View Full Version : Am I wrong about all this? Please help!

18th Jan 2002, 22:13
Dear all,

I am desperately in need of help here. It’s going to be a long one, therefore, I’d like to give out brief information in the beginning of this letter, just for you to decide whether to read on or not.

I’m currently a 747-400 first officer, on one of my flights, there were different opinion between the captain and I. But as a first officer, I see (or I think I see) something that greatly jeopardizes flight safety, so I filed a report against him, which is one thing I have never done before.

The results I received, was disappointing, not that I wanted to see anyone being punished, but it seems like I was wrong in all this. I plan to file another complain, but I need to have your advices.

On our 12 hour flight from A to B, we were cruising at FL350, and was requested to climb up to FL390, shortly, we were requested to choose from FL310, 370 and 410.

At that exact moment, the captain had his FMC in LEGS page, I had mine in PROGRESS. So I replied ‘standby’.

Before I could blink my eye, captain says ‘we can accept FL410’, I switched to VNAV CRUISE immediately, in which, the MAX showed 409. I brought this to his attention. Immediately, he pointed his finger at me, with an angry tone of voice, said ‘You tell her, we’ll take 410!’

I gave in, as there was no immediate danger.

As we climb, the captain continuously asked me ‘you’re not happy?’, and I gave him ‘no, I’m not’ as an answer. I also mentioned that we’re going to be too close to the buffet margins, and I’m not too comfortable with it. He stated that the FMC is being conservative, and we should be ok.

Finally, we reached FL410. the upper/lower yellow band, was at 262/250. and we were cruising at 260, and most of the time, at 264, inside the yellow band.

Trying to persuade me, the captain went into ‘PERF INIT PAGE’, and modified CRZ CG to 23%. Immediately, the yellow band filled all the speed tape, and A/T went almost idle at the same time. To compensate for this, the captain changed again to 27%.

‘The FMC is being too conservative’, the captain said, He further explained that ‘the CG right now, should be 23%, but the FMC is being too conservative’. My reply was ‘There’s always a reason to be conservative’.

I asked the captain how did he get this figure of 23%? He replied ‘from experience’, being provoked, I said ‘Don’t tell me about “experience”, tell me how did you calculated and how did you come up with this number?’

The only answer I got, was ‘I’ve been flying glass cockpit airplanes since 1984, I know very well about FMC’.

I asked again, ‘if you think 23% is correct, why would you put in 27% instead? Aren’t we lying to the computer?’ The reason for me to have said that, is because that I believe it’s similar to changing gross weight in order to get higher altitude from FMC, not exactly, but similar.

I also stated, ‘Look, we’re now so close to the HI/LO buffet margin, what if we encounter CAT now?’ The captain’s reply was ‘Look outside, it’s clear sky, we’re ok.’ My last response to him that day, other than standard callouts and reading checklists, was ‘They wouldn’t calling it CAT, if it’s only CB related’.

Coming back from B to A the next day, one of the controllers asked us, what was the highest flight level we can accept.

The captain called for the QRH. As polite as I can be, I told him ‘Sure, but please don’t make it so margin like yesterday, ok?’ He turned to me, and replied ‘I’m the captain, I make the final decision, you’ll have to trust me’.

Latter, he asked, ‘Didn’t they ever teach you how to check the performance chart?’ I said ‘yes, but we also have to respect FMC and PFD displays’.

‘Wrong’ he said, showing the QRH in his hand, ‘this is the pilots’ bible, you guys are relying too much on the computer’.

After that, there were no further interacts, except of course, standard callouts and checklists.

I filed a report against the captain, but the response I received, was disappointing, (to me at least) in which, it said:

1) The maximum altitude in the QRH, has already implemented safety margins, therefore it’s safe, and the captain is at no fault.
2) Please correct the first officer, and advice him of the correct concept.

I agree to the 1st part, I have no doubt about it, but it seems like the whole decision making process, was totally ignored, besides, my report stated ‘safety report’, but when I receive the copy, the ‘safety report’ tick box was canceled, instead, it was changed to a regular trip report. I strongly disagree with that, because I think flight safety was greatly jeopardized, besides, here’s what I’m thinking:

1) The captain acted solely upon ‘experience’, without hesitation, nor any calculation whatsoever, before accepting FL410, when FMC shows the maximum as 409, while the situation is nothing close to airplane losing control or losing it’s wing, or anything to that extent, besides, he didn’t even know what the FMC maximum was, because his page was at LEG, and mine was at PROGRESS.
2) Our company’s policy, clearly stated, not to exceed FMC optimum + 2,000’ during normal operations.
3) FMC projected landing fuel was 33.1, and our reserve is 18.3, while there were only 2 hours of flight time left.
4) We were flying inside upper yellow band most of the time all the way before TOD.
5) I have no doubt about the professionalism and ability of the loading department, but there’s always error in loading.
6) If I have the wrong idea about maximum altitude, does that mean we can always fly above the buffet margin?

I, as a first officer, did not see any immediate danger, therefore, I obeyed the captain’s command, while under strong protest.

