View Full Version : Unofficial SOP’s

2nd Feb 2004, 21:50
I was prompted to write this after reading the thread(s) about B737 Bus Lights over on tech-log and the different ways in which we seem to operate the same aircraft.

I think we probably all acknowledge that the definitive way to do anything is that which is published by Boeing in the Vol 1, 2, QRH or FCTM (or your manufacturers equivalent). However on top of that you have to overlay your individual companies manuals and SOP’s, these are also legally binding because they have been approved by their countries regulatory authorities. Before you know where you are, you find yourself having to look in 5 books to see if you are doing something the “correct” way.

Unfortunately there is a third level of “unofficial SOP’s” which filter down to the line from people who flew the same type for a different company, people who flew a different type for the same company, trainers/managers with their own theories or just line pilots who may have heard or read something, perhaps even on these pages.

Many of these USOP’s are founded on personal experience, technical knowledge, hearsay, superstition (OK perhaps not!) or just plain airmanship. I myself have a few of these USOP’s which I have developed for probably all of the above reasons.

In general I think that to have a couple of these is probably harmless. But where it becomes a problem is when you the Captain try and impose them on your poor F/O as gospel or when they start to interfere with the normal flow of operations. I know I have been guilty of this in the past and it really takes some self discipline to look at your own operation and stick precisely to the printed word, wherever it may be written!

Perhaps an example would help. The author of the generators on-line thread referred to above (whom I know to be a very experienced operator of the type) asks “Is it SOP to check the AC meters before putting the generators on-line?” I am sure that technically the answer is no, but it is surely good airmanship and most people do it. The problem arises when a Captain, or even worse a trainer, picks up an F/O for not doing it and the conclusion is drawn that the poor chap is in some way lacking in diligence.

So where am I going with this rant? What is my solution? I don’t know. I suppose I am asking: Is it possible, or even desirable, that we should all operate the same type of aircraft in exactly the same way regardless of which airline we work for?, that way no cross fertilisation of USOP’s would be possible and it would surely be safer because we would all be operating “the correct way”. After all, we can’t all be operating the “correct” way at the moment, even if we think we are.

I once spoke to a 737 pilot who said he had flown them for five different airlines and they all flew them differently and of course each airline thought they flew it the standard Boeing way. How can this be possible in an industry where every step is written down in such fine detail? A clue might be that my own airline bought the books straight from Boeing six years ago and have been tweaking the SOP’s with memos ever since. Now, a further question is Where does that leave us legally if, god forbid, we have an accident? Will the lawyers say “Your airlines SOP’s might be the best we have ever seen, but they are not the correct ones – pay up.”.

I’d better stop now before my soap-box gives way. Thoughts please…


3rd Feb 2004, 01:32
I retired from BA a couple of years ago after 30 years. During that career I flew many different types, using entirely different operating philosophies. After a few years I found, somewhat to my surprise, that it didn't matter too much which operating system was used PROVIDED everybody used the same one.

Latterly BA changed to a standardised system across the fleets, making conversions much easier. Obviously fleet specific procedures override the standard system.

I would imagine that an individual pilot is cast iron legally provided that he/she was following SOPs. An airline might be legally at risk if it were shown that it had modified manufacturer's procedures, but that is not a line pilot's problem.

Unofficial items like “Is it SOP to check the AC meters before putting the generators on-line?” often tend to follow the experiences/prejudices of the chief instructor or technical manager, and are generally not of great importance. On modern aircraft AC will not connect unless volts and frquency are correct - if this is not the case the manufacturer will specify checking. The USOP may reflect the chief trainer's experience from a previous type, and will often have become set in wet concrete as fleet policy.

Different airlines may well operate say the 737NG in very different ways. They all have had to demonstrate to their CAA/FAA etc. their competence to do so. The fact that 737 NGs do not drop out of the sky with great frequency shows that their particular operating philosophy works. In short, there is no "correct" way to operate an aircraft.

3rd Feb 2004, 01:57

You throw the comment about the lawyers getting invovled reference SOP's. It is easy to say that because things are approved they must be correct and safe. I've seen manuals issued to crews, especially the cabin crew books, that are so full of mistakes that they cannot have been read and studied by the approving authority. This is also borne out by the very short interval between the manuls being submitted and their approval issued. There is no way they can have been read and studied over. The authorities just trust the FLT OPS department as being responsible for their own skins and equipment; it would seem.

