Qatar Airways Threatens Pilots For Taxiing With Two Engines

Filed Under: Qatar

This isn’t of much consequence to passengers one way or another, though it sure is interesting to get an inside look into airline operations in this way…

Qatar Airways pilots aren’t following procedures

In late September, Qatar Airways‘ Chief Flight Operations Officer sent a rather scathing letter to pilots over their “gross deviation” from the company’s policy. Essentially Qatar Airways has a policy whereby pilots are supposed to taxi with just one engine on arrival (after landing). This is intended to save fuel, and therefore money.

While the Doha-based airline has been targeting a 95% compliance rate, it’s being found that in the past several months, the policy has only been followed 55% of the time.

So the airline is now going after pilots who don’t follow the procedure, going so far as to threaten dismissal from the company for non-compliance.

Here’s the memo to pilots:

“As the airline is going through unprecedented times due to the current crisis, I expect all of you as professionals to make all necessary measures to avoid unnecessary operational costs.

The background of this notice is to highlight that there has been gross deviations by some flight crew from the company’s mandated procedure to carry out SE (taxi in) from the start of the pandemic.

When we started this project a few years ago we had set a target of 95% compliance but it is quite disappointing to see that in the last 3 months we have only achieved an average of 55%.

SOPs are meant to be adhered to and I will not hesitate to take serious action against those who do not follow or deviate from this requirement intentionally without any valid reason.

I have given the instructions to all Fleet Managers that any unjustified non adherence to SE taxi procedures will result in pilots being placed on LOG and called to the fleet office for explanation if not mentioned in post flight report and if the explanation is found to be without valid reasons, a serious action will be taken against offenders including dismissal from the company.”

Qatar Airways pilots are supposed to taxi in on one engine

Here are my questions…

I know we have a lot of pilot readers here, so I’d love if someone could share some insights:

  • Why would pilots not follow the single engine taxi procedure? Is it simply that it’s easier to be able to use the power of both engines, or is there another reason?
  • The airline is targeting 95% compliance, suggesting that there are situations where it doesn’t make sense to use single engine taxi, so what would those situations be?
  • How can the company determine the compliance rate? Is this based on fuel burn, or some engine stats showing how long a particular engine was running, or…?
  • Given that pilots are trained to work off checklists and follow procedures, do pilots at other airlines similarly deviate from single engine taxi procedures, or should this make us question what other procedures aren’t being followed?


Qatar Airways’ taxiing procedure isn’t being followed 45% of the time

Bottom line

Qatar Airways is unhappy that pilots aren’t following procedures for taxiing on one engine. While the letter to pilots is very strongly worded, I suppose that’s fair enough — it’s something that should be possible, and that can save money while also being good for the environment.

This also has me wondering about taxiing procedures across the industry, and if other airlines with similar policies also have such problems with compliance.

Comments
  1. I’d love to know a little math behind this. I assume pilots would have to throttle up one engine a bit more than two engines to get the plane taxiing, especially after a full stop for traffic or something. I guess the fuel “saved” from lower throttle on two engines isn’t greater than the extra fuel burned from higher throttle on one engine.

  2. One reason not to taxi SE is there is a mandatory cool down before you can shut down one motor, and depending on what runway and your gate, you might not get the required cool down time. The other reason would be an airport that has any kind of uneven surfaces. If you have to go up even a slightest incline, it takes a lot of thrust to move a heavy jet. Also a wet taxiway or snow covered taxiway would be a reason to taxi with both engines running.

  3. Jay,
    Not only is the fuel used lower taxing in SE, not running the second air flow pack saves fuel. Is the temperature is not extreme, shutting down the air pack is SOP

  4. Modern aircraft report enormous data back to base. The company will know exactly when they were operating on one or two engines.
    Reasons not to, very short taxi (engines need several minutes cooling time after using reverse thrust upon landing), uphill slopes with a full aircraft, operating in low visibility. Some airlines also prohibit pilots from taxiing on one engine whilst on or crossing runways

  5. This is a fairly standard policy and I am quite shocked to see such a low compliance rate. Yes, there are situations where single engine taxi doesn’t work (for example in airports with very short post-landing taxi times or where specific turns may be sub-optimal with asymmetrical thrust) but 95% is not an unreasonable target.

  6. Regarding Jay’s question, there is a small saving. A slightly throttled up engine still burns less fuel than two engines at idle. Turbofan engines are not efficient on the ground, they’re designed to operate at altitude. The other factor is that running an engine is hugely expensive. Saving a few minutes of engine life every day by having one shut down on the ground can offer big savings in the long run.

