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Runway excursion – Boeing Co 747-438, VH-OJH, Bangkok Airport, Thailand, 23 September 1999

A candle, against darkness?  – AP Forum version

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What a monstrous, dangerous, nebulous beast Fatigue is. No matter what approach you take ;or, how good the ‘research’ is, the individual human element cannot be totally eliminated. You can see the problem – an outfit like Qantas with hundreds of pilots and schedules to keep must address many problems, in several important legal and operational areas, before even scratching the surface of union and individual preferences. One size don’t fit all and what makes one man weary to the point of being ineffective, may be a stroll in the park to the next. Even the ‘experts’ disagree on some of the major premises and base building blocks. Yet the problem exists and it is very real. A 17 hour long haul is a very different animal to the short haul, high frequency inter-city services, which is different again to the 24 standby roster for ‘charter’ operators; and different again for folk like the RFDS who man a station 24/7 when a shout may come at any tick of the clock. Since 2003 the ‘fatigue’ debate has been raging, that’s 15 years by my reckoning. CASA have buggered about the edges but achieved very little except CAO 48.1 which is a complex hodgepodge of compromise and ignorance. FRMS has been a ‘on again – off again’ soubriquet, often abused, incorrectly used, misunderstood system. Perhaps it is time there was a serious indaba called, no one gets out of the room until a proper regulatory policy, free of business and union influence was developed; one for each ‘branch’ of industry. Spend some of their ill gotten gains on expert opinion (we do have some) and come up with a plan which may be modified to suit operations – but within qualified maximum and minimum limits for the different operations. Such a policy would never please all – but at least it would provide a sensible place to begin addressing a burgeoning problem, which cannot be ignored for too much longer, not by men of good conscience, with the safety of the travelling public at heart.

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“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure”. Abraham Lincoln

Foreign pilots – when Australian pilots are unemployed – WTD. This has to be one of the greatest faery stories ever told; Australia is not and I do repeat not short of ‘pilots’. We may well be short of the cardboard cut out model HR require; or, of the ‘right’ type to suit a CASA bound C&T system; or even the right type with a reputation tarnished by gossip. I could, without any trouble whatsoever put together a dozen crews, give ‘em a type rating and have ‘em running like a Swiss watch within a month – and that’s just from the pub. There are dozens who have left industry unable to get jobs and gain ‘experience’; there must be over a hundred sitting around in the bush, flying ‘charter’ and living on a minimum wage. One chap I know well is a very good operator, plenty of the ‘right’ stuff but has little in the way of the surface skills HR seem to require; rock solid but can he get a start? Can he hell. Anyway – it’s BOLLOCKS; we ain’t short of pilots we are short of independent operators who can see beyond the next audit and the CASA frowns and the HR bullshit. End of, before I get cranky.

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“The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see” Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Well, much of the week has been taken up researching and analysing the Pel-Air debacle. The backyard is a mess and P2 keeps pulling the old bones out of the garbage can for one last chew.

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There is a daunting pile of these, now we must get out the super glue and stick it all back together and see what manner of beasty we have unearthed. Like palaeontologists do; clean up the parts, assemble them, start at one end and finish at ‘tuther. From the long buried skeleton, muscle and sinew may be added, the outer skin stretched over the whole and the beast will emerge to frighten the children. It has been quite a dig, the ground unyielding and reluctant to part with it’s secrets. Even so, we are nearly done – although I must admit, I’m at a loss to know what to do with it. DT will not allow it in the house and the workshop just ain’t big enough. No matter, finish first then think on what to do with it all.

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“I have a different idea of elegance. I don’t dress like a fop, it’s true, but my moral grooming is impeccable. I never appear in public with a soiled conscience, a tarnished honour, threadbare scruples, or an insult that I haven’t washed away. I’m always immaculately clean, adorned with independence and frankness. I may not cut a stylish figure, but I hold my soul erect. I wear my deeds as ribbons, my wit is sharper than the finest moustache, and when I walk among men I make truths ring like spurs.” Edmond RostandCyrano de Bergerac

But not today; the dogs have departed the fix – I made the mistake of putting the dog shampoo out on the workshop bench earlier; Ayup, bath day. I shall finish my second coffee, find my boots and toddle off to see if I can find them. Bath day is quite often missed as they always find a quiet, shady spot to lay low in and I am often tempted to linger with them until it is too late to ‘do the deed’ – all I really need is a good excuse for non performance. Hmmm, let me count the ways.

Toot toot.

P2 – For a laugh…