What's up in Ops

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the Operations department or ever thought what planning goes into all the fantastic routes here at Metro? Well I hope that by the time you have read this you will have a better understanding of what it is we actually do!

Picking a destination at MetroAir is not as simple as selecting our favourite places just because we like them, we have to think about many different aspects. Aspects such as competition, passenger figures and in several cases whether the airport has any freeware/payware scenery because we know how much you all like your scenery. Some of you may remember the end of 2011 when we took the decision to move our east coast operations from Dulles over to Baltimore. Well this decision was actually formed in late July. It came about during one of the weekly ops meetings while we were discussing the gate availability at IAD and someone casually mentioned something like “It would be easier to just move somewhere else” That is when the plan started to form and it continued to form for several weeks where myself, Matt C and Kim G frantically worked on a power point presentation gathering all the information about the two airports. During the planning stage we looked at several airports such as Raleigh,Boston,New Yorkand many others before it became clear that the best and most cost effective choice was Baltimore.

However that was an extreme example because most of the day to day decisions are for new cities and further connections rather than a full blown hub move. A slightly smaller example of what is perhaps a more general route expansion idea is the E170 point to point scheme which I am sure many of you are now aware of. The point to point idea was formed again over several weeks and modelled on a similar operation carried out by the likes of Southwest and Jetblue. Its purpose is to connect people from one point to another via an intermediate stop along the way. In many cases this method can prove cheaper than going direct. It also helps to boost passenger loads. Each stop along the way was carefully calculated to ensure we had the best stop off points with the best passenger figures. A lot of what goes on in ops does not happen over night as you can see. Every decision is carefully calculated to ensure that are pilots have the best.

Another aspect of operations is creating the flights in our database after we have finalised everything on paper. Now this is everything from Dep/Arr time’s gate assignments and flight time. Now flight time has always been one condition of routes that seems to prompt the most questions and data inaccuracy questions. So I thought I would take the time to explain this in more detail. Now bare with me there is an exciting end to this post, trust me! Each flight in the database is calculated using the ‘Great Circle Mapper’ some of you may be familiar with this but for those who are not it is basically a tool that can tell you how long a flight will take after you add a few numbers to the right boxes. ALL flights are calculated using the particular aircraft’s optimum cruise speed and they are calculated direct. No route information is added because there are so many different routes. We also have to remember that each pilots flying conditions can vary, some will use real world weather and some won’t. Some pilots will be on vatsim in an empty airport while some are stuck in a queue of AI traffic for 20 minutes trying to take off. So really what I am trying to say is that there is no need to panic if you arrive late or early because I can assure you there are no airlines out there that always depart exactly on time and arrive at exactly the times printed on your tickets, this is more than likely true for every airline out there. Our flight times are really a guide.

Now as I promised the more exciting part. First off thank you to all those pilots who have taken the time to read my ramblings up to this point. So for all those who have made it this far I hope this has been somewhat informative and given you a better insight into what we get up to at Head Office. And we have been working especially hard getting ready for what is sure to be the biggest and best set of summer charters that have been seen here at Metro. There is going to be something for everyone from Island hoping to A330 one offs and even a few European treats… oh and possibly a new charter paint! But that is all I am saying for now. For the pilots who have now reached this point there is a chance to gain a few metromiles. When did the IAD to BWI planning begin to form? Drop me an email at [email protected] with your answer and bag yourself 30 points. All that is left for me to say is I hope you enjoyed my post and Þakka þér

P.s that was another clue!

William Hogarth

William Hogarth is the Chief Operating Officer at MetroAir and has been a pilot with the Airline since the summer of 2010. Before becoming COO he also served in the operations department as VPO.