(comments welcome from those in the know)

I wonder what the consequence would be in an incident where the crew slavishly followed the SOP, even though due to airmanship and other experience they were doubtful about them, the proverbial hit the fan, metal was bent etc. Could the lawyers intervene and charge the crew with neligent airmanship, even though they followed the SOP's? Perhaps a little unlikely, but I highlight this because it is true that, sometimes, we all think we have a better way to do somethings, and the occaisional SOP seems either plain wrong, unnecessary or just dumb, however we are nuked if we don't follow it.

3rd Feb 2004, 02:45
All for SOPs but also reminded of Trenchards remarks that rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men (and women now I presume!) - by the way I am not ex military either!

It can be confusing for new FOs in particular when instructor pilots give (well meaning) advice which might SEEM to contradict the SOPs. Some matters do, I feel, come under the umbrella of Airmanship although they may not be "technically" in the SOPS. Checking the volts etc before putting a genny on line may not be required from a systems point of view but I seem to recall that on the B737 it was a good idea to check the volts etc before putting ground power on line in case the friendly ground crew chappie had selected the wrong parameters on his all singing dancing GPU!! Maybe this is where this habit has come from.

My advice is to have an open mind and take the bits you like from your experienced training captains since its based on a lot of hard experience! Get into the books and learn about the systems and see whether they are right. If they are worth their salt they will only be too glad to discuss your findings since this is how we all learn. That said SOPs are precisely that and should be adhered to but remember that Lord Nelson disobeyed orders to win a decisive battle but remember that if anything goes wrong its on your own head if you have not followed the SOPS!

3rd Feb 2004, 03:28
As Budjie says,after a few years one can decide the 'wheat from the chaff'regarding the information flow.It would be great to 'follow' the SOP's as they're suggested from the Manufacturer,but Individual Flt Ops Dep
artments have Chief Pilots?Fleet Managers who think up their own"Right way"(Company culture) of doing things..Next you have the training Dept,doing what the Fleet manager 'meant' by stipulating it that way.Then the Checkies dispensing their interpretation of what was said at the Checkpilots meeting(after a Beer lunch),or aren't abrest of the latest SOP amendment?
The only place it MAY come to fruition is the Quality of Sim' rides-did the guys do anything like the Standard in print???
One of the general Complaints ,throughout the Industry and the AirForces of the world is the Lack of Bull sessions between pilot groups(Bad weather stand downs/flight canx)whereas Pilots could raise questions and hear some experienced wisdom(in the eye of the beholder-wheat/chaff)..ergo junior pilots have Lost an opportunity the Learn from the mistakes of others etc...
Nowadays there is a little more Communucation between Co's Flt OPs Depts,to compare how 'simpsons'do it..
F/o's, with the advent of CRM ,can also quietly raise the question" thats awfully interesting information Captn,where Might I find it in the Reference/Manual??".......

3rd Feb 2004, 04:46
Spent my best years flying for my national and then headed to Europe. First people that I flew with here were Brit's and boy were they dissapointed when they found that I'd never heard of "altitude checks" every 10,000 feet! In some airlines 5,000 feet! I should've been dead years ago. So should my entire airl;ine have been.

I, quite honestly, still don't place the that much importance in them (even though I now do them) as my colleagues do... Given that the actual clearance and physical dialing in of the altitude are my (and my countrymen's) altitude checks, I find it difficult to see the importance of these (new) altitude checks. (For those who don't know what I'm on about: in some British airlines, each time an aircraft passes an altitude divisible by 10,000 they call out something to the effect of "Passing 20,000 feet for FL350, set, safe and armed").

Well, since we all do these checks, and most are convinced that they are promoting safe flight, I guess that they must be a good thing. Even if all that they do is to keep us talking to each other and ensure that we all (try) to stick to the SOP's. At the end of the day, I personally have learned a great deal more from grey bearded old men with their own little quircks than I have from the SOP that I blindly follow in my daily routine.

3rd Feb 2004, 04:58
126.9 - how right you are!

The 10,000 ft altimeter check is a throw back to the days of 3 pointer altimeters which were easy to misread by 10,000 ft. Old habits die hard and your example is a good one!

