Why are all of those flights really delayed?

As an aviation business major here at Embry-Riddle, I have taken a lot of neat classes in the past three years.  Everyone likes classes that make you think and answer real-world questions, and Airline Management taught by Dr. Abdelghany here in the College of Business is one of those courses.  In Professor Abdelghany’s class you learn the management side of airline operations, which is a very complex model in itself.  From who is involved with each and every flight, to how an airline schedule is built and run on a day-to-day basis, to how an airline recovers from a major storm just like Winter Storm Ion that just blasted through the Midwest and the East Coast, most every part of airline management is covered.

At landing slot controlled airports, only so many flights can takeoff and land per hour all based on what airline “owns” each slot. With any storm, the number of flights that can operate per hour is decreased because of the weather conditions which impacts every flight in the system. This diagram shows the impact during a weather system and a recovery plan below depicting what flights depart when to recover operations.

Here this week we saw US major airline jetBlue cancel all of its flights from its four major Northeast US airports: New York JFK and LaGuardia, Newark, and Boston.  Some stated that they thought it was a sign that jetBlue, or B6 as it’s known in the industry, was on the brink of failure, on the verge of shutting its doors.  In my opinion, I think it is a great way for jetBlue to recover from the terrible start to the winter season.  Two major weather systems have wrecked airline schedules to start 2014, and the flights you see on the boards aren’t the only things affected.  Resources, including airplanes and crews are misplaced at different destinations and duty hour limits (maximum hours one can work per day) are reached at difficult times.  Not only are resources limited, but worker safety is a giant factor as well.  In Indianapolis this week, exposed skin could potentially be hurt via frost bite in as little as five minutes meaning that ground crews are stressed to the max in the frigid temperatures.

Every box indicates a flight which has resources involved including the airplane, the pilots, the flight attendants, gates, etc. When a flight is delayed, a domino effect happens and all flights later on down the schedule using the previous resources are affected as shown here.

This and more is discussed in the Airline Management course at Embry-Riddle, making students in the Aviation Business major or minor very well prepared for a successful career in the aviation industry and the airlines specifically.  So the next time a flight is delayed and folks are wondering why, step back and look at all of the things affected by a major storm.

Major winter storms like Ion in January 2014 affect airports all across the world. Here you can see that it takes a massive effort between airport, airline, and government officials to get airline schedules back on track.

Happy flying,

Kyle

 

 

 

Life is like a box of chocolates…

Over the past two weeks things have begun to pick up again. Last week we traveled up to Tulsa, Oklahoma to get a tour of one of our biggest maintenance facilities. After flying up to Tulsa we waited in the baggage area for several minutes for our contact. After no sign and a failed attempt to reach him by phone we call our intern coordinator back in Dallas. Apparently 20 minutes before we landed, our guide got called into mechanic contact negotiations. (That’s another thing I didn’t realize until this summer, that every work group in this industry is almost constantly negotiating for a better contract.) But stuck in Tulsa we were, and not wanting to sit and wait for our afternoon flight home we began to scheme. From Tulsa there is a limited number of American destinations to fly to, the two biggest being Dallas and Chicago. Knowing that we didn’t want to go back to Dallas (and the daily work) we decided that Chicago style deep dish would be an excellent dinner option.

With a quick call back to Dallas to receive permission to proceed with our “base visit” in Chicago because we didn’t want to “waste the day” we were on an aircraft bound for Chicago within the hour. We actually did make good on our word by meeting up with our intern who is working out of Chicago this summer. He took us up to the American ramp tower, down to the American Airlines crew quarters underneath the terminal, and out on the ramp, which was awesome. As we were about to go on the ramp our Chicago intern said, “now when I open this door there should be a big plane here,” as the door swung open there in massive form was an Iberian A340, which I say is a pretty large plane. The pilots actually have their names written on the side of it! Getting the chance to walk on any ramp is a cool experience, but getting to walk around the ramp at Chicago O’Hare – now that’s just plain sweet.

After our ramp tour we headed into Chicago for dinner and by 10pm I was back in my crash pad in Dallas. There is something almost magical about being able to do this kind of travel. I mean really, Chicago for dinner when you are living in Texas??? Who does that?

