View Full Version : G-ARPI - The Trident Tragedy: 40 years ago today

18th Jun 2012, 11:40
Today is the 40th anniversary of the crash of G-ARPI, the BEA Trident which crashed shortly after takeoff from Heathrow, apparently because the "droop" was raised too soon after takeoff, causing it to stall.

The crash cost the lives of all 118 on board, including Capt Key and FOs Ticehurst and Keighley.

One of the major outcomes of this crash was that CVRs were mandated afterwards; the lack of cockpit voice recorders made the inquiry significantly more difficult.

18th Jun 2012, 13:43
Yes, that is how humans learn. Trial and Error. It is good that CVRs were made law. That and, if I recall correctly, the CRM issues on the flight deck are real gifts to the future.

18th Jun 2012, 13:50
I was in the tower at Glasgow when we received word of this tragedy within minutes of it happening. The thing that got me was the report on the TV news that 'only one garbled transmission was made'. When they played it, it was so clear I could even recognise who the controller was from his voice.

18th Jun 2012, 17:00
I recall that one of the first on the scene of this disaster was a passing nurse, who to her very great credit managed to gain access to the broken fuselage to see if she could use her nursing experience to help those trapped inside. Sadly, it transpired that the "super-stall" impact, which occurred over an area little bigger than the aircraft's planform due to the low horizontal velocity, was not survivable.

I thought at the time how noble her action was, at potentially great risk to her own life if a fire had broken out in the fully-fuelled aircraft, and in the highest traditions of her calling. I wonder whether some official recognition of her bravery was subsequently made.

18th Jun 2012, 17:47
603DX. Very, very brave of her, and a serious fire DID break out, whilst the rescue services were there. There is video somewhere of people running from the scene. Sad, sad day.

Aileron Drag
18th Jun 2012, 17:54
Remembering Jerry today.

An impossible situation, which terrified me when re-enacted in the sim.

No-one will ever know what happened, but my goodness the total lack of CRM in '72 was dreadful. Never flew with Key, but some of those BEA captains were difficult, to say the least.

18th Jun 2012, 18:04
My late father was one of the first handful of Police Officers to reach the scene. It was his second air crash scene he'd attended as a PO, having been an early arrival at the scene of the Viking crash at Southall some 14 years earlier. Both were pretty much the only events in 30 years of service, he never really spoke of afterwards.
My mother still vividly recalls the state of his torn, and kerosene soaked uniform when he arrived home late that night after the Trident crash.

18th Jun 2012, 19:32
Now that I've read this thread I wonder if the TV coverage of the crash is one of my first memories? I'm 42 now so the time frame fits with how a toddler develops. The memory I have is of an image being shown on TV of what I presume was main landing gear laying in a field of grass but I can't recall anything else.

avionic type
18th Jun 2012, 19:59
So long ago but still in the memory bank not only for those who died , but the worry and stress of those ground engineers who serviced that aircraft the previous night .

18th Jun 2012, 20:09
Yes, I remember this crash very well. See this video on You Tube:

British European Airways Flight 548 Crash of a Trident airliner - YouTube (http://tinyurl.com/6pwn9c3)

18th Jun 2012, 20:12
603DX, The nurse was on BBC London News this evening recalling how two boys came to get her as the plane had crashed nearby. Apparently she was awarded an MBE.

18th Jun 2012, 20:48
I cleared it for take-off. Low cloud, not very good vis. ATC new little about it until the landlord of the Crooked Billet rang up! Dreadful.

18th Jun 2012, 20:55
i was a 15 year old school boy that day & saw it go down behind the trees, i was drawn away from my homework by the unusual engine noise, despite feeling the thump my parents said its a lorry passing, had to drag my dad out of the house to prove it & it was only when a neighbour from the house behind came running round because his children in the garden were screaming a planes crashed he believed me and i was despatched to a bridge to get a look , all i could see through the trees was what looked like an intact part of cabin over the wing, by the time i ran/climbed fences the 500 metre's or so to the site police were already on the scene & bodies were being laid out under what i think were tarpualins, my lasting memory was all the blue flashing lights i saw through my bedroom curtains all night and the fact we had to put furniture on our drives to stop the 'ghouls' using it as a car park! next day i cycled down during lunch break & a policeman let us in to take some photo's.

18th Jun 2012, 20:58
Plenty of stress for other BEA flight crew wondering just what had happened. As a 14 year old I recall many many sad days with a very concerned father spending many hours trying to go through what might have happened; then spending days at the Inquiry listening to evidence. He didn't want his next Trident flight to end up the same way.

Aileron Drag
18th Jun 2012, 23:20
avionic type - it wasn't engineering. I am convinced this was flight-crew error.

If you were one of the guys looking after the Tridents, then I have the most profound respect for you. This accident was not the fault of any engineer. Three guys on that flight deck messed-up. Simple as that. One was a friend.

India Four Two
19th Jun 2012, 06:33
Hard to believe it was forty years ago. I too, have a personal interest in this accident. Simon Ticehurst was a friend of mine.

Three guys on that flight deck messed-up. Simple as that.

Aileron Drag, I disagree with you, it's not simple. A primary factor was the lack of an appropriate baulk mechanism to prevent premature droop retraction. I've often wondered why there were two separate levers, rather than a single flap/droop lever.

I've just discovered that there is a transcribed copy of the report here:


19th Jun 2012, 07:22
avionic type - it wasn't engineering. I am convinced this was flight-crew error.

If you were one of the guys looking after the Tridents, then I have the most profound respect for you. This accident was not the fault of any engineer. Three guys on that flight deck messed-up. Simple as that. One was a friend.

But none of this was known until months after the accident. Avionic type's post concerned the engineers at the time - terrified that they had stuffed up the night before.

One other thing that sticks in my mind of the coverage at the time was the news reports that traffic chaos built up very quickly in the area with loads of ghouls converging on the scene.

19th Jun 2012, 12:08
Any engineer who has released an aircraft that subsequently crashed will tell you what it feels like - until it is proved otherwise there is a terrible feeling of 'what did I miss,what did I forget to do?'

19th Jun 2012, 12:58
Engineers do feel that way. Next week, I am taking the funeral of a retired US Army aeroengine, engineer who served in Vietnam. His widow told me how sometimes they were pressured to sign off a machine quickly but unless he had checked everything - no signature. He knew that if anything went wrong he would have to carry that for all of his life. Not to mention that they would present his signature as proof that the machine was ready.

He worried that newer and younger engineers would not be able to stand up to the pressure from above. Not much changes.

It's very rare for a prang to be 'simple'. If a light single goes in, it might be simple but something like G-ARPI was not simple.

Skipness One Echo
19th Jun 2012, 13:04
I was told Papa India was the reason BA skipped G-EUPI when they got their A319s. Oddly enough the flight number is still active with flybe, BE548 NWI-EDI.

19th Jun 2012, 13:11
Groundloop... of the coverage at the time was the news reports that traffic chaos built up very quickly in the area with loads of ghouls converging on the scene.I was not living in the UK when this happened (aged 14) and only know about it through PPRuNe references over the years.

From the report, linked in this thread:
The field was sufficiently inaccessible to prevent all but the most persistent sightseers from reaching it. The police were successful in controlling spectators, and contemporary reports that members of the public had impeded rescue services by their presence near the scene are not borne out by the facts.So there might have been a number of people trying to see but they did not get in the way.

avionic type
19th Jun 2012, 15:04
Fortunatly Aileron Drag for me I was on "Days Off" those days but I remember being told that all the people who worked on it that night had their Authorisations removed and they were in limbo until the pre lim report was made known and that too took quite a while, and the thought of " had something I'd done" caused all those deaths was uppermost in their minds . On the up side A few months later after the report was made public, a printout of the whole flight taken from the F.D.R.was shown to the Ground engineers and it was then we realised how good the evidence within the F.D.R.was, as it showed the whole flight from take off to crash including the flap and droop movements . This comprehensive system was fitted to the Trident so that it was an aid to getting the Auto Land System approved by the then A.R.B.

19th Jun 2012, 17:14
Papa India had been damaged in a previous accident when an Ambassador crashed into it on the ground at Heathrow. It had been repaired and returned to service. I believe this event had no bearing on the Staines crash which seems to have been down to crew error in a different era for CRM and systems fail-safes.
Tragic that lives were lost but the industry learned a good deal which has no doubt saved many lives since then.

19th Jun 2012, 17:39
I think I mentioned it before on pprune but about 18months after the Papa India crash I watched an Iraqi Trident start dropping from about 100ft after lifting off from RWY 10R at Heathrow. Pulled the wrong lever along with undercarriage retraction , I guess, and rectified just in time. The controller in the Tower noticed though, but only got a mumble from the pilot in response to 'Iraqixxx, are you OK?'

19th Jun 2012, 19:18
I was told Papa India was the reason BA skipped G-EUPI when they got their A319s.

Yes, I believe that's the case, possibly as a result of criticism ten years previously when a second Whiskey Echo (a 767) was added to the fleet, the original WE (707) having been destroyed in a fatal accident at LHR about 4 years before the Trident disaster.

blind pew
19th Jun 2012, 21:07
It wasn't a flight crew error per se.
It was definitely a management - training accident waiting to happen.
The noise abatement proceedure was contrary to the design, test pilot and BofT test pilot philosphies.
This led to the slat lever being unprotected.
The training was WRONG - P2 was taught to dump the push system as it often falsely operated - which generally was incorrect.
There wasn't a stick push proceedure in our manuals.
We weren't even legally qualified - read the argument in the report between the BofT and Holdstock and then ask why none of P2's group were called to the inquiry.
Ask why there is no reference to Davies being at the inquiry in the report -BofT test pilot and author of handling the big jets.
Eight aircraft were lost by the BEA group in six years, Papa India was the second and the first of four Tridents.
Several captains had tried to off load P2s group of co pilots because they rightly believed that they were not sufficiently trained and were threatened with dismissal.
Absolute shambles of a company and if it had not been publicly owned would have ceased to exist.

19th Jun 2012, 21:26
"Yes, I believe that's the case, possibly as a result of criticism ten years previously when a second Whiskey Echo (a 767) was added to the fleet, the original WE (707) having been destroyed in a fatal accident at LHR about 4 years before the Trident disaster."

Or, if you've got a longer memory, there was G-ALWE, a Viscount that crashed fatally at Manchester in 1957.

India Four Two
20th Jun 2012, 03:54

Did BA ever have another EE (Vanguard crash 1965)?

20th Jun 2012, 08:14
Yes, both Echo Echo and Echo Charlie (the other Vanguard that crashed in 1971) were re-used on 757s, registered around the same time as the aforesaid 767.

Skipness One Echo
24th Jun 2012, 01:53
Scarier still, both were "papa echo charlie" and "papa echo echo" with identical last three.

Fris B. Fairing
24th Jun 2012, 03:18
At the time of the PI accident I was working in reservations. As General Sales Agents for BEA we were fielding a lot of telephone calls from locals who feared that friends or relatives might have been on board. Eventually we asked BEA to provide a pax list which they did. The time it took for that list to print out on one of those old teleprinters really brought home to us the magnitude of the tragedy.

24th Jun 2012, 21:15
I remember it because I had just arrived from Lisbon on another Trident, picked up a rental car and got caught in the traffic at Staines. My wife was waiting at a relative's house and heard about the crash well before I was able to contact her. Harold Wilson expressed his disgust at the legions of "ghouls". Those there were, but there were probably more just stuck in the traffic.

Feathers McGraw
25th Jun 2012, 12:47
From my own reading, it seems that the traffic congestion was a combination of the relatively undeveloped state of the main roads in the area (mostly single carriageway and quite narrow) and the habit at the time that many families had of taking a drive on a Sunday.

Reading this thread has been very interesting, because despite considerable coverage of the G-ARPI crash in various books I had never before realised either the situation regarding suspicion of the ground engineering staff's actions or indeed that the low hours that Jeremy Keighley possessed on type were at all commonplace at the time.

My own first flight was on a Trident 3B in 1977, as a consequence I have read up on both the Staines and Zagreb incidents and as much else about the Trident as I can.

Did the droop lever on the early mark Tridents ever have a speed guard fitted? I know that there had been several incidents previous to G-ARPI's demise, at least one of which was described as "We just about managed to keep flying until droops were reselected!".

Aileron Drag
25th Jun 2012, 15:41
The droop lever was mechanically locked in the 'extend' position while the flap lever was in a 'flaps-selected' position. When the flaps were selected 'up', the droop-baulk was removed.

That was the only lock in place (no speed-lock), so the flaps on PI had been selected fully up before the droop was moved.

After the accident, the company painted the droop handle with red & white stripes (if memory serves), and we all became utterly paranoid about monitoring LE/TE selections!

25th Jun 2012, 16:52
I don't think there were many ghouls. Undoubtedly some but not in great numbers. Most simply couldn't help it.
The Trident came down just south of the A30, a road I used to use all the time. At that point the road had started to rise in preparation for a railway bridge ahead - although a dual carriageway, there were no laybys and the rise above ground level meant that any parking off the road was difficult. Thus one lane was blocked by emergency vehicles and everything stopped in the other, closely followed by the other carriageway. The view to the south was obscured by trees, so you couldn't see what was going on from a vehicle: over a short space of time the emergency services beat their own paths to the wreckage, so most of the response continued to be via the A30. This was a main route in/out of London - no M25, remember, that arrived a couple of miles away a few years later - so even then the traffic was quite heavy. From the opposite direction (inbound, or eastwards) you were up high enough that the wreckage was visible, although at a distance. The tail was the only recognisable piece: it seemed to be there for some months afterwards. Undamaged electricity cables and pylons virtually overhead bore witness to the steepness of the trajectory.

26th Jun 2012, 08:23
The fact that droop and flap had separate selectors moving in the same quadrant was undoubtedly a factor in the PI accident.
One of the more ludicrous "safety" features of the design was that they both had aerofoil shaped handles at the top of their levers - but the droop had a slight dip at the leading edge and the flap had a slight dip at the rear. How many actually examine the shape of a handle before they operate it?
On the Trident 1, the other lethal factor was that selection up of the leading edge device caused an immediate large increase in stalling speed. This was rectified for the later marks.

blind pew
26th Jun 2012, 21:52
If the aircraft had been operated as designed, tested and certified it wouldn't have crashed.
Why pull off most of the power, whip the flaps up and climb at V2 + 10 at heights as low as 500 feet - bl@@dy stupid.
This left the aircraft wallowing about and the slat lever unprotected.
Rather than ommitting the foolish proceedure which didnt do much for noise abatement except spread it further BEA fitted a baulk and continued flying the same dumb NAB.
As to lack of experience P2 had more hours upon graduation from Hamble than a FO I recently met already checked out on a 737 and posted away from the main base - food for thought?
Crew were scapegoats as often happens.

26th Jun 2012, 22:55
With regards to the 'ghouls', see the quote from the report in my post of this thread #21. It tells us that the Prime Minister made a sweeping statement, based on poor evidence. Nothing changes then. :hmm:

The M25 was built in sections from 1973 onwards. As far as I can recall and establish (Wikipedia), the Western section including the A30 intersection was one of the last in 1985. I was able to use it for a new job that I had just moved to. The whole ring opened in 1986.

India Four Two
27th Jun 2012, 01:49
The whole ring opened in 1986.

And the design capacity was exceeded almost immediately! "Build it and they will come."

Aileron Drag
27th Jun 2012, 09:50
Regarding Blind Pew's comment, "Why pull off most of the power, whip the flaps up and climb at V2 + 10 at heights as low as 500 feet - bl@@dy stupid."

You speak a lot of sense, but in fairness the flaps were retracted and the power reduced at 90 seconds from start of roll. I know there was one departure which called for NA at 70 seconds (can you remember where?), but I don't recall it happening at 500feet.

Having said that, there was the infamous captain who used the flaps only to get into the air, then retraced them at 20feet or so in order to improve the climb-out gradient. Arghhh! Scary stuff.

Some of those guys were brilliant and brave ex-bomber pilots, but should never have been let loose on a swept-wing jet.

27th Jun 2012, 10:56
http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/5479/img025a.jpg (http://img207.imageshack.us/i/img025a.jpg/)

28th Jun 2012, 12:05
I stayed up late last night and read through most of the AAIB Report on the Papa India crash....what I would like to know is how the Trident compared for 'incidents' with say the 727 and the BAC-111 and how BEA's record compared with other users of the Trident particularly CAAC.

29th Jun 2012, 01:03
Gruntie, agree, don't think there were all that many people just ogling and subsequently labelled ghouls by Harold Wilson. And I don't think the label ever really fit; I'm sure many of the people who left their cars on the verge were there to try to help. Many would not have known what in fact had happened other than that there had been an accident. My friends and I had heard at the car rental desk that there had been an accident but, of course, there were no details at the time. We saw many ambulances racing past us to what we eventually realised was the scene. At Staines itself all we could see was an embankment and we just sat in the car and nudged forward as we could, wondering as to what might have happened.

One of my friends was an ex USAF navigator, the other a friend who'd lived some time in South America, as I had. All of us fairly thick-skinned, through over- familiarity, with regard to crashes. Only when we reached our respective destinations did the penny sink in that this one was really bad.

And Noyade, always useful to cite the source :-)

blind pew
29th Jun 2012, 07:38
Aileron drag.
Don't remember where but we did have a 65sec cutback. Could have been 28 in Zurich as the noise measuring point was at Rumlang.

Height obviously depended on WAT, certainly had several cutbacks by 500ft and more disturbing for a P2 only and not adequately trained was when we started descending as we hit a bubble of descending air before we flew into the associated strong thermal.

In Evans cross examination at the inquiry he was asked about the statistics that one in eight FDR showed that SOP departures were being ignored. This didn't take into account those tapes that were chucked off Eton bridge.

Had 365 knots on a Daventry one dep by three grand once; infamous Jock who had the ship clean by 1000ft on take off power and with his nose on the glare shield yanked the throttles back as he passed over the noise points- confided that he had driven around and knew precisely their locations.

In the Wardair safety digest there is a quote from BA Doc stating that pilots over 49 should not be converted to Concorde because of 25% failure rate, although the Trident wasn't droop snoop it was beyond the capabilities of many of our older skippers including Key and our training chief who rarely ever flew without George being plugged in.
BEA had this wonderful idea that everyone could be a skipper on a complicated, unstable aircraft and that is what we had to live with as SOs.

blind pew
29th Jun 2012, 08:16
Sorry but you can't compare tomatoes wiv bananas or whatever.

Would say that in my six years we destroyed eight aircraft two of which weren't pilot error.
Four of which were tridents.
And if you looked at Airtours with the hot shots they destroyed two out of ten 707s including a horrific idiotic training [email protected] up at Prestwick and a crash in Crete where they loaded pax onto a broken aircraft after Olympic refused to sign the Tech log and flew back to Gatwick.
Both wings were bent and one pylon bolt sheared and the wings were leaking fuel.

We had a Very dodgy command training short field landing which went wrong when I was base training and a year later one of my many trainers bent another Trident at PWK.

look at bomber command statistics you will find an unbelievable number of training casualties.

If you read the thread about gaining a RAF brevet you will see that later on in the war a specialised advanced training unit was established.

young men were frightened of the Lancaster and for an old [email protected] a Trident was in a whole different ball park.

AirFrance at this time would keep the older guys who couldn't cope with swept wing jets on prop aircraft - no disgrace and same salary.

But we also had many outstanding older guys who could throw the Trident around and were a pleasure to fly with and watch but there weren't that many in the training department.
One was our future queens grandad.

29th Jun 2012, 13:35
And Noyade, always useful to cite the source :-) Certainly mate. Take-Off - No.35. Accident Investigation : Deep Stall Disaster. Pages 942-945. It makes a lot of assumptions based on an autopsy.


tubby linton
2nd Jul 2012, 20:25
Aileron drag,would you please elaborate about the aircraft being unstable?

2nd Jul 2012, 20:43
Aileron Drag. If you have an axe to grind about the Duchess, this isn't the place for it.

2nd Jul 2012, 21:58
I thought the testimonies in the BBC page on the crash were interesting,and suggest that the press/politicians manufactured the 'ghouls' notion. Capt.Key's daughter message is worth reading ...is that right about a 50-year 'block' on document release?BBC ON THIS DAY | 18 | 1972: Memories of the Staines air crash (http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/witness/june/18/newsid_3001000/3001756.stm)

Aileron Drag
2nd Jul 2012, 22:38
tubby linton - I did not make that comment. I believe that assertion was made by Blind Pew.

Herod - I don't have an axe to grind. Like Blind Pew, I worked with Pete Middleton, and I cannot believe he would have wanted his grand-daughter to achieve in life through marriage alone.

3rd Jul 2012, 06:06
One male passenger survived I believe until the following day. This I know as I was working in the mortuary on the Northside of LHR somewhere upon the site of the hotel now.

The remains were brought to us and I found it very strange that the male passenger was wrapped up as a mummy and the face was the only visible part. I was told by a doctor that due to the broken bones that was practice then and was the same concept used at major road crashes for survivers.

To do this day I still fail to understand why there is never any mention of that survivor ?

After this there was much talk of airport centres for the remains of any future aviation incident, as that used then was a hangar which can only be described as a disgrace even then. As always nothing happened as the costs were prohibitive.

Final thought the remains were all intact with little or no visible damage which I suppose is a credit to the strength of the Trident. The crew lay in plastic bags as if in a deep sleep - haunts me even to day !

blind pew
3rd Jul 2012, 07:38
Aileron Drag
Took me thirty years before I discovered the "Masons" connection but I then left in 78!
Especially relevant when I found that the authorities test pilot appeared at the inquiry but there is no mention of him in the report and then I read his biography in handling the big jets that he is assistant master!
Sadly the little boys club didn't stop there.

The trident was speed unstable as it approached way on the backside of the drag curve.
Min drag was somewhere above 200 knots.
Had to do a go around due to an Alitalia DC 8 crew who didn't understand english, hoiked the nose up as throttles weren firewalled and the speed fell off (we were at V min app) ended up lowering the nose to accelerate and clean up.

Daren't comment on it as was having my annual route check with one of the guys who stood up against the masons at the inquiry. Didn't understand what went wrong but the proceedure was flawed as several checklists were and still were twenty years on! (cross feeding with jettison pumps and splitting the on ground emergency checklists).

We nearly lost a T three at Madrid after it lost a donk on t/o from Malaga. As usual the Madrid controllers (worst in Europe at the time) Lined up Iberia and blocked the runway. Skipper opened the taps but aircraft continues towards terra firma - he hadn't considered the WAT curves - so he pointed the nose down, cleaned up and did a very low circuit.

3rd Jul 2012, 11:54
Blind Pew and Aileron Drag very enlightning and informative. What were your impressions of Captain Key and his allegedly highly authoritariamn manner?

Aileron Drag
3rd Jul 2012, 12:53

I didn't fly with Stan Key. Papa India went in while I was undergoing my Trident training course. I only knew of his reputation from mates who were a few months ahead of me.

Blind Pew was one of those mates, and he would probably have more first-hand knowledge of the guy. There were several (many!) captains on the Trident in '72 who were an absolute nightmare to fly with. I expect Blind Pew and I could write a list of names each which, if compared, would be identical !!!

3rd Jul 2012, 14:18
I worked for BEA then BA as a mechanic at Glasgow in the 70's and found that a high percentage of Trident captains were arrogant and ill-mannered to the ground staff.It was so bad on one occasion that I complained to my shop steward and was told to inform the captain that if his manners did not improve neither he nor his aeroplane would be going anywhere. This resulted in an apology and the excuse that his flight manager was giving him a hard time.

Aileron Drag
3rd Jul 2012, 14:44
Good for you, bcgallacher. Wish I'd been able to do that.

I remember one guy who would shake hands and introduce himself to a two-ring First Officer, but would cut the other bloke dead if he was a one-ring Second Officer. Having flown with him many times, and been ignored, I did a trip with him a few days after putting up my second ring and, guess what? Yes, he shook hands and introduced himself - as if we really had never met.

Another guy introduced himself with the immortal line, "My name is Captain ******. You can call me Sir."

Oh dear...........don't get me going..........must take my pills.:)

blind pew
3rd Jul 2012, 15:24
Stan Key was a victim of bullying from a few cowards who wouldn't take on management or Ron Gillman who along with Stan were the reps at the Munich inquiry. Jimmy Thain was sacked, Ron had set up BEA training (real dapper figure and boys own hero as well as in the guild) whereas Stan was just a bloke helping out with BALPA and these idiots picked on Stan as a sport.
Witnessed him being set upon two days before the crash - a bl@@dy disgrace.
Didn't fly with him but know a special guy who did on vanguards (he crashed during base training and BEA nearly lost two vanguards with a very close Airmiss). He said Stan was a nice bloke but couldn't handle the Trident and developed a nervous tic the closer he got to terra firma. There was a joke that the radio alt was superfluous.
As to aileron drags comments on management he is being very generous to one individual, who if I can guess His identity was a bit naive.
For me it was the strokes these guys pulled after the accident and at the inquiry that are sickening; quite sure they would have sacrificed their own grannies if needed.
Remember the stories about Ron Collins......
Sadly the little boys club is apparently alive and kicking in BA and the CAA but it ain't any different in frog or paddy land.

blind pew
3rd Jul 2012, 15:41
You were lucky mate, no buggar stood up for us baby drivers.
Wife was sexually assaulted on the jump seat - didn't dare say anything.
A year later she threatened to miscarry in ATH - forced to work back against doctors advice then spent a week in hospital.
I was called up and threatened with the sack if I interfered again.
One skipper called us by our seat designation P2 or P3, another "John" as neither could be bothered to learn our names.
Best story was a little fight in cruise between a MENSA member and a certain S/O after a hostess had been assaulted..over the seat belts sign...

Great ship to fly after a couple of years of unlearning the rubbish we had been taught by the trainers and watching how the real pilots could fly it.
Built like a brick built sh*t house and flew a bit like one.
Official cross wind technique from the horses mouth was fly it into the runway - the aircraft can take it (which wasn't always true) - but the guy did manage to get it very close to the sound barrier with the afor mentioned lasses husbands grandmother on board - work that one out.

tubby linton
4th Jul 2012, 07:41
Blindpew, thank you for you explanation regarding the instability of the aircraft..How did it cope with a low go-around from an autoland?

Feathers McGraw
4th Jul 2012, 13:24
Absolutely fascinating information coming out in this thread, it makes me very sad that people such as are described would pervert the course of an enquiry where the purpose is to get at the truth.

But as ever it isn't what you know, it's who you know. Politics raises its ugly head in all fields of human endeavour...

blind pew
4th Jul 2012, 18:20
Never did a low go around except on the sim and discovered when I was researching my book from one of the PI accident investigators that the simulator did not replicate the flying characteristics of the real aircraft in pitch!
We were told that the authority insisted that the sim was more difficult to fly but I suspect it was the inverse as witnessed several older guys who couldn't cope with the aircraft.
A notable from hearsay was the chief training captain.
Suspect it performed better because of the WAT curves and maybe ground effect.
Certainly never had any problems on dark and dirty hand flown apps into Edinburg.
Somewhere in the ether is a report of the stars taking the tail off a comet during a low go around - possibly at Bedford - well incompetent.

Feathers McGraw
4th Jul 2012, 18:53
Well there were those who claimed that the Trident could only become airborne because of the curvature of the earth, but maybe it was ground effect that helped.

Aileron Drag
4th Jul 2012, 19:43
tubby linton,

Did a four-sector day in foggy conditions back in the early 80s. I can't remember the details, but it was LHR-GLA-LHR-GLA-LHR. Each airfield was on-limits (75m? - so long ago), and each initial approach that day resulted in a GA from decision height.

Bearing in mind that at DH the aircraft's RoD was almost nil (we were well into the flare), when power was applied for the go-around the thing went up like a homesick angel, particularly as the fuel load was light.

Impressive. Not as impressive as the 757, but good enough. I certainly felt very safe in the Gripper in those challenging conditions, and whilst going home totally knackered that day, the whole exercise went like clockwork.

tubby linton
4th Jul 2012, 22:30
Blind Pew I am not familiar with your book, would you please supply some details?
I dug out my copy of Handling the Big Jets and I noticed that the photo of an aircraft executing a high performance go around is of a B727!
The Bedford accident report can be found here:

blind pew
5th Jul 2012, 06:51
Tubby Not available yet as would have stirred up a hornets nest in its original form.
W/R to the Bedford incident if you factor in a heavy crew, daytime, rest, experience etc and they still manage to smack into a parked aircraft one comes to the conclusion that management/ training were incompetent beyond belief.
One wonders the criteria used in selection for these posts - rumour has it somefink to do with bearing breasts........

They used to recut the dunlops either eight or twelve times which gave us pages of incidents in the horror comic every month - especially stupid as SR had lost an aircraft after a tyre burst and a wing falling off a few years before.

Feathers McGraw
5th Jul 2012, 12:23
blind pew

Would be interested in knowing more about the book when it is available, I presume you'll make some sort of announcement here?

blind pew
5th Jul 2012, 19:52
Autobiography feathers wiv a bit of everything especially controversy although my original draft will not be available....::{
Nod nod wink wink

PPRuNe Pop
6th Jul 2012, 06:41
Ok maybe a bad choice of words, which has ruffled a few feathers - for the wrong reasons. But, abuse of mods via PM's will you get you nowhere except the sin bin. Mods are here to contain dubious (or libellous) posts on behalf of the owners of the site. The rules are not made by moderators - and you signed up to them when you joined PPRuNe.

The ARPI story is well known and has been discussed here a few times before. This time around a suggestion that book research is involved. PPRuNe is not for research for books. We don't allow it.

The personal attacks via PM's is a no no, and now ignored, but should they occur again the writer will be banned without any questions or answers.

Stick to debating the subject now that I have re-opend the thread but please heed my comments.

You might care to know, or not, that I started this forum many years ago so that aviation history and its nostalgic aspects could have a place to enjoy, so in answer to one particularly offensive PM that I know nothing of aviation is mistaken. My years of flying numerous types, displaying, and running airlines adds up to knowing something of the industry in the past 50 years plus.

6th Jul 2012, 11:50
Going back to my post #42 in fairness to the Trident perhaps worth noting that the 727 could get into a mess on approach and (according to Wikipedia) 6 were lost on approach the 1960s. Landing (esp Autoland) was perhaps the Tridents strongpoint...I remember hearing one on VHF amaze the tower by landing so precisely on 28L it was able to take the first right turning (23L junction) (equivalent to landing at LCY :))
Were the staff relations at BEA a factor in the decision to amalgamate it with BOAC into BA?

6th Jul 2012, 13:25
Were the staff relations at BEA a factor in the decision to amalgamate it with BOAC into BA?

No, we have Sir Ronald Edwards and his committee to thank for that.


tubby linton
6th Jul 2012, 17:44
Never flew with Key, but some of those BEA captains were difficult, to say the least.

Was this particular to the Trident fleet or was it endemic throughout BEA?

blind pew
6th Jul 2012, 18:47
Point taken mod and likewise apology.
I have not used the site for research. Book originally finished two years ago after extensive research with former colleagues, FOI searches and delving into various archives.
As to difficult fleets generally the problems were encountered on sophistocated jets in LHR and the Airtours fleet.
Mates who went to the 111 at Man or Viscounts in Scotland had a great time.
My opinion was that many older guys could not cope with the aircraft and our management were generally incompetent.
This was reflected in the national press covering the inquiry.
I only refused to fly with one pilot in my career - he had been posted to LHR because most of the Glasgow pilots had refused to fly with him.
Especially foolish as GLA FOs had to have a minimum of two years.
I was a first year SO just after PI and my reward because of speaking out re safety was being humiliated by a guild member in the crew room, assigned P3 and told to keep my mouth shut unless spoken to.

6th Jul 2012, 18:52
Never had the pleasure of flying the Trident but was on the S1-11 during the corresponding period. I would not say that this was true on my fleet at all, most of the Captains I flew with in the early days were ex WWII and a real pleasure to fly with. As with any fleet or airline there were some who were less fun to be with than others but I can remember few if any that were "difficult". They had all transitioned to the 1-11 from the Viscount, Vanguard or Comet and were mostly excellent aviators.

However I did hear it said (on my fleet, at least), that those who needed two co-pilots to look after them went on the Trident whereas the more competent went on the 1-11. Again, I am sure that there were many exceptions to this rule - were it true - but it did make sense for the less able.

PPRuNe Pop
6th Jul 2012, 21:39
blind pew - thank you for that and for your interesting comments. I did get to have a short period in a Trident sim and found it to be somewhat of handful. However, that was for interest only.

blind pew
6th Jul 2012, 21:45
Flight watch you might remember that there was a proposal to change the crewing on the Trident and place the captain in the P3 seat and have the two first officers up front.
Supposedly the Russians in Aeroflot did this.
It was in either 73 or 74.
Initially we thought it was an April fools but were told that it came out after a senior management meeting with some union feedback.
I thought at the time that it would be a good idea for a few of our elderly gentleman but that it would not be accepted by the majority.
The rumour disappeared after a month or so.
I still believe that the idea had merits, especially after I turned fifty.

Don't remember how you operated the 111 but we had the gear down 13 miles out and land flap down as we intercepted the glide slope at 3000ft - incredibly wasteful - and supposedly the Trident needed a long stabilised approach.

After leaving UK employment our criteria was gear down and land flap by latest 300ft.

Mod thanks, and would agree that the Trident was difficult but after a few years watching guys who could throw it about I enjoyed it BUT you had to be watch her as she bit very quickly - you couldn't let her get away from you as I found out with a lot of coloured lights and bits dangling from the cabin ceiling.

Especially difficult during turbulence on app with the auto throttle in.

We weren't allowed to fly manual throttle but engine out we weren't allowed to use it.
Some of our competent line pilots would let us use manual throttle which was far nicer.

PPRuNe Pop
7th Jul 2012, 16:21
John Cunningham made it all seem so incredibly easy!

Feathers McGraw
7th Jul 2012, 16:48
Bearing in mind at least one problem with the Comet, such as no L/E devices and hence the ability to stall the aircraft by over rotation, the rectification of which took plenty of time even after the events of 1954, I wonder whether the aerodynamic work on the DH121 was perhaps a bit under-resourced and rushed especially as the lead customer BEA couldn't seem to decide what they wanted until pretty late on in the process. Having a very experienced pilot like Cunningham has its good and bad sides, good because he was likely to do a good development job, but then possibly leaving average pilots at a disadvantage with any tricky handling characteristics.

Maybe the Trident was not quite late enough to make use of the lessons that were being learned by all manufacturers about designing efficient swept wing commercial aircraft during the first decade of the jet age.

7th Jul 2012, 19:20
BP - The 1-11 was quite different. The swiftest approach was a straight in out of the Berlin corridor on 27L at HAJ. 333kts (Vno) to 1500' established on the localiser, as the glide path twitched, full speed brake, lower the gear at limiting speed and select flap with one hand whilst raising the speed brake with the other (the two were not allowed together) then the rest of the flap on schedule and engines spooled up by 300'. Even a normal approach rarely saw the gear down before 1000'.

Had QARs been in existence then, the guys at the monitoring office would have had a thrombosis at regular intervals.

The big difference was CAT2 (possibly 3a eventually?). Due to the fact that the aircraft only had one autopilot with duplex monitors a stable approach was necessary to have an even chance of the autopilot staying engaged. However it worked well in genuine conditions when I had to use it!

The training management did have some peculiar ideas though, SOPs called for a flare followed by a slight push to set the aircraft down gently. In fact this technique normally produced a gripper like arrival and pilots soon found out that it could be flared like any other type and landed smoothly.

An amusing training deficiency (possibly apocryphal) came to light when a newly converted crew both from the Viscount who had done all their line training in Berlin below FL180 launched themselves on a LHR-MUC mission around FL330. On landing they wrote in the tech log that the high speed warning bell was incorrectly set as it kept going of around 240kts instead of 333kts and the aircraft would not accelerate. They had never been mach limited before! All crews were assigned at least one "high altitude" flight thereafter on training.

blind pew
8th Jul 2012, 15:07
Flight watch you've just blown me up.
Never new anyone else flew aircraft like we did
in Switzerland!
When I started on the DC9 they just brought out a regulation that we had to be in landing conf. By 300ft (nothing about speed nor spooling the engines up); this was because they used to do power off approaches and landing with the inevitable burst tyres, hot brakes and the occasional over run.
What we didn't do was use the PPL - poor planning lever as a South African called the air brakes.
The ROD was dialed up until the clacker sounded then backed off after the clacker was silenced.
After around four years on the gripper I was shown the stuff the stick forward at the last moment landing technique - there were only a few guys who used it - the first one being Rocky who quit to fly Hunters for airwork at Hurn.
Great greasers unless you chickened out which I never did.

Did it on the nine, close the throttles early, trim back as the elevator would loose effectiveness, late flare and stuff the nose forward at the last moment not forgetting to break the nosewheel ROD with an almighty heave.
Had to give it up as I scarred a few Swiss skippers who thought we was going to die and asked me to do a SOP landing. Shame as it gave us a short very smooth landing which was only spoilt when the dumpers deployed and the airframe settled on the dunlops.

tubby linton
8th Jul 2012, 20:42
Following the accident was there any weeding out of those who were out of their depth in the aircraft? Also was the noise abatement procedure re-examined and were sop tightened?

8th Jul 2012, 21:11
Some of the most interesting posts I have every seen on this site.

AA/ thank you

BB/ more please !

Aileron Drag
8th Jul 2012, 21:30
Following the accident was there any weeding out of those who were out of their depth in the aircraft? Also was the noise abatement procedure re-examined and were sop tightened?Tubby,

No, there was no 'weeding out' of people who couldn't cope. Nothing changed. There was a guy in the left-hand seat who rejoiced in the name "Dangerous Dave", who was only ever rostered with two senior F/Os (to look after him). A delegation of senior F/Os went to talk to a senior Training Captain about the matter, and they received an assurance that, when the Trident went out of service, this man would be removed. He would never be permitted to fly a two-crew aircraft.

A couple of years later, Dangerous Dave was flying a 737 with newly-recruited F/Os. Thank God, nothing ever happened to him that required any exceptional skill, and he retired without killing anyone.

Re NA, it remained the same, but monitoring flap and droop selections became paranoid. On a Route Check, the captain put his hand on the droop lever at 200kts. P3 said nothing. Later, the captain said, "Why didn't you stop me from grabbing the droop handle?"
P3 said, "Well, you didn't move it."
The captain said, "What if I had moved it?"
P3 replied, "If you'd tried to move it I'd have broken your f****ing wrist."

CRM really took off over the following years, but the Old Guard were allowed to see out their time and qualify for their pension.

blind pew
9th Jul 2012, 08:40
Because of the way the inquiry was "handled" they never believed that the Noise abatement procedure was at fault.(nor some other ridiculous SOP).
They ignored Cunninghams testimony and either they didn't have enough pennies to pay for a copy of Handling the Big jets or they didn't understand it.
And obviously Davies never mentioned his recommendations over a drink at the Lodge - probably why he only made assistant master whilst Owens became grand master.

blind pew
9th Jul 2012, 10:46
Whilst it is slightly off track the social political climate of the time needs taking into consideration.
TSR2 had been cancelled as had the Canadian Arrow because of pressure from the Yanks.
Britain was in the midst of a social revolution.
Heathrow became known as ThiefRow because of the baggage handlers love of other peoples stuff.
There were several other groups who ran a mafia style operation - all of which management would not touch.
BEA would only pay three months sick pay and after that you had to claim the dole.
Our loss of license insurance paid 10% for psychiatric problems.
An american company introduced a fairer loss of license insurance then stole our money.
Whilst the long term sick ground workers were looked after flight and cabin crew were basically sacked except if you were "one of the boys".
So the guys who couldn't cope were left with a choice, dole then a reduced pension, continue flying knowing that you were incompetent if an emergency happened and relying on our FOs and very sadly a few guys topped themselves.
Whereas SR paid your full salary for two years and any medical treatment you needed.(including alcoholics).
Gave you a fulfilling ground job.
And if you didn't recover gave you an extremely good pension - more than BA paid senior captains.

I always felt extremely sorry for the guys who couldn't cope and flew accordingly cautiously although there were a few ######## who would resort to bullying then I sailed on the other tack.
Fleet managers were play the I'm stupid card time and what a rewarding job you are doing "SIR".

9th Jul 2012, 22:57
blind pew, thank you for that helpful background. In another field in the 1970s and 80s, (a branch of the electronics world NOT involved with airlines) there was much 'old boy' network and favours and Lodges.

I recall (in 1984) being very puzzelled about the behaviour of a group telecomms manager and having it explained to me: "But don't you realise why he does that? It's because he can then put all the purchases of XYZ equipment, through his good friend in the City of [name of large telecomms company] who is a big friend of his and they are in the same Lodge together." It was said to me as if I should have worked out, or known, that that was how the system worked.

Just a few years ago, in an unrelated business matter, someone told me that X had only joined the Masons to get more of them using his betting shops. They said that, whilst X liked the social aspect, he certainly didn't believe in the religious part and took little interest in the charity work - it was just business as he knew the Masons would be more likely to place bets in a shop owned by a Mason.

Obviously, that era is now past ... :rolleyes:

blind pew
10th Jul 2012, 04:56
Obviously pax boy.
Had a mate who took a security guard for a ride on the bonnet of his car which resulted in an ABH charge which was dropped after a handshake.
Trouble was he wasn't - the property speculators he moonlighted for had taught him the grip and signs. The big boys he drove for found out and sacked him. Took the threat of strike action to get him reinstated.
Conversely my neighbour used his mates to get my planning application stopped - the way of the world - did me a favour as it was the last straw so I emigrated to new horizons.

India Four Two
10th Jul 2012, 06:43
Some of the most interesting posts I have every seen on this site.

I'll second that, waco.

As I posted earlier, I knew Simon Ticehurst, so I've always had an interest in this accident.

It wasn't until I re-read the report recently after a lapse of many years, that I realized that this was a Public Inquiry report and not from the AAIB (or whatever they were called back then).

Is the testimony at the Inquiry published anywhere?

10th Jul 2012, 11:12
My colleagues and I, in the Steel Stockholding Industry lost a very jovial and happy colleague in that accident, he was our local contact with the British Steel Corp, he was extremely well liked and missed just for his ability to always smile and be happy.

Ironic really, for a few years later whilst I too was working for the BSC, Papa India was the subject of a Management training course, where the public enquirey details and all the faults thus found were used as examples of bad and mishandled management procceedures, sad thing is the guy who had organised the course had no idea that we all knew one of the pax, it was very quickly dropped like in 5 minutes.!!

Peter R-B

10th Jul 2012, 21:01
Julie Key - poor child. I hope justice is done, eventually.

blind pew
10th Jul 2012, 21:35
Just spoke with keighley's dad and sister.
He flew the Whitney bomber on a virtual suicide mission and crashed on Texel. He spent the war in the great escape prison and was on the death march.
The family didn't deserve to lose their son nor go through the cr*p that certain individuals put them through.
The only question his mother asked me on every visit was did Jerry kill all of those people.

The AAIB inspector I spoke to distanced his organisation from the inquiry conclusions in his first breath of our conversation.

Having read a considerable amount of what I consider the important testimonies, having the identical training with Jerry and experiencing several different philosophies I believe I understand what I happened.
The majority of the BEA were blinkered because they had very little experience from outside of their goldfish bowl or were just plain thick.
Those who did understand some of what happened kept stumm because management with the issue of a stall procedure showed their cards.
Childs who stood up to them told me that his life was made untenable and resigned.

tubby linton
11th Jul 2012, 08:52
How long did it take for the graffiti on the P3 tables on other tridents to disappear after the accident?
How many of the other Tridents had similar graffiti?

blind pew
11th Jul 2012, 13:54
I saw graffiti weeks b4 the accident on the inside of the lift in car park 1e- for management and pilots only in cental area -this was hastily repainted and a day afterwards it had reappeared with @@@@ is still a c@@t.
I also read it in the men's bog ( left my drag gear at home) in a restaurant in dusseldorf....

3rd Jan 2013, 14:54
Re: G-ARPI BEA Trident accident at Staines.

The book can be downloaded if you have an Amazon Kindle account, cost is3.50.

Is it allowed to provide a link here to the publisher or is that considered advertising? (It would also reveal 'Blind Pew's' identity...)

The book contains some amusing anecdotes but is largely a rambling rant at authority, and several named or barely disguised individuals, that verges on the libellous. Many of the stories are poorly researched and several are false.

3rd Jan 2013, 16:13
Joined BEA (as was) late 1971 as an S/O. Soon afterwards attended my first BALPA meeting. I recall the acrimonious atmosphere when the topic of industrial action was raised. Stan Key seemed to be in a tiny minority opposing IA and was vehemently shouted down by opponents. We newbies were surprised at the bitterness we witnessed. Three months later Simon Ticehurst's father-in-law (Capt Emerson, an excellent instructor) checked out my colleagues and me on the Vanguard at Luqa. One of those colleagues was one of the two Vanguard copilots positioning to BRU on PI with John Collins. (I'm not 100% sure about the Ticehurst-Emerson connection, though - might be a false memory. Apologies if I've got it wrong.)

Shaggy Sheep Driver
3rd Jan 2013, 20:22
The book can be downloaded if you have an Amazon Kindle account, cost is3.50.

Can it be obtained in any other format by us non-Kindleites?

4th Jan 2013, 07:15
Can it be obtained in any other format by us non-Kindleites?

The only hardbacks I can find on Amazon re Papa India are used copies of John Godson's 1974 book, which I assume isn't what's being referred to here. I can't find any reference to an ebook at all, maybe I'm not looking in the right place.

tubby linton
4th Jan 2013, 15:30
A clue to the title would be appreciated please.

4th Jan 2013, 20:39
Captain Key meets Yuri Gagarin.

BEA - British European Airways Corporation photo 282 of 467 G-AHRF (http://www.vickersviscount.net/Pages_Photos/PhotosOwnerGalleryLarge.aspx)

flipflopman RB199
4th Jan 2013, 21:33
To add to tilos' excellent link there, as it appears to send you to the beginning of the gallery, here is the photo of Gagarin and Key taken on the 12th July 1961.



blind pew
5th Jan 2013, 18:58
It is available in hardback and paperback thro Amazon UK and Com.
I wanted the electronic version free but the publishers refused and so it is at the minimum price they allowed.
It is my story - I had a photographic memory and was the "star" on the ill fated course that produced P2 on Papa India.
The book was researched over several years included course mates of Jerry keighley (who was my best mate), His father , the best training captain (and pilot) that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, a senior flight manager, numerous archives and several FOI requests.
I was forwarded copies of relevant newspaper articles of the time...some of my quotes are from there, but those parts of the story that I was not directly involved in came from mates that were.

There were a lot of stories that I couldn't use as the culprits would have been identified.
I deleted 50,000 words after counsel's opinion - the person advises Private Eye - not because they were not true but because of the nature of the British libel laws which Pen International are trying to change.
Sadly BEA pilots of the time believe they were the best inspite of EIGHT crashes in my six years - 248 dead.
Only two days ago a mate told me how they nearly went into the drink in a T3 off Malta with a wrong selection. I believe it wasn't reported although I didn't ask.

The book has been professionally proof read and anything possibly libellous was deleted.

For those in BEA my pprune handle gives my identity.

It is not just a "rant" about BEA but a human story about a dream to fly, overcoming fear and the reality of being a junior pilot in the 70s.

I have just read Ray Blythe's book - only the makers name - it mirrors some of my experiences.

We all have individual opinions on what is best practice... The Americans have decided that 1500 hours is a minimum to operate heavy metal with pax whereas in Europe one can be released on line with less than 250 hours.
They also fined a certain operator and threatened to withdraw their operating permit stateside for a flight which operated outside of the flight testing envelope which had certain aspects which reeked of incompetence to me.
Then we could talk about AF, DGAC and EADS.
What we need is transparency in the industry and not vague threats of laws introduced to stop the nobility killing each other in duels.

5th Jan 2013, 20:11
Sadly BEA pilots of the time believe they were the best inspite of EIGHT crashes in my six years - 248 dead.I can't comment on the abilities of BEA pilots, but you're surely not referring to the period 1967-1973, when the only other accidents where revenue passengers were killed involved a bomb (Comet, 1967, 66 fatalities) and structural failure (Vanguard, 1971, 63 killed) ?

Hard to see how piloting skills were relevant to those events.

5th Jan 2013, 21:04
I was employed by BEA then BA in the 60's and 70's and to be honest a large number of the Captains were among the most arrogant and ill-mannered aircrew I have ever worked with.Many of them seemed to think they they were still in the Airforce and that we in maintenance were some kind of serfs.On one occasion I had had enough of being screamed at and spoke to my shop steward who advised me to tell the gentleman that neither he nor his aircraft would be leaving GLA until an apology was forthcoming - it was, with the excuse that his flight manager was giving him a hard time regarding his fuel burn.I left BA in 1977 and went out into the real world where I learned how to work in the real world.

Aileron Drag
5th Jan 2013, 21:27
It's interesting to read your post, bcgallacher. I remember 'The Glasgow Apology' story.

Many of the 'wartime' captains were dictatorial, arrogant, superior, and worst of all - poor pilots. Oh, sure, brave as lions, but chosen to fly, originally, as cannon-fodder. Having survived the war they thought they were God's gift to aviation.

I experienced the RAF pilot training 'machine' in the 60s. Even then, the training was poor, the attitude straight out of a bullying public school prefects' mess, and the entire atmosphere unprofessional. It probably explains the dreadful accident rate in the RAF. That is, excluding the low-level FJ accidents, which of course are understandable.

Many of the 'old' BEA captains were incapable of providing leadership, setting an example, or even working with other people in any capacity. We were led, however, by their fellow-travellers 'from the old squadron', who protected their mates, whatever their inadequacies.

Some of those old captains were inspirational, but many were a nightmare to work with, and an accident waiting to happen.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
5th Jan 2013, 21:43
My mate remembers a BOAC VC10 Captain at Manchester in the '60s. Red cap comes onto the flight deck, "papers to sign please skip". No response at all from the LH seat. He ignores the Red cap and instructs the P2 on technique instead.

"Skipper, can you sign the papers please?".

No response, even though the inter-pilot conversation has now ceased.

"scuse me skipper, can you sign the papers plese?"

Again,as far as the Captian is concerned the Red cap may as well not exist. At that point the P2 turned to the Red cap saying "I think the c*nt's waiting for you to call him 'Sir'".

6th Jan 2013, 08:05
On the flight deck of a Trident with my shift boss trying to de-brief a captain regarding a technical problem -young first officer keeps interrupting,in final desperation my boss turned to him and said ' Son,I'm talking to the organ grinder not his monkey'

6th Jan 2013, 12:12
BEA, yup only set up and trained Lufhansa, my ex boss was a team leader there just happened he was the Flight Manager of our St. Trinians outfit at our little airport in the coutry called Gatwick. Best bunch of crews I've worked with, even with shite in DAM :E

And yes I was in the office at LGW when "PI" hit the shite farm .... Want to argue ? then you can give me a call, nbr via PM...

