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Cross Cockpit Authority Gradient

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Cross Cockpit Authority Gradient

Old 14th Sep 2015, 20:30
  #1 (permalink)  
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Cross Cockpit Authority Gradient

From my first faltering steps as a student to my last flight as a senior PA instructor there were few occasions where the pilot next to me was similarly qualified and experienced. I had remarkably few issues but wondered what experiences others here would be prepared to share!!!
I'll start off with this one.

I was flying with a VSO who had much experience on type and I knew to be a good pair hands and very competent operator. He wasn't having a good sortie though and I tactfully suggested an easier exercise. He refused and persisted to the point where I felt it was becoming unsafe. I told him to stop, at which point he announced that he was in control and therefore, in effect, captain of the aircraft. There was an uncomfortable hiatus until one of the crew suggested an alternative way forward which, fortunately, my co-pilot was happy to accept. The debrief could accurately be described as extremely awkward!
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Old 14th Sep 2015, 20:41
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When I was a Flt Lt I flew with a 2 Star (not qualified on type) who didn't agree with me on when to lower flap in the cct. He didn't do it twice! Reported me to the Stn Cdr who took my side. No names but his started with B!
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Old 15th Sep 2015, 06:23
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Two Corporal pilots on a detachment to Bad Tolz with one Lynx and a travellerised F700. Aircraft Commander was determined by 'wings' seniority.
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Old 15th Sep 2015, 06:45
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Had a bit of a fore and aft authority gradient once - as a boggie helicopter pilot new to a unit, one of the loadmasters seemed like he was giving me a particularly hard time, finding fault in a lot of things I did, which naturally preyed on my mind.

Was talking it over with some of the young guys who'd been there a bit longer than me, who said "Don't worry about it, he's like that with every new arrival."
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Old 15th Sep 2015, 07:56
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Korean Airlines has had a long-running issue with pilots expecting/demanding deference in accordance with their previous military rank. This hasn't been a success from the flight safety point of view, to put it mildly.
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Old 15th Sep 2015, 11:25
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Smile Get it on tape

Whenever I came across this attitude in a certain fast jet I would calmly announce the following so that the voice recorder would pick it up

"For the benefit of the Board of Inquiry I wish to state that I, Flt Lt *****, service number ****299R, have instructed the pilot, FLt Lt ********, that he should refrain from flying at ****ft in the area of *******. The Flt Lt in question has decided to ignore my advice"

This usually worked!!.........
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Old 15th Sep 2015, 12:19
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Four Types- nice one. I never had a tape, but asking, "Are we authorised for this, Sir?" usually sufficed. Only used for curtailing wazzing where it made me feel uncomfortable.

I did witness a junior pilot on 230 Sqn tell a 1* that HE was in fact the auth'd aircraft captain, and that only HE would decide if the weather was in limits. The airship was trying to push him into launching from Wegberg to get to his meeting on time. Kudos.

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Old 15th Sep 2015, 20:47
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he announced that he was in control and therefore, in effect, captain of the aircraft
Err...no he wasn't captain of the aircraft, you were. A firm "I have control" by you should have been enough to settle the matter.
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Old 16th Sep 2015, 02:02
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Plenty of tales about steep cockpit gradients but I always found a flat gradient (Mate A taking Mate B for a jolly) to be far more dangerous. No one in charge has ended up badly for quite a few soties.
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Old 16th Sep 2015, 08:41
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Many, many years ago, as the only first tourist and Fg Off pilot in Signals Command we were authorised for an ECM sortie to be followed by delivering the sqn cdr, who was the nav, to Waddington for a meeting. Did the wiggly amps bit then turned to the "delivery". Waddo was now way outside my white card limits so I asked the boss where he would like to be delivered to, to complete his journey by road. Following a slightly tense 10 minutes we diverted and the boss went on his way, to return several hours later and we returned to Watton. Half an hour after landing I was summoned to the presence, and offered a handsome apology. Boss and I got on really well after that
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Old 16th Sep 2015, 09:20
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Many a simulator exercise has been saved by a sharp interjection from a Flight Engineer.
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Old 16th Sep 2015, 09:38
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Interesting thread.

