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The Axe Man of Apia

Old 22nd Feb 2010, 12:07
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The Axe Man of Apia


Once again the airlines are recruiting pilots already experienced on IFR light twins. Regional airlines pilots are also moving up the food chain to JetStar, Virgin Blue and Tiger. As part of induction training, pilots will undergo lectures and briefings on airline specific SOP, cabin emergency equipment, passenger evacuation drills and other regulatory requirements. Each airline runs its own specific CRM and TEM course. The JetStar interview, for example, accents conflict resolution on the flight deck and in later paragraphs we shall read how one first officer used a unique but effective technique to sort out a difference of professional opinion. Hence, the title of this story.

After simulator endorsement training, each new pilot will be rated to take his place in the right hand seat, often sharing the flight deck with a recently promoted captain or others with more seniority. Personalities differ; but the new first officer must be prepared for multiple flights each day with the same captain. Mostly this will be a happy event with the captain setting the scene from the first meeting in the crew room.

The new first officer must remember to balance his natural enthusiasm and keenness against the realization the captain is ultimately responsible for running the show. While definitions of CRM vary, one thing is for sure. And that is, CRM is not carte blanche permission for the first officer to play the blue-arse fly or multi-fingered switch flicker who tries to be ten miles ahead of the captain. Think changing radio and navaid frequencies without reference to the captain, turning off the seat belts sign without first getting the a nod from the left seat, or alarming the captain with poorly planned PA announcements and dinging away at the FA call button for refreshments at inappropriate times. All the time presuming the captain is watching with admiration at these displays of initiative.

It must be sixty years or more when someone penned a ditty called “The Copilot’s Lament”. He was probably a first officer of long seniority. It epitomized the early post war days when DC3’s were the mainstay of airlines and pilot seniority in the airline ruled inviolate. After the war, thousands of military pilots came home to no jobs and the airlines were full. Twenty years as copilot before promotion to captain, was ops normal in many US airlines. On layovers at Guam, we saw ancient looking PANAM crews and imagined them walking wearily through the foyers of Hilton Hotels around the world. Many of the captains were John Wayne look-alikes. Most first officers were over 50. Mind you, their uniformed regal presence certainly engendered confidence among their passengers. Not like now, when a Chinese 300 hour second in command and not long out of flight school, walks smartly through the terminal building to his A340 in Hong Kong.

Who in the hell was John Wayne, I hear you say? Well, he was the silver screen archetypal Hollywood hero of the Fifties who fought Red Indians, and single handedly beat the fanatical Japanese in battles of World War Two. As a two-gun cowboy with a big hat, he sat tall in the saddle of a huge horse while a million kids tried to emulate his slow drawl. Meanwhile, read on.
The Copilots Lament

I’m the co-pilot, I sit on the right
It’s up to me to be quick and bright
I never talk back or I’ll have regrets
And I must remember what the captain forgets.

I make out the flight plan and study the weather
Pull up the gear and standby to feather
Make out the mail forms and do the reporting
And fly the plane when the captain is snoring

I take the readings and adjust the power
Put on the heaters when we’re in a shower
Tell we are on the darkest of night
And do all the bookwork without any light.

I call for my captain
And by him Cokes
I always laugh at his corny jokes
And once in a while when his landings are rusty
I come through with “Gawd, but it’s gusty!”

All in all, I’m a general stooge
As I sit on the right of this overall Scrooge
But maybe some day with great understanding
He’ll soften a bit and give me a landing

A long time ago, I was a second pilot (first officer) on Lincoln bombers. An updated Lancaster with four Rolls Royce Merlin engines, they had no air-conditioning or pressuration and were designed to be flown by one pilot. For long flights we normally carried two pilots, two navigators, several signalers and gunner or two. On arrival at Townsville as a twenty year old, I was interviewed by the splendidly mustachiod Commanding Officer – a Wing Commander, who welcomed me by saying: “Sergeant Centaurus – you will be a second pilot for nine months or 300 flying hours, which ever comes first. During that time, you will not be given take-off’s or landings. You are there to watch and learn from the captain. Later, depending on your captain’s reports, you may be checked out as first pilot for local flying only. After 18 months and if you qualify for war operations, you will eventually be given your own crew and become a maritime captain.
At least, I knew where I stood – or rather, where I sat.

