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United Continental Sent Safety Warning to Pilots

United Continental Holdings Inc. ’s management sent a dramatic safety warning to its pilots last month, calling for stepped-up compliance with rules and procedures following several serious incidents caused by cockpit errors. The bulletin, issued Jan. 9 under the heading “significant safety concerns,” said it was prompted by four separate “safety events and near-misses” in previous weeks, including a plane whose pilots had to execute an emergency pull-up maneuver to avoid crashing into the… ( More...

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Ken Lane 11
I'm particularly fond of this advice:

"The airline is reminding its aviators that 'every pilot must be willing to speak up if safety is in question' and 'must also accept the input of their fellow crew members'.”

That should apply regardless of the level of experience of any crew member. It's the failure to do so and act accordingly that caused the Asiana 214 accident.
Old aviation adage.............

"You never have too much fuel unless you're on fire"
Matt Lacey 4
I have a different perspective on this. Every once in a while, especially if it isn't overused, it's good to get a message (be it spoken or email) from management saying, "We see your mistakes. They're infrequent, but they can bite anyone. Tighten up the ship." It's even more effective when specific near misses can be cited rather than just obvious, repeat platitudes about safety. I think it gets the conscientious refocused. It may do little for those who are truly rigorous in their daily work. My organization tends to send out safety emails too often, without any incipient incidents. These notices are just part of the noise, then.
Andres Nunez 2
i guess the United/Continental pilots have to step up there game and not be so lax on policy and operations.
Taterhed -2
Because the media is always right. BS

If you watch faux news also, you're going to have a hard road.
30west 3
The story that I saw on a number of channels was taken straight from the text of the news article. Every channel had the same story line. I think that a lot more background info was needed to put it in context. "Emergency pull-up", give me a break.

When my airline merged there were similar corporate and union memos to the pilot group addressing focus and attention to detail in an attempt to minimize distractions that lead to screw-ups.
taterhed1 2
I agree 100%.

I didn't mean to put one particular news channel on the block here: My point was--the news media, some more than others, always try to make these things as blown-out-of-proportion as possible.

I think the memo is appropriate. Unfortunately, the follow-on consequences of this much media attention will be very painful. Meh.. maybe it's good. Maybe it will (ultimately) save some lives.
teef182 2
My guess was the crew while holding went into the fuel reserves before executing a decision on what to do.
209flyboy 4
OMG! I'm never going to fly again! OMG! the newspapers said they had a warning, PULL UP! PULL UP! I watch 'Why do planes crash' Because the media is so smart they have scared everyone half to death. I think I'll park my 777 and cry because, it must be much safer to drive my car.(45,000 people die on the roads every year)
The reporting of aircraft incidents by news reporters that are ignorant and totally misinformed or don't take time to find out what they need to know about what goes on on the flight deck. It makes me sick that the public is fed this frightening airplane crash tripe and all for the sake of selling sensationalism or getting you to watch advertisements.

I've been a airline pilot for 45 years and have probably flown several million people including the news media with out killing one them. Can't say the same for the fools on the highway where mass fatalities hardly ever make any news.

We are the professionals and know what were doing, you don't. Get smart and reports accurate facts not uniformed judgements.
preacher1 6
Well, lets see here, that would put you starting to fly in 1969 and your profile is showing PRIVATE and IFR. Did we misspeak or is that a past life. I started as an FE on a 707 in 1973 and retired the first time on 2009.
n9341c 5
"I've been a airline pilot for 45 years..."

Uh huh.
Ken Lane 2
So, you started at... age twenty with a commercial ticket with what 121 carrier?

That would have been a miracle in itself. A pretty good majority of air carrier pilots were halfway to having gray hair back then given a good many came out of Vietnam flying jobs and other military flying positions. Those who did not did a lot more to pay their dues in lesser flying jobs from crop dusting to instructing to several years of hauling checks and other materials.

But then, Preacher already debunked your claim by your own profile. Hence...
30west 2
I like the "Top Gun" clip, nice touch!

Being kind-hearted, I will offer that maybe he WAS (not "I've been", implying he still is) an airline pilot for 45 years and we don't know when he retired.
ADXbear 2
Im confused... you mean Licensed aircraft dispatchers cut releases that did not have FAA min fuel required for that flight?... I need to see specifics.... how does this happen..
homburge 7
The last time -- and by that, I mean "last" -- I was on United was in 2009, SFO -> ORD. A milk run for UA, right? A line of thunderstorms was west of O'Hare and not moving, so ATC reroutes the flight way over Michigan and back, adding about an hour to the plan. We taxi out, and the captain (upon getting his reroute) refuses to take off so we sit on the side of 1R for 45 minutes arguing with Dispatch over the need for more fuel. Gotta love Channel 9!

Guess who wins -- the Captain. So back to the terminal and we add 25,000 lbs of fuel. 4 (FOUR) hours later, we are off SFO. Upon landing, I ask the Captain how much fuel was left.

Answer: 23,000 lbs.

But the point was that the Dispatcher was *adamant* that we had enough fuel on board originally for both the flight as planned AND the ATC reroute.

