Annoyingly Tedious Weather Scenario

Alchemy

Well-Known Member
You're going from a southern mega hub to a tertiary southern US airport on a 350 mile, 1 hour flight.

There are low celings and poor visibility up and down the gulf coast, along which both airports lie. This is the last flight of the night to your destination, and it's 90% filled disgruntled christmas-time travelers. It's about 6:30 PM, you've been working since 7:00 AM.

Mega hub weather is 1/4 mile, mist, ovc 100, sfc vis 1, light winds. You have a takeoff alternate about 150 miles west, where weather is better than 5 miles and 5000 ft.

Destination airport METARs for the past two hours:

14003KT 1/4SM FG VV001 19/18 A3014 RMK AO2 SLP206 T01940178 10211 20194 51004 RVRNO
13003KT 1/4SM FG VV001 19/18 A3015 RMK AO2 SLP209 T01940183 RVRNO

The destination TAF calls for weather to improve to 1/2 SM and 200 OVC 1 hour prior to your ETA and reamain the same for 3 hours after your ETA. You have a CAT I ILS, a few non precision approaches and no CAT II. Mins for the CAT 1 are right at the TAF forecast, 1/2 SM.

Your alternate is about 250 NM beyond your destination, TAF calls or 10 miles, sct 800, bkn 5000 at your ETA there, deterioriating to 500 ovc about 1 hour later. The alternate has a CAT I and several non precision approaches. Your company has no operations at this airport, but it is served by several other airlines.

With your payload, you have enough free weight to add an additional 30 minutes of fuel. If you elected to take the additional fuel, this would put you in range of another southern mega hub should you need to go there. Your airline has operations there.

Dispatch wants you to go because the TAF is controlling and it says you will have minimums at your ETA. Your FO wants to cancel the flight. He has called the tower at your destination and they stated that no one has been able to land in the past 3 hours. The Gate agent is coming down the jetway and wants to know if you're ready to board.

You're the captain, what do you do?
 

Nick

Well-Known Member
I would give the company enough rope to hang themselves.

By that I mean let them make the decision after you've told them there is a risk in going. Not a legal risk, but a risk that you might not get that TAF weather actually occurring at your ETA and then you might time out at a diversionary airport (or maybe just come back to the hub).

I had something like this happen a few weeks ago. We were going from hub to outstation and the outstation was much like yours in this sceneario: VV001 and 1/4SM with the TAF showing it okay for our arrival time but that arrival would only be 90 minutes after we push from the hub.

We called dispatch and the captain explained to them the situation. The dispatcher now had the weather forecast in front of him and the last few METARs which were not even close to what we needed with our high mins captain. The dispatcher still said he wanted the flight to operate without any delay and so we did just that (it was legal despite a bit of doubt that the weather was really going to get better by the time the TAF said it would).

Well of course, during the climb out center called and said company wants us to contact them. We tried to do that every way we were able to but they were all inoperative at that time (that's another story) and eventually company relayed through center that they wanted us to turn around and go back to the hub.

Expensive way for them to learn their lesson that maybe they should have listened to us when we said "it seems like it would be a good idea to wait for this new TAF to come out in a little while even though we'll be late."

I suspect that they probably wanted to get the plane off the ground because of some operational advantage (i.e. mainline pays the vendor a fee as long as the flight leaves but a weather cancellation leaves the vendor shorted money [yet another reason for having everything mainline].
 

cime_sp

Well-Known Member
Ummm...this is what we're paid to do. If it's forecast to be at min's and legal then you go. Add some extra fuel and the second/more appropriate alternate if you like. Make sure you don't paint yourself into a corner with nowhere to go....If you have to divert, oh well. I couldn't really care if I spend the evening at the hotel at Dothan or Birmingham (insert other insignificant southern city here). There is nothing unsafe about a missed approach, if you think there is you shouldn't be in the cockpit flying professionally. In my experience, the weather is almost always forecast to be worse than it actually is.
 

Alchemy

Well-Known Member
Ummm...this is what we're paid to do. If it's forecast to be at min's and legal then you go. Add some extra fuel and the second/more appropriate alternate if you like. Make sure you don't paint yourself into a corner with nowhere to go....If you have to divert, oh well. I couldn't really care if I spend the evening at the hotel at Dothan or Birmingham (insert other insignificant southern city here). There is nothing unsafe about a missed approach, if you think there is you shouldn't be in the cockpit flying professionally. In my experience, the weather is almost always forecast to be worse than it actually is.

