Monthly Archives: March 2012

KEEP RELIGIOUS ZEALOTRY OUT OF THE COCKPIT!

IS THIS WHERE CAPTAIN CLAYTON OSBON WANTED TO GO?

 

Jet Blue Captain Clayton Osbon has once again validated that religious overzealousness can result in aberrant, dysfunctional behavior. Based on some of the reports that quoted his irrational verbal rambling it appears that it might have been sparked by some gremlins that may have emanated from some religious perspectives that sent him into one of those Elmer Gantry-like, possessed-by-God sermons. There are millions of people, perhaps tens-of-millions of people who are advocates and believers in the concept of Armageddon and/or the rapture. It appears that the Jet Blue Captain had possibly “gone-rapture” and was headed for his earthly exit.

Unfortunately, had he not been contained by the cabin crew and passengers he had the capability of taking everyone on the aircraft with him on his venture to his perceived glorious hereafter. The airlines, (spearheaded by United Airlines) adopted a policy called CRM (Cockpit Resource Management) about 25 years ago, since far too many of the four-strippers were afflicted with the “captain-as-God-myth,” and did really stupid things while the rest of the cockpit crew sat on their hands and said, “here we go over the cliff, but he is the captain.” CRM training played a major role on the flight deck of Jet Blue Flt #191 as the copilot took the bull by the horns and said the captain is whacked out and I will not follow him as my leader any longer. F/O Jason Dowd should be given far more plaudits for his adept handling of the situation than the media has extended to him. Unfortunately, the media will all-too-often focus on the Captain to the detriment of good journalism. Example: Everyone on planet earth knows that “Sully” Sullenberger, was the Captain on the Hudson River landing. Who knows the name of the copilot? I do, it was Jeffrey Skiles. In this Jet Blue “flipped out captain” scenario I think the media should be focusing on Jason Dowd the copilot, who took control in an exemplary fashion

Myth, superstition, and wishful thinking should not be part of the mix in the cockpit of a commercial jet and perhaps some additional evaluation of this potential problem should be considered by airline training departments. Wishful thinking and/or irrational paranoia are bad guys to be rummaging around in the heads of our professional pilots. The following is an excerpt from my book, The Rogue Aviator that elaborates on this subject:

PRAY FOR A SECULAR PILOT

One of the more interesting airplane anecdotes from the Ryan-aviation-early-

1980s era involved a Ryan captain nicknamed “the Reverend.” Reverend

Steve, a born-again Christian, frequently engaged in proselytizing. It was

reported that he read his Bible while attempting to penetrate a squall line of

thunderstorms. The copilot, according to the reports, worked diligently with

the airborne weather radar in order to find a soft spot through the possible

severe turbulence when the Reverend Steve, as the story goes, looked up from

his Bible and stated, “God will help us through.”

Such faith is not confined to one religion alone. A major aircraft accident

in the Middle East involved a Muslim captain engaging in prayer and

accepting that his fate would soon unite him with Allah. As the cabin crew

awaited his command to evacuate the burning aircraft, he failed to respond.

The passengers and the flight crew all died in the inferno. There are very

likely many other aircraft accidents aided and abetted by the captain

surrendering his duties to God’s will. The author suggests that, if you board

an aircraft whose pilots are referring to their religious texts rather than to their

flight manual, the only prudent course of action is a quick “one-eighty”

(reverse course) to travel via another flight.

This blog is prepared by Allen Morris/aka Ace Abbott, the author of The Rogue Aviator: in the Back Alleys of Aviation (www.therogueaviator.com)

 

 

TIRED PILOTS CRASH AIRPLANES

 

A recent USA Today article delved into the major factor that undermines airline safety; that, of course, is pilot fatigue. A poll they conducted revealed that one-quarter of the pilots surveyed find themselves on the job in a fatigued state. After the February, 2009 Continental #3407 (Colgan Air) accident in Buffalo, where tired pilots in the cockpit played a major role, the FAA finally responded to the tired pilots syndrome, as a result of some prodding by Congress, and went to work on formulating some updated rules and regulations that would govern the flight time and duty time limitations for airline pilots working under the FAR 121 mandates. This was all-well-and-good with a couple of small caveats. The first is that the final compliance with these new rules will occur nearly 5 years after the initial discussions regarding the importance of the need to prevent lives being jeopardized by tired pilots in the cockpit. The second major shortcoming of the new rules relate to all-cargo airlines. They are exempt!

But now back to the bright side. The FAA, the DOT, the airline management folks and the unions, did an excellent job of evaluating all aspects of pilot fatigue and the revised rules deal with the many variables quite well. The new rules reduce the maximum time on duty from 16 to 13 hours. Research has revealed that after 13 hours, the diminished functionality of the pilot is equivalent to someone who had a .05 blood-alcohol level. As an ex-non-sked charter pilot who experienced too many 20 hour duty days, I will readily attest to being in the cockpit in this awful physiological condition. Research has also revealed that after 13 hours of duty, the rate of mistakes that result in accidents increase by 5 times over one who is well-rested. After 8 hours of duty the accident rate increases exponentially.

