Ethnographic Methods: Pilot Micro-Culture Interview 1: Detailed Notes

  • OPENING QUESTION: Tell me about being a pilot:
  • Major Airline: Military/Civilian
  • Civilian-4 year bachelor, air commerce technology, private commercial flight rating, 4 year communication business degree
  • Military: 6-10 years minimum, major airline
  • Continuing Study
  • Build Time….Flight Instructor…Commuter…”Something in between here…Major Airline.
  • No Set Schedule
  • Schedule Changes-every month
  • all times of day
  • International pilot- 8-16 hours, overnight, hard on your body.
  • Based on Seniority-date of hired, people hired after you, how airline grows, advance
  • Right Seat
  • 737 united, Airbus 319, build time seniority, senior number, captain’s training.
  • Then become Captain, type of plane fly- depends senority 
  • Pilots history, Captain 737, Senior, choice late ’90s -2000s could have moved to bigger chose to stay.
  • More Seniority = more control of schedule. 
  • Being a pilot: Layover in different cities, travel, site see, cities, learn a lot of geography, see a lot of things.
  • Europe= 29 hour layover usually on longer flights- have more than Captain and 1st officer.
  • Augmented Crew- over 8 hours- relief 1st office a couple hours pilots- rest seat- if the flight is over 12 = fall second crew 
  • ex. new york to tokoyo – flight goes over the pole!
  • Captain + 1st officers and Captain + 1st officer
  • Example: 16 hour flight.
  • One sees a lot better looking out front window than someone looking out the side.
  • GRAND TOUR QUESTION: Talk me through a flight from beginning to end:
  • Trip to Europe, United Airlines, 3 Days- from Dulles Airport
  • Trips are either East Coast, West Coast, or Europe.
  • And back.
  • Europe Trip: Majority leave later afternoon. Day 1: Leave house at 1pm. 1.5 hours drive to Dulles Airport. 
  • Park in Employee Parking lot, take Employee bus- terminal- pass area, since uniform and airline issued ID- pilot crew member area- bring up picture on computer. Verified Indentity. Plus show another form of photo ID. TSA. if all goes- pass through.
  • Into secured area- a lot easier than what passenger does- no bag check- no metal detector
  • United Operations, mailbox computer, weather access, flight plan, the rest of crew is there, something I missed, go over flight plan make sure airplane is good. -what goes on in operation- 1.5 hours before departure.
  • Cockpit Crew
  • walk to plane 1 hour before departure.
  • Boing 767 flying. flight attendants already on board.
  • United Boeing 767 hold 276 passengers.
  • We are going to Zurich! IDS checked again by customer service agents. 
  • We are on plane. pre-flight. checks. relief 1st officer walk around outside, checks everything where it should be. more checks. 
  • working order. navigation. load route to Zurich. double check entries. “Everything is good, press Go.”
  • 3,200 miles approx. Map, in from of them, moves as they move in air. Pre-flight-captain says hi to flight attendants- chief flight attendant talk to make sure everything is ok.
  • (….unruly passengars…?)
  • Passengers load. Passengers on board. Paperwork fuel load. (…….Langoliers Quote?……..)
  • Varies with weather, rules for that-all kinds- take enough fuel to get to destination, alternative destination and one hour after that.
  • have had coffees by now. 4 seats in cockpit. everyone is sitting in seat. Captain-Left. 1st officer mid jump-seat. 
  • Customer Service Agent: “Is it ok to close door”
  • Jetway
  • Tug People: crew on ground/pushes airplane back.
  • back passenger area is listening to safety speech.
  • Dulles “ramp” “cleared to pushed”  Designated spot. Start the Engine. tell tug crew to disconnect. salute salute back. 
  • Captain is on his own from here.
  • “Taxi Clearance.” Take off checks, checklist
  • Final weight and balance verification- to take off, legally.
  • Forumals- for weight distributed correctly, bags, passengers- cleared for take off- roll down runway. 
  • “Captain fly one leg, 1st officer flys the other leg.” —trade off. We are on our way to Zurich!!
  • Flying “Great Circle Route” -route base on winds. “Prevailing” winds.
  • Flying off coast of Long Island over water coming in over coast of Normandy, Coast of France to Zurich 8 hours..depending on wind—coming back it is 8.30 or 8.45 (winds) 
  • Flying 18,000 ft engage auto-pilot follows route and they’re watching airplane, doing what they want it to do. 
  • Send inför to “Oceanic Control”- no radar out there.–always communicate with Air Traffic Control- always talking, al to more traffic. 
  • Everybody travels in one direction at a certain time of day. Late afternoon to early evening -west to east. Morning –its east to west. 
  • Checking/Wind/Fuel  –Keeping up with what the wind forecasted. 
  • “Contingencies” 
  • What if, what if this happens. No emergencies in this particular flight. 
  • Over to the other side- French Air Traffic- clears into Air Space. 
  • Pass over the alps into Zurich.. Landing in Zurich. Park airplanes. “Sequenced in” with everyone- traffic in the front-traffic in the back. 
  • “headings” final approach course” Instrument landing system- landing threshold- Descend.
  • Safety procedure,cleared to land 1 mile or .5 mile out. except london: 300 feet out.
  • Series of checklist. slowing airplane, landing gear flaps, assigned gate, park, shut down checklist.
  • Passengers almost out, cockpit crew last to leave. 
  • Customs “Crew line” -no wait for cockpit crew, go through quicker- sometimes walk right through.
  • Hotel van. 29 hour layer over. usually 7:30 am Zurich. 2:30 am Eastern Time. Usually sleep.
  • Personally: he sleeps 4 hours wakes up 11:30 walk around town, take a train maybe, go somewhere, sight see, some people meet for dinner, by 10 pm Zurich time ready to sleep again. 
  • It is 4:30/5 Eastern Time- have to wake, hotel wakes you up at 7/7:30…meet with everyone
  • 11:30 Zurich time departure meet 8:00/*:30 to go to airport, this is Day 3
  • (Getting to United Details….More Detail on Check lists…)
  • 1st- afternoon leave, 2nd fly into second morning, sleep, eat, sight see sleep 3rd morning go back review, flight stuff but in reverse.
  • United Bigger Airline
  • 8.5- 9 hr flight back- Dulles land 2:30-3 pm. Customs- see everyone next week. 
  • Employee bust to car in employee parking lot.
  • That was 3 day European Trip, Boeing 767, United Airlines
  • Zurich Starbucks has very good coffee
  • Food is very good: Benefit: Experience different culture. some would rather stay in US. to hard on them, some don’t like change, some don’t have a choice (Southwest has to stay in US_ 

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