All posts tagged 'UPS'

I Toured the UPS Worldport and it Changed my Life

One of the major perks of attending the only flight university in Kentucky is that we have a great relationship with UPS. Seeing as their worldwide air hub is located about an hour and a half down the road, it only makes sense that a partnership was created and has been growing for several years now.

I consider myself a Kentucky girl and anyone from here knows what a huge deal UPS is for our state. Most of the pilots who are training at EKU that are originally from Kentucky started their piloting education because UPS inspired them. It is hard to miss a giant Airbus, MD-11, or Boeing 747 flying through the air on any given day in UPS livery.

They allow a group of students from EKU Aviation to come tour once a year. Getting into the Worldport was a big deal. We each had to provide personal information so that they knew exactly who was on the premises at what time. Our tour began at 10:00 PM on a Friday night and lasted until 3:00 AM because they wanted us to be there during their "rush hour," so we could see everything in action.

We met our point of contact and tour guide in the parking lot and he ushered us into the building that was clearly designed for touring groups. Large dramatic photos depicting their fleet and operations hung from the walls and a screen showed a live feed of where all of their planes were currently positioned. The first impression that this place gives off is awe-inspiring. We all checked in and filed into the next room where they had models of all of their aircraft types. Our guide gave us a quick overview of the planes and their capacities. Our group knew a little bit more about airplanes than a typical group would so he told us some mechanical facts too.

You could tell that the people who were in charge of public relations were the best of the best. They were courteous, friendly, professional, and seemed to really love their jobs. Their enthusiasm for sharing the UPS Worldport with us was amazing and they continually encouraged us to someday join their company as pilots or employees in another capacity. This was a huge deal for most everyone on the tour, who has an end-goal of flying for UPS.

They showed us a video presentation about their production capacity and it literally gave me chills. They have the capacity to process 416,000 packages per hour, and process an average of 1.6 million packages a day. They turn over approximately 130 aircraft daily, and they keep 2.5 million gallons of fuel on site. During their peak season they will use all of that fuel during one 4-hour period. These are just a few of the quick facts that they presented on the video.

After the video we split the group in half, and one half went to tour the Worldport while the other half went to fly the simulators. I ended up being in the group that did the simulators first, and it was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in aviation yet. They took us to the training building and we got to fly in the Airbus A300. All five of us fit comfortably in the simulator because it was as large as a room. There was the part for the pilot and co-pilot, a large chair with controls on it for the simulator operator, and two jump seats in the back for observers.

The simulator was full motion so everyone could feel every control input. I flew in the captain seat first and he guided me on how to takeoff, fly to some headings and eventually fly an ILS down to the runway. It was so amazing applying everything I have learned from my training thus far to try to understand the complex systems of the A300. Just as my experience from flying a RJ simulator a few years back taught me, using the trim was extremely helpful and necessary for flying this beast.

After we flew in the simulators the instructors offered to write the time in our logbooks. I am so happy to say that I now have actual simulator time logged flying the A300! We thanked our instructors and headed off to the maintenance hangar. They had the 747 and an A300 sitting in this maintenance hangar that appeared to go on forever. We did a walk around of the A300 and they pointed out a few interesting features. The one that fascinated me the most was the large red dot that was located under the tail. Our guide told us that during the preflight inspection, pilots look to see if any of the paint on this red dot was scraped off. If it was, the previous flight had a tail strike!

From here we went out to the actual ramp and road around in a tour bus to see different phases of the operation. With a steady stream of flights coming in as our background, we saw employees unloading the giant containers of packages and transporting them to the package sorting area. They stopped the tour bus where we had a perfect view of the active runway. UPS planes were landing every two minutes, touching down only a few yards away from where we were. It was so fast and high-energy that we could not help but stare in awe for as long as they would let us stay.