The new rules will very definitely save a lot of lives and crunched aluminum air machines. Amongst the very positive changes is consideration for the “circadian rhythm monster” which is as insidious as single-time-zone pilot fatigue. This is well addressed in the new changes along with a requirement for flight crew and management training regarding pilot fatigue—it addresses developing an awareness of fatigue in the cockpit and possible countermeasures. Most importantly, the new rules state that if a flight crew member informs the company that he/she is too tired to fly, there can be no action taken against that pilot. In certain realms of aviation the pilot that tells the boss he has to cancel a flight to get some rest, he would be fired.

And now comes the monster caveat: The revised rules do not apply to all-cargo operations! That is correct. The question is: Will that cargo-laden Boeing 747 (for instance) make less of an impact when it slams into the school or hospital than a passenger carrying 747? That is an easy one—emphatically no! Why did this anomaly arise? It has to do with the bottom line of the cargo carrier and the power of the lobbyists in Washington that influence our government. A quote from the rule-makers is as follows: “The final rule does not apply to all-cargo operations, although these carriers have the ability under the new rules if they so choose.” It should be noted that the instances of airplane crashes with tired pilots in the cockpits of cargo airplanes is off-the-scale higher than passenger-carrying airline crashes. The all-cargo loophole should be fought tooth-and-nail by all pilots. The passenger pilot can shortly fine himself in the “night-freight-dog” world. For more information about the professional pilot’s trials and tribulations of pilot fatigue I suggest that you read The Rogue Aviator; in the Back Alleys of Aviation.

This blog is prepared by Allen Morris/aka Ace Abbott, author of  The Rogue Aviator   (www.therogueaviator.com)

MORE CABIN CRAZINESS ON THE COMMERCIAL JET

A RARE SCENE–FLIGHT ATTENDANTS HAVING FUN!

Is the increasing number of airline cabin incidents the final verification that the Apocalypse is upon us? It seems that there are nearly one-a-day reports of passenger or passenger vs. flight attendants incidents. The number of people being arrested at airports and on airplanes appears to be skyrocketing exponentially. Today’s commercial airline travel is getting more onerous as we go and there appears to be an undercurrent of “It’s us against them,” attitude and those we call “them” are the enemy as opposed to paying customers. It is certainly a double-edged sword and these all-too-frequent confrontations are spontaneous and perhaps even blameless—unless we want to consider the possibility of the premise that the good old US of A is being undated with in-your-face confrontational people.

Rather than pontificating about airline travel let me now entertain you with the following recent news reports relating to life in the airliner cabin:

Family Tossed Off JetBlue Flight for 2-year-old’s Tantrum

When their child misbehaved, the family was removed from the plane, costing them
$2,000 out of pocket

BOSTON (KTLA) – A vacationing Rhode Island family was thrown off a recent Jet Blue
flight to Boston after their two year-old misbehaved.

Dr. Colette Vieau, her husband, and their daughters Cecelia and Natalie were trying
to fly back to Boston from a vacation in Turks and Caicos when Natalie, age 2, refused
to sit down.

Her parents got her seat belt fastened and held her in place, but the family was
kicked off the flight anyway.

Dr. Vieau described her interaction with the flight attendant over her daughters’
behavior. “We were holding them down with all of our might, seat belt on. And I
said, ‘We have them seated. Can we go now?’ She said the pilot made a decision to
turn the plane around,” Vieau said.

The airline said in a statement, “Flight 850 had customers that did not comply with
crew member instructions for a prolonged time period. The Captain elected to remove
the customers involved for the safety of all customers and crew members on board.”

But Dr. Vieau insists, “We did what we were asked to do. We weren’t belligerent,
drunk, angry or screaming. We were just having a hard time struggling with our
children.”

With no other flights that night the family was stranded. After finding a hotel
and re-booking their flights, the changes cost them an additional $2,000.

A Flight Attendant Refused To Let Passengers Off A Plane After A Video Player Went
Missing

Surging Energy Prices Are Already Taking A Toll On One Area Of The Market
Writer and tech consultant Jeff Reifman was on an Alaska Airlines flight from Miami
to Seattle when something strange happened.
Apparently, a rented video player went missing, and one of the flight attendants
was hell-bent on getting it back.
In fact, she threatened to detain them, saying that “the cabin doors would not be
opened and that passengers would not be allowed off to catch connecting flights,”
claims Reifman.
Yikes.
The “horrified” Reifman posted about the encounter on his blog, where he made the
observation that “threatening to detain all your passengers over transgressions
by other flyers is about the dumbest thing you can do for customer loyalty.”
It may not be the worst thing, but it’s up there. Any time a worker resorts to threatening
an entire group of customers, that’s not going to do anything positive for a brand.
To make matters worse for Alaska Airlines, it turns out that the flight attendant
was in the wrong anyway. The airline’s policy is to keep track of who rents the
video players so that they can check later. Plus, the player was actually located
before the flight landed in Miami in the first place.
We know this because Alaska Airlines quickly went on damage control and explained
exactly what happened on its end, which was great crisis management.
Spokesman Bobbie Egan went to Reifman’s blog and posted this apology in the comment
section of the post:
Mr. Reifman,
The flight attendant’s announcement to our passengers onboard this flight was inappropriate
and did not follow our procedures. The video player was located before the flight
landed in Miami and we should have shared this with our customers. In regards to
the suggestion that we note the seat number of passengers renting these devices,
our flight attendants are trained to do just that when renting the video players.
This step was not followed on this flight. We are following up with the crew of
this flight to make sure they understand our procedures.
I apologize for any alarm this caused you and the other passengers onboard this
flight.
Sincerely,
Bobbie Egan, Alaska Airlines spokesperson
(This incident was extracted from a recent Curt Lewis Flight Information newsletter)

