Two experienced airline pilots were sacked after having a furious row on board a plane when they encountered turbulence.
The incident occurred when Captain Stephen Bird and First Officer Stephen Akers, both aged in their fifties, were flying from Exeter, southwest England, to the Spanish city of Malaga, last May, an employment tribunal heard yesterday. Just before the plane took off, Bird told his co-pilot that he had not completed pre-flight paperwork "cos you're my bitch," The (London) Times reported. The atmosphere took a turn for the worse when the aircraft later encountered turbulence. Akers asked Bird to fly around some dark clouds for safety reasons - advice which the captain ignored. In the argument that followed, Akers allegedly said Bird was a "control freak" and told him to "f*ck off." According to senior pilot Stan Wood, who investigated the incident, the "massive breakdown" between the two men - who had been "yelling at each other" in the cockpit - had posed a "potential risk to [the] safety" of the crew and passengers. The return flight from Malaga was reportedly made in virtual silence, with Akers reading a newspaper. Both men filed complaints against the other with their employer budget airline Flybe and were sacked following an investigation. They are appealing their dismissal. The tribunal hearing continues.
Was in The Times yesterday as well, so not complete Mail crap. Seems a bit harsh but probably more to it than meets the eye e.g. not the first time, previous problems etc? If not then harsh and humourless. Banter should be obligatory!
In general terms, if you're going to have banter then firstly make sure your colleague is up for it... after all, there's nothing worse than saying something in jest when people take it seriously and to heart - you've got to gauge whether they will be receptive to a bit of a laugh, because in this day and age in many occupations there seem to be more uptight people who are ready to complain about you - not sure what it's like in airline cockpits though.
I assume that the CVR was analysed in this instance and action taken? A question from SLF - are CVRs checked after each flight? Or only when there's a complaint or problem from the crew?
I can't find the article on the Times website, but have found links to the Mirror and Metro - so I don't know whether it's worth posting them
DB6 The Times it may be, but quotes captain as having 1,100 hrs and f/o 2,000. Hmmm.
which could potentially be why there was friction - Captain may well have been bumped up thru time served with flybe, and first officer a recent joiner? Then perhaps the old willy waving contest to see who is more superior, both professionally and in likeness to Dan Dare?
Anyhow, when you are entrusted with the safety of another persons fleshy pink body (or a hundred or so), save the bitch slapping for after hours. Perhaps behind the hangar, after a few sharpeners.
they were idiots to put this issue in writing, should have been sorted in the carpark, followed by a quiet request to avoid being rostered together ever again. This sort of stuff happens in all airlines, but if the management get wind of it, you can expect the world to fall on your head, I'm afraid, cause they will be protecting their own butts before yours!
ps you can use the term 'paper-bitch' but you have got to be damn sure the guy/gal you are using it to has a sense of humour.
People moan about the growth of the CRM industry, but time again accidents and incidents occur that are due in whole, or in part, to human factors issues. It might be an idea if companies paid more attention to personality fit for their type of operation at the recruitment stage rather than relying on the training and safety departments to sort out the mess at a later date. Don't hold your breath, though!
Seems very low hours for both of them - especially the co-pilot. Apparently 50s, ex RAF sqn ldr, but only 2,000 hours? Even if he'd been FJ, doesn't that still seem low for what seems to be a permanent commission type?
This situation is not unusual in the flightdeck but in this case seems to have gone ballistic quite quickly. The captain should not have said such an inflamitory statement to the F/O and he should not have responded so agressively, however the big problem is with Captain Stan Wood who has blown this whole thing up out of all proportion and will only diminish his standing with his colleagues and be talked about for ages whenever Flybe is mentioned. All three should have gone off to the pub when off duty and sorted it out over a beer..... Its been done before, including the biggest airlines.I suspect there was no safety implications in the incident despite what Captain Wood says were the reasons for their dismisal because maybe he was a little macho as befitting an ex W/O in the marines
“I assume that the CVR was analysed in this instance and action taken? A question from SLF - are CVRs checked after each flight? Or only when there's a complaint or problem from the crew?”
CVRs are very rarely checked, maybe once or twice a year in a typical airline and then usually at the AAIBs request who will not divulge its contents to anybody. In general CVRs are there for post accident analysis and should never be used for disciplinary events.
This reminds me of a story told in a memoir of an World War II C-47 radio operator. They flew from the US to Oran with stops in Iceland and England. Before leaving England they spent a while carrying out logistic flights throughout the area.
On one flight the Co-pilot was flying and the Captain did not like the strong crosswind and told him to go around. The Co-pilot felt he could hack it and continued the approach, at which point the Captain pulls a .45 and places it against his head. End of the argument.
Back at base it was decided that it would be best to never pair these guys again. Soon after this the squadron launches on the final leg to Oran. Two aircraft had mechanical problems and turned back. Of these 4 pilots two are unable to fly for various reasons so of course the only pilots left to crew a repaired C-47 are the two who were never to be paired again. Unfortunately the radio operator was not on this aircraft for this flight but I'll bet that was also a mighty long,quiet flight to Oran at 140 knots.
In deed. In this case the Line manager, Capt Wood would have had to investigate the incident but decisions and suchlike would go to higher levels. Tarring the Great and very much respected Capt Wood in this thread is unwarranted. I would request you remove the post.
As this case is surrently undergoing a tribuneral, it is probably again not helpful to anyone to either name or comment on here at this time.
As bad as it looks on paper, that's the kind of thing that could either be a good natured bit of ribbing or an obnoxious, belittling insult depending on the context of who was saying it to whom, and in what tone. Spandex's "more" to the story obviously pertains to that context....and we're not privy to it.
But macdo is spot on....what a pair of idiots for reporting each other, once it had gone that far. With risk assessment skills like that, they may not be a massive loss to the industry.