3rd Feb 2004, 06:19
Budgie69, you say that “BA changed to a standardised system across the fleets, making conversions much easier.” Is this not part of the problem, ie that you are trying to operate the aircraft the BA way rather than the Boeing way. If it is the BA way to check the generator voltage (say) on the majority of its fleets, it will become the SOP to check it on all for commonality across all fleets – presumably to make conversions easier.

Rat5, I have been involved in writing Ops Manuals and I had to submit all amendments to my FOI for his approval before I could issue them to my crews. Therefore they should have proof read them at the very least and also agreed with and approved the changes. I would like to think that was top cover if anything went wrong as a result of a badly written SOP, but I bet it wouldn’t be.

Fireflybob, good advice for how to play it as an F/O but I was trying to get to the bottom of what we all think is the correct direction to go in the future.

It seems that many airlines are going off in their own direction as regards SOP’s and even checklists to the extent that one airlines way of operating the same aircraft is almost unrecognisable from another’s. Whilst this may be OK for the majors with all their collective experience, is it safe for a younger airline to be tweaking their brand new Airbus SOP’s to fit their existing Boeing fleets (say) or vice versa?

Surely it would be better if we all (globally) operated the same types exactly the same way, then between us all we could find the best way to operate each type from our huge collective experience base.

Tell me guys, if we could do it, would it be a step forwards, backwards or would it not make an ounce of difference?

S & L

3rd Feb 2004, 06:27
The 10,000 ft altimeter check is a throw back to the days of 3 pointer altimeters which were easy to misread by 10,000 ft

Not quite how I understand it. The calls at 10 & 20k (ie not 30 or 40 (or 50 & 60 in one type)) are an altimeter setting check, to make sure you have set 1013 on them after passing TA. Obviously in europe the 20k check is a bit superflous as Trans alt is always under 10K (I think ) but it is useful in the States where TA can be 18k - and as mentioned elsewhere Big Airways like to have the same SOP's across fleets wherever possible.

3rd Feb 2004, 08:15
But wouldn't you cross check the altimeters after you have set 1013 on climb or QNH on descent?

Why specifically check them at 10 and 20 k?

OK the 10k call is there for other reasons - perhaps pressurisation on the way up and/or MSA going down etc.

I can assure you that the check every 10,000 ft originated because of misreading 3 pointer altimeters and it stuck after the servo altimeter (with digital readout) become commonplace.

3rd Feb 2004, 08:36
I do not have great faith in the theory that the manufacturer knows the best and only way of operating an aircraft. An Airline that has operated a large fleet for many years may well come across items that need to be changed in their/Manufacturers procedures. Unfortunately in these litigious days company lawyers say don't change or we might be sued. I suspect , However, that a more realistic argument might be the opposite "if you knew this why didn't you change it"

3rd Feb 2004, 16:49
Oh wow, this is a goody! :D

Some years ago, just after my arrival from darkest Africa, I was sitting in the back of a Company 747 on a positioning flight, just about to start my refresher training with the FO and FE whom had joined with me.

After landing, the active crew had to turn the aircraft around at the end of the runway and backtrack. I noticed that the handling pilot veered from the runway centreline to approximately halfway across the left side of the runway, and then threw a U turn into the handle at the runway end. Where I come from, one simply remains on the centreline, then follows the yellow line into the handle and back out again onto the centreline. (I guess some of you know what I mean?)

I remarked to the other two crew that I thought that this was a bit of an odd way of turning a B747 around and that I'd not seen it done that way before (flying for 20 years). They were bothe quite astounded since (they assured me) that was EXACTLY the way Mr Boeing wanted it done.

Quite embarrassed I left the subject there until sometime later when I got home. I sent a fax off to Boeing requesting clarification with regards to the tirnaround method approved by Mr Boeing. The reply was simple: the method used in Darkest Africa is the original Boeing procedure. The other method used by UK operators, was approved by Boeing at the request of BA, some many years ago. :ok:

Harry again
3rd Feb 2004, 17:15
What a can of worms.

May I start by saying that the people least qualified to write SOPs are the manufacturers. They do not operate a fleet of aircraft in revenue service; they will not gain experience over a period of time of doing so; they are primarily in the 'welding and wiring' business, not in the business of managing an air operation; they have no first-hand knowledge of the nature of the operation or the operators (pilots) involved, and they sell their aircraft to operators of widely varying cultures.

