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Judd
5th Mar 2019, 09:33
Going through old correspondence the other day and came across this opinion piece published many years ago in Aviation Advertiser whose editor at the time was Paul Phelan. A thought provoking article which deserves to be read by all those airline pilots preparing for command upgrade. It applies equally to those in the general aviation.


REQUESTED BY AVIATION ADVERTISER AND FORWARDED TO INDUSTRY OPERATORS
Have We Forgotten Our Command Responsibilities?
Opinion – Maurie Baston
The Senate hearing into the ATSB report regarding the Norfolk Island ditching has raised many questions; some of competency; some of ethics; others of evasiveness; and even more where accountability has been discarded. There are, however, some fundamental issues that have been avoided or, to think the best, some would believe to have little to no relevance.

My comments are not in respect of the report but rather, how such an accident could have happened and what should have been done to prevent it. More importantly, and hopefully, to highlight a way to refocus on some core values and responsibilities we all should share if we are to be true industry professionals. That way we might keep the trust of the travelling public and our industry peers.
It would be difficult for anyone to imagine the terror felt by the passengers, particularly the patient strapped to the stretcher during such ditching: at night; the aircraft brought to a sudden stop - never before experienced; the cabin in darkness; a desperate feeling of being trapped, and heading for the depths of the Pacific.
Such terror!

The statement made by Director Mr McCormick, where he has as unequivocally blamed the pilot, I believe, is mostly correct but there are other issues that need addressing; for example knowing and accepting responsibility for the tasks we undertake and for which we had been trained - and certified competent. As pilot in command, the responsibilities in law are significant but in life they should be more than that - profound at the very least.
There are many levels of responsibilities in an organisation. In a mature one they are normally covered by duty statements, job descriptions, or to use a popular intellectual phrase: “a functional skills analysis” - colloquially “what’s the job”.

CASA and the ATSB have separate responsibilities but the manner in which they have, and are, being addressed has changed significantly from methods used in the past. This shift of emphasis has not assisted industry’s development and did not prevent this Norfolk Island ditching and other events we could all recall.

CASA staff are all supported by many levels of legislation and it is understandable that there are many different interpretations and attitudes applied by individuals. What needs to be addressed is the way regulation has diverged from the fundamentals. These fundamentals are there to ensure that responsibilities are accepted and acted upon by those of us who are placed in positions of responsibility and, as we all have, accepted the benefits that such responsibilities offer. There are legislative tools that often have little effect in producing a safe outcome, as can be seen in the discourse we hear during the Senate Inquiry. These are clearly safety deficient.

However, there are two basic, clearly stated regulations I believe need to be focused upon. They are the ones the travelling public rely upon when they decide to fly and it is because of these Regulations upon which public trust is built – similar to the trust we have when we are on the operating table and surgeon is about to operate.
We are in anothers’ care!
In both scenarios, surgeon and pilot in command, our wellbeing, even survival, is in control of someone who has accepted the responsibility and whom we have come to assume is competent. These two Civil Aviation Regulations, when applied correctly, support those assumptions. The first is:
CAR 233 (1988) applies to the pilot in command - not the operator - and is paraphrased as follows:

The pilot in command must ensure that:
 The instruments and equipment are functioning properly.
 The weight and balance is checked within limits.
 Sufficient fuel is carried.
 The crew fit to perform their duties.
 The air traffic control clearances and procedures applied correctly.
 The aircraft is airworthy - safe for flight in all respects.
 Current maps and charts for destination and alternate airports/s are available in flight; and
 For international flights the completion of a flight preparation form is required.
CAR 233
CAR 224 (1988) is the second and also applies to the pilot in command and not the operator and is paraphrased as follows:
The Pilot in Command is responsible for the:
 Start, continuation, diversion and end of a flight by the aircraft; and
 The operation and safety of the aircraft crew, persons and cargo during flight.
One of the most positive pieces of legislation that supports the Pilot in Command with authority and as the final arbiter for a safety decision is CAR 309 (1988). It provides clear unambiguous authority and is also paraphrased as follows:
CAR 309 Powers of pilot in command
 The pilot in command of an aircraft, may take action to ensure compliance with the Act or Regulations in or in relation to the aircraft; including the removal and restraint of persons.
CAR 309
In respect of operator responsibilities detailed requirements are set out in the CAO 80 series of Orders. These requirements are centred on management systems, infrastructure for the monitoring of operations by supervisory personnel. For a Regulator to legislate to provide these services the Regulator has acknowledged that support for crews is a necessary function particularly for operations as they become larger and more complex.
There is, however, between the operator and pilot in command, a major difference in the final responsibility and that responsibility lies only with the pilot in command.