After a couple more days in the office it was time for the weekend and more traveling. One place I hadn’t visited yet this summer was the northeast, and so, there we were Friday headed to Newark to spend the weekend in New York. Never having gone to New York, I was apprehensive as to what the Big Apple was going to be like. Overall I would say that I enjoyed the big city and I’m sure if you are a person who loves big cities you would enjoy it even more. I couldn’t believe how hot it was though…and no breeze! The public transportation makes it fairly easy to get around but sometimes it takes a while to get from place to place. We hit all of the major tourist spots and had fun bargaining for knockoff colognes and purses. We went down to ground zero and without getting into that, which I would say is a personal and unique experience for everyone, one quote I did see at the site that I will include went something to the effect of “don’t forget the past, but live in the future.”

The following week of work was interesting. With a base chief meeting here in Dallas, all of the chiefs from around the country were here. Another intern who works with the chief in Miami was also in town for a simulator session and had been invited to go out to eat with the chiefs. Waiting to tag along for dinner also, I randomly bumped into my bosses’ boss, who introduced me to one of the guys who works strategy for American. Here, in a moment of immense fate, I had my next break on my project. After explaining what I was doing, the strategy guy invited me to present my research a week later (this Wednesday) to a group he was supposed to be speaking to. Now this was great but since I hadn’t put a lot of time into the project since the beginning of July you can figure out what I have been up to the past week here.

But it is just crazy how the industry works. You never know who you will bump into and when and what kind of break you might get. But I am excited about presenting to more people and the fact that my research will not go to waste is a relief.

This past weekend we were back in the northeast. On Friday at 3:00pm we still had no idea where we were going to go. By the time I left work I was on the standby list for a flight to Hartford, Connecticut with no real plans. We ended up doing a road trip out of Hartford on Saturday, driving from there to Providence, Rhode Island and then up the coast through Plymouth, and through Boston, Mass. From there we continued north through the tip of New Hampshire and into Maine. We hung out by the water for a while and then got a lobster at a restaurant on the water. The temperature was incredible, nice and cool, a great break from Dallas. Flying back to Dallas on Sunday morning from Boston ended yet another amazing weekend of travel and added more memories to an already unforgettable summer.

Cheers,

Jacob

Don’t stop till you drop….

With yet another two weeks of the internship completed, I have passed the midpoint of the semester and cannot believe that in five weeks I will be headed back to the east coast and leaving Dallas behind.

Two weeks ago we got the chance to visit our Alliance Maintenance Base near Ft. Worth, T exas. Getting a chance to walk around and see, touch, and ask questions about every part of the aircraft was a really great opportunity to see a lot of the parts and pieces that as a passenger, or even as a pilot you normally don’t get to see. The base services 777 and 767/757 aircraft and getting a chance to walk through the engine repair station was one of my favorite parts of the tour. From individual fan blades to the completed engine, we got a chance to see every step in between that it takes to building one of these awesome pieces of machinery.

The next day was my big presentation to my boss’s boss. With everything set up I won’t hesitate to mention that I was a bit nervous. But confident in my research, the presentation went off without a hitch. Some additional research areas were suggested, but overall I believe that he was very impressed and everything went as well as it could have. One thing I took away from the experience was the way corporate-level decision-making works. With my boss and I on the same page about how we wished to proceed with the research and how we wanted to present the research to our employees, once the door of our meeting was closed, all the decisions were up to my boss’s boss. At first I found this a bit frustrating, thinking to myself, “well I did the research why does it have to be presented another way th a n the way I envisioned,” but soon remembering where I sit on the food chain, I acknowledged the new possibilities without hesitation.

All was forgotten in an hour though when I was on an ERJ-145 headed to Charleston, S . C . to see family and friends for the Fourth of July. Getting a chance to spend a weekend doing the things I normally do during the summer was just the break from Dallas that I needed. Hanging out at Kiawah Island with my family and friends that I had not seen in almost two months, getting a chance to eat some home-cooked food, and just relax, I cannot think of a better way to have spent the Fourth. Getting a chance to take one of my friends that I have grown up with since second grade fishing and watching her hook into the biggest fish of her life, I cannot describe to you how exciting that is, or how much trash talk I had to listen to all the way home about her catching the biggest fish of the day. I might be slightly biased since I grew up in South Carolina, but in all of my travels this summer I have not found anything like Charleston, and I highly recommend visiting if you ever have the chance.