Whilst, for example, US operators insist upon qualifying their First Officers to a lower standard than their commanders, I accept that their SOPs might best reflect this. However, when the manufacturer writes SOPs to provide for an under-competent First Officer, and these are blindly adopted by operators elsewhere who qualify both flight deck crew members to the same standard, then the SOPs are effectively 'dumbing down' the operation.

One other reason why manfuacturers should have their wings clipped... Whilst a major manufacturer is capable of writing SOPs such as the following, they are clearly incompetent to do so... On one aircraft, the manufacturer says that to instruct the PNF to set clean speed, the PF should say 'Bug up'. This occurs at a time when selecting the 'flaps up' will create a Staines-type event. This exact confusion has happened more than a few times, and yet continues.

Another example concerns Start Levers which have two positions, 'Idle' and 'Cutoff'. For those in training converting from piston-engined aircraft, 'Idle cut-off' means 'shut the engine down'. Really, 'Stop' and 'Run', or some other alternative. Dr Simon Bennett's book 'Human Error - by design' is a good primer on the issue.

So, operators should write their SOPs. They may wish to take limited guidance from manufacturers, but until manufacturers start to address some very basic human issues, they should not, and should not be permitted to, dictate how their aircraft are flown.

White Knight
3rd Feb 2004, 17:46
The 10,20 and 30 K checks are good practice for altimeter accuracy checks for flight into RVSM airspace:ok: :ok:

3rd Feb 2004, 19:57
Harry Again. You may have good personal reasons for not trusting manufacturer's SOP's but at least you can be sure that a lot of R&D have gone into the design of their SOP's. The big manufacturer's test pilots are experts in their field and I for one am perfectly happy to accept their recommendations. I know those recommendations are based on handling facts - not some four bar and a star check captains personal hobby horse opinion.

In the airline industry local SOP's change with the wind - or when a new broom is promoted.

Have you ever seen the myriad ways that a simple engine failure/fire after take off in a 737 or 727 for example is presented as an SOP by different operators flying the identical aircraft type?

I have, and it all becomes a grand Shakespearean act of who says what and who pulls which and who confirms what.

Rider of the Purple Sage
3rd Feb 2004, 21:03
Have to agree with Hudson. We have management pilots who seem to justify their existence changing SOPs. I've seen flaps UP, IN, and ZERO for example, all within the last few years. I've seen POWER SET and THRUST SET, SETTING POWER and SET POWER in the same timeframe. All good for zealous linecheckers' debriefs.

I've seen calls for 10k and 5k then 10k again, and the actions and checks at each point changed. I can honestly say I've seen so many SOP changes in one company, that I am surprised the Authority allowed it - it gets so you really DO have to stop and think before actioning anything, though perversely maybe that's not all bad.

On the Authority and the checking of manuals, I have been stunned by the pure illogical layout and contradictory content within just one manual; dificult to believe ANYONE has proof read it. Likewise notices to crews, frequently issued without thought, needing instant revisions, and hence more complications. Still, I suppose it is work creation of a kind.

Give me a good old fashioned pilot's notes as originally written by the production test pilot any day.

3rd Feb 2004, 22:36
I agree with Harry - What the manufacturer and what an airline is trying to achieve are worlds apart to some degree. However with my limited jet experience I have seen two sets of SOP's for a regional jet which are also worlds apart. One set was designed by a group of pilots who tried to turn a CRJ operation into an A320 op and currently an operation which is so simplified that it borders on VFR ops. My preference is for the latter since it allows for more situational awareness and brain space. Most management pilots I feel have the best intentions in designing SOP's (they are only trying to protect us as we dont have the same outstanding skill level they obviously have!!) but they forget that if you keep the blue bit at the top and point the nose where you want to go generally things work out OK.
Safe Flying

5th Feb 2004, 15:29
Every change from the Manufacturers' SOPs is a result of a stuff up by a Management pilot. Why? Because they are the only ones who can change them.

On a more serious note, the 10000/20000 feet checks may just prove that both pilots have the wrong pressure setting.

Harry again
5th Feb 2004, 17:55
Having flown with manufacturers test teams, I can vouch that they are very good at 'maintenance' test flying, use hardly any SOPs, and certainly don't operate the aircraft in a manner reminiscent of an airline operation.

...and you say they should define the SOPs for us?

