View Full Version : Any UK pilots think life in USA would be better?

6th Feb 2009, 18:24
I would like to start this by saying that I am not a pilot or engineer, simply a SLF, so please forgive me if some of my statements are simple or technically inaccurate.

I have watched in awe and amazement over the last few weeks at the news coverage regarding Capt Sully and Crew. They appear to have done a fantastic job and well deserve the credit that they are receiving. The public support and high regard is a pleasure to see and it gives the whole country good motivation and a feeling of happiness. At a time when there is so much unhappiness in the world I think it is important to find something that increases moral.

USA have always been leaders when it comes to self promoting and celebrating strengths so the publicity at the time and the continued media coverage is of no surprise. Unfortunately I live in the UK and things appear to be the complete opposite.

Let me explain:

Exactly 52 weeks before the Hudson River ditching there was the British Airways 38 crash into Heathrow. 17 Jan 2008.
From my limited technical knowledge the BA38 lost (what may as well be described) power to both engines less than 700ft out. They had 35 seconds from knowing they had a problem to impact. The Capt delegated the F/O to continue flying whilst he diagnosed the problem. The F/O did a remarkable job in keeping his calm and flew the aircraft. The Capt realised that if they continued on the glide slope they were travelling on that they would end up hitting buildings. The Capt altered the flap settings which gave them extra lift, which was just enough to clear the perimeter fence by 7ft.

All 152 people on board survived, there were 13 injuries, the worst being a broken leg. The flight crew and CSD were paraded in front of the media the following day for a press conference. The crash happened on the Thurs and the newspapers were full of the crash until the Sunday.

Based on the 2 crashes both planes lost both engines before landing. They both managed to land the aircraft and prevent loss of lives. Had they handled the situation differently, both could have resulted in the lives of the people on board the aircraft and a huge amount on the ground. Both Captains did the best for their own aircraft: Capt Burkill chose to diagnose the problem and moved the flaps which got them over the perimeter fence. Capt Sullenberger chose to fly the aircraft and ditched perfectly.

The families of the BA flight crew were told to "get out of your house before nightfall". There was no help in getting alternative accommodation, but it had to be done as they were told that they could not talk to the press. However, both pilots wives did end up giving an interview to the press but it was all done very low key and I believe both pilots were reprimanded for allowing their wives to talk. I know Capt Burkill's wife was paid a fee for a story, but this is what kept their heads above water whilst Capt Burkill was off work and so on a reduced salary following the crash.

In USA they actively promoted that Capt Sully's wife remain in the comfort of her own home. At a time when all is chaos to have some sort of normality must have been a great benefit. She gave a small but poignant interview on the Fri which would have been great for her to publically be able to say how proud she was of her husband. BUT it also showed the nation/world the human side of Capt Sully.

The UK have divulged little information regarding the BA crash, stating that they could not say anything until the AAIB report was released. The pilots were effectively "hiding from the press" and no information was being given to the general public so negative rumours can easily spread. I have not read all of the BA38 thread but I've scrolled through bits and see the negative comments that have been left regarding the actions of Capt Burkill. I know that this is a rumour site but some of the comments are quite horrible and I hope one day Capt Burkill will be able to talk and put everyone straight as to what he did and why he did it, and so be able to defend himself.

Yet in USA the Mayor of New York was within hours giving praise and saying what the actions of the flight crew had been. (some of which are inaccurate now). However, the point is that although Capt Sully did not give a press conference straight away, information from various sources was actively produced. All very positive information and I feel based on this, there is little space for negative rumours - or rather when someone starts to question something negatively, the comment is squashed completely.

It is human nature. When you have no info to hand, people tend to make it up.

I have heard that the British Airways cabin crew from the crash were told that they "would not be financially disadvantaged" following the crash if they stayed off work. However the pilots have been financially disadvantaged as they were not paid the extra allowance they get when they are out of the country. Whether you think it is right or wrong that the pilots get this allowance is irrelevant. What is relevant is that surely they should have been treated in the same manner as the cabin crew and received the same out of country allowance that they got?

How do I have some of this information? I live in the city where Capt Burkill lives and although I do not know him personally, I do know people who know him, for this reason a lot of my info is hearsay or taken from newspapers. My local papers occassionally run an update on him and in our city we love him. He is always charming and courteous.

After all the hype around the crash I honestly expected that the pilots would have got an honour from the Queen at New Year for "services to the community". But nothing. Why can't the UK give self praise and honour where praise is due? I know that Capt Burkill continually objects to being called a hero and was embarrassed about having that term put on him, he simply says he was doing his job. Ok maybe he isn't a hero but he is a fantastic pilot.

