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Update @ 1930 UTC

Viewing the Gantt chart (Figure 6.3) reveals related issues.

  • a) With the time now at about 1930, Flight 840 LAX-JFK (WBC) is about to depart (at 2015). With 811 having diverted, the question as to whether 840 should depart on time, be delayed, or even operate at all, needs to be raised.
  • b) 840 would need to carry several hours holding fuel at JFK, with the expectation of being able to land. The flight duration is 5 hours 15 min, so the expected weather at 0130 will determine the likelihood of landing at that time. Given the current conditions and forecast, one or more alternates will be planned, and operating the flight certainly ensures an aircraft for Flight 840 to continue to DXB (provided it can first land at JFK).
  • c) Further examination of the chart reveals another Flight LAX-JFK just behind 840 scheduled to depart LAX at 2130. This is 852 (WBD).
  • d) Are these two flights combinable (i.e., do the total customer loads fit in one aircraft?), as one thought may be to consider sending only one aircraft to JFK and using the other to rescue WBB in ORD?
  • e) The combined customer load is 350 (147 on FLT840 + 203 on FLT852), all of whom fit onto this aircraft type. Therefore, an option would then be to cancel one of these flights. The preference is 840 LAX-JFK rather than 852 LAX-JFK, because the 840 customers are already at the gate (45 minutes before departure), while the 852 customers will still be checking in at the terminal, and would not be processed in time for the earlier of the two flights. There’s also the preferred opportunity of maintaining 852 on schedule.
  • f) To combine the flights would mean stopping the departure process of 840 right away until a full plan is conceived. This can take quite a while with many IOC functions involved, as well as the airport staff in the terminal and the ramp staff currently preparing the aircraft. At 1930, 840 would be about to board its customers, will still be in the process of being loaded with freight, baggage and catering, and may also be onloading fuel.
  • g) Another consideration is the weight of the aircraft. For example, combining the loads, together with the high fuel figure needed for LAX-JFK (that includes holding time and alternate fuel in case of diversion) may place the aircraft overweight, especially for landing, so liaison with Load Control/Dispatch (subject to the airline) would establish this and any action that may be necessary. The carriage of the fuel amount is essential to meet operating conditions, so the only flexibility available will be varying the payload. Customers and baggage will be prioritised over freight in these circumstances and consideration also has to be given to the actual conditions on the ramp in JFK; it would be prudent to limit any ground-handling processes to minimise risk to both people and equipment. The response from Load Control/Dispatch as to exactly how heavy the aircraft will be, and which limitations will be potentially exceeded, may further influence the IOC decision. Of course, the 840 Operating Captain is already either on board or close to the aircraft, and therefore able to be consulted with regard to final weights and any limitations.
  • h) Finally, the crews needed to operate a rescue plan will result in some crews being taken off their planned patterns which may affect their return to their base or create other changes down-line. This lies in the domain of the Crewing function to resolve, but providing the crews can help the recovery process at the time, this may still prove to be part of the optimum solution.
  • i) This is only part of the solution, as working out exactly what to do with the aircraft in ORD in terms of ways to ‘match up’ the patterns again needs to be considered. If WBD 852 operates on schedule, that aircraft simply continues to LHR. However, with no aircraft in JFK to operate 840 JFK-DXB, further change is needed.
  • j) The scan of the chart will quickly identify any other aircraft that may be operating in/across the country (such as WBA and WBE). In this case, compromising their operations would be quickly dismissed as there would be no gain, and in reality, further disruption. Nevertheless, experienced Controllers are well aware of their total network operations - this is the value of the familiarisation stages following the briefing at the commencement of shift and this approach is what sets the expert Controllers apart from others.
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