Old 20th Apr 2011, 16:52
  #28 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Orlando, FL, USA
Posts: 108

Thanks for your reply, which is appreciated and understood.

Before posting I had read BlueCoyote's post.

Let me begin by making clear that I have never been in or out of NZQN as pilot or passenger. I can't say I know the airport and I realize that it is located in mountainous terrain that requires special procedures.

Now that Phlanger has posted the New Zeland AIP for this airport, I have reviewed the 9 different published departure procedures and acknowledge their difficulties.

I further acknowledge that I know nothing of this incident other than what has been posted in this thread. There could very well be numerous extenuating circumstance of which I am unaware.

Notwhitstanding all of that, I do not think much differently than I did before. The pilot in question violated a company procedure. He did NOT violate the law.

1. Since the NZ authorities know enough about this airport to publish all of those detailed departure procedures it would appear that it was not too difficult for them to decide, as did the airline in question, that VFR departures made at twilight would not permit adequate margins of safety.

2. That being the case, I don't see it as difficult at all for them to include a specific pre-twilight limitation for departures specific to this airport. Nevertheless, they have failed to do so. I view that fact as negligence on the part of the authorities which, at the very least, is no less compromising of safety than the alleged actions of the pilot. Why then are they not being charged with criminal negligence?

3. If a difference of 12 minutes in the time of departure [between the actual time before twighlight (18 min) and the company procedure of 30 min] is great enough to require possibly putting this pilot in prison for a year, why is he the only one apparently held to this standard?

4. If the controller(s) knew that this departure (with less than a 30 minute window pre-twilight) was so risky as to "endanger the safety of flight", why did they authorize this aircraft to depart? At least on the surface, it would appear that they knew the departure was within the limits proscribed by law. They may or may not have known that it was not within the limits proscribed by the particular airline.

Should this pilot have violated his company's procedures? Of course not! However, I still maintain that the violation of a company procedure does NOT constitute criminal negligence; particularly if it does not also violate the CAR.

From my perspective, errors in judgment or operational practice committed by airline pilots in the course of flight operations should never be subject to criminal prosecution. I realize that in many jurisdictions of the world they are but, in my country they are not.

I respectfully submit that if such is to be the case, I would long since have been imprisoned instead of retiring without so much as scratching any aluminium over a 40+ year career. I would venture a guess that their are precious few in this profession, or in this forum, who could not have been my cell mates.

Such laws continue to strike me as ludicrous where ever they exist and serve no purpose other than the political exculpation or satisfaction of so-called "authorities."

If the Company believes this violation of policy was so onerous, then let them dismiss their pilot. Prosecutorial action is totally unwarranted in my view. I would go so far as to call it retarded in the 21st Century.
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