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Pacific Blue pilot charged with endangering safety

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Pacific Blue pilot charged with endangering safety

Old 30th Apr 2011, 21:43
  #41 (permalink)  
e28 driver
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Good to see all the black and whiters here, specially those of you posting from the comfort of your (corporate) armchair. A fleet manager of mine once told me that the ops manual is written in black and white, but the world isn't black and white. He said he would like to see the principle of the SOP observed, if not the letter. Perhaps this pilot's judgement was that in the conditions he could return to the field visually within 26 minutes without jeopardising anyone's safety.

An example of blind adherance to the rules; a busy U.K. regional airport with the main runway being resurfaced. A notam is issued stating that a section of about 60 meters in the middle of the runway has not yet been grooved and therefore should be considered slippery when wet. Some bright spark (base captain I believe) from a well known U.K. based regional operator decides that the runway must be treated as slippery when wet is announced on the atis which precludes it's turboprop aircraft from landing on it with any more than a 5 knot crosswind. So all the other airlines (including B.A.) continue to land on it after rain whilst the other airline causes minor mayhem by insisting on landing and departing from the cross runway which has no approach aids. Were the rest of us risking our passengers and our own lives or were we just making a sensible interpretation of the rules.

Of course if you don't want pilots to think at all then just punish us for all infractions of the rules/SOPs/Air Navigation Orders and see where we end up.

Last edited by TDK mk2; 1st May 2011 at 08:55.
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Old 1st May 2011, 01:40
  #42 (permalink)  
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I agree with your comments TDK Mk2.

While not wishing to initiate thread drift, I would like to see the debate move from " is he guilty or not ?" to the basic question of whether or not NZQN is suitable for the operation of high performance swept-wing jets.

A company I used to work for initiated RNP approaches and departures in order to avoid the scud-running in days of old. The methodology of the introduction, while found wanting in a number of areas was condoned and eventually approved by the regulator in equipment that could easily be argued to be totally unsuitable for the job.

IMHO NZQN is an accident waiting to happen in a Transport Category jet, and I would like to see informed debate from the pilots who conduct these ops, as to whether or not it is an appropriate jet destination.

Please put aside your company and commercial predudices ( " we have to do it because they do " ) and discuss the appropriate risk management strategies, taking into account weather, terrain, wind, traffic etc.

The Pac Blue flight in question is by no means the first serious incident to occur there, it is simply the one that made the media. For the record, while I don't condone what the PIC did, I can certainly understand the choices he was faced with. There but for the grace ...

Last edited by tpad; 1st May 2011 at 11:22. Reason: spelling
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Old 2nd May 2011, 19:22
  #43 (permalink)  
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How is it called when you work strictly following the rules, with zero "flexibility"? Work to rule or something?

I think that this is what that airline pilots should do. No more "I'll write that on the techlog when we come back" and other things like that.

Rules are there to be followed, right?

If someone accuses them of undercover industrial action, all they have to say is: "Oh, no! We just don't want to go to jail, that's all"
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Old 2nd May 2011, 21:08
  #44 (permalink)  
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How is it called when you work strictly following the rules, with zero "flexibility"? Work to rule or something?
It's called "Italian (Railroad) Strike". No strike but all done by the book. Takes hours to get the train moving from the station, before all regulations have been followed and actions documented.
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Old 2nd May 2011, 21:31
  #45 (permalink)  
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If someone accuses them of undercover industrial action, all they have to say is: "Oh, no! We just don't want to go to jail, that's all"
Exactly. The real issue here from a risk management point of view is not the need for a case study. The real issue is the much broader issue of what role does the criminal law play in airline safety.

My perspective is that criminal charges should only be filed in the most obvious and most egregious cases. Good judges don't necessarily think like good pilots. I don't think passengers want a lawyer on the flight deck; they want someone to fly the plane.

So the question in my mind has never been whether he's 'guilty' or not. The question in my mind has been whether or not his behavior, even if assumed to be wrong, rises to the level of criminal conduct. And if it does, I think that is chilling for decision making and undermines the large goal of getting people safely from A to B.
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Old 9th May 2011, 09:14
  #46 (permalink)  
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The case with surgeons comes to my mind.

Sometimes, doctors kill patients. But, where is the line between a "criminaly negligent doctor" and a doctor who due to a "reasonably human error" killed a person or cut the wrong leg?

The one million dollar question, however, is:

In which cases my management doesn't care if I deviate from procedures and rules and in which ones they will send me to jail?
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Old 9th May 2011, 09:51
  #47 (permalink)  
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In which cases my management doesn't care if I deviate from procedures and rules
The ones where it saves them money & you get away with it, ie. where no one in authority or the public reports it & embarrasses them.

and in which ones they will send me to jail?
The ones when you are caught & management is publicly embarrassed & does not support the pilot in question, coupled with an over zealous regulatory authority, goaded on by politicians, the competition and, to a lessor extent, vocal members of the public.

