for a barrel. High price means huge losses and therefore forces airlines to cut expenses in order to stay operational. This diagram below, reflect the financial consequences with the barrel at different prices. Even though it is a 2008 estimate ; with the current and continuous increase of the price of crude oil, the consequences would be the same.
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It is the end of the cargo road for me. A few days ago, I finally got the word from American Eagle and will be starting my training on February 28th in Dallas. After taking care of the last details including paperworks and my medical examination, I gave my two weeks notice to my base manager who was not surprised. That is because he did not even know who I was. Pretty chocking considering I have worked there for two years and there are only a dozen pilots flying out of cincinnati. Talk about a sign that says it is time to move on... For my last week flying boxes around the midwest, I got to fly a different E120. Much younger than the one we used to hop around with before I took it to California for the C check. This one has what we had been waiting for in a long time. A gps. It is definitely a nice upgrade and makes our life a little easier. Thanks to this somewhat modern gadget, air traffic control is a lot more keen to give us direct to our destination or at least a shortcut, especially in the middle of the night when there are fewer airplanes zooming through the skies. To be honest, this is the type of update I could get used to very quickly. It is amazing the amount of information you can obtain from the system. From the airplane's ground speed to the wind condition at your current altitude or data about the actual trip, through a very well designed interactive display. I guess it is a nice and efficient step between basic VOR navigation and having a flight management system. It definitely kept me entertained for my last few nights hauling freight, as it seemed like time was dragging on very slowly. It did not help either that I actually was feeling under the weather for a few days. Yesterday was my last flight for the company and I was looking forward to it. After a late departure out of Cedar Rapids, we were flying above the weather and under what was almost a full moon. The tail wind was pretty strong and gave me only a short time to appreciate what I have accomplished on this very same run for the past couple years. With Cincinnati in sight, I brought the Embraer softly onto the runway. After a quick taxi to the ramp, the engines went quiet and one last time, I signed off, finally closing this chapter.
Since the Colgan Crash in February 2009, pilots have been raising a red flag unknown by the flying public and often ignored by airlines. I am talking about fatigue. Because of low wages, pilots can not afford to live in major metroplitan areas like New-York, where airlines have hubs and therefore crew bases. Often, the pilots live in towns with a lower cost of living and before starting their scheduled trip, they will commute either the night before, early morning and even sometime overnight. Because hotels are expensive, especially when you make $1500 Dollars a month, some of them will sleep in inadequate rest areas in airports. Below you can watch a recently aired short video from ABC News about the subject of pilot fatigue.
An airport is often a place of emotions. Sometime sadness from a young child because his grand-parents are leaving after spending a few days with him, from an adult because his significant other is going away for college or perhaps even from an entire family as one of its member is leaving for a tour of duty. Sometime though, the terminal turns into a place of joy. I could give you multiple examples but I thought this T-Mobile commercial would sum it up best. After seeing it, you will probably look forward to your flight back home...
I have been home for more than a week so far and for what I am told, our airplane will still be down for its heavy maintenance check for about another week. I will probably airline to Burbank and fly it back to Cincinnati. Because of the situation, my February schedule is up in the air and I am fine with it. I am definitely enjoying the time off and spending it with my girls and the dog. Enjoying the comfort of my own home, like sleeping in a familiar bed or having a warm cooked meal somewhere else then in a hotel room is a more appealing choice. I get to do my share of the household chores, like laundry, cleaning, taking the kid to school or walk the dog a few times a day. I try to compensate for the fact that I basically don’t contribute for 20 days of the month, while on the road. This time off is also welcomed because I might be away for a few weeks starting February 28th, as I have received couple days ago, my conditional offer of employment from American Eagle. The next step is the company pre-hire medical examination, which I will be doing very shortly. The training which takes place in Dallas, is about six weeks long and the opportunities to go home are very limited if any at all. I got the news fairly quickly as I had only interviewed three weeks ago and because of all the hiring they are doing, I did not expect to go through the captain review board so soon. But until everything is definitely set in stone, I remain a freight dog and I get to be the lucky one to walk our miniature schnauzer Jazz during the snowy and frigid winter in Kentucky.