6th Jan 2013, 12:25
blind pew,

You mention in post #83 that the inquiry ignored John Cunningham's testimony. Can you give some indication of what JC said or wrote?

6th Jan 2013, 13:36
<<And yes I was in the office at LGW when "PI" hit the shite farm>>

But it did not, did it?

Aileron Drag
6th Jan 2013, 19:57
merlinxx BEA, yup only set up and trained Lufhansa, my ex boss was a team leader there just happened he was the Flight Manager of our St. Trinians outfit at our little airport in the coutry called Gatwick. Best bunch of crews I've worked with, even with shite in DAM http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/src:www.pprune.org/get/images/smilies/evil.gif

And yes I was in the office at LGW when "PI" hit the shite farm .... Want to argue ? then you can give me a call, nbr via PM...

Merlin, I don't know what you're on, but can you please send me some? :)

8th Jan 2013, 10:03
I remember the PI incident well, at that time, I was a co-pilot on VC10s. Since this was also a T-tailed aircraft we were naturally also concerned about deep stalls and the effects of retracting leading edge devices by mistake. From what I have read about the Trident the VC10 was a much more forgiving aircraft - it had leading edge slats rather then droops. Furthermore, they took some 20secs to retract and the slat lever was mechanically locked to the flap lever so that in normal operation it could not be operated seperately. In abnormal conditions these levers could be unlocked and operated independently. Another advantage was the time the slats took to retract, even if they were retracted without the trailing edge flaps the aircraft was able to accelerate sufficiently rapidly to avoid the stall. Our training department undertook several tests to verify this.

I also knew Simon Ticehurt's parents who were devastated not only by the loss of their son but also by all the various issues that crept out of the woodwork after the event - as described succinctly by Blind Pew.

In the 1970s CRM had not been invented. There were good captains and there were bad ones - mostly good, but on some occasions the atmosphere on the flight deck could be distinctly icy. We had our share of bad eggs in BOAC too.

However, I think the BEA operating philosophy protected inadequate captains far too much. When later I was a training captain on 747s in the early 1980s, we had a large number of failures on conversion courses of senior Trident captains who wanted to come to 747s at the end of their careers to earn more pay and thus increase their pensions. It seemed to me that too many of them had been 'carried' by their copilots and protected by a familiar limited route structure and good ATC. Some, who had been almost exclusively flying the shuttle, knew little else other than Amber 1.

The 747 was a real pussycat to handle, but it did have multiple electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic systems, a fairly complicated fuel system, five flap settings and a poor autoland system, especially on the -100 series aircraft. Despite its very good handling qualities too many of the ex-Trident captains could not cope with the system complexities, the wide-flung route structure and the sometimes non-existant ATC. There is a substantial difference between flying in Africa, in the Arctic and over the oceans when compared to flying in well-equipped continental airspace such as Europe. The tactical issues are different and rather more complex.

Our management at the time came under considerable pressure, mainly from the ex-BEA brigade, who thought we were being unfair to these pilots. But the fact was that too many of them simply could not cope. Blind Pew has hit the nail on the head in his various posts!

8th Jan 2013, 10:30
Aileron Drag

You mention public schools prefects' mess. I think you are confusing military and public schools. It would be prefect's study not mess::=

Aileron Drag
8th Jan 2013, 10:38

You have hit the nail smack-on. I knew a Trident captain who failed his 747 conversion. He was a super guy, but had spent years flying Shuttle. The 'Shuttle Back-up' pay was outstanding, and the work almost non-existent. He had the seniority to avoid almost all other routes. Further, he needed looking after in the air.

Having switched to longhaul myself after many years being feather-bedded in radar-controlled and ILS-infested Europe, I had the biggest shock of my life. Particularly, as you say, in the Dark Continent.

I found the level of ability and professionalism in longhaul to be considerably higher than shorthaul, with obvious exceptions of course. I guess it was just a more demanding environment. I think one exception to the above were the 'Fewdals' - flat earth w dabbling at longhaul, who went to the 747-400 for their last few years. They only flew a couple of routes, spent most of the time in a bunk, and had an ILS at each terminus!

8th Jan 2013, 12:03
Aileron Drag,

I am so glad you back me up on this, sometimes I thought I was getting a bit paranoid. The blokes themselves were usually super guys but just couldn't cope with the change of environment. Also, in long haul flying, fuel management and tactical planning were so much more important, especially when doing re-flightplanning operations from Hong Kong to London on the 747-200 before the -400 came on line.

I have nothing against the chaps but BEA management left a lot to be desired!

Aileron Drag
8th Jan 2013, 14:52

Blast! I knew that I was mixing my whatsits even as I wrote it. My apologies.

I will attend the Prefects' Study immediately for my well-deserved thrashing! :(

8th Jan 2013, 15:05
Sorry to see that this thread is deteriorating into the old BOAC versus BEA debate which some of us tried to leave behind in the 70s.
There was a significant difference in the training philosophy of the ex components of BA. BEA philosophy on conversions was to teach at the beginning of the course and gradually withdraw support with progress. There seemed to be more of a "You prove to me you can do it and I point out where you go wrong" approach from too many trainers on the other side - which some short haul candidates (used to a different approach) found intimidating and confidence-sapping.
For what it is worth, I came to longhaul in the twilight of my career and found it much more relaxing than hectic four (sometimes five) sector days in Europe. And yes - that did include Lagos as well as JFK and O' Hare etc.
Pilots are much of a muchness wherever - so let's give the tribalism a rest.

Aileron Drag
8th Jan 2013, 15:23
Well, Scotbill, you sure can't call me tribal. I'm yer actual hybrid or, if you prefer, mongrel. First 18 years BEA/BAED/Shorthaul, then longhaul (via what was in reality still BCal.)

I found it a very big challenge having to make the tactical decisions mentioned by Bergerie1, and even Lagos had a (wonky) ILS and half-a-dozen runway lights! At quite a few destinations you were lucky if you had a VOR or NDB. It was just so basic - that was what caused my own culture-shock.

However, you're quite right to point out the essential 'sameness' of pilots. The ill-feeling that existed back then was very unpleasant.

For old time's sake, have a pint of heavy and a chix vindaloo for me, preferably at the Koh-i-Noor!

8th Jan 2013, 15:50

I think a Fewdal would be called a Figjam these days. F**k, I'm good, just ask me!!

8th Jan 2013, 18:02
I thought it might be helpful to post a link to a photo of a Trident cockpit:

DSC_0333 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/8302350559/)

It's a Trident Two rather than the One that PI was, so maybe there are some differences-I don't know, as I'm not a pilot. And if anyone can add to the fascinating first comment on the photo, I'd be very interested to read that.

tubby linton
8th Jan 2013, 19:14
What were the Trident 's autoland minima?

8th Jan 2013, 20:17
75m RVR and 14' DH for Cat III

The 75m RVR was not an aircraft limitation but dictated by the Fire Service at LHR as they could not guarantee finding an aircraft in less.

The Trident also could take off in 75m - being fitted with rolling horizontal barber pole indicators (PVD) linked to the ILS

Aileron Drag
8th Jan 2013, 22:40
Was it 12 feet?

Been a long time..............

9th Jan 2013, 07:24

I am sorry if I gave the impression of being tribal, that was not my intention. I understand the underlying philosophy behind the monitored approach and have no doubt it worked well. My point is that, in a way that is similar to the 'overuse' of automatics on modern aircraft today, where pilots have insufficient practice hand flying, the BEA handover of control for most of the flight allowed some captains on Tridents to be too easily 'carried' by their co-pilots. And if this was compounded by too much time on Shuttle backup the results were plain to see.

I also fully accept that the 'old style' training methods being used on the 747 fleet at that time needed to be much improved - and they were, but it took time. In addition, I query the wisdom of changing types when nearing the end of one's flying carreer. A number of the older BOAC pilots failed the Concorde course because the were unable to adapt. This is no reflection on any of these pilots as people. As Scotbill says 'pilots are much of a muchness wherever' they are.

More to the point, knowing Simon Ticehurst's parents as I did, it made me acutely aware of how many people well beyond those immediately involved are affected by any accident.

Finally, as always, accidents have multiple contributory causes - the Swiss cheese effect. I have little doubt that BEA's management processes were a major contributory factor and this was not fully explored in the inquiry afterwards.

9th Jan 2013, 09:55
Was it 12 feet?You may be right - it was indeed a long time ago. What I do remember at base training was that the Trident could make an auto go around from that DH without the wheels touching the ground.

Shuttle back up might have created a problem but loss of handling skills cannot be blamed on the monitored approach as roles were reversed with P2 handling. Bear in mind that those transferring to long haul were all of the Hamble/Oxford generation.
In BEA the general expectation on command conversion for a pilot of reasonable track record was that he would pass. Thus the early part of the course was devoted to teaching and that support gradually reduced to the dumb FO role.

One of my Senior Training Managers enunciated a simple philosophy:
a) If anyone has trouble the first step is to change the Training Captain
b) There is no point in telling an experienced pilot he has done something wrong unless you can tell him why he got it wrong and, more importantly, what he can do to make it better.
(Ace pilots do not necessarily make good trainers because they may not even understand the problem).

By contrast, a 747 "trainer" said in the bar to one of my colleagues, "I would not presume to tell another pilot how to fly!" and another was reported as having said to a command conversion on his first line sector LHR - Anchorage, "You're a captain, get on with it."
We had incompetent trainers in BEA too - completely bereft of that ability to diagnose another pilot's problem which to me is a fundamental requirement in a trainer.

I have never believed that there is any point in having a court of enquiry into an accident. The truth is likely to be the first casualty as lawyers attempt to cover their respective clients' asses.

Pull what
11th Jan 2013, 22:50
Many people quote the misselection of the droops by one of the pilots in this accident and forget that the handling pilot failing to fly the appropriate speed by 20 knots was also a contributory factor.

blind pew
15th Jan 2013, 18:19
Been travelling which included taking Jerry keighley's dad to lunch in Swalesdale where his family had built a house in the 30s. Bill had been shot down on a suicide mission in 1940 and spent the war in Stalag Luft Drei and participated in the death march. His son was P2 in papa Inida.

If Hamble boy cares to read my blog - trustthepilot.blog.com - he will understand that he is 100% wrong re research.
The accident period I refer to was Novemeber 1971 until I joined the VC-10 which was 1977.

Vanguard known corrosion ignored. all dead.
Papa india.
What became X-ray mike - training Nicosia.
707 at Prestwick - training!
707 Heraklion - written off on landing but flown back to Gatwick with pax without engineering clearance.
T3 mid air - atc but some criticism of crew lookout.
Viscount on air test flew into cloud with hard centre.
1E at Bilbao - hit puddle.
Not exactly in chronological order.
And a steward who fell to his death from incorrectly installed Airstairs in Rome. (FR aren't whiter than driven snow in this respect).

There were so many other near disasters - many I haven't written about but one was when the crew apparently went the wrong side of the checker board and nearly took out downtown HKG.

Agree with Aileron drag re the huge difference in changing from BEA to BOAC - I was nearly chopped.

Cunningham stated that the Trident was designed, tested and certified to carry out a standard take off climb to an acceleration altitude. A continuous acceleration at this altitude and flap retraction at requisite speeds in one go.
This was carried out at climb power.

It was also Davies recommended procedure in Handling the big jets. He gave evidence but I didn't read the file and there is no mention of it in the report.

I flew six different airliners for three companies - about another six variants and no one bar BEA did such a foolish noise abatement.
Throttle back sometimes at 500ft, set a dangerously low amount of power, whip up the flaps and fly around V2+10 on the backside of the drag curve.

Whilst we had some fantastically skilled pilots in BEA there was what we called a significant "pony express" mentality - get the mail through whatever.
It didn't matter what the book says or airmanship - my job is to get the pax to X even if I don't take prisoners.
We called it "cowboys" although the modern term is apparently "cavalier" so I suppose that excludes the circumcised amongst us. (and Les on the grounds of size). - private joke to another pruner.
Safe flying.

16th Jan 2013, 20:48
blind pew

"whip up the flaps and fly around V2+10 on the backside of the drag curve." ???????

Not after whipping up the flaps I hope!

7th Feb 2013, 13:14
This is all fascinating stuff and brings back many memories of my days as an ex-apprentice working in Tech 1 at LHR, on Tridents and L1011s in the late 70s. While I enjoyed working on the Tridents, it's true that some of the old-school captains could be a bit challenging at times.

26th Sep 2013, 16:39
Re: book called "Disasters in the Air", by Jan Bartelski, formerly KLM. He has selected certain aviation accidents that are shrouded in some uncertainty. Given the blanks left by the lack of a CVR on PI, he finds the incident fertile ground.

The gist of his explanation lies in the idea that Key's airspeed indicator was reading high. This notion is used to explain Key's settings in the autopilot as well as the more serious question of selecting droops up at 162 knots. He also questions whether a P1 who is in the midst of a coronary event could have the stamina and strength to override the stick pusher three times, and reach back to finally disable the stick system, which he would be motivated to do if he truly believed that he had attained 225 knots (and nearing the 250 knots at which, Bartelski says, flying with droops lowered could damage these leading edge devices).

My immediate questions:
*Is it the P1 or the P2 who might have actually overridden the stick push? Key vs Keighley would weigh heavily in this question, given the issue of a possible coronary event. Bartelski's argument rests on the idea that Key was not incapacitated at this time, and was in the throes of an instrument error. OTOH, a few earlier posts would indicate that perhaps the P2 was expected to initiate the override, which one assumes Keighley was capable of doing.
*If Key's airspeed indicator was inaccurate, why would there be no indications of it on previous flights (unless it had just gone bad, of course)? Were PI's logs examined? If not, are they currently in storage somewhere?
*I understand that it was Ticehurst's function to monitor all phases of the flight during climbout, which would include (one would hope), discerning, and reacting to, early droop retraction. It is easy to be critical, but something was amiss here, though the confusion could have been overwhelming, especially if Key was actually incapacitated (which Bartelki disputes, based on stick push override). Any thoughts?

Bartelski does acknowledge the issue of CRM: Key may have initiated droop retraction, or given the order to do so, at a moment that was clearly inappropriate in the eyes of Keighley and Ticehurst, who may have been reluctant to countermand a P1 with a 'reputation'.

26th Sep 2013, 22:20
*If Key's airspeed indicator was inaccurate, why would there be no indications of it on previous flights (unless it had just gone bad, of course)? Were PI's logs examined? If not, are they currently in storage somewhere?Are you seriously suggesting a scenario where the accident investigators didn't review the recent technical history of the aircraft involved ? :ugh:

blind pew
27th Sep 2013, 13:14
The heathrow fly past...

27th Sep 2013, 14:12
Given the fact that someone retracted the droops 63 knots and 1300 feet below prescribed limits, and four trained men could not understand the resultant stall warning, I'd say any amount of confusion - during the 'event' or the investigation - is possible.

27th Sep 2013, 21:15
Given the fact that someone retracted the droops 63 knots and 1300 feet below prescribed limits, and four trained men could not understand the resultant stall warning, I'd say any amount of confusion - during the 'event' or the investigation - is possible.Following any accident, an aircraft's entire technical records are quarantined and made available to the accident investigators.

Since an important part of any investigation is to explore the possibility of precursor technical issues as a causal factor, it's frankly insulting to any investigation bureau (the UK AAIB in this case) to suggest that it's "possible" that they didn't bother to look at the aircraft's paperwork.

30th Sep 2013, 09:43
That 40 years has taken up most of my working life, it only seems like I took that sad phone call last week !


17th Nov 2013, 00:06
My sister and I were playing in a field near Sunnymeads, Wraysbury and we saw the plane coming down. It was only recently, following a frightening incident on a transatlantic flight, that I looked up the details of the accident that we had witnessed. I was shocked to find out that there was no mention of an engine fire. My sister and I had not spoken of the incident in 40 years, but when I questioned her about her memories of what she had seen, they were the same as mine. The plane was coming down slowly, not on the usual flight path. As I starred at it I could see flames coming up from the underside, such that as I looked at it it felt like my gaze was causing it to burn. I was 10 years old at the time but I had always believed that the pilot was a hero, bringing the plane down away from the busy road and Staines, in an attempt to land it back at Heathrow.

17th Nov 2013, 09:35
Interesting witness statement AJ3287.

The Trident was in a 'deep stall' at the time - very little or no control would have been available to the pilots, notwithstanding the fact that the captain was probably incapacitated leaving a very inexperienced copilot at the controls.

The engine fire you report was probably because of engine surges due to the disrupted airflow entering the engines at an extreme angle for which the intakes weren't designed.
Do you recall any noises/sounds?

Heathrow Harry
19th Nov 2013, 16:42
When PI crashed everyone was amazed it didn't kill hundreds on the ground - impacting in essentially open ground

Immediately some developers realised that here was valuable real estate going begging in Staines and moved in

One of my old friends lived there for a while - can't remember the name they gave the road officially but it was always known as "trident Terrace" to both occupants and the townsfolk for years...................

Adverse Jaw
22nd Nov 2013, 15:32
Interesting thread. I was a contemporary of Blind Pew at Hamble and find amusing his claim to be the star of course 702. I spent nine years on the Trident - up to its withdrawal from service. And I must say that I find some of Blind Pew's memories quite different to my own experience. I look back on my time on the Gripper with much affection.
However, in the early 1970's, things were a bit different and I must agree with him, the airline was state owned and not well managed, as a company or politically. A large proportion of Capts were ex WWII or National service and perhaps not so uniform in performance. Coming from prop types, some struggled with the Trident. A few were overbearing and downright difficult, but CRM had not yet been conceived. However, most of us managed to simply to get on with the job and I would like to think produced a more humble type of captain when our turn came. Promotion was slow, so we had an exceptionally long apprenticeship. It was noticeable that when the first Hamble trained pilots gained their commands, attitudes toward colleagues improved.
There is a tone of aggrieved rant in BP's posts, not many pilots left BA, perhaps he did the right thing in leaving for Swissair and I hope that he found things more to his liking there. But I imagine not.
A few other points. He makes it sound as if the Trident was a dangerous and unstable aircraft. It was not. Trident was handicapped by by its engines, not bad, just too small. (imposed on the manufacturer by BEA)
Now reaching the point of this thread. The greatest error in Trident's design - and certification, was that, incredibly, the flaps and droop/slats were commanded by separate levers. (The T1 employed drooped leading edges, while the T2 & T3 used slats, but the controls were the same.)
This defect allowed the droop to be retracted improperly, placing Papa India 60kt its below its speed for the configuration and well into the stall. As to who performed these actions including the stick-push override operation become unimportant, the design should never have been approved. After Papa India, an extra baulk was introduced in the quadrant and all slat/flap selections were made with almost exaggerated care.
BP gives the impression that Trident was a dangerous and unstable aircraft. It was not.
Trident was fast, very fast, I have seen Mach Nos. close to sonic and all without displaying any bad tendencies or need artificial protection. No high speed buffet or need for Mach trim, bank angle limiter, recovery speed brake etc. The aircraft was a delight to fly. It could do things that no other airliner could in its time and some that they still cannot do now.
It was very easy to fly, but the simulator less so. Apparently, because the CAA decided that the fuselage mounted engines presented insufficient asymmetric challenge. So, the sim had its engines mounted an imaginary18ft outboard (If I recall correctly) as well as being very pitch unstable unlike the aircraft itself. As for BPs assertion that Trident was speed unstable on the approach nonsense, but like any jet, get it on the back of the drag curve and much power was required to recover speed, just like any jet.
Tridents autoland capability was revolutionary, though the mechanism used to achieve this seems quaint nowadays, employing triplex parallel circuits from ILS receiver to control surface actuator. But remember, this was an electro-mechanical system, no electronics. I remember on a few occasions doing four Cat3 autolands on a single day when we Tridents were the only traffic in the skies and it was 12ft/75m if BP's photographic memory needs a nudge.
Another area where Trident was a leader, was in Quick Access flight data recording. In order to gain approval for its groundbreaking Cat3 autoland, all the aircraft were equipped with a 72 channel flight data recorder, extraordinary at the time. On the completion of these trials, the evidence of these recordings could have been used in many ways. Keeping the pilots in line? In fact, the company, in cooperation with BALPA came up with the enlightened SESMA programme, whereby data derived was used to monitor performance and detect deviations and used in an intelligent manner, rather than as a weapon against offending pilots. It has been a model of its type.
A consequence of Papa India was the mandatory adoption of CVR, as without this information, despite the FDR, the actual events of the Staines accident will never be known, only their outcomes and contributing factors.
For those of you who might have been taken in by BPs bitter and jaundiced posts, I would suggest that you look up some of the many Trident threads to discover its many fans.

DX Wombat
22nd Nov 2013, 16:05
AJ, thank you for a sensible, well reasoned, non-hysterical, factual post from a person fully conversant with the aircraft. It makes a refreshing change.
On a different note, I was visiting friends in Deepcut at the time it happened and have a memory of an initial report of a four years old girl being taken to hospital having survived the initial impact but who died either en route or shortly after arrival at the hospital, however, I have never since seen, heard mention of or any reference to it. The crash was a tragedy but it seems to have had some positive results which have hopefully gone on to make flying safer for all of us.

blind pew
22nd Nov 2013, 16:58
Adverse yaw...if you had read my tome you will see that I had more chop flights than anyone else on my course and if Duff Mitchell is to be believed more than anyone else in the history of Hamble.

I see that you first flew the Vanguard so you would have little idea whatsoever what it was like to go straight from Hamble onto the Trident during a period of the worst industrial action in the history of BEA and a period where we crashed a lot of aircraft...three or four in my first year.
A straight wing turbo prop is a very different kettle of fish to an underpowered swept wing jet.
You will also realise the debt that I owed to people like Stan Romaine who took it upon himself to teach me how to land the Trident and regain my confidence..whilst others would not let me touch the controls.

Perhaps I was wrong to dare to pen a letter about what we had really been taught during our Trident conversion course for inclusion in the public inquiry...but I felt that I had a moral responsibility...as did George Childs who paid for it with his career...read his testimony...if you can be bothered to visit Waterside.
And while you are there read some of the other testimonies...they really opened my eyes.
I spent a lot of time researching my book and asking former colleagues about their opinions.
Mine are not unique and some of their stories shocked me.

But it is an autobiography and not a general history book.

You also have forgotten the "stall procedure amendment" or perhaps you weren't on the Trident in 1972.
No doubt training changed after the demise of 118 souls.
And you probably didn't witness the way Stan Key was treated.

I am also indebted to the guys in BOAC who helped me through the enormous leap going from BEA to part 1 on the VC 10 when my mates were still not allowed to fly manual throttle nor take the autopilot out without asking.

Lord King and the BOAC training/management guys changed the airline around to the great company it is today.
Perhaps you suffer from the BEA tribalism.

I was extremely fortunate to get the Swissair job and I have to thank the crews on the duck for their patience and help whilst I learnt what it was to be a professional and not just a bus driver.
In SR..I learnt how to throw a jet around with ease..no FD...manual throttle...final configuration at 400ft...speed stabilised later.
A proper salary and all the bits that went with the best airline in Europe.
And of course a first class modern quasi military training establishment.

You write nonsense about the Trident flap/droop system ...how do you think other aircraft operate...one lever...with the last stage changing the leading edge devices configuration.
And of course you are forgetting fundamentals ...one reaches an acceleration altitude and then accelerates to climb speed progressively ...it was the unique BEA noise proceedure more than anything else that caused the crash as Cats eyes Cunningham said in his testimony..and as Davies writes in his book.

Next you will be writing that BEA were the first airline in the world to use autoland....and the good old slick Trident operation....you have obviously never followed one in in a DC9 or BAC 111.

Standard proceedure if we couldn't over take one in descent was reduce to minimum clean..

Step back and remember it is always very easy to blame dead men and forget that they were put into an impossible position by those that run a flawed system which is not adequately policed. NCTT.

I guess you probably appreciate that what happened to Glen Stewart..Brian Abrahams has a very accurate post on PPrune...with only a couple of bits missing....and where many of us could have ended up.

A very sobering read of how someone can be hung out to dry whilst trying to do the best for his passengers and employer.

Ps as to the numbers who left..6 copilots and 3 captains from BEA that I knew on the Trident and around 10 from BA to SR..most ex Tridents and most ex Hamble or Oxford..And not forgetting the half dozen or so of my course who went to Man/Bhm and highlands as soon as they could.....

Chris Scott
23rd Nov 2013, 20:38
Hello ex-BEA and ex-BOAC folks,

Been catching up on the last year of this fascinating thread. I enjoyed most of my career with your theoretical competitor down at Gatwick (HMG's "second force", never permitted to operate flights out of Heathrow) - until you gobbled us up in 1988. Perhaps my outside perspective may be of some interest, and it's not intended to be offensive. :}

I was already a BUA cadet at AST Perth in 1966 when the first BEA/BOAC course started there, presumably due to Hamble being oversubscribed. As you cadets had all passed the same selection processes at Hamble, it astonishes me that there should subsequently have been tribalism between you on the basis of a random (?) posting to BEA or BOAC. Sounds rather like school. But I suppose that - unlike ours - your jobs were so guaranteed, and you had so much spare time on your hands, that you could afford the luxury?

FWIW, we all had to do our copliot apprenticeships in secondment to associate companies of BUA, so had to wait several years before going on jets like the 1-11 and VC10. The up-sides of that were that we got loads of handling practice early-on, and when we got our first jet we were in a two-pilot crew - meaning we were never on an F/E's panel or a sextant.

Although in my tiny associate company we had more than our share of old captains - including ex-WW2 and retired BEA/BOAC/BSAA(!) - there was a culture of captains giving leg-for-leg, where possible, that was observed by all but two or three of them. We had several captains whose CRM skills would not be tolerated today, and a few lousy handlers, but many great ones too.

When we later became jet copilots in Caledonian-BUA, and had had our black balls removed, we resumed leg-for-leg handling. Like a captain's leg, that meant being PF for the whole flight, including taxiing (except on our B707s, where we didn't have a tiller). AFAIK, monitored approaches were never trialled in BUA, Caledonian or BCAL.

There were one or two VC10 skippers whose handling was marginal on simulator checks, but the sim was not that representative in some respects. In the air on long-haul, the copilot was sometimes sidelined in the dialogue between the captain and F/E, but I don't think any of us was loath to speak up when necessary. One-Eleven cockpits were run as a two-man team, and I don't remember ever being left out of the loop, even if a few skippers were slightly non-standard. No airs and graces there.

Quote from Bergerie 1 (my emphasis):
"I understand the underlying philosophy behind the monitored approach and have no doubt it worked well. My point is that, in a way that is similar to the 'overuse' of automatics on modern aircraft today, where pilots have insufficient practice hand flying, the BEA handover of control for most of the flight allowed some captains on Tridents to be too easily 'carried' by their co-pilots."

So what happened on the copilot's leg in half-decent weather? Was there not a complete role-reversal?

At the time BA took over BCAL, we were just introducing the A320 into service. We handful of crews - nearly all ex-BCAL for the first year or so - were generally resistant to the imposition of monitored approaches; knowing little about them and mostly not keen to learn. Fortunately, our fleet management was committed to making the A320 fleet the best in BA, and apparently all fleets would have to conform to them as a BA standard. We soon knuckled down, particularly when we moved up to LHR permanently after a summer of LGW ops.

If the destination wx necessitated an autoland, the captain had to do the leg, but in other respects the leg-for-leg philosophy was retained. It's fairly unusual for two consecutive landings to be affected. Our handover of PF duties to the PNL usually took place not at TOC, but just before the PL (landing pilot) conducted his/her pre-descent briefing. If the PL became visual early on finals, (s)he could take over early - configuration changes and checklist permitting. If the wx was worse than Cat 1, the captain would handle the G/A or autoland, but otherwise role-reversal was complete. It all became second-nature.

Up at LHR we gradually became aware that not only were the B747 fleets not conforming to the standard, but neither was the recalcitrant B737. I wonder what the situation is today, but any suggestion that the monitored-approach philosophy in BA might allow below-average captains to be propped up by their copilots simply doesn't make sense today.

blind pew
24th Nov 2013, 17:09
enjoyed reading your post Chris and to some extents you have hit the nail on the head but the story is more complicated.
First I was due to start at Hamble in 1968 but the bean counters cancelled my course and when it was reinstated I wasn't informed...they couldn't make up their minds on the pilot requirements...

We were terribly privileged ..no wars and at a time of huge social change which had really started with the ex servicemen who had mutinied after the end of the war when the authorities decided to leave them to rot whilst raw materials were shipped back. Add to that the treatment of our non white military and the Irish.(and women).

I was fortunate to get into grammar school..4% of the population achieved 2 A levels...which got me into Hamble although on my course we had a couple of guys with O levels from secondary Mod.

I grew up with the Mods and Rockers wars in Southend and the extent of the corruption in the police force was only just becoming generally known.
(as we now know the extent of pedophilia and rape was yet to surface).
My wife went on a band the bomb march...her mother still doesn't know..and attended a Welsh extremist party...full of nutters...then it was Bebe and Mary Quant.
The RAF were loosing more than two aircraft a week.
Hamble was fantastic...especially as the instructors were all ex-fighters...they didn't get into the airline because that was sewn up by the bomber boys.
But we had the philosophy of chop a third to get higher standard...which nearly included me.

There wasn't a choice of Corporation because BOAC had stopped recruiting although some of my mates went to Courtline and generally have had a more rewarding career than the BA guys...stand by for incoming Al.

I must qualify what I am going to write next...some is my own experience ...some is from Balpa and some from senior management...(some of which I only discovered recently).

BEA had a career structure in LHR of seniority dictating the fleet with the exception of management bypassing everything.

AJ had a typical BEA career...vanguards ..Trident..Tristar (with a bespoke Trident cockpit - one of the reasons they were given to the RAF)...BCal DC10 ..early command and BEA ftm who went onto the 747. The 747 was the way to get a huge pension..crystalising.....around 150 grand index linked for some.
Unlike AJ I spent my career either going onto a brand new aircraft, or a new training system or in the case of the Trident a war zone. We actually had trainers fly up to Prestwick...do a detail and fly back to LHR...

The first hit of tribalism was when a captain said "he's a fkg sergeant pilot".

Then three years on "Fkg masons"...and when I was researching my book ..many times...followed by "fkg guild"...which happens to be true.

I was flying in the Pyrenees when I had a conversation with an ex world champion who said "public school boys" ...which wasn't the problem as most were very competent and gentlemen.

What I read very recently is that BEA management had a fear of the government giving the company to BOAC...and asking an ex FM he stated that this went back to 1948!...This would tie in with my experiences.
The strange part was that in BOAC this mentality didn't exist...we just looked upon others..even the charter boys ;-) as professionals...

The effect of this was a culture of everything in BOAC is rubbish...possibly to prevent an amalgamation ..it used up a huge amount of unnecessary energy which lead IMHO to the horrendous accident rate.
The energy could have been used for flight safety.
Look at the Munich disaster (Stan Key was the rep)...two accident reports in similar circumstances had been sent to BEA but were not promulgated to the crews. The Trident disaster was the same thing...except there were three.
The vanguard over ghent was a problem known for two years and ignored.

The BOAC boys did a fantastic job turning the culture around but many of them were ex Hamble and younger.
Not that the bomber boys were all bad ...I flew with some wonderful captains who were older than my father and treated me like a mate...I learnt a lot.

In BEA we had to have a short back and sides...and our Vol 5 said we had to salute training captains...we looked like ex Cons...whilst BOAC had long hair like the Stones...there are some good videos of the time..

Then there was our diction....I'm from Sarfen...I had to smartly change it as did "Northerners" ...best wind up was an ex public school mate of mine who wound up a T3 captain who had an affected accent...probably ex borstal...and spoke with cockney vernacular..
The other copilot basically called the captain a CT...all BEA.

I was shocked by the story but you have to consider the animosity after PI especially as the lengths management went to hang the crew out to dry.

It is a pity that the AAIB wasn't allowed to thoroughly investigate the accident and it was a public inquiry..I think history could have been changed.

The VC 10 was the best part of my career but it cost me friends...as I left the tribe...but who ...in their right mind ...wouldn't have swopped shuttle back up, drinking a pint of heavy, eating curry and chips in Sockihall? street without cabin crew and discussing how much draft pay Sid had earned to drinking a Singapore Sling in the old Raffles with some real honeys...add that to most of the old Empire...I am sure you experienced the life in Bcal..

When I was leaving for SR a BEA skipper phoned me up and said "Ace you are a CT if you go to SR...my neighbour is a captain..and he said so".
It took me five years to find out the truth...ex bomber command...just like some of the guys in BEA and the Atlantic Barons...if you read Reg on gaining a RAF brevet you will see a similar problem with anti semantism.
This guy insulted all of the Swiss...not unlike the English with the Africans, Irish and women...and so some of them took revenge on moi...
It wasn't all one sided as we had many laughs and the crumpet was better than the Debs in BEA.

Monitored approach.

It was probably developed because of lack of handling skills...indeed there was a rumour about putting the captain on the P3 position..apparently as the Russsians did.

IMHO it was half [email protected] the captain did the throttles...and we were not allowed to use manual throttle except if an engine failed when it was obligatory.
So you really never knew what was going in with windshear and one of my mates had a tail strike because of the skipper's poor throttle handling.
On my VC 10 course I had great fun as we had a North East guy who flew the opposite of BEA and a BEA guy who had swallowed his ops manual...light the blue touch paper.
BOAC philosophy was one guy flies the aircraft (including throttles) and the other monitors him....same in SR.

What AJ probably knew was the great FTM of our era did most of his Tristar conversion with the AP plugged in...says it all...he was also the guy who authorised our 1179 when the BofT refused - see PI report.
The last five years have been very interesting...not only after I discovered PPrune but from openly talking about our era and understanding how the industry has evolved.
But it is still fundamentally flawed as I believe we need far more transparency... all FDRs need reading, full time CVR, complete FOI...after all we owe it to our passengers....and to ourselves as pilots are the first to die and the first to be blamed.