And here is where I believe our whole industry needs to refocus on just what an operation demands. It must firstly be safe and then legal but we all need to acknowledge that every service provided by a support facility prior to an operation is essentially only that - a support service. That then equips the pilot in command to make the final decisions as the ultimate responsible authority. And that is enshrined in law.

In relation then to the Norfolk Island ditching no matter what support was or was not available, there needed to be decisions made by the pilot in command to ensure the flight could be done safely. If the company couldn’t supply the required information then the pilot in command is required to source it and if that cannot be done then that calls up one of the most difficult decision a pilot in command sometimes needs to make - the ability to say “NO”.

That means before we can “exercise the privileges of the licence” we always need to be mindful we are the final link in the chain of the decision process. That is what used to be called “command responsibility” - a term that seems to be used less and less as time has passed and the blame directed to others when operations don’t go as planned. The well-known proverb comes to mind
“Success has a thousand authors - failure mostly none.”

As professionals who are charged with command responsibilities we need to maintain fallback options - I call them “boy scout “ skills. How many of us can handwrite an international flight plan and have a fax number in our little black book to send it – or are we completely reliant upon “others” to supply and file it for us?
And do we do our own weight and balance? Do we have a rough estimate of the ramp weight of the aircraft and the approximate V speeds we can expect before we get to the aircraft? Do we have a rough rule to estimate the fuel saving available between normal cruise and long range cruise?
There are many basic skills we were taught - or should have been – that equip us with such skills so that when external support is not available we can seek alternatives that provide the essential information. Self-reliance is what it is called and that consists of skills and knowledge we all need to maintain.
There will be those who will not accept the comments I have made, perhaps even outraged, so I am ready for attacks; but to those who would have those views I would ask: “If you were the captain of the Norfolk Island aircraft with your family and/or special people on board, would you not have done the responsible things and ensured that all, repeat, all command responsibilities had been met, prior to - and during the flight?” I would think so.

Specific to the Norfolk Island ditching , the Pacific is a very seductive environment in which to operate and while day after day it can be a paradise in which to work, a surprise will occur for those who don’t prepare for the unexpected - and isn’t that what our job requires?
Finally, there have been many weather related incidents and accidents and with experience and perhaps more guidance from CASA and the operator– particularly following the not-so-favorable-audit, Mr James can be forgiven somewhat for believing 6,000 feet cloud base rather than the 600 feet claimed but; and it is a big “but” with the autopilot set in cruise is not the time for coffee. It is the time for active flight management and actions always need to be taken to confirm that the flight can continue with no surprises in store i.e. continue to play the “what-if” game.

Editor’s comment
As you’ll see from his career summary, Maurie has spent a lot of his life contemplating such matters, particularly during a lengthy spell as chief pilot of Air Nauru operating B-737/727’s whose operating environment takes you to a lot of destinations where personal preparedness and awareness are essential tools and support systems are sometimes unavailable and/or unreliable.
There will be countervailing views, which we’ll be happy to print if they display the same logical and dignified tone.

