View Full Version : Rising toll blamed on Macho pilots

6th Oct 2002, 01:59
Sunday Mail (Qld) 5/10/02
"The alarming rate of air crashes in Qld could be halved if pilots were better trained, a pilots' association has claimed"
This is titled "The big Story - Our Deadly Skies". It is two and a half pages long and during the story manages to blame everything from CASA, poor training standards, spending too much time attending to rules and regs, pilot stress, the macho element, a breakdown in pilot situational awareness,decision making,lack of basic physical skills for the 58 poor unfortunates who have lost their lives in 30 seperate accidents in Qld since 1999. It manages to quote our friend Bill, Peter Gibson, Bill Mattes, Doug Edwards. Somehow Dick was left out.
Doug Edwards said, what anyone who has been in the business knows, quote "Too many accidents are caused by a break down in the pilot's situation awareness. Flying Insructors, also, may be a person who has recently graduated as a pilot. The amount of learning they have to do to qualify as an instructor is minimal and it's really not enough"
Amen to that, Mr Edwards. Until instructing is seen as something to aspire to, something that is a priviledge to be gained after you have gone through the hoops and earned the right to instruct, is a profession that is treated with respect and paid wages according to that respect then no amount of chest beating, rule changing, will make a better pilot. I mean, anyone can learn to fly a 747 but how many really good able and dedicated instructors who know what they are doing are there?

6th Oct 2002, 02:33
Have not yet seen the article, but have to agree that CASA and training standards are the CAUSE of many of the problems that lead to accidents these days.

10 or 15 years ago the standard for a PPL was higher than it is for a CPL now.

Now I wonder if that is part of the problem?

Many instructors just don't know what they don't know and pass that on to their students who don't know it either! Even many CFIs are sadly in this boat and don't even know it. Then they become FOIs and the sad circle just gets worse!

Yes, CASA are much to blame as are those operators that place profit before standards and safety, which CASA of course should be picking up, but don't because of commercial pressure from the operators and their own inability to understand what they should know, but don't....

6th Oct 2002, 12:24
Was faxed a copy this afternoon from Banana Land.

Quite a sensationalist story for the Sunday morning breakfast table.

Some observations after skimming the copy for the first time;

1. Bills comments as Vice-president of AOPA are interesting considering that a vocal group within that organisation actually want PPL's to be able to hold Instructor Ratings!.

2. A number of the 'Fatal Crashes' listed are Ultralight/Gyrocopter/Homebuilt/Aerobatic and although equally tragic, really should not be listed as part of this article. Although the numbers involved are not great - it does add to the overall impact of the story.

3. Doug Edward's comments about a 'macho element' (unless he was 'mis-quoted') is demeaning to the professionalism in the Australian G.A. industry of the vast majority of high & low time pilots. Questionable judgement in some cases - yes, but 'Macho'?.

I would consider Qld's accident rate to be more along the lines of what Peter Gibson said; large distances and higher number of flights.

However, I do also agree that the training standards could do with a review. The change from a 180 hour CPL to 150 hour CPL was a mistake as the 'Integrated' course is abused by a lot of part time students as well as 3 year university students. The spirit of the 150 hour integrated course is as a full time course. More scrutiny or better clarification of the 150 hour course would see part-time students and Uni course students complete the 200 hour syllabus instead.

6th Oct 2002, 15:31
Firstly, I have to say every single loss of life is sad if not unacceptable when involved in transport.
However the report by the rag in question has to be taken in context.

This is titled "The big Story - Our Deadly Skies".

The alarming rate of air crashes in Qld could be halved if pilots were better trained.

In order to sell papers the rag is using the recent tragic loss of life at Hamilton Island and donated a centre page story to this.
Yes we need to do everything possible to reduce accidents, improve safety but unfortunately the everyday safe flying pilot will have to bear the cost of this whether waranted or not.

Look at the front page of the same rag
It reports on the roads "23 people killed in the past two weeks"
"243 in the last nine months"

Can you imagine what would be said of the aviation industry if we had figures like this and can you imagine the outrage trying to pass on the financial burden of the obvious need for retraining of the everyday motorist to the general public.

