The school yard.

A Wannabe thread; a safe haven for those on the road to perdition or paradise who would like to share their frustrations, questions and hopes.  

Perspective and sanity not included or guaranteed in the AP bargain basement.  

No silly question unanswered.  

It's got week to earn it's keep - Play nice.

P7 - The Old Man.

Here’s your first aviation secret – “K” set me up as My Old Man which came out as MOM; I offered to thump him, he changed it to The OM i.e. TOM.  See, learn something new everyday…… Cool .

[raises hand]
Please sir, I have a question, sir...

As a future instructor, I've sometimes read around the traps that the ab-initio training standards are...well, not as good as they could be.  I can't say that I know this to be fact...simply what I've read.  If that is the case, why?  If not, why not?  And, perhaps most important of all, what can *I* do to make the training experience just that little bit more valuable?


Here’s your first aviation secret – “K” set me up as My Old Man which came out as MOM; I offered to thump him, he changed it to The OM i.e. TOM. See, learn something new everyday……

Well I wanted to be called HOD - Harbinger Of Death. But I got DOC instead. Still not too bad though.


Quote:CW “I've sometimes read around the traps that the ab-initio training standards are...well, not as good as they could be.”

Bushmills whiskey, much like aviation is history and mystery, distilled into a product which, as Grand-papa said, can be a good friend or, a terrible enemy.  The question posed by CW is as complex; however, it is a good question.  Let’s start to attempt an answer by examining one of the fundamental tenets of life.  We all do this, so honesty of the self analysis kind is required –for example, take driving a vehicle.  Now you could take music; or manners, or; clothes, or; hairstyles – but IMO, driving is the least subjective.  Every one going faster is ‘a fool’; those going slower a bloody menace; those too close lunatics and those changing lanes without a signal – well you get the picture.  Attitudes change, we all change with age and experience.

What cannot and will never change is ‘individual’, experience based, perception.  The perception of what constitutes ‘danger’ is so varied it can and does, beggar imagination and defy belief.  These perception also change with time and experience, often without warning or notice.  

The point of this ramble? Well, we need to get to a radical before attempting to answer CW’s honest question.  How do we define a ‘standard’?, how can we know what is good, what is bad and what is a ‘reduced’ standard? Can it be defined, quantified and written in stone.

One thing I have learned is that the attitude of the individual is (IMO) far and away the most important.  Let’s take a simple, routine thing; like a cross-wind landing.  Say your Ab-initio instructor was not very good at them, failed to embrace the challenge, didn’t like doing them and so, did not teach them very well.  You, the impressionable “CW” have been signed off as ‘competent’ by this chap.  How are you to know that the technique taught is flawed – or not? How are you to know that some parts of the exercise have not been completed as fully as they could be? How are you to know that the flaws built into ‘your’ technique will not betray you, the one dark and stormy, when it really matters.  In short you cannot, not unless you listen to the tiny voice, deep inside which says “Hoi, that’s not good”; then you must find the courage and honesty to find out why you believe it’s not ‘good’; then you need the personal integrity to decide if it’s you who is crap at cross-wind and correct it or whether you were not taught correctly; and still correct it, anyway.

There is a certain joy and delight to rolling from base to final reading the wind and managing the turn so that the roll out onto final has the right amount of drift built in to negate the crosswind component; track straight and land on the upwind wheel with a satisfying chirp; on speed; on target, minimum of fuss.  I can’t do it, not every time, but it’s what I try for.

To the point – no one taught me the refinements, the basics were taught (happily) very well by a man who enjoyed the challenge and taught me to enjoy the same.  So, to standards, would I have tried to achieve the same ‘standard’ had I not been taught so well.  The answer is yes, it would have taken longer, but I would ‘know’ that the original was flawed.

I believe I read it in a Qantas manual; but please, don’t quote me, that Qantas believed it was impossible to ‘teach’ flying; the best that could be offered was an environment where it could be ‘learned’.    

Aye well; beer and then bed for me; CW, read E.K. Gann – Fate is the hunter, then we shall talk again.


Oh, BTW, the RV Tim Tams turned up in our tea room kitty; lock and key job.  Much competition for the first one.

[Image: RVTT.jpg]

Toot toot.

A copy of said book is on it's way as we speak...type??
On the subject of books, another that has been recommended is "The Savvy Flight Instructor" by GN Brown...any thoughts on that tome?
Good thing the bikkies are under lock and key - I'm still wondering where all mine went after I said the kids could have ONE!  Huh

Wait, there's more.

To continue the monologue and to get a baseline we need to further examine some esoteric, but important elements before we can approach the nitty gritty, which is to ‘define’ a ‘standard’.

Where to start is as good a question as any; back with the Wright brothers perhaps.  By todays standards was Orville a dangerous pilot?  Consider what he did not know; how much of his survival was luck, how much was good management, how much native skill, and how much was ‘intuitive’.  Intuition as far as pilot skills go is not quantifiable, therefore not included in the equation, so we must for the purposes of this exercise, dismiss it with perhaps a foot note (and a nod to the gods) that intuition has been ruled out; for it is easily influenced.  Orville learned a few lessons, which became ‘law’ until wiser heads stepped in, as there was too many ‘independent’ ideas of what constituted a standard.  “Any landing you walk away from is a good one”.  Once people started to get hurt, things had to tighten up, rules got written and the legendary ‘old wives tales’ handbook began.  Standards became important, this can be acknowledged without too much fear of contradiction.  Most were ‘arbitrary’, averaged with a safety margin built in, for the ‘human factor’.  A not too savvy instructor with a non natural student, that sort of thing; and so the ‘standards’ began to develop along side the safety rules which were, especially in the ‘earlies’, bought, paid for, and written in blood.

Times change and that which was of critical importance becomes less so; take a simple example; turning onto and flying a compass heading was a serious business, a demanded skill, so a tolerance for error was set, based on the vagaries of ‘the compass’’; then gyro instruments were developed which made flying a heading easier; but, precession management became a required skill; then the slaved gyro came along and, once again a ‘standard’ was redefined.  Same- same map reading; now an almost unrequired skill, but the ‘standard for understanding the construct of a map and using it to get from A-B in one piece is still a required, tested skill.  So, has the standard of map reading and knowledge of cartography deteriorated; of course it has. Compared to the ‘navigators’ of old, we are buffoons, lucky to get anywhere, except perhaps up our own fundamental orifice.  Enter the GPS; and so it goes.

So we approach the question – have standards slipped?   To answer it I believe we need to examine ‘which’ standards have actually suffered, which are perceived to have ‘slipped’, which are subjective, which are objective and which are and likely to remain ‘essential’. Then we may examine why and indeed do we need to re-establish any of the old benchmarks?  In short, has industry discarded the redundant skills and embraced newly required skills, such as a basic understanding of computer management?

Here again, we must tread carefully as subjectivity creeps in; example: pilot examinations.  My very own pet belief is that ‘multi-choice’ examinations are crap (learn to pass the exam, not learn the subject); if I had my way we’d go back to the written examination carefully marked by a ‘guru’, where six marks out of a possible eight could be awarded because the ‘technique’ and method were correct, but an arithmetical error had been made; this clearly demonstrating the candidate ‘understood’ the subject matter. Further to that, I would make it mandatory, that anyone with less than 70% attend a correction briefing, followed by a second chance question.  Why?, well, we have established what is not known and corrected that area of ‘ignorance’ and now have a 100% pass.  My own version; contrary to qualified educationalists; scholars and those who understand these things, much better than I – as I said, my own, highly subjective opinion.  The new system has not ever been identified as causal to accident, so it’s just my little hobby-horse.  QED.

But, this brings us to ‘flight training’ and flight standards.  How are we to define these? Certainly not by a subjective, personal opinion, not by hearsay and definitely not at the whim of some half baked instructor working for CASA believing their subjective opinion is ‘the word’.

