View Full Version : SQ 6 Captain and F/O sacked

smiling monkey
26th Jul 2002, 06:14
The Straitstimes today reports that the Captain and F/O of SQ6 have been sacked by Singapore Airlines.

Is this an admission of guilt by the airline?

From http://www.straitstimes.com.sg

SIA sacks SQ006 pilots

THE two pilots at the controls of SQ006, which crashed in Taiwan two years ago killing 83 people, have been sacked by Singapore Airlines.

A statement from the airlines on Friday said: 'SIA has terminated the services of Captain Foong Chee Kong and First Officer Latiff Cyrano in accordance with their terms of employment.'

The third man in the cockpit -- First Officer Ng Kheng Leng -- has not been sacked.

The airline did not give any reasons for the sackings.

When asked, an SIA spokesman said that there was a clause in the pilots' contract that allows their services to be terminated with three months salary given in lieu of notice. 'The airline is exercising that clause now,' the spokesman said.

The statement also noted that the airline had received confirmation from Taiwan's High Prosecutor's Office in Taipei that it had agreed with the earlier decision by the Tao Yuan prosecutor to not prosecute the pilots.

There were several conditions attached to the decision to suspend prosecution for three years -- the pilots had to perform 240 community service in Singapore and not fly any aircraft into Taipei for one year.

But with Monday's announcement that the pilots have been sacked, it is not clear if they would still be bound by these conditions.

26th Jul 2002, 09:33
Why am I not surprised.:rolleyes:

Somebody had to carry the can for SQ I spose. Instead of carrying the corporate can it's much easier to take out the individuals.

It would be a pity if, as it seems, nothing was learned.

They have much to learn from M. Foucault and the virtues of parrhesia.


26th Jul 2002, 10:15
Once again SQ has lived up to its reputation of being

a 'slave' employer.

The public announcement of the sacking only serves as a

warning to the whole workforce : do not look for support

from the company and least of all no sympathy.

SIA do not give nor expect loyalty or employee support, just

your 'usable' working life..

My thought and prayers goes out to the 2 guys..

26th Jul 2002, 11:40
Forgive me but they ****** up!

Why were they out there anyway, taxying in high winds, poor visibility, bad forcast etc, get home itis!

They had, in my opinion sole discretion for a go no go and made the wrong call, a call which was compounded by the situation on the ground.

If as a result of my actions, I kill 83 people, the very least I would espect is to lose my job!

26th Jul 2002, 12:59
Have to agree with above, it's universally accepted that the burden of responsibility lies with the guys and girls at the pointy end, it goes with the job.

Admittedly it's criminal that the airport authority didin't have a process for physically blocking entry to an unserviceable runway.

As usual, a sad chain of events...

26th Jul 2002, 13:28
The closed runway was notamed as a temporary taxyway. SQ006 took off on the closed runway. Nobody else did. I feel very sorry for them and the people who died as a result of this mistake but the buck stops with the captain.

26th Jul 2002, 14:07
hang about!
I've never bothered to reply/ post anything before, but this is off the 'scope...
1. Sacking a crew for an admittedly, in 20/20 hindsight, bad decision,,,
2. Give kudos, for what is on the face of it, culpable negligence for continuing flight from departure point and by-passing suitable alternates is okay...
Gimme a break SQ! You are kids with grown-up's toys.
be very ashamed.
spleener out.

26th Jul 2002, 14:48
After the accident it was generally accepted the crew would never fly another SQ aircraft.

27th Jul 2002, 03:00
Straits Times, Saturday 27 July 2002

Singapore Airlines yesterday terminated the services of the two pilots at the controls of Flight SQ 006 when it crashed in Taiwan two years ago, leaving 83 dead.
Captain Foong Chee Kong, 43 and First Officer Latiff Cyrano, 38, were told of the airline’s decision yesterday, three months after investigations by Singapore’s Transport Ministry concluded that the crash at Taipei’s Chiang Kai Shek airport was “an accident waiting to happen” and not the fault of any individuals.
The airline issued a statement, but did not give any reasons for its action.
Spokesman Rick Clements would only say that the airline was exercising a clause in the pilots’ contracts that allowed their services to be terminated with three months salary paid in lieu of notice. End.