All I can say is fly safe and be even more careful when enroute to the airport and today will be the last time I buy a rag such as the 'Sunday Mail'

6th Oct 2002, 23:55
I have to agree Rich Fine Green, dropping from 175 hours to 150 hours for a CPL was well intentioned for an integrated course. Most are not integrated in anything but name. Additionally CFI's can make a determination that Bloggs falls under the 150 hour syllabus. Incidentally there is no 200 hour syllabus.

Remember the RPPL was a minmum of 33 hours? Then became a GFPT with a minmum of 20 hours. I remember quoting people around 35-40 hours to gain a RPPL if they only flew weekends etc rather than "full time." So 13 hours was wiped off the minmum! A 39 % reduction. No essential elements were removed. Solo minimum dropped to 5 hours. Now the change was for the benefit of Glider/Ultralight pilots who could basically fly but needed powered/VH time. I think this began the gradual slide.

The issue of PPL holders instructing is a non issue as they will require all the experience of a CPL holder and will still need to do the instructor course. You could probably mount an argument that if the training was cheaper, as PPL cannot receive reward, then the pressure for minimum hours would be less, so a good PPL instructor may even help a student gain a higher standard.
Remember glider instructors at present are often PPL holders. Many of whom could easily pass a CPL flight test and probably should do it! One scenario I see is a travelling PPL instructor with his/her own aircraft who does flying training but does not charge for instruction but gains aircraft utilisation by instructing. How does that one sit?

Finally, 58 sad deaths in QLD aviation since 1999 as compared to 243 road deaths in 9 months. Gee, where do we need to spend the time and money?

7th Oct 2002, 02:40
Good point about the deaths on our roads, more people probably die of rock fishing than light aircraft accidents as well, but it doesn't have the same ring to it.

As a relative newie to this game, it does seem that too much attention is paid to the wrong sort of things. Having only recently finnished my training I can't comment on the relative skill levels of now and then, but with some schools churning them through, and even providing instructing work at the completion of their training, the "thens" would well and truely have the wood on the nows.

Having said that I do believe that some onus of fully preparing ones self does belong to the student in the end. Very few of us are spoonfed through life and this is no exception. It's one of the few careers where having a bad day can mean you and many others dont come home. A mindset, that needs to be nurtured by schools, of preparing YOURSELF to the very best standard you can, needs to be adopted.
It all comes down to accountability, of the schools to make you fully aware, as a professional pilot of what is expected, and the student, to take that information on board and see to it that they scrub up to it.

7th Oct 2002, 07:00
I read the 'article' on how to 'Halve' the 'air-toll' and was suitably UNimpressed.

As has been noted, a significant number of the incidents were ultralights, homebuilts and gyros - as has been discussed on another D&G thread, you are indeed 7 times more likely to die in one of those. BUT the general public don't use them, so why include them under the GA banner?

Further, ALL the GA incidents cited from this year, and several from last year, are still being investigated as to cause - how can the author cite those as examples of 'macho', 'poor training', 'poor skills' et al? Does he know something about the C90 at TWB that we don't? Does he consider his insight is sufficient to label the experienced female instructor in the PA30 crash at AF as 'macho'? Neither of these has been finalised - but that doesn't stop this fool from condemning by inference the pilots involved, and reprinting the pix of the crashes in his story. Following up by quoting how much better trained US pilots are by comparison - maybe they are, I don't know, but of those incidents left, most were VFR in IMC, JUST LIKE THE USA.

This was yet another media beat-up. I would reply to this idiot and others of his ilk: "If Australian ROAD users had the underpinning skills, knowledge and required demonstrated competencies of PILOTS in the management of their vehicle, then the ROAD TOLL would be a damn sight more than HALVED"


edited for cranky speeling erors & again because in my less than happy state I erroneously included an item from the LAST media beatup that added the tragic B200 WA/Qld crash to the Qld toll as an example of the poor level of pilot training in Qld..... OK so I get angry sometimes...but fair dinkum this stuff gets up my nose......

7th Oct 2002, 08:19
GA is always a good, "soft target" on a slow news day... :mad:

7th Oct 2002, 10:51
For those that have not seen it.