It’s been bothering me, very much indeed, I have to admit that I don’t have a whole lot of experience in aviation, and I’m no genius when it comes to airplane gimmicks, I’ve only started 747-400 no more than 7 months ago, before that, I flew 737-200, 400 and 800, only 3000 hours were accumulated for the past 5 and a half years.

The way the captain’s been acting, is clashing with my ‘safety and CRM concept’, am I wrong? Am I just being paranoid? Or am I just making a fool out of myself?

Call me a chicken, but when it comes to flight safety, I take that as a compliment.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and please give a brief introduction on your background, and please, forgive me for any error in grammar, for English is not my mother language.

Thank you.

Tony Ko

747-400 First Officer
[email protected]

19th Jan 2002, 06:44
Take it to your union's professional standards committee.

19th Jan 2002, 07:22
All this over 100ft? And by the book it's OK.
I think you over reacted.

19th Jan 2002, 07:51

Respectfully, I think you are making a mountain out of ant hill. While the Captain's method are not very tactful and is counter to good CRM practices, seems like he knew what he was doing. Take care and fly safe.

[ 19 January 2002: Message edited by: SentryIP ]</p>

19th Jan 2002, 07:53
mr snooze would you concider it an over reaqction if it was the other way round and thay were cruising 100 feet bellow LSALT in IMC i dont think so both have lots of margin built in but its still wrong .

Mate I realy dont know what to tell you but i do agree with you and i think the captain could have handled it a lot better .Do you have any freinds in the company who are pretty high up if so ask them if not you are stuck between a rock and a hard place a bit but i wouldnt let it go

19th Jan 2002, 08:30
A captain, thirty years ago, handed me NTSB reports of accidents over a period of a couple years. I noticed that in an amazing number of times the FO was correct ! But he often paid with his life ! In the last year in a CRM course it was stated that this was true 80% of the time. I decided when I became a Captain not to do anything ( within reason ) that would make a fellow crew member uncomfortable. If a Captain treats a co-pilot as a monkey that is exactly what he will end up flying with because after awhile it is just easier for the co-pilot to give up. We all want to be Captains eventually , most of us are first born and want to be in charge. A definite positive in the case of our job description. If you are telling the complete truth, which I think you are, the captain over reacted. As I told a Captain once , " You have become the type of Captain that you once complained about." Hang in there Mate. In any group 10% are real jerks. Usually in aviation it is only 5%.

19th Jan 2002, 08:39

I think you did the right thing. If you have a concern, you have a responsibility to make them known to the captain.

Although there was little risk of the aircraft falling out of the sky (as you have acknowledged), the captain did put you in an awkward situation, and showed some disrespect for you and the position of F/O.

I've got 7000hrs jet time and 4500hrs as F/O on the B733. Don't undersell yourself. You've got more than enough experience to have an informed opinion.

It's apparent to me that it wasn't the 100ft that overly concerned you. It was rather the captain's attitude to CRM and conflict resolution, and how it might have a greater consequence during a more critical situation. Fair enough I reckon.

Of course captains are ultimately resposible for the disposition of the flight and that they have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Still, I think that they should consider where the F/O is comming from. F/O's are only trying to keep the captain's paperwork to an absolute minimum!, and deserve a reasonedexplaination as to why the captain has decided to operate outside Standard Company Procedures, even though in his/her personal opinion it is safe to do so.

It's just common courtesy isn't it?

19th Jan 2002, 08:44
I must also say that I do not think that this was a case that was reportable. It is simply not that terrible. Do you think the next Captain will fully trust You ?

19th Jan 2002, 08:58
I must also say that I do not think that this was a case that was reportable. It is simply not that terrible. Do you think the next Captain will fully trust You ?

19th Jan 2002, 09:47
That FMC Tony, its just a computer and a very crude one at that. It works out lets say max cruise height for example, from the input data it gets from a very limited system environment. Learn to distrust computers and learn procedures from each captain that you fly with. Thats what they're there for. If you disagree about something by all means ask questions, as you are doing here but try not to go too far. So what if you had one of those Captains who isn't too hot on giving explanations? Accept the result of your report and go forward.

I'm not a pilot, I'm an avionics specialist and I wouldn't trust an FMC as far as I can throw it. You seem to have the book theory figured out pretty well, perhaps too well. You can't do anything about the Captain's communication skills but now its time to work on your own CRM.

Through difficulties to the cinema

[ 19 January 2002: Message edited by: Blacksheep ]</p>

Carbon Life Form
19th Jan 2002, 10:31

You did exactly the right thing in questioning climbing to an altitude that by any standard, FMC or QRH was dubious at best.

I personally cannot see the benefit whatsoever in
pushing/ exceeding QRH or book limits in any respect, whats the point?

Regardless of anyone else's opinion, the day you stand by and let yourself be intimidated by another pilot, regardless of his position in the company or support by management, is the day you might as well take off your headset and go and sit in the cabin.

Captain Airclues
19th Jan 2002, 19:24

The CRZ CG on the PERF page defaults to 8.5%. The actual CG is dependent on the LIZFW and the amount of fuel in the centre tank. For the conditions that you describe, the actual CG would be 22%-23% which would increase the MAX ALT by about 800ft. Many airlines provide a graph to calculate the actual CG.
The figure that you obtained from your QRH is probably the 1.3g Buffet Margin, which allows a bank of 48 degrees before the onset of the pre-stall buffet. While climbing to the MAX ALT is not ideal, it is not dangerous in certain circulstances and there are various safeguards built into the FMS calculations.
I think that there are CRM issues on both sides here. Perhaps the captain could have explained his thinking more clearly, although on a positve note, he did sense your unease and ask you if you were unhappy. However the fact that you said to him, "Don't tell me about experience", might have compomised future communication between the two of you.
I suggest that, rather than write to management, you sit down with this guy over a couple of pints of beer (preferably Boddingtons) and ask him to give you the benefit of his experience. You might even get to like each other.


[ 19 January 2002: Message edited by: Captain Airclues ]</p>

19th Jan 2002, 19:36
Thank you all for the advice, either those who think I'm right, or wrong, I take all the postings as something I'd learn, and to think about in other aspects.

Mabe I'm not making myself clear, or it could be just too detailed in my first posting. But, CRM in this case, was not my main concern, although the issue exists. Believe me, I've gone through the good old days of 'slapping, shouting, yelling and insulting', among other things you might not even have heard, in the beginning of my flying days as a line pilot here in my country. I guess if a captain treats me like a monkey, I certainly can live with it. If I've survived through gunshots, I wouldn't care about paper cuts.

My points were, and still are, the decision making process and the safety concept.

First of all, I know that in the QRH, or whatever approved manual, leaves certain safety margin. And the logic of FMC, is simply 'garbage in, garbage out', and it has limited ability. That, I understand.

But with my limited knowledge, I truely believe that whatever we do, there should be something to back us up.

For instance, if tower controller asked me whether we can accept intersection takeoff, can I just accept it simply based on my 'experience'? Or do I have to check with the RAM in order to have hard proof evidence? I respect experience from anyone, but please prove it instead of acting on split second instinct.

What would anyone say about a pilot taking off without checking with loadsheet? Can any pilot in this world, simply have all the passengers and luggages and cargo containers, to form in one line, and with 'experience', guess the weight? I know this is a bit too extreme, but you get the idea.

Can we simply act and decide when you have no idea what kind of FL you can accept? Not even before you check the QRH and the FMC? That, was my point.

Like I've mentioned, it's my first safety report, ever, against anyone. I have no intention to have someone being punished or receiving demerits. I don't tell on people simply because I don't like him nor his attitude.

The 'good old days of slapping, yelling and shouting' are over, CRM has been implimented, but of course, like anything else in this world, there's always room for improvement, I accept that, therefore, the attitude or CRM process of this captain, wasn't much of my concern.

My concern was, under flight safety concept, how the(or any) decision is made, unless I have the wrong idea about safety.

Although I'm not anti-autority, acting solely upon experience, accpting FLs which you don't even know, changing your CG without any calculation, is just not right.

I'm NOT trying to seek advice on whether I should fight back or not, instead, I'm just trying to find out my stand point, despite whether I'm being to paranoid or not, I'd like to know if my idea of safety was correct.

Because appearantly, the company thinks the captain is at no fault, and it was me, who needs to be adviced of 'correct concept'. Which simply means that in normal operations, it's ok that we can fly within yellow band without a good reason, and we can act solely upon experience to accept FLs, when we have no idea about the limits.

It takes me all the way back when I was 10, during my first day at school in the United States, trying to figure out what the teacher or classmates were trying to tell me, when my English ability at that time, was 0.

I really appreciate all your postings, no matter what, they help me to think in different aspects. Any further discussion and/or advices, is greatly welcomed.

Thank you again.


19th Jan 2002, 20:09
This job is mostly about getting along with the other guy. You wouldn't be there if you didn't have the ability. It is possible that both of you were safety-wired to the pissed-off position for what ever reason. Learn from the experience. You are the only one who clearly understands what happened, and you have to be honest with yourself in thinking deeply about what could have been done differently on your part. You cannot change the way the Captain thinks, but you can be the best F/O in your operation by being able to work with any type of Captain. If he doesn't feel threatened by you, he will naturally consult you for you points of view.

Solve the problem at the lowest possible level....that might be the best way.

19th Jan 2002, 21:17
That FMC is an old design with dumb logic. He is right it is VERY conservative and I would always trust the AFM over the computer.

19th Jan 2002, 21:26
Interesting. I see a lot of fuss made over this 100'. Should the controller even offer the crew FL410 in the first place.?

19th Jan 2002, 22:15
I feel that the subject has gone off course, it's true that CRM on my part wasn't too great.

But, that 100' isn't playing so great a role in all this, but rather, the decision making process. I don't care what the captain think of me when he did that, no one's perfect, and I'm not, either. What I care about, is:

Should we make decisions solely based upon 'experience', before even checking?

That was it.

