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Chairman's Message - 8/23/16
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Chairman's Message - 8/23/16

 

Environmental Standards
Your participation in our collective efforts to clean up our workplace is absolutely essential. Please continue to write-up aircraft that exhibit unsanitary conditions. Maintenance write-ups, Insite Reports and Safety Reports are the appropriate avenues to highlight these situations when you discover them.

Please keep us in the loop when you encounter any issues, as we are not privy to reports submitted to management. Be assured that management needs your assistance and your continued vigilance going forward if we want to ensure this situation does not fall off the radar. It’s been nearly six months since we briefed management on the issues we were aware of at the time. We are currently awaiting a management briefing regarding their plans for policies and procedures to address the many environmental concerns our ESC has identified. We have encouraged management to publish their plans to mitigate the issues that were identified. We need to see action.

Animal Handlers
Management recently published new procedures for conducting flights requiring animal handlers. We do not consider animal handlers to be “crewmembers” as that term is commonly understood throughout the aviation industry. We also believe the FAR’s specifically do not highlight PIC authority in this instance as needing “legitimate” reasons. The idea of this regulation is to not chill this last chance to prevent a bad outcome, so your judgement is paramount, and should not be second guessed. Shortly after this message was published, one of our 767 crews encountered a situation that highlights one of our many concerns with these operations on non-IRCD aircraft. The crew secured the syringes in the container provided for that purpose and briefed the animal handlers that they needed to request access to the drugs from the crew, who are required to maintain control. But, shortly after takeoff while the crew was dealing with weather on climb out, the animals became restless and the handler felt compelled to administer drugs to calm them. The first the flight crew knew of this is when they noticed the handler returning to the cockpit after accessing the drugs. The handler had gone ahead and opened the box, which was on the deck next to the Captain. The crew was totally unaware of this development as they were focused on the weather and managing the aircraft. Obviously, this highlights one of our many concerns and should dictate an immediate secession of these flights on non-IRCD aircraft.

We will continue to seek regulatory relief from the FAA. The TSA is still telling us that they intend to conduct a security risk assessment on non-IRCD equipped aircraft operations, but that effort has been postponed until at least October. Your vigilance and judgment are essential to the conduct of these flights in both IRCD equipped aircraft, and especially in non-IRCD equipped aircraft. PIC authority stands as the only absolute safeguard at the present time.

Lithium Batteries  
In the last few months, we have become aware of two incidents potentially involving lithium batteries. The first took place in Canada when a FedEx delivery vehicle caught fire and burned uncontrollably. There were declared lithium batteries aboard this vehicle, and those same batteries could just as easily have been aboard our aircraft. The NTSB has asked for the remains of this fire so that they can conduct their own investigation. More recently, a box caught fire as it passed through the sort facility in Memphis. This shipment contained undeclared lithium batteries, and we are very interested to see if those undeclared lithium batteries prove to be the ignition source. Either one of these incidents could be the trigger that allows US regulators to finally take on this ever increasing problem. We have stated before that we appreciate the efforts FedEx is making to mitigate this hazard, but we feel strongly that proper regulation is ultimately the only answer to protect not only FedEx pilot lives, but also public safety in general. This is truly a ticking bomb, and there can be no doubt that a very bad outcome is lurking.

Retirement
This past week’s effort in Washington D.C. working with the experts of Segal Consulting yielded a very valuable foundation of knowledge to work from for the Negotiating team. This is the beginning of what will most likely be a lengthy data collection and concept development effort, so there is little to report other than the work continues. Your elected representatives have been given an initial briefing on the effort, and will be given a full briefing on our progress at the October MEC Meeting. We still have much to learn, and many questions seeking answers. I encourage those of you with specific concerns to contact your block reps with your questions.

10 Minute Early Pulls
Over the last few months, management has employed the 10 minute early pull on a routine basis. As several of you have pointed out, this practice created some potentially challenging conditions due to the time squeeze it created for the ramps as well as flight crews. To remedy this, management has changed these pairing for the October bid month to allow for the customary flight preparation time.

FDAs
Our pilots in CGN and HKG have volunteered for our most challenging assignments. The conditions they and their families face each and every day are both enriching and frustrating. Management is obviously finding these operations quite challenging, and at times have implemented policies that complicate and frustrate these pilots and their families. Many of these issues have been effectively minimized or eliminated through the on-going implementation measures found in the FDA LOA, while others have been recently uncovered. We encourage the FDA pilots and their families to keep your representatives informed as you encounter difficulties and concerns. A great deal of our resources are spent dealing with these issues, and I see no reason to believe this will change. We will do whatever we can to protect and defend the interests of our crews and their families in these operations that are vital to our futures.

Respectfully,


Captain Chuck Dyer
FedEx MEC Chairman

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