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LHR Inebriated DL Pilot Sentenced to Six Months

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LHR Inebriated DL Pilot Sentenced to Six Months

Old 30th Jan 2011, 03:56
  #61 (permalink)  
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particularly the Captain of the Exxon Valdez
Ah yes, lets give the drunk Captain a kicking. The fact that his state of sobriety had absolutely nothing to do with the accident, but everything to do with Exxon policy seems to be beside your point. Nothing but a scapegoat, which is typical when managerial failings come to the fore.

Investigative journalist Greg Palast in 2008 "Forget the drunken skipper fable. As to Captain Joe Hazelwood, he was below decks, sleeping off his bender. At the helm, the third mate never would have collided with Bligh Reef had he looked at his RAYCAS radar. But the radar was not turned on. In fact, the tanker's radar was left broken and disabled for more than a year before the disaster, and Exxon management knew it. It was [in Exxon's view] just too expensive to fix and operate." Exxon blamed Captain Hazelwood for the grounding of the tanker. Other factors, according to an M.I.T. course entitled "Software System Safety" by Professor Nancy G. Leveson, included:

1. Tanker crews were not told that the previous practice of the Coast Guard tracking ships out to Bligh reef had ceased.
2. The oil industry promised, but never installed, state-of-the-art iceberg monitoring equipment.
3. Exxon Valdez was sailing outside the normal sea lane to avoid small icebergs thought to be in the area.
4. The 1989 tanker crew was half the size of the 1977 crew, worked 12−14 hour shifts, plus overtime. The crew was rushing to leave Valdez with a load of oil.
5. Coast Guard tanker inspections in Valdez were not done, and the number of staff was reduced.

From the NTSB - The Safety Board considers the reduced manning practices of the Exxon Shipping Company generally incautious and without apparent justification from the standpoint of safety. The financial advantage derived from eliminating officers and crew from each vessel does not seem to justify incurring the foreseeable risks of serious accident. Regarding company manning practices that related to the EXXON VALDEZ, the Safety Board does not believe that the Exxon Shipping Company showed sufficient regard for the known debilitations that occur as a result of crewmember fatigue. Furthermore, the Safety Board could find no reasonable explanation for the following: the absence of company programs to ensure that crewmembers observed hours - of - service regulations ; the lack of procedures to ensure that at least one rested deck officer , in addition to the master, was available for watch at departure; the practice of rating a crewmember’s performance in part according to willingness to work overtime, thus giving an incentive to work an excessive number of hours; and the indiscriminate increase in work loads and standby time throughout the fleet before and after the grounding of the EXXON VALDEZ.

The Exxon Seamen's Union officials testified during depositions that the
sea passages for voyages between Alaska and California were not long enough for conducting necessary maintenance or permitting thorough crew rest between the around-the-clock demands of cargo handling in port. When the current minimum crew requirements were established for the EXXON VALDEZ, the vessel had been scheduled for the Valdez-Panamanian trade. But that trade was discontinued after December 1988, and the EXXON VALDEZ then began operating regularly between Valdez and ports in California. The mates on the EXXON VALDEZ were usually fatigued after cargo handling operations in Valdez, and the vessel usually put to sea with a fatigued crew.

Re the Captains alcohol issues Exxon failed again. From the NTSB - The Exxon alcohol policy directive in effect during 1985 when the master
underwent treatment instructs supervisors to refer to the medical department employees whose job performance is unsatisfactory owing to the perceived use of alcohol. In this case, the master’s supervisor was apparently unaware that the master had an alcohol dependency problem prior to his hospitalization . Upon learning of his dependency problem, his supervisor, according to Exxon procedures, was supposed to have referred his case to the medical department. The personnel documents provided by Exxon showed t hat a followup treatment program was recommended by the attending physician at the hospital . While it is documented that the master was given a 90-day leave of absence, no documents were provided to establish that this recommended outpatient treatment program was followed or that his progress was monitored by management. Nor does the Exxon medical department appear to have contacted the hospital where he received in - patient treatment. The lack of records suggests that no guidance, advice, or information was provided by Exxon management or the Exxon medical department to the master’s supervisor.

