Thread: AF447
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Old 28th Jun 2009, 03:41
  #2441 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: HK
Posts: 94
Bit harsh on the FO's


I have been crossing the recently demonized ITCZ in a 330 anywhere from 4-8 times a month, for quite a number of years.

I've read with much interest over the last few weeks, but refrained from making comment as there were more than enough self opinionated posters willing to display their significant knowledge, or for some, appalling ignorance.

However, on the 'opinions' recently posted about the scenario of the two FO's in control when the accident happened, I feel many posters are being a little harsh on summizing how they may have acted incorrectly.

It makes me realise how blinkered or rigid some people are when you get quotes like:
I expressed the opinion that I would not expect a Captain to 'take his rest' with the ITCZ to cross and 6-7 hours of relative peace to follow. I was somewhat surprised yesterday to hear from a 5 year retired BA 747 trainer friend that in his life the system was very 'rigid' and that rest would be taken 'on schedule'.
I have frequently taken rest during the 'crossing'. Like all aviation situations, you weigh up the pro's and con's, and take the best of what is often, all the bad choices presented to you. For instance, the weather at destination may require more of your concentration later, than the crossing of the ITCZ now. Consequently, with a competant well briefed and trained crew, there is no great drama in taking rest during that period. That said, if the experience or competancy levels of my particular crew on a given night were suspect, then would I take my rest then, probably not. But am I rigid in when I take my rest, definately not.

Me Myself
My opinion is that, regardless of the talent of the chaps sitting up front, there is a breach in the chain of command. No one is really in charge and in a dire situation like the one 447 encountered, there is no way you can have ONE single person in command who makes the life saving call.
Of the gentlemen, (and some ladies), who I leave in charge when I am resting, I am in no doubt that they take on the responsibility fully when I leave the flight deck, and yes ONE person is in charge. I may perhaps sow some seeds of thought concerning terrain or depressurisation aspects, or even perhaps ask that they keep a strategic lateral offset in, when not manouevering around weather, however they know they are in charge, and that they make all the decisions. Again, I have no doubt that the relief commander/pilot in charge would take a similar course of action to what I would do, were I to have been in the seat, because of the next quote:

FO's aren't tested to the same level as captains.
I'd hate to work for that airline!
Where I work, the right seat guys are tested to, and expected to perform to, exactly the same standards as the skipper. Most of the crew in the right seat are there because of time in the company, not because of lack of ability. Indeed, many of our crew have the seniority for a command, but opt to stay in the right seat in order to remain on their chosen base.

Maybe I am very lucky to fly with a very professional outfit, and often it comes down to "would I put my wife and kids on a jet if this guy was in command", and when as in most occasions the answer is yes, I may take my rest crossing the ITCZ.

So as far as the AF copilots go, how about giving them a little more credit that some of our rigid minded posters have done.
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