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American Airlines pilot dies on overnight flight - quite sad and RIP Blue Skies

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  • nJayM
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Jun 2008
    • 1687

    American Airlines pilot dies on overnight flight - quite sad and RIP Blue Skies

    I was quite sad when BBC Radio reported last night that "American Airlines pilot dies on overnight flight" from Phoenix.

    RIP and Blue Skies Michael Johnston.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-34447243

    Naturally the Co Pilot landed the aircraft safely at Syracuse.

    Wonder what MO'L would say now since he believes in cost cutting and getting rid of the Co-pilot.
    Jay
  • John Green
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Mar 2011
    • 6643

    #2
    He'll probably train up one of the flight attendants.

    Comment

    • nJayM
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Jun 2008
      • 1687

      #3
      MO'L has already mooted that a Flight Attendant would be adequate and in some ways the report by BBC

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-34453146

      leaves this wide open - quoting

      "In 2010, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary argued two pilots were unnecessary on short-haul flights, saying that over 25 years only one of his pilots had suffered a heart attack mid-flight, "and he landed the plane". But the European Aviation Safety Agency has since recommended there should always be two people in the cockpit at any time."

      Two people in the cockpit could be anybody!!!
      Jay

      Comment

      • Bombgone
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Jan 2013
        • 391

        #4
        This is a very sad incident my condolences to the pilots family and friends. Fortunately incidents like this these days are so rare when you think of the number of commercial airliners flying around the world. There is though the argument of having two pilots in the cockpit, true that computers fly aeroplanes they can take off and land themselves anywhere in the world, all it needs is a human to guide it from the terminal to the runway.
        But and its a big but, technology can go wrong just as humans can, so there is always a back up. In my mind the idea of cutting cost's by having one pilot in the cockpit is going over the top its unthinkable. Technology and pilots very rarely but sometimes do go wrong, what about mother nature she can also throw surprises and challenges into the equation in most cases would take a human to deal with this situation.

        Would you feel comfortable going on a long haul flight say in an A380 with one ore even no pilot in the cockpit?
        Bomb Gone Skipper sigpic

        Comment

        • topspeed
          Get on uppah !
          • Jan 2009
          • 2627

          #5
          Originally posted by Bombgone View Post
          This is a very sad incident my condolences to the pilots family and friends. Fortunately incidents like this these days are so rare when you think of the number of commercial airliners flying around the world. There is though the argument of having two pilots in the cockpit, true that computers fly aeroplanes they can take off and land themselves anywhere in the world, all it needs is a human to guide it from the terminal to the runway.
          But and its a big but, technology can go wrong just as humans can, so there is always a back up. In my mind the idea of cutting cost's by having one pilot in the cockpit is going over the top its unthinkable. Technology and pilots very rarely but sometimes do go wrong, what about mother nature she can also throw surprises and challenges into the equation in most cases would take a human to deal with this situation.

          Would you feel comfortable going on a long haul flight say in an A380 with one ore even no pilot in the cockpit?
          250 flying hours in MS FSX might help too....if someone in the passenger tube has it.
          Attached Files
          If it looks good, it will fly good !
          -Bill Lear & Marcel Dassault


          http://max3fan.blogspot.com/

          Comment

          • frankvw
            Moderator
            • Jan 2000
            • 6344

            #6
            Not at all. You would know what the instruments are for, but there is no way you could fly the plane. FS doesn't give you the feel of a plane, the inertia, ... I'd say, there is 99% chances you'd crash and burn.
            Regards,

            Frank

            Comment

            • Bombgone
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • Jan 2013
              • 391

              #7
              I use FSX Its great fun flying the B747 though as you say cannot simulate any where near the real thing even a real commercial sim cannot either but its pretty close. In rare instances where the auto pilot hands the aircraft back to the pilot it would need a minimum of two people to deal with the situation.
              Bomb Gone Skipper sigpic

              Comment

              • TomcatViP
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Nov 2011
                • 5911

                #8
                Originally posted by Bombgone View Post
                I use FSX Its great fun flying the B747 though as you say cannot simulate any where near the real thing even a real commercial sim cannot either but its pretty close. In rare instances where the auto pilot hands the aircraft back to the pilot it would need a minimum of two people to deal with the situation.
                Real and Sim in the same sentence is already a false implicit assertion.

                Regarding the problem of having only one single pilot in the cockpit, it is apparent to me that people are putting together the wrong equation trying to figure a result: Flight safety and flight duties.

                I and other have tried earlier to propose a solution in the Stuntman thread, but this still stands as an open question. With the maturation of flight systems capable to handle many or all the phases of flight, is it still relevant to double task the onboard pilots with flight management and flight safety?

