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Helicopter missing in the Mourne Mountains, & tributes to AJ

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Helicopter missing in the Mourne Mountains, & tributes to AJ

Old 22nd Feb 2012, 07:50
  #221 (permalink)  

 
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SASless - I hear you, but AJ had a lot of time in the province and could be expected to know where those mountains were, with or without navigation systems. We ought to get the public away from this idea that just because there's a machine in the cockpit you have to obey it. How many times have I had surveyors in the back "navigating" with a GPS where good map reading has told me they were way out.

it would be a good argument with a counsel, that's for sure.

As for freelancers, they don't have the "master and servant" protection that an employee would have, such as it is in modern times. Public liability insurance would be a good step, as would making yourself into a limited company.

Phil
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Old 22nd Feb 2012, 08:51
  #222 (permalink)  
 
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Side Comment:

As a (related) side comment and following SAS's 'word to the wise' this episode with AJ highlights one of the potential and unique 'pressures' of corporate flying.

Corporate drivers (for the most part) get ribbed for what many perceive as earning an 'easy buck' and in some cases this is indeed so. Everything has its place though and I've always believed that corporate assignments are ideal as a pre-retirement placement in which the client benefits from the driver's experience and the driver gets to enjoy what is usually a less stressful job.

There are however, as mentioned above, some unique pressures which apply to corporate flying and 'persuasion from above' is a bigger challenge than many at first recognise. It echoes what was said earlier about knowing when and being able to .. say no.

In the corporate plank world there was an epic accident in 2001 which strikingly highlighted this challenge.

N303GA was an Avjet-owned GIII which ploughed into the ground just short of the theashold at Aspen in Colorado killing all aboard. 'Pressure' from the client is considered by many to have been a dominant contributing factor to the crash.

For those with the time, a copy of the Accident Report may be found here and makes, as these things always do, for depressing reading.
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Old 22nd Feb 2012, 10:29
  #223 (permalink)  
 
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It is not at all surprising that Mrs Stisted is claiming for her loss as a result of this accident - it is quite normal for any party to do so as a result of an accident of any type, and she will of course be doing so with legal advice.

What is interesting is why she is claiming against the estate of the pilot. I would have expected the aircraft insurance to include adequate public liability cover for the passengers carried. So perhaps either the insurance company are declining to pay out for some reason, or the level of PL cover is insufficient to meet the claim.

The most important thing is that particularly freelance pilots should be very clear who is going to meet any claim in the event of an accident when they are flying an aircraft. Whenever there is loss, there is very likely to be a claim, and given the % of aircraft accidents that are caused by pilot error it is no surprise that the pilot is likely to be sued for negligence. Make sure the insurance of any aircraft you fly covers you for any public liability claims. If it doesn't, maybe you can get your own PL cover. But if no insurance covers you, expect your estate to get sued in the event of an accident.

And finally let's not forget that the most important reason to make sure all documents and legislation is complied with, is that insurance may well be invalidated if it is not!

I'm no expert however, so hopefully we can see some comments from Flying Lawyer here. Assuming he's not involved.
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Old 22nd Feb 2012, 12:35
  #224 (permalink)  
 
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Paco.....whenever these kinds of things happen we all ask ourselves "What Happened?" when we really mean "Could that be me one day?". We see very experienced, well qualified friends, come to a sad end and it reminds us of our own vulnerability.

If this legal proceeding does continue....there shall be some interesting argument in Court. Hopefully, someone will be able to report them to us as it would be very educational reading. I have been involved in similar tribunals as a witness and understand only too well how Counsel can twist words, spin facts, and manipulate data to their advantage.....and make what they are saying sound plausible to the Jury who most times are thick as two short planks when it comes to the matters being discussed. That is where "perception" trumps "fact"....and unless the Judge keeps a close rein on the hearing.....bad Jury decisions can occur.
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Old 22nd Feb 2012, 14:07
  #225 (permalink)  

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Sobering and sad thought that a bereaved family could be forced to give up their home and worldly wealth because of a human error over something in which they took no part or had no personal responsibility for.
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Old 22nd Feb 2012, 14:48
  #226 (permalink)  
 
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Absolutely the Shits.....especially when it is the Law!
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Old 22nd Feb 2012, 15:05
  #227 (permalink)  
 
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UK Press Association, 22nd February 2012

The pilot of a helicopter which crashed killing a friend of the Prince of Wales may have been incapacitated, an inquest has heard.

