Middle East Many expats still flying in Knoteetingham. Regional issues can be discussed here.

EXPERIENCE

Old 25th Oct 2016, 12:07
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Join Date: Jun 2000
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EXPERIENCE

The dust has more or less settled on 521 and there is relative clarity on what occurred. More interesting is of course the "why". Here is my tuppence worth.

In a nutshell it appears a go around was attempted and for various reasons thrust was not applied until too late. We can argue the details of incorrect procedure, lack of knowledge, reliance on automation, flaws in training and even, it would appear, the age of crew! I believe that is all superficial.

I also believe that this accident would not have occurred in this airline 10 years ago. To explain let's consider the history so far. There have been incidents that came very close to catastrophic accidents but ultimately the accident was avoided. To name a few:

Windshear resulting in ground contact- recovered
Loss of control on a go-around - recovered
Stickshaker turning base - recovered.
Insufficient thrust on takeoff with tail contact and overrun - recovered
Gross loading errors - all recovered.

In some incidents mistakes may have been made but ultimately there was no loss of life or hull. The crews recovered.

So why was this different? One could say the statistics will catch up in the end. That's fatalistic. I believe the root cause is lack of experience. But not a lack of experience that can simply be laid at the feet of the crew on the day. That would be unfair. It's an overall decline of experience that has been systematically introduced through a number of avenues in a bid to reduce costs.

The experience factor is complex. Many have argued experience does not automatically mean greater proficiency. I would agree. Many would argue extended and improved training can offset lack of experience. Again I would agree. However we need to stand back a look at the system holistically.

It is no secret that the company has been reducing the experience criteria for entry so this element is obvious. That on its own may not be an issue but combining this with other factors results in a dangerous synergy. It is not easily explained and even less easily understood by those who haven't flown or even those who have, but no longer do. There is a world of difference between knowing and doing as any pilot who has been off flying for some time can testify.

Historically in mature and stable airlines people join with whatever experience is demanded. However they come under a protective envelope of a general experience that migrates downwards. Call it "trickle down experience". It comes from more experienced pilots, trainers and even swirls around at the bottom levels. It is built up through flights, watching, discussing, training, and social occasions.

But if you gut all levels by the attrition of experienced pilots, trainers and peers that must be quickly replaced, soon the flow is reversed and you are left with "trickle up inexperience". This is because the opportunities for experience exposure are exponentially reduced. One experienced training captain leaving and being replaced with a inexperienced one denies a lot of pilots those little gems of technique and knowledge while exposing them to some level of lack of knowledge and understanding. This is then passed on. Accelerate this process and pass it on for a few "generations" and any solid background of experience is rapidly diluted.

There are only a few degrees of separation between touching experience or inexperience.

Other factors affect this experience level too. Workload has a direct effect. Flying reasonable hours allows the diligent pilot time to study manuals, consider scenarios and even chat with his colleagues. It's what pilots do. Ask any wife. When hours are pushed to the limits prescribed for fatigue then how much of the self study and improvement is going to happen? These days I think we have pilots that don't even understand how important this is. They assume their improvement will occur at training sessions and by grinding out the hours. The spoon fed follower of the magenta line.

Putting schemes like distance learning and constant manual/document revision in place reinforced by decrees that the pilot is responsible is unrealistic and fails on a managerial level to address the problem. It is little more than an effort to shift responsibility. It may avoid blame but wont avoid the errors. At the very least formally allocating time to these endeavors would be a step in the right direction. The pilot swamped by work hours, constantly on the limits of fatigue and also trying to address the issues in their own life can hardly keep up with the flow much less be in a mental state to absorb it. Who is to say 521 couldn't have been avoided had the crew had a bit more time to spend in the books or chew the fat with more experienced pilots?

Additional handling sessions to address highly compressed training courses is a step in the right direction and is to be commended. However it is never going to mitigate the rips in the very fabric of pilots abilities that has been advanced in the industry over the years. The problem is deeper. Training can do much but against a background of cynical, disenfranchised and overworked pilots with diminishing experience and real experience opportunities, it is a band aid. Somehow hoping an age limit will allow time to smooth this over is farcical. The real worry is that some in authority actually believe this will address systemic flaws with a broad brush. I would blush to be associated with such lack of professional understanding.