Crash capital


SOMETHING is not quite right in Queensland skies. Aircraft are crashing. People are dying.

Since the start of 1999, 58 people have been killed in 30 fatal accidents across the state. There have been more than 100 other crashes where occupants have been lucky to escape with their lives.

Queensland is now firmly entrenched as the most dangerous state in which to fly in Australia.

In 2000 there were 13 deaths. Last year 18 people died. This year, with four people killed in separate accidents between February and May, the statistics seemed to be improving.

But the loss of six lives in the Hamilton Island tragedy 10 days ago, when a single-engine Piper Cherokee 6-300 slammed into a hill shortly after take-off, changed all that.

The deaths of New Zealander Kevin Bowles, 47, his wife Joanne, 46, and their children Michael, 6, and Sophie, 9, American newlywed Christopher Le Gallo, 33, and pilot Andrew Morris, 27, pushed Queensland back to the top of the nation's air crash death toll.

The most recent Australian Transport Safety Bureau figures show there have been six deaths in New South Wales this year, followed by five in the Northern Territory.

So what is going wrong?

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority admits there is room for improvement, especially in regard to charter flights, a significant contributor to accident statistics.

CASA is overhauling the safety rules covering the operation of small commercial aircraft, a move intended to make Australia's aviation rules simpler.

However, CASA has been criticised for actually making the regulations worse and for becoming bogged down in bureaucracy, instead of concentrating on improving basic pilot training.

Others believe the entire flying industry needs an overhaul to shake up an entrenched culture of minimum-standard pilot training that has led to a degradation in skills.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association vice-president and technical director Bill Hamilton believes Australia's air accident rate could be reduced by as much as half if there was a return to basic "stick and rudder" training for pilots.

"Australia has generally got a good air safety record but that doesn't mean it couldn't be better," he said.

"I can absolutely guarantee there would be fewer accidents with better training.

"It's a lack of basic physical skills. We should be concentrating on basic flying training, basic piloting skills, not whether a bloke can quote rules out of the book.

"Training should be far more practical. Being able to quote slabs of the Traffic Act is not going to do you one bit of good in a motor car on a wet, slippery road in heavy rain."

Mr Hamilton said Australia should be aiming for a safety record at least on par with the United States, which he said had achieved a steady reduction in accidents in every sector of civil aviation over the past 15 years.

"We could do the same thing," he said. "In fact, we should have a far better aviation record than the US because we have far better flying conditions – we don't have tornadoes or bad winter conditions.

"We have to make fundamental changes. The whole culture that has been drummed into the pilot from the day he started flying training has been mis-directed towards bureaucratic compliance.

"It's got to the point where pilots don't declare emergencies because CASA will come down on them like a ton of bricks. It's a bureaucratic culture of blame. If there is an accident, someone must be guilty of breaching a regulation."

Light aircraft pilot Doug Edwards, a former air force instructor who compiles pilot training packages, agreed the industry needed an overhaul and called for the appointment of an inspector-general of aviation safety.

A pilot for almost 40 years, Mr Edwards, of Brisbane, said pilots were trained to a minimum standard but were not equipped as well as they could be to handle emergency or stressful situations. He has researched about 300 accident reports over a three-year period, concluding that more than 90 per cent of fatal accidents were preventable.

"The prevention lay within the hands of the pilot. I was quite shaken to discover this," Mr Edwards said.

"The main threat that turns into an accident is problems with decision-making, especially under stress.

"Too many accidents are caused by a breakdown in the pilot's situation awareness. Flying instructors, also, may be a person who has recently graduated as a pilot. The amount of learning they have to do to qualify as an instructor is minimal and it's really not enough."

Mr Edwards blamed a "macho element" in many pilots who failed to recognise when to turn back in bad weather or decided to press on for the sake of peer respect.

"There are a number of accidents where you can see the male ego involved," he said.

"People who turn back are not respected in business. People who succeed are respected. If you turn you might be thought to be a bit of a wimp. Most of that type of thinking is processed subconsciously.

"There is a test that is available that will show if a person is prone to this subconscious ego drive factor.

"Five or six times a year there is a weather-related accident where the pilot flies for too long under cloud that's getting lower.

"Pilots often don't know they are taking a risk, because that is the industry standard.

"There needs to be supplementary training – flight simulators, stress management.

"In most cases, if the pilot had had stress management training, he would have been advantaged. It's a defence against the majority of those accidents I surveyed.

"The system is malfunctioning to the extent that if it was a corporation, you'd say it was trading insolvent and you'd bring in the administrators to clean up the mess. It's got to the point where it is totally dysfunctional."

Aviation Safety Foundation Australia was launched in 1997 as an independent, not-for-profit organisation to promote air safety.

It provides independent air safety resources such as development programs for pilots and aims to establish a standard of practice in the industry.

Executive director Bill Mattes said that while training regulations were "adequate", pilots could arm themselves with better skills. "There's a lot more to being safe than complying with regulations," he said.

"Safety is very much a cultural issue. We are establishing a code of ethics . . . what we don't have in the industry is the requirement to continue your professional development once you have graduated as a pilot or flying instructor.

"We are aiming to provide incentive-based programs so that people continue to develop as a pilot. The more knowledge they have, the better their decisions.

"Sadly, more than 90 per cent of all accidents have some sort of human failing, be it pilot error or resources, or procedures in place. I've seen a number of accidents where one emergency has led to another one.

"The more you train, the more things become second nature when emergencies do occur."

CASA will submit its Civil Aviation Safety Regulations to Federal Parliament by the end of next year to provide "very positive outcomes for aviation safety".

Although not part of the new regulations, CASA is also considering a Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommendation to fit cockpit voice recorders on fare-paying passenger operations.

CASA spokesman Peter Gibson defended pilot training procedures.

He said the most basic level of private pilot underwent a flight review every two years and all pilots were encouraged to voluntarily attend a series of seminars and forums held around the country.

Mr Gibson attributed Queensland's high accident and fatality rate to the state's large distances, which meant there was a higher number of charter flights and small aircraft.

"We want to do more," he said.

"We certainly want to improve safety standards in the charter category quite significantly.

"At the moment they do have a higher accident rate than scheduled airline services.

"We're not saying things are unsafe, because clearly they are not, but you can never sit still.

"Flying is still a very safe form of transport but the industry and CASA recognise that we need to be constantly looking for improvements.

"We can't sit still and that's why there's a raft of proposals out there to improve safety.

"Tragedies such as Hamilton Island aren't ignored. There's always room to improve. Any fatality is one too many."

© Queensland Newspapers

7th Oct 2002, 13:37
Icarus 2001;

Thanks on the 200 hour Syllabus ;) .

In a perfect world, a PPL instructor may well tour the countryside 'Ronin Style', offering free tuition for only the cost of the aircraft.

However, I'm afraid that the angle on this would be like the old air freight days (pre-deregulation). Free freight with every bag of oranges - Cost of oranges $30 Kg.

What would stop the PPL instructor offering free instruction but burying the tuition cost within the cost of the aircraft. Result; the student is still paying $200 per lesson!.

While on the subject of the 'good ol' days' (i.e. old CPL syllabus). Why not bring back the NVFR as part of the CPL. How 'bout upping the CPL aircraft to something a little more than a TB10 type aircraft as a minimum?.

I know this would be difficult as substantial sums have been invested in current fleets but I feel that exposure to at least a C182 type or something that does at least 130 - 140 KTAS could be benificial.

7th Oct 2002, 22:04
we dont have ... bad winter conditions

For f*cks sake, come down to my part of the world then. Does this guy only speak for the norhtern half of Aus???

7th Oct 2002, 23:11
The article may have been a filler on a slow news day ......... but I can't really fault any of the quoted comments.

Perhaps some of those who have posted adverse comments should to review their own attitudes and perspectives.

Before they too contribute to the statistics!

7th Oct 2002, 23:15
When we talk about the number of hours for a particular licence, no one raises the question of the new competency standards. The reason I suspect is not many training schools understand their application. Even more concerning is how many ATOs understand them.

