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Use of low time pilots slammed

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Use of low time pilots slammed

Old 8th May 2011, 09:30
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...........actively discourages its crews from manual flying even on a beautiful sunny day. And these blokes are the captains of the future...
Captains of the Past.

teaching young Microsoft experienced whizz kids towards the end of my career, one of my colleagues remarked that the wheel had turned full circle.

Do you remember, he said, some of those ex WWII captains when we started with the airlines, couldn't fly an instrument approach to save their lives ( literally, I could tell you some hair-raising tales of NDB approaches attempted in those times ! ) but drop out of cloud too fast, not configured, chasing the ADF needle, but say - the runway's over there Sir, ( never forgetting the Sir ) and they would immediately settle down, straighten up and hand fly an immaculate visual approach and landing, whereas this present lot can fly an instrument approach better than we ever could, or probably ever will, but drop out of cloud perfectly positioned, everything in order, and they lose it in the final few feet, as they can't connect a real aeroplane to the real ground.

Too true - what are they gonna do when it all turns to custard - and it will, one day.

Not so long ago gave a 14 yr. old a Trial Flight in the microlight ( advanced, LSA if you prefer ) and I got out and staggered to the club bar and demanded a drink, said I wouldn't send him solo, but I'd give him an instrument rating.

Height, heading, speed control etc absolutely spot on, amazing, but then I realised that he was an experienced Microsoft Flight Sim. practitioner. Got my own back a few lessons later, you don't fall off the chair when you stall a computer game !!

Glad to say he went on to be the youngest licensed microlight pilot in the Country on his 16th birthday, and is now Multi-eng. Inst. rated and looking for his first job.
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Old 8th May 2011, 09:59
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Spot on Cosmo Kramer

Hand in hand with experience is confidence. Encourage someone to hand fly the plane and they'll surprise themselves.
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Old 8th May 2011, 10:15
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300 hour pilots affect safety

When you have guys with 200 hours and also do not have the standard of language proficiency poor on the radio with standard phraseology , and are flying old aircraft.

They will learn and there are competent 200 hours guys of course.

In Europe and Vueling they have the low time to save costs and cheaper easier to manipulate pilots while experienced A 320 pilots are flying in Asia and the middle east making more more money there, pathetic.

Safety the number one priority ?

It is more stressful and work to be constantly training these guys even after they have been realesed on the line.

It is revolting how the airlines hire guys while they experienced pilots with time do not get even an answer on thier resume.

Under certain conditions you may have a contributing factor to an accident

Last edited by Hannibalpower; 8th May 2011 at 10:57.
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Old 8th May 2011, 10:57
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All the above was interesting reading, but consider this.....NZ and Australia both have a lot of experienced third level pilots with extensive IFR and multi engine experience. On top of that, there are many NZ/Aussie pilots working for overseas airlines who would probably love to be able to return to their home country...in other words, there is NO SHORTAGE of experienced pilots.
The problem is that Jetstar (particularly Jetstar NZ) are not prepared to pay the "market rate" for an experienced pilot.
They have been turned down by many pilots because the conditions on offer are below that of even the local turboprop operators. The cadet scheme is there for one reason, and one reason only...cost.
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Old 8th May 2011, 11:24
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Originally Posted by sundownbettertakecar
SLFs...is it better to travel on an airline with pilots with only 200+ hours or fly on one with fake pilots onboard? No brainer?
I'd rather travel on an airline that recruits its pilots on the basis of their ability to fly, not their ability to pay.

I'd rather be flown by pilots who choose to stay in their job because they're paid a decent living wage, than by pilots who have to stay in their job because they're shackled by an ongoing bond.

And I'd rather fly with an airline that penalises crew who bust minimums, rather than with an airline that penalises crew who make costly diversions.

Sadly I suspect that most SLF's would rather travel with the airline that sells the cheapest tickets
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Old 8th May 2011, 11:46
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Sillert V 1
Think you are wrong regarding SLF.

Most people are frightened of flying and would like to minimize the risks.

Unfortunately it is very difficult for the public to discover the truth of what goes on in the industry.