I was involved in mountain gliding and aerobatics...occasionally both together ...which is a shining example...but paragliding isn't because the advertising revenues pay for the magazines and so we fly some terrible kit...
But boy have I had some fun....45 years flying, 15 years teaching joe blogs off the street to fly...visited 1/2 the known world..and a modest pension ;-)

Chris Scott
29th Nov 2013, 11:56
blind pew,

Thanks. Am tempted to obtain your memoir - particularly after AJ's recommendation ;) - but, if it's as cryptic as your post, I'm afraid the juiciest chunks of it would go right over my head...

You and any other readers have no doubt detected some degree of bias and cynicism in my own post, and to be honest I never knew much of what was going on in the Corporations. We had gradually to accept that, apart from gifting us the Lagos route in 1971 (without which we would not have survived 1973/4), the government was only prepared to allow its much-vaunted "second force" scheduled carrier to compete with yours to a handful of destinations - and always from the sideline hub of Gatwick.

The creation of a second-force independent airline to compete against BEA and BOAC was the brainchild of the Edwards Committee, reporting to the Labour (Wilson) govt in 1969. IIRC, it recommended BUA and Caledonian as merger candidates, and in 1970 the newly-elected Tory (Heath) govt vetoed the possible takeover of BUA by BOAC, so Adam Thomson's (charter) Caledonian purchased the financially-ailing (schedule) BUA. Operations and engineering-wise, however, it could be argued that the BUA management ruled the roost - mainly because of its broader technical expertise, and experience in scheduled services. There was a good deal of tribalism between the two parties; the most evident area being the contempt that the Caledonian B707 fleet had for the VC10 operation and economics. But the moderating bottom line was always that the public and the government didn't owe us a livelihood... We nearly went to the wall in 1974.

There's irony in the fact that independent airlines seemed to do better under Labour than the Conservatives. In the early Eighties, we (and Laker) invested a lot of money in Anglo-European Airbuses in the hope of gaining more short-to-medium-haul routes. Our own A310 order was reduced to two when that didn't materialise, and they became instantly redundant when PC Yvonne Fletcher was murdered outside the Libyan embassy in 1984 - just as I was going off to Toulouse for my conversion course. (Undaunted, we became a launch customer for the A320 project!) Adam Thomson, R.I.P., was a benign, Scottish, socialist entrepreneur. Unlike your Lord King and - a little later - Richard Branson, he never attracted the support of Margaret Thatcher. His prediction that BCAL would not survive unless permitted access to Heathrow proved to be correct. Branson was soon to be permitted precisely that.

Well, that got some of it off my chest... Steering towards the on-topic, we did have a few stuffed shirts, if not primadonnas, in the left-hand seat, and there was more than a whiff of the Lodge factor - not that I could lay claim to have been affected. Yes, I've heard captains being dismissed in conversation as ex-flight-sergeants. We were far from perfect. But once I was in the mainline, I never felt inhibited to speak up - certainly not in an aeroplane. Perhaps we were also fortunate only to lose one passenger in our 17 years, and our operation was so much smaller than yours.

As for haircuts, blind pew, do you really think that being permitted to have long hair "like the Stones" was an indication of an enlightened flight-ops management? If so, ours would have failed dismally. One of my contemporaries, who was on the 1-11, used to wear a short-haired wig to hide his locks. Our VC10 chief training captain threatened me with dismissal from the fleet when I turned up for one of my line-training sectors with a modest amount of hair touching my shirt collar. I thought he was joking. When I tried light-heartedly to discuss it with the F/E en-route, he made it clear that - although the CTC/FTM had a reputation for a fairly bombastic approach to his authority - the admonishment was right and proper: "Long hair looks ridiculous when you're wearing a cap." (which we always did in public on the ground - unlike many of my BA colleagues in later years). I've never liked hats, but I believed in discipline and standardisation - and took the shilling.

On a less-trivial note, quote:
"In SR..I learnt how to throw a jet around with ease..no FD...manual throttle...final configuration at 400ft...speed stabilised later."

I'm surprised to see you advocating that, particularly on a jet (except the manual throttle bit, which was normally my preference when visual). Once bumped into an ex-BA guy in a bar in Geneva in the 1990s. I think I expressed a favourable impression of the company. He immediately embarked on a completely unsolicited rant against the safety of the operation, and particularly its obsession with fuel and time-saving on approach and landing. All total news to me, and I wondered if he was a crank with a grievance.

"A proper salary and all the bits that went with the best airline in Europe.
And of course a first class modern quasi military training establishment."

Inferring that you're a bit of a free spirit, I'm wondering what you liked about the quasi-military training establishment?

blind pew
29th Nov 2013, 12:59
Chris you can always have a look at my blog..trustthepilot.blog.com
its free but the format means it's a*se about face.
As it happens the last finished post contains a reference to the destruction of my BEA hat and a great days work....this bit isn't included.

In Swissair we had the cabin crew and gays take over the uniform design with the result that the pilots only had to wear a hat which was modeled on a soviet military cap with a peak that would have suited a steam locomotive driver in winter. The worst part was a canary yellow trench coat...with sleeves that would have fitted a thalidomide victim and a cut that enabled one to smuggle another person through security. I NEVER wore mine and gave it to my mother for gardening in a south of france winter with the mistral blowing. She never wore it either...on todays dosh it would have cost around 1500 quid.
The italians nicknamed us "the tennis balls".

As to my colleague...ex BA and SR - I could guess but there wasn't a fuel saving mentality except with regard to doing a slick approach and if that meant closing the throttles at TOD and not touching them until 500ft so be it.
Certainly VNE down to 4000ft wasn't exactly fuel efficient :O (nor VNE by 3000ft)
SR had done glide approaches and landings on the DC9 until we joined.

Re the military...different types to those in what became BA. First of all all of the Swiss males were in it (and some women). It was more of a democratic service than ours. Virtually all of the Swiss either flew choppers or jets in the mountains - and we are talking big mountains and bad weather.
28% of us were foreigners and most of those were ex military fighters as well.
Yes we had the dreaded secrecy stuff and one day I might post some more of what happened but our handling and maintenance was second to none.

What was good was that every flight data recorder was checked...I was called up a couple of times ...once over a complaint received through diplomatic channels...and only after they had thoroughly investigated it...but as I flew by the book.. which was openly written...never had any problems.

I'll PM u.

29th Nov 2013, 14:00
Readers of Blind Pew's regular diatribes on BEA should know that his views on his brief exposure to the airline bear little resemblance to anything I came across in thirty years' experience and should be taken with a very large helping of sodium chloride.
Those of us who led relatively peaceful lives in aviation can only marvel at the endless variety of drama which coloured his own career. I'm sure his colleagues must have been immensely grateful that they were blessed with his advice.

blind pew
29th Nov 2013, 15:19
Scotbill..The 8 airliner loses and 248 dead in my six years is possibly reflected in my diatribe or would you consider this normal collateral damage in a happy ship?
Whilst we all have a selective memory and often a different perspective we all have the right to say it as we saw it.
I doubt very much whether you have an inclinking what it was like to join during an industrial war, be partly trained and be in a company that lost four aircraft in roughly the first year.
The Sunday papers of the time said it all.

There were a few that stood up to be counted the majority kept stumm...which catagory were you in?

29th Nov 2013, 18:10
Actively involved in the industrial atmosphere of the time so can do without your condescension.
This bitterness which has seared your soul has exposed you to numerous criticisms on other forums which apparently do nothing to curb your constant attacks on an airline which was always in the forefront of innovation in a very conservative world.
Interestingly some of those criticisms have come from your own contemporaries who apparently found the working environment more pleasant and fulfilling than you did.
However, I recognise you are unwilling to abandon your self-appointed status as an expert on all matters BEA so I will leave the discussion with a reminder of the government health warning in my previous post.

blind pew
30th Nov 2013, 04:29
None are so blind as those who will no see?

Scotbill do you put the horrendous accident rate down to Innovation or is it a figment of my imagination?

And what innovation?

The French beat us at autoland and they had Turbo-clair.
The Trident and Tri-Star we messed up.
Shuttle we copied from Eastern.
Highlands was flogged off.

So that leaves the monitored approach as performed by BEA!

On a personal note did you ever get to use your own throttles and try the alternative version...and if so how did you cope?

Heathrow Harry
30th Nov 2013, 11:44
All I can remember is that BEA were a dreadful airline to fly with................

30th Nov 2013, 11:51
Blind pew:

Your long running campaign against the perceived injustices done to you by BEA flight ops. managers is verging on paranoia. You seem to forget that other people on these fora may also have inside information on the accidents/incidents that you quote.

Listing your hit list:

a) Vanguard - design change ref. corrosion protection going from 951 to 952 spec. BEA flight managers responsible............
b) PI agreed! However you are not the only one to lose a friend there.
c) Nicosia training accident - as I recall being flown by a CY crew - friend on board - no injuries.
d) FH at HER this was not "written off" as you claim.
e) PIK training accident - I knew all the crew members. I am sure that your research will have revealed the adverse bank/ Vmca issues that were subsequently found and issued as a bulletin.
f) T3 over ZAG - close friend killed on this. Flight ops. influence - no way.
g) T1E if I recall although owned(taken over by BEA) was still operating as an independent company. BEA flight ops. input.....?

Your book reminds me a lot of a character in BEA who went by the nickname of "Nargs". Perhaps this will mean something to others on here?

My ex-SR friends tell me that you also had "issues" with management there so perhaps there is a common theme running through here?

Aileron Drag
30th Nov 2013, 15:48
Meikleour - I wish you hadn't reminded me of 'Nargs'. You've put me off my dinner.:*

Chris Scott
30th Nov 2013, 17:20
Sorry to interrupt, guys, but I still haven't had an answer to my question (http://www.pprune.org/aviation-history-nostalgia/488300-g-arpi-trident-tragedy-40-years-ago-today-8.html#post8169437):

So what happened on the copilot's leg in half-decent weather? Was there not a complete role-reversal?

Not sure if any airline currently allows copilots to do landings when the wx is worse than Cat I, so I'm not thinking of that. When I started doing monitored approaches in 1988 as a captain on A320s in BA, we tried to arrange the tour's flying to enable the F/O to get half the landings where possible. Ergo, the captains did half the descents and approaches up to the point when the F/O was visual.

30th Nov 2013, 19:12
So what happened on the copilot's leg in half-decent weather? Was there not a complete role-reversal?Yes there was - even in not-so-decent weather. Can't remember the F/O limits for weather but it was important for first officers to gain experience in taking over close to decision height - particularly in the X-wind case when it was necessary to resist the temptation to align the aircraft prematurely with the runway.

Aileron Drag
30th Nov 2013, 19:27
F/O limit was 600m RVR or better (CAT 1). Anything less was a P1 landing.

...............if my memory serves.

And, yes, in better weather, P1 would fly the approach with the aim of P2 landing off the approach. Captains, therefore, had the same practice as P2s at flying the approach. In the late 70s/early 80s most of the captains were certainly up to that, in terms of ability. Not so much so in the early 70s.

PS - I seem to recall that P2's x-wind limit was 2/3 the aircraft limit. Not sure though - anyone remember?

blind pew
30th Nov 2013, 19:44
Re a read the report
Re c like aerlingus BEA had a large financial Holding in CY and flight ops imput.
Re D..info from ex boac flt mngr...anyway they fiddled the paperwork and endangered everyone on board and whoever they flew over.
Re e read the report
Same f...lookout..we used to use the tatty screens or newspapers in cruise to stop the glare...and why bother looking out with closing speed of 1100knots.
G part of BEA...but I would give you this one as don't know any more.

You missed the viscount...all dead ..flew into a cloud with a hard centre..At their home base...

Are you trying to say "jolly hard luck chaps"?

Of course Nargs is in my book but I have disguised him out of sympathy..incidentally he hasn't changed as I had a conversation with a gentleman who asked me is it true he has a pension of "loads of money"...as nargs had boasted how much to him..leopard spots.

Now your mate in SR.

Would that be the bloke who didn't pay Price Waterhouse when he skipped the country so they inflated my bill?
Or the bloke who was sacked by BOAC off the 707?
Or the bloke who dossed down with me, was flying on anti depressants and fell asleep on his annual route check?
Or the bloke who was done by customs?
Or probably the bloke who went into management but was living in the UK...which of course they found out...who dressed like Nigel Mansell..including hair cut and moustache...he was sacked out of management but not before he Made an example of me after I filed a report about an eastern block president's mafia type gorillas wearing automatic pistols on my aircraft?

One of the above three put me on the UK customs watch list..

Then there was the guy who during my very long command training rotated before V1 to see what I would do....eventually given pension after he spent two years in treatment.

I got on well with most of most of our management bar one who screwed me over Passover pay...about 20000 on today's money...but I didn't need the money and you never take on the Swiss whatever your nationality.

you can tell your "mate" that they gave me a loss of licence pension based on the very top of the scale...thank you very much...now that will piss the tossa off...as several of the above used to dry their tea bags out and get another cuppa out of them.

I would say that one of the senior management did say to me that it was a mistake to take Brits which they never repeated.

Probably because only three of us ex BA bothered to learn Swiss German and didn't treat them like hired help.

Sorry if I am a bit hard but it's nice of you not to write a hysterical post.

Harry..I used to ask our Brit pax why they flew with us...gave up quite quickly especially after the "are you kidding?" reply.

The loads made it difficult to fly to LHR unless we had a jump seat so some of the guys used BA but we were stopped after two of the above guys opened up their own packed lunch in business class and the adjacent business pax said "I want one of them!"..it was the time of chuck a plastic box at the pax.
Then BA ZRH would only accept us if they had spare catering or we sat in the cockpit...
For me it was great as their were a lot of my ex Trident opos on the 737 and I was made most welcome.

1st Dec 2013, 13:49
Blind pew:

Yet again you respond to rational arguments with hearsay!

The HER report is still available with the AAIB yet you attempt to refute this with hearsay from "your retired mate"

The PIK report is also available and interestingly the subsequent Vmca data that was released afterwards by the CAA did not feature in the BOAC manuals which had been used for 15+ years beforehand!

I find your reference to "lack of lookout" on the ZAG crash as offensive to the crew involved and would appear to be another "figment" of your fertile imagination. My recollection of the report was that the DC9 climbed in a blindspot of the T3.

By your own admission you found SR to be an excellent airline - so I am rather puzzled by why you held so many of your former contemporaries in such contempt! Surely they were selected, as you were, for the same exemplary talents and high characters?
Incidently "my mate" was not one individual but several who told me how SR worked on the inside.

Regarding poor old "Nargs" - his stories were always hugely entertaining but utterly preposterous. Sadly however, I feel he truly believed them!

You seemed to have had the unfortunate experience of having to fly with very many incompetent crew whose lives were only saved by your own expert intervention!

Don't you see the connection?

blind pew
1st Dec 2013, 19:06
As I said read the reports...properly...HER came directly form the BOAC fleet Manager.
Zagreb ...read report.
PWK ..reread experience of FO..and how the chop carried out...again discussed with above.

SR many of us we're "different"..
I happen to have an ex BEA hostess who turned down BOAC and being on the face of BEA's advertising campaign...speaks four languages ...studied English at Uni...a mad driver and altogether naughty girl...
I am very lucky but many thought that a bloke out of sarfend didn't deserve that and four of my course mates would often turn up when I was away...not unlike the incestuous nature of Cyprus Airways...ask your mate who was standing behind Sam when he pranged at nicky....we were on Cathy selection at tower bridge together..

Add to that I spent all of my salary on enjoying ourselves...we rented a four bedroom ..,four level house where we had some great parties...went skiing most days off...bought a sailing cruiser ..1980...brand new car...when some of your mates were living in Swissiar's village in Kloten...subsidised for the migrant workers who cleaned the toilets at the airport...

Worst of all and those who night stopped on the 737 would understand was their local...The Londoner pub..where the waitress would put the till receipts in a schnapps glass in the middle of the table when she brought each round. Half of the receipts would be secreted behind the radiator before she cashed up. So they got pissed at her expense......pure greed..
When I got my pension it rubbed their noses in it especially as most had to pay for old mummy and had a new mummy...
Whilst three good mates contacted me after my accident I only heard from the others when SR went tits up as they wanted my help in tax avoidance...told them to get stuffed...sour grapes...

As to Nargs..I shared transport with him a couple of times...whilst he had a bad reputation underneath he was a kind bloke as at the time he was organising a charity event for Reading? Round table....
We had a lot of crew in SR who did similar things...

I effectively took control in flight twice with captains and once with a FO in SR... I refused to fly with one captain in BEA...
A couple of times in extreme circumstances it was a joint effort..
I didn't bend any heavy metal either...unlike two of my BEA mates ...one during the good old monitored approach...

So where are these "facts" coming from...Wikipedia?
Or some sad old bastard on the golf course?

1st Dec 2013, 22:40
Zagreb ...read report.The Trident's heading was 115 and the DC-9's 353, both had been maintained for several minutes immediately preceding the collision.

blind pew
2nd Dec 2013, 06:55
3.3.3 non - compliance with regulations on continuous listening to the appropriate radio frequency of ATC and non-performance of look-out duty from the cockpits of either aircraft...
3.2.10 is also relevant re the T3 crew

As I said read the report as dave has..

My book is an autobiography set in post war England when our Empire was no more. A period of class war, racism and a social revolution viewed by a naive Essex boy who dared to speak up and suffered the consequences..