I flew with pilots of all ranks, addressing them as Sir, Skipper - but never as Captain. Some were former wartime bomber pilots who had fought over Europe and witnessed terrible events. A few drank heavily off duty. I soon learned not to offer un-solicited advice unless it was essential to the operation. There was little casual light-hearted chit-chat. Unlike now, one never addressed the captain or other crew member as “Mate”. There is little doubt that today the low cockpit gradient encouraged by some airlines has resulted in less respect than desirable for the authority of the captain.

The shattering and almost painful noise of four Rolls Royce Merlins – the inboards being a mere twenty feet away with open exhausts – discouraged chatting. Everything you might say to the captain was heard over the intercom by the other members of the crew including the tail-gunner cooped up in his gun turret between the twin tails.

Yet, despite Service rank, there was cockpit etiquette. It may sound quaint and old-fashioned now, but in those times, if the captain gave you the landing it was considered good manners to afterwards thank him. In retrospect, it was probably a nice touch which rarely happens now. There was no company or God-given right that required the captain to share sectors. In fact, the co-pilot wasn’t given a “leg” as we know the term. He may be offered the take off or the landing – but not a “leg”. A copilot did not get psyched up simply because he was given a departure. In the airlines now, the equivalent of a White House Press briefing is needed so the first officer can prepare and brief the captain for his leg. But then, in those days there were no SIDS and STARS or special engine failure procedures where a proper briefing is required.

The copilot’s turn would come down the track later. Meanwhile, he was the copilot who sat on the right, whose job was to support the captain when required. There were no SOP’s like today. But it was almost a chargeable offence to back-chat the captain in the course of his duty of flying the aircraft. Of course the copilot would speak up if things were going very wrong like below MSA’s in IMC. The navigator would be quick to say something, too. Nowadays, their personal interpretation of CRM has some first officers stretching the friendship too much when it comes to aggressive questioning of a captain’s decision – rather like the ABC’s Kerry O’Brien getting stuck into Liberal Party ministers on TV! It can often result in a battle of wills and personality conflicts may arise which in turn can compromise flight safety

Of course, this is old history and mentioned only for the inevitable amusement of PPRuNe readers. The introduction of CRM and it’s offspring TEM, has seen a new generation of pilot actively encouraged to challenge the captain where perceived necessary in the interests of flight safety. But co-pilots and captains must be wary of excesses that can irritate the other crew member. One man’s understanding of CRM may be another man’s poison - particularly, when forced to share the flight deck during several sectors over several days. It is clear that the niceties of cockpit etiquette are not discussed during airline induction training. And that is a great pity, because latent hostility on the flight deck can often be traced to lack of grace, good manners, or basic commonsense by one or other pilot.

For instance, take the case when a Boeing 737 was descending to land at Apia, the capital of Western Samoa. The captain, a former US Navy combatant in 1942 against Japanese, was a heavily built man with a blunt and sometimes aggressive manner. He was respected - not for his flying skill - but because it would have taken three men and a pit-bull to bring him down in a bar fight. Moreover, he showed no respect for his first officers. The copilot, also a war veteran, had been a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam. Younger by many years than his American captain, he was well aware of the captain’s reputation as a one man band in the cockpit. He had also flown into Western Samoa many times - having worked there for several years.

High terrain on a volcanic island 20 miles from Apia’s Faleolo airport, meant the descent was restricted to 7000 ft until inside 20 DME. After that distance was passed, descent was authorized to 4000 ft for the VOR instrument approach.

While there was no company specific SOP pertaining to the descent and approach into Faleolo, good airmanship dictated setting the en-route lowest safe altitude of 7000 ft in the altitude alerter until passing 20 DME from the airport, when it would be safe to continue to 4000 ft. Instead, the captain over-rode the copilot’s advice and at top of descent set 4000 ft in the altitude alerter. Although the 737 was descending in IMC, there was no doubt the captain was aware of the 7000 ft limitation beyond 20 DME from Faleolo. But he was determined to set 4000 ft (the initial approach altitude for the VOR approach).