My old company developed a low cost carrier and I witnessed several scenes where yanks refused to board an egg beater for the final leg of their journey.

In the states they knew about the safety record of regional carriers.

I've used three major carriers to fly to Dubai - although one is a lot cheaper I will NOT use them again due to safety concerns.

But I do use one of the budget carriers in europe with few qualms - except I don't trust the relationship between them and the regulatory authority (from personal experience).
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Old 8th May 2011, 22:57
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The problem with super low cost carriers is they lower their standards so the 200 hr guys can pass so they don't have to pay much for pilots. When I got tested for a job I flew an Electra simulator that I had never been in before and did three approaches with one, two and three engines failed. I felt very happy to get the job even though the job was a B737 and that was the only sim they had. They just wanted to know if you could fly.

I retired after the name changed and later we got bought by a major carrier so had a wonderful career. We had very high requirements and had all been captains in jets before being hired and lots of time. Lowering standards to hire low time pilots only makes sense to the bean counters in management.

I don't care how automatic the airplanes now are, we need competent pilots flying them. You are not competent with 200 hrs.

Sometimes the captain doesn't have time to baby sit you if things go wrong and would like some help.
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Old 9th May 2011, 01:33
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After wasting over an hour reading this entire thread.....someone nails it.
Sure, we all have flown "single pilot" before. This is made better when you have someone who can talk and squawk for you.

No matter how afraid the public may be....if they had any idea the pilot (?) in the right seat had a scant 200...even 300 hours, they would surely take a train, boat or bus.

The problem is the carrier who is allowed to do this anyway.

There are educated people who can even resemble a competent pilot with only 2-300 hours.

.....just pisses me off that I had to jump through hoop after hoop in the interest of safety. Oh, but that does not matter any more. Flying is non-essential to being a pilot.
Come on guys...how can this go on?

If indeed there are so few pilots that such low time is overlooked....then at least the training could be targeted to help them overcome the age-old catch-22.

Things are different now for sure. BUT....one accident with one of these guys expecting the Captain to save his butt (plus his own) will fix it.
(except in India)
There, they not only hire 200-300 hour "pilots"....but they have more P-51 time than Chuck Yeager and pay for the license under the table.

A blind man man swinging his seeing eye dog over his head is not just having a look around. He is abusing a dog. It is what it is. A spade is a spade.

Becoming a pilot is expensive. Experience is priceless.

Why do F-1 drivers wear the yellow helmet for a few years?
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Old 9th May 2011, 02:00
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What if Sully landed in the Hudson with one of these kids? He was good enough to do it himself but his FO made sure they did all the checklists they had time for to make the Hudson arrival safely with the time left. Not all captains are as sharp as Sully. I always let my captains have command of his aircraft when I was an FO but never let them do anything dangerous. A couple of times I wanted to do a visual approach in marginal conditions and the FO felt uncontfortable about it so did the whole approach. That is how it should be done. Safety before expediency.
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Old 9th May 2011, 06:22
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A37575, you were the captain and it wouldn't have been problem for you to say. "Son, it's cavok, it's your leg and I wan't to see you perform a visual approach - Periode. If you have a problem I'll guide you and help you."
Chance is that the guy would actually have enjoyed it, learned from it and in the process gained respect from you. You missed out on that opportunity.
Spot on Cosmo Kramer
I'm sorry guys, but with an attitude like this -
He snapped back saying since it was his leg, would I let him make his own decisions thank you very much - and that he had already programmed the instrument procedure in the FMC.
I doubt he would have enjoyed or learnt anything.

Some people have a professional attitude & are always looking to learn -from anybody. Right through to retirement.

Others have a different attitude & every comment is taken as a direct attack on them & their ability. You generally only offer suggestions once to these sorts (twice if you are a sucker for punishment) & then shut-up. Then you watch & wait for the inevitable to occur as no one is infallible, taking over if required & mentally shaking your head at where the industry seems to be headed.