There you go CW, food for thought and a couple of questions.  How are we to determine if ‘standards’ have slipped?; and against which benchmark shall we measure the slip? And is the slippage important to the ‘real’ safety case.

That’s it for now; BRB indaba to prepare for and that means Hansard.  Now, where did I leave the flaming the candle, bloody inkpot and #1 quill?

Toot toot.

(08-25-2015, 04:26 PM)Kharon Wrote:  
Quote:My very own pet belief is that ‘multi-choice’ examinations are crap (learn to pass the exam, not learn the subject).

Agree - in SPADES !!

An example.

Not so long ago, I was invited to visit an old friend, and her family.
(Not what you are thinking - it wasn't that kind of friendship !)

Due to "too many glasses of wine with dinner" (Cabernet Merlot) they sensibly "invited" me to "stay the night" on the fold out lounge / bed - which was duly made up for me.

The "family" eventually retired to bed.
The parents had to get up early for work, and the kids had to go to school.
They are in year 8 (girl) and year 6 (twin boys).

But I (being a night owl) and not working next day, stayed up.

There was nothing worth watching on the tube, and after one attempt at trying to survive 30 seconds in some combat game on the other set (which the kids had earlier won world war three on - half a dozen times - with aparent aplomp !!) I ended up in the kitchen, to make a cup of coffee.
I drink way too much coffee.

Anyway, there on the kitchen table, was one of the kids "homework" - or so I thought.

Coffe made, Iced Vo-Vo packet "found" (after a thorough search - no Tim Tams though - bugga), I sat down to examine the "homework".

Before I go any further, it is necessary to state my position.
First, I am 61 years old.  I finished High School (NSW HSC - 6th Form) in 1972 - long ago.
Second, I have no kids of my own, so I have not had any "direct" experience of "the school system", and how it has "evolved", since I left it.
Third, in my former career, from the late 1980's until I left it 9th June 2000 (long story - not for these pages - [yet]), I was faced with "training" the "new young ones".
During that time, I had a growing concern, that the "new ones" were increasingly "dumb".
On many occasions, TOO MANY, I found myself having to "teach" the kids things that "they should have learnt in high school !!"

Now, to the very recent past.

Iced Vo-Vo #1 washed down with a swig of coffee, and into "the books".

First off, it soon became obvious, that the "exercise books" were not "homework" at all.

It turned out that they were clearly some kind of "class workbooks".

What I found within them, over the next hour or so, was (is) of staggering concern, and I am convinced, is the root cause of our "dumbing down" of society.

For starters, it was almost ALL "multiple choice".

For example, in the section on triangles, it became clearly obvious that the kid "did not have a bloody clue".  
For example, a right angle triangle was pictured.
One angle (bottom left) labelled 60 deg.  
Bottom right had the square for the "ninety".
Q: the other angle (top right) is:-
(A) 10 deg, (B) 20 deg,  © 30 deg, (D) 40 deg.  
Selected answer was (D) 40 deg.
Next question, the same bloody triangle, but horizontally flipped - ie - reversed.  
Bottom left now has the square for the "ninety".
Top left is labelled 30 deg.
Q: the other angle (bottom right) is:-
(A) 40 deg, (B) 50 deg,  © 60 deg, (D) 70 deg.
Again, the selected answer was (A) 40 deg.
I could not believe it.
What ever happended to the old rule, "the sum of the angles inside a triangle is ALWAYS 180 deg ?

Second example, still on right angle triangles, this lot, the length of the sides.  
Remember old man Hypotenuse ?  
The square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the other two sides ?  
The kid made such a hash of the three question on this one that it was not funny.  
I ended up thinking, that since there was no apparent "consistency" with his (all  "way" wrong) answers, that may have indicated "a systemic misunderstanding" of some sort, that either the kid was dumber than two short planks, or had been "deliberately" putting down wrong answers - as kids have been known to do.

Moving on, third example.
There was a section with a few questions on "speeds".

I forget the precise details, but one was like this.
John has to go to the shops to buy some milk for mum, and return home with it.
Dad is driving to the shops to get something - but he is then going to work - not coming home.
John has two options.
1. Ride his bike to the shop and ride back home.
2. Get a lift to the shop with dad in the car, then walk home.
Speeds for bike, car and walking were specified in m/sec.
Distance was specified in metres.
Time in shop was two minutes.
Q was, which trip will be the fastest, ie, how soon will mum get the milk ?
Well, the mess the kid made of trying to work this out (he DID try - there was evidece of three separate "goes" at it) did betray the fact that he had no idea what he was doing.  
It was all "stab in the dark" stuff.  
NO discernable, let alone definable "LOGIC OR METHODOLOGY" at all.
I worked the correct answer out in about 30 seconds, late at night, after half a bottle of red, half a coffee, and by now - only three iced vo-vo's left !!

By the time I finished reviewing the workbook (there was lots more of the same) I had come to the inescapable conclusion (since I know the kid is not a total dunce) that "THE SCHOOL SYSTEM IS FAILING OUR KIDS".  

It is abundantly clear that our kids are NOT being TAUGHT the BASICS of ANYTHING, thus they are not LEARNING or UNDERSTANDING the underlying principles of things, that would enable them to "problem solve".  
But worse, the point seems to be moot, because, quite clearly, they are not being taught "how to problem solve" in the first place !!  
In the very few problems requiring "METHODOLOGY" - there was none in evidence - at all !!!

Quote:if I had my way we’d go back to the written examination carefully marked by a ‘guru’, where six marks out of a possible eight could be awarded because the ‘technique’ and method were correct, but an arithmetical error had been made; this clearly demonstrating the candidate ‘understood’ the subject matter. 

Agree - in SPADES !!
The problem is (see above) there is next to no "technique" or "methodology" to examine !!

Quote:The new system has not ever been identified as causal to accident, so it’s just my little hobby-horse.  QED.

Agree - in SPADES !!

Quote:Further to that, I would make it mandatory, that anyone with less than 70% attend a correction briefing, followed by a second chance question.  Why?, well, we have established what is not known and corrected that area of ‘ignorance’ and now have a 100% pass.  

Agree - in SPADES !!

Quote:My own version; contrary to qualified educationalists; scholars and those who understand these things, much better than I – as I said, my own, highly subjective opinion.  

Qualified ?
Q:  Qualified by Whom ?
A:   Themselves.
My Take:  Wankers.  
"THEY" are the root / base / probable - no - absolutely - the proximate "CAUSE"

Quote:How are we to determine if ‘standards’ have slipped ?

A: Just watch the disaster rate rise, as it will, for certain.

It's nearly two-thirty am.
Even an owl must sleep.

Hoot Hoot !

Cheers V 45, Hoot hoot, very droll.... Big Grin

Once upon a time, I found a very old ‘official’ examination paper for 11 y.o which was set to determine which education ‘stream’ the child would be sent to; A for university, B for college, C for trades etc.  The paper was dated 190? (memory fails); anyway, I’m beggared if I could do it, not in the time set.  I did eventually complete it, but it was tough.  Why? I wondered.  The maths questions covered nearly every discipline and were no easy read.   It did explain to me why Grandparents, Uncles and their mates could make and repair things with precision.  One Grandfather, a shipwright; could on the back of an offcut, solve intricate geometry ‘puzzles’, then cut the work with equal precision; I spent a lot of time in his workshop.  The point I’m making a hash of making is that back then, those skills were required.  No one these days ‘makes’ a ‘tool’; but one uncle, a RAF ‘fitter’ could make things (almost anything), from scratch, on a lathe and make it look easy, I could go on…..