It's true, my response to that, wasn't perfect, as I felt being provoked. But beleive it or not, I had nothing against the captain, everything before that, was just smooth as silk, we had chit chat and everything, all under friendly situation.

I don't understand why would I be a threat to the captain? Was it because of my disagreement?

From some of the post, I understand that my reaction could have worsen the whole situation, I have to admit to that. And clearly protested against him, this type of thing, is not often seen here, especialy, when there're language barrier between foreign captains and local first officers.

Of course, there's no way I can change the way the captain's attitude or communication skills, and I have no intention of changing that either.

The only thing I can do, is to readjust myself to it, and practice better CRM. But while doing that, isn't safety still safety? Isn't procedures still procedures?

Once again, it's not about that 100', I know the plane won't just fall off the sky; And it's not about his attitude toward me, 'cause we all have things to learn in CRM, and I've been yelled, insulted and slapped at during my early year in aviation, and I kept them all to myself, so it's not about that.

Thanks guys, each and everyone of your postings have been helpful, really.



Thoroughly Nice Bloke...
19th Jan 2002, 22:16
This is without doubt the best Thread that I've read on this site, with the input coming from what appears to be very knowledgeable / professional people.

A refreshing change......

Ps, Tony your English is very good, best of luck.... <img src="cool.gif" border="0">

Stan Woolley
19th Jan 2002, 22:56
Hi Tony

Taking this example I would rather fly with somebody who thinks like you than the other guy.

I think FL 370 would have been a fair compromise.

It's why the right seat is a great place to learn,good and bad.

I was told of an example like this where the cruise FO's accepted too high a level and they ended up getting stick shaker at the next turn.(B767)

Captain Airclues
20th Jan 2002, 01:29

If the FMS shows FL 409 as the MAX ALT, then the aircraft with autopilot and VNAV engaged will level at FL409. Any attempt to climb above FL 409 by disengaging the autopilot will change the pitch mode to V/S. Changing the CG is a legitimate method of obtaining an accurate MAX ALT. From the conditions that you describe, with no centre tank fuel, the CG would be about 23% (from experience).
You stated the pages that were selected when the ATC request was made. If you need to wait until the request is made then you are not thinking ahead of the aircraft. At any stage of the flight you should know the MAX ALT, as well as the 3-eng driftdown height, the MSA and the nearest alternate. The pilot who says 'standby' when asked if he can climb is the one who is flying with his aircraft rather than ahead of it.
However, if any of my colleagues were unhappy about a climb decision, then I would explain my thinking to them, and consider the alternatives. If they were still unhappy then I would change my decision and descend, as I might need the guys advice at a later stage, and I would want it to be forthcoming.
If we are assigning CRM points here, then I think that the two of you are about equal. It is a shame that the captain was not prepared to give you the benefits of experience, but I have certain doubts about your attitide to him. I have been flying the 747 for 27 years. Some of my knowledge was obtained from books, and some by experience. I hope that I am able to pass on some of the experience, just like the previous generation did to me. I'm sure that most captains feel the same, please just give them a chance.


Sven Sixtoo
20th Jan 2002, 03:23
Can I join this from a point of the intelligent layman?

I have 5000 hrs Helicopters, mostly SAR.

The question I come to is ,was the FMC a formal limit, or just advisory info?

If it is a limit, then your captain is not justified in exceeding it unless life is at risk, which I seriously doubt in a 747 at FL410 cruise.

If it is advisory, then you possibly need to find a way of asking your captains to explain themselves to you.

This is like defensive driving in a car - you are not at fault but you need to manage others so that they do not put you in an awkward position. Not being an airline pilot I bow to your brothers in the business at this point as to how.

I would say that you are absolutely right to raise the issue and talk it through and if your captain and company won't you have made a brave step raising it here.

I'll fly with you any day.


20th Jan 2002, 06:18
Well said Captain Airclues.

20th Jan 2002, 07:53
Dear Captain Airclues,

I agree with your 'flying ahead of the aircraft'. As a matter of fact, I do keep note and check time from to time, about the things you mentioned. But I do not check the maximum altitude when terrain is not a factor, as I don't see any immediate need. But of course, that's not a bad idea. And also, whether anyone like it or not, accepting an altitude, has to be by the decision of the captain. And 'standby', just seems to be pretty standard to me, before the PIC nods or shakes his head.

The reason the airplane climbed up to 410, with A/T and A/P engaged under VNAV, was because the captain changed CG to 27%, after he found out 23% doesn't work.

If the CG is 22%-23% by experience(please don't get me wrong, I do look up to your experience and I trust that), should we change it to 27% just to receive higher FLs from FMC?

I'll have to think more about my CRM skills, although I always keep low profie whenever I can, not to think poorly of myself, but I think that helps in most communication enviroments.

Once again, thank you all


20th Jan 2002, 08:11

Don't forget CRM stands for Cockpit Resource Management or infact these day it's Crew Resource Management because it now also includes the cabin crew.

Crew Resource Management is not just about conflict resolution, it is also about the decisions that need to be made on each and every flight to get the job done efficiently and safely, and the processes employed to make those decisions.

