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Dillon

How boring is real world long haul flights???

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After purchasing the SkySim MD11 I've been wondering and looking for testimonials from real world pilots about what it must be like. I own the PMDG 744 PAX/Cargo and from what I can tell one can at least can go somewhere to stretch out for a nap until their shift. Same thing with the 777 but the DC10/MD11 it seems to be another story (especially for the cargo boys). The cockpits aren't that big and I would imagine a flight from say KMEM to London's Heathrow is all one crew. Unlike a road trip, one only has the endless ocean to look at from 36,000ft for hours on end... Most of us who've flown long haul flights had the comfort of an in flight movie, music, or something else (reading for example). A Cargo pilot has none of that not even a prepared hot meal in some cases.I'm wondering what it's really like and how most real world pilots feel about it. I used to work at FedEx but never asked the MD11/DC10 pilots about this. I've flown jumpseat and I can tell you, you wouldn't want to sit in the cockpit for 8 hours (much less have to land after all that time) of a DC10/MD11. Maybe that's why FedEx pilots are among the most secure and highest paid pilots out there... So does anyone know where I can read some info on what it's like for these pilots. Like I said after owning the Sky Sim MD11 it's really apparent how hard this must be versus the roomy upper deck of a 744F...

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"I've flown jumpseat and I can tell you, you wouldn't want to sit in the cockpit for 8 hours (much less have to land after all that time)"Maybe you, not me. Everyone is different. Avaition is my passion, and when a company pays you for doing something you truly love, you've got it made... How many people can say "I'am going to my hobby today" instead of "I'm going to work today"? When your work becomes your hobby, everyone wins.Lee

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I flew a lot of long hauls over the pacific in a KC-135 back in the 70's. If we did mid-air refueling, we stayed pretty busy, but many of those flights were to carry passengers and/or cargo from the US to Southeast Asia. This was before GPS, so we made position reports on HF radios and did regular checks of fuel usage and all of our systems. The pilots could head back to the latrine and stretch a little, but we were rarely out of the seat for more than 10 minutes. It could be pretty hypnotic after a while. We would sometimes drag out our flight manuals and try to stump each other on procedures. I only remember having trouble staying awake on long overnight flights, just before dawn.I would think it must be worse today - so much is automated. Nevertheless, it's a responsibility that every pilot I've known takes seriously. That makes it hard to be bored.Dale

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Don't forget the crew rest areas aft of the upper deck on a 744 with beds (OK, so the beds aren't exactly suited to us 6 footers). Once I was the only passenger in 1st class from Tokyo. The whole crew piled into 1st class and stripped off for their break. Higlight of my trip;)Cheers,Paulhttp://www.strontiumdog.plus.com/temp/avsim.gif

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The eternal question.....I'm shorthaul at the moment but am considering a change. I've been talking to loads of guys who used to fly longhaul, or indeed still do, and have asked them this very same question.The kind of answers I get are...1) Don't rush anything. On the ground, only program the first hour of your route. You'll have time to enter in the rest later.2) Eat slow, savour the delights of even a crew meal. Take each course gently, chew your food.3) Read the papers, I mean, digest, understand and comprehend every word (including adverts) and bring a bunch of papers with you). From the Daily Rant to the Torygraph - and everything inbetween.4) Bring a book - make it a good one ... and a spare just in case.5) Make comprehensive and detailed position reports/checks/fuel/system checks. Although in modern aircraft this is hard to do as everything is so well automated/laid out.6) If your other half is willing, go over manuals, look for "Useless Technical Fact of the day". Surprise each other with amazing details of your trustee steed. If he's not, keep schtumm, don't irritate the only guy you're going to spend time with for the next few days.7) If you have a heavy crew or relief pilot, plan your breaks carefully. Discuss the implications of burning out the heavy guy(s). Plot the agreed times on the progress chart/FMC.8) If you don't have a heavy crew (most east coast trips - based London), decide on a plan for controlled rest.All in all it sounds so very boring it becomes hard work again. On the upside, you only ever do 1 sector days and then when you get off you're usually somewhere nice (preferably hot with a beach). Now I love flying as much as the next pilot (I remortgaged my house and gave up my nice, safe, well paid job to do it and am not regretting a second) but I get bored going to Moscow, let alone Hong Kong.The upshot is some guys like it, others don't. Ones ability to sleep anywhere and anytime helps. As does how one copes with the chronic tiredness on return home (and indeed how wives, girlfriends, husbands and children cope with your chronic tiredness).Shorthaul's a job, longhaul's a lifestyle.Take your pick, at the end of the day you're still getting paid to fly cool aircraft about the place.Hope this helps,Ian