The DAY VFR syllabus for PPL and CPL is very much a claytons syllabus. The competency standards therein are just that and must be taken into the flying school in a format that suits that flying schools training regime. The syllabus and student recording process must determne when a student has achieved a certain competency standard.

If this is managed correctly one could argue that total hours for a particular licence is superfluous as it is based on a student being competent in every unit and element of the Day VFR "Syllabus". In addition, on the licence test, the ATO should be assessing the student on his achievement of those competencies and examine the student's record to ensure that all competencies have been signed off over the period of training.

I very much doubt that any but the most gifted of pilots would achieve all competencies in a 150 hour program.:) :)

Chimbu chuckles
8th Oct 2002, 00:11
I agree, I cannot fault the article in any significant way...having said that the first sentence is clearly sensationalist.

It's been a VERY long time since I did my CPL and I have no first hand knowledge of the syllabus these days however an ATO mate in WA tells some fairly scary stories.

Certainly I have experience of several products of the system in the last few years and they are without exception poor...in one case that individual SHOULD NOT HAVE A LICENCE and IS an accident going somewhere to happen!!

It sounds as if the CPL curriculum and requirements have been whittled away since the early 80s when I did mine...there is no doubt in my mind that suitable standards are NOT being enforced.

Part of the problem is the Lawyers 'running' CASA. They have removed the ability to vet prospective CPs,CFIs etc by insisting that phrases like 'Suitable person' etc that used to appear in the Regs be removed. Nowadays if a complete tool turns up to be processed as a prospective Chief Pilot/CFI he will be approved so long as he can pass the 'tests' on he day....even when CASA have a detailed history of his past that clearly shows he is unsuitable for such a responsible position....CASA FOIs are NOT GIVEN a choice by the REGS.

There is a great deal of anxiety about failing candidates for various licences and ratings...why I'm not entirely certain but it is there...perhaps it's not wanting to remove a persons 'livelyhood' or fear of being sued if you do.

God I remember CASA Examiners in NSW Region in the 80s failing people on IR flight tests for "Not being mature enough to hold the rating" :eek: People like 'Come again' Col Roffe and Max 'the axe' Holdsworth were tough bastards to get past in a test...sometimes unfairly so but that was the system back then. It had it's faults but was probably not as tough as it had been 10 or 20 years before...and on balance it was probably better than the 'system' in place today.

The whole system needs a HUGE revamp...and I'm not talking about the beaurocratic arse covering...that needs to be removed all together...I'm talking about the basic skills required to be demonstrated for issuance of various licences.

The Instructors Rating curriculum must be made A LOT harder than it is, and the required pass standard must be very high. Particularly in the aircraft handling skills area...much more emphasis on FLYING AN AEROPLANE in unusual situations.

The requirements for PPL/CPL have to be raised and high pass standards required and ENFORCED with no fear or favour. If a person is unable to pass so be it...they never get a licence...no matter how much money they throw at the school for extra training.

I had a trainee once at a company in PNG who could not fly a visual circuit...he was a wiz on IF but had no basic visual judgement. Schools these days seem to be trying to produce 'Airline Pilots' instead of Pilots...and only a VERY small number of schools would have ANY IDEA of what being an airline pilot is all about. The number of horror stories I have heard in recent years of career CFIs teaching what they think are airline standards/practices in non airline/transport cat aircraft is terrifying. Even if what they are teaching has some basis in fact it is usually not applied correctly and in every case is innappropriate in the aircraft they are flying....often downright dangerous.

There is an old saying about 'you get what you pay for'...the Govt is getting exactly that.

When they fund CASA at the required levels and pass laws that can't be got around by smartarse Lawyers then this industry might be forced to meet a standard that is appropriate. If that means 30% of the current aspirants for a licence cannot meet the required standards then so be it. If it means that 50% of the current flying schools shut there doors so be it. If it means 30% of the current Charter companies close up so be it.

If what is left produces a standard that is appropriate, operates aircraft that are appropriate, pays wages that are appropriate then the industry will be once more a place that attracts the right people(and weeds out the F**KWITS) and prospers.