Rider, power is electrical; thrust comes from engines.

You're spot on about manuals though. Some companies seem not to have one literate person in the whole flight ops department.

5th Feb 2004, 18:40
The 10,20,30 altimeter check is gradually becoming redundant - like many other checks we have to do because they are written as SOPs. On the Airbus, a difference between Capt and F/O altimeter settings for more than a few seconds, or an actual significant difference in altimeter readings between three systems produces a Master Caution Warning.

5th Feb 2004, 19:16
Harry again
Rider, power is electrical; thrust comes from engines That is one completely unfounded statement! The basic mathematical formula for Power is Mass x Acceleration over Time and Distance (P = M x A/T). In determining Power, clearly the use of the Speed Formula (Speed=Distance/Time) and the Acceleration Formula (Acceleration=Change in Velocity/Time) are paramount. THRUST, on the other hand, is a FORCE. Force=Mass x Acceleration. It therefore stands to reason that, in aviation terms, thrust is generated through the application of power, and no batteries or generators are required.

Now stick that in your SOP! :ok:

6th Feb 2004, 19:35
Interesting subject....for me Budgie69 sumed it up in His/Her 1st Para.
Doesn't matter to much (provided it's safe)what we do so long as we all do it the same, eitherway the job gets done( Flying before you say it!!) OK maybe some systems are more efficient than others,Imagine flying a fleet with Hundreds of People all doing the job differently. SOP's evolve through Environmental, Regulatory, Cultural needs, Manufactures recommendations, Experience (hard knock's) and other factors, until we operate in a Homogeneous World I believe it is probably better to "taylor" each Operators SOP's to suit their needs.
Regardless, SOP's are a tool designed to enhance safety.

I tend to think to much (SOP) talking is a case of "less is more" particuarly in the critical phase of flight, One can "switch off" particuarly if you are flying multi-sector days in/with trying conditions/people. the Altimeter thing sounds like a throw back from the "Black & White dial Boy's"

Agreed nothing "gets my Goat" more than Instructors teaching and grading "Technique" as SOP. The same goes for poorly written Memo's/reports/SOP's etc, this has long been an indication that Pilots are not Academics, infact at times they are barely literate, (myself included!)The Maint log is usually testimony to this. Anyway m2cw...
"Select Flaps two zero or to zero???"

bugg smasher
6th Feb 2004, 19:58
“Whilst, for example, US operators insist upon qualifying their First Officers to a lower standard than their commanders, I accept that their SOPs might best reflect this. However, when the manufacturer writes SOPs to provide for an under-competent First Officer, and these are blindly adopted by operators elsewhere who qualify both flight deck crew members to the same standard, then the SOPs are effectively 'dumbing down' the operation.”

Perhaps, Harry darling, you might provide us an example or two of “dumbed-down” US operator SOP’s, or a recent accident/incident attributed to “under-competent” FO’s. And while you’re at, make sure to lower your nose once in a while, tends to prevent collisions with things like lamp posts and telephone poles.

Harry again
7th Feb 2004, 15:02
OK, ok, yes, yes, 126.9...

I know all about power etc, the point I was making is that for the purpose of discussion on the flight deck, 'power' should relate to electrical issues, 'thrust' to engine ones. It is by achieving simple and effective definitions such as this that effective flight deck communication may be achieved. Too often, use of ambiguous terminology plays a part in creating confusion and incidents. This is true in the ATC world too - agood parallel being the sector numbers in use at LACC, which lack the immediate clarity of the sector names used at LATCC.

10th Feb 2004, 08:08
Well done Harry again!!! Thanks for making that decision on behalf of a 100 year old industry!!! :ooh: Boy, am I glad that you came along and rescued me (and others) after 20 years in aviation not knowing that my (and aviation's) use of the terminology Power and Thrust were that confusing.

One small piece of advice though: If your going to make a completely unfounded and blatantly ignorant statement such as the first one above, try not to defend it later with precursors such as "SHOULD relate to..." or by redefining well established, clearly understood and completely unambiguous terms such as POWER or THRUST. :yuk:

Harry again
10th Feb 2004, 09:50
126.9, I offerthe following for your consideration...

If I call and say 'mayday etc we have lost thrust' you will grasp what I mean quite rapidly...

If call and say 'mayday etc we have lost power' you will have to seek clarification... Have they lost power (electrical), or thrust?

