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Old 24th Dec 2012, 00:35   #41 (permalink)
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SOPS are good because the bad pilots will do ok. Sort of sad but that is the way aviation is going. It wasn't this way when I as flying. Automation is the answer.
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Old 24th Dec 2012, 09:50   #42 (permalink)
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A&C, no point commenting on your example as it's irrelevant. Your take on my posts is up to you. The purpose of this thread is to shed some light on different angles. I just gave you a glimpse into what an examiner will do during the check. Mind you that a TRE has got a evaluation sheet for each and every phase, detailed and laid out as per SOP. TRE is obliged to tick off mandatory boxes starting from preparation till shut down during OPC. OPC is all about SOPs, as you well know. During the debrief TRE will ask you why you failed to do this or that to determine the cause of failure. If you say, sorry I forgot or didn't know it's still a failed item but not a violation. If you say, listen troll your SOPs are rubbish, well then you've willfully violated SOPs thus rendering the entire check as failed. The choice is always yours. This is just a flow of actions for a check. Attitude determines altitude. Yours will put you far below MSL.

When it comes to the regular line operation, without a TRE breathing into neck, it's folks like c2 we rely on.

Last edited by 9.G; 24th Dec 2012 at 10:02.
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Old 24th Dec 2012, 16:02   #43 (permalink)
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I've read your posts and you don't 'read' like a troll at all. You read like someone who knows exactly what they're talking about.

I think your discussion points of the value of SOPs, the value of knowledge and airmanship and particularly the value of discipline in all aspects of one's operation are well worth reading especially for those just getting into the business.

The headset example may not be the best one to illustrate what you mean by "discipline" but anyone who understands the value and the great importance of the points you're making regarding SOPs and cockpit behaviours will also understand your example.

I'd like to talk about the notion of "the bad apple" and organizational behaviour for a sec.

The notion of "bad apple" usually means someone within an otherwise healthy organization, who consistently violates the organization's published-trained-and-checked SOPs.

But if the organization tolerates this in the training and checking process, or if the organization doesn't even know that an individual is not adhering to SOPs and other behaviours known to sustain a safety culture, then it is the organization, not the individual, which has a problem.

The notion of "bad apple" persists and may have some validity in highlighting an individual problem which needs addressing, but since Charles Perrow's ground-breaking insights and work on organizational behaviour (Normal Accidents, 1984) and a huge amount of work done since then by such authors as Reason, Dekker, Helmreich, Foushee and others, the focus is not on the individual but on the organizational environment in which individuals work.

That was Perrow's insight...that organizational values directly affect the work environment including the organization's safety culture. If individual employees perceive that there is an unwritten tolerance for deviations from SOPs then that is the organization's culture and that is how employees will behave.

While there are always varying levels of skill, ability and capacity, SOPs, (as you have pointed out) are intended to provide solid if not straightforward guidance for all. In such an approach, deviations are the exception whereas the notion of the "bad apple", by definition, tolerates the exception.

Nice contribution to the discussion, thanks.
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Old 24th Dec 2012, 18:21   #44 (permalink)
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PJ2, thanx. No doubt corporate culture heavily influences individual attitudes.
It's not possible to change someone's temperament but it's surely possible to change the attitude. That's the main task of those creating corporate culture/ ideology. Creating a corporate culture/ideology where an individual identifies him/herself as part of the group sharing common values and pursuing same goals creates probably the strongest profit generator: motivation. For us the ultimate goal is safety so it's all about the safety culture. Somewhat easier achievable in a homogeneous, in terms of values, culture, language etc, environment with a raised and "tuned" generation of the same "breed", if you will, and far more difficult in a heterogeneous one with different cultures, values, languages, backgrounds, experiences etc. With the commercial pressure on top priorities might shift towards profitability reducing the margins, creating tense and unhealthy working conditions. Then there's punitive and non punitive culture, heavily influencing the safety culture as well. It ranges from flying FOQA instead of an airplane and not giving a damn bout SOP coz no actions will be taken apart from a little chit chat or email. SOPs are not flawless and not a panacea but a valid guideline. However a professional attitude towards SOPs should be complied with unless deviation is required due to situation and safety isn't compromised. A professional will use proper channels to contribute towards more efficiency but will lead by an example of a disciplined approach towards SOPs. It's probably the most difficult task to establish a safety culture which advocates for the right attitudes, promotes professionalism, encourages individualism, creates intolerance towards violations and develops consciousness for consequences.