Career Summary
Maurie Baston spent 18 years in the Royal Australian Air Force with a strong focus on pilot training, membership of six separate aerobatic teams, solo aerobatic display flying, and numerous overseas liaison appointments.
He flew Convair 880’s with Cathay Pacific Airways in Hong Kong before returning to Australia, eventually setting up his own company: Air Transport Management.
His 11 years with the (then) Australian Civil Aviation Authority involved him at senior executive level in project management and restructuring roles including the introduction of the District Offices concepts, as well as industry oversight of airline B747/767 operations.
In his 15 years involvement in airline operations with Cathay Pacific, Qantas, United Airlines and Air Nauru, he has worked as an airline operations manager/chief pilot, on route and fleet development all over the Pacific. He still flies his own Piper Twin Comanche, and operates an aviation consultancy business based in Australia and the USA.

machtuk
5th Mar 2019, 09:58
Very interesting article and approach to quantifying it, a good read, something I constantly think about when inbound to YSNF.

Rated De
5th Mar 2019, 19:16
As Captain Sullenberger paraphrased, recalling an article he read, " We once were hired for our judgement, now we are being evaluated on our compliance."

No matter what the reason, most regulatory references refer (in The Australian case) to the Strict Liability enshrined in Section 10 of the Crimes Act.
Unfavourable outcomes are not mitigated by support service impact, there is but one individual, and in his absence the other individual, that are held to criminal account.

73qanda
5th Mar 2019, 19:45
Reg 233

Responsibility of pilot in command before flight

(1) The pilot in command of an aircraft must not commence a flight if he or she has not received evidence, and taken such action as is necessary to ensure, that:


(d) the fuel supplies are sufficient for the particular flight;

Lately ( last few years) with the increased pressure from above to reduce fuel burns, I wonder if a ‘new normal’ is creeping in whereby we are comfortable ( as an industry) carrying less fuel than we used to. I hear stories from First Officers of Captains reluctant to carry more than OFP fuel even when a First Officer makes a reasonable argument for it. I have heard of more than one Airliner landing recently ( within 12 months) with precisely 30 minutes of fuel in tanks.
New Captains are increasingly more aware of the environmental impact of burning fuel due to being from a younger generation. That’s a good thing in my mind and a new generations way of looking at things is refreshing to me. That said, I wonder if a heightened awareness of environmental considerations, in combination with constant and not so subtle pressure to carry the minimum fuel legally required, and lower experience levels, may result in an increase in Mayday Fuel incidents.
Maybe it won’t, who knows? But either way a reminder of our legal responsibility ( which extends beyond accepting OFP fuel) is a good thing. Thanks Judd.



Always good to have a reminder of our duties. Thanks Judd.

gordonfvckingramsay
5th Mar 2019, 19:53
And what a waste of taxpayers money that senate inquiry was too. We are not commanders anymore, we are instruments of an out of control cost cutting imperative. In my organisation pilots are marked poorly on a line check if they choose to exercise their command and carry some “between the lines” fuel on a CAVOK day. The airline has made it official that to land without a master caution for low fuel will jeopardise your career.

Great article but CASA are the ones who need to read it! I’m sure every one of us would love to have our respective companies back off and let us command.

KRUSTY 34
5th Mar 2019, 21:27
Something we need to remember, Pilots are human, Captains are human. Our “human” limitations are mitigated by training and experience, but also by solid operating systems and mature organisational support.

Most accidents are the result of a chain of events, we all know this. Yet what we saw In the aftermath of this event was akin to a scattering of cockroaches when the light is turned on!

Very convienient.

josephfeatherweight
5th Mar 2019, 21:46
The airline has made it official that to land without a master caution for low fuel will jeopardise your career.
Is that an exaggeration or for real? (Genuine question)

Berealgetreal
5th Mar 2019, 23:29
Master Caution Fuel: Not where I work gordon.

Understand some routes/aircraft/payload combinations are skinny and that's part of the job, but if this is part of the normal culture on all routes I'd be looking elsewhere. I certainly wouldn't be putting my family on board.

I don't think you need to leave the industry but I do think you should consider other employers.

neville_nobody
6th Mar 2019, 01:41
The airline has made it official that to land without a master caution for low fuel will jeopardise your career.

I find that very hard to believe.

It is just a game that Company's play. A game that will end very quickly if a company actually got called on it. One REPCON on that issue and watch management go running for cover. It is cut and dry in the regulations. Companies can suggest as much or as little as they like but the Captain has the final word.

In reality CASA should introduce 'World's Best Practice' and mandate alternates for RPT.

Anyone out there actually seen a Cost/Benefit Analysis of Delta Burn vs Diversion Costs for Domestic Ops? Ever wondered why?

Pearly White
6th Mar 2019, 01:44
New Captains are increasingly more aware of the environmental impact of burning fuel due to being from a younger generation. That’s a good thing in my mind and a new generations way of looking at things is refreshing to me. That said, I wonder if a heightened awareness of environmental considerations, in combination with constant and not so subtle pressure to carry the minimum fuel legally required, and lower experience levels, may result in an increase in Mayday Fuel incidents.
For those concerned with the environmental impact of carrying too much fuel, please balance that decision against the environmental impact of not carrying enough. Landing short and setting fire to a few hundred square kilometres of bushland or a couple of postcodes of housing would probably negate the efforts of all those scrimping their fuel safety margins for several decades.

gordonfvckingramsay
6th Mar 2019, 02:05
Find it hard to believe all you like Neville. I’ve seen it first hand where a Captain is burning around on vapours because a checkie is onboard and they don’t want a “didn’t follow company fuel policy” mark down. And now they are suggesting electronic surveillance of who carries what fuel.

They can suggest what what they want, but the mere suggestion is enough to change the entire culture around fuel and a captains ability to make a command call.

Berealgetreal
6th Mar 2019, 02:09
For those concerned with the environmental impact of carrying too much fuel, please balance that decision against the environmental impact of not carrying enough. Landing short and setting fire to a few hundred square kilometres of bushland or a couple of postcodes of housing would probably negate the efforts of all those scrimping their fuel safety margins for several decades.

Post of 2019.
Only thing missing is airline closing down and 20,000 people out of work.

gordonfvckingramsay
6th Mar 2019, 02:20
And let’s not limit this to fuel. Try calling it a day because you’re absolutely buggered and don’t think you’ll be safe by top of descent on sector 4 in your 13th hour of duty, or knocking back an MEL that when you throw in all the other factors, will seriously erode safety. Standard response from above is “its legal”, or “you can extend” or “it’s MEL’d so you can go”. The balance of power has reversed and now someone safely tucked up in an office and armed with a telephone can remotely usurp the command on a flighdeck they don’t legally occupy.

porch monkey
6th Mar 2019, 03:44
Fortunately, not where I work.

LeadSled
6th Mar 2019, 05:59
Folks,
I am pleased to say (and I don't say too much good about CASA very often) that CASR Part 91.215 has got it right, short and sweet, unlike earlier "consultation" drafts --- which created a nightmare situation for any PIC.
And, gordonFR, the chances of what you describe in #14 is minimized.
Tootle pip!!

machtuk
6th Mar 2019, 06:26
And let’s not limit this to fuel. Try calling it a day because you’re absolutely buggered and don’t think you’ll be safe by top of descent on sector 4 in your 13th hour of duty, or knocking back an MEL that when you throw in all the other factors, will seriously erode safety. Standard response from above is “its legal”, or “you can extend” or “it’s MEL’d so you can go”. The balance of power has reversed and now someone safely tucked up in an office and armed with a telephone can remotely usurp the command on a flighdeck they don’t legally occupy.

Never a truer word has been spoken! There will come a day when an Australian Airliner will be spread across the country side with plenty of burning bodies all in the name of "it's legal! Am glad I wont be involved, the days of flying for a purpose & pride has long gone !:-( RIP an industry that as once exciting & a life long ambition:-(

exfocx
6th Mar 2019, 12:57
Imo this article is somewhat simplistic with regards to the laying of blame here. The PIC was a product of his "upbringing" there, and if my memory serves me right he was an FO for a whole 12 mths before the move to the LHS. I'd lay a lot of it at the feet of the training dept and CASA for what I'd say was virtually no oversight because it was deemed not worthy of their time as it was air ambulance. By the looks of it no proper flt planning for an operation stretching the range capability of the a/c as well.