So, my point is made. Yes, the industry is 100 years old, but it's nowhere near perfect. I fly often enough with FOs who speak English only as a second language. Perhaps some clarity of terminology might assist our operation...

...and you would be well advised to adopt a more conciliatory tone in this forum. Some of us have been there and got the T-shirt regarding 1000s of jet hours, management experience, academic qualifications, etc. A little mutual respect would go a long way.

Finally, 'power and thrust'... 'completely unambiguous'... You jest!

10th Feb 2004, 12:02
>>“Whilst, for example, US operators insist upon qualifying their First Officers to a lower standard than their commanders, I accept that their SOPs might best reflect this. <<

Well, I've flown with Brits and Americans and have a couple of expat British style ATPL's and a U.S. ATP.

Americans are far less concerned about ego and standing on ceremony in the air, some of this is cultural, a lot of it is from recent CRM philosophy.

Brits are obsessed with detail stuff like R/T procedures (you can see the endless stream of threads on the subject here). Americans figure that if you say it loud enough and long enough, they'll eventually get the message. We can't call out flight levels below 180 correctly for love or money. We're more concerned about how much time off we have and how much money we make. Our respective pay rates and R/T procedures continue to reflect these differences in emphasis.

Procedurally, we Americans like to keep things as simple and foolproof as possible. In the British system, the more extra callouts (like every 5000 feet of altitude) and busy work involved, the better the SOP's. Similar differences are found in the licensing systems (and fee structures).

In the British system, a high checkride failure rate means the standards are high, in the U.S. system it means the training is lousy.

I'm told the British love of procedural complexity in aviation comes from the sailing days when things were made intentionally difficult so the enlisted men couldn't mutiny and run the ship themselves.

Loose rivets
10th Feb 2004, 13:52
As one of the merry band that started raising a digit signifying that there was one thousand to go, I have little to offer apart from anecdotal recollections. But one is a gem.

Strolling back to my DC3 at Sumbrough, a training captain, cagoules a colleague to tell the story of his 10,000 error. The captain of one of the most famous incidents in the world, was being checked out on the fleet, having been canned from a good job flying a Viscount with nnnnnnn nnnnnnnn airways.

It seems he was in the hold, at X-teen thousand feet when he encountered a five-bar gate and a ( Seemingly smooth) meadow. Happily, it was quite the most benign crash. But the punch line came when he said... Sic. " And do you know old boy, when we went back to look at the crash sight, it was EXACTLY in the correct position in the hold." The story goes on to say how the little green 10k light at the top right of the altimeter, was named after him.

10th Feb 2004, 16:19
I offer the following: should you lose engine power and wish to declare an emergency, then use the standard phraseology and terminology, which suggests that you state Engine Failure as the cause of your predicament. Certainly on the airplanes that I fly, even an EPR shortfall is concerned an engine failure.

Furthermore, should you be absolutely hell-bent on the use of either "power" or "thrust," either word, preceeded by the word "engine" would suffice...? So yes; when any of the above terms are used intelligently, they are completely unambiguous! :ok:

I too have flown with people who's first language is not English. This particular statement, to me, implies multi-lingualism. That in itself, implies a level of intelligence somewhat above average. I personally (as a tri-lingual person) would hesitate to assume that English terminology is as ambiguous or confusing as you make it seem. Simple education in the correct use of the present terms is all that is required, as opposed to redefining the meanings of power or thrust.

Mutual respect on the other hand is something quite different. In my opinion it comes not from T-Shirts purchased nor thousands of jet hours, (which I too have done and forgotten about) but rather it is earned throughout a lifetime of reliable consistency.

With regards to my unconciliatory tone: I do sincerely apologise!

10th Feb 2004, 16:21
I'm from a different industry, but I think there are parallels. We design large and complex oil and gas plants. During the design process we spend literally thousands of hours developing the safety case for the facility, and thousands more hours documenting the design. We then develop procedures that describe how the facility is intended to be operated. The safety case is embedded in the design, and the design reflects the safety case.

However hard we try, I have never seen a documentation set for a complex plant which accurately captured in an assimilatable form all the underlying thinking of the designers. We tell the operator how we expect him to react in a given set of circumstances, and try to make his decision process as simple and intuitive as possible. To keep it simple, we do not try to explain in detail why it is the way it is: the reason you need hundreds of specialists to design the thing in the first place is that one person cannot understand all of it.