Last edited by 9.G; 24th Dec 2012 at 18:31.
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Old 24th Dec 2012, 21:06   #45 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by grounded27 View Post
Wow this is such a simple subject. Follow SOP and you will have a great career until the unexpected happens and your lack of common sence may result in a disaster creating an admendment of your SOP. Blue Skies to all airmen globally over the holidays!
For every accident where following SOPs was a causal factor there are according to one safety study I have read, over 20 accidents where not following SOPs was a causal factor.

My personal experience is that those pilots who continually fudge/modify/ignore/change SOPs are the ones who are most in need of the operational protection that following SOPs gives and is reflective of a broader pattern of a lack of personal and professional discipline.

The SOP should always be the starting point for every action/situation , but of course there will be cases where the SOP may be inappropriate and this is where good CRM will keep the other guy in the loop and contributing.

With respect to the original poster if the SOP violations described are routine and widespread then his/her company has a culture problem which will sooner or later manifest itself in an accident.......

Last edited by Big Pistons Forever; 24th Dec 2012 at 21:09.
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Old 24th Dec 2012, 22:37   #46 (permalink)
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BPF...Re, "The SOP should always be the starting point for every action/situation , but of course there will be cases where the SOP may be inappropriate and this is where good CRM will keep the other guy in the loop and contributing."


...and re, "With respect to the original poster if the SOP violations described are routine and widespread then his/her company has a culture problem which will sooner or later manifest itself in an accident....... "

Yes, I think so. I would add however, that if it's only one pilot, his/her company still has a problem and it isn't just the one pilot.
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Old 24th Dec 2012, 22:59   #47 (permalink)
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You have finally convinced me that you are not a troll, your level of PC retoric is far beond what any troll could achive and as usual with the PC of this world you take the subject far past what is reasonable, a sort of SOP Taliban or Klu Klux Clan, taking reasonable philosophies to extremes and totaly perverting the original good ideas.

As I said on one of my first posts on the subject SOP's are the building blocks of a safe operation but your extreme veiws about the aderance to the letter of the SOP remove all chance of flexible problem solving.

Fortunaly I see very little of your attitude in the airline I fly with, we have a good set of SOP's based on the manufacturers recommendations and aided by modifications to enhance saftey in the prevailing operating environment.

What we are free of is the nif-naf & trivia of people who mandate each last trivial action while failing to understand the very essence of airmanship.
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Old 25th Dec 2012, 08:15   #48 (permalink)
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A&C, last attempt to explain. A description of the OPC chart flow isn't my attitude but a regulatory guideline as much as there's a table for acceptable tolerances during mandatory maneuvers for the skill test.
My attitude is plain simple:
compliance with the SOPs is not extremism but professionalism.
complacency isn't equal to flexibility.
Deviations are acceptable provided safety isn't compromised and everybody is kept in the loop.
Violations aren't acceptable.