So now, I fly on airlines that aren't trying to shoestring along.
Daniel Bailey -2
Completely unfounded speculation on what went on between dispatch, the captain, and fuel.. You have thrown out a few terms making it sound as though you know what you are talking about but in fact you have no more insight into the decisions that went into the described flight in terms of fuel loading decisions, their ability to get back to a gate to get fuel, or any other of the hundreds of elements that go into an aircraft blocking out, getting rerouted, then having to coordinate adding fuel. I rate your analysis of that flights situation as ill-informed.
Bryon Fevens 10
Actually I'm not sure its so uninformed. And homburge noted, United at the time(do they still? its been a while since I have flown thwm) let you listen in on cockpit on channel 9. So Homburge likely heard everything between pilot and dispatch. As such I think his analysis of the core disagreement is relatively sound. There may have been any number of reasons why Dispatch was rejecting the request, vehemently it seems, but the Captain was correct; exceedingly so it appears.
Daniel Bailey -8
What he would have heard on channel 9 is the captain talking to operations about coordinating a gate to return to in order to upload fuel. Gates at SFO were scarce in those years, so I have no doubt that's the cause of the delay. So, homburg didn't hear anything between A/C & Dispatch, only coordination with Operations. If the Capt was talking to dispatch, it was via his cellphone while the aircraft brakes were set, coordinating a new release with revised fuel..
There's waaaaay more going on in the background beyond what one can hear on Channel 9, and even on Channel 9 there's more than most understand. In addition, I believe that Channel 9 only feeds from the #1 Comm which is generally only ATC communications.

Adding additional fuel is not a big deal to do, dispatch never "argues" with a Capt adding it.. The question is, "Is it better to take the delay now, or make an enroute fuel stop at a less busy airport?" among all of the other concerns of departure traffic, changing weather conditions that caused the reroute, gate availability, fueler availability, ramp personnel availability, dispatch workload in generating the re-release, crew duty time legalities, connecting passengers, aircraft maintenance status, down line aircraft utilization, etc, etc. One thing I'm sure of, neither dispatch nor a crew is going to depart an aircraft with inadequate fuel.. Cheers:)
dbaker 0
There's no incentive or reason for the dispatcher to not want to add fuel. All liability, no upside (for them).
preacher1 1
Wasn't there a United that dawdeled out onto an active runway at ORD a few days ago in front of an Eagle that had been cleared for takeoff. I believe one of the comments was that if there had been an alert FO, that it might not have happened. Was he not alert or was he a victim of no CRM and had a Captain that wouldn't listen.
Taterhed 1
I believe that was "United Express" not United. The person in the right seat might have been alert or not. He also might be 12 years old and have 150 hours of Cessna time the way things are going. ok, so I'm joking about the 12 years old part....
preacher1 1
10-4, it seem like it was headed over to MI somewhere
Dwight Hartje 1
At least United is being couscous.
skylab72 1
Look folks, lighten up. Safety IS a serious issue and airlines do not normally issue such bluntly worded memos where the press can access them. This is news. That said, I have the greatest respect for the majority of professional pilots. United's issue stems from a growing cadre of low-time pilots, and their exec's concerns are well founded. Reminders do help. So where are the highest return areas to improve safety? I would vote for splitting the FAA into two agencies, one to regulate aviation, and one to support it. Then promote design trade-offs that put safety ahead of airline profitability. (Good luck eh?)
Low fuel , near misses and CFIT ,I first heard the story line as low time Pilots. Sounds like controllers, fuel budgets and companies.
blake1023 1
Its funny how the news media is trying to scare the hell out of people. If people wanted to honest with themselves, you have a better chance of getting killed on the way to the airport.
boughbw 1
You're right generally. But it only takes one plane to crash or collide to expose a system that is starting to show the signs of stress. Realistically, with more planes flying, with higher efficiencies achieved in ground activities, and better computer projections, having pilots devote extra attention to the accuracy of the information they are receiving is important. At the same time, the memo looks like CYA for United.
taterhed1 1
IMHO, it looks more like United is trying to focus flight on operations on flying safe airplanes while consolidating legacy UAL/Continental operations. Trust me, there is a lot of background noise when ANY airline merges operations.

Paper on the airwaves is bad, but aluminum on the hillsides is disastrous. This is strong medicine, just too bad it got leaked into the media this way. I'm sure next time the memo will read "good job guys, just watch those details a bit more!!!" in case CNN decides to publish the leaked document.
Mark Duell -1
Real source (WSJ) has a paywall:
randomguy 2
1. copy url
2. open up
3. paste in url
4. click on article in search results.
That doesn't work for me. What does work is to copy the exact article title and paste that into google.
Chuck Me 1
Yeah. Google "United Warns Pilots After Cockpit Errors"

Same title in WSJ article.
Mark Duell 1
Didn't work for me, still got the paywall.
Derek Thomas 1
IDK what the limit is for WSJ, but if you've already exceeded your allotted free articles for the month, you will hit the paywall overtime until it resets...


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