Another of my pet hobby-horses, which is pertinent is mental arithmetic.  As far as I’m concerned, it is a dead skill and IM Subjective O, this is wrong.  Could I claim it as a slipped standard? Or, is this once again a subjective, opinionated bench mark?  Do the ‘kids’ today need it?  The ever handy calculator is there for routine stuff and, they do know how to solve a puzzle using them; in flight solutions are only ever a few key strokes away and the need for ‘mental math’ in an operational situation, such as monitoring a descent, is mostly managed by VNav, not the pilot.  

A little indulgence here, I do intend to labour this point a little – bear with me and I shall try to justify the argument.  Simple example again; without any aids, button pushing or even needing to do anything else but fly – let’s say a Metro or King-Air on a climb, single pilot.  Let’s say you prefer to hand fly the first 15,000’, only 10 minutes or so, but bloody good practice.  Lets say you want to work out the best SGR against the head wind; without trying as part of the scan can you work out the TAS for Alt, the ground speed and divide it by the expected fuel flow and decide which height, between F150 and F250 – without pushing a button – is best?  Piece of cake with MA, which not only improves your situational awareness, company fuel v engine hours bill but allows you to focus on flying the aircraft.  To me this is essential; but, is it vital for the modern pilot who has most (but not all) of this information available ‘through the buttons’ while the AP does the heavy lifting?  Where should that standard be set? Is the lack of this ability crucial to safety? I believe it is, but only IMSO.  So the questions; MA? nice to have, need to have; or, a redundant skill?  Is it a valid benchmark for a standard? Many such subjective elements can be defined..

One constant is available to us for an evaluation of ‘standards’ and that is no one who pitches up at flight school is there involuntarily.  Every single one wants to learn, wants to be ‘a good’ pilot, everyone of ‘em is prepared to sacrifice pub time for pounding the books; money for training, effort for study and mostly, all have a goal which nearly all achieve.  It says much for the tribe. It begs the question, are these new starts getting the very best return on the investment?

Before looking at constructing a matrix, we need to examine the elements with which we intend to build our ‘standard.  The regulator (bless) is charged with setting the base, minimum, for defining how an instructor is to be qualified, how the qualifier is to achieve this; in short, the regulator writes ‘the book’.  It is no simple task and various regulators set about it in different manner.  The program needs to be as ‘robust’ as the basic lessons For the first steps taken set the ‘attitude’ pattern for future learning, so that when the time comes and our ‘Wannabe’ must rely on the quality of basic training received; only then is the pudding proved.

I did say it is a complex question, but there’s no great rush to answer it; and, the tried and tested methods have not, thus far done too bad a job.  Soon or late, we have to stop dancing about the question and answer it; but the groundwork and foundation of the answer must encompass the whole, or it’s a pointless discussion.

Aye well; it’s worth a game worth a candle – and twiddle or two – IMO.  

Toot toot... Smile .

Standards – the muddy study.

One thing on which I can get no disagreement is the basic syllabus; and the instructor ‘hand book’ (Pub. 45) has stood the test of time, very well.  It was well crafted and the ‘Up’ – ‘Down’ – Left and Right – don’t hit anything – school of learning is as valid now as it ever was.  Why, well because essentially all aircraft and the ‘mechanics’ of flight have not changed anymore than the inherent, basic ‘dangers’.  So we can, without fear of too much contradiction, say that the flight training syllabus is sound.

Despite my own, personal, misgivings, we can with some certainty say the knowledge levels of pilots are ‘tested’ within a framework acceptable to industry and the regulator.  So far so good.

What else is there left – testing of flying skills for qualification.  Again, not much room for fierce debate.  It’s not to bad a system, the minimum standards are defined, at least for most of it; the student is shown the ropes by an instructor; when the student reaches a certain standard; let’s keep it simple; say ready for first solo, a senior grade instructor may make a final check, then step out to sit on a gable marker, have smoke and watch young Wannabe do his thing. This is where the big bets are made, a life, an aircraft, a business and other things, all bet on the instructors ability to judge whether or not young Spotty will bend the bloody aircraft and break his fool neck.   The risks are of course mitigated, no one is going to send a first solo off when there’s a tricky wind, or too many other aircraft buzzing about, or the ‘viz’ is bad; or the sun is factor; but things can and do, occasionally happen; I’d like a beer in the fridge for every time an instructor sending a student out first solo had a missed heart beat or two.  

So, in the end does it come down a mutual confidence?; the student confident that the training received is ‘adequate’ to deal with the inherent, albeit minimised risk elements.  Is the instructor confident that the requisite knowledge has been imparted, comprehended and there is enough ‘in the tank’ for the student to get it done; in one piece.

This has been the perennial problem; too much cosseting costs more money; not enough increases the risk factor.  Yet generations have survived the ordeal and, once again the ‘standards’ set have proven ‘robust’ and reliable.  Some may need more hours than the prescription, but not too many more; some may need less and chafe at the bit to be released from the instructors clutches, but not too many less than the prescription.  All in, the system works fine – barring accidents.  So, where’s the problem?

There is a school of thought which decries the junior instructor, teaching the junior instructor. This is thought to have reduced the knowledge base; e.g. I only know 60% of what my Grandfather taught my Father; he only taught me 40% of that and I have only taught my daughter 20% of that; so a progressive reduction of ‘knowledge’ is used to define a perceived problem.  

I will leave it there, (due domestic tyranny) but, think on – the basic elements of flight and flight training have not changed; therefore it begs the question; is the claimed knowledge deficit a valid argument in the debate.  Up – Down –Left – Right, mind your head, can be learned, from scratch by all.  Good judgement, well that’s a topic for another day.

Anyway – handing over.

Toot toot.

Bored with heavy lifting it’s time to open up the discussion to the question – have standards slipped? And if so, why?

Before our ‘Wannabe’ can go on to ‘advanced’ training the basics must be competently demonstrated as per P 45.  40 years ago a ‘steep turn’ @ 45 AoB was a steep turn; you could either do it properly or you kept at it, until time, money and patience ran out – or you gave the game away.  Student pilots have been learning to manage ‘slow’ flight and turns for many a long year, the gentle coordinated Rate one through to the steep turn at various speeds and configurations as part of the ‘basic’ skill set.  Some enjoy this ‘discipline’ and translate to aerobatics; others adopt the skills learnt as part of simply staying alive.  But be it a stall, steep turn, dead stick landing, cross-wind or any of the basics, the skill set must be, at the time of test, up to the ‘standard’ prescribed.  Some do better than the minimum, others, much better. But for mine, the true test comes after the qualification – MTF.

The only elements which have really changed are the ‘administrative’ and ‘legal’ elements.  The new ‘regulations’ and requirements have the potential to create ‘uncertainty’.  Many seem so concerned about whether a ‘thing’ is legal and worried about the consequences of being deemed ‘illegal’ that the natural course of action is to comply  but only with the minimum requirements, as per ‘the book’.  Which is understandable, but is it excusable?

The book says CW must complete X amount of steep turns within the defined parameters– tick and flick; CW must complete the slow flight exercises – tick and flick; CW must demonstrate stall recovery, tick and flick.  Is he legal? Oh you bet.  Is the paperwork all done and filed?  Yes Sir: but can he do all this every time?  Has the exercise just been completed, or mastered? The time that question will be answered is one dark and stormy, a tight night approach, lots of breeze, a little ice on the wing and an enthusiastic turn from base to final, over cranked to squeeze onto the centre line, a little distracted because it’s really dark and the glide path is hard to define; the gentle flutter of airflow breaking away as airspeed control decays and stall approaches.  This is no time to be anywhere needing to learn recovery; prevention always beating cure.  No: the time to learn all this was a year back, on a bright morning with an instructor who could tell that CW was ‘weak’ in the stall exercise and needed another hour; or that the ‘steep turns’ were just a little shabby and needed that extra polish up.

There are some first class instructors out there, some of them quite junior; but, if you feel that the ‘standard’ of instruction or, the way you are being instructed is not up to snuff; or does not suit the way ‘you’ learn; talk to the CFI.  Remember, the only question which may be classed as ‘dopey’ is the one you failed to ask.