Concerned about this, the copilot continued quite reasonably to prompt the captain to set the alerter to the 7000 ft. The captain brusquely told the first officer to button his lip. The first officer was no shrinking violet and while he knew of the terrain ahead, he had no idea of the captain’s intentions in terms of safe altitudes. Was he going to stop at 7000 ft until 20 DME - or was he going to keep going to 4000 ft? The captain didn’t say and the first officer therefore didn’t know.

As the captain leveled at 10,000 ft to reduce speed from 280 to 250 knots, the copilot asked him once more re-set the altitude alerter back to 7000 ft MSA. And again the captain told the copilot to shut up. With that, the copilot reached back and unlocked the crash axe located on the cockpit wall. Holding the axe in view, he quietly directed the captain to maintain 7000 ft until 20 DME - or wear the axe. Sensing the copilot was deadly serious, the captain wisely twirled back the altitude alerter to 7000ft whereupon the first officer returned the axe to its leather holder. The flight arrived without further drama and neither pilot reported the incident. There is no doubt that CRM is generally considered a useful flight safety tool. In this case, so was the crash axe.

While cockpit etiquette is the real subject of this story, the lack of it by the captain caused the first officer to be driven to potentially homicidal action when the captain deliberately used ridicule as his method of communication. So, for new first officers may I offer the following snippets of advice on cockpit etiquette. Keep in mind these are personal opinions only and readers are welcome to have a go at them. Be my guest.

First of all, arrive at flight planning on time. You are on duty so don’t start reading personal emails that cut into planning time. It shows ill-discipline and lack of good manners. The captain is not addressed as “Mate”. That is bogan-speak. Same advice applies to the captain addressing the first officer. It is also shows lack of respect for each crew position.

At flight planning, the captain is responsible for deciding fuel uplift. He will do that after consideration of all relevant factors. As first officer, avoid making unnecessary remarks about the amount of fuel the captain may choose to take. As long as it is legal and safe then most pilots will have slightly different opinions on fuel uplift. Keep your opinion to yourself – the captain is not required to explain his decision. However, you are certainly entitled to question his decision if the fuel uplift is contrary to company SOP. Do it tactfully.

If the captain asks you to decide the fuel uplift for your leg, don’t be offended or argue the toss if decides to change the figure. While he may be happy with the uplift you have selected, for personal reasons based on his experience, he may decide to add or subtract from your figure. That is not implied criticism of your decision. Remember, he carries the can and it is unfair for him to have to haggle with you or bend over backwards to accommodate your wishes or decisions.

Don’t greet the captain with: “which sectors do you want?” It is presumptuous, and invites the retort of “all of them”. There may be occasions because of crosswinds or stormy weather, where the captain decides to assumes control on “your” leg for the approach and landing. Don’t go all quiet on him and say “don’t you trust my flying?” He could tell you what he really thinks, which may further upset you. So don’t ask.

While most airlines permit the first officer to make PA calls to the passengers on their “leg”, it is not a God-given right. For new pilots, PA’s can be a nervous time. There is no dual instruction on how to talk as part of your induction training. There should be – but mainly you are stuck with on the job training with the captain and flight attendants praying you don’t stuff up. One Australian airline took this so seriously, a professional radio announcer was brought in to teach crews how to make proper PA’s. Judging from some of the PA’s I have listened to as a passenger, the policy should be revived.

Practice your PA’s at home on a tape recorder listening to your rate of speech and enunciation. Write the words down first and until you are confident with public speaking, refer to your cheat sheet before you open your mouth. Avoid clichés, Aussie slang and rambling on. Avoid at all costs starting a PA with “Gooday Ladies and gents, boys and girls. You sound a bit stupid if it’s a suits flight with no ankle-biters aboard. Plus it sounds contrived and insincere. Once you open your mouth on the PA, the captain is helpless to prevent you making a twit in front of the passengers. So, speak carefully and clearly, know exactly what you want to say and remember you are the voice of the airline – just as the PA by cabin staff also reflects the airline.

