Thursday, December 21, 2017

Effective versus Efficient

Star Online - Ex-MAS's Peter Bellew concedes pilots lost confidence in Ryanair (extracts):

DUBLIN: Former CEO of Malaysia Airlines Peter Bellew, now with Ryanair, conceded Ryanair pilots have lost confidence in the airlines, a report said.

In October Ryanair hired back its former director of flight operations, Peter Bellew, after just over a year as CEO at Malaysia Airlines, to lead a "significant transformation in the way we reward and interact with our pilots."

In a meeting with pilots in London in mid-December, Bellew conceded the airline had lost pilots' trust, according to a recording of the meeting reported in Irish media on Tuesday and heard by Reuters.

The airline's administrative staff appeared determined to give pilots a hard time, he said.

"With the anger there is around the place, if we don't manage to turn that around, we're going to lose more people, so we need to change that," Bellew said.

Guess we now know why Peter resigned suddenly to rush back to Ireland - he has been tasked to put out a raging fire in Ryanair, wakakaka.

The problem in Ryanair is NOT uncommon as that has happened from time to time when top administrative management forgets what the business is.

For example, a shoe-shop management gives its salesmen a hard time, denying everything they have reasonably asked, and makes those salesmen work to such an extent they feel they no longer want to, including slashing off their salaries as advised by the bean counters, wakakaka.

Guess what will happen to the sales of shoes?

Selling shoes is the BUSINESS and without such sales, not only will the salesmen be deprived of a job, so will the management and accountants too.

Thus the same story applies to Ryanair, where the pilots criticised a "toxic" culture that included making them pay for uniforms, training and snacks on planes, being treated by management like janitors and being over-worked unreasonably.

Peter Bellew informed us that the airline's administrative staff appeared determined to give pilots a hard time. The unfortunate thing for hard-headed Chief Executive Michael O'Leary was he thought he could crush the pilots' balls, but alas, the 4,400 pilots banded together (via WhatsApp etc) to coordinate a massive 'down tools' threat. They crushed his balls instead.

In a company it's important to be efficient but that's bloody useless when it doesn't produce effectiveness. Both effectiveness and efficiency are important but push comes to shove, it's effectiveness that brings home the bacon.

Peter Bellew now has to douse that fire in Ryanair.

Some years ago a slightly different scenario occurred to a local well-known airline in South-East Asia, wakakaka.

The airline was so engrossed with treating their passengers like emperors. There was nothing wrong with that except the management told the "cabin crew" (as distinct from the pilots who were/are "cockpit crew") to put the passengers ahead of every consideration even to ignoring the cockpit crew, to wit, the command of the captain of the aircraft.

Like the legal powers of a ship captain when on board his ship, the captain of the aircraft is the law on board and his every instructions must be obeyed or else, unless of course there is clear evidence it is unsafe or affects the safe flight of the plane.

p/s I am not sure whether an aircraft captain's instruction to "pray" is not to be challenged, wakakaka.

One day the Chief Purser (the boss of the cabin crew) in his enthusiasm about his own cabin powers (to look after the passengers) forgot the authority of the aircraft captain and reacted to the captain's command in a rather insubordinate manner.

Story was he said words to the effect that the aircraft cabin was solely his to control, and the captain should butt out. I have to admit I'm a bit hazy about the details here but basically he behaved in a rather insubordinate manner, wakakaka.


To cut the tale short, shit happened, lots of brouhaha, HQ was immediately informed, and that airline had to swiftly revise its management instructions to the cabin crew, and to remind them of the ultimate authority of the aircraft captain, wakakaka. And lil' Napoleon was chastised appropriately, wakakaka.

The union threat was cockpit crew would stop flying unless and until everyone, including management and cabin crew, knows and acknowledges that the aircraft captain has sole authority on board a plane, and that this command doctrine was made abundantly and safely cum safety clear.

No pilot, no flight and the result no airline, no management, no cabin crew.