You're the one who got upset bout the headset requirement and I simply classified your actions. Merry Xmas to you too.
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Old 26th Dec 2012, 16:13   #49 (permalink)
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Very nice discussion (for a very long time on PPRuNe)...
The basic question turns around the definition of SOP violation versus freedom of SOP flexibility. I will refrain myself from giving any definition here (not willing to take any beating ). For sure one can make a proposition around these two definitions to dig any further into the matter.
It is for sure that a simple stance, described as SOP Taliban, or words of that matter will not enlighten any of us. I am sure the writers taking this side are also able to give examples were they could wish for some more adherence (by others of course) to company procedures for the sake of professionalism.
Do not bother to come along with "roque pilots" or not having enough "airmanship". These terms do not, in my view, describe a meaningfull concept at all. How airmanship can fail is beyond my imagination. Although many efforts to describe these concepts have been made in the past I have yet to encounter a good one. Before (any of) you start a reply along these lines, answer this question first; if "airmanship fails or lacks" what concept replaces it (vacuum not taken for an answer!).
How much flexibility is really needed to do a professional job? Which or what SOP will drive me into a mountain/ground/sea etc... Although I personally prefer less on the SOP side, in the end I am being payed to do as Is written in the books. Furthermore I am still covered to go beyond anything written in case safety is at stake. But to be honest it did not happen often to really say safety was a reason not to comply. Usually any shortcoming in this way is quickly corrected.
So what remains? Culture? If defined as a collection of norms and values by a defined and closed group, it will definitely be interesting in terms of organisational behaviour. I fully agree on the notion that a company with a persistent "bad apple" has a bigger problem than the "bad apple" itself. The thread starter even sees a wider trend in the industry as a whole. Is the noticed trend already past a point where this we created a common ground (or lost ground) on SOP adherence? I don't think so. It is however worrisome that some individuals or even organisations completely underestimate the power of corporate culture. Janis wrote something along the lines where the stronger groupthink existed (esprit de corps) less independent critical thinking could exist (to the point of inhuman and irrational actions). For more reading also try and understand some of Weick's work....
As a last note I fail to see how Perrow comes into work here. In my memory he made the important point of certain industries are too complex AND suffer from tight interaction which make them prone to accidents beyond the point where humans cannot longer effectively intervene. I believe his cultural (or better political) part came from the fact that certain groups of people (poor or otherwise with less influence) within a society have bigger changes to be effected by accidents of complex and tightly coupled systems. I stand to be corrected (but give me time to find the book somewhere in between the Christmas carols and fireworks )
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Old 26th Dec 2012, 16:31   #50 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by PJ2 View Post
That was Perrow's insight...that organizational values directly affect the work environment including the organization's safety culture. If individual employees perceive that there is an unwritten tolerance for deviations from SOPs then that is the organization's culture and that is how employees will behave.
This reminds me of how the Space Shuttle Columbia's accident investigation board described NASA's approach to safety.

The report, and I quote from MSNBC:

said NASA mission managers fell into the habit of accepting as normal some flaws in the shuttle system and tended to ignore or not recognize that these problems could foreshadow catastrophe. This was an “echo” of some root causes of the Challenger accident, the board said.

“These repeating patterns mean that flawed practices embedded in NASA’s organizational system continued for 20 years and made substantial contributions to both accidents,”

The space agency lacks “effective checks and balances, does not have an independent safety program and has not demonstrated the characteristics of a learning organization,” the board said in a stinging 248-page report.
“The board strongly believes that if these persistent, systemic flaws are not resolved, the scene is set for another accident,” the report said.
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Old 26th Dec 2012, 17:36   #51 (permalink)
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Re, "This reminds me of how the Space Shuttle Columbia's accident investigation board described NASA's approach to safety."

Diane Vaughan, writing in "The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture and Deviance at NASA", described the lowering of standards due to past successes as the "normalization of deviance." In the case of Challenger, successful launches occurred at lower temperatures with only moderate burn-through of the sealing O-rings. The engineers argued that launches had not occurred in such low temperatures but management over-ruled the engineers, citing history. Lack of resiliency was considered but until Feynman's now-famous demonstration with a small piece of O-ring, a pair of small vice-grip pliers and his glass of ice-water, the true effects of low temperatures had not been appreciated by the managers and leadership.

The important factor here, aside from normalization deviance is the "new" understanding of organizational behaviour that everyone thought they were doing exactly the right thing. It is a variation on the groupthink theme. Vaughan concluded that there had been no "amoral calculation", (intentional avoidance of standards, and/or negligence). The normalization of deviance concept made visible previously invisible organizational behaviour patterns.