Where possible, avoid starting any cockpit scan without first advising the captain. He may have his attention momentarily elsewhere but still needs to be in the loop. Your area of responsibility is fine but so is his double checking you have done your job, too. Don’t be a “Hoverer” To some pilots it can be distracting (and annoying) to have an eager beaver PNF reaching towards the gear or flap handles in anticipation of the captain’s order. Same advice applies to the heading knob on the MCP. Hovering over the heading knob with a great big fist is annoying to some while not worrying others. When someone is concentrating on handling, a creeping hand seen out of the corner of one’s eyes is off-putting. Don’t do it and keep your hands on your knees. It takes less than a second to make selections so don’t pre-empt the next direction or order. Do not change radio or navaid selections without first advising the PF. Not only it is bad manners but can be distracting to the PF to see the RMI needle moving to a new position for no apparent reason. Don’t pull out the checklist from it’s holder and nonchalantly wave it around in instant readiness for the captain’s command. That’s called “hovering”, too. Adjusting the cabin temperature control? Let the captain know.

During the takeoff run the captain controls the thrust levers. They won’t slip back and therefore there is no need for the PNF to have a hand backing up. A rapid abort, may not allow time for the captain to politely ask you to remove your hand and you could sustain lacerations if your hand gets jammed between throttles and start levers in the 737. We had real blood in the simulator once when it happened. If thrust lever adjustment is necessary at any point during the take off run, make it swiftly and then remove your hand.

If a flight attendant brings food or drink, respect for the captain’s position suggests the copilot should wait for the captain to decide first. When offering an old lady your seat on a tram, it is a sign you have been brought up to respect age. It’s not the same of course, but you get my drift. Always thank the cabin attendants for food and drink. Again, this is normal good manners.

Now, a message for new captains. There is nothing more annoying to the PF than have you fiddling with the thrust levers under his hand on final approach. It displays lack of confidence or worse still, twitchy. Either say something if essential to the conduct of the approach, or take over control and discuss later. Similarly, you don’t need two pilots handling at the same time. Pilots should be not be surreptitiously hovering their hands on or very close to the control wheel while the other is taking off or landing. Same with rudder pedals. It is annoying, unnecessary and displays a nervous disposition. With hands on knees, it should take less than a second to take over control, so keep your fingers, hands and size tens to yourself. Remember, this is all about cockpit etiquette.

It is the captain’s responsibility to decide on automatic brake setting and reverse thrust policy. Always remember he carries the can. If the copilot is handling, he should check with the captain during the approach briefing which settings the captain prefers. This is not fawning to the captain’s authority - but is normal good manners.

Regardless of whose “leg” it is, weather and thunderstorm avoidance is the captain’s responsibility. If the copilot needs practice using the radar in bad weather, then he should clear it with the captain first. Return the radar to previous settings. Politeness and tact will often defuse areas of potential conflict on the flight deck. For new first officers, put yourself in the shoes of the captain; because one day you will be. It is better to keep youthful enthusiasm under control rather than be perceived as someone who sees CRM as an excuse to harangue the captain.

And for captains, remember this: People may forget what you said or forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel. Sarcasm and verbal abuse has no place on the flight because one day it may come back to bite you. Remember the axe-man of Apia
Centaurus is offline  
Old 22nd Feb 2010, 17:11
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Thumbs up


Thank you for that! I really did learn a lot from the article.Please do post more should you have the articles and time to do so.

Oz_TB10 is offline  
Old 22nd Feb 2010, 20:28
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A brilliant post. Unfortunately, for many flightcrew, from what I have seen, it will be like casting pearls................
PLovett is offline  
Old 22nd Feb 2010, 21:45
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Hi there Centarus,

Interesting muse , there are a lot of very valid observations for all new FO's and Captain's.
I would like to point out that thanks to robust sop's some of these unspoken grievances can be mitigated and thank god for that.

One observation i would make after reading and digesting your post is that although there is plenty of wisdom there also maybe a overtone of ambitious
cockpit gradient, for example thanking the captain for a landing or sector is a bit steep. As a captain who clawed his way through the ranks enduring years of personality differences and similarities i would never expect recognition for the sector unless i gave it up for the other blokes recency or similar .

Lets face it it is no longer the captains right to fly all the sectors otherwise half the crew would be unable to operate due lack of sector and approach recency , especially in a long haul environment.

As Captain i felt no malice when addressed by my name or rank , but use wisdom when referring to your peers as mate.
I never had to assume control for a landing in crosswinds or stormy weather
i preferred to assist the FO in conducting the approach , tactfully of course,
this is when your captaincy is used assist your follow colleague in learning the ropes so to speak encouraging profession development. How else is he supposed to learn , there is only so much watching you can do , the best learning is doing.