He screwed up, but so did CASA and the company. CASA allowed the company to ran a substandard operation and blaming the pilot was to deflect blame from their lack of oversight.

Btw, comparing a pilot and a surgeon is way off the mark. The surgeon has almost complete control over what they do, a pilot does legally, but practically that's a different story.

Capt Fathom
6th Mar 2019, 21:13
The airline has made it official that to land without a master caution for low fuel will jeopardise your career.
So if you arrive with too much fuel, just do a hold or a go-around. :E​​​​​​​

gordonfvckingramsay
6th Mar 2019, 21:35
So if you arrive with too much fuel, just do a hold or a go-around. :E

It’s been suggested before, along with config at 20 miles.

73qanda
7th Mar 2019, 01:25
What country or part of the world do you operate in GFR? It’s pretty hard for me ( based in Australia) to believe that a culture like that exists in an Airline.

porch monkey
7th Mar 2019, 04:11
GFR, I'd like to know too, just so I can avoid.......

Duck Pilot
7th Mar 2019, 10:06
Command Responsabilties? Personal discipline and motivation coupled with good training and integrity will only generate and maintain excellent command skills.

ph-sbe
7th Mar 2019, 23:31
Command Responsabilties? Personal discipline and motivation coupled with good training and integrity will only generate and maintain excellent command skills.

A superior commander is a commander who uses his superior judgement to avoid situations where he would need his superior commanding skills.

The Bullwinkle
8th Mar 2019, 08:33
We are not commanders anymore, we are instruments of an out of control cost cutting imperative.

If that’s your attitude, then you’re not really a commander are you.
I’ve personally had my company try to apply an inappropriate amount of pressure on me to carry the company flight planned fuel.
I refused, argued my point (which fell on deaf ears), and at the end of the day, despite the veiled threats, I’m still here as a commander and probably carrying more fuel today than I was back then.
Never forget who’s responsible for the safety of the aircraft and the amount of fuel on board.
​​​​​​​It’s YOU!!!

gordonfvckingramsay
8th Mar 2019, 20:12
Calm down Bullwinkle. The point I was making was that with every passing year we, as captains, are subjected to greater and greater pressure to reduce fuel carried, extend that duty etc...I know of guys who do fold to the pressure and who have put them selves and their passengers in a tight spot. I have the same policy as you in when it comes to fuel. I’m even more likely to throw another X amount on when I’m on my 3rd or 4th max duty in a row too.

To answer another post, yes it is an Australian operator and yes low fuel caution lights are acceptable. Supposedly the manufacturer got it wrong.

havick
9th Mar 2019, 03:23
If that’s your attitude, then you’re not really a commander are you.
I’ve personally had my company try to apply an inappropriate amount of pressure on me to carry the company flight planned fuel.
I refused, argued my point (which fell on deaf ears), and at the end of the day, despite the veiled threats, I’m still here as a commander and probably carrying more fuel today than I was back then.
Never forget who’s responsible for the safety of the aircraft and the amount of fuel on board.
It’s YOU!!!

just divert and cost them more fuel and delays. Do that a few times and your will see more fuel being addded to your dispatch releases.

saves arguing with stupid.

Scooter Rassmussin
9th Mar 2019, 09:21
Yes because I’m an FO

MajorLemond
9th Mar 2019, 09:52
EVERY Airline you work for will want you taking company planned fuel. As far as i’m aware none I have worked for have disciplined anyone over taking extra. Most fuel policies will give the PIC scope for discretionary uplift and they know ultimately it’s up to you.

If your workplace is actively enforcing landing with fuel caution lights on (LOL) then I suggest you find a better place to work.

Lets face it, nobody enjoys checkrides but It shouldn’t force a crew to put on a fuel load that makes them uncomfortable. If it’s true sounds like massively shithouse operation anyway.

MajorLemond
9th Mar 2019, 09:56
Most accidents are the result of a chain of events, we all know this. Yet what we saw In the aftermath of this event was akin to a scattering of cockroaches when the light is turned on!

Very convienient.

Great description Krusty34. Come across a few of those roaches in my time!