This past week in the office, I spent most of my time getting caught up on some work I had put aside until after the presentation. Getting new retirements updated and working on the new quarterly magazine that goes out to our employees, it was a rather straightforward week in the cubical. However, we did get the chance to do two – I guess we can call them “field trips” this past week, both of which were awesome experiences. On Wednesday we got the chance to go out to DFW and get a behind the scenes look at how we handle all the bags and cargo that ride in our planes. Looking at both our sorting system, as well as what happens out on the ramp, this tour continued to give me the bigger picture of what all goes into making American Airlines run.

In continuation with taking a look at the bigger picture, the chief pilot at DFW then took us up to our ramp control tower facility. American has been testing a new piece of equipment on the ramp at DFW called Digital Guidance System or DGS. This system allows aircraft to park at their respective gate, without the need for personnel to marshal the plane in. This creates a more efficient parking system as well as allowing for the planes to park in inclement weather when service personnel are not allowed out on the ramp. Having this system explained to us, and seeing exactly how it works, was very interesting. Also getting a chance to go behind the scenes of how parking assignments for planes are decided and how much trouble it causes the overall system to switch gates was very insightful to the overall process.

This past Thursday, all of the interns got the opportunity to go to Oklahoma City to receive high altitude training. As we were receiving ground training on the physiological aspects of what is happening to the body at altitude, we talked about what we could expect when we went into the chamber and took our masks off at 25,000ft. We also learned about how to use the oxygen mask and the oxygen system. After several hours of ground school, we proceeded to the chamber, an orange reinforced steel box. With probably 25 seats in the chamber, our entire group, as well as a group from Boeing, all went in at the same time. After going over the important things again, we put our masks on and just sat and took in pure oxygen for about 10 minutes to get us used to the masks and also attempt to get most of the nitrogen out of our bodies so we would have a less likely chance of getting bubbles building up in our joints. Our instructors then took the chamber up to 8,000ft to make sure everyone was going to be ok with the pressure. After coming back down and then back to 8,000ft we did a rapid decompression to 18,000ft….talk about ears popping. From here we worked our way up to 25,000ft.

At this point, the other side of the box took their oxygen masks off. For the next 5 minutes my side sat and watched as our friends developed symptoms of hypoxia and one almost passed out. The thing about hypoxia is that everyone has different symptoms when they are deprived of oxygen. So as pilots it is really important to know what your symptom is, so you can recognize it if your aircraft ever depressurizes. So then it was our turn to take off our masks. Within a few minutes I was light headed, hot, and dizzy. Receiving a little coaching from one of the instructors to put my mask on, I was able to do so under my own power, but another minute and I would most certainly have passed out. This class and chamber exercise is put on by the FAA in Oklahoma City and it is FREE. If you ever get the chance you should definitely take advantage of this opportunity.

This past weekend I traveled to Colorado with three of my fellow interns. With plans to fly into Colorado Springs to go rafting, it was to our surprise on Saturday morning that our flight, which had plenty of seats the day before, was packed solid. After getting bumped from the flight the adventure began. With laptops going crazy, we soon found out that we could get into Montrose, CO which is near Telluride, CO and we were certain that we would be able to find some sort of rafting adventure there. With our flight an hour late leaving DFW we encountered another hour penalty when we attempted to pick up our rental car.

After giving up on Thrifty (which we, as interns, have now sworn off for life) we secured a jeep from another company and were off to Telluride. This place is awesome! A small town tucked back in a valley, this was some the best scenery I have seen yet. Exploring all day, with plans of rafting the following morning we were shocked again when our return flight the next day became over sold! Scrambling online once again we noted an open flight out of Grand Junction, CO on Sunday afternoon, about a 3 hour drive away. For the rest of our time in Telluride we continued to explore and drove up a single lane, dirt/rock road up the side of a mountain to an amazing waterfall, an amazing turn of luck on the Jeep and 4-wheel drive!!! Continuing up the mountain we actually stumbled upon some snow. People it is the middle of July and this was no more than 10,000ft. Global Warming??? Your call….Carefully making our way down the side of the mountain, we stumbled back into town and had an amazing dinner before trekking northwest to Grand Junction.

