View Full Version : Command Decisions-what would you do?

D 7
22nd Sep 2008, 21:52
As a new/up and coming captain, I am forever asking myself-what would i do if.....

So i'd love to hear examples from other peoples experiences of those little things that could have happened or have happened whilst flying the line.

Examples i'm looking for are those that are not explained in the manuals, but are left to ourselves to decide the best course of action. These examples could be just scenarios that have never actually happened to you but may be worth thinking about.

I always wonder about landing after an engine failure on takeoff/climb out. Do you land over-weight? Or do you stay in close proximity to the field and hold until you are below max landing weight. (off course this is if fuel dumping is not an option). If holding, would you put the gear down to increase rate of fuel burn?

What about a bird strike? With no apparent or obvious damage do you return for landing after burning fuel to below max landing weight? Or, as there is no apparent damage-continue, knowing you will be grounded down route until an engineers inspection has been carried out and the aircraft signed off to return back to base?


Capt Claret
23rd Sep 2008, 00:11
D 7

DH8 Prop unscheduled auto feather - held overhead for emergency services toi get into place. Over kill in hindsight.
BAe146 flame out before acceleration altitude (turned out to be a faulty overspeed governor). Held till landing below MLW assured.
BAe146, lightning strike 60nm from departure. No LAME at next stop for inspection & aircraft well over MLW. Returned to departure aerodrome & held just off shore, explained situation to pax. Served meal whilst barrelling up & down coastal circuit with F18, speed brake out & gear down to increase fuel flow.

I'm in the camp that an engine failure, even in a twin, doesn't automatically constitute an emergency. Unless there were other indicators, I wouldn't expect to land over weight. If there were, such as vibration, erratic fuel flow on remaining engine, etc, then I would. A fire, even extinguished, would most likely see an overweight landing.

A medical emergency would also probably see an overweight landing. At the end of the day, I have ideas of what I MIGHT do, but save the decision on what I WILL do, for that point when I have all the facts to hand.

23rd Sep 2008, 00:20
ĎAs a new/up and coming captainí, one would hope that by now you had learned that the important aspect of judgement itís not what you do, it is ensuring that you understand the situation.
If the situation is clear then the solution is probably easy, use SOPs, or take the safest course of action. Understanding the situation 'clearly' might mean that you have missed something, so double check.
In difficult situations the required action probably depends on the context of the event, the situation and its content, how fast it is changing, or the options available to you. Almost certainly there is no perfect answer, only the safest. Take action, check the result, be prepared to change the plan Ė that means having plan B.
In any instance above, first fly the aircraft, then navigate, communicate, and manage the situation Ė think! Consider how good your thinking is, and still fly the aircraft.

See - http: / / airline-command (dot) ******** (dot) com - Airline Command

23rd Sep 2008, 01:31
Just one question. have you been sleeping in the right seat? Haven't you observed how your Captains went about their business? Did you care to get involved with him and his thoughts?

If you've been an FO for a while you SHOULD have a pretty good idea what goes on.

For most experienced F/O's command is no big deal, just take what you do now and move 3 feet left.

23rd Sep 2008, 02:19
Those questions sound like some of the DE Captains I've flown with in the past used to ask. :ugh:

Regarding non-critical overweight landings. Talk to dispatch and maintenance.

I've had to hold for 45 minutes and burn a significant amount of fuel (well, significant to me anyways) because maintenance didn't want an overweight landing. After the fact another AME looked it up and realized it would have only been a very simple inspection. Lesson learned.

Also, if you decide you won't be able to taxi clear of the runway after landing. Consider using a secondary runway at the airport if LDA is more than adequate for your A/C.

Congrats on the upgrade. And more importantly just remember the traits of the good and bad commanders you have had in the past and treat the rest of the crew accordingly.

Blown Seal
23rd Sep 2008, 05:23
Check out the following link for a great read on overweight landings:

AERO - Overweight Landing? Fuel Jettison? What To Consider (http://www.boeing.com/commercial/aeromagazine/articles/qtr_3_07/article_03_1.html)

23rd Sep 2008, 05:25
For me an engine failure in a twin means landing ASAP ie after all the checklists have been worked through and you are ready for an approach and landing. Landing above structural limits is a minor issue when compared to having subsequent issues with the one good engine you have left while waiting for the gross weight to work it's way down the the Max Landing Weight.