US Airways Flight Diverts To PDX Over Cabin Confrontation

Couple Said To Be Trying To Join The Mile High Club

It would appear an amorous couple onboard a US Airways flight Thursday forgot the number one rule when attempting to join the Mile High Club: discretion.

US Airways Flight 1473 left Seattle, WA just before 1500 PST Thursday, en route to Las Vegas when the aircraft diverted to Portland International Airport due to a… well, disturbance on the plane.

The aircraft turned around over southern Oregon, and landed at PDX at 1700 PST.

“The people across the aisle from us were fooling around in their seats and they decided to go to the bathroom and fool around and they threatened the flight attendant,” passenger Jessica Smith.

US Airways didn’t comment on whether the couple had been caught in the act, but did acknowledge a confrontation between the two passengers and the cabin crew.

The A320 took off for Vegas once again — sans the couple, who weren’t charged or arrested — about 45 minutes later.      (A rhetorical question: If I put a blanket over my lap and have my hands underneath the blanket, can the flight attendant deem that I am masturbating and have me dropped off in West Texas or some other God-forsaken area?)

FMI: www.usairways.com

American Airlines flight attendant goes bonkers

And then we have the American Airlines flight attendant who lost her emotional bearings and started blurting out volatile and caustic statements over the cabin PA. This unusual turn of events, resulted in passengers intervening to help the other flight attendants defuse the incident. The cabin of a passenger airline is a stress-inducing environment and the “acting out” by less than stable occupants who are stuffed into these “high-speed flying culverts” will continue.

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, the author of The Rogue Aviator; in the Back Alleys of Aviation. (www.therogueaviator.com)

NEW PILOT HIRE MINIMUM TIME WILL ENHANCE AIRLINE SAFETY

DOES THIS TURBOPROP HAVE A FEATHERED ENGINE?

 

Did you know that the co-pilot on your commercial flight could be hired with only 250 hours total flight time. For some pilots that is three months of flight time. Do you want a pilot who has three months experience piloting your aircraft in to JFK in a snow storm? Many of the regional/ feeder airlines have implemented programs that involve the new hire pilots who are very inexperienced to pay from fifteen to twenty thousand dollars for their training. This concept is very effective for the bottom line of the airline but it is counterproductive to airline safety. This concept along with the pilot fatigue in the cockpit dilemma, are two areas where the FAA should be held in contempt. A copilot has to be able to safely continue a flight and get the aircraft on the ground in event of an incapacitated captain. Many of these very low-time, inexperienced pilots would be incapable of doing so in many of the challenging flight regimes that the regional carrier might encounter. The uninformed passenger books his flight with the belief that he will have experienced well-trained pilots in the big jet. He then gets into the cramped quarters of the “feeder airlines” small turboprop aircraft and the copilot could have less than 500 hours total flight time.

An interesting statistic regarding domestic flights is as follows: Five of the last six commercial airline accidents in the United States were operated by one of these FAA certified regional air carriers. The last accident, the highly publicized Buffalo, NY crash of Continental Flight #3407, operated by Colgan Air, was piloted by a very tired and inexperienced flight crew. The copilot informed the captain as they entered icing conditions that she had never before flown in icing conditions. PBS Frontline produced a revealing expose’ of this accident and the dysfunctionality of the regional air carriers. It is hosted by the veteran aviation journalist, Miles O’Brien and is titled “Flying Cheap.” It can be accessed by going to PBS.ORG. Also, a book titled Squawk 7700 will throw additional light on the “commuter airlines.”

But rejoice for the FAA has stepped forward and will be implementing new minimum flight time standards for new pilots. The new minimum hire time for any FAR 121 airline will be 1,500 hours total time, with a few reasonable caveats. Ex-military pilots are only required 750 hours. In most cases this is a very reasonable compromise. The other exception is for graduates of University or College flight schools. These pilots will only require 1,000 hours total time. Perhaps most importantly, all pilots will have to receive “type-rating” training specific to the aircraft that they are flying. This requires a much more advanced aircraft knowledge and aviator skills specific to that aircraft. Hopefully, this certification will be done with FAA inspectors rather than company check airman who might be pressured to “sign off” the new hire before he/or she might be up to speed. These new regulations will move the safety quotient of commuter airlines up a few notches but I still want to be on the big jet with the 10,000 plus hour pilots.

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator