View Full Version : 'My fault'

11th Jul 2001, 09:07
Pilot of plane that ran off runway:'My fault' (http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/07/10/plane.inquiry/index.html)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The pilot of a Southwest Airlines jetliner that careened off the runway and crashed through a fence upon landing last year at a Burbank, California, airport blamed himself for the mishap, according to cockpit transcripts released Tuesday.

"My fault ... my fault," Capt. Howard Peterson said immediately after the plane came to a rest on a highway outside the airport, according to the transcripts.

Twelve seconds later, while flight attendants yelled instructions to passengers in the background, Peterson added, "Well, there goes my career."

There were no fatalities to the 137 passengers and five crew members aboard the Boeing 737. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the March 5, 2000, accident is continuing.

While the cause of the accident has not yet been determined, NTSB records show investigators are looking at the plane's landing speed, and at the possible impact of tail winds.

Southwest Airlines spokesman Ed Stewart said the airline "terminated" Peterson in July of 2000 after its own investigation into the incident.

Peterson, using a union grievance process, elected to retire in November.

"It's my understanding that he still retains the ability to fly but he's not working with us, obviously," Stewart said.

According to NTSB records, Southwest Airlines Flight 1455 was uneventful from when it took off from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas until it approached Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport.

As it descended, the pilot disengaged the auto-pilot and applied an increasing amount of flaps to slow the plane down. Flaps -- extensions of the wings -- allow pilots to increase the descent without increasing air speed.

As the plane approached the runway, an alert sounded, warning the pilot of an unusual descent rate, the cockpit voice recorder transcript shows. The device repeatedly said "Sink rate ... (whoop, whoop) ... pull up."

"The captain reported that he heard the aural alert ... but he could not recall when the warning began," the NTSB report says. "When asked specifically whether he heard the aural warning, "whoop, whoop, pull up," he stated, 'No, I don't. I just don't know,'" the report says.

Peterson has 11,000 hours flying time, -- 8,000 hours of it in the Boeing 737, the NTSB said.

There was no immediate reply to a request for comment Tuesday from Peterson's attorney.

11th Jul 2001, 09:47
Captain Peterson probably won't get much help from ALPA finding another job after he crossed the Wien Air Alaska picket line in 1977.

On the other hand, sometimes ALPA isn't much help even if you don't cross the line from my experience...

11th Jul 2001, 12:44
With 11000 hours, 8000 of which on type, he can't have been that bad a pilot. OK he screwed up but he didn't kill anyone. Call me soft but I feel sorry for Captain Peterson and I hope he gets back to some form of commercial flying soon. There must be plenty of opportunities in the cargo world, especially in the USA?

Lou Scannon
11th Jul 2001, 13:30
Let's not pre-judge this folks. Captain Peterson may be responsible but his remarks, when probably in shock, hardly provide conclusive evidence.

Remember the saying that there are two types of pilot: The ones that have screwed up and the ones that are about to screw up. It could be argued that he will be one of the safest guys around when he gets back into aviation.

11th Jul 2001, 15:23
How refreshing someone actually saying it was their fault!!!!!
A lot of people in public life could learn from this...... ;)

11th Jul 2001, 18:37
Id hate to see him lose all his experience and career over this mistake. I have to agree that he would most likely do everything by the book if he was to continue again.
On another hand, you can understand the outcome. He made a decision while operating an airliner that resulted in a very dangerous situation. One person could have easily been killed not to mention many others.
Never the less, Id give him another chance. We all screw up(ie have intentions that seem within bounds and the situation gets away from us). The guy would probably make a wonderful flight instructor after his experience.

ATC Watcher
11th Jul 2001, 20:24
The US pioneered the so called "no blame culture "in incident investigation. I understand the NTSB has no authority over the internal policies of an individual airline, but surely, "terminating" someone that did a mistake un-intentionally is not promoting that culture.
This guy will certainly never make that mistake again himself, and has a lot to offer in training others not to do it.
It is still a pity that the first question generally asked by management after an incident is: " Who was it ?" instead of : "how can we make sure this does not happen again ? "

Mr moto
12th Jul 2001, 00:42
I also feel the Captain may have been harshly treated and that his record should show whether he should lose his job or not. We just don't know anything else about it. The company may have been waiting for something concrete to happen which they could justify firing him for.

Whilst I am of course a supporter of 'no blame investigation' one cannot say that the NTSB are entirely impartial. The head is appointed by politicians which should ring some alarm bells straight away.

Could they be appointed that way to look after the country's interests?

12th Jul 2001, 00:52
I had allways been led to beleive that Southwest was one of the best employers in the industry,and very pro. staff, seems to be a mismatch between perception and reality.