  7. I work in FOQA for a major airline. Everything done in the cockpit is logged and tracked down to the second. We know exactly when the crew throttles down after landing and if they used thrust reversers. In cases where an aircraft used thrust reversers on a short runway and landed into a small regional airport where taxi time is literally 2 seconds, we wouldn’t expect the crew to even bother with single engine taxi.

  8. I believe there was a study done by MIT nerds which showed that stops and turns do not increase fuel burn during taxi (its just a function of taxi distance).
    Admittedly this was with aircraft using both engines for taxi but don’t see why it’d be any different for taxi with one engine. Most likely the engine has a certain minimum fuel burn rate at the rpm just after landing and you can use that for taxing with single engine and shut down the other to save fuel which sounds logical.

  9. I flew heavy Boeing’s for a cargo outfit and a major passenger airline for 34 years. SINGLE engine taxi became a guideline/SOP many years ago when fuel prices rose and improvements were made in aircraft cabin comfort systems, Most crews adhered as long as safety and crew workload was not compromised. Sometimes, especially in very hot locations, a heavy aircraft will have difficulty taxiing because of asphalt softening thus requiring 2 engines to taxi. There could also issues with turning/assymetric thrust OR maybe there are some labor contract issues involved. Btw, all aircraft systems and parameters are recorded and sent to company operations/analysts in modern aircraft…nothing is sacred anymore.

  10. @Lucky Modern ACARS and FOQA systems show an incredible amount of data so it is very easy for the airline to see exactly when engines are stopped/started.

  11. In addition to fuel saving, you’re also reducing run time on one engine, and while only a small period, it will eventually add up to reductions in maintenance costs as well as fuel.
    On the flip side I know that the airport I control at doesn’t allow single engine jet taxiing as a standard rule. There’s been numerous incidents from excessive power in turns or up slopes which has led to baggage carts being blown, FOD blown around etc etc.

  12. Pilot here. Let me sit down and answer your questions 🙂

    In my airline, single engine (or “reduced engine”) taxi is certainly encouraged. We will do it whenever we can, but there are many, many reasons NOT to do it as well.

    What it boils down to is that jet engines are not really designed to be used on the ground. If you look at a car, the power from the engine is used to create torque on the axles, which are connected to the wheels, which have direct ground contact. Instead what a jet engine does is that it sucks in as much air as possible at the front, heats it up by mixing in boatloads of burning fuel, and then dumps everything out the back with a lot of force. This works great when you’re flying high up in the air, but on the ground it’s very impractical. These engines have lag, are difficult to control precisely, and the hot and powerful exhaust air can wreak havoc on anything that is behind them. So there could be a lot of reasons not to switch off an engine on the way to the gate, for instance if you are expecting to need that trust to handle upslopes on the taxiways or the aprons, or to go over soft spots in the asphalt, or to make very tight turns. Or if you’re arriving at an airport or a particular apron for the first time, and you’re not completely sure it will be a smooth ride all the way simply because you’ve never been there before, you can imagine that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Because if you get stuck anywhere it will take a lot of time (and thus a lot of extra fuel) to restart an engine. And you could be blocking the way for any aircraft behind you, so that’s even more engines running unnecessarily.

    Specifically for Doha (Qatar Airways’ home base), where temperatures are extremely high, maybe the taxiways are not that great (hot asphalt tends to get soft, plus the airport is built on artificial land which can literally sink down). On top of that they have a fleet comprising of a lot of really heavy airplanes, for which the conditions really need to be optimal to consider reduced engine taxi.

    I think 95% compliance is an unrealistic target. Especially now when many of their lighter airplanes are grounded whilst their heavies (mainly the A350 and B777) are doing most of the work that is left during this pandemic.

    As for determining their compliance rate, they can probably get these statistics from the engines themselves (from telemetry data).

    “Should this make us question what other procedures aren’t being followed?” – this statement hurts me right in the feels, as does the wording of the email that my fellow pilots in Qatar apparently received. I’m sure these guys are professionals, and the fact that their company has had NO fatal incidents or accidents since it was founded 26 years ago (at least that’s what a quick Google search tells me) is a great testament to that. I think calling them “offenders” and threatening them with dismissal, especially when so many people have already lost their jobs, and those who are still flying are at extreme risk of getting sick, is very short sighted.

  13. Well I heard Qatar Airways is always strict in their business, however, not sure if they still are in current pandemic.

    All I know is that pilots are so screwed.

