JetBlue's Cadet Pilot Program Launches

John Croft, reporting for atwonline.com:

New York-based JetBlue Airways’ Gateway Select program inducted its first class of cadets late this summer. One of seven dedicated pipelines leading to the JetBlue cockpit, Gateway Select is the first modern example of a zero-time, trainee-to-airline-pilot program by a US carrier, despite the practice being established in Europe and Asia for some time. 

and

Once admitted to JetBlue’s Gateway Select, cadets will spend four weeks in a “foundation” course, followed by basic flight training at CAE’s Oxford Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. That training will be followed by simulator time at JetBlue’s facilities in Orlando and then a job as a certified flight instructor at CAE to build hours. 

The airline will induct the first six candidates in a class of 24 cadets selected from 1,400 applications received in a 2.5-week period in March. Another six cadets will start training with ab initio training provider CAE every three months, with all 24 expected to complete the program in approximately 3.5 years and transition into a six-week JetBlue training course to become Embraer E190 first officers.  

I have to admit not really having an opinion about this. We all know that airlines are having trouble staffing their cockpits and it appears JetBlue is on the forefront of alleviating that need. I do, however, have a hard time understanding how a pilot with only 3.5 years of experience will be full qualified to fly a E190 as a First Officer.

Perhaps I'm just jealous - this wasn't available when I was a young pilot in training.

Happy Customers Make More Money

Dan Reed, reporting for Forbes.com:

You’ll probably never guess which U.S. airlines topped a recent survey that sought to discover which carriers “get” their customers the most and, as a result, generate the greatest loyalty among its customers.

and

“We think airline executives get too focused on the rational data, and are not focused enough on the emotional scores,” that are far more difficult to collect, track and analyze for meaning, Trevail says. So C Space (formerly known as Communispace) has developed what it calls a “Consumer Quotient” which attempts to quantify consumer attitudes, opinions, emotions and other “soft” factors in ways that can provide valuable insight to corporate managers.

This article does a great job in outlining the differences between using mathematical metrics vs. emotional intelligence in determining the success of the airline. Your on-time percentage may be stellar but if nearly every passenger walks off your plane unhappy you still fail. Most airlines don't get that but Alaska Does.

Delta Air Lines has had a stated goal of trying to push Alaska off their mantle on the west coast. They have tried to accomplish this by running a "shuttle" type operation similar that what they do on east coast, and enhancing their frequent flyer program. So far without success. Why? Because there are a huge number of potential customers in the Pacific Northwest who simply won't accept any other airline except Alaska. They won't even shop around and see the Delta operation in Seattle as a "carpetbagger." Delta has given no emotional reason for fliers to try them. Simply putting a bunch of airplanes in Seattle and buying some billboards aren't going to do it.

In other words, pleasing the customer makes business sense.

Duh.

50th Dreamliner Delivered to ANA

Brandon Farris, reporting for airwaysmag.com:

According to ANA, whose Dreamliners accounts for 25% of its fleet, it is saving approximately $98 Million USD a year, thanks to the improvement on the fuel efficiency — 20 percent better than the 767-300 it replaced.

There was a time when the industry wasn't sure if Boeing was going to survive the development of the 787. Now it appears to not only have weathered the storm, but thrive. We are truly seeing the advantage of composite materials and efficient use of automation.

Airlines Want Pilots to Fly Faster

David Schaper, reporting for NPR:

American Airlines wants its pilots to fly faster, taxi faster and take other steps to reduce flight times so they don't time out. In an email message to employees last month, American COO Robert Isom told dispatchers and pilots to "utilize speed up flight plans to reduce delays involving crew duty times."

It's no secret that everybody wants their flight to end as quickly as possible with one exception: the flight crew. Most people do not know that they aren't paid until the door closes and the aircraft begins pushing back from the gate. All that other time spent prepping, preflighting, etc. they are not on the clock. Understandably when an airline asks its pilots to fly faster they aren't particularly motivated to do so. I don't blame them.

"It's flight plans that are submitted to us that have speeds which in some cases reach near the aircraft limitation or are not prudent in areas that contain turbulence," says Capt. Dennis Tajer, an American pilot and a spokesman for the pilots union. Tajer calls it "pilot pushing," and he says in the process, the airline is thinning the margin of safety. "Coming off of normal flight plans just to accommodate an overscheduled airline to avoid an FAA legal limitation from happening is not a part of the safety culture that our pilots are obligated and committed to maintaining," he says.

While I agree with Captain Tajer I believe that they would be better served to just say "we get paid by the hour, and we will not fly faster." If AA (or any airline) wants faster flight plans, then figure out a way to do that while not cutting pay for the flight crews.