That’s it from me on this subject, except to say that the rules and attitudes may change, often; sometimes for the better, more often for the worse, but one rule of the air will never change.

[Image: Zmf6f.jpg]

So eloquent Kharon, and so true.

Aw, shucks Thorny,.. Blush ... 

‘twas only a twiddle to amuse, while waiting for the main show.  Anyway – CW asked the question and it was worth considering.

Toot toot... Wink

One for the Schoolies & Wannabes  (TY Tinkicker - Wink )

Quote:The Importance of Checklists: 4 Accidents That Checklist Use Could Have Prevented

by Sarina Houston 17. September 2015 06:11
[Image: image.axd?picture=2015%2f9%2fDC10Checklist.jpg]
Photo 1981 by J-E Nystrom, Helsinki, Finland/CC 3.0

It’s human nature to be complacent. We’re all lazy, right? But aviation isn’t an industry that welcomes complacency, and even the slightest oversight on behalf of a pilot in command can mean the difference between a successful flight and an unsuccessful one.

My flight students get tired of me reminding them about checklists. Before we even get into the airplane, I can often be heard saying: “That preflight checklist is there for a reason.” And on downwind, every single time: “Before Landing Checklist.” Some people understand the tedious nature of checklists and accept it; others defy it.

Why don’t pilots use checklists? Probably because they don’t expect anything bad to happen when they don’t. After all, they’ve skipped a checklist- er, many checklists - before and nothing bad happened. Maybe they remember all of the items, after all. Or maybe it’s true that 999 out of 1,000 times, a forgotten checklist item still results in a successful flight, which reinforces the pilot’s belief that it isn’t complacency, but skill, that gets him back on the ground safely. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be more wrong.

We’d all like to think that we’d never end up crashing because of a forgotten checklist item. But here are a few examples of average pilots who failed to accomplish checklist items or otherwise got into trouble for a checklist-related item. We’re not any different. We’re not immune. At the very least, it’s embarrassing to end up like one of these pilots; at the worst, fatal. If using a checklist can potentially prevent you from embarrassment or death, shouldn’t we just use it?

Here are four accidents where proper checklist use would probably have prevented the accident entirely:

Gear Down and Locked
As seen on YouTube, the pilot of this Piper Aerostar twin-engine airplane landed without gear at Aero Acres Air Park in Port St. Lucie, Florida. And then, to everyone’s surprise, he took off again. You can see from this video that the airplane is coming in too fast and unstable, and the pilot decides to go around only after touching down. Unfortunately, the pilot not only forgot the gear, but he forgot his go-around procedures. The pilot claims that he intended to go around, retracted the gear and all of the flaps prematurely and sank to the runway. Once airborne, the pilot is said to have flown the aircraft all the way back to his home in Ft. Lauderdale- about 100 miles.

This is only one report of many, many gear-up landing situations. Pilots: Don’t forget your GUMPS checklist!

Flight Controls Free & Correct
Earlier this month, the NTSB released an animation highlighting the crash of a Gulfstream IV in Bedford, Massachusetts last year. The aircraft skidded off the runway after a failed rejected takeoff, killing seven people on board - two pilots, a flight attendant and four passengers. The reason for the crash? Failure to check that the flight controls were free and correct before takeoff, and subsequently failing to expedite a rejected takeoff once they determined the problem.

The NTSB report states: “A review of the flight crew’s previous 175 flights revealed that the pilots had performed complete preflight control checks on only two of them. The flight crew’s habitual noncompliance with checklists was a contributing factor to the accident.” Sadly, seven lives were lost because basic checklist procedures were not followed.

Water Contamination
There are several ASRS reports from pilots who have lived through off-airport landings due to engine failure. Many of these emergency situations are due to engine failure from fuel starvation. In many of those cases, water contamination was the culprit. In this ASRS report, a man describes his lackadaisical preflight habits after his Grumman Tiger engine quits due to water in the fuel tanks:

“Although I did not discover the water prior to takeoff, I have learned a valuable lesson. I feel that I had gotten complacent in my approach to the pre-flight in that I never found condensed water in my tanks before due to keeping them full at all times.” He admits to failing to sump the fuel carefully to check for water.

In the early days of flight training, it might not be apparently obvious why a student’s flight instructor emphasizes the importance of getting a current altimeter setting. If the flight is conducted in VFR, the altimeter can be off by 100 feet and it might not matter much. It’s not until a pilot flies an approach to minimums that he realizes the value of setting the altimeter correctly. Being 100 feet lower than you intend when you’re descending on an approach can mean crashing into the runway or just short of it.

Knowing how an altimeter works and accounting for altimeter error will only keep you out of trouble if you set it correctly. We’ve all heard stories of pilots being to low or too high during an approach into IMC. This compilation of NASA ASRS reports tells how altimeter errors can lead to altitude deviations, traffic separation violations and landing accidents.

The NASA report states, for example, that, “A helicopter accident resulting in four fatalities was attributed at least in part to an incorrectly set altimeter during a period of known low barometric pressure. The report from the Canadian Aviation Safety Board states: ‘The helicopter was being used to transport personnel to work sites across a large frozen lake. An approaching low pressure area with snow and high winds...reduced visibility to near zero in some areas. The pilot most certainly encountered adverse conditions and altered course to circumvent the worst areas. The aircraft was later found...wreckage was widely scattered. The altimeter showed a setting on impact of 30.05; the correct setting would be about 29.22, causing the altimeter to read about 800-850 feet high. The altimeter had obviously been set two days previously [apparently during a time of high barometric pressure-Ed.].’”

Incorrect altimeter settings can be fatal. Checklist procedures should always include getting the current altimeter setting occasionally during flight and always before landing.

& for enjoyment.. Big Grin

Quote:Dassault Falcon 8X Pilot Report

Nov 19, 2015 Fred George  | Business & Commercial Aviation

Garbed in a tan Nomex flight suit and military boots at Istres-Le Tubé Air Base, the main facility used by Dassault for flight test, BCA senior editor Fred George belted into the left seat of Falcon 8X No. 1. Accompanied by Eric Gerard, chief test pilot for the program, in the right seat and Frederic Lascourreges, Dassault Aviation’s chief test pilot, on the jump seat as safety pilot.

Falcon 8X Pilot Report In Full
Pilot Report: Dassault Falcon 8X

Cheers & MTF P2 Tongue

Reality check?

Lamenting the continued loss of real time stick & rudder skills, loss of real time in flight experiences, the question that needs to be asked in the growing aviation 'virtual world', are we dumbing down the next gen pilots?

A couple of thought provoking articles on these safety issues and how best to risk mitigate.

First courtesy Society of Aviation & Flight Educators (SAFE):
Quote:Automation Dependency: “Children of the Magenta”

We are seeing a significant increase in accidents involving the overuse or misuse of cockpit automation. If you have not watched the American Airlines video “Children of the Magenta” please do that now. (What I am going to write here is perfectly captured by this talented presenter.) We have forgotten that in flying we are first and foremost pilots, not automation managers. The wonderful tools that are increasingly found in our small aircraft have the purpose of reducing workload…not making it harder to fly! And certainly not flying the plane because we are unable to do so. We must maintain the necessary skills to engage and take over the airplane and flight at any point.

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At the time of this video in 1997, 68% of airline accidents involved “automation dependency.” Savvy airline training programs were actively discouraging airline crews from becoming “automation managers.” Subsequently many high visibility accidents like Air France 447 and Asiana Airlines flight 214 (the “seawall approach” at San Francisco) have proved the disabling effect of automation. Now we are experiencing this same phenomenon in smaller planes as the technology propagates downward into piston planes. Increasingly the evils of “task saturation,” “loss situational awareness,” and “deterioration of hand-flying” are implicated in deviations or accidents.