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Dillon:You've got to take the world of a pilot into perspective. First, remember that a real world pilot doesn't sit in front of a computer all by himself...he's got at least another person in the pit to talk to and in the case of commercial pilots, a cabin crew to pop in and bring meals, crack jokes and interact with. Not to mention needing to constantly stay alert to speak with ATC, watch for other aircraft and monitor the aircraft in cruise.From experience, take my typical day on a KEWR-KLAX trip on Continental. The trip paring says 5:55 minutes block-to-block in a B737-300. But that is only block time and does not include the time you get to the airport, check-in down in the crew room, get the flight paperwork, speak to the dispatchers, walk to the gate, setup the cockpit, have a briefing with the captain, have a briefing with the crew, do the walk around, interact with clearance and OPS and sit for 30 minutes while the plane is boarded. Only once the brakes are released for pushback does your 5:55 start ticking. In the mean time you've been at "work" for 1:30 not gettin' paid.Now, taxi out, enjoy the view of 17 tails a head of you at rush hour, make the announcement that you are number 18 for takeoff. 45 minutes later you sit the flight attendants down for takeoff, you've been at work for amost 2:00.30 minutes to to the Eliott STAR from RWY 04L and join the initial fix on J80 and you are on your way. Reach cruise, turn off the fasten seatbelt sign, make the obligitory announcement and settle in for the 5 hours you have remaning.If you have a great captain first comes the conversations on the latest bid packets, seniority, bases, lines you can hold with your seniority, bases you can hold with your seniority, current labor issues, what the union is doing about it. You ding the first class F/A to get some coffee, she brings it...after her service. Continuous handoffs with TRACON. Chaulk up about an hour. Next, the first class F/A tells you she's got some food available so she makes you a hodgepodge of leftover first class delicacies and you chow down for about 1/2 hour. More handoffs with TRACON, chaulk up about another hour.More banter, the pretty blonde who you've been eyeing since checkin, comes to the pit and sits on the jumpseat to eat her crewmeal. The captain breaks out into a tyrade of blonde jokes, you laugh your butts off and then start gossiping about the brunette working the galley position who the blonde thinks is a ######. Another hour goes by.You break out your latest copy of Flying magazine, go through the bid packet one more time, you and the captain banter about your wives and your mistresses, tell each other that you hate (or love) the hotel at the layover, look out the window, banter about the left EGT gauge being a little low...hour and a half goes by.IN RANGE, you radio OPS at let them know if you need any wheelchairs or anything else when you get to the airport. Start your descent, interact with ATC for the next 45 minutes, make your approach.Time to focus, turn on the sterile cockpit light, cycle the No Smoking sign as you decend thought 10,000. No unnecessary conversations as you take in the rapidfire commands from approach and tower. Sit the flight attendants for landing.Its your leg so you land the airplane. The captain tells you that you made a nice landing and you taxi the wreckage from fighting the 10 knt cross wind and slamming the aircraft down as close to centerline as possible, to the gate. Block...5:55 minutes.Doors open and you sit for 20 minutes while the passengers get off. 10 more minutes to get your bags, 15 minutes to walk out of the terminal, luckily the hotel van is waiting there for you. 20 minutes to get to the hotel. 15 minutes to check in, 5 minutes to walk to your room. 10 minutes to strip out of your uniform (which now has aquired that distinct airplane smell), 5 minutes to run downstairs and meet that pretty blonde at the bar....Tomorrow is another day. As you see, you are engaged for almost the whole time, there is always something to monitor, or someone with whom to interact. Yes, there are hours of bordom, epsecially on transatlantic or transpacific flight, but you do what you have to to make the time go by. I promise you though, any pilot will tell you that he's much rather be at 35,000 feet bored out his mind than in an office with lots of stuff to do. Unfortunately...I know this first hand.Hope this helps.

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> 5 minutes to run downstairs and meet that pretty>blonde at the bar....>Which goes to prove numerous rants, that I've made here, regarding being a prestigious flight simmer and impressing the blond at the bar. Obviously, the simmer will still be at home behind the desk! :-hahL.Adamson

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Funniest thing even from my armchair pilot perspective - the more I planned, prepped and flew the 767, 744 and even PSS777 on 8, 10, 12hr flights the more I got used to it. Mind you I do other stuff, checking in regularly.These flights just got more and more enjoyable and seemed shorter and shorter. My mind just naturally started to break them into geographical sections. You know you're a longhauler when 1000nm to go is 'almost there' :-lol , and after you land, you soon start missing the virtual sky. Even I can see how this really is a lifestyle in real life.Taking a break for short/medium now,and they just whiz by! :)regards,Markhttp://www.dreamfleet2000.com/a320/custbanner2.jpg

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"Obviously, the simmer will still be at home behind the desk!"Something told me when Dillon started this thread I would see your name pop up... :-roll

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>Only once the brakes are released for pushback does your 5:55 start >ticking. In the mean time you've been at "work" for 1:30 not >gettin' paid.I beg your pardon? Did I hear correctly? I can understand that the companies don't pay you for driving to the airport but as soon as you start the pre-briefing of the crew, drive to the aircraft, do your walk-arounds... are you telling me that time isn't accounted for on a pilot's paycheck?