Furthermore, no one in the Exxon management structure seems to have consulted an expert on alcoholism about the following issues: the kind of support the master would need when he resumed his work, the kind of supervision and monitoring he would need, the chances that he would resume drinking , the signs that might indicate that he had resumed drinking , and the kind of assignments he could perform without risking his sobriety . The president of Exxon Shipping Company testified that the master “thought he was the most scrutinized employee in the company.” If this scrutiny did take place, written records either do not exist regarding his supervision and evaluations during this period or the records have not been provided, except one that was constructed from memory after the grounding. Furthermore, the solitary nature of a master‘s job is not conducive to monitoring; thus, visits to his vessel during short port calls are not likely to have been very effective in determining whether the master was abstaining from alcohol. Some personnel performance records (evaluations) were unsigned; thus, their authenticity could not be established. It must be surmised from the absence of information that the EXXON management and the medical department were unprepared or unwilling to deal with an alcoholic master and made insufficient effort to become informed or knowledgeable regarding the problems of an alcoholic and the rate of recidivism even under the most ideal conditions. As is well known, a carefully constructed support system that
includes frequent, continuous interaction with the support system is
necessary to prevent an alcoholic from returning to alcohol abuse. In
contrast, it is reasonable to assume that if Exxon had a technical problem,
such as an auto pilot failure, with one of its vessels, either the problem
would be assigned to an expert within the Exxon company structure or an outside consultant would be hired to solve the problem. Considering the
investment Exxon had made in the master, the potential cost of a marine accident in terms of human loss or environmental damage as a result of having an alcohol-impaired master, and the lack of oversight documentation, it can be concluded that the Exxon corporate management demonstrated inadequate knowledge of and concern about the seriousness of having an alcohol-impaired master. The Safety Board concludes that Exxon should have removed the master from seagoing employment until there was ample proof that he had his alcohol problem under control.

Once again it's a case of management asleep at the wheel. Procedures in place, but management sees fit not to follow. Interesting that they always attempt to document compliance post event.
Brian Abraham is offline  
Old 30th Jan 2011, 09:24
  #62 (permalink)  
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As the jury here is still out, and the Pilot has already been sentenced as per the existing laws, one still needs to ponder whether it was a one-off incidence of alcoholism (binging for some reason, though highly unlikely) or is he an alcoholic? In case of the latter, he shall need help - deaddiction and rehabilitation. As a psychiatrist friend of mine advised long back: alcoholism needs to be seen as an illness, like any other, which needs to be treated, without any biases and prejudices.
Here I am not defending the pilot, just stating a POV. For effect of alcohol, please check out Ah! Piloting in the arms of Bacchus | Aviation Medicine :: Aerospace Medicine
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Old 30th Jan 2011, 11:28
  #63 (permalink)  
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Dear 63 year old Shell Management .. aka "Disgusted" of the Hague
It seems you don't fly for a living, otherwise you wouldn't be advocating giving those awfully nice airport security people more power than they already have. The mandate to accuse pilots who they suspect might have been drnking would cause a bit of friction between us, I suspect.
They are not qualified to make a judgement, and some of them are only just qualified to search my flight bag.
If the incarcerated pilot is an alcoholic, he needs help, not hang em and flog em idiots like you mouthing off.
Have you ever been gatso'd for speeding ... say 34 in a 30 limit ?
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Old 30th Jan 2011, 11:36
  #64 (permalink)  
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My family is prone to obesity, myself included. If I open my mouth and eat what I want I will be big as a house. If I exercise and eat right I can control it. Is this a disease as well?
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Old 30th Jan 2011, 11:39
  #65 (permalink)  
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With the very greatest of respect, the way to avoid extra layers of checks is for your colleagues and you not to be caught over the limit.

It is apparent that only a tiny proportion of professional pilots are caught, but in this modern society, there will be many who ask "is it only because the checks are not tough enough to catch more?" Some may reasonably say that the vast majority do not transgress, but a quick look back over the past 20 years shows that 'knee jerk' reaction is very much in vogue.

You have been warned.
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Old 30th Jan 2011, 12:37
  #66 (permalink)  
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By this statement, are you advocating that it is acceptable for a pilot to operate an aircraft illegally, when over the legal limit by a considerable margin - and not face the ramifications of their actions?
No, he clearly is not advocating that.
Help for his alcoholism YES, but immunity to prosecution - NO WAY!
That is a distortion of what SID said.

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Old 30th Jan 2011, 12:42
  #67 (permalink)  
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Exactly we need accountability not apology. Treatment is great but if you turn up to fly drunk their need to be consequences.

A liberal no-blame, tolerate anything cultuire just leads to unprofessional behaviour and accidents.

Brian A has neatly showed that the airlines need an effective system to prevent drunk pilots reporting for duty. Clearly this airline failed like Exxon did.

SID PLATE So what would you do if your co-pilot was under the influence? Run the risk or run them in?
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Old 30th Jan 2011, 17:13
  #68 (permalink)  
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Brian A has neatly showed that the airlines need an effective system to prevent drunk pilots reporting for duty. Clearly this airline failed like Exxon did.

Easy solution to that:

Breathalyse them before they get on the aircraft.
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Old 30th Jan 2011, 18:36
  #69 (permalink)  
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Easy solution to that:

Breathalyse them before they get on the aircraft.
This has already started in India:

Breath test for all pilots

TNN, Jan 15, 2011, 06.35am IST

CHENNAI: Reporting for duty after consuming alcohol is going to be extremely risky for pilots hereafter, as airlines have started doing pre-flight breath tests on pilots of all departing flights as part of Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) instructions to make such tests compulsory.