There are yet many more stories, but I'll stop here, wakakaka.

Mind, not every pilot strike (or threat of strike) succeeds because the circumstances must be gnam gnam. In Oz I saw one failed badly. But the one in Ryanair just has succeeded - congratulations and cheers to the pilots.


  1. There is a vicious power struggle going on between Michael O'Leary, long time Ryanair CEO, and Peter Bellew, former MAS CEO , newly brought in ostensibly as Ryanair Chief Operating Officer.

    O'Leary has build Ryanair into a Low-cost Carrier powerhouse, but there is a feeling in the board that he has overstayed his welcome.
    Suspicion is that some members of Ryanair's board intend Peter Bellew to be the next CEO.

    Michael O'Leary will not go quietly.
    He has a "Either You Die or I die" attitude to this power struggle...and he intends to be the one to survive.

    1. Screw the management power struggle.

      Congratulations to the Ryanair cockpit crew in their victory over management.

      Solidarity Forever!

      Ever since neo-liberal, free market policies were introduced by Thatcher and Reagan, managements have increasingly placed the profit motive before their people, even before their customers and even before safety standards, the quality and durability of their products and services and such profit-oriented modern management practices, have downgraded the regard, authority and concern for professional integrity to levels below that of administrators and accountants.

      Thus professionals such as doctors, journalists, accountants, engineers and others are under pressure to cut corners and compromise their standards of professionalism, public safety, etc.

      Quite frankly, I have no sympathy for the practices of these budget airlines, which treat their passengers like cattle and make them buy even basic refreshments on board or like Ryanair makes their pilots pay for their own uniforms.

      Page 28 of Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee final report on the Indonesia Air Asia flight QZ8501 which crashed into the Java Sea on 28 December 2014, killing all 162 people on board - had identified repeated problems with the aircraft's rudder travel limiter unit (RTLU) which had malfunctioned 23 times in the year prior to the fatal crash:-

      "The PK-AXC 1 Year Maintenance Report recorded 23 occurrences related with the RTLU problem."

      And Page 29 has a graph showing that the monthly occurrences with this RTLU increased rapidly through October, November and December 2014.

      This RTLU, housed in the tail of the aircraft, was recovered from the sea and the RTLU sent to the BEA (the Bureau of Investigation and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety) in France for inspection.

      Pages 66 and 67 of the Indonesian report has a summary of the BEA's inspection which found cracks in the solder joints in the Channel A and Channel B electronic circuit boards of this RTLU which could cause loss of electrical continuity and lead to failure of the RTLU.

      Page 68 has photos showing one of the cracked solder joints.

      I'm an electronics engineer and have had my fair share of cracked solder joint problems (or what we call "dry joints") in the circuitry of the minicomputer I used to service in the 1980s.

      Solder is an alloy of tin and lead which when melted, flows around and sticks to the surfaces of two pieces of metal such as a metal wire, component lead or metal track on a circuit board and not only holds them together mechanically when it cools and re-solidifies, but more importantly in electrical and electronic circuitry - provides for excellent electrical conduction between the two. Just to clarify the difference, the metals which the solder sticks too and bonds have a higher melting point than solder.

      Dry joints can result from poor soldering at the factory or during repair, fatigue in the solder joint due to oxidation, chemical corrosion, constant vibration or to the stresses of expansion and contraction due to cycles of cooling and heating of the circuitry soldered. Aircraft are subject to very frequent and extreme temperature cycles from tropical or desert heat on the ground to sub-zero temperatures whilst in flight and the circuitry in the RTLU located in the tail, would have been exposed to these extreme temperature cycles.

      Page 15 of the report attributes the cause of the crash to cockpit crew actions in resposne to problems resulting from problems with this RTLU.

      So with so many of such problems attributed to this RTLU on this particular Airbus A320 aircraft, why wasn't the whole unit or at least its circuit boards not replaced sooner?