The following morning, before our flight, we went exploring one more time, this time to the Grand Mesa. According to Google the Grand Mesa is the world’s highest plateau. This is a must-see if you are ever in Grand Junction! The views of this untouched National Park are amazing. One side note, however, stay on the large dirt roads or on the pavement! Our GPS showed a shortcut down a tiny dirt road and while it was fun to get bounced around on rocks and holes, if this had been my personal truck and not a rental I would have been freaking out. Also a car will not return if you were to take it out there, just FYI.

With so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences this summer, I don’t know what I am going to do this fall when my travel benefits expire. But until then I plan on continuing to make the most out of this opportunity and do as much as possible.

Cheers,

Jacob Velky

Getting down to business…

In the past two weeks my duties around the office have gotten a lot more interesting and meaningful. From the beginning of the internship I have been involved with tasks associated with keeping up and maintaining records of retirements and captain upgrades, keeping our news distribution updated, and distributing information to pilots concerning all types of matters.

However, two weeks ago I began working on a project pertaining to the major airlines around the world. Researching airlines outside of the United States I have focused on where these airlines fly, what aircraft they are using, how those aircraft cabins are configured, what kind of orders they have for new aircraft, the airlines’ load factor and the profitability in the first quarter of 2008 for those airlines.

By gathering this data, we hope to be able to present the information in a user-friendly manor to our pilots, making them aware of exactly how many companies are competitive factors in our market. Some people might be able to name a couple of foreign airlines that fly into the US, but if you were to ask most any pilot in the airline industry today how many US cities Lufthansa fly’s into or how many aircraft Emirates has on order, the probability of that person getting anywhere near the actual numbers if very unlikely. In reality though, this information is astonishing and extremely important in looking at the future profits and sustainability of our own airline.

Currently I have compiled this and more information on five foreign carriers. After updating my boss on my findings and how the information should be presented, the interest in the project sparked around the office. I cannot put into words how cool it feels to be sitting in your little intern cubical and to have the most senior people in the office stop by to ask you to explain what you are doing; then after you explain, told how awesome what you have done so far really is.

So last week my boss stopped by to tell me that I would be presenting all of my information to her boss on July 3rd. This type of one-on-one time with one of the most senior members of my department is exactly the moment that any intern should work for. Being able to present a department project for further approval and backing is a great experience, and to have that be with a person of such clout is even better. With poster-sized visuals on each airline and an example PowerPoint system I designed to display carrier routes and to compare carrier routes, hopefully all will go well on Thursday.

In other news, last week we had a boy’s camp come to the flight academy. All of the kids were children that didn’t have fathers and getting a chance to hang out with these guys and possibly inspire them to succeed in school and follow their dreams was a great experience. The day camp was also just as exciting for me when we got to go on a tour of some different places around the flight academy that I don’t get the chance to see on a day-to-day basis. Getting to see for the first time the flight attendant training facility, the dispatch area, and flight operations area was very interesting because it gave you the bigger picture about what all goes into our company. We also got to “play” with an MD80 ground trainer, where the kids went crazy with excitement to be flipping switches in more or less a real cockpit.

Of course over the past two weeks I have continued the traveling experience, first going to New Orleans for a weekend. Staying right off Bourbon St. we got the chance to see some of the city during the day and get some true New Orleans dishes. Shrimp Creole for lunch and a huge plate of crawfish for dinner were both excellent for our taste of the Bayou. Getting the chance to spend a night on Bourbon St. was definitely an experience worth doing at least once in your life. (I don’t think I need to explain much here but I will say that it is everything you would expect Bourbon St. to be and then a lot of things you forgot to expect!)

This past weekend we found ourselves in Chicago for what was supposed to be a day trip. Getting to Chicago a little bit later than expected and still wanted to do more when it was time to leave, Chicago became a weekend adventure. On Saturday there was a food festival called a Taste of Chicago where you buy tickets and walk around sampling food from different restaurants in the city that have set up tents in the park. With thousands of people in attendance, the festival is a bit over whelming but it was a great touristy thing to do and a great way to taste some different foods. After the festival we walked around some more and went down to the water and checked out Navy Pier, the ultimate tourist spot in Chicago. Right on the water and looking back at the city the pier is worth going to and checking out the sites and sounds. Later that evening we got our famous Chicago deep dish and it was excellent. The city over all was very impressive, clean, and public transportation made getting to and from the airport a non-issue. I recommend checking out Chicago.