It never ceases to amaze me that the operators of the plants we design are quite happy to tinker with the immaculate conception almost on a whim. The more 'sophisticated' the operator, the more likely this is to happen. In my experience, he will invest roughly two orders of magnitude less effort in changing the operating procedures than we spent in developing them. Either he is very smart, or we are very dumb.

I would suggest if you buy a commercial jet from someone like Boeing or Airbus, there has to be an underlying assumption that they know more about how it is intended to work than you do. Rewriting the SOPs is then both high risk and arrogant: if the SOPs are wrong, make it safer for everyone by making your case for change to the manufacturer. If you change them on your own, ultimately, the law of unintended consequences will catch you out, and something, maybe people, will break or get broken.

bugg smasher
10th Feb 2004, 22:45
“...and you would be well advised to adopt a more conciliatory tone in this forum”

A little advice you should perhaps take to heart yourself, Harry.

“mayday etc we have lost thrust”

“'mayday etc we have lost power'”

The above stinks of ‘under-competent’. You may be in aviation Harry, but you are certainly not a professional pilot, please see 126.9’s post for proper phraseology.

11th Feb 2004, 01:07
One of the things which never failed to fascinate me as a young F/O in a large fleet was the number of different ways there were of doing essentialy the same job. Most if not all the Captains of were war time veterans, few had much co-pilot time. They were a bunch of interesting but generaly conflicting ideas. One cherry picked what seemed to work well and avoided other more bizarre practices. It was a rough and ready method of operating but extremely interesting. SOP's is definitely the way to go but we managed reasonably well without and I was priviliged to have observed then many different techniques of getting from A to B... oh, and the absolute assurance with which each felt as they did so, that their way was the 'right' way!

bugg smasher
11th Feb 2004, 06:17

Unofficial SOP’s have more to do with technique, that is, the different ways an aircraft can be flown to achieve the same end. There are at least three ways to perform a crosswind landing, for example, but only two of them I know that work well for the tires. Some companies mandate one or the other in their ops manuals, I prefer to leave it to the discretion of the operating pilot.

The agenda some posters here seem to have, that being the deliberate disregard of manufacturer directives (they only built the thing, they don’t fly it), is something you rightly object to. In the case of your complex power plant, I don’t really know how many of your procedures are open to interpretation, but I would guess not many. In the operation of large aircraft, we follow the strictest of manufacturer-generated guidelines, all of our emergency and abnormal procedures are standardized, sequentially itemized in our checklists, and cross-checked by both pilots (ideally) in the performance thereof. It is not the only way to fly, but it is far and away the safest and most lawyer-free.

Anyone on these pages who tells you different is talking sh@t.

11th Feb 2004, 06:41
Anyone on these pages who tells you different is talking sh@t. Unless of course, someone on these pages is telling you that your company, having mandated that cross-control crosswind landings, in a sweptwing aircraft, are absolutely not a good idea, is telling you the same...? :ok:

11th Feb 2004, 16:07
As I recall there are a number of items over the years not covered by manufacturers checklists. 737 pitch-up roll-off, 747 ground-air switch position in error. In both these cases operators changed drills before Boeing got their act together. I'm sure there are lots more which only goes to show some items only show up after prolonged operations.

bugg smasher
11th Feb 2004, 23:02
Exactly, 126.9, interesting how some individuals in certain companies are able to exert undue influence, and have their personal opinions written into the flying manuals.

BusyB, point taken. I think, though, you refer more to ‘teething’ problems associated with newly introduced aircraft than any negligence and/or obvious oversight on the part of the manufacturer. In the various and many minutiae of the flying game, things are bound to pop up occasionally.

11th Feb 2004, 23:53
As far as the ground air switch goes Boeing didn't change the checklists until 1990, when was the 1st 747. As for the 737, when BA had their PU/RO Boeing then admitted 9 previous incidents they hadn't warned BA of!

bugg smasher
12th Feb 2004, 07:40
Would characterize that, BusyB, as gross negligence on the part of Boeing?

29th Feb 2004, 16:22
Are there any operators that don’t write their own SOPs and just use the manufacturer's manuals as is or with minimum of alterations and additional information as needed to comply with JAR OPS?