Part of that decision making process is utilising all the resources available. In your example those resources include the captain's wealth of knowledge and experience, your wealth of knowledge and experience, the performance figures in the QRH, the performance figures in the FMC, and standard company procedures. These resources supply the information required to make an informed and safe decision. The more resources called upon to make a decision, the more informed the decision will be.

Of course you have to consider the amount of time available too. Sometimes you simply don't have time to consider all the options and utilise all the resources as you would like, in which case experience tends to be relied upon more. But in your example, there was no such time pressure as far as I could see.

Your complaint seems to me to be that the captain didn't utilise all the resources available to him when quickly deciding to climb to F410.

This certainly does involve the concepts of CRM.

I hope this makes sense. <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

20th Jan 2002, 08:38
Both of you got a low mark for CRM, but in a very different way. On the return flight, when you challenged him again about figuring out Max Alt you could accept, I would not have liked it either. You should have pretended nothing happened the day before, totally ignored him until he had finished with the QRH.

And for him to reply "I'm the captain, I make the decision, YOU'LL HAVE TO TRUST ME' is very weak on his behalf. Meaning: Rule #1, I am the captain, I am always right, rule #2 if in doubt go back to rule #1. You sure know better then him for picking a good cruising altitude and probably more.

Why going to FL410 when 370 was available is beyond comprehension. He had the chance to end the flight at altitude very close to Optimum Alt and he picked the worst one actually. Even FL310 would have giving pretty much the same fuel flow than FL410 if flown at LRC, but a slightly lower TAS, I admit. What increases fuel burn as well when flying near Max Alt and it's not perfectly smooth, is that A/T are really working hard, moving back and forth trying to maintain the darn speed and when these throttles are moving all the time, we all know it means so much for fuel economy.

Tony, if that captain has the habit of accepting or requesting altitudes close to Max Alt, he's costing tons of fuel ($$$) to your airline and he stands to be corrected. I noticed that this is a modern times' disease with some pilots to thing that the higher the better. Where they got that from, not from you nor me I guess. Before getting ponded here, sometimes it is justified, self explanatory I think.

The guy who answered your report was either forced to write what he wrote, or he should go back to his books as well. Your airline has put in their SOP how to pick the right altitude, and avoid what happened, by staying within 2000 feet of the Opt Alt for optimum fuel burn and that guy had no reason whatsoever to act otherwise and your are being answered something like: "the captain is at no fault, correct the First Officer". With what happened between the time you reached FL410 and TOD proved you were right.

Next time I suggest you think twice before sending that kind of reports to Ops. Ask an experience guy whom you trust before pressing "send message". Sleep over it a couple of nights and when well rested, with most of the emotions behind you, and some advice, then go ahead.

Good luck and keep up the good work. Some finesse maybe on how you express your concerns to your boss could help, I think.
Ready for the flak, guys.

20th Jan 2002, 11:09
Tony I back you 100%
Sticking a large jet in 'coffin corner' exposes it to a jet upset situation if you encounter any turbulence, ie: A loss of control - not pretty.

To you naysayers; I don't care what your view of the accuracy, conservatism or whatever of the FMC is, it should only be ignored on firm grounds, IE; the AFM which, from my read of the first post was not done on the A-B leg. Your airline ought have guide-lines in its SOPs on that. Also; my philosophy on the FD is only proceed if everyone is in agreement otherwise think of something else. An old captain in my airline only stops putting on fuel when everyone around him is smiling, including the dispatcher!! May be not the accountants, but who cares?

The C of G on page 1 is put there by the airline and is a statement of ITS cruise configuration policy. I cannot believe an airline management condones tinkering with it in order to change the flight envelope, unless of course they do not understand the system.

Tony, I don't know how old you are or how far from your own command you are but... Emirates are recruiting right now.

Best of luck, youre doing a good job, I hope your union gets in behind. <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

20th Jan 2002, 12:58
I think that I am correct in saying that some Far Eastern airlines fly around with 1.2 G buffet margins in the FMC.Reduced margins along with a TCAS RA to "CLIMB" could be the straw that breaks the camels back.

20th Jan 2002, 13:03
Tony first of all I'd like to commend you for being frank and open minded in posting your problem on this forum.

I agree with various people who said that why put a large jet in the coffin corner when FL370 was available. That definitely is wrong decision making. I also agree that both of you scored very low on basic CRM issues.

Coming to your point of how this Captain came up with his decision I wish to say the following. Many Captains who have accumulated substancial experience in one type of aircraft have the ability based on previous experience to know the ability of their aircraft at any time. Sounds weird but believe me it is very possible and it does not require genious. First of all the FMC is a guideline, the QRH is the limiting factor. Now how did this chap know, simple maybe 5 minutes ago while looking through the FMC he noticed the MAX as being lets say 409. I agree that when questioned by you as to how he came to his decision he did not elaborate but you must admit that your attitude did not encourage discussion either.
All in all it's good to question things that make you unhappy or un-easy, however I do not think that this was a reportable event, I believe you could have discussed it at the hotel over a few beers.