I will go against my better judgement and say this was a real scenario. I'll reveal what really happened if I manage to get 20 replies :)
 
R

Roger, Roger

Guest
The only time you can have too much fuel is if you're on fire. Throw in the extra fuel and go. If you don't make it into the destination, well, that's no skin off your back. You tried.
 

JLF

Well-Known Member
Didn't send a flight late last night with a similar scenario. I'm all for going if it's legal AND there is a reasonable expectation the flight will be able get in.

The TAF was good, but the current METAR wasn't. 1.5 hour flight and we were already in a TEMPO requiring 3585 where we would remain for the duration. The flight would've arrived into another METAR, but it was apparent the mins just weren't going to be there. The CA knew just as well. Now that I look on ADDS I see the wx stayed at 1/4 - 1/8.
 

flx820

Well-Known Member
Throw the extra gas on. Also remember just because you filed it as an ALT does not mean u must go to that airport.
 

SlantG

Well-Known Member
Just so long as you don't sit on the ramp for 3+ hours with the cattle, they don't really care if you go or stay. Gas 'er up!

Do you get paid more sitting or by making the attempt?
 

Alchemy

Well-Known Member
Just so long as you don't sit on the ramp for 3+ hours with the cattle, they don't really care if you go or stay. Gas 'er up!

Do you get paid more sitting or by making the attempt?
We are pay protected for cancellations so you make about the same amount either way.
 

jtrain609

Uniting the black vote.
Gas 'r up, ger 'r done. If you can't get in, you can't get in. Heck I'd give it one approach and if you go missed, then you head right to the alternate.

If the alternate is too far away and the company REALLY wants you to launch, tell them you will as soon as they start bumping passangers to get more gas on. Once you've got enough gas to get to where you need to go safely, then launch. Again, if you don't get in, then time out somewhere and at a point, teach the company a lesson.
 

ljg

Well-Known Member
Guys, from my experience "at the desk", the company can really give two hoots if you divert. As infrequently as you might experience them (or your PAX), they are just not that big of a deal.

What is a big deal is adding unjustifiable amounts of fuel for extra comfort-especially at the expense of planned revenue. If you want to carry more fuel, the release should be mutually amended and holding fuel should be added. I would personally rather see 10 well planned, legal and safe flights divert than have 10 planes all make it into the destination with tons of extra "just because" fuel.
 

Alchemy

Well-Known Member
Guys, from my experience "at the desk", the company can really give two hoots if you divert. As infrequently as you might experience them (or your PAX), they are just not that big of a deal.

What is a big deal is adding unjustifiable amounts of fuel for extra comfort-especially at the expense of planned revenue. If you want to carry more fuel, the release should be mutually amended and holding fuel should be added. I would personally rather see 10 well planned, legal and safe flights divert than have 10 planes all make it into the destination with tons of extra "just because" fuel.
Just to clarify, in this situation adding up to 30 minutes of additional fuel would not conflict with revenue payload.
 

Nick

Well-Known Member
Duty Limit

Guys, from my experience "at the desk", the company can really give two hoots if you divert. As infrequently as you might experience them (or your PAX), they are just not that big of a deal.
What if the crew runs out of duty time at the diversion airport?

Now the plane is stuck there for the next ten hours as is the crew.
 

400A

New Member
Re: Duty Limit

What if the crew runs out of duty time at the diversion airport?

Now the plane is stuck there for the next ten hours as is the crew.
If I remember correctly, if you divert you can then continue to the original destination outside duty limits. I could be way out in left field though, haven't looked at those rules in a long time.
 

jtrain609

Uniting the black vote.
Re: Duty Limit

If I remember correctly, if you divert you can then continue to the original destination outside duty limits. I could be way out in left field though, haven't looked at those rules in a long time.
Nope, you're grounded.
 

ljg

Well-Known Member
Re: Duty Limit

What if the crew runs out of duty time at the diversion airport?

Now the plane is stuck there for the next ten hours as is the crew.
I don't have the numbers anymore as I'm a hardened freight dog now, but far cheaper to eat the cost of a diversion than to consistently buy excess fuel that is burned up enroute because of a heavier airplane (annually in the 10's of millions of dollars per airline with conservative calculations).

Also, in the scenario you brought up-crew sked would DH a crew in to the diversion airport to repo out then cover your trip, and you dh out after required rest for more abuse.
 
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