The only thing that I would say is check the landing distance required. You might be wanting to land on a wet or contaminated runway, or other braking systems might be unserviceable or reduced in functionality such as antiskid or spoilers.

If I remember correctly, the Swiss Air MD11 that went down in Canada did so partly because the Captain insisted on reducing the weight to below MLW rather than simply getting it on the ground straight away when they surely had the braking performance to do so.

That is an extreme example, but makes the point. You would look pretty stupid if you were down to one engine and you were holding 20 nm from the nearest airport dumping fuel or flying around with the gear down, and the good engine's oil pressure light came on.

Capt Claret
23rd Sep 2008, 07:01
If I remember correctly, the Swiss Air MD11 that went down in Canada did so partly because the Captain insisted on reducing the weight to below MLW rather than simply getting it on the ground straight away when they surely had the braking performance to do so.

I don't agree that this is a good argument for landing ASAP with an engine failure. The MD11 in question was on fire, caused by Kapton wiring, not because of an engine failure. It's certainly a good reason to land ASAP but got nothing to do with mandating an overweight landing after an engine failure.

23rd Sep 2008, 07:11
I agree with Capt Claret.......now the Swissair accident was 100% different.

If we were meant to fly we would have been born with wings, so there are accepted risks in what we do. It's how we manage them that counts. One Engine failed on a twin certainly IS a cause for concern but lets not get too carried away with the "what if's"

I mean how many problems can you forsee? Where do you draw the line and say this is accpetable?

It's up to the COMMANDER to make that decision ON THE DAY.

23rd Sep 2008, 08:43
Good point, that's what we teach the students

Maintain aircraft control
Obtain safe altitude
Analyse situation
Take appropriate action
Land as soon as neededDo not jump to conclusions and use all the crew resources, so let your copilot give his opinion. Communicate, it might stop you from jumping to the wrong conclusion.


23rd Sep 2008, 08:57
On a twin, with one engine remaining you should get it on the ground ASAP, it's not just a good idea, you are mandated to, naturally checking runway length is sufficient.

If it is I would not be concerned about landing overweight.

Gary Lager
23rd Sep 2008, 09:29
Not all situations which will test your decision-making are as a result of systems failures:

Recent example, flight to an airport in E. Europe with instrument approaches only to one runway.

Forecast/METAR tailwind is right on aircraft limits for landing, but the cloudbase is at/around circling minima. Not enough fuel could be carried to permit significant holding or a second approach.

Do you persist with the ILS and hope the tailwind stays below limits for landing, or break off for a circle and risk losing visual contact?

Either way the 'wrong' decision will result in a diversion (though not a failure in itself), and you recognise the adverse effect such self-imposed task-oriented pressure can have on your thought processes. It would be less stressful if there was only one option (tailwind well out of limits or very low cloud)! Such is life in the LHS.

I always work on the principle that I will have to stand in front of the CPs desk and explain myself. If that looks like it would be difficult to do, then the decision needs revising.

23rd Sep 2008, 10:01
Here is a `nightmare scenario` with which I am familiar.

Get airborne in a quad and receive a `specific` bomb warning soon after.
Now we all know that most warnings are hoaxes but ...................

Land overweight with it`s attendant hazards or hold off dumping for a considerable period?

Standby for incoming abuse!

23rd Sep 2008, 11:18
As for single engine on a twin, follow the qrh (for the 757 it says land at nearest suitable airport).

Good knowledge of non-technical skills will help you (Leadreship, Management, Decision Making, Situational Awareness and Team Work).

Take your time, when I first started I found that I would rush feet first into problems, now I take a deep breath and do things in slow time.

Use of decision making tools such as DODAR and FORDEC are useful.
Just my 5p.

D 7
23rd Sep 2008, 11:28
Gary Lager-great example, I suppose it just comes down to the day...what you feel is the safest thing to do, but as you say, if you can explain yourself and your actions then you are probably making the correct decision. Damned if you damned if you don't!

Not sure I totally agree with alf507ih. Surely what we're all trying to achieve in theses scenarios is the safe conclusion of the flight ie. minimum/no casualties and/or damage. I agree that understanding the problem is one of the biggest parts of the decision making process but is it not the outcome of the problem that we are all interested in ie. what you do about it?