Anthony Smith, 63, flew into the side of a cloud-shrouded mountain in the Mourne range, Co Down, in October 2010.

The Prince's friend Charles Stisted, 47, chief executive of the Guards Polo Club at Windsor, was a passenger on the flight returning to England after attending an exclusive shooting party at an estate in Co Tyrone.

Construction company businessman and fellow polo player Ian Wooldridge, 52, and experienced pilot Mr Smith, formerly of the RAF and Army with service in Northern Ireland, also died.

Air Accident Investigation Bureau investigator Paul Hannant said the helicopter flew at 150 knots into the mountainside.

"This is part of the mystery, that somebody of that ability and great experience would not take a risk in flying into cloud below the level of the high ground, it is something that you simply do not do," he said. "This is why I have come towards some form of incapacitation but that is a personal view."

A warning system of high ground was turned off. Parts of the aircraft were scattered across a large area of inhospitable mountainside.

No illness was discovered in Mr Smith, although his remains were scattered over a wide area and a full post-mortem examination could not be carried out, a pathologist said.
The Press Association: Helicopter tragedy 'a mystery'

Old Chart Theory

Helicopter pilot may have seen old map - UTV Live News

A chart on the wall at St. Angelo Airport in Enniskillen, where the pilot waited before picking up his passengers, was out of date and may have been produced in 2008, a witness told the Belfast inquest.

He added: "They had their own charts and Mr Smith had a chart that was up to date and he would have known that it was the latest chart."

Lawyer Jonathan Chambers said if Mr Smith had looked at the chart at Enniskillen, he might have believed that the prohibited zone still existed.
~ ~ ~

A lot of rubbish starting to be spouted now and one can expect even more (as mentioned) if this goes to trial.

The only concern should be that of establishing, as accurately as possible, the cause of the crash and its possible future prevention. As for the rest - those seeking recourse need to ask themselves some solid 'life questions'.
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Old 22nd Feb 2012, 15:30
  #228 (permalink)  
 
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A lot of rubbish indeed - but all fodder for the prosecuting counsel to present to an ignorant jury...

The incapacitation theory would explain an awful lot, particularly as the AP was engaged and he hadn't changed HDG/ALT for some 10-12nm. The 2 pax in the rear could easily have been completely oblivious to the pilot slumped in his seat. Or worse still, completely aware.
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Old 28th Feb 2012, 21:25
  #229 (permalink)  
 
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Hi this is Angie's brother, AJ's brother in law. I was at the Coroners Inquest in Belfast which ran for four days with the Jury's narrative verdict on the fifth day. The inquest went into minute detail on all aspects of the accident culminating with a presentation by the AAIB and a summing up by the Coroner. For friends of AJ you might like to know that the Coroner described AJ as "no ordinary pilot but an exceptional pilot", he also said "Captain Smith was highly respected by his colleagues and peers which I consider to be the gold standard by which any professional achievement can be measured". I appreciate that for readers of this blog it is interesting to speculate about what may have happened but the truth is we will never really know. The conclusion reached by the experts, the AAIB, was that some kind of "incapacitation was likely" - knowing AJ and the facts surrounding the case I am of the same opinion. The purpose of the AAIB is to improve aviation safety by determining causes of air accidents and making safety recommendations intended to prevent recurrence. The AAIB didn't make any safety recommendations which means in their expert opinion, nothing about the flight planning , preparation or anything else could have been changed to avoid a recurrence. There has also been a lot of speculation sparked by the Express article. Don't worry Angie is not paying anyone 300,000 and just because claims are made it doesn't make them true or accurate.

Last edited by kitsch; 28th Feb 2012 at 21:38.
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Old 28th Feb 2012, 22:54
  #230 (permalink)  

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Excellent post kitsch ... I do hope that any pending legals do not cause your family too much grief. It sounds like you're pretty grounded and strong.

Cheers

Whirls
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Old 28th Feb 2012, 23:00
  #231 (permalink)  
 
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Ditto to Whirls post Kitsch. Thinking of Angie and family.
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 00:49
  #232 (permalink)  
 
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Nice to hear kitsch. I didn't know AJ personally but as ex AAC I certainly knew of him.
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 11:28
  #233 (permalink)  
 
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I'm an ex Navy pilot, I currently teach RAF pilots and I know Paul Hannant from my time in police aviation. Firstly an inordinate number of pilots across tri service knew AJ. Every single one of them have respect for his professionalism - in my experience this is unique. The bloke was no fool.