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One antidote is careful monitoring by the pilot or crew to detect either task saturation from automation dependency, loss of situational awareness or just confusion about the operation of the flight management system in general (“what’s it doing now…?”). The necessary action is to step down a level of automation or take over the flight manually. For this reason it is imperative that every pilot maintains confident hand flying skills to fly accurately and improve the outcome of any flight. Pilots and crews that lack hand flying skills and/or confidence are increasingly involved in accidents. The FAA has issued a SAFO (Safety Alert For Operators) on the importance of hand flying citing an “increase in manual handling errors”.  The new FAA Advisory Circular on flight reviews advises flight instructors to watch for automation dependency and weak hand flying skills during flight reviews. Similarly every pilot must monitor and correct their own automation dependency.

It is incumbent upon the careful pilot to maintain and sharpen their hand flying skills with regular practice or dual flight. “George” usually does a great job flying  (embarrassing too Smile !) but please remember to turn off the magic, take a turn flying and stay sharp!
Next courtesy Avweb.. Wink :
Quote:You can get an instrument rating without ever having flown in a cloud. Why that's not a good thing, and how you can fix it.
By Rick Durden | January 24, 2016

Related Articles

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Back in the 1950s, social critic and philosopher Lenny Bruce said that no one is shocked anymore. He was probably correct, given our national tolerance for the excesses of those in the entertainment biz, and those seeking to join the weirdness. Yet, I find my level of amazement at flight schools that grind out new instrument pilots without insisting that they actually fly an airplane in the clouds remains at the near shock level.

Let's get the legalities out of the way right here—the FARs, in one of the universe's great cosmic jokes, do not require pilots to log a moment of time flying in the clouds to obtain an instrument rating. That's right, zip, nada, bupkiss. Yet, upon being so certificated, the neophyte may legally blast off into absolute zero-zero conditions under Part 91 and shoot whatever approach his or her little heart desires, in whatever weather happens to be present. Legally, the pilot can't actually land unless the visibility meets published minimums upon reaching the missed approach point, but one can't help but wonder if he will make it that far.

I know better than to propose the FAA amend its regulations; I've seen the monumental botch the agency made of the new regulations for the ATP. Rather, I suggest we take a hard look at why a pilot should get her initial experience in the clouds with an instructor in the right seat—and then come up with a strategy to get an education in the clag.

Simulator vs. Airborne

Up front, I'll readily admit it's easier to carry out the monkey motion of keeping the airplane right side up when actually in the clouds than it is under the hood. That is one of the many surprises pilots get when flying in the clouds the first time. Being able to look around the cockpit and scan comfortably is delightful after the restrictions of the hood.

Whether it's easier in the airplane or the simulator depends on the quality of the simulator. I like simulators. A lot. They've cut the training accident rate dramatically and eliminate the risk of learning and practicing emergencies in the airplane. But, they simply cannot recreate the intense emotional reactions dramatically affecting a pilot those first several times he shoots an approach in the clouds.

There is no way to simulate the surging in the bowels a pilot experiences when shooting an approach to minimums as the rain hoses against the windshield in a roar that nearly blanks out the ability to think. It cannot duplicate the overwhelming urge to urinate—a new, unpleasant and dominating distraction that somehow causes the needles to refuse to cooperate. The simulator does not provide the intense awareness of the fact the cold, hard ground isn't far away felt when it's for real.

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Driving an electronic box in a classroom doesn't recreate how you feel when your attention is fragmented—as you approach minimums—by trying to decide if you are going to try the approach again if you miss or if fuel is going to demand that you go to the alternate but, wait a minute, there were two laps around the hold and you didn't pull the power back...there may not be enough gas to divert. Plus, the car is parked here.

I suggest that it might be wise to have an instructor in the right seat the first time you embark on this adventure.

Complications Arise

Not convinced? Okay, take the same situation and let our new pilot break out at minimums. Let's say the visibility is, at most, a mile. Remember the first time you had to make the transition from the gauges to the visual line up and landing? Precision approach or not, chances are some sort of turn is going to be necessary to align with the runway. There is no horizon. A pilot who has not seen a mile visibility must climb a steep learning curve to successfully figure out where to look for visual cues that will allow making it to the runway.

I've looked at too many accidents where the pilot shot the approach to a spot very near the airport and then lost it while maneuvering for the runway. In some, where I had access to the pilot's logbooks, I found that he'd never shot an approach in visibility less than three miles.

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The world looks different when the visibility gets down to two miles or less. The absence of information is stunning to the senses of those who have little experience with it. It's one of the reasons that VFR into IMC is so deadly.

If you add circling to land to the mix for an instrument pilot who has never flown when visibility stinks, the odds of successful completion drop. I can't count the number of instrument rated pilots I've flown with on recurrent training who have flown their circle-to-land pattern more than a mile from the runway even though we'd agreed we were simulating one-mile visibility. Hmmm, how would you rate the risk factor for a pilot who has spent a few years flying the pattern at 1000 feet agl, in at least five-mile visibility, about to shoot an approach and circle under a 500-foot ceiling with visibility of less than two miles, when he has never shot an approach in clouds in his life?

Reality means some pilots get instrument ratings without having a chance to fly in IMC—things just don't work out.

What to Do About It

There is hope. There are instructors who do their best to ensure their instrument students get to see what the transition to visual references looks like in crummy conditions after an approach through the clouds and rain or snow. There are ethical flight schools—the ones that don't park their trainers when the weather is less than 3000 and five—that take students out to experience the glorious feeling of popping out of the top of an overcast after departing on a gray, depressing day.

If you are an instrument student, or an instrument-rated pilot who has limited time in the clouds, may I suggest a strategy for expanding your real world knowledge and improving your decision-making skills?

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Sit down with an instructor you trust and respect and tell her that you want to get some actual IMC experience or, at the very least, some flights when the visibility is less than three miles. A good instructor will welcome your approach and work with you to set things up. She also will refuse to intentionally enter a thunderstorm.

Actively watch for IFR days and go flying. If you can be flexible in scheduling, it can be a benefit for you and your instructor. Your instructor usually has to cancel VFR students on IMC days—just let it be known you'll come zipping out to the airport if your instructor calls you. Instructors have to eat. Good ones set up this sort of arrangement with their instrument students—often advising them to stand by a day or so ahead of time if the forecast looks favorable for a little actual IFR.

Much of the country has days when there is an overcast that is a few thousand feet thick. File and go fly in it—request an altitude that will keep you in the clouds, then request an altitude that will put you on top and see how things change as you approach the tops and break through. It can be deceptive. ATC has heard the phrase "just another 1000 feet and I'll be on top" from optimistic pilots for generations. (John Glenn was rumored to have uttered it as a joke during his first space flight, but recently told us he doesn't recall the comment.) Getting the experience in controlled circumstances may keep you alive someday when there is ice in the clouds—it's at its worst in the tops. Recognizing that you really do have a ways to go to break out may keep you from vainly trying to climb the last 1000 feet through ice that will bring you down.

Great Expectations

A reality of instrument training and instrument flight in general is that more than 99 percent of approaches result in the pilot seeing the runway and landing. An expectation of success becomes a mindset. I've watched it in pilots during recurrent training when things have worked out for them to shoot an approach where we did not break out before reaching minimums. In some cases it was like watching someone go through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' steps on death and dying before they accept the fact that they really are going to have to miss the approach and then do something about it: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I've watched pilots fly along for a mile past the missed approach point on a non-precision approach before adding power to start the miss.

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In my opinion, it's a good idea for a pilot to have an instructor along the first time she experiences nothing but gray when she looks up at DA.

Step out of the security of the simulator and fly IMC with an instructor before you do it by yourself. Work up a strategy, be flexible and go fly in weather—have someone experienced beside you as those clouds get incredibly dark near the bottom, you wonder if you're going to see the runway before minimums, you badly want to land and you are aware of the looming presence of the terrain. If you screw up in the simulator, it has a reset button.