23rd Sep 2008, 11:40
Specific bomb threat - Land ASAP and evacuate.

Used as an assessment question to up and coming captains by a company I worked for, "What would be an immediate action after receiving a specific bomb threat that you had a bomb in the wheel well bay?"
The answer is to get the gear down ASAP, allowing for gear door speeds etc. There is a chance the bomb will fall out but if it doesn't and goes off you may still be OK and you do have your gear down.

I wouldn't fly as a pax with an airline that flew twins and didn't instruct it's pilots to land ASAP after an engine failure.

23rd Sep 2008, 12:50
I stand by what I said.

There are always dangers everytime we step into an Aircraft and take it flying. Some people spend way too much time over analysing 100 different what if options and forget to fly the plane. Some have even run out of fuel while trouble shooting a problem.

You do what you need to do on the day to get the job done safely and efficiently. if that means you land PDQ following an Engine failure on a twin OR quad then that's your decision to make ON THE DAY.

The QRH says "land at the nearest SUITABLE airport"
It doesn't say "land at the nearest Airport immediatly"
It's up to you to determine WHICH airport you fancy and HOW quickly to do it. Every situation is different.

23rd Sep 2008, 12:55
If I get airborne and receive a message about a suspicious device planted on the Aircraft from my company I WILL treat it seriously. Land ASAP would most likely be a priority whilst following the QRH. ( depending on the type of device and it's location, if known, whilst following the recommendations of the experts )

Accept the overweight landing if the runway is long enough, which it will be on the 777 even at max t/o wt we could stop the 777 in around 5000' if we tried.

23rd Sep 2008, 13:13
I have to say that I agree with AC on this one!!:ok:

D 7
23rd Sep 2008, 13:29
Yup agree with ACMS on this too!

It was the previous comment regarding being 'asleep on the right hand seat' I found inappropriate. Thanks for the last post though. Some good points

23rd Sep 2008, 15:04
I always wonder about landing after an engine failure on takeoff/climb out. Do you land over-weight? Or do you stay in close proximity to the field and hold until you are below max landing weight. (off course this is if fuel dumping is not an option). If holding, would you put the gear down to increase rate of fuel burn?

Alf asked the question and I made the point using an extreme example of the Swiss Air disaster that you need to appreciate that there are some situations where structural landing weight limits are relatively trivial. In-cabin fire is one example. I would argue that being down to just one good engine is another.

Yes the chances of losing both engines on the same flight are extremely remote, but the fact that you already lost one engine does not make the loss of the remaining engine any less likely.

Just like when you walk up to a roulette wheel and you notice the last five rounds have been all reds. You figure the chances of the next number being a red is remote because the chances of having six reds in a row is 2x2x2x2x2x2= 1 in 64. But in fact the chances of the next number being red is still 1 in 2 (ignoring the green zero).

In fact getting back to the engines you could argue the chances of the remaining engine suffering an engine failure has just increased. After all they are of the same design and have things in common such as fuel supply and environmental conditions which may have contributed to the first engine failing.

Hope my point is clear now.

23rd Sep 2008, 20:12
as a new-ish captain who had exactly the same concerns.......

1. Trust YOUR judgement.
2. If in doubt, always default to the safe option, bu**er the accountants!
3. If in lots of doubt, ask your FO what he/she suggests. Gives a bit of thinking time.

In any unusual situation we'd all do something slightly different. Almost never a right or wrong answer. That's why we have pprune.......so we can have long protracted arguments afterwards.

oh and congrats, you'll love it!

23rd Sep 2008, 20:58
If you ever think that you need to put the aircraft on the ground, the weight must never be a limiting consideration.
Some pilots seem obsessed with this question of reducing to the limited landing weight. It should not be. Indeed, it is foolish to consider it so important, as the Swissair Captain seemed so to do.
The aircraft will not sustain irreparable damage if you land at the MTOW minus what you have burned in the time it takes you to prepare for the approach. It will merely need a check from the engineers.
My sailing instructor, who knew exactly what he was talking about, once told me; the first time you think you need to put a reef in a sail is the only time to do it.
So it is with an aircraft; if you think it should be on the ground ASAP, then now is the time to prepare for an approach.
Stop using words like 'nightmare scenario' and concentrate on the facts of the situation.
Flames, smoke, dying pax, serious bomb threat.........land ASAP
Engine run down, system failure or other non-critical event, by all means reduce weight.
It is not a lottery or a gamble, it is common sense.