  14. Why would pilots not follow the single engine taxi procedure? Is it simply that it’s easier to be able to use the power of both engines, or is there another reason?
    – Some pilots use it as a way to get back at the company
    The airline is targeting 95% compliance, suggesting that there are situations where it doesn’t make sense to use single engine taxi, so what would those situations be?
    – Taxiing into areas where tight turns are required generally require both engines.
    How can the company determine the compliance rate? Is this based on fuel burn, or some engine stats showing how long a particular engine was running, or…?
    – Pretty much every switch and lever is logged.
    Given that pilots are trained to work off checklists and follow procedures, do pilots at other airlines similarly deviate from single engine taxi procedures, or should this make us question what other procedures aren’t being followed?
    – I wouldn’t. This is one of those stick it to management issues — kind of like leaving all the lights on during day so they burn out faster.

  15. I worked AA DFW Ops Tower many years in the 1980/90s.
    Even back then, “engine out taxi” was SOP. As Caesium said, it was as much about engine run time as fuel savings.

    For 727 and MD-80s departures, all engines would be started if on a “power back” gate. Shortly after the power back was completed, one engine would be shut down then restarted just a minute or 2 before takeoff. What surprised my is that it was always the right hand engine (#3 on the 727) that was shutdown.

    Those older planes required a bit a “breakaway thrust” to get moving. I think today’s high bypass fans can typically get a plane moving on idle power. Also, the 727 & MD-80 are almost “center line thrust” aircraft, so asymetrical thrust isn’t as big of a deal. It could be a deal for an arriving 777 crew that shuts down the right engine only to later realize the final turn to their gate’s lead-in line is a hard left turn …. in an alleyway (once you’ve lined up on your lead-in line, your exhaust is pointed directly at another gate behind you). And then …. just as your signalman stops you right on the 777-200 nose wheel mark, they realize you’re a 777-300 so need you to come forward another 2 feet. I’ve seen many cases close to that hypothetical scenario where a tug had to be used to complete the flight’s final 2 feet. No breakaway thrust allowed here, either the plane rolls forward on idle power from one engine or it doesn’t.

    I’ve seen the inverse too.
    A winter (read: slick ramp) day with a DC-10 on the terminals last gate. Given DFW “horse show” shaped terminals, there is a “converging alleyway” created between the last gate of one terminal and the first gate of the adjacent terminal. We don’t put airplanes with inoperative APUs on these gates. An inop APU means that the plane can’t start its own engines. A ground aircart will be needed to start engine #1 while at the gate (and later, the other engines will be stared with bleed air from #1). Being an gate with another gate directly behind, we try to avoid engine starts at the gate. Well the APU went inop at DFW while on this gate. Between the #1 engine running at idle, the hard turn required backing away from the gate, engine #1 being on the “outside” of this hard turn and the slick ramp … the tug could not get the plane off the gate while maintaining directional control (we had to shut down #1, push the plane off, then re-deo the air cart start on the raml … while blocking access to/from several gates in both terminals).

  16. During that period it was forbidden to shut down engines in Qatar because of work on taxiways so this impacted 50% of flights already. The manager who wrote this air crew notice is complete JERK, never flies which is a blessing for passengers and is hated among QR pilots. Due to Covid a lot of airports are packed with unused aircrafts parked on all taxiways, one engine taxi should be forbidden for safety until normal taxiway usage is resume worldwide.

  17. Taking disciplinary action in such a case might not be the best approach. Pilots are normally inclined to follow the SOPs if they are fully informed and trained. 95% compliance to engine-out taxi might be high but from experience, well over 80% is achievable. I have seen videos of DC6s taxiing with engines out. Even the military uses engine-out taxi probably to save the brakes. Statistics will show that it is always the same Captains that perform engine-out taxi while others never do. People who rarely use the EO taxi find it awkward when asked to do it while the pilots that do it all the time find it a no brainier. The fuel savings while taxiing on one engine for twins is equivalent to 40% savings. Note that the fuel burn with all engine running is very high and in some cases over 25% of the cruise fuel burn. In the end, it is all a question of good airmanship and judgement.

  18. As caparipinepe said this “notice” to Crew is the outcome of incompetence of the manager who deliver it. Lack of situation awareness (by a Chief Flight Operations Officer) during strategic operations especially during these days in unusual situation put managers out of time and out of operational situation. They loose their common sense, they don’t even realize they are deeply offending their Pilots.
    High stress situations shouldn’t give right to these people to loose their respect for their employees that are working very hard in stressful situation and for less salary…much less!!!
    As some others colleague correctly wrote, there are numbers of a very good reasons to decide not to perform a reduced engine taxi while there are NO REASONS to be offensive, rude and threatening.

  19. I remember single engine taxi, even at short-taxi regional airports, starting for Air NZ domestic F27 turboprops and 737-219s late 1970s/early 80s after the second oil crisis. I was always intrigued how accurately pilots steered the planes with asymmetric thrust and nose wheel but I guess no snow or excessive heat, few sloped ramps, well spaced out gates (no corridors) and pilots visiting the same airfields multiple times a day allowed them to make it look easy from the paid-for seats.