By the way it sounded from your description that this Captains attitude was known to you, had you had any problem with him in the past?

Captain Airclues
20th Jan 2002, 16:00
I fully agree with Ready and CaptA320 that climbing to FL410 wasn't the best option when FL370 was available. I also hadn't realised that the captain had changed the CG to 27% so as to achieve tha climb. From your first post it sounded like the MAX ALT FL409 was at the default setting, which would then have given approximately FL417 as the MAX ALT with a CG of 23%. However, in the light of this latest revelation, the captain was definately at fault. No amount of experience allows you to fiddle the figures.
I still think that this could have been resolved by talking to each other (preferably over a beer). We never stop learning in this business, and perhaps the captain might have learned something about the way that he treated you.
I congratulate you on posting this on PPRuNe. We all learn from each other, and PPRuNe has allowed the lessons to be learned by a wider audience.
I'll fly with you any day Tony.


21st Jan 2002, 03:19
If the controller asked them if they could accept FL410 then it is my guess that FL370 may have been available short term but due conflicting traffic crossing or slower traffic ahead would have become unavailable. Rather than hand over a potential conflicting situation to the next sector, by getting the following a/c up to FL410 immediately it made for a smooth transfer?
Tony, I worked in SE Asia for over ten years and am aware of the culture within, if you are going to file reports be sure and have a full debrief with the Capt. concerned first, that way you will avoid writing most reports! Your report will land on the desks of pilots who have themselves transgressed at some time, sad but true, if it is considered minor they will support the Captain against a relatively inexperienced F/O, also sad but true.
Suggest you put this one behind you, the Capt. could have handled it a lot differently, but do speak up in future, you have to. Be sure to talk any problems of this nature out to exhaustion before you get your pen and paper out. Just my thoughts, best of luck. <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

[ 20 January 2002: Message edited by: G.Khan ]</p>

22nd Jan 2002, 01:24
As a non-flying, vertigo suffering wrinklie. I hope you 'll take this recomendation in the spirit it was intended.....

Go to the Tech/Safety room on this site ( click on Tech/Safety on left handside of screen) and have a read of Korean Air-Delta Audit Report.

Lottsa CRM issues examined there as well as (briefly)your "coffin corner" situation.

Just food for thought.

Good luck and don't ignore the "couple of pints" solution which was suggested earlier .

Be good. be safe ......be happy <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

22nd Jan 2002, 02:15
The problem is that a qualified crewmember was unhappy, for whatever reason, with the situation, given this, the prudent decision byt the capt, would have been to decline the level, unless by doing so the flight was placed in further jeopardy. The burden then would be placed on the airline taining dept to "enlighten" the f.o. as to his error, or to do the same for the capt...a major crm problem here....

22nd Jan 2002, 03:48
Yup..........I only deal in two dimensional promlems as a sailing guy..at so much slower speeds !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.........but I can't duck the fact that under international law I am the "Master under God " So are airline Captains !!!!!!!!!. as I understand it.

Personaaly I prefer SNAFU's at 8 knots rather than 180 knots............but I still try to practice CRM hoever unsuccessfuuly !!!!!!!!!!

22nd Jan 2002, 04:13
You sound like a trouble-maker to me Tony...better to have a "talk" with the Captain before going into print....if I was the Chief Pilot...you would be called on the carpet for not doing so....grow UP!

Hollow Blade
22nd Jan 2002, 04:44
I think neither the captain nor you were able to achieve efficient communication. He was wrong the way he instructed you to accept 410. You were wrong with all the subsequent questioning to his decision making and I think I would not have filed that report like that. I would have been more careful, but that´s just me.. .I think it´s a good thing you bring this up...it´s a good CRM situation we can all learn from.

22nd Jan 2002, 06:36
411A. .Were you Tony's captain to come up wih something like that??? Ole cow!!!. . . .Tony is just a keen guy who obviously knows his airplane better than the guy he was flying with.

The reason why he should not have gone ahead with his report is for one, because being an FO it's a no-win situation. There are other reasons, and it has been discussed thoroughly in other postings. BTW, he already admitted that his CRM was as good (or as bad) as the other guy, so.... . . .That captain should be in Chief Pilot's office and not him. Definately some theories on flying would be appropriate. If not, at least they should make sure he knows what to do when stick shaker is activated. Man, he entered false information into the FMS to prove he was right, and we all know how hectic it got when they reached FL410, plus he didn't have the decency to admit he screwed up royally and ask for a lower level. At one point I thought I was reading the first part of an incident (or accident) report. And you think Tony should get the call down. Get lost. Tony, I think, has learned what there is to be learned from what happened, and will come out a better person and a better pilot from it. The other guy? He still think he was right because HE'S THE CAPTAIN. Thank God, we're not all like him, and you by the same token.

CRM part can be discussed in a bar with the two parties involved but the captain needs quite a bit more that, and it's not two pints nor ten pints that will do unless it comes from another B747 Captain, because they all know better than all the First Officers instantly when they get to that left seat position. Right? That attitude has killed people before and it looks like we are not out of the woods yet.