It is never wise to step outside the rules & procedures to help the company or fare paying public out. They never really appreciate it in the longer term & will drop you like a sack of hot potatoes when the mud starts flying.

It also leads to what is called 'normalised deviance' which is a whole other can of worms, that has been at least partially responsible for a number of accidents over the years.
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Old 9th May 2011, 12:20
  #48 (permalink)  
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Microburst2002 - I think Oakape and MountainBear have got it spot on. There is no need to be flexible with the rules. We should always "work to rule." We are not expected to do otherwise and furthermore, we may be unceremoniously slung from the company if we ignore them. We are paid to be anonymous and if possible work in the "black and white" bits of the rules. We earn our money when they are "grey," don't apply because of weather or malfunctions or would result in what we believe to be against our flight's interest with regards to safety. The important bit is whenever we bust the rules, we do so noisily and create lots and lots of lovely paperwork to justify ourselves.

Regarding technical faults, in the past I've left notes for the next crew regarding minor technical faults but I've now stopped. It doesn't do anyone any good. I now try to write up all faults (even the self clearing ones as 'for info.' items) and let the engineers fix/defer or ground, as appropriate.

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Old 9th May 2011, 12:35
  #49 (permalink)  
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And another couple of questions for 737-800 drivers: What sort of N-1 climb gradient could you achieve with 140 SOB and say three hour's fuel and secondly, at what level would this drop below 3.3% net?

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Old 9th May 2011, 12:43
  #50 (permalink)  
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Ok, sorry, but I couldn't resist the chance....

So now all of the sudden "work-to-rule" is fine as you have seen that it's your neck that is endangered when rules are interpreted with some flexibility.

How about when it's the Atcos doing it? Shame on them, these lazy priviledged good for nothing!

For example next time you ask for a visual approach remember that there are two italian atcos in jail for granting it.

If there is infinite visibility and no cloud or wind forecast for the next ten years and I still refuse your visual approach and force you on the standard published procedure, it may have to do less with the weather and more with our legal environment.

(hmmmm... sorry for the thread drift but it was too good to let that one pass)
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Old 9th May 2011, 12:54
  #51 (permalink)  
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I've never expected ATC to break the rules either. In fact they are the guys who need some real protection from them. For example, how can an ATC guy/girl possibly be responsible for someone's visual approach? How can they be responsible for someone running off the side of a runway or an over-run? If they passed the correct information, it can't be their problem. But when forced to give "bum covering clearances," make sure you do so noisily so pressure can be brought to bear from more than one source.

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Old 9th May 2011, 13:10
  #52 (permalink)  
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For example next time you ask for a visual approach remember that there are two italian atcos in jail for granting it.
Exactly! And as incomprehensible as that level of stupidity & uninformed interference is, that is the way certain factions of both the industry & society seem to be taking us. And if they are intent on taking aviation in that direction, there is not a whole lot we can do about it, except do our best to survive until retirement without a major, life changing 'event'.

When I was younger I used to give a damn. Now I just keep my head down & at the end of each trip I head home to my life. 'Cause my life is 100% outside what I do for a living now. I used to love this business, now I just wish I had done a trade.
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Old 9th May 2011, 14:31
  #53 (permalink)  
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The more information that is posted in this thread the more
obvious becomes that this is a hatchet job. The pilot pissed
somebody in authority off somewhere in his/her career and
that person now has found an excuse to screw him over.
Too bloody right. I've always remembered the words of a wise
old skipper when I was approaching command tng - "solidly
tinplate your arse and NEVER give the bastards a reason to
screw you."

After reading this thread and having heard so many horror
stories in the past of good blokes getting their balls caught
in the wringer, if its not SOP I ask for a dispensation. If it
isn't forthcoming I'm off to the pub.

My full commiserations to that poor 737 bugger.

Mr Mod - I know I've broken my own rule by making a post in R&N (and knowing the risks that entails), but if you
don't like my post for any reason could you just delete it without banning me please? There'll be no fuss my end.

Thank you.
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Old 9th May 2011, 16:45
  #54 (permalink)  
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If you really want to see how to screw pilots over, have a look at the Australian CASA draft of the new Part 91, available on <www.casa.gov.au>.

A most amazing document, nothing to do with aviation safety, quite the contrary.

As a former head of legal at CASA said;"Aviation law is for lawyers and judges, for the safe conviction of pilots and engineers".

Be aware that (amongst many other atrocities) that the emergency authority of the pilot in command has been removed, instead it will be reverse onus of proof to justify anything you did during an emergency ----- in complete contrast to ICAO, FAA and existing Australian rules.