Capt Claret
23rd Sep 2008, 22:25
stilton where is it mandated that one lands ASAP after an engine failure in a twin? The Australian CAO even gives approval to overfly the nearest suitable, provided consideration is given to several factors, terrain and performance being just two of them.

I'm not advocating flying hundreds of miles on one engine only as a routine matter. But, unless there were contrary indications, I'd have no problem holding in close vicinity to the aerodrome and waiting until < MLW.

If landing ASAP is so high a priority, should I land on a road or salt lake if hundreds of miles from a suitable aerodrome?

The last down to the ground QRH i used was on the DH8. For several abnormals it did say land ASAP. But for an engine fire, or an engine failure, and they were different entries, it said land at the nearest suitable.

Stan Woolley
23rd Sep 2008, 22:26
I would have no hesitation at all landing overweight after an engine failure as long as the performance allowed it.

744 or 737 no difference in philosophy.(If the decision on the 744 was to land rather than continue)

People seem happier to fly around on one now than they did in the past? Etops maybe?

Or is it the same attitude that leads us to say 'Just a minor problem' when it really isn't that minor?

Mach trim
24th Sep 2008, 01:14
Prepare for the worst and hope for the best

24th Sep 2008, 10:22
With regard to my previous posting about bomb warnings and immediate overweight landings I had hoped to open the discussion up to include RELATIVE RISKS. Most posters seem to have concentrated on what is aircraft possible whilst ignoring possible other risks.
It is an unfortunate fact of my past 40 years in aviation that every successful aircraft bombing has occurred with NO PRIOR WARNING and all other given warnings have been hoaxes.
My personal interest stems from being (as a duty travelling crewmember) once involved in a full aircraft diversion and subsequent evacuation via the slides for what proved to be a hoax. I have also experienced an overweight landing (+80 tonnes) due to multiple engine damage from bird ingestions.

Note please that I am not advocating ANY particular course of action here. I am simply pointing out, as I think the original poster wanted, some thought processes that need to be made.
One always has to be sure that one is not creating even greater safety hazards by being too quick to act. eg. Yes the aircraft can be landed quickly but a brake fire may mean that an unnecessary evacuation is required which will almost certainly injure people. eg. Having landed OK does one slowly taxy to a remote stand or evacuate (see above)

In short there are NO complete answers just a balance of risks to be made by the captain on the day.

25th Sep 2008, 00:23
Know that salvation isnt always in the QRH.You may have to interpret (eg fuel filter contamination..QRH states flameout possible but doesnt say anything about diverting) or there may not be a procedure at all...electrical bus isolation with smoke when over water..some checklists for elec smoke can be very rudimentary in an effort not to distract you from the land asap principle..
Interpretation of QRH is down to experience and judgement..eg,with fuel filter bypass on one side and several available alternates,perhaps continue..with bypass on both sides and few alternates,obviously not.

super ted123
25th Sep 2008, 01:21
Hi D7,

I am a new captain and also had similar concerns before and during my training.

I would try to think of all the things that could go wrong on the aircraft I fly.

Quite often I had flying friends and colleagues stumped with my impossible scenarios, but thatís really what they were.

Since passing the course and thoroughly enjoying it, I have had a number of interesting events, fumes in the cockpit, a number of gear indication problems and one genuine nose gear stuck in the retracted position.

The first thing I like to do in these situations is really nothing at all.

Ensure who ever is flying the aircraft continues to do so, memory items if required and a quick mental check on our fuel and hence time available, and then, and only then look at what we have. The speed at which this all happens depends on the problem of course but I was taught by a friend never to rush, think and move quickly but donít rush.

I really enjoy being in the left hand seat now, it is a challenge but it is also very rewarding to deal with the problems that arise, and to learn from them so the next time you can do it better.

You will make the decisions based on the information you have at the time, use your crew (part of mine often have vastly more flying experience than I do!) and they have a wealth of knowledge, use it wisely.

Generate options, select the best fit and always re assess once you action it. Things change and the original plan may need a tweak, or other, better options may present themselves if you are actively looking for them.

Regarding the nose gear incident, it was my FO who had seen it before and had the solution. Sure, the checklist would have got the gear down had it been followed to completion but it would have resulted in a long and costly re fit once on the ground.