    BA has a single engine taxi out SOP on short hop European flights. At Frankfurt, the controllers like to route the UK- bound Airbus A3xx flights out of the ‘new’, ‘short’, 23R/07L runway, usually using 07L. From the BA stands this requires a taxi the full length of the terminal aprons followed by a trip over the ‘3 autobahn’ bridge before joining the takeoff queue lining up at the runway entrance. Usual procedure is pushback, line up at right angle to departure gate and disconnect tug, fire left side engine, taxi (which takes 20-25 minutes and feels at the end of a long day like you are changing time zone), fire right hand engine approaching end of takeoff queue, final checks, enter runway and roll.

    Always entertaining, even at at the end of a tiring day’s business in Germany.

  20. When you are shooting for 95% compliance, sooner or later one would think he/she can get away being that 5%.

    It’s not a pilot thing; it’s a human thing.

  21. What do we expect from the airline industry thugs? SE taxi is encouraged and might be SOP ( at pilot’s discretion) . Any major and serious airline will not act on punitive action for not complying with it, no interrogation of crews after a flight for it, refer to FOQA or FDA and thats it.

  22. Those are lame excuses, if the company is falling apart let the shareholders know there’s a bad management in the company and stop witch hunting the pilots because the issue of switching of an engine that has been running of 2ooomiles at ones do more harm to the whole machine than losing the a few litters of fuel, i don’t understand how Qatar a country rich in fuel can complain about it to an extent of going short cut which i believe they won’t save anything at all but only to encounter a tragedy later when those engines break down at the mid-air, thank for this information that now i will avoid those airlines now…. Doomed Company

  23. @AS

    It doesn’t, but endre will have you know that he paid for 3 seats so he can lie flat in them, and did social distancing before it was cool.

  24. Single engine taxi has been standard procedure for a long time at most airlines. However, heavy airplanes require a LOT of thrust from the one running engine to get moving, and sometimes that amount of jet blast in a tight area like the ramp, or a taxiway line with other airplanes behind you, just isn’t safe not courteous.

    If the pavement is contaminated by ice or snow, the asymmetric thrust can make directional control difficult, if not impossible. Most US-based airlines that I’m familiar with actually forbids single engine taxi in ice and snow.

    Also, making a right turn in the direction of the running engine is more difficult. The asymmetric thrust is trying to turn the airplane AWAY from the running engine. So if you’re turning away from the running engine, the asymmetric thrust actually helps you. If you’re turning INTO the running engine, it can be hard to keep it rolling. I’ve had aircraft I’m taxiing come to a complete stop if I didn’t have enough forward momentum and I was turning in the direction of the running engine. Adding power on that engine just exacerbates the problem, because the thrust is fighting against the turn you’re commanding with the deflection of the nose wheel.

    At its bottom line, single engine taxi is all about economics. And while I understand that economics are important, this heavy-handed approach over an issue that isn’t safety-related seems a little over the top. Yes, I’ve seen fellow pilots “counseled” about their compliance with single engine taxi. But it would be a hard pill to swallow to see pilots threatened with firing when single engine taxi doesn’t increase safety and sometimes will actually degrade safety.

    That’s probably the difference in culture between US-based airlines (and their strong union protection) and foreign carriers that seem more likely to fire pilots for spurious reasons.

  25. Something that’s not mentioned here is how that works with the 4 engine planes?

    For Qatar’s beautiful A380s whenever they hopefully return and their 747 cargo planes. I guess they run on 2 engines in the same way after landing?

  26. High speed taxiing over lengthy distances will require the pilot to control the plane more if on one engine. Might be a pain. Might be a safety issue.

    Upon touching down, pilots want to get to the gate asap. It’s another step they just are not use to, but new procedures come up all the time so its not difficult to follow this.

    MOST airlines, especially big ones monitor every flight, can look at the engine performance and all things taking place second by second. AA, UA, DL, BA, LH etc all have a massive ops floor where all they do is monitor aircraft. Makes one wonder about the missing MH flight. They say the second by second monitoring is a package they did not purchase. Boeing says its automatically built in.

  27. Agree with most of the comments. But in my opinion with two engine operations the starboard engine with high bypass engines always ages about two minutes per sector more than the port engine (mainly due to the long start up times) and May accumulate over a period of time. Any down time for engine maintenance or change if done together makes a lot more sense than two down times during which time the Aircraft is AOG and is burning a hole through the company pockets. So if the starboard engine is shut for approximately two minutes earlier than the port engine (Any longer Taxi would tip the balance the other way) without compromising on handling characteristics and ground conditions during Taxi and distractions and workload do not compromise safety it would make sense. An important consideration would be passenger comfort for cooling or heating the cabin. We run the Airline for them and not for Company bottom lines.

