Pilots Bristle As American Airline Tells Them To Fly With Less Fuel

Extra fuel is joining peanuts and magazines on the list of things American Airlines wants to ditch at the gate. The airline announced plans this week to save cash by using “scientifically precise” computer models to load less fuel. If pilots want more, they’ll need to submit a request in writing.

Union leaders claim that’s intimidation, because the now-required paperwork, called a P-2 form, is tracked by American’s management and could be used against the pilot if his or her job performance is ever called into question.

“It’s being touted as a corporate efficiency program, but perhaps it has gone too far,” said Dennis Tajer, an American pilot and spokesman for its pilots union, the Allied Pilots Association. “It has the ability to affect the margin of safety and reliability. That is our concern.”

“We’re literally on average talking 10 to 15 minutes of fuel,” Tajer said. “It doesn’t seem like much to us to ensure the higher success rate of actually reaching your destination if unanticipated delays occur. We see this as a rather absurd policy because it undermines the reliability of American’s operation.”

The decision won’t affect passenger safety, but it could result in annoying flight diversions during bad weather. Pilots will still have the ultimate authority to determine whether a plane can fly, but American’s decision shows that airlines are still eager to cut costs wherever possible. “[W]e want the captains to trust us,” explained a spokesperson for the always-trustworthy airline.

Cost-cutting measure fuels debate at American Airlines [The Chicago Tribune]