Tom has been a Qantas pilot for 30 years, and as one of the airline’s most senior captains, it has been a dream job.
Tom was delighted to get the call to return to the cockpit after having been stood down at the peak of Australia’s COVID lockdown.
But it was clear right once that nothing was the same.
Tom claims there was no longer the support crew or nearly flawless flow of information that pilots had learned to live to.
“There is no one to talk to and when you go to work you are basically on your own. It’s like we’re running a virtual airline,” says Tom, a pseudonym. “In my three decades with Qantas I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Tom flew an international trip earlier this year out of Australia on the off chance that takeoff would be delayed. There was a lengthy line to get through security.
When he arrived at the aircraft, he discovered that the load sheet, a document that details how much weight the plane is carrying and how it is distributed, had not been finalized and that drinking water had yet to be supplied. So far, so normal.
Time went by. We’re only waiting for a last bit of paperwork and we will be on our way, Tom said over the plane’s intercom as the passengers boarded, thinking the load sheet must arrive soon.
Tom awaited his co-pilot. then awaited. They attempted to contact what Tom refers to as the “nerve center,” a Qantas employee who can be reached on a radio frequency and whose responsibility it is to inform pilots of any issues. No response.
The engineers then abruptly called. “We’re opening the cargo doors. Another 15 containers have just turned up and none of the bags have been loaded,” Tom was told.
The water delivery staff then acknowledged that they had indeed run out of potable water and had no way of knowing when more would be delivered.
Tom was now facing a long delay with no one to explain how such basic things as loading water and luggage had gone wrong. The passengers were now strapped up and ready for takeoff.
“It feels like a rudderless ship at the moment,” he says. “Keeping to departure times has always been sacred in the airline industry. In the past we would be kept informed – you will be 10 minutes late, 15 minutes late. Now you must pursue the information yourself and they may, or may not, know the answer.”
Article source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/