The argument for SOP adherence is grounded in these notions. It can be successfully argued I think that individualism in cockpits, (where a pilot, or the captain makes up his own procedures) can and does work until it doesn't and there is a (perhaps preventable) accident.

In such circumstances the rest of the crew is on his/her own in terms of CRM and otherwise assisting. I argued this in the AF447 thread; - the PF launched individual actions (pitching up) on his own without announcing, (as required by SOPs), what he was doing, without calling for the ECAM actions (as required by SOPs), and, ignoring CRM SOPs by not responding to verbal interventions, (mild as they were) from the PNF.

Judgement is always required in flying airplanes and that is not inconsistent with SOPs. One must know when SOPs must be strictly adhered to for the safety of the flight, and when they must be flexible also to ensure the safety of the flight. Is the problem today not knowing that boundary? I don't know. I do know that despite a slavish requirements which sometimes do not appear to make sense, SOPs are an advancement in flight safety. I know this because as a young oiler I used to keep notes on every captain I flew with and that had ended by the time I had become a First Officer. The one case that comes to mind where a compromise in cockpit SOPs caused the loss of the aircraft and all on board is the Air Canada DC8 accident at Toronto in 1970. See p.91 - 98 of the Report, (give it a moment to load).

There is no argument today for a wholesale setting aside SOPs in favour of individually-created "safer" procedures, especially in air carrier operations.

Perhaps a question that would help here could be, "What circumstances might be more safely handled by varying or even ignoring SOPs, and what operational circumstances demand strict adherence to SOPs?" We all know that both circumstances do exist, otherwise the thread would not be so interesting!
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Old 26th Dec 2012, 18:11   #52 (permalink)
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SKYbrary - Airmanship Any operator striving for safety must have, apart from the mandatory programs like QA, FOQA etc. well established human resources manual addressing various topics but more importantly conveying a clear message of what the company's philosophy is.



I leave it to each and everyone to decide and choose.
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Old 27th Dec 2012, 12:09   #53 (permalink)
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There are two parts to this problem. There is undoubtably an issue of corporate culture that affects compliance with SOPS but there is, I believe, a more important issue: the quality of the company SOPS and regulatory instructions above it.

Where an operation has poor SOPS there is a high likelyhood that people will deviate from them. This results in the normalisation spoken about above.

Poor SOPS can come from a number of factors. But examples I can think of include inappropriate procedures (eg from a different aircraft type that don't apply), procedures resulting from incorrect risk assessment (eg a procedure designed to prevent a risk causes a different, greater one) and excessive procedures.

The last, in my humble opinion, is the biggest issue. We live in a world with a surfeit of lawyers and the answer to most incidents is 'write a rule' to prevent it happening again. This results in a complex interplay of legislation, manuals, memos etc that on paper should make us safer but in most cases rules overlap and contradict. It doesn't take much reading of PPRuNe to see how wide a variety of understandings there are of what rule applies when, before we even get to what is a good idea!

If we have an operation with a succinct set of rule of what shall and shall not be done coupled with guidance of what should be done and a clear understanding of which is which, it all works. People should and generally will follow the SOPS. But if we have a mixiblob of conflicting, impractical, and incorrect instructions coupled with so many pages of minutiae that no one can remember every rule people won't follow it.
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Old 27th Dec 2012, 13:05   #54 (permalink)
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headset rule

CAT.OP.MPA.215 Use of headset — aeroplanes
(a) Each flight crew member required to be on duty in the flight crew compartment shall wear a headset with boom microphone or equivalent. The headset shall be used as the primary device for voice communications with ATS:
(1) when on the ground:
(i) when receiving the ATC departure clearance via voice communication; and
(ii) when engines are running;
(2) when in flight:
(i) below transition altitude; or (ii) 10 000 ft, whichever is higher; and
(3) whenever deemed necessary by the commander.
(b) In the conditions of (a), the boom microphone or equivalent shall be in a position that permits its use for two-way radio communications.