Many years ago as a Flt . Lt. standards QFI at the jet refresher school at Manby I flew as a QFI with many senior and very senior officers (air rank +). I never had any problems whatsoever on this issue, and when on one of my last trips, I had to fail a Wg Cdr on his FHT (don't think that had happened before) my boss and the station commander backed me to the hilt, though they did ask me for a full and detailed trip debrief. Even the Wg Cdr later bought me a drink in the bar, he agreed with my decision !

Rank is irrelevant and any pilot of any rank, but particularly senior and VSOs should be well aware that the captain is nominated in the auth. sheets.

The captain IS always nominated before the flight and that remains so for the duration, except when as airline training captains, we were authorised by our company ops. manual , if neccesary, to assume command. Never did.
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Old 16th Sep 2015, 10:39
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Although not an interesting story, I thought I would help to avoid perpetuating stereotypes by saying that my experiences of flying with senior officers have been entirely positive. Even the ones most likely to pose a problem (i.e. those qualified or previously-qualified on type) have been totally respectful of my captaincy, from 'lowly' squadron commanders all the way up to 4*. The very best ones seem to have a habit of professing a lack of practice before demonstrating wonderful handling or systems management skills. The times, they have a-changed.
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Old 16th Sep 2015, 10:57
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Conversely, as a very young Nimrod Eng, I had ACM Sir Peter H (then CAS) in the left hand seat, with my Flt Cdr in the RHS. Throughout the seven hours that were mainly spent below 500ft, I was continually warning CAS of his height, speed and bank angle departures. As he left the flight deck when we delivered him to Brize, he thanked me "for looking after him". I learned about nagging pilots from that and never looked back!!
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Old 16th Sep 2015, 11:01
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Not me but a great friend who I still keep in touch with had an interesting trip in a JP3 with our RCAF Flight Commander.

After climbing to above 18,00ft the Flt Cdr collapsed. My friend told him to stop buggering about, tripped his regulator to high flow and started a rapid descent. At about 10,00ft the instructor came round , b0ll0cked my mate and insisted they climb back up whereupon he collapsed again. Repeat actions had the same effect so the student told his Flight Commander that he was assuming the captaincy and returning to base.

The instructor interfered with the approach causing a very low approach onto the southerly runway at Syerston (nearly caused them to crash into the bank of the Trent). Instructor was whisked off to Sick Quarters.

Next day said instructor came into the students crew room and publicly apologised to the student. I think we all appreciated that. I am not sure if I would have had the balls to tell my Flight Commander that I was relieving him of the captaincy!


All caused by a failed Oxygen Regulator.

Last edited by ACW418; 16th Sep 2015 at 11:06. Reason: Update
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Old 16th Sep 2015, 13:53
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Seem to recall from an FS Course sometime that Wg Cdrs and above are involved in 30% of flying but 50% of accidents/incidents. (Can't remember the exact figures, but you get the picture.)

The general points on captaincy above are of course correct, however there can be exceptions. One recalls during the CFS(H) Course student mutual practices (both studes captain qualified in both seats) the handling pilot was designated captain, even if control was passed many times during the sortie. Don't know if that were true on FW, but rotary sorties didn't easily lend themselves to "your 30 mins then my 30 mins."

Haven't flown with CFS(H) for 12 years+, so don't know if it is still so.
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Old 16th Sep 2015, 14:24
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Back in the late Fifties I was a flight lieutenant QFI on Long Nose Lincoln Mk 31 MR aircraft at Townsville, Australia. A new CO arrived at the squadron and I had to check him out on the Lincoln. He had flown Beaufighters against the Japs during the war and for his troubles he was shot down and ditched. The Jap fighter tried to shoot him up in the water but he ducked under every time the Zero dived on him and the Jap flew away.

