Old 1st Aug 2015, 10:16
  #61 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: last time I looked I was still here.
Posts: 4,509
Many year ago, my first airline, had a clear captain's landing policy in their Ops manual. Many years later, and via a circuitous career route, I arrived at a fledgling airline, but with many years in existence of permanent survival. I was a TRE DEC. During a sim recurrency LOFT exercise with SFO as PF we had an engine failure on departure with no option for return, but a 150nm diversion to a not overly long 'suitable runway' in rainy low cloud with CAT 1. I let the SFO continue as PF while I completed QRH and completed all the necessary communications with all necessary and relevant agencies and parties. This was after deciding on our further course of action and choice of airfield.
I told the SFO to continue with the arrival set up and brief for a standard STAR & ILS to a familiar diversion field. I then said that after all management issues were completed I would become PF at FL100 and land the a/c. This caused a raised eyebrow and a hesitant question, why. "Because it's my responsibility."
The TRE was H.O.T. In the debrief he and the SFO asked about my decisions. The SFO was trained to the same standard and was capable. I suggested that they had 3 years experience & I had 25. I explained that IMHO I was responsible for a/c in such a scenario. The XAA, pax & insurance company would expect it. The H.O.T did admit they had never thought about the issue.
A few months later the Ops manual contained a list of Captain's only landings. It included any reason that affected thrust, handling or significant extension in landing distance. Captains should use good judgement regarding weather. The consideration of a G/A in non-normal configuration should also be a consideration.
Every airline I've flown with had X-wind landing limits for F/O's. They were all less than max demonstrated. Common was newbies 15kts and experienced F/O's 2/3rds of any runway limitations including gusts. Any more and it was the captain's.
I understand the thoughts about new captains on type relative to more type experienced on type F/O's. There are merits in it, but ultimately there will be the debate of final responsibility should anything go wrong. I do not know if that argument has been tested by any XAA or insurance company. Should there be any pax injury I wonder what compensation lawyers would do about such a question in their claim against the airline. Has that ever been tested?
The whole issue may not be quite so simple as many think.
However, in a single type airline with a seniority list and little expansion (i.e. no non-type DEC's) it is a given that the captain will have much more experience than any F/O. Thus any argument about experience needs to be relevant to the airline & incident involved.
Sully is not the answer to everything non-normal, but who here, if F/O was PF, would have allowed them to ditch the a/c and not taken over?
To those who think otherwise about this whole issue I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. But it is an interesting industry-wide debate topic. I suspect there will be very different opinions in different cultural areas.
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