Real life doesn't.

Rick Durden is the Senior Editor of sister publication Aviation Consumer magazine, an aviation lawyer and author of both volumes of The Thinking Pilot's Flight Manual, or How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It.
This article originally appeared in the January
MTF..P2 Tongue

OPS corner: "What's happening now?" -  Undecided

An oldie but a goldie gets revived in this excellent article from James Albright, via BCA:
Quote:When Pilots Become Passengers

James Albright Business & Commercial Aviation

During my first-ever opportunity to lead a formation of two T-37 jet trainers as a solo pilot, my wingman, also a student pilot, failed the ride. I asked the instructor why the other lieutenant busted.

“He forgot to fly the airplane,” the instructor said. My wingman was tucked into position, a few feet off my left wing. When I began a gentle right turn, he fell low and outside the turn. “Why is he moving out of position?” the hapless student asked the instructor. Of course, that was a ridiculous question; the wingman’s responsibility is to fly his or her aircraft to maintain position. “Who is flying your airplane?” the instructor responded. “You or him?”

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The first lesson in U.S. Air Force pilot training begins: “Fly the airplane!” Credit: U.S. Air Force

Even when flying “single ship” without another airplane a few feet from you, the imperative remains. It is you, the pilot, who must always fly the airplane. It is a lesson hammered into us early in our careers, but it is a lesson many of us soon forget, even regarding the most basic tasks every pilot must complete. At other times, we cede control of our aircraft to others who may not even be pilots. And, in a paradox of our crew resource management (CRM) training, we sometimes give up control of the aircraft to a crewmember who isn’t aware, leaving the airplane in no one’s control. How do professionally competent pilots find themselves in these out-of-control situations?

Never Forget Basic Pilot Duties

When is the last time you did an “ARROW” check? You know, the need to ensure you don’t leave the ground without first confirming the aircraft’s airworthiness certificate, registration, radio station license and pilot operating handbook are on board and you’re within the proper weight and balance limits. As the level of sophistication of our aircraft grows, we tend to forget the very basics needed to get an airplane safely off the ground.

On Feb. 5, 2005, two Bombardier Challenger 600 pilots set out to depart Teterboro Airport (KTEB) in New Jersey with a cabin aide and eight passengers in back. Evidence indicates the pilots asked for a “top off” of their fuel, even though a check of the weight and balance data on board would have shown this placed the airplane’s center of gravity well forward of the limit. The pilot was unable to rotate during takeoff, even with full aft control column input. He had to abort, but he was unable to stop within the confines of the airport. The 41,000-lb. aircraft ran off the end of the runway at 110 kt., went through an airport perimeter fence and across a six-lane highway, struck a vehicle, and came to rest halfway inside a building.

Both pilots and two occupants of the vehicle were seriously injured, and the cabin aide, eight passengers and one person in the building sustained minor injuries. The aircraft was destroyed. It was a perfectly flyable airplane until the pilots failed to realize that the amount of misery and tragedy from exceeding limitations in a large aircraft is far greater than the grief such an oversight would produce in the small ones they first learned to fly.

The Challenger 600, with its supercritical wing and lower thrust Lycoming engines, is in many ways an unforgiving aircraft and requires a high level of attention to detail from its pilots. But even a more forgiving aircraft can bite pilots who forget the first rule of aviation: Fly the aircraft. On Feb. 14, 2002, mechanics at a maintenance facility at Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport (KPBI) inadvertently left wooden sticks in the main landing gear weight-on-wheel switches of a Gulfstream V. The sticks were needed to accomplish several maintenance tasks while the aircraft was on jacks, causing the electronics to believe the aircraft was still on the ground. After the aircraft was released for flight, the pilots missed the wooden sticks during preflight and took off for a flight home.

After takeoff, the wooden sticks fooled the aircraft’s systems to believing the aircraft still had weight on its wheels and the landing gear would not retract as a result. The only danger facing the crew was if the throttles were brought to idle with the aircraft’s ground spoiler system armed. In that condition, the ground spoilers would deploy even with the airplane in flight.

But the pilots then failed to run the correct checklists, which would have deactivated the ground spoiler system. In fact, the pilots made sure the ground spoilers were armed, as habit pattern dictated. They didn’t realize that with the weight-on-wheels system fault warning (which they acknowledged), the ground spoilers would deploy as soon as the throttles came to idle. The pilot “chopped” the throttles while the aircraft was still 57 ft. in the air; at that point, the airplane came crashing down. Both pilots were unharmed but the aircraft has never flown again.

Most experienced Gulfstream pilots obsess over the danger posed by the ground spoilers and are paranoid about the many safety systems used to keep these spoilers from deploying while airborne. But even without the complications of a weight-on-wheels system, pilots need to keep in mind the basic stick and rudder skills needed to keep an aircraft flying.

On Feb. 19, 1985, a China Airlines Boeing 747 encountered turbulence over the Pacific Ocean, causing all four engines to retard to a very low thrust setting and then again to a higher setting. The No. 4 engine “hung” near idle, causing the other three to go to maximum thrust and shed their bleed load to the hung engine, which degraded to below idle speed. The autopilot maintained altitude and directional control with elevators and ailerons only; the human pilot never corrected yaw with rudder. The pilot only disengaged the autopilot after deciding to descend for an engine relight.

At that point, the control wheel was deflected 22 deg. left while the aircraft was in a 23-deg. right bank. In just 33 sec., the aircraft rolled 64 deg. and pitched to 68 deg. nose down. The airplane then rolled on its back. The pilot disregarded what all three attitude indicators were reporting and was unable to recover until they popped out of the clouds at 10,000 ft. These pilots turned a minor malfunction into what could have been a catastrophe with 274 people on board. They failed to keep the aircraft in coordinated flight and then failed to execute a proper upset recovery. In other words, they ceased being pilots.

Never Cede Control of the Aircraft to Someone Not in One of Your Pilot Seats

A pilot is responsible for much more than stick and rudder skills or systems management. The coin of the realm for professional pilots is the decision-making that goes with the four stripes. Even a highly experienced airline pilot can be guilty of giving up control of the aircraft to someone on the other side of the microphone. We are well practiced at following “orders” from air traffic control (ATC), if for no other reason than to preserve our licenses. But we should never forget that we pilots are in command

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Some aircraft cannot continue to add fuel without serious center of gravity problems in some configurations. Source: NTSB

The classic case for ceding control to ATC might be that of 
Avianca Flight 52. On Jan. 25, 1990, the Boeing 707 was flying from José María Córdova International Airport, Medellin, Colombia (SKRG) to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (KJFK). By the time it reached New York airspace, the Boeing had been assigned three holding patterns that totaled 1 hr., 17 min.

After being assigned a fourth hold with a 30-min. expect further clearance time, the pilot said “. . . ah well, I think we need priority we’re passing [unintelligible].” Twenty-nine minutes later the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed, killing 73 of the 158 people on board. The accident report cited the crew’s failure to communicate an emergency fuel situation as well as traffic flow management.

The pilot’s primary responsibility once airborne is to get back on the ground safely, even if that means telling air traffic control you cannot obey their instructions any longer. Transmitting the word “MAYDAY,” repeated three times, is the universally accepted way to say, “I am declaring an emergency.” It sets into motion special procedures on the other side of the microphone and theoretically gives you the sky. There is no penalty for overusing the phrase.

The lesson for all pilots to understand here is that this is the polite way to declare an emergency and let air traffic control know you need their assistance.

There is another, albeit impolite, way and it comes from my experience as a U.S. Air Force pilot during an era when we had more than our share of crashes. We were well-schooled in the art of informing air traffic control what we were going to do, as opposed to what they wanted us to do. “I’m not asking,” we would practice saying, “I’m telling you.” That language, used when needed, ensured we never ceded control of our aircraft to someone who wasn’t in it with us.