It is not a Technical history but more an exposure on a system which was forced to change and did because of Thatcher,King and some clever blokes from the opposition (BOAC).

Whilst you and your Jock mate dislike it and me intensely I spent a lot of time doing the research because a reviewer said without an extensive bibliography no one would believe it.

For those of you reading this thread who did not go through RAF (or Hamble) selection in the 60s it was about recruiting politically naive young men who would fly a suicide mission on V bombers to unleash a nuculear Armageddon without questioning their masters. The ideal traits include "assertiveness"...which is why CRM was introduced to stop the bullying in the cockpit.

3rd Dec 2013, 09:25
National Geographic are telling the story of Papa India:-

Watch Air Crash Investigation Videos Online - National Geographic Channel - UK (http://natgeotv.com/uk/air-crash-investigation/videos/britains-worst-air-crash)

28th Dec 2013, 13:15
What became of First Officer Flavell who had the argument with Key in the BEA Crew Room shortly before the ill fated flight? Did he give evidence at the enquiry?

28th Dec 2013, 13:23
The National Geographic episode of Papa India's crash; not the best re-creation, a lot of facts have been left out or incorrectly put forward:-

Air Crash Investigation 2013 New S13E01 Britain`s Worst Air Crash - YouTube

blind pew
28th Dec 2013, 17:30
Couldn't agree more especially the treatment of Simon Ticehurst and Captain Rob Collins...
They even repositioned the jump seat to make Simon turn around to talk to Rob.
Hung them out to dry.
Changed the noise abatement proceedures...SOP...undercarraige lever...the warning system...ranks...gave Key a handmike as well as modern headsets.
Found some Northern actor with a fictious poster blaming him repeatively for upsetting Key.
And added that he was a "top" pilot which he wasn't as he had just been turned down for a training job...all in the inquiry report.
Best bit was hearing the ex head of flight safety mutter on about the droops increasing the wind over the wing...
In my day we spoke about the droop re energising the boundry layer or even augmenting the airflow.
Sad as they could have done a proper job.
I wonder why :ugh:

28th Dec 2013, 17:47
Actually it was Captain John Collins (not Rob); former BEA Trident co-pilot who moved onto Vanguards for his command. I totally agree with you; John Collins was positioned directly behind Captain Key and there was a rumour that he recognised what had gone wrong un-buckled his harness in an attempt to re-select the droops as his body was found by a fireman across the centre console and his head set by Keighley's rudder pedals. Like all the theories, we will never know for sure what went on.

Its a shame that National Geographic got it wrong; I think the Papa India story needs a good 1h30mn to tell all of the facts.

I also noticed that they got the uniforms slightly wrong (no wings were worn on the shirts) and the rank of Keighley was SFO (three stripes) when in fact he was a junior FO; so would have had two stripes. SFO Ticehurst should have worn three I believe?

Even the R/T messages were not quite correct and they also omitted the fact that Papa India informed LHR ATC that 'they had a small problem' before lining up on 28R for take off. The small problem was not established and the delay was only a few minutes before they reported ready for departure.

Finally and I could go on for hours; the programme omitted the fact that all three engines were running and Papa India was about to push back off stand when the BEA Dispatcher appeared on the flight deck to say that the Vanguard crew (Captain Collins) were required in BRU and would somehow have to be accommodated. This required off loading of some cargo, re-issuing of the load-sheet and a further delay; adding I guess to Key's stress.

28th Dec 2013, 18:53
I noticed on the credits that Mike Bannister was given special thanks, does anyone know what his input was or likely to be?

28th Dec 2013, 19:08
<<they also omitted the fact that Papa India informed LHR ATC that 'they had a small problem' before lining up on 28R for take off.>>

Curious to know where that came from? I was the Air Controller who cleared the Trident for take-off and do not recall that. Perhaps he was still talking to Ground?

28th Dec 2013, 19:30
No not talking to ground; at 16.06:53 Papa India contacted LHR tower on 118.2MHz and clearance to line up and take off from 28R was given; at this time Papa India informed the tower that they had a small problem.

It may have been the illumination of the amber stick pusher 'low pressure' warning light as it was later discovered that the locking wire of the three-way valve of the stick pusher system was missing.

It was in fact only about a 30 second delay; as Key then advised he was ready for take off and clearance given again.

28th Dec 2013, 19:37
In fact to be precise it was a 42 second delay according the ATC recordings and the AAIB report.

blind pew
28th Dec 2013, 20:11
Sorry got mixed up with my drinks regards John Collins.
Jerry was a partly qualified second officer...one stripe only.
Simon I think was an acting first officer ...two stripes..but certainly not three.
What they have done is deliberately blame the two not flying occupants of the cockpit.
They had enough with my manuscript and the bibliography to make a realist and truthful version. They didn't.
I had a long talk with the researcher whilst at a motorway service station south of Valence.
I stipulated that I they could only use my material if they produced a truthful account and that I had an editorial veto.
The only thing I heard after that was requiring contact details of Jerry's family and some of my sources - I refused.
A couple of my former colleagues said that there would never be a truthful documentary ...sadly I was wrong and they were right.

blind pew
28th Dec 2013, 20:14
The only bit that he could add would be what his mates at the Guild had told him.....

28th Dec 2013, 21:15
Quoting blind pew:

What they have done is deliberately blame the two not flying occupants of the cockpit.I didn't see it that way. I saw the program and thought they did fairly well in separating facts from fiction (fiction being what actually happened in the cabin) and they were clear that noone could say anything about why things went wrong. Personally I do not think of the program as blaming the non-flyers. They did a review of the behaviour of the non-flying crew but they also reviewed Capt Key's speed profiles after take off.

As for the authenticity of the Trident flight deck generally speaking (outfits, equipment etc), the main thing is the placement of the droop/flaps levers. I compared the film footage with a picture from a museum and it didn't look the same. This can of course be due to a number of reasons of which I am unaware. Could someone please elaborate on this?
EDIT: I just realized that they redesigned the levers to avoid confusion, and this must be the reason they don't look the same. Sorry! A bit foggy today!

From reading your posts, blind pew (I must say I have the greatest respect for you and I intend to buy your book), I understand that there was a culture within the company that might have contributed. That wasn't covered, I agree. I also agree that I was waiting for someone to emphasize on the noise abaitment procedures being strange - there was one former Capt who mentioned it to be strange so it was covered but only briefly.

Someone here asked what happened to the guy Mr Key argued with some time before takeoff. I am a bit curious about that too.

blind pew
29th Dec 2013, 03:45
The profile of the "knobs" on the ends of the droop and flap levers were always different.
Post accident they installed a speed dependant solenoid to stop premature droop retraction but if we hadn't had the ridiculous noise abatement proceedure then it would have been practically impossible to retract early.
What the film didn't show correctly in this aspect was two points...one minor and that was we started stop watches on start of roll and secondly the flaps were selected in before the huge power reduction..which left us waffling along at a relatively low speed - and without any safe guard on the droop lever.
This, along with SOP, wouldn't have been a problem BUT there were lots including a management pilot who did their own thing - Evans was cross examined by a barrister about FDR statistics of 1 in 8 noise proceedures that did not follow SOP....thats either a lot of cowboys or a lot of blokes who thought they were wrong as Cunningham stated.

What they also convienitly missed was everybody turning around and writing down every Atc clearance leaving no one to mind the shop...another flat earth society SOP.

29th Dec 2013, 07:16
LAS1997. Thanks for that. I've mislaid my copy of the report and my brain isn't so good now. Those sort of delays were often due to "getting the numbers" or because the cabin wasn't ready.

Dr Jekyll
29th Dec 2013, 08:44
we had to put furniture on our drives to stop the 'ghouls' using it as a car park! next day i cycled down during lunch break & a policeman let us in to take some photo's.

A very delicate line between being goulish and being legitimately curious.

29th Dec 2013, 10:56
From blind pew:

What the film didn't show correctly in this aspect was two points...one minor and that was we started stop watches on start of roll and secondly the flaps were selected in before the huge power reduction..which left us waffling along at a relatively low speed - and without any safe guard on the droop lever.

What they also convienitly missed was everybody turning around and writing down every Atc clearance leaving no one to mind the shop...another flat earth society SOP.

Thankyou for that information! I mean, I wasn't even a glimpse in my mother's eye when all this happened so I am soaking it in like a thirsty elephant!

I do remember from the show that they did use some kind of timing device, but can't recall right now when they started it.

Your last quote is stunning - IF I read it correctly. As I read it, it seems like everyone in the cockpit had to write down ATC clearances. Is that what you are saying? I'm sitting here, wondering if I read things correctly or if I should be baffled speechless.

29th Dec 2013, 11:57
Ref posts above re Trident cockpit and the possible intervention by the Vanguard pilot, here's a link to a photo by me of the cockpit of the T2 at Duxford-and see comments on it too. Apologies if I've already posted this link:

DSC_0333 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/8302350559/in/photolist-dDDHza-dmDRCP-a9gotR-7QCLQD-9HBKiB-e34HQ1-eueEGY-eubyfK-dDKcqY-9DkSrn-bC976K-dDKca3-8MjvA1-c1zWAf-dmDRnV)

blind pew
29th Dec 2013, 16:19
Yes mrsnuggles..we all had to write down cleared levels, frequencies,vor and beacons ...which side they were tuned and if they were identified...all three of us and all at the same time.
This involved turning away from the instrument panel by all of us.

Whilst training they were examined and P3s were also examined by the document department.
Later I will pen a bit more as I now feel that the inquiry was a one sided match; which was also insinuated by an aaib official to me.

Thinking about it over a very nice roast in Columbia road market I realise that the group involved in the inquiry have club members involved in the documentary.
So getting back to my ipad I looked up the guild's membership list.

Hard to believe the coincidence but there were three or four individuals who were at one time masters of the Guild at the inquiry and hey presto...we have another advising the film producers who wasn't even in BEA.
(there just happens to be a CN Wright in the guild as well).

Beggars belief...Or would have done a few years ago...

Bit like a link on here re an ex BEA bloke who presented a paper.
He cites four incidents...which all happened to BOAC pilots ...forgetting all the lot that we killed in BEA at that time.

Sad bit of misguided tribalism.

29th Dec 2013, 17:38
I stipulated that I they could only use my material if they produced a truthful account and that I had an editorial veto.
blind pew, are you surprised they didn't take you up on your offer when you state in your book: "The Papa India report was published, I didn't read it except for the recommendations. It was a load of bollocks" Hardly the statement that gives the impression of full well researched knowledge of an event.

blind pew
30th Dec 2013, 06:21
Glad I got made the point clear enough that it stuck in someone's memory.;)

India Four Two
31st Dec 2013, 03:49
Courtesy of a proxy server, I shall be able to view the program from the far side of the world.

I've read the report and read blind pew's book, so I look forward to seeing what NatGeo have made of the accident.

My connection with the accident is that I knew Simon Ticehurst (and his future wife, Lyn), while he was at Hamble - we both lived in Maidenhead.

31st Dec 2013, 14:08
From blind pew:

we all had to write down cleared levels, frequencies,vor and beacons ...which side they were tuned and if they were identified...all three of us and all at the same time.
This involved turning away from the instrument panel by all of us.

Before my jaw interferes with the ground too heavily - would there be ANY reason whatsoever for this indeed very strange procedure? Any justification?

I mean, even when wiggling around in 2D (that is, driving a car) it is really important to KEEP Y'UR EEES ON THE ROOOD FER CREIN' OUT LOUD!

blind pew
31st Dec 2013, 16:24
Rick Flavell...
I vaguely remember rick as being jus another Normal and nice bloke.
I asked two mates last night and they confirmed the above.
They thought he went onto the Tristar, a command and had a perfectly normal career.
The program is at loggerheads with the report...as he was part of a group and the poster was fictious.
I had witnessed a similar scene with Stan a couple of days before.

Stan had been the union rep for Jimmy Thain during the inquiries after the Munich Disaster.
There is another link between the two accidents and that was BEA had withheld two accident reports from crews.
IIRC the Dutch and the Canadians had both lost aircraft due to aqua planing.
Thain was exonerated a few years before PI but BEA, who had sacked him, wouldn't reinstate him.
A senior captain who knew Key said their were a group of pilots who thought Key should have pushed for industrial action to get Thain reinstated. When this didn't happen they picked on him.
From my personal Working experiences The level of bullying in BEA was exceptional.
One also have to take into account that the FOD had recently sacked a group of pilots and several captains had been threatened if they refused to take us as crew.
It would not be acceptable today and only a small group were responsible.
I see them as damaged individuals.

BUT most of the time it was a fantastic job especially after we had been properly trained and I was flying with a captain who would trust me ; there can be few jobs so rewarding for a young bloke in the 1970s.

Mrsnuggles..I believe it was a proceedure which had its origins in Bomber command..but could be wrong ...an absolutely stupid proceedure and totally unnecessary ..seven years later I was flying two crew on the DC9 ..the only thing we wrote down were met reports and connecting pax info.
I think it was stopped but only after the BOAC guys took over.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
31st Dec 2013, 16:43
Reminds me of a cartoon in Arthur Whitlock's delightful book "Behind the Cockpit Door", which is illustrated with his own drawings.

In the cartoon the 4 crew in the cockpit of a large airliner of the period are busy, heads down, doing the essential 'paper work'.

In the windscreens can be seen, looming in the distance but already obviously higher than the aircraft, snow-covered mountain peaks.

31st Dec 2013, 17:02
I did a year on the T3 (after 5 on the Vanguard) and spent more time on the systems panel than in the P2 seat, which was sometimes frustrating. But even more irritating was the unbalanced workload. Besides doing the perf calcs, admin tasks and operating the panel, P3 had to reach forward to select the navaids ('Biggin on the red victor, Epsom on the green alpha', and so on) as demanded by P1 or P2, whoever was PF for the leg. I could never understand why these chaps couldn't make the selections themselves. On one LHR-ORY leg the coffee that the CSD brought in for me during taxi out remained untouched until after arrival, with the Capt then nagging me for tardiness in digging out the taxying charts. The return leg was a repeat of the outbound (P2 was doing pre-command training IIRC so I was P3 for both legs). Driving home afterwards the thought occurred to me that perhaps working for another employer might be more satisfying. And thus it turned out. Less than four years later I was LHS on the B737 in a different airline.

31st Dec 2013, 17:22
we all had to write down cleared levels, frequencies,vor and beacons ...which side they were tuned and if they were identified...all three of us and all at the same time.
This involved turning away from the instrument panel by all of us. This is complete nonsense - but what would I know - I only had ten years on Tridents. It was normally P3's job to write down clearances and select frequencies and squawks. Certainly the handling pilot would not.

Those of you unfamiliar with Blind Pew should be aware he can always be relied on for a balanced view of Trident ops -viz. a chip on both shoulders.

Having been a colleague of John Collins I have every sympathy with anyone who lost friends in PI -- but most ex-Trident people have given up trying to correct BP's jaundiced view of his traumatic time with the airline as he knows so much better than us.

blind pew
31st Dec 2013, 21:11
Scotbill I suppose you have also forgotten the unique system of bea hieroglyphics?
We had to write down the radio aid- followed by the colour - red or green - then annotate it when identified - followed by an arrow when it was pointing.
Or is this also a figment of my imagination?

Guessing by your attacks on me I suspect that you could be a mason, in the guild or even a past master.

blind pew
1st Jan 2014, 07:21
So let's ask Scotbill a question.
In july 1972 all Trident pilots received an amendment in their pigeon holes.
The individual pages were predated.
It contained a stall recovery procedure.

IMHO it was ill conceived.

Questions .
What did it supersede.
Why was it hastily issued.
Who conceived it.
What were the apparent implications on the forth coming public inquiry.


And if you don't know what I am talking about then there must be around 400 other Trident pilots still alive who could refresh your memory.

Happy new year to you all.

1st Jan 2014, 07:54
Guessing by your attacks on me I suspect that you could be a mason, in the guild or even a past master. Wrong on all counts! What you have always refused to acknowledge is that the picture you paint of Trident flight is completely unrecognisable to many of us.

Early Trident operations probably suffered from a checking rather than training mentality inherited from Comets where Training Flight was known as the "Gestapo". However, with an influx of younger trainers from Vanguards and Viscounts about 1973, the Trident operation became one of the slickest team operations it has ever been my pleasure to participate in

I feel sorry for the bittereness that has apparently clouded your life but the only reason I occasionally call you to account is to warn Pprune members that your many diatribes have to be treated with considerable caution.

That duty discharged, I will leave you to your crusade until the next time my patience threshold is exceeded.

blind pew
1st Jan 2014, 09:25
My apologies as I thought that you were a "bill" with a jock surname listed as a past master.

If you were indeed on the Trident in 1972 you would still know about my previous post.

Thank you for pointing out that prior and after Papa India that you consider the Trident Trainers as worthy of the term "Gestapo".

I do not disagree that the operation eventually became slick...and I have alluded to that in my book although it is relative to the previous operation.

Would you also consider the two loses of 707s were also the product of a "Gestapo" training regime?

2nd Jan 2014, 23:30
Blind Pew
The nose wheel of the 121 was offset due to air con ducting routing!!!
Your book otherwise seems to me a totally fascinating and realistic account of a miserable pre CRM era.There are arguments both sides but on balance you get my vote.