One particular captain I had the pleasure to fly with was just fantastic. He worked hard to create a relaxed but professional cockpit that was a pleasure to work in. I always felt I could ask questions, put forward ideas and that my opinion was valued. I think that encourages the guys to speak up and put things forward. I'm confident it wonít be the last time a good FO helps me out and though I am far from perfect I do try and emulate flying with that captain. If only I could be as funny!

Re the engine failure in a twin, if one on the aircraft I fly fails then all the checklists will be completed and we will land as soon as possible, overweight at a suitable airfield. Without rushing of course ;)

All the best and enjoy it.


25th Sep 2008, 01:30
What about an engine failure (2 eng ac) during app in landing config?
Continue landing with too much flaps?
Reconfigure to single eng flap setting?

25th Sep 2008, 02:08
land that plane Maverick.:}

On the 777 you can leave flap at 25 or 30 if you wish OR select Flap 20 and bug up a little.

Depends on what Go Around climb perf you wanted.

quote from the 777 FCOM:

All engine inoperative approaches are to be carried out at FLAPS 20, unless landing
distance limited, when FLAPS 30 will be used. If an engine failure occurs after
selection of FLAPS 30 on approach, Flaps 30 may be used for landing, unless
go-around performance requires a FLAPS 20 approach.

25th Sep 2008, 02:16
The problem with "scenarios" is that (as evidenced here) there are often many ways to "skin a cat". Command is really about the demonstrated ability to make decisions. That ability doesn't mean a snap decision for every scenario you might face. The most important ability is the ability to manage. There are very few situations that require an immediate critical response. The most important things that you will need to manage are the resources available to you. Chief amongst these are time and space. Give yourself enough of both to suit the situation. Far too many people faced with an emergency or non normal situation rush to a solution. This often results in insufficient time or ground distance to execute a tidy conclusion to a problem. The other equally important resource is your crew. As part of your command management, you should properly bring them into your solution as quickly as time allows. Also don't forget all the other resources available to you, ATC, emergency services,operations and engineering. Communicate the situation as early as time permits and for all those resources, you will become the most important aircraft in the sky.

Becoming a commander will not make you a font of all knowledge, or provide immunity from bad decisions. However it will mean that somebody has judged you have good management abilities, and you should use that as the basis for ongoing improvement for the rest of your career. Inevitably you will make mistakes and continue to learn from them. Others should also be able to learn from you. Time critical decisions are normally recall items, or practiced simulator exercises, however any situation should be effectively managed by you, even as is often the case it means listening to, discussing with, and sanctioning decisions that are made by other members of your crew. Again within the bounds of what you assess to be reasonable, give people the space and time to come to their decisions as well. The only other advice I can give, is where possible (and it almost always is), always have a "plan B" or an escape route. Any decision made by or endorsed by you, belongs to you. As such you have the right to modify, change or abandon it as the situation warrants.

Enjoy your command.

25th Sep 2008, 12:34
"All engine inoperative approaches are to be carried out at FLAPS 20, unless landing
distance limited, when FLAPS 30 will be used. If an engine failure occurs after
selection of FLAPS 30 on approach, Flaps 30 may be used for landing, unless
go-around performance requires a FLAPS 20 approach".

It is probably bleedin obvious but why are we concerning ourselves with GA requirements with all engines inop.?

25th Sep 2008, 12:53
Now Son, one more thing before I let you loose..................try and do anything stupid as slowly as possible.

Sounded condascending at the time but after experiencing life in the left it taught me the calm mind is a thinking mind.

25th Sep 2008, 13:41
It is probably bleedin obvious but why are we concerning ourselves with GA requirements with all engines inop.?

Yeah I see what you mean now. Hadn't looked at it that way before, I guess It's kind of funny.

25th Sep 2008, 16:30
It is probably bleedin obvious but why are we concerning ourselves with GA requirements with all engines inop.?

Methinks this is what they intended:

"All one engine inoperative approaches..."

as opposed to

"All all engine inoperative approaches..."

If that's the case, why they didn't :mad: write that I don't know - to save ink maybe? Ha, I'm off for a lie down in a dark cupboard :}

25th Sep 2008, 18:03
I don't see anyone replying about the bird strike?