Tootle pip!!
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Old 10th May 2011, 12:25
  #55 (permalink)  
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in complete contrast to ICAO, FAA and existing Australian rules.
I wouldn't be too sure about including the FAA in that... A colleague of mine has been grounded for months now while the FAA prevaricate over his actions in declaring an emergency following a low-fuel light indication (spurious)...
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Old 10th May 2011, 14:56
  #56 (permalink)  
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Sorry to hear that, they must be taking a leaf out of the CASA book.

§ 91.3 Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.

(a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.
(b) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.
(c) Each pilot in command who deviates from a rule under paragraph (b) of this section shall, upon the request of the Administrator, send a written report of that deviation to the Administrator.
The current (pale imitation) version of the above rule FAR 91.3(b) has been removed from new CASA draft Part 91. As I previously posted, the PIC will have to prove justifications for his or her actions after the event, and we all know about Monday morning quarterbacks.

Down here, aviationwise, a good working rule is: "No good deed ever goes unpunished".

International operators note, these rules apply to you in Australian national airspace, ie: inside the 12 mile limit.

Tootle pip!!
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Old 10th May 2011, 22:23
  #57 (permalink)  
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Whats the 12 mile limit?
I thought BN FIR and ML FIR started hundreds of miles out.....does it not apply there?
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Old 17th Jun 2011, 05:17
  #58 (permalink)  
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I've already posted this on another thread. But it might clarify some earlier discussion here.

Flight DJ89 flew the Bowen 3 departure. It is a VOR/DME based departure. It has a visual segment which is about a 250 degree left turn until the initial departure fix known as Tollgate. An aircraft must reach 3800ft by Tollgate. The pilot must maintain own terrain clearance until Tollgate. From this point terrain clearance is provided by the departure procedure.

Lower performing aircraft will generally have a higher altitude requirement for the initial departure fix. For some aircraft operators this is weight dependant. Other operators use one altitude that will always work. In the case of Jetstar A320s this altitude was 4000ft.

If an aircraft is unable to depart they will generally attempt an alternate departure or manoeuver visually to land. The tracking to return to the runway is undefined, but a lower figure-8 circuit will generally be used if it suits. (Not all departures follow the figure-8 pattern, but the Bowen3 does). There is no requirement to return to land in the event of an engine failure if the aircraft is able to reach set heading.

On this particular evening the pilot was very confident he could reach the set heading altitude. He was observed easily reaching this altitude by Tollgate. At this point he was still visual.

Contrary to statements in the media, the aircraft was never operating under the Visual Flight Rules. It was at all times an IFR flight! The tower was on watch until the published time of 0600.

ECT at Queenstown on the evening was 0544z. This is based on Aerodrome specific charts rather than the area charts published in the AIP. (AD specific charts are on the Airways IFIS website).

Pacific Blue has a company requirement to depart Queenstown 30 prior to ECT. It is not an aerodrome requirement. Business jets and local operators often operate until ECT.

The aircraft was airborne at approximately 0525z. 20min before ECT. The pilot was actually ready for departure earlier but waited for a lull in the wind.

Previously a significant front of weather had passed through the field. This was the reason the flight was delayed. By the time of the departure there was only light rain. As is very common at Queenstown a low band of cloud had built up around the frankton arm/township area, around 1000ft agl.

The controllers reported that this layer was more extensive, however the tower’s view of the departure area is obscured by Deer Park. The pilot stated that cloud in the area had dissipated and was suitable for departure. He was only now concerned with the crosswind. The pilot’s assessment of the cloud proved more accurate.

When the aircraft departed it levelled out under the layer of cloud in the Frankton Arm. (It did not descend as reported). Reaching Kelvin Heights golf course the aircraft resumed climbing and followed the published visual segment to Tollgate where it was still visual.

The reports made to the CAA were made by the general public. Neither the control tower nor Pacific Blue filed an incident report.

Pacific Blue does not fly RNP procedures at Queenstown. They are the only remaining jet operator not RNP certified. As such the general public is not used to seeing jets operating at lower levels, flying the visual segments of these IFR departures.

Air traffic controllers have no authority to deny a clearance to an IFR flight based on weather conditions. (They can deny a VFR clearance).
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Old 17th Jun 2011, 06:52
  #59 (permalink)  
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Thanks for that.
So am I right in saying that the cloud you talk of at 1000ft was in front of and to the right of them as they rolled, and that they levelled off below it, turned left at the golf course and resumed a normal climb visually to tollgate?
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Old 17th Jun 2011, 09:09
  #60 (permalink)  
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Yep 5coffee pretty much summed up the events surrounding this departure. All quite routine really and a non event.
A vexatious prosecution by NZCAA - I hope it costs them plenty in court cost and damages
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