                I do think it's not.

                You can read refer to the stuntman man thread to see more.

                As a sad example, we can see here that this captain had to be task focused on flight management at the depends of the flight safety (his own safety btw). If the the priority were better set and his authority relevant, he could have dismissed himself from flying this day and a replacement tasked among a poll of available pilots (it is easier to have such poll with single seater aircraft and not-overloaded pilots with peripheral priorities (the specific phases of flight being transparent for their duty - safety being nearly identical from one flight to another).


                It is evident to me (but this has to be demonstrated) that refocusing onboard pilots on managing safety and re-tasking the management of flight to computer systems and ground support teams will provide a net increase both in cost-efficiency and safety for the passengers. It is hence the way to go.

                As a side effects, this will empower international organizations dealing with safety and flight regulations agencies by facilitating the monitoring of appropriate actions (ground based and software regulated). At a time when the push of deregulation is exponential or hacking terrorism that might affect heavily the airlines economy, centered regulation and wide access survey will be of huge benefits to prevent, refrain or identify singularities leading to potential disasters.
                Last edited by TomcatViP; 10th October 2015, 01:36.

                Comment

                • Primate
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Jan 2000
                  • 655

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Bombgone View Post
                  true that computers fly aeroplanes they can take off and land themselves anywhere in the world, all it needs is a human to guide it from the terminal to the runway.
                  Not entirely accurate, is it?

                  Originally posted by TomcatViP View Post
                  With the maturation of flight systems capable to handle many or all the phases of flight, is it still relevant to double task the onboard pilots with flight management and flight safety?
                  (...)
                  As a sad example, we can see here that this captain had to be task focused on flight management at the depends of the flight safety (his own safety btw). If the the priority were better set and his authority relevant, he could have dismissed himself from flying this day and a replacement tasked among a poll of available pilots (it is easier to have such poll with single seater aircraft and not-overloaded pilots with peripheral priorities (the specific phases of flight being transparent for their duty - safety being nearly identical from one flight to another).

                  It is evident to me (but this has to be demonstrated) that refocusing onboard pilots on managing safety and re-tasking the management of flight to computer systems and ground support teams will provide a net increase both in cost-efficiency and safety for the passengers. It is hence the way to go.
                  Not sure if I follow you correctly.

                  By "flight management" do you mean flying? I would argue that "management" and "safety" are by far and large the same thing. Managing a flight is all about conducting a safe (and efficient) operation. Human operators and automated systems work together and monitor each other more or less continuously to achieve reliability.

                  Don't you think the captain would have reported not fit if he hadn't felt up for it that day?

                  I agree that the sum of pressures put on airline pilots (deregulation, cutbacks etc.) can be unreasonably high in parts of today's market - a concern raised by pilot unions - but I don't know how relevant that is in this context. I would refrain from speculation at this stage.

                  I will generally argue that flying a plane safely, even complex ones equipped with advanced automation, still requires a fair bit of human craftsmanship.

                  Comment

                  • Bombgone
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Jan 2013
                    • 391

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Primate View Post
                    Not entirely accurate, is it?



                    Not sure if I follow you correctly.

                    By "flight management" do you mean flying? I would argue that "management" and "safety" are by far and large the same thing. Managing a flight is all about conducting a safe (and efficient) operation. Human operators and automated systems work together and monitor each other more or less continuously to achieve reliability.

                    Don't you think the captain would have reported not fit if he hadn't felt up for it that day?

                    I agree that the sum of pressures put on airline pilots (deregulation, cutbacks etc.) can be unreasonably high in parts of today's market - a concern raised by pilot unions - but I don't know how relevant that is in this context. I would refrain from speculation at this stage.

                    I will generally argue that flying a plane safely, even complex ones equipped with advanced automation, still requires a fair bit of human craftsmanship.
                    Not quite sure what's not accurate. A while back I heard they had called the pilot and co pilot "Flight management" and cabin staff "customer service" As for the Captain reporting sick maybe, maybe not. We don't know the circumstance's he may have been ok at the start of the flight or felt under pressure to continue. who knows.
                    Bomb Gone Skipper sigpic

                    Comment

                    • Primate
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Jan 2000
                      • 655

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Bombgone View Post
                      Not quite sure what's not accurate.
                      I don't have any experience with ILS/MLS CAT III operations, but I don't think your comment about how computers can take off, fly and land planes anywhere in the world is entirely true (if I understood it correctly). Even under the right conditions (aircraft, crew and airport certified for CAT III ops), use of autoland is still subject to limitations and close human supervision.