25th Sep 2008, 19:07
I have been a Captain for only 1.5 years and I can remember rolling around in bed wondering "what would I do?", just like you are. I suggest what everyone else is recommending:

use common sense,
know your plane and company policies,
and play it safe.

Everything else will fall into place on its own. Before I knew it, I took the controls from an FO during an unstabilized approach, I decided to delay my take off or approach for weather, elected to go to the alternate instead of attempting an approach into bad weather, and refused to go with MEL'd items. I still got struck by lightning on my first month after IOE, so maybe you shouldn't listen to me, but I know what you are feeling.

Good luck. Congratulations.


PS- I've killed many birds. Every time we've hit one I was able to see it was a small bird prior to hearing or feeling the impact. Thank God the worse thing has been having to write the reports, always non-events.

25th Sep 2008, 22:24
As for the birds; if there have been a few bumps around the nose or whizzing past the windows, then simply check all the engine, config and aircon parameters, if normal, continue the flight.
If the gear won't come up or the config warning sounds with the gear up or the smell in the cabin is like grossly overcooked BBQ'd chicken or the oil or fuel temp. is climbing steadily, then it's a no brainer, as our colonial friends say. Land at the nearest suitable airport.

25th Sep 2008, 23:25
Multicultural yes, Colonial No!!(colonial relates to the period of Australian history pre-1901 i.e before Federation).

Stick that in ya pipe ya Pommie Git!

26th Sep 2008, 05:23
Most, if not all of my bird strikes have been on landing.

If you suspect birds are in the area then turn on all your landing lights.

Just like when driving your car the birds see the lights and move. ( most of the time, sometimes they move the wrong way )

26th Sep 2008, 19:24
I had a case when passing 5000 feet in the climb during night , speed 250 and all lights on we managed to hit 2 birds on the nose of the a/c. We checked everything imaginable from speed indications, pressurisation, engine parameters, unusual noise , vibrations, even looked through the windscreen with the flash light.All was normal! Couldn't tell a lot about the size of the birds due to darkness. We decided to continue only to discover upon arrival that the radome was cracked so a/c grounded.
Guess we were not that lucky :ouch:

D 7
26th Sep 2008, 19:59
This really is an interesting read....thanks for all your inputs. Great to hear all your experiances.

On the topic of the birdstrikes, is it not most company's policies that if a bird strike is suspected, the aircraft is grounded until an engineer inspects the aircraft? So in the case of even a small bird or two hitting the aircraft with no apparant damage, on landing the aircraft is grounded until such an inspection is carried out?

Seems a little un-neccessary if it is just a small bump with evrything else normal.

Capt Claret
26th Sep 2008, 22:30
I've had so many bird strikes, that for a period the Ops people called me a chick magnet, and they weren't being complementary. Every single bird strike was in an aeroplane with the lights on, so I don't believe that lighting has much influence on the birds. Where's CanuckBirdstrike when one wants him?

Interestingly, I've only had one bird strike in the three years I've been flying the 717.

As for actions: I've rejected one takoff, bird down #4 @ < 80 kts. Other takeoff strike actions have depended on engineering support at next stop and advice from ATC as to evidence on the runway. Most strikes have been on landing. Very few have been felt or heard, I've just seen the birds in close proximity to the aircraft.

26th Sep 2008, 23:55
Capt Claret:

Sorry been off doing day one of recurrent simulator.

While you may be a "chick magnet" lights are a proven strategy to reduce the chance of birds strikes - not radar as we have disccussed on this forum many times. Without a lot of details on the actual events I can't offer any reasoned explanation other than bird type and altitude coupled with aircraft phase of flight and wind can have a huge effect on how birds detect aircraft and react.

On the issue of what to do after a bird strike, there are no firm answers. One thing to bear in mind is that if you have taken a bird in to an engine and there "appears" to be no damage, be very careful, there are documented cases of the damage not being detectible and then the engine failing at a later time or when inspected, damage requiring repair being found. When in doubt I will return for an inspection.

The same concept can apply to airframe damage. You may not think that the airframe is damaged, but it is. What is most interesting is that on fly-by-wire aircraft there is no direct feedback to the controls from the surfaces and they may be damaged or experiencing flutter from other damaged airframe parts and you cannot detect it. This type of event has already occurred with an A320 after sustaining FOD to the stabilizer on takeoff.