Of course, ATC is not our adversary; the controllers are on our side. Their mission also concludes with your aircraft safely again on the ground. It is up to you to communicate and up to them to offer any help they can. Perhaps we get too much well-intentioned help from within the airplane and without.

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Even a sophisticated Gulfstream V needs a thorough preflight, as the crew of N777TY found out. Credit: Matt Birch

An airline pilot must frequently battle decisions from dispatchers with the authority to change routing or even divert aircraft. Business aviation pilots have a more insidious pressure from within the cabin. Often, they battle decisions from the person who signs their paycheck or pays for the charter flight. Pilots need to set the ground rules early or this relationship can end badly.

On March 29, 2001, a Gulfstream III operating under FAR Part 135 was scheduled to fly from Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX) to Aspen-Pitkin County, Colorado, Airport (KASE), with the arrival planned before a nighttime landing restriction took effect. Both pilots were aware of the night restriction and the captain had some Aspen experience.

The instrument approach aligns the aircraft just about on the extended runway centerline but is classified as a circling approach because a descent from the minimum descent altitude (10,200 ft.) to the runway (7,815 ft.) at visibility minimums (3 sm for a Category C aircraft) would require more than an 8-deg. descent.

Unfortunately, the charter customer and his passengers arrived late to the airplane in Los Angeles, which delayed the Gulfstream’s arrival at Aspen a few minutes later than allowed by the nighttime restriction. The charter customer stressed the importance of landing at Aspen before and during the flight. As they began the approach, a passenger occupied the jump seat and they learned the previous two arrivals had gone missed approach.

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Gulfstream III N303GA approach path. Credit: NTSB

After passing the final approach fix with a descent rate of 2,200 feet per minute, the pilot briefly leveled off 300 ft. below the next minimum altitude, and then resumed his descent, still too early to have sighted the runway. The alert tower controller asked if they had the runway visually, to which the first officer responded, “runway in sight.” But it probably was not. And even if they did see the runway visually, they were still 2,200 ft. above the field with barely 3.5 mi. to go. So, getting it on to the pavement would have required a whopping 6-deg. descent angle. We instrument pilots must constantly be on guard against seeing what we want to see, versus what we do see.

Passing the missed approach point the captain asked, “Where’s it at?” The airplane crashed 2,400 ft. short of the runway threshold, killing all on board.

While the accident provides many lessons about instrument procedures and how “official sunset” affects arrivals to airports in mountainous terrain, perhaps the most important lesson to be learned regards pilot decision-making. You should never let the desires of those wanting to get there usurp your decision to go someplace else.

CRM Isn’t an Absolute

We pilots not only have a need to be in control but also have a need to appear in control to those around us. This often manifests itself as a cool, calm demeanor that could be captioned with, “Everyone else may be freaking out, but I’m not fazed at all. I’m in control.” The problem, of course, is that sometimes we convince ourselves everything is OK when it really isn’t. As I’ve been told a few times: “When all about you have lost their heads and you remain calm, perhaps you don’t understand the problem.”

On Dec. 29, 1972, Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 had what amounted to a simple gear indication problem. The Lockheed L-1011’s green “down and locked” light failed to illuminate. The captain directed the first officer to engage the autopilot and replace what might have been a faulty light bulb. As the situation unfolded, the captain, the first officer, the second officer and a maintenance specialist who came along were all consumed with addressing the malfunction.

At some point, it is hypothesized, a 15-lb. force caused the autopilot pitch mode to disengage without an audible warning. The aircraft had two autopilots and in this aircraft the autopilot computers were mismatched. It was possible for such a force to disengage the first officer’s autopilot without an indication on the F/O’s instrument panel. The aircraft gradually descended from its 2,000-ft. assigned altitude without anyone in the cockpit noticing. Six minutes after the troubleshooting effort started, the airplane crashed into the Everglades, killing 101 of the 126 persons on board. In this incident four crewmembers were focused on troubleshooting, and none were focused on flying the airplane.

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The pilots of Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 prioritized systems repair over flying the airplane before crashing into the Everglades. Credit: Creative Commons

Six years later, on Dec. 28, 1978, the errors of Flight 401 were replayed by United AirlinesFlight 173 on approach to Portland, Oregon, International Airport (KPDX). The arriving McDonnell Douglas DC-8 did not provide a clear indication that the landing gear was down. The captain consulted with his flight crew and all available company resources on the ground. He concluded that the gear was probably extended, but he wanted to make sure the cabin crew had enough time to prepare the passengers for a possible gear collapse upon landing.

Meanwhile, the F/O became concerned with the aircraft’s low fuel state and spoke up a few times, expressing his apprehension to the captain. However, the captain did not share concern about the decreasing fuel and returned his attention to consulting with company maintenance resources and the cabin crew. He remained worried about rushing the cabin preparation, saying at one point, “I’m not gonna hurry the girls.”

Nearly 1 hr. after first discovering the problem, the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed. Of the 197 persons on board, 12 were killed.

In both of these landing gear incidents, the pilots thought they had time on their side because they were so near to their destinations. They forgot that airplane time is paid for with fuel.

Time and keeping track of time is part and parcel to flying your airplane. With a cabin fire, we now know time is fleeting. But back in 1998 that wasn’t the case; most operators believed the imperative to any cabin fire was to fight the fire. On Sept. 2, 1998, SwissairFlight 111, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11, departed KJFK for Switzerland’s Genèva-Cointrin Airport (LSGG) only to have an arcing power cable cause smoke and fire in cabin insulation near the cockpit.

In less than 6 min. the pilot decided to return to Boston-Logan International Airport(KBOS) to facilitate passenger handling. But the Massachusetts airport was 30 min. away. As the situation deteriorated, the air traffic controller offered and the pilot accepted vectors to Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Halifax, Canada (CYHZ), which was considerably closer.

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The last lesson in U.S. Air Force pilot training and every lesson that follows is the same: “Fly the airplane!”

But as they neared the airport, the crew indicated they would need more time to run checklists and then to get approval to dump fuel. Fifteen minutes after first detecting the smoke, the aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

In its investigation, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada concluded that even if the crew had commenced an immediate diversion to Halifax as soon as they knew they had a problem, they would not have been able to maintain control to make a safe landing. According to the common practices of the time, the crew acted prudently. But given what we know about cabin fires today, at the first sign of trouble the crew should have pointed the airplane to the first landable surface, flown as fast as possible, and landed overweight.

Reviewing each of these accidents with the benefit of hindsight involves a great deal of second-guessing, and I am certainly guilty of “Monday morning quarterbacking.” The point, however, is to understand that we pilots must never forget to fly the airplane first, to make our decisions based on the safety of the airplane and not the pressure brought to bear by outside forces. Taking care of the crew and passengers begins with taking care of the airplane.

Who’s Flying the Airplane?

Over my Air Force career, I flew formation in four aircraft types and found “form” to be one of the most rewarding things we did in military aviation. But in each case, the risk was not taken lightly; the formation was advantageous to the operation. The same can be said of any act of aviation. There is a reason you have been entrusted with harnessing tens of thousands of pounds of thrust during a takeoff that could require split-second decision-making if something goes wrong. There is a reason you are the one manipulating the controls of a high-speed aircraft approaching a slab of asphalt with a load of passengers oblivious to the dangers you are so skillfully avoiding.

After you become comfortable defying gravity for a living, you might let your guard down to these risks because you’ve successfully defied them for so long. But you can never become complacent to the risks. You should always remember the basic pilot skills needed to keep things under control. You cannot cede control of an aircraft you have been charged with flying, and you cannot become blind to committee-think when CRM attempts to take over. It is up to you to never become a passenger in Row 1 of any aircraft. You are, after all, the pilot. 

