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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Airbus Versus Boeing... Is it a Handful?

Simon Geddes is sitting off the coast of Tasmania, emailing me interesting questions. Today... I'll take the easy one now because crew call is almost here. The others tomorrow.

Simon says...

I was wondering what you really thought of the Airbus as opposed to the Boeing family. It must be a huge adjustment, and from your writing I gather the 300 is a bit of a handful at times?

I actually love the Airbus. It's different in many ways, but different doesn't mean bad. It's actually easier to fly than the Boeing... If you understand her. She really is just an airplane. I'm flying with a captain on this trip who encourages all new pilots to take her off the autofight system and disengage the autothrust, and fly her like an airplane. I personally haven't seen anyone do that yet.

He allowed me to fly her into Amsterdam. Our arrival brought us into the weather, and it was raining fairly hard so the automation stayed on, until 1500 feet when I clicked off the autopilot. I left the autothrust engaged. The controller gave me my first slam dunk. She vectored us in close, high, and fast. I had a great time managing her and all worked out perfect.

The A330 really isn't a handful...just different. She could be a handful if you don't understand her. My captain reminded me that every Airbus crash has been due to the pilots not understanding what mode the airplane was in, and what she was doing, and thus how to deal with it. The key is to know your airplane.

Which brings us to part two of Simon's questions....

  • An 'industry official' (don't you love them?) stated in the ' article that 'the flight control system on A320s has greater fault redundancy than does the widebody’s'. Is this a correct assumption, do you think?
  • The ACARS messages are bewildering, to say the least. Have you seen the printout of the ACARS from those last minutes?
  • The failure of all the flight management systems, at different times, is unique.. isn't it?
  • And the very last advisory that indicates 'Total loss of cabin pressure and total loss of electrical power'.. Again, would this this indicate some sort of in-flight break-up?
I will answer those questions after the next crossing. Now it's time to go to work. I'm a little behind today, because I actually had a great night sleep. And... I'm revising my novel one more time too.

Perfectionism... a time thief.

Fly safe and enjoy the journey!



  1. How did Delta and NWA end up solving the issue of the merged seniority list? I have heard of cases where the smaller airline's list just gets put on the bottom, but I can't think that NWA's pilots would have gone along.

    Anyway, nice blog - I came across it a few days ago from another airline pilots' site.

  2. Hey D.B. Sorry for the delay with your question. How did we solve it? Lee Moak Delta's ALPA President pretty much decided how it would be done. lol. I'm sure there is more to it than that.

    Seriously, they tried to be fair with everyone. But... that is an impossible task. Somebody always feels they got the short end. And honestly, someone does always get the short end. How can everyone win? They can't.

    I ended up with guys hired at Delta about three years behind me, who are now ahead of me. They were going for "relative" seniority. But I lost a couple percent in the equation... so for some, it didn't quite work.

    But... as with all mergers there are really good claims from both sides why it should be done differently. There are so many factors going into the equation.

    Personally... I think that if we belong to a "National" union...such as ALPA. National ALPA should have predetermined rules going into mergers. That would let everyone know what they were getting into. No fighting. No beating each other up in the process.

    Think about two groups fighting each other for their side. Then, when it's all said and done they're supposed to get in a plane and fly together.

    Imagine going through a really bad divorce, and feeling like you got financially raped in the process... then you have to work with them in a small room for 8 hours a day with hundreds of lives in your hands. Sets up for a not so pretty picture. lol

    With Delta and NWA... a few undercurrent rumblings...but for the most part, I think this transition has passed smoothly.

    Thanks for your great question!

  3. Thanks Karlene for clearing that up. I know from my airline friends (and from books like "Fate is the Hunter" and "North Star Over my Shoulder") how important the seniority list is to line pilots. The news talked about how that was a sticking point in the merger (as it always is); then all of a sudden it was never talked about again.

    From a frequent passenger POV, the merger is great. Previously I used to avoid both Delta and NWA, not from dislike, but because being in Dallas, and AA having such a monopoly here, it made no sense to get miles on other airlines. It was more effective for rewards to concentrate them on AA. Now the merged Delta goes everywhere I need to go, I actually fly on your line much more frequently.

    I hope someday to find that you are at the pointy end when I fly!

  4. D.B. Thank you for the great news from the passenger POV! Sometimes I think that airline employees...and others too, forget how important the guest is to the success of their company and ultimately their job.

    I'm glad you are flying on Delta now. And... I look forward to be on that pointy end taking you to destination one day! Watch for me. I'm easy to spot. lol

    Oh... and both are great books. Seniority is huge. I'm just going to be happy if I can hold Seattle. That will be enough seniority for me, for awhile. :)

    Have a great day and enjoy the journey!


Thank you for your comment! If your comment doesn't appear immediately, it will after I land. Enjoy the journey!