I sincerely hope 521 was an unfortunate accident not to be repeated. How lucky it was that it didn't hit the ground harder and fireball. Or stall and roll off to impact the apron on the left. Or hit a 380 clearing down taxiway M. Or come down in the built up area beyond the airport. Maybe innate experience itself prevented those outcomes, but that's cutting it fine!

Nonetheless I remain convinced that the systemic errors are still rife and remain unaddressed. I pray they are not demonstrated in more tragic circumstances. That was the warning. It should be heeded.
Pixy is offline  
Old 25th Oct 2016, 12:24
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No longer of EK, but still read the threads here.........thanks Pixy, utterly superb.
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Old 25th Oct 2016, 13:10
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Very insightful and I believe you have hit the nail on the head with your observations and comments. (Please apply for management )

Sadly I believe the bean counters and Upper Management believe a 10 year Captain is the same as a new or DEC Captain, except they have to pay them more.

This was confirmed when a Friend who recently resigned because of the hours flown and loss of quality of life suggested that if the conditions were improved he would stay, the answer, we can replace you with a younger Captain and it wont cost as much.

Ill leave you with the quote from STC, ''Essentially they're good people, they know how to do it but if you seduce them with these unbelievable technological platforms they think they don't have to do much.''

We must be lazy.
Life Vest is offline  
Old 25th Oct 2016, 13:40
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Pixy, a brilliant post with superb analysis.

Exactly why the mongs in EK Management don't want experienced people like you.

They want the cheapest. One pilot is the same as another in their eyes.

Experienced guys earn more. That eats into the SVP (Fleet) Bonus pot. Hence we will make it tough. The oldies leave. The new ones come with a paucity of operating experience. We have another crash.

The idiots who brought in these policies will then resign with a big pile in the bank...

Easy
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Old 25th Oct 2016, 13:42
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Who is to say 521 couldn't have been avoided had the crew had a bit more time to spend in the books or chew the fat with more experienced pilots?
You guys know better than me, but the captain had an average of 60 hrs/month for the last three months? And they came from a 29 hrs layover?
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Old 25th Oct 2016, 14:18
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Originally Posted by Life Vest View Post
...
Sadly I believe the bean counters and Upper Management believe a 10 year Captain is the same as a new or DEC Captain, except they have to pay them more.

This was confirmed when a Friend who recently resigned because of the hours flown and loss of quality of life suggested that if the conditions were improved he would stay, the answer, we can replace you with a younger Captain and it won’t cost as much.
...
Unfortunately that's becoming a dangerous trend in the whole industry.

A lot of experienced pilots left the first airline I worked for. Management must have been very happy with it, because they could replace a lot of FOs and Captains from the higher end of the pay scale with cheap FOs with summer contracts. The Captains were replaceable by contractors for the summer.

The result is a decrease in overall experience and a very limited career progression for those FOs.


My 2 cents regarding EK521:
2 main reasons:
1) Lack of manual flying skills caused by a way too restricting OM-A policy and a fear of being called in the office for the smallest error. The 2 manual handling sessions every year are not compensating the effects of that policy.
2) Lack of training due to the more checking than training policy. And this is only getting worse with good instructors leaving. (E.g. for not making the fail-quota or failing the wrong person.). I also fear that after EK521, there will be a lot more checking instead of training, and that is exactly the opposite of what is needed.

Last edited by Bus Driver Man; 25th Oct 2016 at 14:32. Reason: Added text
Bus Driver Man is offline  
Old 25th Oct 2016, 14:44
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Xiamen <You guys know better than me>

Should have stopped after that sentence. Read all of Pixy's post and try to understand all of it. If you don't understand, keep reading & asking questions of those who have decades of experience flying aircraft other than those who fly 'the big wooden desk'.

Good post Pixy.

Cheers, CK
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Old 25th Oct 2016, 15:01
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Pixy for president, great post 100% agree.
May I add the factors of company culture and the long gone airmanship, I assume Bus Driver Man means exactly that.
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Old 25th Oct 2016, 16:56
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Amen, buddy.
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Old 25th Oct 2016, 19:30
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Great post Pixy!
VLS with ice is offline  
Old 25th Oct 2016, 20:49
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Good post.

Spot on
CAT3A is offline  
Old 25th Oct 2016, 22:35
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Well said Pixy.
Yossarian is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2016, 00:07
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this very well thought out and written piece could be referring to a Far Eastern operation, I am involved with. Fortunately, we have not suffered a hull loss or major incident, YET!