None of this will happen of course...it's everyones 'right' to have what they want right bloody now...and if it's too hard just move the goalposts...and politics always wins:mad:


8th Oct 2002, 00:18
Trashie following along on your line, there are huge holes in the system. Viz, the Day VFR syllabus is ANTA approved, competency based training but the syllabus for Flight Instructors is not recognised by ANTA, so technically we are not qualified to teach it unless we have a Workplace Trainer qualification. Obviously this does not concern CASA however one day a grieving family with a "no win no fee" will test this area. Along the lines of, is this person competent to teach under nationally accepted standards if ANTA don't accept the Instructor Syllabus laid down by CASA.

On a side issue, if you want your intelligence insulted, sit the Grade One Instructor exam, unless it has been significantly amended in the last few years it is a joke.

Some of this will get sorted out in the new CASRs if and when they are implemented.

8th Oct 2002, 05:57
You are on the money, Chuckie! The new breed of commercial pilots lack being posted to Chimbu for the first year after getting their license. But I wonder how many of the new breed of CPL holders would survive in that environment, or able to operate into Bundi, Kerowagi or Karimui after the normal Maxie check ride?

I felt the article, whilst sensationalist perhaps, contained some solid information.

429 CJ
9th Oct 2002, 06:12
Jamair, I'm shocked..... I never would have picked you as ever being grumpy! That was a niiiice x/wind t/off the "other" day. Envelope has been handed-on too. Fingers crossed.

How've you been Chuck? You too Oz? :D

9th Oct 2002, 10:01
Maybe I am missing something but has it been confirmed that all these accidents have been caused by 'Low hour' or badly trained pilots who are products of the 150 or 200 hour CPL course.

Or are they products of a previous regime who have just forgot all the good teaching they had received.


9th Oct 2002, 11:16
Hiya CJ - your delightful little oasis reminds me of the x-wind at YRED; didn't know there was such a thing as taking off or landing without full rudder deflection till I flew to somewhere else..:D Did a quick jaunt to GEL t’other day, lots of fun......I hope your pet bird is back and things are going well for you, many thanks for your hospitality.

Back to the topic: whether the individual statements are true - quite possibly, in fact I agree vehemently with some of them in isolation; however I have TWO major gripes: the sensationalist attitude (for want of a better descriptor) and the reference to a number of incidents for which the investigations have not yet been concluded. What was not included in the text quoted herein, was the sidebar showing crash scenes, intimating through inclusion that the pilot of the TWB C90, or the pilot of the AF PA30, or the pilot of the Capricorn rescue Bell Longranger were 'macho' or 'ill-trained', without any supporting evidence.

For those Ppruners not from the Sunshine State, every time a tragedy like this occurs, the state-wide cocky-cage liner produces an article like what we are discussing, comparing Qld to the rest of Oz and giving a running total of air-related incidents (horrific disasters) down one side of the page (the last effort included a horror near miss where a house was nearly hit by a 10-inch length of exhaust pipe from a Skyfox passing overhead at CDR).

Yes, these incidents do occur, and yes, they probably would be halved with better training. What we (ie you, me and the general public) don’t need is scaremongering and sensationalism in place of genuine news and facts.

My CPL sure as heck was not handed out in the Weetbix; anyone here think Allan D. from AF is an ‘easy’ tester? Or Rob B from the other side of BN? Hands up those who have done a MECIR renewal with Gordon S from just over the border, and NOT sweated buckets in the process - with no guarantee of passing. For all these current crop, close enough is absolutely NOT good enough. In comparison, I (mis)spent the majority of my youth on the peripheries of a GA CHTR scene and it was not uncommon for marginal pilots to pass their recerts ‘no worries mate’ with their drinking buddy ATOs. There were obviously good, and hard (and both) testing officers in the ‘good old days’ that are fondly referred to here, but as now, there were plenty of the other as well.

God I love to fly; it’s the ancillary c**p that gives ya the irrates!

Cheers all.

edited for formatting

10th Oct 2002, 05:10

Maybe I am missing something but has it been confirmed that all these accidents have been caused by 'Low hour' or badly trained pilots who are products of the 150 or 200 hour CPL course.

Excellent Point!
Bit hypocritical to rubbish a paper that said one thing, when the rest of the posters here are merely doing the same, only different angle!