  28. Another reason is simply shorter taxi times. With covid there are less flights and i have noticed (as a passenger) shorter taxi times at ANC, ATL and Sea-tac. Im sure that has to be the case at every busy airport world wide.

  29. There‘s no traffic!

    Taxi time to the gate is so short right now you can’t shut down the engine because of the cool down time required after landing.

  30. The transition from landing to taxiing to the terminal, particularly at a business airport, does not need to be complicated with the execution of an engine shutdown checklist. That may save Qatar some money but it just add to airport congestion and the risk of a collision.

  31. These are the most interesting/fascinating comments I’ve ever read on your site, Ben…especially for an armchair “wannabe” pilot like myself. Thank you!

  32. Although not a likely motive in this case, one reason for intentional non-compliance with fuel/cost saving policies is industrial action… management is placing pilots in a disadvantageous position regarding their contract, and so the pilots become demotivated to take ‘reduce any margins’ for the sake of some accounting aspiration. I don’t believe that single engine taxi is a procedure that any manufacturer has promoted in their AOM as a normal procedure, thereby inviting liability for issues that arise, so whilst common, it is still a non-standard procedure subject to discretion and judgement when safety will not be compromised, and thank goodness, the Captain is still the “final” authority as to the safe operation of the aircraft and, therefore, the one whose ‘discretion and judgement’ of the moment gets to rule, not some guy sitting in an office.

  33. SE should be a recommended practice. A captain is the Pilot in Command . unless left.. unable to get furlough reasons.

  34. There are dozens of reason NOT to taxi on one engine, right ramp space, soft asphalt, a uphill slope, etc. If during single engine taxi, the captain needs to add more thrust to make a turn, and in the process blow,a baggage cart into another aircraft (happens quite often), he or she will face disciplinary action for such damage. He will be forced to got to retraining on his own time after facing a tribunal of management pilots or critique his every move. Pilot don’t like to do reports during their off time, especially when they’re not being paid to do so. The result it they play everything conservatively to pick the path of least resistance. Basically, you taxi when it safe and effortless to do so, all other times you err on the side of caution.

    This is not a problem at most Western carriers because the unions keep the company at bay In such trivial situations. But at the Middle East airlines the pilots have no labor representation and the management turns pilot harassment into sport. I’ve been flying for 33 yrs, big airliners for 24 yrs. I worked as a pilot in the Middle East. After what I’ve seen occur there, especially of late, I would just as soon hang up my flying wings for good (I still have 14 yrs to go) than work for one of these carriers. It can be a tough career when you have to defend your actions against an apparatus of management pilots who are hell bent on ruining a pilots career. That’s what is really going on here. The VP of Flt Ops is threatening pilots because he can. They work for a non-union carrier, and they chose to do so, and this is often the result. Management by fear and intimidation.

  35. I was a pilot for an airline in the 90s that had management looking for ways to save money on operational costs. We used single engine taxi procedures whenever it was possible based on aircraft weight and airport weather conditions. They also had pilots not using certain lights that weren’t mandatory on the outside of the aircraft to save bulbs, like the tail logo lights. They even went as far as having us not use reversers on landing and use more brakes, because they said it was cheaper to replace brakes than mechanical parts for the reverser system. I won’t get into the idea of changing a pilots mindset on a critical moment when reversers would have made a difference, that change in mindset can cost periods of time that may be crucial in a bad situation. The company I worked for, like other airlines, leased the engines, so time was costly, it wasn’t just about fuel consumption.

  36. The sad truth is that the airlines have become ruthless. The simple fact that supply and demand has tilted against employees has made it easy to threaten the livelihood of employees.
    There is logic and reason behind most decision that are made in the cockpit.
    It’s pretty easy for pencil pushers behind a desk slamming the hammer and passing judgement on decisions that are made on the flight deck.
    Threats of furlough, massive cuts in salaries and other so called measures to “save” the airlines from collapse have become an excuse for nothing more than blatant exploitation.
    The employees are paid nothing, expected to work just the same as before but threatened with termination if they don’t tow the line or bring up safety related issues.
    If a pilot feels that its appropriate that a single engine taxi in is only appropriate 50 odd percent at a time, then I’m sure there’s a pretty good reason. At the end of the day we’re an educated bunch with years of experience.
    This brings us to the realization that a majority of pilots do care about the revenue that the airlines make, considering it pays our paychecks directly but more so ever the impact it has on the environment and the world we live in. Every minute saved burning fossil fuels is a minute saved from the ecological doom we’re headed towards. And that matters more to pilots than profits.
    So that being said, if it’s only 50 percent compliance, there’s a pretty good damn reason for it being that way.
    Unfortunately the global aviation watchdogs will only awaken when accidents occur and lives are lost to realize that companies were making employees work for no pay, threatening termination and such that contributed directly to the accidents or serious incidents.