Pity the beancounters don't understand or refuse to accept this reality.
gtseraf is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2016, 00:17
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What happened to manual handling sessions in the last 2 years?

Did every Captain do their sessions as planned?

Were pilots taken off manual handling to crew flights?
I Claudius is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2016, 06:08
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@ Pixy: great post. I agree 100%.

..we are lowering the bar for the new hire and loosing experience with resignations...

but experience is experience; doesn't matter where u got it...

I am afraid we are recently measuring experience in EK with wrong parameters: hours flown on 380 have more relevance then those flown on 777 or , God forbid,340...... ...

Your 3000 hours on A330 flown on a different carrier do not count versus the 2000 EK PIC time required to seat on the 380 LHS...

your 15000 hrs of A320 skipper time on a flag carrier count as they were flown on a C172....

Experience..also comes with age..but not age "tout court"....years in the business...i would say, not years on the passport...

I think EK needs major changes, starting from your valid points.
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Old 26th Oct 2016, 06:30
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Yes, CTWO, especially if you consider hours in the bunk, hours in the seat taking controlled rest (in other words, sleeping), hours reading newspapers or worst the head in you iPad, hours during clim or descent looking at the operating crew, hours eating or talking to he CC, hours in the galley before and after a toilet break, and of course hours on the ground waiting in the queue at RWY threshold - not even mentioning those guys who release the parking brake up to 10 minutes before push-back clearance...

So what's the value of all those "hours" ?
Kobus Dune is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2016, 06:45
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Experience is apparently no longer relevant. All we need are young, eager top guns to nurse us old farts around ......

Sarcasm aside, great post Pixy!

However you are barking up the wrong tree, not one of the stellar managers or competent regulators is sitting on top of it no more.
You'd have a better chance getting their attention by dancing on a pole, they are all drewling at the bar around it, looking out for cheaper, less educated workforce as new hires.
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Old 26th Oct 2016, 07:16
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Originally Posted by glofish View Post
Experience is apparently no longer relevant. All we need are young, eager top guns to nurse us old farts around ......

Sarcasm aside, great post Pixy!

However you are barking up the wrong tree, not one of the stellar managers or competent regulators is sitting on top of it no more.
You'd have a better chance getting their attention by dancing on a pole, they are all drewling at the bar around it, looking out for cheaper, less educated workforce as new hires.
..not sure what you meant there,glofish...hope it is all healthy sarcasm!

surely a lot of old farts with a " spiky idiosyncrasy" for former military pilots and" youngsters ", who landed here 20+ years ago directly from their bush flying caravan, would benefit from a little "introspection"....life has been generous to them when probably "with their experience" they could not have landed any other job in Europe or north America or Australia in a flag carrier...believe it or not, some of this "top guns" you talk about, after a military career, were flying for a major airline 20+ years ago....
today some of this" top guns" are on your RHS or are asked to go back to RHS...they are still not good enough.... not good as you...

I like Pixy's post because talks about "trickle down" experience...experience is also wisdom and intelligence ...

The Experience factor is indeed very complex...let's try not to make it a " battle of the have-nots" . let's keep it professional.
CTWO is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2016, 08:25
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Join Date: Oct 2016
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What amazes me is, when joined 14 years ago with 7000 hrs of B737, B767, 330, 340, yet the email from EK said" congratulations you do meet the minimum EK requirements " and now a Cessna hrs are welcomed 😡 And a higher pay. Life is not fair . I wonder what is the Max EK requirement!!?
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Old 26th Oct 2016, 09:02
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Thank you Pixie!

Always a delight to read somebody express in such a brilliant way the concerns of so many of us pilots who have been around long enough to observe the transformation of aviation into just another "business opportunity" and transformed into "corporations" run like a little fascist state by a small and vastly overpaid clique of amoral "executives".
Of course I agree 100% with you description of today's aviation realities, but let's face it dear Pixie: how many "naturally gifted" "stick-and-rudder" pilots will be left in any modern Airline if they would be required to in addition to a college degree, spending a small fortune in basic flight training and a robotic attitude in complying with the endless (mostly senseless) stream of company and government regulations, he is also expected to be proficient in landing an aircraft without A/P, A/T, F/D, w/ PAPI only reference and as little as a balmy 20kt crosswind?
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