Our tour of this side of the Worlport ended with us walking around the package sorting area. This particular part of the premises has been on television specials such as Modern Marvels, Ultimate Factories, and many more to showcase how it is the number one most efficient factory of its type in the world. I could write an entire article just about this place. It boasts over 100 miles of conveyer belts and takes up an area equal to more than 90 football fields. There was so much going on that it made my head spin. They have truly perfected the monumental task of sorting and tracking thousands of packages every minute.

We got back in our bus and headed to the Global Operation Center (GOC) across the road. This building contains offices for crew scheduling, flight dispatch, maintenance control, contingency functions, and their meteorology department. The operations here control every UPS flight worldwide. It was amazing how every department was situated in the same room, so that if something were to happen in flight dispatch that needed assistance from crew scheduling, they only had to walk a few feet away and talk to the person in charge of that department. Perhaps most importantly, they have an entire meteorology department located about 10 feet away from the flight dispatchers.

They gave us a briefing on each of the functions of the departments and allowed us into the main room after an intense security screening. The lights were very dim so that employees would keep their voices down and have an easier time focusing. There was no photography allowed at this point of the tour and it was a very serious environment. The safe and successful operation of their entire fleet was dependent on the people in this room so it gave us all a bit of a tense feeling.

Although it was almost 3:00 AM at this point, I was wide-awake from all of the amazing things I had seen during our tour. UPS is truly one of the most advanced and efficient companies in the world. I was continually blown away by their innovation and professionalism in all aspects of their operations. I hope that some day I am able to work for UPS, or any company of such high caliber. It truly changed the way that I see possibilities for the future and what a passionate group of hard workers are capable of achieving.

Preliminary details of UPS crash in Birmingham

David W. Thornton

Yesterday United Parcel Service Flight 1354 crashed while on approach to runway 18 in Birmingham, Al. The crash occurred at approximately 4:45 a.m. Central Time (9:45 Zulu). Both crewmembers died in the crash. The flight originated at the UPS hub in Louisville, KY.

The hourly weather report taken shortly after the crash at 4:53 a.m. (0953Z) indicated few clouds at 1,100 feet with a broken ceiling layer at 3,500 feet. There was an overcast layer at 7,500 feet. Rain was not reported. The wind was reported from 340 degrees at four knots. This would have meant a slight tailwind for a landing on runway 18, but would have likely been within acceptable limits.

GlobalAir.com’s airport directory reports that runway 18 is 7,099 feet long. There are two instrument approaches to runway 18, a GPS approach and a localizer approach. Both approaches would have taken the airplane to a minimum altitude of 600 feet above the ground, which would have been sufficient to clear the lowest cloud layer.

For more information, check out David Thornton’s complete article.

So You Think You Want To Be A Pilot: The Commercial Cargo Pilot

    Pi•lot
  • One who operates or is licensed to operate an aircraft in flight.
  • One who guides or directs a course of action for others.
  • Serving or leading as guide.
     Pilots are people too, right? They’re people who happen to venture high in the sky in search of adrenaline, speed and worldly travels. The strange part is, less than 0.1 percent of people in the world will actually take the necessary steps of action to learn to fly an aircraft; an even smaller percentage of people will become professional pilots.

    No matter how you see it, each pilot's journey is bound to begin in generally the same way, via a single piston engine aircraft. “We must walk before we can run.”