Earlier, such tests were conducted randomly. Now, with the procedure being made mandatory, airlines have to make an additional investment on the automatic Alco Sensor machines, as per DGCA specification.

Sources said Air India and Jet Airways have started testing all their pilots from the first week of January. As the tubes used to test pilots and cabin crew are disposable, airlines have started bulk-ordering the tubes...
Breath test for all pilots - The Times of India
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Old 30th Jan 2011, 18:40
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Careful with the mouthwash then, guys and girls...
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Old 30th Jan 2011, 20:27
  #71 (permalink)  
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The same in Russia too.
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Old 30th Jan 2011, 20:54
  #72 (permalink)  
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Most pilots are paid well enougth to be professional already.
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Old 30th Jan 2011, 22:20
  #73 (permalink)  
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Shell Management
Most pilots are paid well enougth to be professional already.
So were the oil industry managers who allowed the safety shortcuts that contributed to Exxon Valdez and the Gulf spill.
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Old 30th Jan 2011, 22:24
  #74 (permalink)  
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Heliport is offline  
Old 30th Jan 2011, 23:02
  #75 (permalink)  
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Kick him into touch.
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Old 31st Jan 2011, 00:52
  #76 (permalink)  
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My GP says yes - and it is becoming conventional wisdom in New Zealand
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Old 31st Jan 2011, 05:36
  #77 (permalink)  
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It is a medically proven fact that addiction is a disease of the brain.
Can you provide a link to this "medically proven fact"? I think you are confusing theory and fact.

Edited to add:

I'd also be very interested in how you know that this particular pilot is and alcoholic rather than a non-alcoholic who had drunk enough to put them over the limit.

Last edited by etrang; 31st Jan 2011 at 07:54.
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Old 31st Jan 2011, 07:43
  #78 (permalink)  
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In the 1990's when drug and alcohol testing was introduced in the Uk sector of the North Sea some bright spark, I believe from one of the oil companies decided that pilots should have an alcohol level less than the engineers working on the aircraft. The company I flew for decided that was b******s and put the same level on for all staff, be they pilot, engineer, check-in or accounts clerk.

A positive drugs and alcohol testing policy requires a great deal of commitment from all parties. I was a union rep at the time and was amazed at the help programme the company had to sign up to, basically it protected everyone. Someone who failed a test had to be given every opportunity to sort themselves out at the employer's expense. I only know of one failure (not aircrew or engineer) and the full resources were used.

We were taken to the testing facility and given the full tour, all of us left feeling that the whole programme was for our own good.

Any form of addiction is awful (my own father was an alcoholic who died tragically young) and it can ruin the lives of familly and friends as well as the victim. The poster who described alcoholism as "self inflicted" is apparently ignorant of how it can start, I just wonder how many colleagues reading this thread suspect they may have a problem, or even know that they do. To them I give my best wishes and hope that they can win.

As for the pilot this thread is about, turning up over the limit for work was stupid and the penalty is being paid, but how many of us truly know the stuggle to keep going that goes on inside every addict.
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Old 31st Jan 2011, 08:49
  #79 (permalink)  
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Sir Niall Dementia:

Any form of addiction is awful (my own father was an alcoholic who died tragically young) and it can ruin the lives of familly and friends as well as the victim. The poster who described alcoholism as "self inflicted" is apparently ignorant of how it can start, I just wonder how many colleagues reading this thread suspect they may have a problem, or even know that they do.
The addiction is not self-inflicted, but often addicts cross over the line when under the influence. More often than not, only a forceful intervention can stop the progession to destruction. The drunk who gets behind the wheel has become a criminal. The pilot who shows up at the airport in uniform over the threshold limit must be stopped before he commits a criminal act. At the point termination is appropriate.
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Old 31st Jan 2011, 17:26
  #80 (permalink)  

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Flying Lawyer,

With due respect to whom I'm talking to and their expertise in the field...

For some reason, in threads of this nature, posters who suggest that imprisonment is too harsh a punishment and/or not the appropriate way to deal with a pilot found to be over the limit are invariably accused of defending the pilot's actions.
Is that because their posts make it seem like (at the time) "rehabilitation only" instead of "punishment + rehabilitation"?

It is easy to forget the requirement for that (other) component of justice when arguing in the third person....hence, the suggestion I made to "personalise" the matter and ascertain whether or not this changes anything....from the POV of the contributors?

Whether or not pilots caught over the limit should be sent to prison, it's silly to trivialise/under-estimate the enormous impact of being imprisoned upon people who have never associated with criminals and have not previously been in trouble.
The comment was made in the same vein as the post to which it made reference. Curiously, this post has been deleted, by whom, I am not sure?

Having lived with an alcoholic for many years, it was not my intention to trivialise the matter.
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