  37. Hi Ben,

    Personally, the #1 reason a Single engine taxi is not conducted is owing to aircraft performance. On a straight, level taxiway, aircrafts have no problem taxiing with one engine. But, introduce a minor upslope, with a couple 90 degree turns, and a heavy aircraft, and you have created a problem for yourself by doing single engine. The A320 (neo) which I fly, has refused to move an inch, even with nearly 40% power on the engine (we are constrained not to exceed this power setting on taxiing as it will cause significant jet blast to ground equipment). The only solution left in these cases is to switch off both engines, and call for the push back truck to tow you into bay, which is a long, and time consuming process resulting in significant delays.

    Even the final turn into the bay needs to be carried out with a good amount of momentum, else the aircraft stops midway, and its very tricky to get it moving again.

  38. There is a very good reason why this is not occurring but as we say lies damn lies and statistics. Given that taxi times have now dropped to an average 6 minutes and the engine cool down time for the airbus Rolls Royce engines require a cool down time of 5 minutes shutting down an engine as you come on to stand serves no purpose. But then the paper pushers in the office don’t look at the whole picture just how many flights don’t shut don their engine for single engine taxi. If you look at how many had the opportunity and how many did then the 95% rate is achieved.

  39. My worry is not even on taxing.What if you come to land and overshoot the landing keys and have to to a go around?Or even due to crosswind exceeding the normal range,would the Qatar airways be in alot of trouble for the go around since am sure the amount of fuel consumed would be so much?This puts alot of pilots on unneeded pressure to land even in tough situations risking much more

  40. I was a B777 captain at Qatar Airways for 5 years.

    QR has excellent IT capabilities and they track everything. All modern airplanes have the capability to transmit every conceivable parameter back to the company in real time, and QR has systems in place to receive and analyze this data at a level much higher than most carriers.

    At QR we were told not to SE taxi if the pavement was wet or slippery, but the company has no way of knowing that conditions.
    We did not SE taxi until after all runways were crossed.
    You have to wait until the recommended engine cool down time is achieved.
    On the B777, with even a slight uphill slope SE taxi could require excessive power and therefore hazardous.
    The weight of the airplane combined with slope or sharp turns can make SE taxi unwise. The company limited us to 40% power on the ground, so there were many situations where you might need more than that to SE taxi.
    We filled out a journey log after each flight and one of the requirements was to report whether we did SE taxi, and if we didn’t, why we chose not to. QR prioritizes safety, and they certainly didn’t want us to SE taxi if it was unwise to do so. If I had a good reason not to SE taxi they never questioned it.

    We would periodically get these letters, saying that x percentage of flights did not shut down an engine as soon as they could have, and I often wondered how they could possibly know what “as soon as they could have” really was as the office had no way of knowing the current conditions.

    One of the reasons I left Qatar was the company culture of fear, threats and intimidation you see evidenced in this letter. It’s not a fun place to work. Everyone is living in fear for their jobs. Employees are NOT a valued part of the team, no matter what QR may say.

  41. Working in management, it’s pretty simple for the pilots. Comply with the required guidelines or be a captain for Greyhound Bus Lines instead. Management creates these policies after extensive research. Every penny has to be stretched in these difficult times of aviation ! I loved the email sent to remind the pilots!

  42. This topic is part of what I do for a living; I help airlines achieve fuel & operational efficiency.

    Many good and factual comments have been made in this stream of comments already, even by my FE mentor, retired Air Canada captain and all-round great guy Marcel Martineau.

    Single (or Reduced-) Engine taxiing (SET) is one of many ways to lower fuel waste on a flight when applied appropriately. SET comes at a cost as well though, and all relevant factors should be thoroughly investigated before deciding on company-specific SOPs for these initiatives.

    Different aircraft types handle SET differently and a host of operational and non-operational factors will influence if SET is achievable for a particular flight or not. I will not bother you with the details, previous comments mention a few already.

    Aircraft produce a lot of data, and best-in-class airlines will harvest that data and put it to good use throughout the airline. Not to punish individuals (just culture!) but to get a grip on data, learn from the analysis and use it coach the organisation.
    With bespoke software tools it can then be determined if conditions were in place to allow for SET within set SOPs or not, and so help determine how many flights of the total should represent 100% application of the initiative.
    Combined with flight crew feedback one can then look for trends in cases where SET (or any other FE initiative) was not or partially applied when in fact it was expected, and either re-assess SOPs and/or work towards removing a particular barrier to success.
    Airlines not using such tools should not be in business today.