What is gathering pace, is the need for current operators (pilots), especially freelance, to acclimatise to the fact that part of them now has to become a lawyer, so they can competently negotiate the minefield that is litigation.
Even the military have reacted (albeit late) by adopting MAA.
Slowly but surely the days of being a pure aviator, are over. Most modern commercial pilots have to be a mixture of:
Admin / accountant / lawyer...to survive.

Paco touches on an example about the a/c nav system.

It is not that there is legislation controlling the use of a nav system, perse; it is the fact that if prosecuting third party can identify a trait that the pilot was 'derelict in their duty' by not utilising said system properly, they will. They will build a picture of unprofessional behaviour which they hope will lead to the balance of probability that the pilots actions contributed to the accident and hence liability exists.

Where has all the fun gone these days.
The ONLY good news to come from this is that AJ died doing what he loved doing. RIP buddy.
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 12:34
  #234 (permalink)  
 
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The ONLY good news to come from this is that AJ died doing what he loved doing
And, having seen the wreckage several times, there may be some consolation in knowing that nobody on board would have known what happened.
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 14:13
  #235 (permalink)  
 
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What is gathering pace, is the need for current operators (pilots), especially freelance, to acclimatise to the fact that part of them now has to become a lawyer, so they can competently negotiate the minefield that is litigation.
There is certainly room for a European asociation to serve freelance drivers to which one might contribute a moderate annual fee in return for being professionally represented in the event of litigation (especially relevant with certain clients).

Where has all the fun gone these days.
TC, you are not alone, several feel this way. The 'fun' in flying (or perhaps one could call it the sense of adventure or freedom) has gone the way of many things in Europe .. into the quagmire which is centralisation, bureaucracy and external control.

As you know, successive generations find it easier to accept that which we may question as they will have been raised with these 'restrictions' largely in place. For them to aspire to the role of a well-coordinated IT specialist versed in administration, law and accounting while conducting perpetual risk assessments, reviewing new policies and flying .. will be quite normal I am sure.

It is, as always, hardest for those who recall a time when things were, how can one describe it, less complicated!
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 14:26
  #236 (permalink)  
 
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Ronaldus Magnus (Ronald Reagan to the unknowing and Liberal Left) said "Freedom is just one generation from extinction.". In time....shy of a new Revolution....there shall be no personal freedom.
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 14:39
  #237 (permalink)  
 
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I enjoy many of SAS's post and now .. SAS the philosopher .. excellent!

Sadly, what he writes is profoundly true.

There was a British author Eric Blair (grandfather to Tony Blair ) who predicted most of what is in evidence today.
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 15:36
  #238 (permalink)  
 
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What a pity his Grandson didn't read it.
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 19:37
  #239 (permalink)  

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There was a British author Eric Blair (grandfather to Tony Blair )
Ha ha ha ... Since when was Tony Blair related to George Orwell I'd just hate to believe that the more gullible on here might believe you.

Cheers

Whirls
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Old 5th Mar 2012, 13:39
  #240 (permalink)  
 
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Sensible advice to fellow helicopter pilots

Helinut has it right. The current environment in which we fly helicopters is, for all sorts of reasons, quite challenging.

When it comes to looking after yourself, one essential thing to do is to ensure that you are insured when you fly someone else's machine.

It is common for the so called deductible/excess/uninsured amount just for hull claims on a 1m machine to be 50k. I have seen it as high as 10% of the hull value. That can be a difficult conversation with the owner/operator after the fact.

When it comes to cover for passengers and third parties (in the air or on the ground), then make sure you as pilot are insured under the owner/operator policy - and that you are satisfied it is for enough cover. For a single/twin turbine (4/5 seats) with an AOC, normal cover in the UK/EU is usually for a policy around the 7.5-10m mark.

As pilots, you should not be having to pay any additional premium, as it is normal practice that if the owner/operator approves you to fly the machine, then you are automatically covered to do so. If in doubt, then check the Tech Log for the Insurance Certificate next time.

So, the daily worrying problem is the hull excess in the event of e.g a hard landing, which few pilots can afford to fund themselves, and to which there is no obvious solution.

The insurance market in the UK for helicopters is a duopoly, where the many do not pay for the few.
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