MTF...P2  Cool

Listen up Wannabes? -  Smile

By Patty Wagstaff, via the P&P... Wink

Quote:Plane & Pilot

Updated January 7, 2019

Go-Arounds Are Not Shameful!
Knowing when to give it another try is a key to avoiding a big safety risk.

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There are a lot of reasons to go around, and many of them are the result of great pilot judgment rather than poor air work.

In the sticky southern Georgia afternoon, the air was flat and heavy as we turned final for Runway 6 at KCSG. It was our last fuel stop after a long day, and we were ready to call it quits for the evening. Following my flight lead, an A36 Bonanza, down the imaginary glideslope, I flew close enough to his right wing that I could see the rivets. Out of the corner of my peripheral view, I saw the white stripes of the approach end of the runway, and we continued to descend. Landing in formation is something I have done many times. It is intense and takes focus to stay in position, and a lot of small adjustments must be made with dissimilar airplanes and when there are flaps and retractable landing gear involved. The closer you fly to another airplane, the more you share the same air (which is a trick any good formation pilot knows, so it’s easier to fly closer for that reason). Today I felt sharp. In the heavy humidity of the summer day, the windsock was hardly breathing, so I was surprised when we leveled out to land that the wake and wing-tip vortices from the Bo started moving the air, and my Extra 330SCe along with it.

As we had briefed, the Bonanza had the left and I had the right side of the runway. Just before touchdown, I tried to slow down enough to get my main gear on the asphalt at the same time as the Bonanza, but a gust of a vortice pushed me back into the air enough that I had to add a touch of power, reducing it again to get my wheels to stick. After a couple of these excursions, I started thinking: “I am working too hard. I am in no mood for this. I am tired. Let’s make this easier.” I pushed the throttle forward, smiled at the acceleration of the Extra while the Bo slid behind, leveled out to gain speed, then sharply pitched the nose up, the Extra growling for altitude. As I turned a sharp right back into the downwind, I glanced over my shoulder and saw the Bonanza on the runway when I turned a tight base and landed long, catching up to him just as he turned off the taxiway and called Ground for taxi instructions. I smiled again, a little smugly, but after a long day I deserved it—or so I thought (being cocky is not a good quality for an aviator, and we should only indulge in it on the rare occasion). Go-arounds can be fun!

I had once flown an airshow at KCSG, so when we taxied to Columbus Aero Service, it was fun to see everyone. As we were fueling our airplanes, my lead pilot looked over at me and said, “I was really surprised to see you do a go-around!” Surprised that he was surprised, I said, “Really? Why?” “Because,” he said, “You’re a professional airshow pilot, and, you know…” What I really think he was saying is that people aren’t expecting to see go-arounds, and it’s kind of a big deal to do one. I beg to differ! Doing a go-around when I didn’t feel like dealing with my bucking little bronco at the end of a long day was the most natural thing in the world.

Aviation keeps us humble. Continuing to fight a messy landing when I was fatigued after a long day would have only been ego, and at times we all struggle to keep ego out of the cockpit. There’s no shame in a go-around. I like them. In fact, I try to be ready for a possible go-around on every approach to every landing in any airplane I am flying.

Go-arounds were pretty common when I learned to fly in Alaska. When I lived in Dillingham, a small town about 300 miles southwest of Anchorage, it was not unusual in the winter for our Western Airlines 737’s to do two, sometimes three, missed approaches before landing. The weather was often blowing snow with low ceilings, and the instrument approaches were non-precision, giving us even less margins for landing. I remember the rest of the passengers were mildly nervous, slightly entertained, and just generally glad to be on the ground on the third try and not have to divert back to Anchorage. Go-arounds were always to be expected, as winds could change, animals could be on the runway, or, when I was flying, I might just read the windsock wrong the first time.

The closest I probably came to dying on a commercial flight was in the South Pacific, where the airstrips are made of coral, often jutting out into the water alongside a line of craggy green mountains, and most of the approaches are non-precision. On this particular flight, the pilots busted their minimums and kept descending instead of going “missed approach.” For the passengers, it was only the 60-degree bank climbing left turn toward the open ocean that told us we probably weren’t landing. The “missed” was so egregious, we almost took the antenna off the terminal building (so said the people waiting for the flight, who had thrown themselves on the ground to avoid being taken out).

The FAA and EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) have been talking and squawking about go-arounds a lot lately, and for good reason. Many Loss of Control in Flight (LOC-I) accidents happen on approach and landing, often from an unstabilized approach or failure to go around. Data shows the riskiest phase of flight for LOC-I is the take-off, but approach and landing come second.

One of the most interesting studies I’ve read is the Flight Safety Foundation’s 2017 “Go Around Decision-Making and Execution Project.” I quote from it, and the bold text is mine:

Approach and landing is the most common phase of flight for aviation accidents, accounting annually for approximately 65 percent of all accidents. A Flight Safety Foundation study of16 years of runway excursions determined that 83 percent could have been avoided with a decision to go around. Inother words, 54 percent of all accidents could potentially be prevented by going around. It is generally felt that an unstable approach is the primary cause of landing excursions. However, within this 16-year period, just over half of the landing excursions followed a fully stable approach; in these instances, the flight became unstable only during landing.

The FAA and EASA recommend being stabilized on an instrument approach by no lower than 1,000 feet above the ground and by 500 feet above the ground on a visual approach. If the approach isn’t stabilized by then, a go-around should be considered. Stabilized approaches are important and will usually result in a smooth landing (unless you’re too fast and then lose control trying to get the airplane to stick!). The earlier you make your decision to go around, the easier it will be, so stick with your decision and don’t second-guess yourself. Changing your mind will lead to destabilization and a difficult recovery (like the pilots of the airliner in the South Pacific, who should have gone around before they descended below decision height for the approach).

Why does an airplane become unstable only during landing? I surmise that it is because pilots often carry too much speed on final. This can lead to LOC as the pilot struggles to get the airplane’s wheel to stick when the available runway is running out. The FAA recommends that if winds are gusty on approach, add some speed to compensate, but no more than half the gust factor. Keeping the nose tracking down on approach to landing all the way to the level off and then flare will keep you out of trouble, but remember the recommended approach speed is 1.3 Vso.

A few thoughts about go-arounds:

  • A go-around is not an emergency. Practice them so they’re second nature.

  • Think of every approach to landing as a potential go-around and always have an exit strategy. I fly a V35 Bonanza, and I rarely land with full flaps just for this reason. Full flaps aren’t really necessary for normal landings, and should I have to do a go-around, they would create a lot of drag. Manage your flaps so you have options available.

  • A good aviator always aims for a specific touch-down point. This takes the element of randomness out of your landings. A stabilized approach to a specific point on the runway will help avoid any surprises.

  • Not liking your approach? Make the decision early.

  • It’s okay to make your approach a little high, but don’t let your airspeed creep up. Remember, 1.3 Vso is the recommended approach speed.

Takeoffs might be optional and landings are mandatory—except you don’t always have to land the first time. If your approach to landing doesn’t feel right, the three essential actions for a go-around are:

  • Power—Full power, knowing that P factor and torque might require use of rudder to keep the airplane going straight.

  • Pitch—Establish and maintain a level pitch attitude before you start a climb. This enables the airplane to gain a safe speed before climbing and also gives you a good view of what is ahead.

  • Configuration—Clean it up, gear and flaps (not necessarily in that order) as necessary.

We are reactive creatures by nature. We have to train ourselves to be proactive—acting before a situation becomes a crisis. In aviation, it’s always better to be proactive, and the only way to do that is with training and repetition. Wolfgang Langewiesche said it best in his 1944 classic, “Stick and Rudder:” “…there is much of animal training in our flight training methods…for you simply cannot go against your common sense, against your most powerful instincts, except by drill, and more hard drill.”
MTF...P2  Cool

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