Troo believer
9th Mar 2019, 11:05
Great description Krusty34. Come across a few of those roaches in my time!

Yep they Scamp er off that’s for sure.

The Bullwinkle
10th Mar 2019, 00:23
To answer another post, yes it is an Australian operator and yes low fuel caution lights are acceptable. Supposedly the manufacturer got it wrong.

Yep, what a knob who said that!
Apparently it can be changed with the flick of a switch and I told him when you flick that switch then we can talk some more, but in the meantime, if I keep getting flight plans that have me arriving with 1900 kgs (the trigger for the “Low fuel” on the 737), I will keep copies of those flight plans which can then be used as evidence that we are being planned into a non-normal situation. (Illumination of Low fuel requires a QRH checklist)

And as for the Captain who is renowned for regularly getting around on minimum fuel, thinking that he’s saving the company money, here’s some food for thought.

I carry about a tonne above flight plan between say Melbourne and Sydney with a delta burn cost to the company of around $60.
The fuel saving Captain on the other hand has such a bad reputation for taking bare minimum fuel that his rostered F.O.’s won’t even turn up for work so the company has to draft F.O.’s which costs around $700.

CurtainTwitcher
10th Mar 2019, 00:31
Apparently a min fuel diversion from NWWW ---> NVVV due disabled aircraft on the runway cured him! Life (and jock) changing insights gained about the perils of the unexpected.

The Bullwinkle
10th Mar 2019, 00:56
Apparently a min fuel diversion from NWWW ---> NVVV due disabled aircraft on the runway cured him! Life (and jock) changing insights gained about the perils of the unexpected.

Good to hear he’s had an attitude change before he cost all of us our jobs.
Pity he wasn’t smart enough to change prior to this event!

porch monkey
10th Mar 2019, 01:30
So, it’s not “scuba” anymore ????

greybeard
10th Mar 2019, 07:40
One large European operator I had the privilege of contract work, min fuel was.

Burn A to B, + burn to Alt, + burn for a second approach at Alt and statuary reserves

Command allowed to reduce if CAVOK etc and closer suitable ALT.

AND if you wanted more legit ably, you got it, eg second approach at destination

mustafagander
10th Mar 2019, 09:42
A mob I worked for some time back had the very sensible policy that when alternate was required, fuel for a second approach at destination was to be carried. Saved a lot of diversions and/or sweaty palms. Not a main line carrier, a regional in Oz with a far sighted policy.

maggot
10th Mar 2019, 09:58
A mob I worked for some time back had the very sensible policy that when alternate was required, fuel for a second approach at destination was to be carried. Saved a lot of diversions and/or sweaty palms. Not a main line carrier, a regional in Oz with a far sighted policy.
Yeah what's the point of /just/ having an alternate if you can't wait to have a shot or two before bugging out?

Obviously sometimes you just can't, however...

machtuk
10th Mar 2019, 10:16
[QUOTE=The Bullwinkle;10411931]

Yep, what a knob who said that!
Apparently it can be changed with the flick of a switch and I told him when you flick that switch then we can talk some more, but in the meantime, if I keep getting flight plans that have me arriving with 1900 kgs (the trigger for the “Low fuel” on the 737), I will keep copies of those flight plans which can then be used as evidence that we are being planned into a non-normal situation. (Illumination of Low fuel requires a QRH checklist)

And as for the Captain who is renowned for regularly getting around on minimum fuel, thinking that he’s saving the company money, here’s some food for thought.

I carry about a tonne above flight plan between say Melbourne and Sydney with a delta burn cost to the company of around $60.
The fuel saving Captain on the other hand has such a bad reputation for taking bare minimum fuel that his rostered F.O.’s won’t even turn up for work so the company has to draft F.O.’s which costs around $700.





Interesting story -:)
Pacific Islands require an Alt anyway regardless of WX when operating out of Oz, one would have to be crazy not to with all the single Rwy dromes out there wth lots of small A/C flying in and out not to mention lighting as well!
Command decision making and or airmanship is something that can't be read in some book..................