    I’ve managed FE programs in this way for various airlines, one of them a large non-union, Middle-Eastern airline and we never fired anyone. We did have a few conversations of course, worked to understand issues and found solutions as a team.

    An authoritarian senior manager reacting in this way will not benefit the fuel efficiency program, or any change program for that matter. We’ve seen this before: such threatening messages tend to have an adverse effect in that some flight crew will take this the wrong way and possibly hurt the efficiency program in other, difficult to prove ways- simply because they can. They feel misunderstood, they stop caring and even become obstinate and the airline will have lost their support (and pay for it).

    On a personal note, this is quite a contrast with the forward-thinking spirit I encountered in this airline in 2007 during our IATA FEGA visits . These are difficult times for sure, but such action may end up costing the airline more than it had anticipated.

    Now for some perspective:
    Taxiing activities account for 2-3% of an airline’s fuel budget; roughly 2/3 of this for taxi-out and the remaining 1/3 for taxi-in. So let’s say that 1% of the airline’s fuel budget is involved in the SETI initiative.
    Let’s further say that this initiative can be applied in 60%-70% of all arriving flights (due to restrictions, etc.), making this 60%-70% the 100% target. Finally, per SETI event up to a 40% fuel burn saving can be had, but in practice this number is not often reached (again, many factors). Let’s say an average of 25%.

    We then end up with savings potential of 0.16% of the airline’s fuel budget which, for this airline at roughly 4M tons (US$ 1.4B) annually during normal (non-COVID) operations, still amounts to roughly 7,000 tons (US$ 2.5M) of fuel waste saved annually.
    That, and avoiding some 22,100 tons of CO2 and other emissions on airport premises, which is a worthwhile target any day of the week.

  43. Well said, however you see it , in QR, the pilots are totally screwed… And always remember SAFETY IS FIRST!

  44. Having some experience in aviation management I see the same happening over and over again where management has a very different agenda than what the PR boys and girls spin out and make you believe and have long discussions about.
    We pilots, we approach this from the technical/professional point of view and walk right into the trap.
    The issue is not whether 1 eng taxi is helping to save fuel or not. We are in a complete and utter aviation crisis today where the sheer survival of airlines is the number one concern for any management out there. This is simple crisis management.
    You see different airlines tackle it differently. A lot of airlines use their unions to lean back on governments to secure ridiculous government bailouts. Those airlines without unions to pressure on governments need to be more creative or brutal in their approach. Qatar has clearly chosen the path of trying to stand out from the herd by portraying itself as the eco friendly, reliable airline, not affected by COVID like other weaker airlines.
    So when it is time to lay off pilots you justify your actions by making sure word starts spreading about how irresponsible some of your pilots are in not following procedures and the detrimental effect it has on your quest for being so environmentally aware, not to mention implying that not following procedure by definition means you are an unsafe pilot. My humble opinion being here that when you reach 95% single engine taxi-in (in the current conditions and Doha environment) you have a safety issue on your hands by the simple fact that, as many colleagues explained very well, it’s not a simple yes or no question. Even the constructors will tell you that. Single engine taxi in is not a SOP for normal flight. it is a conditional SOP, meaning that you can apply the procedure if, and only if, the conditions are suitable. That is what the constructor’s lawyers will tell you when you face them in court after having an incident or accident involving single engine taxi. When you force pilots to answer this complex issues with a simple you follow procedure X or Y 95% of the time, you will create a safety issue.

    The bottom line is not what you write in your article.
    The bottom line is that Qatar needs to fire pilots.
    And you are, blissfully unaware, but gladly and willfully doing the dirty work for them by broadcasting and spinning this story in such a way that at the end of the day the public can only see the poor airline being the good guys for sacking pilots that don’t follow procedures.
    Qatar can keep its reputation of being eco friendly and safety driven and as a strong player that is not affected by this global crisis like all the other weaker airlines. It is only concerned about your and the planet’s safety and wellbeing and firing those pilots was needed to keep it that way.

  45. The first reason is the mandatory 3 minute cool down period after every landing as the engine must be at low power for 3 minutes prior to shutdown. That can affect flights that have a short taxi after landing.

    A rare situation can be when there are certain inoperative systems. Shutting an engine down shuts down some electrical, pneumatic, and hydraulic sources. Therefore, to ensure proper redundancy, one should be very careful in this situation.

    If the taxiway surfaces are wet and especially if there is snow or ice, it should be avoided as the aircraft can start sliding due to the differential thrust.