Overall a great post though and i entirely agree on your last statement on how your crew members impression of you will stick.

Last edited by flyby; 23rd Feb 2010 at 06:17.
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Old 22nd Feb 2010, 21:49
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Guilty as charged, your honour.....
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 01:56
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Please do come on Mr 'Squidward', and tell us some of the stories behind your comment.
I note from your stated age that you are retired(?) and would have a wealth of anecdotes to be shared......


Well done Mr Centaurus, thoroughly enjoyable, and the 'visual impression' of the actual axe incident is very striking....pardon the pun.... well done.

It brings to mind what should have happened to the arrogant B-52 commander who so 'foolishly' thought he was far better than he actually was when he overbanked the aircraft at an airshow no less and, tragically, took everybody else with him....

Ex FSO GRIFFO is offline  
Old 23rd Feb 2010, 01:58
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Centarus Centarus ...Goodness goodness me.

What do you think Cat D simulators are for?

That's where the Co-pilot (AKA First Officer) can keep up his handling skills. Not that they handle anything but the autopilot, FMC and MCP.

No sectors for FO's. Just sit on your hands and be very quiet and one day when you step across the aisle and emulate me, then you can play God too.

Oh and no females please unless they are long-haired blondes and "co-operative".

Am I serious??????? You decide.
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 02:00
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ahh Griff .. it's a bit of the pot and kettle syndrome. You can tell a few war stories yourself!
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 02:04
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Lets face it it is no longer the captains right to fly all the sectors otherwise half the crew would be unable to operate due lack of sectors especially in a long haul environment.
I cannot let this pass. This attitude is a myth and you are sadly mistaken. The Captain has every right to operate the aircraft as is seen proper within the constraints of the Air Navigation Act. Please review the CAR 224 for an appraisal of what the Captain can and cannot do. As a Co-pilot, you have no "rights" to anything.

Regarding the Gradient of Authority, this is variable in its application. Under some circumstances, a flat gradient works best. Under others, a steep gradient is required. It all depends on the situation and to infer that a 'flat gradient of authority is always safest' is to fail to understand the basis fundumentals of leadership. followership and effective CRM.
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 02:08
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Hi 'Voicie'.....

Yeah, but THIS one sounds as if it might even be TRUE.......

Warm Regards....
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 04:19
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Anthill, I think you might be taking flyby's comments a little too literally.

I'm pretty sure he knows that particular CAR that you refer too. In the company that I work for, to take this attitude and enforce your right as a Captain to fly all sectors would not be viewed well, and your capability as a Captain would be considered suspect by both F/O's and management. Rightly so. There is an obligation as a Captain to teach by example, to mentor, to demonstrate, and to show good judgement. Good judgement involves giving away sectors, whether you like it or not.

Centaurus' post was a good one, however I too felt overtones of "superiority" as a Captain creeping though.

I overheard at an ISASI conference many years ago, a thesus by an honours student arguing why Qantas was such a safe airline in comparison to others. His research indicated that QF's operation was no different to any other airline in the world. What was different, is the Australian culture. We have the LEAST subservient culture on earth, and this serves us well as airline pilots. I'm sure that this is true for any Australian airline...

Lets not have this change by promoting a steeper gradient eh?
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 04:43
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The captain is not addressed as “Mate”. That is bogan-speak. Same advice applies to the captain addressing the first officer. It is also shows lack of respect for each crew position.
I must admit that I'm a serial "mate" offender & had no idea that it was so offensive to some.

As a civvie I have never refered to a co-worker by their rank nor would I ever do so willingly. It's dehumanising at best and cringe-worthy at worst. Removing the human element in a command structure has it's place in a war environment but not in a benign airline cockpit environment.

Who in the hell was John Wayne, I hear you say?

He was the "Duke". An F/O who never took no sht from no Captain....Pilgrim.

Last edited by psycho joe; 23rd Feb 2010 at 10:45. Reason: embed you mongrel bastard
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 05:03
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If this First Officer
The copilot, also a war veteran, had been a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam
is someone who spent time in PNG, Air Pacific and is now (or last I heard anyway) in Jetstar, then I flew with him when I was an FO out there and he is a great guy to fly with.
Dehavillanddriver is offline  
Old 23rd Feb 2010, 05:40
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My dyslexia is getting the better of me again.