I admire how Capt Sully is being treated in USA and it angers me that Capt Burkill has not been treated in the same way. I can imagine the year Capt Burkill has just had will be the opposite that Capt Sully is about to have.
So why is it that 2 similar situations are handled differently from country to country? Here in the UK we are still interested in the Hudson River crash and I am sure if you missed the ATC recording on the news you would have checked it out on the internet. We are still interested as the media coverage is still there. Yet I know that there is a ATC recording floating around of the last minute of Capt Burkills flight, yet this has not been leaked and shown on the news.

From this forum it clearly shows that the Hudson crash has already been viewed more than 40,000 times more than BA38. I can only assume this is because of the huge media attention this incident has been given in the USA, and hence the numbers are boosted by a bigger audience; ie from the USA. How many americans who are so interested in the Hudson River crash have even heard of the BA38?

I have also noticed that Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Blue (I think that's his USA spin-off?) has apparantly offered Capt Sullenberger a job at twice his current salary. This cannot impress his pilots he already employs surely? I cannot see how a British union would allow for Virgin to recruit a direct entry captain and pay him double the rest of the pilots in the company. I am sure Branson knows this as well so what is the ulterior motive to this suggestion? I would make the assumption that he is no doubt using this as a tool to generate dollar sales into profit (due to the declining pound) and capitalising on the USA interest in this forum; hoping that Americans will want to buy Virgin tickets because he offered their hero a well paid job!

Unfortunately this once again goes back to my point about the UK not celebrating their heroes. The basics of both crashes as I mention earlier are similar as in engines die, close to ground and heavily built up area, no deaths. Capt Sully landed on water, Capt Burkill on land. I cannot see how the water bit is more important than the land bit (?sorry and explanations gratefully received). So if both Captains did a fantastic job why did we not hear this job offer to Capt Burkill? Could Branson not allow himself to praise a BA pilot or was there simply not enough money to be had from doing it?

For those of you in USA yes you do have a hero who did a fantastic job. But we also have heroes here in the UK, we just have a very stiff upper lip and cannot praise ourselves as a nation.

So for all you UK pilots if you are ever in the awful position of being in such a crash I wouldn't hold your breath thinking you are going to be treated well in this country.

Safe flying all of you.

6th Feb 2009, 19:57
I think you misunderstand what the pilots want. Not to be lauded as heroes, feted as life savers or any of that. They merely want not to be blamed and have their actions officially recognised as correct, without backbiting criticism. Sad to say, the BA038 incident has been the subject of vicious nasty (and untrue) rumours, incredibly regularly repeated on this board. I don't think Sully really wants the adulation he has got (and the attention from SRB!). I can't speak for them, but the 038 crew no doubt (IMO!) desperately wish they had not been involved, and those unpleasant backbiters would stop peddling false rumours. I tremendously admire both crews equally- a fantastic achievement in the time available with not a single fatal outcome in two accidents. But neither crew need riding on a chariot into Rome for tributes!

Jimmy Macintosh
6th Feb 2009, 20:05
Still half way through your post but want to make a quick note.

The US lost both engines on take off, BA lost them on final approach.

Now I've finished reading the post,

There were a lot of differences between the crashes which produced most of the different responses.

It was clear from the beginning that the US flight ditching was caused by FOD. All the investigation is going to show is that birds went into the engine and they stopped working.

The BA flight no one knew why they lost power.

There were a lot of decisions to be made for the US flight, each choice made appears to be the correct one for the right outcome.

The BA flight was committed to landing, it was on a stabilized approach, the descision was to land were they were pointing. It was excellent judgement to balloon the aircraft to get it over the fence.

Unfortunately there have a been a couple of crashes in the US flight region that caused a huge loss of life, the towers then a year or so later an airbus crashing into a neighbourhood. It's got to be a huge relief to see an amazing outcome like this.

Outside of those, it's just typical of the UK to assume guilty/wrong doing rather than applaud the outcome. In the US there is a higher level of patriotism and want of Heroes than the UK, I see Stars and Stripes hanging off most of the buildings around here, saw a Union Jack once in the UK.

As Rainboe says most pilots don't want all of the attention.

6th Feb 2009, 22:01
Rather unbelievably, flying a Union Flag in the UK is regarded as troublemaking, and indeed, people have been prosecuted by their local Councils for doing so. It is regarded as very right wing, and 'wrong'.

Don't ask me why.