    The biggest consideration is jetblast behind the aircraft. It is already an issue with both engines operating. With an engine shutdown on a twin engine aircraft, twice as much thrust is needed from the operating engine.

    There are a lot of variables in this situation. If the aircraft is light and the traffic situation not congested, one can frequently just taxi to the gate with idle thrust. If heavy, it will likely require more thrust. Sometimes significantly so.

    A big issue can be airport slope. Examples are Seattle and Paris. If going uphill, more thrust is required. If one has momentum(speed already gained while taxiing prior to reaching the upslope) it is less of an issue, but frequently, one has to slow down or stop while taxiing for a variety of reasons. Then a lot of thrust is needed, especially after being stopped. Combine this with a congested area such as certain gates and the large amount of thrust can cause significant damage or injury behind it, something that has happened many times over the years. That is the biggest concern.

    Some airport surfaces are soft due to local condition such as Bangkok in certain areas, especially on hot days. A heavy aircraft can get stuck requiring more breakaway thrust, the thrust required to get moving which means more jetblast required to get moving.

    One last potential issue is the greater likelihood of sucking up some foreign objects into the engine when adding more thrust which can damage or wear down the engine.

    Bottom line, getting slow or stopped becomes more and more of a jetblast issue as the aircraft gets heavier, the slope increases, and the congestion increases. Surface slipperiness is a frequent concern as well.

  46. Stands to be said that having an SOP and training for one does not make a SETI procedure obligatory. In addition to all the good reasons already stated, there are also some airports that forbid SET in/out & published in their AIPs (what if the only running engine fails during taxi or runway backtrack!). Some of the extraneous factors are related to OEM attitudes as well. One of the big-two is not quite supportive of fuel efficiencies such as SETI, Thrust Reversers etc. Getting an SOP signed off by them is a daunting task for an airline whereas the competitor has published “Green” Supplemental procedures as part of the Fcom. And then there are the Software vendors who churn out reports ad-nauseum in retrospect at the month end without factoring all the underlying causes why SETI did not work (runway slope, taxi speeds, sharp turns, wet rwy, hot day etc.). This ‘reporting culture’ inbuilt in the software and the capture of Pilot data, usually from an FDM program invariably leads to the malaise of finding cause with the Pilot rather than the external factors from Weather or ATM such as taxi congestion, stops/starts and crossing live runways that could well be the case.
    In my view, a large part of this malaise is caused by reactive commercial softwares ‘overselling’ fuel savings. And worse, that it is achieved through a post-flight reactive Reporting process (what/why happened). What is needed instead is Predictive Analytics (what will happen) that would identify opportunity with a high level of probability and quantify it. Followed by Prescriptive Analytics (how to make it happen) – which is what QR is trying to achieve here. They are yet a way to go!!
    Our company – fliteX – is well on the path to this future state recognizing that ALL taxis are NOT opportunities. We would much rather PREDICT 100% of the opportunities and in turn push these insights to the Pilot BEFORE the opportunities arise with 3 simple insights…
    1. Do I have a SETI savings on this flight?
    2. If so, how many minutes to cool-down time?
    3. What are the predicted savings?
    This approach is guaranteed to generate a 100% compliance with 100% pilot buy-in.

  47. Manageroftheskies:
    You are the reason so pilots hate there jobs. Please tell me you don’t manage pilots for a living. You must be a “peach” to work for. Go manage your pets at home, we’ll all be better off

  48. This is perhaps one of the most idiotic things I’ve heard in aviation!
    (Threatening your pilots with termination, because they don’t feel safe taxiing on one engine.)
    Single engine taxi never works as it is advertised. Yes, you may save a few pounds of fuel, taxing on a smooth, flat and dry taxiway in a remote part of the airport. But often you burn away all those savings out of the tailpipe, waiting for a gate, the jetway driver or the ground power hookup!
    Not to mention, the much higher powers required to move the aircraft, sometimes inches at a time in a congested airport. Blowing objects and people behind, or vacuuming the sand covered taxiways of the Middle East aerodrome into your engine intake. Then there are those times when a short taxi after landing requires at least a two minute cool down. Plus the distractions from safely operating your aircraft.
    I think it is time to send that stupid Chief Pilot back riding a camel and writing SOP’s for it!
    Captain Ross Aimer
    UAL ret.
    CEO, Aero Consulting Experts,
    Los Angeles

  49. Captain “Tim“ who worked for QR said it best.
    (And l confirm his sentiments, because when l worked for Boeing, l trained a few QR 777 pilots.)
    None union airlines like QR operate on fear and intimidation of their crews and employees. And you have no protection against management’s heavy hands.
    That is why airlines like QR can never keep or attract enough well trained and experienced pilots!

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