The key word is caution. Aircraft and engine certification standards for bird strikes are very basic and do not contemplate encounters with very large birds (above 8 lbs), multiple larger birds (above 4 lbs) or the damage/failure of multiple systems. This can occur when you encounter a flock of gulls or waterfowl.

Two things I always remember:

1. Be very cognizant of bird activity and delay approaches or takeoffs if required.

2. Don't fly above 250 knots below 10,000 feet. The machinery was not really designed for bird impacts at high speed and the higher you go the bigger the bird you are likely to hit. Impact force goes up proportionally to weight and as the square of the speed.

Bird strikes have the potential to put an aircraft into a damage scenario that will test your decision making, CRM and pilot handling skills to the maximum. Past events have include multiple engine damage and failure along with pitot static damage or engine failure, slat damage and loss of hydraulics. Events that we do not train for on a regular basis and are not directly part of the certification matrix.

Off for dinner and then studying before round two early tomorrow morning.

27th Sep 2008, 07:45
Congrats on the upcoming command.Here's my two cents worth.

Sometimes one gets a failure after take off ( any systems malfunction) thats not "too" serious. Example s single hydraulic system failure or a flap or a gear problem.You would be surprised how many elect to enter a holding pettern (close to departure airport) whilst solving the problem , talking to company etc etc.
Given the minimum amounts of fuel we carry this could really snooker you if you were to say "solve" the problem , as you may effectively have thrown away your destination.

What I propose is to ( terrrain permitting) continue on route( off course assuming its not time critical problem) , working checklists , liasing with company bla bla. If it then is resolved , on you go all the way to destination. If it then requires a return then ,now is when you divert.

Another obvious one ( or so I thought) that I have seen in the simulator is configuration. When you have abnormals , this is not the time to plug a hole in one and achieve the stabilisation criteria exactly at the gate.
Slow it down and drag it in ( again it depends on certian checklist requirements) , but in general , drag the bastard in , so you get that out of the way and you have one less thing to worry about.

Know when to throw away the rules. I have seen candidates in the simulator with an unextinguishable engine fire after take off (followed by a visual circuit to land )really get it wrong by trying to follow the rules. , eg they overshoot centreline turning final or find themselves a little high on final. So they try "correct" it whilst comlplying with max allowable sink rates and bank angles , only to be way high at short final or badly positioned to land. I reckon throw the BS out the window ( if its burning) , crank it over , push it down ( I dont care if its shouting at me) and do what is required to "Fix" it as much as possible.
so you have broken every rule to arrive in the slot at 500 feet or later. But in a position after a crap approach to make a safe landing. ( this is never trained).

Another not so abvious one is to learn a couple of " canned" PA announcements. The last thing you want is to mumble on to your pax about all the technical details bla bla BS. Just have your " abnormal" PA in your mind and blast it off almost automatically.

on the ground with doors open , delegate , delegate , delegate. let the groundstaff handle the ground stuff.

Ultimately though on the day you are dammed if you do dammed if you dont. Thats the burden of command.

Best of luck.

27th Sep 2008, 10:12
On the topic of the birdstrikes, is it not most company's policies that if a bird strike is suspected, the aircraft is grounded until an engineer inspects the aircraft? So in the case of even a small bird or two hitting the aircraft with no apparant damage, on landing the aircraft is grounded until such an inspection is carried out?

I've never seen that be that be the case.

As for lights...they certainly haven't prevented any of my bird strikes...including ones that took out the illuminated lights. Or the two significant ones that occured above 10,000', at night.

27th Sep 2008, 10:49
1. Aviate
2. Navigate
3. Communicate

27th Sep 2008, 14:21
I concur with your post. Bird strikes can and do cause major damage.

I had a JT8D destroyed on a B737 - take-off
A Conway on a B707 totalled on approach - engine continued to run but the throttle only produced a change in EGT and not RPM
Multiple birds (12 +) through #2 and #4 CFM56 on an A340 resulting in Vibs of 7.5 and 9.5 respectfully. The N1 blades on one engine were turned through 90degrees for their last 12ins. N1 appeared normal but the `puff` was definitely not there!
Faulty ADC caused by the TAT probe being `full of squashed bird`
Most interestingly, has a strike passing 15,000ft at 320kts on a B747-200 at NIGHT near Bahrain. It hit above my window with a colossul bang a large dent later found. I don`t know what type of large bird flys at these height.