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I have jumpseated on several long haul flights (mostly 747's and 777's). Typically once you are two hours from the coast (atlantic or pacific) atc can no longer contact you over the radio, but instead you get most info over acars. So most of the time at this point headsets come off and books, magazines, dvd players, and laptops are brought out. These pilots have a passion for flying. However, watching the instruments on a modern automated aircraft for 8 hours gets old pretty quick.David

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>>Only once the brakes are released for pushback does your>5:55 start >ticking. In the mean time you've been at "work">for 1:30 not >gettin' paid.>>I beg your pardon? Did I hear correctly? >I can understand that the companies don't pay you for driving>to the airport but as soon as you start the pre-briefing of>the crew, drive to the aircraft, do your walk-arounds... are>you telling me that time isn't accounted for on a pilot's>paycheck?>>That's correct, at most airlines you do not start getting paid until the aircraft starts moving. It's an hourly rate based on flying time, not on pre-flight, programming the FMS, etc.This is why a new-hire FO flying a CRJ might make $30 an hour, yet will earn only $25K a year that first year, if even that much! Visit these forums, where you will listen to the reality of the business:http://www.airlinepilotforums.com/Also their web site:http://airlinepilotcentral.com/Want to know what pilots are paid? Go here:http://www.willflyforfood.cc/airlinepilotpay/Example: At American airlines a first year MD-80 FO makes $35/Hr and is guaranteed 63 hours per month, or 73 hrs if on reserve. That works out to $26,460 per year in pay + whatever per diems work out to be.Airline pilots also earn a "per diem" or expense allowance for each hour they are away from home, at American Airlines that is $1.30 / hr for domestic and $2.00 / hr for international. Regards,http://www.dreamfleet2000.com/gfx/images/F...R_FORUM_LOU.jpg

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Yeah, one of my friends who now flies for SkyWest Airlines makes $19 an hour flying the Brasilia. Fortunately, they have plenty of opportunities to get more than the guaranteed 72 hours a month, but I would hate to be supporting a family on that wage, with that few hours........

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Exactly. Pilots and Flight Attendants get paid for flight time only and that is the time that ACARS says your block time is. For instance, if you happen to be delayed at the gate for 5 hours with the door open, no one is getting paid. Its only when the door closes and the brakes are released that your paycheck starts ticking.Most airlines give an 80 hour per month guarantee which means you will get paid for 80 hours no matter how much you fly, up until 80 hours. If you go over 80 hours then you get paid for that time also. Most of the time, if you really need the money, you try to fly around 100-100 hours a month, but this is a LOT of flight time when you figure in how the schedules are built and the fact that means you will be flying multiple 4 day trips back-to-back with only a few hours off inbetween AND you can only fly 6 days in a row before the FAA says you MUST take a day off.ALSO you should remember you don't get paid for layovers either!!! You will get a per diem of about $1.50 per hour that you are away from your base and not flying. Many international trips have 40 hour layovers, which means you sit at the hotel for free until your return tripA typical two day trip pairing looks something like this:Day 1 Block TimeKEWR-KBOS :45KBOS-KEWR :45KEWR-KCLE 1:30KCLE-KMCO 2:00Block = 4:50Layover = 14:00Day 2KMCO-KEWR 2:30KEWR-KRIC 1:10KRIC-KEWR 1:25Block = 5:05From this lets say you get $65 per hour as a pilot on the 737-500 and $1.50 per layover hour9:55 flight hours over 2 days = Approx $65014:00 of layover = $21Total for two days work = $671.00As you see, only flight time is involved. But lets say you got delayed on the first day on the last leg for 5 hours due to snow. You got paid for 5 hours but worked 10, plus your layover is now cut short by 5 hours so you have only a 9 hour layover and just enough time to get to the hotel, get a quick nap and get back to the airport since you have to checkin in the crewroom 1:00 prior to your flight if you are a narrowbody pilot and 1:15 prior if you are a widebody pilot. You don't get paid for checking in, walking to your plane, doing a walk around, crew briefing, checklist or anything else until you can close the door and release the parking brakes.This is why you have to stick with it for 20 years until you are making $150 per hour as a senior captain. Until then you have to do like the rest of us and pack 15 pilots into a hotelroom "crashpad" (you can't afford your own apartment), drive a beat up 25 year old Honda Civic (if you can afford it) and eat as much leftovers from the plane as you can. When you first get out of flight school, that $17,000 a year salary means that the cleaning people are making more than you are!!!!Hey, but chicks dig the uniform right!!!

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