West Coast
7th Feb 2009, 01:48
flying a Union Flag in the UK is regarded as troublemaking

I had to read that a few times. Not that I don't believe you, unfortunately I do. Love to see someone come try and tell some RM fresh back from risking all that the Union Jack has to come down.

Be great if somehow Sully was made aware of his fellow glider pilots problems. He has a lot of clout now, might be able to put it to good use.

Loose rivets
7th Feb 2009, 06:13
Coo, nearly fourteen and a half thousand letters - making 3,300 words. I'm outclassed. :(

7th Feb 2009, 06:34
There are some things in which the U.K. might be a bit behind the U.S.A. just as there are other things where the U.S.A. lags a bit.

To single out these two crashes as broadly typical of how each country treats airline crew is not quite right, for a reason already pointed out: the New York crash had a seemingly clear cause and a fortunate outcome from what might well have been a complete disaster with many casualties. The Heathrow crash can easily be made out to have been a bungled routine landing where a perfectly sound aircraft was written off and passengers were injured.

In the case of the New York crash we can expect armchair aviators to run this on Microsoft Flight Simulator and grease their crippled Airbus onto Runway XX at Teterboro, La Guardia or Kennedy Airports or perhaps the Sheep Meadow in Central Park... thus proving that ditching in the Hudson was completely the wrong thing to do. Or it turns out that the crew should have known how to dodge wayward Canada geese or whatever. Dweebs live among us!

In the case of the Heathrow crash, given that the cause is unknown to date, of course it would be extremely foolish of BA to laud the crew's actions until it is proven that they did not contribute to this mysterious loss of thrust. Not that one should make that assumption, just that this risk is present, with the red-top papers ever-ready to jump in with yet another "Passengers screamed in terror as jet made death plunge," story that makes out the crew and BA to be homicidal lunatics.

There you do have a U.K. problem, I think, always being so quick to want to see denigration instead of praise. Or you could put this down to having a very free press. Choose one, or both.

It is interesting that when there is a crash in the States where it is fairly clear that the crew got it very badly wrong (as in a recent one where they lined up on completely the wrong, far too short and unlit to boot, runway, simply not watching what they were doing there, killing everyone but the co-pilot) there just doesn't seem to be the same level of overheated prose you might expect. Non-events such as a bit of negative g in turbulence are written up as "death plunges" yet real, serious crashes do not seem to attract a proportionate level of excitement, almost as if these reporters are really quite stupid.

You do get the rare example of thoughtful writing about a crash, such as the recent piece in "Vanity Fair" about that mid-air over the Amazon jungle but these stand out not just for their excellence but their rarity.

I think the general public have short attention spans and also a very basic wish not to be informed about the real risks of whizzing through the stratosphere in thin alloy tubes. That they are far more at risk travelling down here on the ground is something that goes ignored in the same way as the risks inherent in flying.

Remember that by definition half the general public world-wide are of sub-normal intelligence, when that thought might cheer you up in knowing that this is not some problem, how we react to unusual events, that is unique to the U.S.A. or the U.K.

7th Feb 2009, 09:17
by definition half the general public world-wide are of sub-normal intelligence,

That includes you if you think below average = sub-normal! Most of the 'sub-normal' 11 year olds in my school read and write better than lots of contributors here.


7th Feb 2009, 10:07
Average or normal intelligence or whatever term you want to use is defined as an I.Q. of 100, isn't it?

You have a graph with a so-called bell curve showing most people clustered around 100 and a steep fall-off from there in both directions so that people with either very low or very high I.Q.s are rare.

Mensa, for instance, sets an I.Q. of 140 or above as their joining requirement, which puts one in the top 2% of the general population for intelligence, what we used to call a "genius."

Someone with an I.Q. around 70 can have a hard time just getting by in normal life unless they manage to get a job in aviation management since they are what we used to call a "moron."

There's no useful distinction between an I.Q. of 100 and one of either 95 or 105, no, but one fairly could describe even someone with an I.Q. of 99 as "sub-normal" simply because that is so! I was just having a small joke there, I guess.

You often find people who confuse ignorance with stupidity. There are a lot of things I don't know but that doesn't mean that I am stupid. I might be but I might just be ignorant.

I have no idea about 11 year-olds in Wales. I only passed through that benighted place (just saying that it was dark and rainy) on the way to and from Ireland on the ferry, plus I did have a professional colleague from there with a curiously lilting way of speech and the nickname of "Sheep," supposedly something or other to do with his being Welsh but I didn't ask what that was.

Is it so that the Welsh are exceptionally intelligent? Please tell me more. Perhaps some of the English, Scots or Irish posting here can help me with this question. You know how it is with we Yanks, knowing so little of the outside world as we do...