Flying with Tony? Any day any time.. .411A ???

22nd Jan 2002, 07:04
It's getting late and I haven't read all this thread in great detail but I certainly get the gist of it and have got that feeling that I have also been there before - got the T-shirt, seen the film etc! Tony you have all my sympathies.

Not going to comment on the technical aspects but I thought we could just look at it from another angle.

Try reading John Adair's books, one I recall is called "The Skills of Leadership" where he talks about action-centred leadership. There are three "needs", 1. the task need, 2. group needs and 3, individual needs.

I remember a well respected human factors expert on my very first CRM type course stating that the biggest mistake we make in the western world is to be too "task" oriented. If we concentrated more on the individual and group needs we would be able to get the task done much more successfully.

Tony, I have no criticism of your actions - we all know that being a good FO takes real skill. However my suggestion is to get away from the "task" a little bit and get to know this guy as an individual. This may not be as easy as it sounds but it's much more difficult to fall out with someone who has become a friend. Maybe there is something else going on in his life which is presenting him with challenges! Try and find something in common outside of aviation - even, as has been suggested, it 's having a couple of pints in the hotel bar.

If you want to be better at getting "rapport" then I suggest you take a look at the techniques of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) called mirroring and matching. Any good book shop has books on NLP and I would certainly recommend those written by Tony Robbins as a starter.

Finally, dare I say it but when I started flying for BOAC in 1970 we had many more colourful characters to fly with and this was before any CRM. However, those captains certainly knew the job inside out even if they were difficult to fly with. I made it a personal rule that I would always fly with whoever I was rostered to fly with because I would always learn something new even if it was the wrong way to run a flight deck! I often found that the individuals who were more difficult to fly with taught me the most about crew cooperation. A bit like a good marriage really - there has to be a bit of give and take although in the final event the commander carries the can.

The fact that you have raised these issues show that you have a professional approach to the job. Remember though that you always have a choice as to how you respond in a given situation and that you are looking for a win/win situation on the flight deck.

22nd Jan 2002, 09:58
It seems to me we have heard tony's version.. .A report was filed and was found wanting.. . The captain told Tony he was wrong, management told Tony he was wrong. . . Maybe Tony should let go.. . Contrary to some myths expounded here, this was not a coffin corner experience.. . I haven't been on the -400 for some time, however by memory, there are many ways to increase max alt. Changeing the cost index changes it. In fact many operators operate at LRC. Increasing the speed, increases the pad on min speed, thus increaseing max alt.. . Sure CRM comes into it. ON both sides. Tony sounds like he doesn't like authority. . . Putting in a report on someone in this way does not help CRM. This was not a dangerous situation (on the evidence submitted).. . I would suggest a bit more diplomacy from Tony may have had a much better result.

Ford Airlane
22nd Jan 2002, 10:10

Like they always say - imagine yourself at the enquiry if something had have happened. Say, unexpected turbulence or a climb TCAS RA resulting in a stall. No doubt a recovery would have taken at least several thousand feet. May have resulted in an unusual attitude.

Had something happened, at best you would find yourself sitting in the chief pilot's office having "tea and bikkies" explaining why you, as a crew, chose 410 instead of 370, especially when 370 was available. Even at the lightest weights 370 is not that far from optimum.

I cannot imagine that many of the reasons being "bandied" around this post <img src="mad.gif" border="0"> for proceeding up to 410 would have cut the mustard had something happened. Here are some of the pearlers:

"All this over 100ft" ; . ."seems like he [captain] knew what he was doing"; . ."That FMC , its just a computer and a very crude one at that. It works out lets say max cruise height for example, from the input data it gets from a very limited system environment. Learn to distrust computers and learn procedures from each captain that you fly with" ;. ."That FMC is an old design with dumb logic";. ."I see a lot of fuss made over this 100'" ;

<img src="eek.gif" border="0"> <img src="eek.gif" border="0"> <img src="eek.gif" border="0">

I have no problem with verifying what the FMC is saying, but surely this should err on the conservative side not the other.

We are talking about a large, jet transport aircraft carrying 400 people. There is no place in the pointy end for needless risk, particularly when there is virtually no potential gain.

Tony, can you remember the a/c weight at the time? Was there any reason not to take 370? Also, engine type? Winds (big ask to remember, I know)?

22nd Jan 2002, 12:01
OK Tony....put your money where your mouth is....out with the facts....no BS.. .Weight at the time, temperature, winds...so all can decide. Oh, and by the way, nothing wrong with 1.25G for a short time especially if the flight is smooth, and forcast to remain so. . .I have had F/E's object to 1.3G...they thought 1.5 was the least that should be accepted...clearly misinformed. Some of these guys could NOT even read the buffet onset/boundry chart.. .IF you go into print to management, be SURE to have the facts straight. Chief Pilots are ALWAYS inclined to believe the Commander...and it will always remain so, whether the younger guys like it or not.. .And many won't.

22nd Jan 2002, 16:28
READY - I don't think Tony knows his aeroplane better than the captain on that day, nothing here to suggest he does, is there?