Now can anyone tell me what's unreasonable bout this rule? We take it for granted that SOP are the best way to operate. Apart from SOPs there's OM A which also sets forth the framework we're all bound by. Last but not least an abundance of reading material was given with definitions, descriptions and examples to distinct speculations from solid theories. So far I've only come across one case where some of the procedures were modified from its' original version due to an attempt to establish a common procedure across all fleets, mainly Boeing and Bus. That's the worst an operator can do in my personal opinion. Part A is common grounds for operational strategy, tactics, policies etc. SOPs should be kept as it was intended by the manufacturer not at last due to easiest way to keep up with the updates and modifications.

Last edited by 9.G; 27th Dec 2012 at 13:07.
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Old 27th Dec 2012, 14:36   #55 (permalink)
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What's unreasonable about the rule?

There are times that we do use our headsets to obtain clearances. Guys have been flying for ages realize when it might be needed. Make it a regulation?

"Compton 3G, squawk 1234" requires a headset to understand?
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Old 27th Dec 2012, 15:17   #56 (permalink)
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Guys have been flying for ages realize when it might be needed. Make it a regulation?
the very same notion can be applied to English proficiency. Why all of the sudden after 100 years of aviation history make a reg bout the English proficiency? The answer is: due to hiccups in the past.

Neither am I against it nor for it I simply follow it.

Last edited by 9.G; 27th Dec 2012 at 15:19.
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Old 27th Dec 2012, 17:23   #57 (permalink)
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The two opposing camps

may actually agree with each other more than they suppose.I believe in airmanship and judgment,borne from experience and cognition.Airmanship will include many things and is often looked down upon by the SOP technocrats.But actually,the good SOP's,the ones that count and make pure sense as an aviator,come from airmanship.They are the lessons of dead men.So the "airmanship" camp do NOT disregard and disrespect the good SOP's because to do so would be poor airmanship.

Any procedure that is "trifling" is a waste.It adds nothing to airmanship whatsoever.It is there out of someone's misguided need for pedantry.

Example: It matters nothing that you wear a headset when receiving a clearance.What matters is that you hear the clearance,read it back correctly to ATC,and cross-check it with the flt plan and your colleague.If you cant hear it because of extraneous noise,then don your headset and ask ATC to repeat.You,as PILOT,decide this all on your own.

Example 2:It matters nothing which pilot enters the data in the FMC prior liftoff.You can quite easily work that out between yourselves as 2 adults..What matters is that ONE PILOT enters the data and the other pilot x-checks prior liftoff.Or if in flight,the PNF enters the data,the PF x-checks and then the PNF executes.It is the concept of one pilot doing and one pilot checking that is sacrosanct,nothing else.

ALL SOPS can and should be broken where appropiate.Knowing when comes from experience and knowledge.This includes things like we've already discussed like not climbing to flight plan-recommended LEVEL even though the FMC and your over-anxious FO says its okay to do so.Or foregoing checklist discipline to affect an immediate landing if the situation is bad.Or exceeding taxi speed if on a long backtrack and asked to expedite for traffic.Or staying above glidepath(if in a medium ac) to avoid wake if you anticipate it or experience it.Or as said before,two pilots both familiar with home base foregoing a briefing even though it is SOP and airmanship to do one.
All that is required is common sense and good judgment.If the SOP's are good,clear and simple then they'll hardly ever be conflicting.
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Old 28th Dec 2012, 15:52   #58 (permalink)
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Each flight crew member required to be on duty in the flight crew compartment shall wear a headset with boom microphone or equivalent. The headset shall be used as the primary device for voice communications with ATS:
(1) when on the ground:
(i) when receiving the ATC departure clearance via voice communication
Regulations like this among with countless retarded SOP's erode the respect for said regs and SOP's. Whats the purpose? Will the airplane fall down and kill people if the FO from far away misses his clearance the first time? Would the use of a headset enhance his comprehension of English? Is it practical to wear a noise cancelling headset during turnaround when you need to speak to the people around you?

