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UAL 747-400 Parked in Mojave Desert!

UndauntedFlyer

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Forwarded email:

Goodbye B-747-400 #8196

On Thursday I had the sad duty of being first officer on a one-way flight from San Francisco International Airport to Victorville Airport in the Mojave Desert. The purpose of this flight was to retire a low-time perfectly good 747-400. I was called out for my last day of reserve for this dubious ferry flight.

For those who haven't flown it, the 747 series aircraft are probably the best flying most graceful machines the Boeing company has ever produced. You can tell they got it right after your first flying leg. Hardly a pilot that has flown it likes an airliner better. There are a few that don't agree, but most that fly it would, and always will, refer to the 747-400 as their favorite airliner.

She's a forgiving bird. The pilots have the least landings and operations of any fleet yet I've rarely, if ever, seen a truly ugly landing on it, even from the least proficient pilots. It was involved in a near miss incident we all know about in the vicinity of San Bruno Mountain in the SF Bay Area. Somehow, miraculously, the 747 didn't let this stumbling crew down. They missed the threat and got her home safely. We all got a free lesson in thinking ahead about what we should do to prepare for the worst. That incident made us ALL better at what we do. That aircraft forgave those pilots, and us.

Every pilot that has time on the 777 and the -400 know this: a United 777, even the 90K engine aircraft, is limited to flights in the 12 hour range or less. It can hardly carry just passengers and their bags on flights to the edges of China. A 747 can carry those passengers plus their bags plus extra fuel needed PLUS revenue cargo to Hong Kong from Chicago or to Sydney from San Fran or LAX in the winter. If that 747 loses an engine over the North Pole you now have a 3 engined airplane to take you to a safe airport in China vs. sweating a single engine trek with low fuel temps to a questionable airport. The 777 is an amazing airplane. But the 747 does many things better.

Our managers are making room. They're trying to sell our airline. They're not trying to make it better; they're trying to make it gone, at least as we know it. They're hoping that a smaller -400 fleet will make seniority integration easier and will open up Glenn's chances of making his final stand: a merger with Continental Airlines. They are getting rid of 6 airplanes that can carry more than every type of airplane on Earth, except for a few copies of the A-380.

Glenn must be finding it tough these days. Maybe he punched in his PIN at the United ATM and didn't get enough back to satisfy his greed. So he'll sell the 737's and begin to sell all the 747's to be able to afford that bigger yacht.

I took a bunch of pictures of this airplane before we left. I felt sick to my stomach as we rolled down the runway for her last turnoff and setting the parking brake on a ramp in the desert. I was glad the Captain wanted to fly it down. I didn't want to be the one to fly it to its last moment as a United Airliner. The Captain flew a visual approach with all the flight directors and purple lines out of view to a beautiful painted-on landing on this 15,000 foot runway in gusty winds. I saw the other dinosaurs and our newer proud airplane, that never let us down, being left behind. I swear to god it watched me and the Captain get into the van and said "...how could you leave me?" as we headed for Los Angeles for our deadhead back to SFO. These machines take on a life to us. They're MORE than machines. United Airlines CEO and his top echelon have forgotten what airlines do and that the people who fly and maintain these airplanes actually give a sh!t about them and care deeply about this airline.

To Mr. Tilton: We are done with you. You've taken what you can take. You've done supreme damage to the morale of it's people and the core of the business of running what was once the premier airline in the United States. Now, sir, you can get out. We don't want you here anymore. Go find another corporation to drag through bankruptcy and destroy. It's what you do best. You had your chance after September 11th, 2001 to lead us and instead you picked us up, opened the lid, turned us upside down and shook until there was little left. Keep your attorney friend Sprayragan on your Christmas card list. You guys make a great team.

Retiring Boeing 747-400 N196UA #8196 is a symbol of what this dysfunctional management means to me and their ability and desire to run this airline properly. 8196...I'm sorry I had to be the one to take you there. I hope we get you back to where you belong: on a United route flying United passengers and cargo to United destinations. But, as long as Glenn and his friends are here, I'll have to bid to you what I bid to my friends before I sign off...

Aloha...and mahalo for never letting me down.

Doc
 
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Kharma Police

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How many are they planning to retire?
 

kingair1

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Great post. Here at Alaska we truly wish all the pilots at United the very best. Never stop fighting for what you really deserve !
 

UndauntedFlyer

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Great post. Here at Alaska we truly wish all the pilots at United the very best. Never stop fighting for what you really deserve !