As I’m sitting here trying to think of what I have forgotten, I cannot believe how fast this internship is going by. IT’S JULY ALREADY! But I think I have gotten everything in for this entry and I hope everyone has a great Fourth of July weekend!

Cheers,
Jacob

And so it begins….

After completing my second and final day of orientation, I cannot help but to sit here and think about all the possibilities that lay ahead of me this summer. As an intern with American Airlines, I will be based at the American Airlines Flight Academy in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas this summer. Working on projects and issues that arise throughout the summer, I will also be traveling throughout the United States and some of the islands in the Caribbean. This summer is sure to be filled with much hard work as well as many unforgettable memories. Seeing how I just got started here in Dallas and I’m still learning the ropes, I will use this week to let you know how I got here in case you ever want to do an internship at this level.

Securing and internship, especially with a large company like American Airlines, takes a lot of time, preparation, and persistence. I began looking for internships the end of the fall 2007 semester, and was unsuccessful in my attempt to secure a Spring 2008 internship with the Hawker Beechcraft Corporation. As disappointed as I was, I made sure to remain positive and continue my search in the spring.

In early January I began to compile a list of potential companies. After talking with Career Services and creating an account on Eagle Hire, I realized the vast potential that lay ahead of me. To narrow the playing field, I looked for companies I felt would be a good fit for me and also companies that advertised paid internship positions (let’s be honest, all college kids could use a little extra cash.) With my goal to become a corporate pilot, naturally all the big corporate names made it on to my list, including Proctor and Gamble and Coca-Cola. However, being raised to always have a back up, and not knowing how difficult it would be to get a position, I included other companies such as Duke Energy, Hendrick Motorsports and Day Jet to my list of possibilities. Out of shear random luck I also included American Airlines to my list, because they had a few paid positions available, something that had been rather difficult to find among airline internships.

Beginning the application process, I then had letters of recommendation and cover letters drafted up and my resume perfected. Some companies also required an official transcript and driving record, both of which take several days to receive. It is important to look at the application deadline and give yourself some time in order to get your paperwork together.

With my bait in the water it became a waiting game to see what would bite. After a couple weeks of silence we learned that the Proctor and Gamble internship had been withdrawn for the summer. A few days later, things began to happen. One day I received an e-mail from American, requesting a face-to-face interview. Then, the next day, I received a call from Duke Energy requesting a phone interview. The Duke phone interview was completely HR based and led to a face-to-face interview, which was over an hour and a half technical interview, one of the most intense experiences of my life. The American Interview was very straightforward, a couple HR questions and a few technical questions.

Within a week I had been declined from Duke and accepted by American for the summer. With Embry-Riddle policy being that once an internship is accepted no other offers may be accepted, I thought about the other potential opportunities that were still on the table. With such an opportunity with American Airlines, I thought it foolish to decline the invitation and so I accepted it. Looking back, this was a great choice for many reasons. As it turned out Coca-Cola pulled out and Hendricks still hadn’t made a decision by the time the semester was over, all of these instances are great examples of the need to have backups in life.

So here I am sitting in my airline pilot “crash pad” (a residence that will be the topic of a future journal entry I assure you) in Dallas, Texas as a paid intern with American Airlines. The road getting to this point was a little bit bumpy and had you told me that I would be in this position back in January I most likely would have laughed at you. However, right now I know that this was the best opportunity there was for me this summer, it just sort of fits and it’s funny how it works out that way sometimes.

This summer I will be working in the Flight Communications department of the Flight Academy. At this point I’m still not exactly sure what my job will entail but as I learn more, I will share with you what is going on here. If you have any questions throughout my internship please feel free to send me an e-mail at velkyba8@erau.edu and if I get the opportunity I will do my best to get back to you with an answer or share the question on my next entry.

Cheers,

Jacob Velky