Like in one company I was told they add an extra flap check on the list every time a management pilot forgets it. Quite a bit of said type of pilots like to put their mark on something, hence making up something silly in the SOP's. Look at Spanair, their 4 flap checks or so failed, is the answer to increase the amount of flap checks to 6? A well known company introduced Boeing 737's to their fleet with MD80/DC9 procedures, panel scan? what is that?

Some Ill-conceived SOP's are counter productive and ruin the whole purpose. A good guideline is that if you think you know better than Boeing how to operate an aircraft, you are on the wrong track.

I'm not advocating a departure from SOP's but offering ideas why they might not stick in a company.
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Old 28th Dec 2012, 16:39   #59 (permalink)
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RTO, the quote is not part of a SOP but a regulation and it's part of OM A. Let's start with comparing apples with apples. SOPs don't tell you to wear a uniform either but OM A does. In the end why do we need all those rules and regs. and SOPs if we all simply use common sense and act responsibly. Statistics prove otherwise. 70% of accidents are due to human failure. Go figure.
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 16:53   #60 (permalink)
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I feel somehow challenged to reply to post #54 where a link is provided to "airmanship". The following is not intended to nihilate the concept of "airmanship". I will try to bring forward arguments why this concept cannot serve as an explanation of certain behavior. Furthermore I will try to convince why this concept may even be counterproductive in an approach to safety.
Looking at the definition provided in the link (skybrary...) it makes use of the terms consistent, good and well developed. It is not clear from this definition what the reference point is to measure/compare these standards with. When is good, good enough? How well-developed does ones skills need to be? If I make an error on these skills or judgement do I cross the line between airmanship and not-airmanship? How small may the error be to be just on the edge, 5 kts or 10% of my judgments? It is impossible to score 10/10, as I am human and therefore prone to making (small) errors.
In my eyes it gets even worse when looking at the " corner stones" in the link provided, besides that these corner stones refer to the airmanship concept themselves (understanding the challenges posed to airmanship...). These cornerstones have such a wide range of descriptions it basically describes the pilot, all the skills, knowledge and attitudes are described. The way airmanship is described it will, at the surface, always apply and therefore must be correct (for the layman not willing to dig deeper). Not adhering to SOP or rules might be a "discipline" aspect of airmanship. The solution, according to this broad concept, can only be more airmanship (or discipline). It does not, however, gives us an explantion why or how pilots do not comply. Deeper questions and well argued (and possible measured) arguments will possible lead us to better solutions. This concept do not point us in that direction.
Looking with a broader view it is, in my opinion, just a way to describe how a professional is defined. Airmanship (seamanship, craftmanship...) is just a common denoter of a "professional" in the aviation world. Not an useful explanation of anything.
The danger I like to point out is that the concept of airmanship puts the "one at the sharp end" central. If we apply the definition of airmanship at the quoted 70% of accidents are human errors where do we need to improve? Look at the inconsistency of ones judgement, bad judgement or under developed skills? In other words remove the culprit from the scene and replace him/her with somebody with more airmanship... In hindsight it is always easy to find the errors, inconsistency, bad handling etc... in somebodies behavior. Especially if we establish where the bar of "good", "consistent" and " well developed" needs to be after the occurence. The airmanship concept fortifies these thoughts. Furthermore another result might be more rules/SOP to avoid the next bad airmanship experience.
If we use the "airmanship" concept carefully (in the bar, with a beer ) and look at human behavior with more detailed and refined concepts (and used by people with knowledge of these concepts AND aviation) we might be able to steer more in the direction where we can really make progress. Good examples are given in previous posts. Hopefully SMS concepts (and some more knowledgeable people in rule making/ government/ industry) will be able to step beyond "airmanship".
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