Also, could you tell me what that "Sheep" business was all about? As far as I knew he flew helicopters for a living and had nothing to do with agriculture.

7th Feb 2009, 10:19
I agree that the pilots in any crash would rather not take huge publicity. Pilots have not gone into the industry to become celebrities. They have not deliberately put themselves into a line of fire to show heroism. These pilots have a gift of airmanship and simply enjoy the flying.

When such a high profile crash happens it must be disconcerting and difficult to comprehend the sudden interest in ones private life. I feel my point (although long winded) was more about the negative treatment Capt Burkill has received versus the positive treatment Capt Sully received, which has to have been helped with positive information being released.

It became clear very early on that the BA38 was not the result of pilot error, but once again instead of then celebrating the pilots, the BA38 thread turned into slating the moving of the flaps, whether they had ran out of fuel, the fact that the Capt didn't land the plane etc. Of course there were an equal number of positive points made but in the case of Capt Sully the minute someone mentions something slightly negative, there are tenfold positives in it's place. When people have been given some information to work on it is a lot easier to stop the nasty, back biting comments in their tracks. Even when the AAIB released it's interim report that there had been plenty of fuel left on board, that the Capt had made a Mayday, the Capt had initiated the evacuation alarm etc the thread had to then start looking at other ways to slate the man. (I repeat not everyone).

Capt Burkill was slated for supposedly not doing a Mayday, which he did. Yet there are the odd posts regarding Capt Sully not doing a Mayday. The good moral that his actions have caused means that people don't want to hear negative things about him, therefore defending that it didn't matter that he didn't do a Mayday. (although he may have done and it was picked up on the CVR)

Capt Burkill was slated for allowing the F/O to fly the plane whilst he diagnosed the problem- as per operating procedures during an emergency. In this instance it is a good job that he did, realistically I doubt the F/O would have chosen to move the flaps without the Capt authorisation (and would the Capt have been able to make a correct decision when trying to fly the plane?). Again even though Capt Sully went away from operating procedures, he has not been slated because the decision on the day was the right decision. Capt Burkill made the right decision on the day yet was still slated.

I've been told by other sources that a lot of people who attempted to do the BA38 in the simulator failed to get over the fence. I believe there is a theory now as to how to achieve it but only after months of debating and attempting. Capt Burkill had 35 seconds.

Overall both flight crews performed fantastically, using different techniques and approaches to the problem but producing the same outcome.

I know that Capt Burkill decided after the crash that he felt it more important to spend more time with his young family. He wanted to go part time but cannot stay in his home on a part time wage. He has had his house up for sale since last summer as he feels it is worth the price to pay so that he has the time with his 3 young boys and wife. Can you really think that Capt Sully is going to have to worry about money/mortgage again. The spin off of all this media interest will surely have him being able to pick his price for what will suit him and his family.

Even though pilots do not intend to be splashed across the papers and have their private lives delved into, in a situation like this it happens, how it is dealt with will lay out your future. So even though I agree with Rainboe that given a choice Capt Burkill would have preferred to have not had the accident, with watching how the media/company/country are treating Capt Sully, I would assume that Capt Burkill would rather have had that treatment than the one he received. I can't think of anyone who would be happy to sit back knowing that they can't defend themself when inaccurate rumours are going around, can't defend themself to get equal pay conditions to the cabin crew on the same flight, can't defend themself when they did a b:mad:dy good job yet a fair amount of people can't acknowledge it.

7th Feb 2009, 13:07
Often you may find that people can be fairly indifferent to things that just don't matter much.

If ATC have been informed that you are probably going to have to put your aircraft into the Hudson River I think that counts as a Mayday call so that you can safely turn your attention to doing a good ditching. There was no practical further help that ATC could give that aircraft so that talking to them was probably taken by the crew to be a waste of time and effort.

Is there an FAA inspector brave enough to write up the crew for their failure to make the required Mayday call? This I want to read about! A post as a runway inspector in Alaska beckons...

Given the way that the "media" play such a central role in popular life in both the U.K. and America I think most people find it very odd that someone might not want to be famous by being interviewed. Especially in America we have had many people whose lives have imploded in public but that is usually taken to be a fair trade for being "famous for fifteen minutes" as Andy Warhol so famously put it. Well, someone with his head on straight might not want to be famous for fifteen minutes if that means that his career for the rest of his life is finished.