3rd Jan 2014, 10:00
I worked in maintenance for BEA then BA - the company was a shambles in the late 60's and 70's.Morale was at rock bottom,the aircraft were in terrible shape - filthy and with peeling paint.Maintenance was not what it should have been -the resources available were better than most.Management were beyond belief - absolutely out of touch with reality.When Scottish Airways was formed they gave us an arrogant buffoon as manager who became an expensive laughing stock. As far as the Tridents were concerned I loved working with them - at that time they were at the cutting edge and I learned a tremendous amount that stood me in good stead later. Among the crews were the most arrogant and unpleasant people I have ever worked with - not all,others were excellent but for some reason the arseholes gravitated to the Trident fleet.
As an aside there were some characters - a Capt.Wellford for one - he used to tip us beer money if we gave him a quick turn-round on the last shuttle so he could arrive before the pubs shut.My father worked with him in the 50's and told many tales about him. I heard that he was killed in a car crash the week he retired- can anyone confirm that?

blind pew
3rd Jan 2014, 14:10
Thanks for the explanation .Cantiflas...there was always a theory about the offset nose gear and the ILS signals but as often there is always the bullshit factor to be taken into account.
During a bored moment riding shotgun I produced one myself.
Somewhere over the Alps I wrote out the London Volmet South weather and presented it to the skipper and P2.
When asked how the hell I had obtained it around 500nm from the transmitter when the range was normally only 200nm I said "ducting".
Ducting is a phenomena of radio waves bouncing off a layer and increasing the reception wave considerably. In Southend we used to get Dutch TV when I was a kid.
The FO was taken in but the skipper, after a minutes thought, said "that's bollocks Ace" and handed the Plog back.:}

3rd Jan 2014, 14:36
BP.... Being a radio ham I know what you mean about ducting. When I worked in Africa we used HF to contact Malta ATCC but when that didn't work and conditions were right we'd talk to them on UHF Guard!

blind pew
4th Jan 2014, 13:22
I have to be carefull how I reply to this as some think I condem the Trident guys as a matter of course.
Firstly the blokes who had huge egos wanted to go on the star fleet...in my day it was the T3....I kept clear of it.
There is a video on Pathy News showing the Comet engineers on strike...says it all about the attitude but it could have been worse.
I have a mate who was an aide de camp to a president..at a do in italy he sat next to his counterpart who told a tale.
He had upset one of his mechanics who had removed his parachute canopy and replaced it with straw...he had him shot.

I used to cringe the way a few of the pilots used to treat other employees...especially one of our captains who would grill the cabin crew on their emergency equipement undermining the chief steward.

On the nightstop he turned up dressed as though he had just arrived at the pop festival at Woodstock...flowery shirt, beads and his hair combed forward over his receding hair line. Needless to say he didn't get his leg over.
The next morning I was P3 with buggar all to do in cruise so I went into the cabin where he promptly called the steward to get me back in..(.he didn't allow newspapers)... Anyway I developed a case of either Delhi belly or pissing razor blades..probably the later as I would lapse into my Sarfend accent and say I must have caught it off a tart or a toilet seat...which left him speechless and wondering where do they recruit blokes like this.
When we got to Queen's building he left his briefcase in the layby whilst he took he suitcase and booze inside..when he returned an obliging crew bus driver had run it over...you could make out the tread pattern on the polished leather.
I phoned up the CC centre to tell them the good news:)

4th Jan 2014, 18:53
The nose wheel of the 121 was offset due to air con ducting routing!!!Strange, when I used to work on Tridents I could swear I was told it was the other way round. :O

Or something to do with the Forward Equipment Bay needing to be big enough to accommodate all the autoflight/autoland kit, including those three enormous VRUs.

I forget...

4th Jan 2014, 20:12
I've really enjoyed reading this thread Gentlemen. Sounds like it was a lot of fun working at the 'No.1 Airline';)

P.S. Blind Pew were some of those Captains still fighting the second world war?

blind pew
4th Jan 2014, 21:02
This one just missed it...
But there were some of my vintage nearly as bad.
I was at a retirement do in Nice when I mentioned a name....reply was you mean "thrush".
Thought it was possibly because he was rushing about...but no...it meant "irritating count".
The guy went on to describe a trip where thrush hit the wrong button and nearly wrote off a 74.:)

Shaggy Sheep Driver
4th Jan 2014, 21:26
I don't think it was just BEA. A friend who worked at EGCC recalls a dispatcher going onto the flight deck of a BOAC VC10 with the request "papers to sign skip, please". The autocrat in the LH seat simply didn't register the presence of the redcap at all.

"Skip, papers to sign please". Again, totally ignored.

After the 3rd abortive attempt by the dispatcher to get the P1 to acknowledge him, the P2 turned to the redcap and said "I think the cu*t's waiting for you to address him as Sir".

blind pew
5th Jan 2014, 06:28
Shaggy there are a few more stories like your mates...engines leaning forward to the FO...who had been ignored by the skipper...and said the counts waiting for you to call him sir.
My group in SR had problems because they had a couple of ex RAF captains who were the same.
I had a phone call from John Longly...a great guy whom I hadn't seen for three years...it started off with "Ace my neighbour says you are a count"... His neighbour was one of those on the SR 747 ..in today's money on about 250 grand..took me several years to find out what he was like..he got his FO to pay for his coffee with "I only carry sterling and dollars....the Swiss franc is a [email protected] currency".
The difference is that you could say that in BOAC and get away with it...you were even expected to...I remember the rubber plantation 747 report ..KL..but in BEA there was a group of vindictive bar stewards who would do their best to get you thrown out.
It happened to George Childs who had spoken out at the inquiry and it is why no one dared to mention the "new" stall procedure amendment.
You have to remember the power Owens and his mates have...the changes on the Trident which destroyed it's sales potential...when did it go..1985 whilst the VC10 bowed out last year.
Also the changes demanded on the Tristar.
The corporal tried to sack me a few times because I took redress of grievance and won it against the deputy master.
Last year heard a story from a boy pilot on the 707... Something like 18 sectors of which the Sfo had done two ...captains said after the final one at LHR.."I think I have just done a great landing or words to that effect"... Northern SFO says I should effing hope so you've done 16 of the buggars on this trip":hmm:

Shaggy Sheep Driver
5th Jan 2014, 10:33
..the changes on the Trident which destroyed it's sales potential...when did it go..1985 whilst the VC10 bowed out last year.

I think the emasculation of the dH121 at BEA's behest into the ludicrously undersized Trident is well documented. In being so truncated it used the Spey and RR ditched the proposed Medway the 121 would have used. When the Trident did eventually mature into a reasonably-sized aeroplane (T3) it was still stuck with the too-small Spey and had to have that boost engine cobbled-in for 'hot and high' T/O.

Oh, and of course by then the 727, T3 sized from the start, had taken the world market!

5th Jan 2014, 11:41
Very similar to SirFreddie, I too have enjoyed reaing this thread. In the 70's through to the early 1980's, I would regularly fly as a passenger on the Tridents mostly routing MAN-LHR-IST. I was always looked after well by BEA staff and my experiences were that they were a good airline. Therefore this thread is really interesting for me to know the politics beyond the cockpit door!

On another note and I believe that it has been mentioned earlier in this thread I was at Istanbul airport in 1976 due to catch the return leg of G-AWZT when it went down over Zagreb. We were initially told for 2 hours that it had been delayed for techinical reasons before the local press descended on the airport to announce the terrible news. Very sad day indeed especially for the awaiting relatives at the other end not to mention to crew and passengers on board both the aircraft.

Anyhow great nostalgic thread folks, even if at times it touches a morbid topic. Thanks Fly.Buy

5th Jan 2014, 12:19
The T3 was a gas-guzzler too. As I recall the fuel flow in the cruise was around 4 tonnes per hour - the 737 carried almost the same payload (albeit at a more pedestrian pace) using 2/3 of the fuel & 2 pilots. When wing cracks were discovered on the fleet, the engineers bolted bits of meccano under the wings to hold them together (I was in the crew that took 'ZG to Hatfield for this mod). To transfer lift loads inboard they also rigged the flaps when retracted slightly down and the ailerons slightly upwards, which worsened the already poor specific fuel consumption. But - as has been posted before - it was a delightful machine to fly. If you were high and or fast on descent profile - no problem - airbrakes (not speedbrake!) and reverse on the pod engines (up to 10,000 RPM IIRC) gave you astonishing earthward plunges. And reverse idle during the flare was handy for reducing LDR. Boost unreliability was a problem. I recall a lobbing into GVA for refuelling on an ATH-LHR and offloading pax in OSL to meet boostless TO perf requirements off a slushy runway.

Some of the Capts were brilliant, including the excellent John Moss, who steered me through line training. Others not so: when I remarked to one of these (initials RM) that I was enjoying myself doing some manual poling his response was: 'You're not here to enjoy yourself', delivered with a scowl.

8th Jan 2014, 14:05
As I know nothing really about aircraft except as a passenger,could somebody tell me what "droop" is please? I do remember the accident at Staines,and it's interesting to hear about ex RAF pilots being arrogant when flying for BEA/BA.Being ex RAF,a supplier 1960-68, I found aircrew most genial,it was the non-aircrew officers that were a pain in the ar*e. This was most noticeable in Changi,the Shack,Hastings,Argosy,Britannia and Comet aircrew were very easy going,the non-aircrew officers were even bigger chuffs than in the UK,talked to you like sh*t.:*


8th Jan 2014, 16:28
As I know nothing really about aircraft except as a passenger, could somebody tell me what "droop" is please?Er, the effect of too much alcohol? :O

Good description of droop leading edges (aka cuffs) here:


On later marks of the Trident the DLEs were replaced with conventional slats.

blind pew
9th Jan 2014, 07:32
Manx the important problem of the droop is that on a T1 at max landing weight the stall speed increased by 30 knots whilst take off flap of 10 degrees made an additional difference of 8 knots.
Add to that supposedly the stall speed increase was virtually instantaneous with droop retraction on the T1 whereas it is gradual with flap retraction.
The other marks of Trident had slotted droop which worked in a different way.
The relevance to the accident is that BEA had a unique noise abatement proceedure which saw the flap being selected up after take off leaving only one possible selection to change the stall speed by 30knots plus.

9th Jan 2014, 13:31
DH 121 Trident - first flight, this date in 1962, from Hatfield. Wasn't there, but remember it well!

10th Jan 2014, 13:51
Chris Scott asked (post #141) : "So what happened on the copilot's leg in half-decent weather? Was there not a complete role-reversal?" but he only got a partial answer.

This answer is based on my background in BA. S/O and F/O 9 years Trident, then Capt Merchantman 2 years, Trident 8 years, B757 5 years, A320 3 years, B747-400 8 years. So my experience as an F/O is confined to 3-pilot Trident ops 1965-74 and not other BEA types. In my experience, as per my practice and from observation and discussion with my contemporaries, is that flying was pretty much leg-and-leg at the Captain's discretion, and provided there were no other considerations that restricted the F/O sectors (weather, ADDs, F/O experience, training etc).

That usually meant exchange of all PF/PNF duties, i.e. the F/O undertook all "P1" tasks and the Captain the "P2" duties. As an F/O I also found some Captains were happy to allow me to continue to landing after flying an instrument approach in good weather. A lot of these guys were outstanding teachers of airmanship and problem-solving, although they never got paid a penny as official trainers. The system allowed us to build experience in the RHS of the most advanced aircraft extraordinarily rapidly particularly bearing in mind we often started at age 20 with 220 hours total time. I have quite a few pages in my logbook from my time as a Second Officer in the late 60s with 3 or more signatures for a T/O and landing, out of 12 sectors.

Yes there were also a small number of "difficult personalities", as in all walks of life, but I can't recall anyone who frightened me by wilful disregard of procedures, although some "interpretation" certainly occurred from time to time.

With a 3-pilot Trident crew, on those "half-decent" days with 4 sectors, generally each F/O did 2 legs RHS as P2 and 2 as panel operator P3. The Captain then got 2 landings and each F/O got 1. On 3 sector days the F/O seat rotation meant that we got 1 landing each. Typically the 2 F/Os tossed a coin to see who'd 2 legs RHS and thus get both an approach AND a landing. As Captain I then did 1 T/O and landing out of 3, but got 2 approaches.

On 2 crew a/c same leg-and-leg role reversal was generally applied, although on the 744 it was harder due to the limited number of landings available on trips with a heavy crew, and lack of recent handling practice was recognised as a real issue.

On shorthaul operations I also found most Captains' attitude was that fine weather was an opportunity to practice if you wanted to. If you have higher safety "reserves" thanks to VMC, you can do without autopilots, flight directors and autothrust. You can concentrate on hand flying on basics down to DH quite safely as the other pilot will take it away to land whenever he needs to, having been visual for many miles. The general low level of recency on ultra-long haul ops combined with generic recommendations in many airlines to use all available automation makes this harder to do today but I believe still has merit.
Over to you Chris.

blind pew
10th Jan 2014, 14:41
Interesting Steve.
We used IMC to practice full manual flying as in many countries in VMC IFR and VFR traffic are mixed especially in Switzerland and the States. The exception being if we managed to get a visual where our eyes were out of the cockpit anyway.

6th Feb 2014, 22:31
My dad was quite literally first on the scene - as we were approximately 100 yards in front of the Trident when it landed in the field.

We were returning from a family Sunday walk back along the towpath from Staines Moor. It was a wet and cloudy day. My mother would have been pushing our double buggy back along the public footpath (which is still there) with my brother and I - the type of pushchair with coloured beads to amuse toddlers.

We had momentarily stopped whilst my mum scanned through some of the piles of rubble from part of the nearby linoleum factory that they were pulling down at the time. She was looking for any bits that might prove interesting for her art college she was attending at Twickenham, when this terrible incident unfolded.

My mother's initial intake of the phenomenon is quite bizarre; upon hearing the dull, muffled-like thud (this is the noise the Trident made when impacting with the wet ground), and not quite understanding what she was witnessing, started looking around the scene for TV crew/cameras.

Not being quite 4 years old, I have a 'JPEG snap' memory of my father squeezing through a gap in the fence, turning back towards us, probably shouting at my mum to take us home. I also think I recall my mother screaming at him not to go near the scene - but that might be a memory my mother told me about, at a later date...

My dad (whom I have pressed for information/details of what he saw, over the years) knew fairly quickly that there was nothing he could do. One lasting but lucid memory he has is of a businessman chap lying curled up with the wind gently blowing through his hair; he just looked like he was asleep - a briefcase lay close by him, flung open with coloured
slides scattered about.

Later that evening, two policemen turned up at our house to speak to my father. They wanted to know if he'd picked up a pistol. Apparently, there were also two plain-clothed 'sherriffs' travelling aboard BEA 548, but that they had only recovered one of these hand guns - my dad recalled that they were not interested in any other aspects of the crash.

I was 1 year old when we first moved to Staines and spent the best part of 30 years growing up/living there. As a kid, I used to play over Staines Moor, swim and canoe in the River Colne, always with the knowledge/fascination of this terrible accident never far from my consciousness. It seems that I'll be forever haunted by it.

7th Feb 2014, 17:52
You are not alone. I think many people are haunted by this tragedy. I knew Simon Ticehurst's parents and they certainly were, as must be very many other relatives and friends.

7th Feb 2014, 18:07
It was a strange Sunday. I was driving home from Cambridge to Epsom. On the car radio news came a report of an aircraft crash at Newmarket Race Course. An hour later the lead item of news was the Papa India report and no mention of Newmarket. I remember thinking 'some-one in the BBC news dept has got their wires crossed.' It turned out that both reports were correct but obviously PI overshadowed the Twin Com prang (engine failure just after getting airborne).

In another sad coincidence, I discovered I knew chaps involved in both crashes. In 'PI one of the Vanguard S/Os was a chap who had been on my CPL/IR course at Oxford. The pilot of the Twin Com was Graham Cameron, CFI at the Dorset Gliding Club (Compton Abbas) in 1969 (where I did a season of glider towing). He was killed in the Newmarket crash but his passengers survived.

7th Feb 2014, 19:05

Graham Cameron's passenger that day was jockey Joe Mercer. I once flew from Compton Abbas to Thruxton and back with Graham at the controls of a DH Rapide. I didn't realise these accidents happened on the same day.

Lon More
9th Feb 2014, 19:20
I remember LATCC passing a number of time revisions for KOK. It must have been about an hour later that the estimate was cancelled.

25th Sep 2016, 16:32

This demonstration shows just how overwhelming the stall warning horn was on the Trident.

Feathers McGraw
26th Mar 2019, 01:32

This demonstration shows just how overwhelming the stall warning horn was on the Trident.

Good grief, that seems pretty excessive, I now understand how that must have inhibited coordinated response from the crew. I think the AP disconnect sound was also present which was of the clang-clang type and continued in the crew's headsets until impact.

I see that the thread after I last looked has become a bit of a bun fight, as ever the views of multiple people can differ so much depending on exactly what they saw and experienced. Both sides can be correct.

No question in my mind that the public enquiry appears to have distorted the facts somewhat, a pity as usually AAIB are fully believable and if they don't know something they say so.