Surely some mistake? If no individual is at fault, as officially stated by the Ministry, then, in the absence of any similarly official Singapore Airlines linkage of the terminations, they are for some other reason(s) than presumed by the world at large?

Should the airline not now release the hitherto unsuspected reason(s) for termination of the pilots, so as to at least satisfy the curiosity of the individuals and their families, not to say the wider interest of both the aviation community and the travelling public?

3 Holer
27th Jul 2002, 04:39
This is not the first, nor will it be the last, time that Singapore Airlines have sacked crew members using the 3 month termination clause. I was in Singapore for four and a half years and witnessed that clause used twice. The employee doesn't have the same comfort zone because of the enormous bond you are required to sign up to when joining. SQ are exponents of exploitation.

As gaunty has already mentioned - it would be a bigger tradgedy if nothing is learnt from this unfortunate accident.

Good luck to the two crew members concerned.

Ignition Override
27th Jul 2002, 05:44
Any country which will fine somebody hundreds of dollars or so for discretely spitting on a sidewalk has some serious attitude problems.

Singapore must be an "enjoyable" place to live.

27th Jul 2002, 06:45
Would events of yesterday in fact reveal that the recent investigations by Singapore’s Transport Ministry, the findings of which were used to rebut the findings of the Taiwanese ASC’s own investigation into the circumstances of the SQ 006 tragedy, now turn out to be a sham?

At the time, the Singapore Transport Ministry’s rebuttal was wholly accepted in the Republic as a true reflection of the circumstances. Firing of the pilots surely undermines this position, of which one feature was that the accident was “not the fault of any individuals”.

27th Jul 2002, 09:48
Famous words from the Airline Pilots Association - Singapore:

Straits Times June 26:

<<'no option but to withdraw all forms of goodwill and co-operation it has extended to the company'.>> referring to the breach of agreement when SIA directed relief crew to rest in economy class seats instead of the usual business class seats from now on.

Straits Times July 27:

<<'disgusted by the grotesque display of the company's lack of will in understanding the pilots' plight'.>>


<<Association president Dilip Padbidri, 51, told The Straits Times last night: 'We will appeal to SIA and the Government and, if that fails, we will use our contacts and links to try and get the two pilots re-employed in other airlines.'>>

Yeah, right. Appeal? Don't waste your time. Everyone knows what the outcome will be.

If there is one thing the Association is good at, it is expert at conjuring up fancy verbal reactions, after the fact. Nothing more. No wonder we get what we deserve - an insipid pilot's association and a bully of an employer. Prospective joiners take note of how you will be used and abused.

From the reactions to this topic in this forum as well the Far East forum, it looks like no one is really bothered. Cowed into submission already, boys?

It's not as though we are genetically unable to speak up - look at the intensity of (eg) MAS or RBA issues - those guys sure can talk.

27th Jul 2002, 17:29
This is my observation :
1) SQ was trying to ram the current in-effect CA down the pilots' throat.
SQ6 crash in TPE.

2) Against the wishes of the pilots’ body, SQ was trying to fast-track an introduction of cruise captains.
A spade of engine failures in-flight; the highlight being 2 separate engine failures on the same 777 aircraft within 11 flying hours, and with it the 'grand plan' of using the 777 over the Pacific.

3) The strong-armed introduction of EY seats for flight crew in-flight rest instead of J seats as per a signed agreement. This practice has since been temporary suspended, and will be implemented once SQ finds a way in court to overturn the CA.
SQ29's knock down two 747 tailstands in TPE. Creating a big media fracas in Taiwan, and being branded "pot-calling-the-kettle-black".

Seems that every time SQ runs a fast one on its pilot body, something bad happens.
And now, the sacking of the two pilots at the controls of SQ6.

You all have a nice day now.
:mad: :mad: :mad:

28th Jul 2002, 00:30
If it were dangerous to take off why was the airport open for business?

28th Jul 2002, 17:58
I don't see how SIA had any alternative but to fire both Foong and Cyrano. Would it have been fair to reinstate them at the ranks they held at the time of the accident? Demote them and let them continue flying? Give them desk jobs? As others have pointed out, any pilot could have made the mistake of taking off from the wrong runway that night but, unfortunately, they were the ones who committed this particular error. Somebody has to carry the can. In this case, two undoubtedly fine pilots had to pay the price - yet another sad outcome of this tragic accident.
What I wonder is, would this punishment have been meted out if there had been no fatalities (if, for example, the aircraft had run into ground equipment early in the takeoff run and only suffered external damage without breaking up and catching fire)? I am thinking of the aftermath of QF1's overrun at Bangkok in Sept/99, which resulted from a gross error of judgment by the captain (who wasn't even PF). The aircraft (a 744) was so substantially damaged that it was essentially a write-off but Qantas, in order to preserve their record of no hull losses in their history, spent the replacement cost on repairs. But, there were no significant injuries. As far as I know, the captain continues to fly in the LHS for Qantas.
Does anyone know what the fate was of the China Airlines crew who took off from a taxiway at Anchorage earlier this year, hit an obstruction on lift-off, and blithely continued on to Taipei? Temporary suspension? Rap on the knuckles? The sack?

28th Jul 2002, 23:01
Likewise, the management who made the mistake of investing in ANZ should also be fired like the pilot. Agree?

29th Jul 2002, 00:43
Sorry, finger trouble. I'll try that get again.
I'm not sure if your message was directed at me or even what exactly you're driving at but I don't think SIA's business plan has much to do with this particular topic (besides, SIA's financial results for 2001-02 were pretty healthy, especially when compared to the rest of the industry).
I'm genuinely interested in what people within the industry think about the appropriate retribution for pilot error.

What-ho Squiffy!
29th Jul 2002, 01:31
My five cents...

As long as there are humans acting as pilots, you'll have human error. These particular pilots made a mistake that ended in a huge loss of life. Unless they were shown to have blatantly disregard rules and/or shown reckless disregard for safety, why should they be sacked?

This should not be taken as diminishing the loss of life, which is terrible - but should loss of life alter the "wrongness" of the action? If we sacked/jailed every pilot that made a mistake, nobody would fly.

29th Jul 2002, 08:10
Nobody has mentioned the 737 that took off on the closed runway just before SQ. It got airborne just before the machinery (meters, one suspects) and wouldn't have made it easy for the SQ crew to identify the runway as closed. :confused:

29th Jul 2002, 08:22
Albatross, where did you get that information about the 737 taking off just prior to SQ 006??
Thats news to me, I have not read anything about that, methinks you have got your dates wrong.
That would be a huge mitigating factor in the accident and indeed if that did occur then the airport authorities would have to be found culparable.

30th Jul 2002, 00:55
W H Squiffy.
With respect, you are skirting the issue. OK, you feel Foong and Cyrano should not have been dismissed. How, then, should SIA have treated them?
You suggest that only if crewmembers blatantly and recklessly disregard rules and safety procedures should they be fired. That's not easy to prove. I turn again to [email protected], 23/9/99. I don't know if you're familiar with this accident but you can read the full report of the investigation of it on the Australian BASI website. In essence, just before touchdown, because the landing was long and fast in poor weather, the PIC instructed his co-pilot (the PF) to go around. As the latter advanced the throttles, the main wheels contacted the runway, the end of the runway came into view through the rain, and the PIC decided to complete the landing and retarded the throttles to idle. They ran off the end of the runway a distance of some 200 m. I'm not a pilot, but common sense tells me you don't reverse a decision to go around once you've committed to it. In fact, I feel you could argue that, by his action, the PIC showed a wanton disregard for the safety of his passengers and crew and, by your lights, he should have been fired. Yet, as far as I know, he wasn't and continues to fly for Qantas as a captain.
What about the China Airlines A340 crew who, earlier this year, took off from ANC from a taxiway at right angles to their assigned runway? The taxiway was only 6000 ft or so long, if memory serves, and they barely made it off. Clear case of reckless disregard for procedures and safety, I hear you say. But if the taxiway had been 10,000 ft long, would you say the same? I would but some might argue, that's not sufficient cause for dismissal. Tricky. I don't know what eventually happened to the crew. Perhaps someone can enlighten us.
I don't know what to think but I still have the nagging feeling that SIA was justified in sacking Foong and Cyrano, although I sympathize wholeheartedly with the two pilots.

30th Jul 2002, 04:19

Further to your post of 27 July, perhaps the sacking of the two pilots at the controls of SQ6 will presage SQ not getting the 180 minutes ETOPS clearance from CAAS, desperately needed for the inauguration of the SIN-LAS service on 2 August.

Stranger correlations have historically been given credence within SQ – witness the removal of the Airspeed Oxford from pride of place outside STC!

Delta Whiskey
30th Jul 2002, 08:15
A good point 3 holer - is this the same management group who allowed the Silk Air captain who eventually solved his debt crisis at Mach 1 in an Indonesian swamp to continue flying after he exhibited several gross breaches of regulations etc etc??

30th Jul 2002, 08:50
My only assumption from this sacking is simple.There are just 2 points:

1)SQ defends their pilots (read that as the management & their policies) to the hilt during the post event of the disaster up till the release & findings from the investigations of both authorities.Even ALPA-S asked help from IFALPA to protect the pilots! :eek:

2)When the smoke blows over & the issue has been laid to rest (conveniently), SQ sacks the 2 pilots as the natural scapegoats.

Just shows the KIASU mentality is alive & kicking in good old SQ management. :D

I only have pity for my colleagues across the Tebrau Strait.Not only do they have the present pressure cooker & microscopic (myopic? :confused: ) management to deal with, now the pilots are added with the knowledge of a certain job loss with every mistake that they make.The recent incident in TPE illustrated my point here very well.

Hang in there guys............



30th Jul 2002, 17:39

Nope. :(
If you read line 2), you would notice that it meant 180 ETOPS.

Something else will creep up.

SQ pilots are the most stressed pilots around. The threat of being called into the office for operational/safety decisions that do not bode well with commercial interest is very real; unless you are an expat, because local pilots have nowhere else to go.
And now with the axe hanging above our heads whenever we report for work, how is this going to enhance flight safety ? :mad: :mad:

The SQ management should write a book called "how-to-enhance-your-job-security, salary and bonuses-with-each-screw-up", they would make millions !
MBA schools all round the world would race each other to start a new module based on it.

You all have a nice day now.:mad: :mad: :mad:

30th Jul 2002, 19:38
FYI SIA has repeatedly refused to make the pilots available for questioning by survivors' lawyers - the stated reason being that there was an investigation under way, and that that had to be cleared up first.

Now the tune has changed - since the pilots no longer work for SIA, so sorry but no way for airline to compel them to testify!

30th Jul 2002, 23:10
Given the large amount of verifiable facts that are all ready out there for all to see just what, exactly, do you want the (ex) Captain and F/O to say in court?

31st Jul 2002, 07:49
The truth, the whole truth & nothing but the truth! :D


31st Jul 2002, 14:27

On closer inspection of line 2), I agree that you do imply 180 ETOPS.

However, SQ had been hoping to creep along the route using 120 ETOPS. The temporary closure of suitable airports, Petropavlovsk and Magadan has put paid to that for the moment and has indeed required the A340 to go back on the ICN-YVR route.

I further agree that SQ pilots must be amongst the most stressed pilots around not least for reason of the military ethos that is now running the show and which evinces a distinct preference for punishment as an antidote to human error.

On another matter, it will be interesting to note the degree of cooperation or otherwise, displayed on the part of the two ex SQ pilots, when giving evidence in a US court, at the behest of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the upcoming civil suit.

31st Jul 2002, 16:42
Clearly some form of punishment,retraining or demotion was called for.If gross negligance was proven then dismissal would seem appropiate, and most contracts cover that.
Her in RBA this has been the case for years until the recent sackings of 4 pilots. One was a junior ,but not the most junior, captain ,had no black marks against him,or had any warnings( His father was the retiring DFO who had upset a lot of people in his 15 year tenure) The 3 others were the most senior F/O's and again had nothing on their files to indicate a lees than satisfactory performance.
The moral is, if you work for a third world company do not expect any fairness or support. Do the job, take the money , keep your head down.

Bennie and the Jets
31st Jul 2002, 19:13
Hey guys, can someone tell me what happened to those Fedex MD-11 (NJ crash) and SWA (737 overrun in California) captains?
Did the employers show mercy to the pilots? :cool:
The fact is: 3rd world or 1st world, the procedure is the same with minor adjustments.

2nd Aug 2002, 05:43
I believe the two captains referred to in the above post were both sacked or allowed to retire early on threat of termination.

To my knowledge, it is generally accepted within airline management circles that a crewmember who is directly involved in a fatality accident will never operate for that carrier again.

Seems that the risk associated with retaining the individual(s) in an operational status - on the chance that they would be involved in ANOTHER fatality incident or accident - is too great and thus insurance premiums too expensive.

To my knowledge, the only exception to this precedent was the flight engineer / second officer on a Delta 727 that crashed on takeoff in Dallas in the late 80's.

As I recall, all three crewmembers were terminated by the airline once the NTSB report was published - but as the board failed to cite the S/O's performance as a contributing factor (evidently he read the takeoff checklist correctly but the 'front-seaters' both responded in error) the man was later reinstated by the airline.

Evidently SQ followed this precedent by not sacking the F/O who occupied the jumpseat in the mishap aircraft.

Right or wrong, it does seem to be the way of our airline world.

7th Aug 2002, 11:35
Straits Times 7 August 2002

Singapore Airlines has come under fire again for terminating the services of the two pilots who flew the SQ006 plane that crashed at Taipei airport two years ago.

This time it is the international body for airline pilots which has slammed the move, calling it “unjust, unwarranted and entirely unreasonable”.

In a strongly-worded letter, the president of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (ifalpa), Captain Ted Murphy, said the news was “greeted with shock, dismay and disbelief”.

He asked SIA chief executive Cheong Choong Kong to reinstate both men, who were asked to go on July 26. SIA did not give any reason for its decision.


In calling on SIA to reverse its decision, Captain Murphy said: “We believe that any other decision is bad for flight safety worldwide, never mind the appalling effect that this must have had on the morale of your own pilots.”


Captain Murphy explained that accident investigations were important in promoting aviation safety. “Of equal importance is that pilots who cooperate with investigators and who allow all their actions and conversations to be recorded in the pursuance of flight safety, are not then subject to unjust punishment when they are not guilty of gross dereliction of duty or criminal negligence.”

If these principles are not upheld, then the whole “blame-free” culture which is so vital to flight safety will be put at risk, he stressed


Ifalpa also criticized SIA for letting the pilots go – “without explanation, without a hearing, without a right to appeal” – despite the efforts of the international pilots’ body and others who had lobbied hard against the pilots’ prosecution in Taiwan.

“Does that action not make it seem as if Singapore Airlines actually believes that the crew should have been prosecuted in Taiwan?”

SIA had said that it reached its decision before the Taiwan authorities had completed their probe.


But Captain Murphy said in his letter that SIA must have been aware of the pressure that both Ifalpa and Alpa-s had been bringing to bear to have the pilots’ licences re-validated.

Dismayed that in the end the men had their services terminated, he asked: “Would it not have been more honest to tell us of your intentions?”


Plus ça change?

7th Aug 2002, 14:21
So far, for the most part, we have heard from assorted airline pilots, the majority of whom naturally stand up for their kindred and apparently want Foong and Cyrano not only reinstated but exonerated by SIA. As a dispassionate but interested outsider, this seems to me to fly in the face of common sense.
In contrast, 747400CA makes what seems to me a very plausible case for the dismissal of Foong and Cyrano, yet his posting was greeted with deafening silence from the PPrune fraternity.
Surely, although SIA cannot see themselves rehiring them, Foong and Cyrano have an excellent chance of continuing their flying careers with another airline. Both had excellent records prior to SQ6 and Foong, especially, has extensive command experience in heavy jets. Would this not be the appropriate compromise to put this tragedy behind us and move on?