Tragically, I really don't expect UAL to be around much longer.
 

johnsonrod

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This is the line that got me:

"I swear to god it watched me and the Captain get into the van and said "...how could you leave me?" as we headed for Los Angeles for our deadhead back to SFO."

I hope Mr. Tilton retires to the golf course very soon.
 

GogglesPisano

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enough
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/06082007/profile.html

" ... United Airlines employees have taken their discontent with the disparity between their pay and their CEO's to the company's shareholders — picketing the annual meeting in May 2007. The union leaders protested that while their workers were still being paid the lower wages agreed upon in bankruptcy, United Chairman and CEO Glenn Tilton had negotiated a new contact and even larger pay package reportedly worth $39.7 million. According to THE NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, "during [its] three-year reorganization, the carrier slashed thousands of jobs, scrapped pensions and cut wages up to 50 percent for its hourly workers. The wage cuts United negotiated with its unions last another three years.. "
 

whatitdoing?

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Very very sad indeed. I honestly believe that United is going to be parted out. No merger in my opinion.
 

clippyrip

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......
Goodbye B-747-400 #8196

Aloha...and mahalo for never letting me down.

Doc

A sad story with a lot of heart, great post! Your respect for that aircraft and soul of that story reminds me of why this is such a great career. I hope United lives on for a long time. Keep the faith.
 
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UndauntedFlyer

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This story reminds me of the Clipper Skippers (PanAm) who chose to go down with their ships even when they had the opportunity to come over to UAL with the acquisition of the Pacific flying.

Capt. Edward Smith chose to go down with his ship too, the Titanic.
 

Sandhawk

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Many greats machines have gone to Mojave to die............ But, many are resurrected back into their original fleet or other fleets when the good times return!!
 
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contrail67

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Very very sad indeed. I honestly believe that United is going to be parted out. No merger in my opinion.

They are parking 6-8 747's....and you think they are going to part out the company?

I would be more concerned if they started selling off the asia routes.
 

UndauntedFlyer

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They are parking 6-8 747's....and you think they are going to part out the company?

I would be more concerned if they started selling off the asia routes.

While the parking of 6-8 747's is a big deal, it's that on top of the plans to get ride of the entire 737 fleet. Now that combination is HUGE. Next it will be the sale of the Training Center, followed by the sale of the 757/767 fleet. And in the end, UAL can not make it as a 777/A320 airline. The only answer then is a merger or there acquisition by Continental. Of course this will provide a very large golden parachute for UAL management. Then that's it.

Everyone knows this, Tlton has no scruples. He just wants more cash for himself and his cronies.
 
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contrail67

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While the parking of 6-8 747's is a big deal, it's that on top of the plans to get ride of the entire 737 fleet. Now that combination is HUGE. Next it will be the sale of the Training Center, followed by the sale of the 757/767 fleet. And in the end, UAL can not make it as a 777/A320 airline. The only answer then is a merger or there acquisition by Continental. Of course this will provide a very large golden parachute for UAL management. Then that's it.

Everyone knows this, Tlton has no scruples. He just wants more cash for himself and his cronies.

Parking the 737's and the 6-8 400's is huge and they are probably not wanting to be that HUGE in case that may cause a merger to get denied.... they are sizing for a more certain merger. Remember, CAL has aircraft on order....close to 100 if the numbers on airline pilot central are correct. For a merger to happen, they don't need United's least efficient aircraft. Just my 2 cents.
 

GuppyWN

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Why not just run the damn airline instead of right-sizing for a merger?

You guys have an incredible route structure and any type of flying one would want. I just don't get it.

Sad story.

Gup
 

contrail67

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Why not just run the damn airline instead of right-sizing for a merger?

You guys have an incredible route structure and any type of flying one would want. I just don't get it.

Sad story.

Gup

Gup,

I think here is the deal....yes running it with the correct management is step one....BUT I really think that they don't want to exceed the DAL NWA size when they go to merge...I think it would have a chance of being too big, and possibly getting disapproved. So if they size it to match what has already been approved and cut out any overlap...then they are more likely to get approved...when speaking about a merger.

Form the numbers I can see...APC.com numbers on aircraft...the UAL CAL deal would be about 50 aircraft larger than the NWA DAL combo...BUT CAL has about 100 aircraft on order...so with that said, after the cuts are made..on both sides, and the orders are taken, they both...DAL NWA and UAL CAL are about the same size.

Just my opinion....without emotion. Totally out of our control. Good luck.
 
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