411A has made good points, a salutary experience for Tony, benfit from it and move on, like we all did, before PPRuNe!!!

Burger Thing
22nd Jan 2002, 19:44
Dear Tony,

I have to agree with "Thoroughly Nice Bloke". By far one of the best topics since some time. Not one of these tiring neverending-wannabe-Boeing-against-Airbus threads... I think it is great, that you express so frankly your concerns here in public. But it makes we wondering on the other hand, why you can't be the same way with your Partners in the Cockpit? I am flying also here in Asia and I do understand that sometimes there is a huge authority gap between Captains and FO's.

But nevertheless I think you would have been far better off to take your heart, call your Captain after the flight in his hotel room, and ask him out for some beers and dicuss very frankly with him, what bugged you during that flight. It gives you the chance to get to know each other better and at the end of the day, you both probably learn from each other.

Maybe a bit idealistic, but I sincerely believe, that it helps you a lot during the flight, if you know your partners well. Sometimes a bit difficult to achieve, especially in bigger companies, I know.

Anyway both thumbs up for you, to bring this thing up here. Personally I believe, it would be great to have an own CRM forum, where more things like that could be discussed in a professional manner. . . <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

24th Jan 2002, 07:25
Hey Tony...where is you?

27th Jan 2002, 15:15
411A Tony has no obligation to answer to any one on this forum, including your exalted self. Anyway, if you had your way he'd be answering to his chief pilot right now!. .Tinkering with CI can alter max altitude, so can altering the ceiling rate of climb, which is pretty obvious. Neither of these methods compromise safety margins built in by the manufacturer or operator (unless you reduce CRoC). Messing with the C of G and buffet margins does. If the chief pilot of Tony's airline didn't probe the captain in detail with regard to his actions then he needs HIS arse kicked or the regulators called in.. .Asking for weights and launch C of G etc so we can all run off to our B747-400 manuals is pointless. If the aircraft was comfortably inside the envelope Tony wouldn't have made his post. It wasn't & he did, simple really.. .As someone said before; sticking a large aircraft with 400 trusting souls on board on the margins of the envelope simply isn't clever. What we think is probably less relevant than what the guy trying to get some sleep in 54G thinks. Because when I'M that guy I know what I think.. . <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

28th Jan 2002, 02:06
Actually...I think Tony is a young (perhaps well meaning) guy that had his "pride" wounded by the boss (read Commander)...and now is looking for a little support. What he SHOULD have done is have a talk with "the boss"...and he might well actually learn something.. .Some of the younger guys/gals might actually be surprised...to find out that the "older guys" really DO know the facts.. .So Tony....what are the parameters of the flight?

28th Jan 2002, 14:25
Just came back from a long trip.

I'm really surprised to have receive so many replies(not to mention personal emails) when I started my first posting.

I appreciate all the replies. But either my first posting was just too detailed, that people are getting mixed up, or that there ARE people who think differently.

The whole point was:

1) Can we change CG based on 'experience'?. .2) Can we accept FLs when you have no idea what's the max is and without checking? And even when the young and dumb sitting right next to you, pointing out the max is currently not that high?. .3) During normal operations, is it really that necessary to fly within the buffet yellow line?

After viewing all the postings here, I guess some of you will still give an 'yes' to all or some of the above. And I will not be surprised anymore.

There're some questions that I cannot answer, such as other detail numbers which some of you are asking. Because I wasn't even thinking about submitting any report when it all happend. I only put down some information for myself as reference, until what happend the next day.

But all the numbers I gave, was accurate. I can't remember all the others since I didn't have them written down, and I don't want to 'guess' them now.

Anyway, I've learned my lesson, and I've received alot of support from you guys, thank you all.

But please dont' get me wrong, I'm not here asking for people to stand by my side, but rather, intellect advices/comments. And most of you, have been very helpful indeed.

It's got nothing to do with pride, trouble-making, or anti-authority. It's simply basic safety concept, which I disagree and failing to understand.

Writting a report, mabe it was a bad idea. But I was really in a dilemma.

2 years ago, I didn't write a report on a captain after an incident, and I almost got into big trouble. And this time, people are warning of FODAS.

You see, our company are using FODAS to give pilots a hard time. Yes, you've all heard it right. FODAS are being recorded into your personal records, which will definately effect your merit and your upgrade.

I have to admit that it wasn't the only reason for me to have submitted the report, but it sure was one of the reason.

Mabe it all sounds pretty selfish to you, and I have to say, 'yes, I've made the report partly because I didn't want to get into another trouble like I had 2 years ago'. But still, I'd rather fly with someone who always keep on the safe side in their minds, but accidentaly made a pretty firm landing.


I know I've said it a lot, but I must say it again, that I thank you all for your postings, either who supported me, or those who jumps right in and start query my credentials. You've all been helpful.

Any further postings will not be replied, it's not a hit and run, but I think I've gathered enough information for now, not to get deeper in this(Since I know how they treated my report), but something enough for me to think for a long time... my CRM skills.

Thank you.

Tony Ko