                      Excellent piece regarding flight automation and myths:

                      http://www.askthepilot.com/questiona...omation-myths/

                      Comment

                      • TomcatViP
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Nov 2011
                        • 5911

                        #12
                        By flight management I am referring to the action of planing, monitoring the FCS, write the manifest or radio communications etc... Automatic and Remote survey (off-board human crew) should handle those task way more efficiently for various reasons.

                        Craftsmanship is exactly on what the duties of pilots should be restricted tomorrow. All this are explained in the mentioned thread. I am writing this on a phone so, pardon me for not being more explicit.
                        Last edited by TomcatViP; 10th October 2015, 15:37.

                        Comment

                        • Primate
                          Rank 5 Registered User
                          • Jan 2000
                          • 655

                          #13
                          So simply put, you're suggesting we export some tasks away from the flight deck in order to reduce pilot workload?

                          The captain is ultimately responsible for the airplane and everything aboard most of the time and must have a handle on it the way things are today. Some degree of flight planning support has been around for a while, I think. Perhaps we'll see more remote monitoring in the future for flight support purposes.

                          Comment

                          • TomcatViP
                            Rank 5 Registered User
                            • Nov 2011
                            • 5911

                            #14
                            The everything is what would have to go. If you understand Cleary what those responsibilities are (as you do), you won't disagree that focusing on flight safety, in flight, would raise flight awareness where it matters the most: anticipate, avoid, resolve.
                            We have now the possibility to access graduated employee at all ranks in flight. In the 70's, a fresh pilots would mostly be the most graduated/experimented of its crew. This is where the emphasis on Capitainzing the flight comes from: the.most statically able person to take decisions. Today, this is not true. You can have a flight attendant with a master of history or psychology when the pilot in charge have interrupted his/her cursus to pursue a flight formation. In short, there is a resource to multi-task the flight and share flight responsibilities.

                            A pilot devoid of the erratic burden of handling the passengers (which per def is highly variable) could focus on the new challenge of tomorrow: for example high tempo of flight, less predictive weather (global warming), more complex FCS failures (see the stuntman thread).

                            The good captain in his white uniform saluting passenger boarding the plane is something of the past. It's a colorful folklore that sadly have to be phased out.
                            Last edited by TomcatViP; 10th October 2015, 16:31.

                            Comment

                            • Bombgone
                              Rank 5 Registered User
                              • Jan 2013
                              • 391

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Primate View Post
                              I don't have any experience with ILS/MLS CAT III operations, but I don't think your comment about how computers can take off, fly and land planes anywhere in the world is entirely true (if I understood it correctly). Even under the right conditions (aircraft, crew and airport certified for CAT III ops), use of autoland is still subject to limitations and close human supervision.
                              I remember as far back as the late 1960's A Boeing 707 took off from Heathrow and flew to New York and landed all by automation including flaps gear up and down etc. there were no passengers on board only one pilot who was there just for safety in case anything went wrong. The flight went perfectly well though the pilot was bored as he was not allowed to do anything. But the technology worked. even then they were talking pilotless aircraft. But I think, and quite rightly so the CAA Refused this idea making sure there were humans on the flight deck at all times. True these days automation has made the need for a flight engineer redundant.

                              There were sadly a couple of incidents in the 1990's where the auto pilot handed the aeroplane back to the pilots they tried to sort the problem of the computer instead of flying the aeroplane manually with tragic consequence's. Overall I think its a matter of good team work between the pilots and the computers. To some up, yes I think there must be at least two qualified people on the flight deck of passenger aircraft at all times.
                              Bomb Gone Skipper sigpic

                              Comment

                              • Primate
                                Rank 5 Registered User
                                • Jan 2000
                                • 655

                                #16
                                Originally posted by TomcatViP View Post
                                The everything is what would have to go. If you understand Cleary what those responsibilities are (as you do), you won't disagree that focusing on flight safety, in flight, would raise flight awareness where it matters the most: anticipate, avoid, resolve.
                                We have now the possibility to access graduated employee at all ranks in flight. In the 70's, a fresh pilots would mostly be the most graduated/experimented of its crew. This is where the emphasis on Capitainzing the flight comes from: the.most statically able person to take decisions. Today, this is not true. You can have a flight attendant with a master of history or psychology when the pilot in charge have interrupted his/her cursus to pursue a flight formation. In short, there is a resource to multi-task the flight and share flight responsibilities.

                                A pilot devoid of the erratic burden of handling the passengers (which per def is highly variable) could focus on the new challenge of tomorrow: for example high tempo of flight, less predictive weather (global warming), more complex FCS failures (see the stuntman thread).

