The problem is not ex-military pilots per se, as there are many very fine and capable ex-mil pilots both at Flybe and elsewhere (and yes, some of them even flew fast jets back when the RAF actually had cash to go flying). The problem is people who have an inflated sense of their own worth, can't handle advice or criticism and little or no ability to manage relationships with others. This problem is not exclusive to aviation either.
Unfortunately pilots, and more particularly the a/c commander, are effectively operating as managers, yet most have absolutely no training or experience in this area. It often leads to problems with inter-crew relationships on both sides of the door as this is one area the pilots can't resort to a checklist and some fail miserably in attempting to manage the issue. I doubt there is a single airline pilot who hasn't witnessed one of their colleagues make a complete fist of managing a crew issue, or even done so themselves. I know I have.
Of note I Think is that this chap was not an RAF trained pilot. Not sure if ex nav, eng, or admin but that alone brings a wealth of possible issues. Even the most arsy FJJs could understand CRM issues and had at least some experience in that area. Agreed it would be an interesting case study. We all have had those on the FD we would rather not have had, but egos are fragile things and there seems very little mechanism within the industry to deal with issues like this. This fellow seems to have had CRM problems before but has he been made aware of them. If he has & not modified his behaviour then he deserves his lot. Furthermore and as a counter; with an FO generally the flow of info / criticism / advice is from left to right, however, once you move to the left feedback all but dries up and the loop becomes terminated, hence as a skipper you need to develop a higher awareness of your own crew interaction and strategies to deal with awkward situations. At the end of the the day the FD is no place for conflict - fly within each others box, bottle any antagonism and sort it out on the ground after!
There is a picture of these blokes in the Daily Rag…. They are not young blokes and I presume would have had some life experience behind them… Both clearly immature and the company just needed an excuse to bid them farewell …..CRM is not hard for most people. On a difficult day flying with a ****, I just do my job. Its like having sex with an ugly girl. There will be an ending.
I guess the whole ex military pilot thing is a double edged sword. Sure, some (small minority) self ordained ex military sky god may feel that he/she is better trained and better able than a civilian Captain who has generally come to that seat another hard way but then there are those military. types who will acquiesce to seniority out of habit and that is just as bad in terms of CRM (e.g. this may have been part of the issue in this case)
Ultimately it comes down to attitude, professionalism and a sense of humour and the ability to get on and fly in the way expected in the civilian market and I suggest that the ability to adapt and get over the differences in training and background from both a civilian and a military sense is the key to what a safety conscious and commercially astute outfit is looking for. In other words if you want to get on, don't do whatever it was these guys did!
Caulfield - I should not worry too much about Ryanair or easyJet offering you a job as it is not going to happen any time soon. Regarding Political Correctness, I cannot speak for Ryanair, but easyJet employs pilots from every background known to man and employs numerous non-PC pilots. In the overwhelming majority of cases, they all get along just great. Regarding adherence to SOPs, yes that is one of our failings - we like pilots to adhere to them. And yes, we actively would not employ pilots for whom that is an issue. Strange, but there you have it.
Regarding the case in point, my understanding is that the FO was a late-arrival career FO who never flew in the RAF. All this stuff about employing ex-mil pilots is completely irrelevant here as he wasn't one. The Captain was faced with a nightmare FO, and I have considerable sympathy for him. There is no doubt he could have handled the situation better, but in his defence it was not an easy one to deal well with.
Slightly bizarrely, I notice that the two pilots involved are now fighting FlyBe TOGETHER in their battle against unfair dismissal - CRM appears to have prevailed after all!
Last edited by Alexander de Meerkat; 21st Apr 2012 at 23:46.
...So it looks as though we will all have to wait a while before we hear the outcome of the case because the employment tribunal has "reserved" its decision - which means that, rather than announcing the result in the tribunal chamber at the end of the proceedings, it's to be published in written form at a future date.
Under cross-examination Captain Bird had been asked ask whether the argument had potentially put his passengers in danger, as his whole attention was not on flying the plane. According to the Daily Mirror he replied: “Of course it did. It was a distraction.”
Flybe's Chief Pilot Ian Bastow is reported as telling the tribunal he did not want them to fly again. In an abnormal situation, he said, if the crew did not work together, “it is quite likely the end result will not be desirable”.
Mmm Rabski, I wonder what your colleagues might say. When CRM 1st came into our world some Airlines conducted an anonymous questionnaire. Some Captains were so shocked at the perception of themselves by others, they went sick for a while. As for these two. Well these things happen, but they should have not flown back. It will be interesting to see how the tribunal reacts as they are not aviation professionals.
"Mmm Rabski, I wonder what your colleagues might say. When CRM 1st came into our world some Airlines conducted an anonymous questionnaire. Some Captains were so shocked at the perception of themselves by others, they went sick for a while. As for these two. Well these things happen, but they should have not flown back. It will be interesting to see how the tribunal reacts as they are not aviation professionals."
I hope (and I'm pleased to say that experience suggests) that my colleagues would say that I can be a disruptive, ornery, foot-stamping git at times, but that's because ultimately the buck stops here. If I see something that I think compromises my safety and that of those around me, I'll damned well say so. I always have done. It hasn't cost me a job yet (though it's come close a couple of times) and in only a very few years I'll be sitting in my rocking chair dribbling gently into a nice claret. And the way things are going, I'll be bloody glad to, to be honest, but that's another matter.