When there was that Air Florida crash in Washington, D.C. there was the very odd case of a man who had saved some lives but did not want to speak to the "media" about that, a real hero. Then they smeared him, basically, their small revenge for his refusal to give them what they thought they had a right to.

When you speak to the press do you think they will report what you say according to your agenda or theirs? Speaking to the press seems to fall into the same category in general as speaking to the police or as acting as your own lawyer. These things may be good ideas but only very rarely.

8th Feb 2009, 06:19
Just a little note to say that Mr Branson,s Virgin Blue {and V Australia} is the Aussie side of his Virgin airforce and I,m sure this savvy business bloke was just milking the publicity.But it is an interesting point the difference in both countries media and pubic oops I mean public viewpoint.. I guess knowing what killed the engines in both aircraft is the moot point, geese, ducks,whatever and the english blokes well.........What happened? Pardon my ignorance.

8th Feb 2009, 13:22
Not disagreeing with your thoughts and comments, just adding to the mix to show that its not as perfect as it may seem in the US. In contrast to the Hudson River accident, the crew of the recent 737 accident at Denver are not being feted and celebrated, tho' the cause of the accident is not as cut & dried as the Hudson River one.

Aero-News Network: The Aviation and Aerospace World's Daily/Real-Time News and Information Service (http://www.aero-news.net/news/commair.cfm?ContentBlockID=8ff25c0e-2c84-48d5-8564-34dfc2866b0a&Dynamic=1)

"The lawsuit filed in the 80th Judicial District Court of Harris County is similar to a lawsuit filed last month in the accident, charging Continental and pilots David Butler and Chad Levang were negligent and failed to exercise the high degree of care required to safely operate and maintain an aircraft."

Not exactly being given the keys to their hometowns.....

8th Feb 2009, 13:55
As an example of how "Corporate UK" minds work.

Some years ago we had a Hyd problem coming back from some holiday island or other.

Bottom line was the PTU was expected to kick in,having heard one of these things being tested on the ground ( the noise is staggering!), I made a quick PA to warn the pax so that they all didn't think their days were over!

Neeedless to say the PTU failed to kick in, so no nasty noise. Great! got the dangly bits out the other way and landed with 20 flap no drama.

On the walk back to the office for ASR filling etc I get a phone call from the Director of PR. Now bearing in mind that it was around 2300 on a weekend I was a little surprised.

Said gent then proceeded to try and grill me over what or what I had not told the pax etc.

I explained that a) I was on my way to the office to fillout the ASR in conjunction with my FO b) He should wait for that report and c) I was going home after filling in said stuff and a 14+ day and No I would not be calling him when I got home.

He got quite excited eventually asking "what am I going to tell the press?"

I replied that the whole thing was a none event, was not an emergency per se but an unservicability that was remedied by the backup systems.

Therefore there was nothing to tell the press unless we were going to go down the route of reporting every landing that arrived.

Guess who got tea and biscuits...............without the tea and bisciuts!:ugh:

8th Feb 2009, 15:37
I think its quite simple...

In the USA there tends to be more public recognition of professional excellence....

In the UK, that same professional excellence is viewed upon with suspicion, cynicism and derision by management, the press, the establisment, and in certain industries..your peers:hmm:

8th Feb 2009, 16:21
Hi Bnetolldnataman

Rather than send you to the BA38 thread where you could read explanations from pilots I will try and explain what I know in laypersons speech!

Less than 700ft from landing the pilots requested power from the engines and received nothing from them. I believe the term is that the engines ran on idle power which in effect would have felt like the engines had stopped as they had no power. Therefore they were in a big 777 gliding over London!

The F/O was the handling pilot on that sector and the Capt chose to have the F/O continue with the flying whilst the Capt attempted to see if he could see and then fix what the problem was.

They had approx 35 seconds from realising they had a problem to landing. Whilst checking his equipment he could see no obvious problem to remedy but could see that if they were to continue on the path that they were going they would land into buildings.

The Capt used his instinct and changed the flap settings (which was supposed to have given them a bit more lift to help them travel a bit further). He made a mayday call to ATC but had no time to warn the cabin crew or passengers. The aircraft cleared the airport's perimeter fence by 7ft. They landed short of the runway. The Capt initiated the emergency evacuation and the cabin crew responded and evacuated all 136 passengers.

There were no fatalities. There were some minor injuries, the worst being a broken leg.

The AAIB have issued various interim reports and although the investigation is not over they are heavily leaning toward ice in the fuel.

That is the basics of what happened. If you are interested in the tecnicalities of ice/fuel/engines etc then there is loads of info in the later pages on the BA38 thread. I'm lost when it comes to all that sorry.