I started out reading the post because I thought it was The Axe man of AIPA and was wondering who it would be referring to.
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 05:49
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Me too .... but whilst I'm here .....

In another life a similar situation occurred in PNG on Caribous ... the Loadmaster (Mongo) disagreed with the Captain's course of action (climbing in cloud), so idly stood behind him with the Axe lolling in his hand ... his logic? If a Mountain appeared, the Captain would die before he did...

......or so the legend goes.

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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 06:08
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Hi Anthill,
I seem "fail to understand the basis fundumentals of leadership. followership and effective CRM."
Gee thanks for pointing that out i had no idea.
Come on you must be reading a different post.I was not infering that any sort of cockpit gradient was preferable only that having to thank the Captain for letting you do the job for which you were employed is a bit rich.

By the way i was not referring to the captains right's to operate the aircraft as see's fit, merely commenting on the rather outdated philosophy that the Captain is God and every one else who gets to fly along side him or her should feel priviliged to even touch the controls, God forbid.
By the way to say the FO has no rights is rather left wing , everybody deserves to be treated with respect , yes even a FO.
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 07:48
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Normally I considered it good management to give the F/O the more 'difficult' legs - on the basis that they probably needed the handling more than I did and it left me free to 'manage' the show. They got at least half the flying, but I got to tell them which half - for their own good.
Occasionally I would (and still) take a really tricky sector just to show the tyros that old age, bastardry and rat cunning can still overcome youth, exuberance and enthusiasm in most endeavours short of iron-man competitions.
But one particular smart arse F/O really got under my skin. Because he had more FMS time than me, he could beat me hands down in the green machine stakes and lost no opportunity to get in there first and type our way through the sky. Shame that his stick and rudder work was pretty ordinary but he didn't see that as a problem in his automated world. To show me how good he was, he would have most of the landing card filled in before top of climb - even on a 4 hour sector. And talk about 'hovering' with gear and flaps, checklists etc! Of course the more he did that, the more I delayed actions just to piss him off. One day he went a bit too far with the suggestions and pre-empting. I had done the 1st sector, and when I got back in the cockpit it was all set up with the flight directors transferred to his side. So, I flicked them back to the left. He asked 'Isn't this my sector?' to which I just grunted 'nope'. As it happened we were paired for several days and I kept this up until he cracked and asked why I was hogging all the flying. To which I replied 'Well, you have made it quite clear that you think I need more practice, so I will practice until such time as I reach the standard you require'. CRM old-school.

Last edited by Mach E Avelli; 27th Feb 2010 at 22:57.
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 08:25
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"fail to understand the basis fundumentals of leadership. followership and effective CRM."
This was not aimed specifically at you and if I have caused offence on this I extend my appologies. I agree that it is important to treat all coworkers fairly and with respect. However, this does not extend to uspurping the authority of the Captain.

I give as much of a long leash to my subordinates so as they can develop professionally. However, if I wish for a course of action that is safer or more efficient, I will insist on that action being taken. That is what command is all about. I do not insist on
enforce(ing) your right as a Captain to fly all sectors
. That would be ludicrous and certainly invoke bad feeling. However, if I feel that the conditions are too demanding, I will (nicely) suggest/(insist) that I do the flying. When the FO acts as PF, they are in essence 'borrowing' the Captain licence for that sector.

Remember, too, that the Captain is ultimately responsible for the stuff ups made by the FO.

Anthill, I think you might be taking flyby's comments a little too literally.
Yes, I have taken a literal interpretation because I can only interpret what is writen, not what was intended to be meant.

For a start, CRM entails the safe and efficient use of all available resources. This is an ICAO definition. It is not one that I have made up. Whilst good CRM implies safety, excellent CRM also implies that decisions are efficient as well.

Let me be crystal clear on one thing: Good CRM is not some warm-and-fuzzy-feel-good-Dr Phil-meets Oprah-in-a-hot-tub kind of I’m ok/your ok-psycho-babble, good CRM is a tool that allows the decision makers to make good decisions. This means that input from subordinates is encouraged and where this input has validity, it is to be accounted for. When it does not have validity, it can be safely ignored. How a Captain goes about doing this a called command style. Remember, a flight crew is not a democracy.