                                The good captain in his white uniform saluting passenger boarding the plane is something of the past. It's a colorful folklore that sadly have to be phased out.
                                I'm still not sure we share an understanding of how things are being done today. Some of what you are describing sounds to me like normal everyday CRM. The flight crew flies the plane and the cabin crew (under the cabin supervisor) handles the cabin. A captain who knows his CRM makes sure that the rest of the crew is involved as appropriate, and may welcome their thoughts and initiatives if the situation permits. This is at least how I've been taught to behave as a commander.

                                To me you're making it sound as if the captain is somehow bogged down in work that draws attention away from more critical tasks. While I think there is some valid concern about pressures which should be kept out of the cockpit (i.e. worrying about the added costs of making a missed approach and so on), I'm not sure about the need to relieve the flight crew of additional work. Even with the task of scanning the instruments, reading maps/plates/documents and monitoring the radio more or less continuously, the cruise segment on longer flights usually leaves a lot of time in my experience from smaller airplanes. I should get an airline job and experience things firsthand before I form an opinion on this anyway. Perhaps some of the more experienced chaps in here (@27vet) can shed some light on this?

                                Comment

                                • TomcatViP
                                  Rank 5 Registered User
                                  • Nov 2011
                                  • 5911

                                  #17
                                  It's a forum post, not a hundred page expose. I am drawing grossly examples with a tick black pen and not a 0.2 pencil and 100 nuances of color. The background is that you fly as you are trained to do.
                                  By devoting more time in training and candidates screening toward flight safety, we will improves the present situation and prevent new occurrence from surfacing (ex. complex FCS failure or hacking). Today the nodes of actions are focused on flight management or cross-shared btw different actor. This as a cultural heritage.

                                  If a 20 year old drone pilot can fly routinely across the globe a complex aircraft as are modern uav (think RQ4) from a remote location, there are no more need for two pilots in a cockpit if we speak in term of the end results.
                                  FCS failure are alsoprone to be more rare but more unexpected and hence more complex to deal with in real time. There is hence two parameters that we should put emphasis on:
                                  -awareness
                                  - flight knowledge (seat pants, yoke time,3d spacial geometry or aptitude to decipher a complex problem while in a very stressful situation).
                                  Today those are not the point of focus of pilots selection and training or the way they fly.There are even there airplane manufacturer convinced that the less responsibilities you hand to a human pilot, the better it is.
                                  Hence, pilots are trained as system administrator with a range of procedure to assimilate when... the crash of tomorrow are drawings at each iteration the new set of future procedure. This is a new era of commercial flight and the present safety strategy is not the right one. It's even counter-productive (see the thread).
                                  Communication during incidents btw crew are also imparting their aptitude to react correctly given the unexpected nature of the event and the rapid flight departure that some plane are prone to (something that has no more reason to be (new aerodynamics)).
                                  A pilot today should be trained mostly and selected like a test pilot of yesterday since the job is to bring back the plane that we can learn (to the exquisite delight of the passengers obviously).

                                  I can't put it more clearly than what have been said earlier.

                                  ~S and RiP to the AA pilot.
                                  Last edited by TomcatViP; 10th October 2015, 23:59.

                                  Comment

                                  • Primate
                                    Rank 5 Registered User
                                    • Jan 2000
                                    • 655

                                    #18
                                    OK, now I think we're more on the same page.

                                    IIRC, this issue got more attention after AF447 and you may be right to point this out as something which should be improved. The discussion about automation and skill decay is always interesting and quite important.

                                    Not sure I agree on the drone / single pilot concept, though (if I understand you correctly). Workload sharing, mutual support and redundancy come to mind.

                                    Comment

                                    • TomcatViP
                                      Rank 5 Registered User
                                      • Nov 2011
                                      • 5911

                                      #19
                                      Think about it: a manned drone where the responsibility of the onboard crew is safety only. Ideally, he/she have the power to abort the flight and redirect it to the safest/closest location every time an incident occurs. This to break the chain of events linking to a catastrophic occurrence when crew try to to alleviate their responsibilities by searching a solution in a SOP.
                                      Off-board crew, route, fly, direct. The least incident, the more money for the company.
                                      On-board pilot is in charge of the plane maintenance also
                                      Local crew in charge of T.O and landings (system assisted - just like are pilots in maritime shipping where a challenging topography dictate the use of a dedicated specialist)
                                      Ideally, the business model is that of a lease with the client being the company
                                      The onboard pilot is a safety specialist

                                      That way, we can improve safety while keeping cost low.

                                      Comment

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