     For young Gary Katz, one flight was all it took and he was sold. Gary was young and certainly impressionable on the day of his very first flight; nonetheless, in the back seat of that dusty old Cessna aircraft, his life was changed for the better. It was because of Gary’s father that he initially became engaged in flight and it was by his father’s suggestion that he eventually enrolled into The Civil Air Patrol.
     With years came wisdom, and as Gary grew, so did his passion for flight. After college, Gary went to work for a small, locally owned airport outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. This is where he learned to fly. Once Gary completed his pilot training, he accepted a job as a flight instructor and continued logging hours and experience while he shared his newfound talent with young, ambitious pilots that came his way. A few years later Gary Katz took on a new type of piloting job where he flew cancelled checks in twin engine Cessna airplanes for a company that provided international express mail services. This was a rather enjoyable job indeed, however, the maintenance of the aircraft was subpar and that made him feel somewhat uneasy about taking long trips. Eventually Gary continued forward with his career and began flying for an airline headquartered in Orlando, Florida. Finally, in 1989 Gary hooked the fish that sank the boat and was hired to fly cargo for UPS out of Louisville, Kentucky. This time, Gary flies primarily domestic cargo in DC-8 aircraft that are all maintained superbly and very well kept. Also, due to the UPS scheduling system, Gary receives a fairly negotiable schedule that keeps him at home with his family as much as possible.
     The more I learned about the life of a commercial cargo pilot, the more excited I became. Clearly this would be a rather lofty goal, but as far as a “dream career” goes, I would venture to say the cargo pilot has a seemingly pleasurable day at work. Unfortunately, Gary is “on the road” quite frequently, and his working hours are set up quite differently than your typical 9-5 office position. Nonetheless, Gary says that he thoroughly enjoys his work; and from a student pilot’s perspective, that is very nice to hear. According to Gary, the most difficult part about his job working as a cargo pilot is the time that he must spend apart from his family, as well as the late night shifts that throw off the natural human circadian rhythm. “If that’s the most difficult thing about being a cargo pilot, then I’m in!”

     Also, of course there are certainly perks included in the life of a professional pilot. In Gary’s spare time he has taught his son to fly, passing the talent right down his family line. On weekends he takes trips with his friends and family via his personal Cessna 182. Gary has also successfully developed a volunteer organization known as The Kentuckiana Volunteer Aviators. I’m far from the end on my road to discovering the inside scoop on the life of a professional pilot; but this was a fantastic start and I am feeling more inspired than ever! I can’t wait to meet and speak with my next professional pilot. Do you have a good story? I would love to hear from you! Just send me a quick email to keely@globalair.com and tell me all about it! 

UPS cargo plane crash in Dubai hits close to home for us

When a life is lost in a plane crash, we in the aviation community often take an added degree of concern compared to the general population. We understand acutely that the loss affects families and friends intertwined into our own social circles.

As members of this profession, we share a tight-knit group.

We, too, may have had an equipment issue in the cockpit or a close call on a landing before. We count our lucky stars that we walked away. Though these incidents are rare compared to the number of hours flown, we still take notice alertly when such mishaps occur. When lives are lost, the news still stings us with sadness.

No matter how much one prepares, things still can go wrong. When tragedy strikes, we lean upon each other and search for ways to prevent it from happening again.

Such events especially bring sorrow to our hearts when they happen close to home.

Last week’s crash of a UPS cargo plane that killed two in Dubai, though on the other side of the world, brings pain directly to the neighborhoods in which our coworkers live here in Louisville, Ky.

According to news reports, a Boeing-747 cargo plane turned back toward Dubai shortly after takeoff, reporting smoke in the cockpit. Soon after, the control tower there lost sight of the aircraft on radar and it went down.  

One of the two men at the controls, Doug Lampe, a 15-year veteran for UPS, called this city home. He attended Southeast Christian, the largest church in the community that counts among its members some of our fellow employees and their families. [more]

"It affects our whole community,” Dave Stone, senior minister at Southeast Christian, told The Courier-Journal, our local newspaper. “UPS is woven throughout the fabric of Louisville, so everybody hurts."

UPS is the largest private employer here, thus many fellow Louisvillians golfed, worked and worshipped with Lampe. Today, we too mourn with our city and our fellow aviators.

We extend condolences to the Lampe family, as well as the family of first officer Matthew Bell, of Sanford, Fla.

Additionally, as with all other crash investigations, we wish for answers to be found and potential problems to be resolved.

Company officials noted in a release that regular maintenance and a recent inspection shown no problems in the 2007 model aircraft. The company and the NTSB are sending inspectors to join investigative crews from the United Arab Emirates.

Though they cannot bring back these two accomplished pilots, we hope they can find resolution to help prevent us from losing others.

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