Saturday, August 07, 2010

Scheduling versus Safety

The airplane is still away. The pilot who is with it tells me that they could have completed the minimum scheduled maintenance work and had it back today, but the weather here isn't appropriate for our clients' work, and is forecast to remain thus for days, so they are keeping the airplane in Edmonton, doing small fixes that will have to be done sooner or later, so might as well be done before the parts actually break and delay an important mission. It seems like a sensible thing to do, and I expect the client to be happy with it. We're being proactive. That's still a good buzzword, isn't it?

Information flows along various different routes in this operation. I'm happy that it almost always goes through the pilots, so we know what is going on, but this time somewhere between my boss, the mechanics who have the plane, the pilot who is with the plane, and the client's head office, a message has not reached the client field staff. The people in the same hotel as me. The project manager is not happy with the proposed situation, and wants to have the airplane back on site by tomorrow morning. They pay for the airplane, they get to choose these things. I make a few calls and then can go back to the project manager. "The airplane can be here by eight a.m." Now he's happy.

When it's not a safety issue, there's no harm in giving the choice to the client. The time can be now or later. There are a lot of fixes that can be done either preemptively or as after the part actually breaks. The cost of unexpected downtime usually outweighs the cost of replacing parts early, but when it's scheduling not safety we won't hold an airplane back unnecessarily. One of ours is down with a grounded engine right now, but demand hasn't been enough to spur replacing the engine.

I go out for a run. It's hillier than it looks from the air, always is. The sidewalks aren't very good, either. I'm not running consistently enough to see any improvement in my speed or fitness, but I guess as long as I'm staying fit and not getting injured it's good. I can't remember my New Year's Resolutions this year, and I'm afraid to look them up, because I know I must have blown my chances on all of them already.

When I get in, I learn two things. One is that thanks to the time difference between here and Edmonton, they're going to do some of the work and have the airplane here for eight, and the other is that we're going to Anchorage, Alaska in three days. Do we have charts? Hell no. We have three sets of Alaska charts from last year, but none in this airplane. It's too late to try and order any tonight, so I just play with routes to Anchorage in my Seattle Avionics navigation program. I add "find charts" to my to do list for tomorrow.


Aviatrix said...

Heh, I guess blowing my New Year's Resolutions festered there until this week.

GPS_Direct said...

How do you like Voyager? I sprung for one of the paid-for versions about a month back when they were running a sale. Quite the planner.

I am going to recommend they add more options as to what to leave off when it comes to printing. Killed my ink cartridge printing out pages of barely useful and duplicated airport info...

If you can fly with an EFB, check out the Flight Guide iEFB on the iPad - though they may not have Canadian charts... 8(

Aviatrix said...

GPS Direct I have the free version, so some of what I want is in the pay version, but it already has a lot of things I don't use. My chief pilot sends us a new Excel spreadsheet for calculations every time the W&B on an airplane changes, so I don't have our fleet info in there for W&B. I love that it looks up the winds and puts them in for me. I just like to draw a line from A to B and see how long it will take and then find reasonable stops along the route. In Canada that's usually easy because I know the geography and there are a limited number of airports so I just stab close to the one I want and it's there. In the States it's trickier to find a suitable intermediate stop. It can be very slow to compute the route sometimes, and a previous version refused to deal with any flight plan involving Regina. It would spit out an error and quit. Remove Regina and it was fine. The nice people at Seattle Avionics provided technical support for that even though I made it clear I did not have the pay version, so I give them a lot of credit for that. If I flew cross country more often, I might pay to upgrade.

I did see the iEFB, got their Oshkosh mailing, and I think you're right about US only. Nav Canada is stupidly stingy with their data.