He managed to swim to shore and was hidden by friendly natives. He was in the process of building a canoe to paddle to Australia (he was optimistic for sure) when a hostile native snitched on him and the Japs grabbed him and he became a POW.

Anyway, there he was back in the RAAF after the war and about to take over the squadron as a Wingco. He was a real action man with a bushy moustache and didn't suffer fools gladly. On completion of his Lincoln conversion I did his instrument rating which he stuffed up.

I broke the news to him rather apprehensively as we taxied back. He interrupted my apologetic stammerings with "What you are trying to tell me, flight lieutenant, is that I failed the bloody instrument rating test."

"Yessir" I replied. Adding that he needed a little more practice and he should then be OK.

"Book me in for two hours practice with you tomorrow" he said and went back to his office. We did the practice and he had improved and passed the test a few days later.

A few days later I was summoned to his office and told to book him in for another instrument rating test. Being nonplussed I asked him why. "Just do it, flight lieutenant" he said.

We "did it" the next day and he flew like a charm even on unusual attitudes on limited panel under the hood.

"How did I go" he said on completion of the second "test." Very good Sir, I said.

"Well are you bloody well satisfied now" he said through his bushy moustache. "Yessir" said I.

With that , he bought me a drink after work that day. His name was Cy Greenwood OBE, AFC who after being repatriated after the war became CO of the Australian contingent during the Berlin Airlift.
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Old 16th Sep 2015, 20:22
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When I was a C130 co-pilot we were flying across the Carribean, the ITCZ was very active & there were a great many CBs around. The radar was not really playing & as it was night we could only see them when they were lit up by lightning. The Nav, who happened to be the Sqn Boss, was adamant that he could see enough on his radar screen to guide us through. He was very much the 'press-on' type & was trying to get the route back on schedule as we'd been late departing the UK due to fog. The Flt Lt Capt was wavering & looking to go back to our point of departure as all he could see on his radar was mush but the Boss made it perfectly clear that he would not be happy turning around so we pressed on. The Nav's avoiding actions got larger & larger until we inevitably ended up in a CB - it was pretty horrendous, severe turbulence & icing, the cockpit lit by St Elmo's Fire, the instrument panel a blur & IAS fluctuating in the up & down draughts by 60kts with steady power. I expected the ac to come apart at any moment. Somehow we were spat out into clear air and the Nav gave us a heading back away from the CBs. The rest of the sortie was flown in almost complete silence.

Any lingering doubts that I had perhaps over-dramatised events were swept away when the Boss said in the party room after we'd landed: 'I suppose you're going to tell all the other co's that I tried to kill you?' The Capt apologised to me the next morning saying, 'Sorry you nearly died so early in your tour'. The Capt was a mild-mannered chap, the Boss a rather belligerent character who was well known to exact revenge on those who he felt had crossed him on even the slightest thing.

Since then I have flown with a great many pilots & Navs of varying ranks up to 4* but have never again encountered such an unhealthy dynamic. Some of the more SOs have occasionally required tactful handling but at the end of the day they've all accepted that I was the Capt & the one in current flying practice.
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Old 16th Sep 2015, 20:56
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Do I not not recall a hiccup when HRH was flying?
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Old 16th Sep 2015, 23:23
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Ther's no gradient - Just do what I tell You!

But Seriously,
As a Flt Lt duty Auth, (AKA Flight safety filter) that's how I saw it anyway. I stopped Wg Cdr OC Ops flying by refusing to auth him (twice) he had rushed, agitated, up to the Sqn with just enough time to sign the book and go. I considered no time for adequate planning, briefing,etc was a hazard and told him so. The result was he grumped off and, by a rather tentative phone call, I immediately informed my boss who backed me as did the Stn Stn Cdr. Strangely, I was programmed to fly a 2 hr detailed training profile with said OC Ops a week later. A thoroughly professional if a little quiet sortie.
Re the last post I drove HRH around in the back of the cab once. An aide asked where H would be sitting. "certainly not driving" I replied" the look I got let me know I might be soon visiting the Tower Dungeon.

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