For the moment, I'll keep saying, nice and loud, if something isn't right. Equally though, I try to always keep my right ear open. I try never to be overbearing to anyone sitting on that side of me, because like it or not, we all make mistakes sometimes and that seat is usually the place where those mistakes are picked up before they turn into a real problem. If I've missed something, or God forbid, screwed something, I want someone next to me to feel they can tell me so, quickly and without fear, before it all goes pear shaped.
Naturally, I never set anything incorrectly, never miss a decimal place and generally am perfect. However, one day I might not be.
The people sitting to your right aren't idiots by a very long stretch and any left-seater who treats them that way is heading for major problems sooner or later. There's a reason for having two seats, and mostly it's because we need assistance and two pairs of ears and eyes. Sometimes, we need help. Big time. If it's ever my day for all the holes to line up, then I'd much rather the guy or girl to my right is happy to work with me, rather than in the middle of a massive sulk.
It's not just CRM, it's basic human interaction and decent manners. Banter is fine, but I would never call someone 'my bitch' unless I knew them extremely well. To do so otherwise seems to me to be asking for exactly the situation that developed in this instance. Quite possibly the FO was a stick of dynamite waiting to go off, nevertheless, in this instance the captain lit the fuse.
Not only poor people management skills, but basic bad manners.
Interestingly the F/O has on his LinkedIn profile that he is a member of the Pilot Recruitment International group and Professional Pilot Employment Search group, but there's no mention of his departure from FlyBe
Of the ex-airforce crew that I flew with (maybe I had a bad run or it could just be me,) the worst of characters were the ex trash hauler 'white glove' brigade, closely followed by the ex-RAF non flyers (one ex eng gives me nightmares) who got out and then started flying.
Generally insecure with big chips, big egos, and piss poor handling skills and matching PQs.
Taught me a lot about what not to try and emulate.
With the occasional exception.
The ex-fj and even the navy guys always seemed to be relaxed because they had nothing to prove and their CRM skills were better because it was new to them and they had to try harder....
The Mail says the reason CVR evidence was not used was because the recording of the row on the way to Spain was apparently wiped automatically on the return flight to Devon.(Was there no way to preserve this - assuming either pilot had wished to?....And should not a recording have been preserved anyway if - as alleged - both pilots were "yelling at each other" and, as was later stated, there was a potential safety issue?
The Mail says:- "Captain Bird had been on sick leave for seven months and on anti-depressants after a messy divorce, said Mr Akers." (It isn't clear from that quote whether Mr Akers was alleging the Captain Bird was on anti-depressants at the time of the flight - but if he was, could there be parallels with the case of Captain Clayton Osbon - the JetBlue pilot who was forcibly excluded from his flight deck after bizarre behaviour back in March this year? JetBlue described that incident as a "medical situation".)
Rabski - if you are by your own admission 'a pain to fly with' because you 'like things done right', you can surely identify with the Captain's dilemma. You do not strike me as someone who woluld be tolerant of a stroppy FO. When I read your discussions here, I am not filled with excitement at the thought of being your FO - I do fully accept, however, that the written word can be misleading and you may be a great guy. What I would say here is that there are no perfect Captains out there, and most of us have mishandled situations at one time or other. Indeed, were you to delve into Chief Pilot Ian Baston's past you will find some significant errors on his part. The point I am making is that none of us can stand up perfectly to examination and there is a place for grace here. It may be these were 2 nightmare guys and FlyBe were given an opportunity that was too good to miss. My gut feeling is the Captain was unlucky and should still have a job, but others with more knowledge may have a different, and indeed more insightful, view of this situation.
Definitely with Rabski on this. The Buck does stop with the LHS. CRM has been interesting and has great value but the promoters have to realise that the Regulatory Authorities & the Law will site the Captain as being ultimately responsible. Command decisions made by committee have no place in a heavy, fast moving, transport aircraft. If so, let the Regulators & Law makers change everything to give the "committee" full responsibility. A softening of command attitude by the CRM pundits is causing many events like this. Not all reported.
No -one would wish a return to the "Papa India" incident at LHR. In my FO days, I would have instant respect for who-ever was in the LHS; operationally. I might have disliked many, personally, but it never spilled into the flight deck. Many times, I would return home and think "well, that's exactly what I do not want to be like", but, uniforms on, back to having to understand the chain of command concept.
During Command Training, I needed to have the "FO kicked out of me". A neighbour, happened to be a TRE/IRE pulled me up over the fence and told me I was likely to fail as I was "not assertive enough". "Needs to take hold of the ship, more". I took his advice , went to the RADA for acting lessons, became an absolute tyrant to my kids & passed.
CRM tried to kick the Captain out of me. I resisted. So far, no incidents. One very near, when a FO who I thought was a personal friend suddenly went bonkers. Something I had done to help flipped him completely as he accused me of undermining him, interfering with "his" duties and being patronising at all times. Good grief. Was it something I said ??? (!). A firm calming down of the incident was given by me. I offered to have him replaced but suggested that it would not be good for him. We got back in one piece, very professional, actually, but have not renewed our friendship for some 5 years.
Firm leadership by this Captain (referred to in the thread) encouraged by strong Company back up and not this mamby pamby CRM world would have stamped out the awful atmosphere.