How Pilots Make-Up for Delays

Posted on December, 15 2017 by Blueway Limited

How Pilots Make-Up for Delays

It’s become quite common for passengers to have their travel plans completely ruined all of a sudden. Most of the time reason for flight delays being very common. However, there are those days when the delay isn’t significant and the pilot promises to make up for the lost time and somehow; he/she do live up to that promise.


Have you ever wondered how pilots manage to do that? Well, they do have their ways and methods.

In a recent study, several pilots let the general public in on a few secrets about how they make up for lost time in certain flight delay scenarios. It is believed that it isn’t always speeding that helps. In fact, other factors such as weather and air traffic control have a role to play as well.


The Shortest Route

According to Patrick Smith, an airline pilot, there are a number of strategies that pilots try out in order to catch up with their schedule. The first and most common are to request for shorter route options. Smith explains that flight paths aren’t straight. They actually fly in a sort-of “connect the dots” kind of fashion, hopping from one location to another.


So, it’s sometimes possible for these flights to skip a few locations and proceed to the next one on the list. Needless to say, this can save a considerable amount of time.


Saving Time on Long Hauls

A Dreamline captain mentioned that making up for lost time on long-hauls was quite a challenge, especially due to the jet streams. In fact, it’s quite tricky even on short-haul flights, where raising the speed can increase combustion, which burns more fuel.


But, in long-haul flights, you also have to factor in the jet streams across the globe. In fact, jet streams vary so much that, even if you departed on time, you could end up arriving much later than expected. So, pilots have to determine how each jet stream is behaving and calculate the appropriate speed to fly at.


However, it is impossible to save more than ten minutes on long-haul flights. So, at the end of the day, when it comes to long-haul flights, the only solution is to depart at the right time. Increasing speeds might seem like a good way out, but it has its own drawbacks.


As we stated earlier, increased fuel consumption is one such problem. For instance, aircrafts such as the B787 are designed to fly at an optimum speed of Mach. 84 or .85. An increase to .86 would cut down ETA by 10 minutes. But, the problem is that it would burn fuel. This is a compromise the pilot must be willing to make.


Short-hauls have other problems of their own. The schedules are fixed in a manner where take-offs and landings are packed very close to each other. So, there is very little room to be flexible. The maximum amount of time that a pilot can aim to save in a short-haul journey is about 3 minutes.


On Time is the Best Time

At the end of the day, the best solution is departing on time. Captain Dave Kistruck from Virgin Atlantic stated that he and the Virgin Atlantic teams primarily focused on organizing schedules and aircraft turnarounds to prevent delays and boost on-time performance rates.

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