Command decisions are not put to a vote and are not about making people ‘happy’. Command decisions are about safety and efficiency.CRM training is (or should be)about reinforcing this concept. Unfortunately the trend in recent years has been to misinterpret what CRM training and philosophy is all about. The blame for this trend falls squarely at the feet of CRM program developers and trainers (of which I am one). The contemporary outcome of many CRM courses is that subordinate crew members feel that they now have a licence to usurp authority belonging to the Captain. That is a million miles from the desired outcome.
Hmm.. Quite. An FO is there to support the process of making decisions, not to be a decision maker in themselves. The Captain, under law, is the only decision maker on the aircraft. Some crew may feel a sense of entilement to make decisions and this should be permited on the FOs sector to the degree that the Captain agrees with that decision as being safe, efficient and lawful.

overheard at an ISASI conference many years ago, a thesus by an honours student arguing why Qantas was such a safe airline in comparison to others. His research indicated that QF's operation was no different to any other airline in the world. What was different, is the Australian culture. We have the LEAST subservient culture on earth, and this serves us well as airline pilots. I'm sure that this is true for any Australian airline...

Lets not have this change by promoting a steeper gradient eh?
What is being refered to in this citation is that a less subserviant culture should promote freer communication. This is what leads to enhanced safety. It is quite true that the egalitarian cultural factors within the Australia national pysche support freer commuication style and there is nothing wrong with that. However, I do not back away from my assertion that the gradient of authority must be varied at times, depending on the circumstance. For example, a steeper gradient of authority would be appropriate when the subordinate crew member is inexperienced or during an emergency.

Some instances where I have steeped the "gradient of authority to vertical include:
  • An FO who thought that is safe to proceed with the WX radar in AUTO and refused to deviate around a CB that I had detected by varying the gain and tilt.
  • An FO who tried to continue a 'visual' approach when lawful visibility was lost.
  • An FO who could not self-separate from traffic OCTA and was setting us up for a TCAS RA..
On the otherhand, there are instances wher in the name of crew cohesion, I did not assert my view of what was the most safe/efficient plan of action and had to settle on a second best 'plan B'-all because the FO lacked the technical knowledge to understand that what I was proposing was safe, efficient and lawful. Because the FO was lacking in these areas, effieciency was compromised, however safety was not. FO was less than pleased when I told him to have a closer read of his books.

Centaurus' post was a good one, however I too felt overtones of "superiority" as a Captain creeping though.

Not sure what you mean by this. I Think that Centaurus' view was quite balenced. Maybe I'm just an old pr!ck.

Last edited by Anthill; 23rd Feb 2010 at 08:44.
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 10:53
  #19 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Hong Kong
Age: 50
Posts: 93
psycho joe

That's how every uppity captain needs to be treated!


I was also going to respond to the original post, but after seeing all the self serving, full of self importance posts, I just couldn't be bothered. Instead this is my response.

For all those self important captains I hope you are Qantas as that would at least explain why you have such feelings of self importance, if you're not you should stop posting like [email protected]!!

We lowly effos are so privileged to have such highly self rated captains to guide us

Don't bother with any response as I'll ignore your drivel.

Last edited by FOCX; 23rd Feb 2010 at 11:08.
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Old 23rd Feb 2010, 11:18
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 1999
Location: AUS
Posts: 290
Quote Anthill
The Captain has every right to operate the aircraft as is seen proper within the constraints of the Air Navigation Act. Please review the CAR 224 for an appraisal of what the Captain can and cannot do. As a Co-pilot, you have no "rights" to anything.
Pilot in command
224. (1) For each flight the operator shall designate one pilot to act as pilot in command.

(2) In addition to being responsible for the operation and safety of the aircraft during flight time, the pilot in command shall be responsible for the safety of persons and cargo carried and for the conduct and safety of the members of the crew.

(3) The pilot in command shall have final authority as to the disposition of the aircraft while he or she is in command and for the maintenance of discipline by all persons on board.
I see you interpret "final" as "every". Maybe you are, as you yourself suggested, "an old pr!ck"
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