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Old 16th May 2001, 20:07
  #48 (permalink)  
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Don't mean to offend, Flanker. I work with a good bunch of guys and we discuss our job and what we see going wrong a lot. I find there are some who have done it the same way with one company for many years and firmly believe that their way is the best. They resist even considering different ideas. No two airlines are the same, but if you look at the differences from Boeing procedures, hardly any of the changes stands up to scrutiny.
Some airlines like to have what they call "Standardization" whereby when they buy a 744 they try to maintain the 747 classic procedures, to assist crews in upgrading. They try to marry the checklists and operating procedures for the hydraulics and flight controls, and so on. In the process they dumb down the 744. When all the classics are gone, they still have the dumbed down procedures. But if you are brought up in that environment, you will not even be aware that it has shortcomings.
Some airlines even dumb down the new generation airplanes such as the 733 so that they can operate it with the 732 using the same crews. In this instance they remove the ability of the crews to use LNAV/VNAV and even Alt Capture. Again, what happens when the 732s are retired? Meanwhile the crews in this company get used to this and are not aware that it is a pretty silly way to do it.
But an even more insidious problem is not with guys like you, who obviously care about the profession and take some time to think. The bigger worry is the newbies, who have never had the chance to see it done right, and have never been taught how to think. They fly the airplane in a rote manner, with the management writing rules and regulations every day to cover the eventualities they can imagine their crews might have to face. If the pilots follow the procedures, they think, they will know what to do.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to cover all the possibilities and for the crews to remember all of the procedures. Sometimes the problem is not easy to diagnose and the wrong procedure will be followed.
Far better to train the crews to think and to use judgement and experience. What we used to call airmanship.
Like the starving villager, if you give him a fish you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish he will be able to feed himself.
This is what the Boeing procedures do. They emphasise the basics and if followed, will cover all normal and non-normal situations, resulting in safe and efficient flight. A pilot who knows how to think does not need to be told what altitude he must have to carry out a fire drill after takeoff. A pilot who is trained to operate by rote will need to be told. This type of pilot will never be better than adequate.