Sunday, June 10, 2018

Would you believe an airline pilot who said your flight time will be 1 hour and 27 minutes?

Two days ago Darren Fleming posted an article titled Flight time 1 hr and 27 min on The Official Toastmasters International Group at LinkedIn. It previously had appeared on March 1, 2016 both at his blog and at LinkedIn Pulse.  

He said:

“     I love the precision of flying. The captain makes an announcement that we will be pushing back from the terminal in 4 minutes and the flight will take 1 hour and 27 minutes to reach our destination.
      It gives the feeling of certainty. We know the captain is in control and knows exactly what is happening. They don’t say “I think the flight will be about an hour and a half’, or ‘I believe we’ll be taking off to the South.’ The captain is 100% certain.
     This is not arrogance, overconfidence or anything else. It's ownership. The Captain knows they are in charge and directs accordingly.
      As a passenger, I like knowing that the person flying me through the air is in control. They are not second-guessing or believing we will get there. They know and communicate that and we accept it.
      Do you communicate your message with the same level of authority?”

My thoughts are that the pilot is both arrogant and overconfident - someone who doesn’t know the difference between what a flight time calculator program spits out and reality. Flight time includes three different phases -  climbing to cruising altitude, level flight, and descending to land.

1 hour and 27 minutes rather than 26 or 28 is a precision of about 1.1%. That’s a message communicated with an unjustified level of authority. It assumes that during level flight headwinds won’t change, and he (or she) won’t have to change course to avoid turbulence, or go around a storm. And it assumes he won't be diverted by other traffic during descent prior to landing. An article in the Telegraph titled Are you being told the truth about flight times? by Hugh Morris and Oliver Smith on February 28, 2018 pointed out that it is normal to give high estimates for flight time – the URL says Are-airlines-exaggerating-flight-times-so-theyre-never-late.  

I’d be more likely to believe him if he just said 1 hour and 30 minutes.

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