I tried to discuss a complete screw up with one of these sorts once, after we had shut down at the gate. All that happened is that we went round & round in circles as he launched into the blame game & proceded to lay the blame for what happened everywhere else but where it belonged. He would not discuss the technicalities of the approach or the areas where better decisions & different choices would have perhaps resulted in a better operation, no matter how I attempted to address the issues. I eventually decided that I was getting nowhere & gave up.

Some people just don't want to be helped, don't think they need to learn anything & arc up any time you open your mouth.

Then there are others, who seem to think that every flight is a competition & that points will be awarded for every time you manage to show the other fellow up. They take great pleasure in any standard call that they think you have missed (real or not), often leaping in with the call just as you are about to open your mouth. Sometimes you have missed the call, but often you are doing something that is higher on the list of priorities & they end up showing their lack of airmanship by not even being aware of what is more important in the greater scheme of things. I have had an F/O making snide remarks on one occasion about my descent profile, both in the flight deck & on the radio. A descent profile I might add, that resulted in no use of the speed brake & the power coming up at 1,500' on the approach. And no questions after on my decision making & technique so that he could learn why it worked when he obviously thought that it wouldn't. Oh, and no appology either.

There are some huge egos in this business. Perhaps it is just that aviation is one of those professions that is attractive to the egocentric. However, the days when these personality types were needed in commercial aviation are long gone & they are generally more of a menace than a help these days. Unfortunately, they still populate both sides of the flight deck & tend to make life miserable for those who have to fly with them. Hopefully, the relative safety of the business, coupled with good SOP's, will make them more of an irritant than serious threat to flight safety.
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Old 9th May 2011, 08:05
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You are a good observer and you have nailed it.

I hate those guys who say the callouts just before they are due. I think the rule is that if the one who has to make the call out has forgotten (or put lower in the priority list) the other doesn't have to do the call out until it is clear that the call out will be missed.

for instance, if you miss the "one thousand to go" call out, the other shouldn't say before 900 or 800 to go. Not at 1000 or 1100 to go. Then there would not be such "competitions"

These pilots are those who think what someone said here pages ago, that airline pilots are procedure performers as opposed to GA pilots.

No we are not. We are pilots that, on top of all the other things that any pilot has to do and to master, we have to manage a complex machine in a complex environment, interfacing with crewmembers and computers and all these things mean we have to be standard and carry out procedures methodically and thoroughly.

The highly standardized procedures philosophy is complementary o the other skills that pilots require.

What is more important, the 10,000 climbing procedures or answering the ATC, setting the FCU, changing over to the new frequency, etc...? For many, the procedures are first.

What is more important, the 10,000 descending procedures or figuring out what is the implication of the ATC instruction you have just been given taking into account those TCAS traffics which you thougt were meking you number 3 and now it turns out you are number one and looks like you are high on profile and you will need high speed below 10,000 and probably speed brakes, and....? Many will let the airplane get higher and higher while announcing 10 minutes for landing to the cabin crew, rather than do the procedures 15 seconds later with an impecable situational awareness.

These kind of things occur very often during training flights or route checks, where nobody wants to miss a call out or a procedure.
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Old 9th May 2011, 09:33
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Safety, Costs, Profits, Old vs New School trains of thought, Europe, Asia, ME, Pacific......al this aside

Can someone intrduce me to the pilots that were born with unfrozen licence's 1500+ hours etc, and as they came into the world the asimilated the knowledge of all aviators before them?

I was under the impression that its a bit like everything else in life, everyone has to start somewhere, why all the finger pointing at the young guns that want in because they have flying under their skin? Ok so they pay for their training, pay for a type rating etc etc....so what!

Not that long ago, in certain parts of the world a lot of boys and a few girls went to H.M. RAF et-al and flew His/Her planes for a few years because they couldnt get in any other way, then they went and got jobs where thay had to walk ten paces behind the commander and speak only when spoken to, and we have all seen the reports regardig CRM/safety on that on.....and lets face it, globally there is hardly a mass of reports of 200 hours pilots dropping out of the skies daily/weekly are there?

Perhaps if during the 70's/80's and 90's pilots and to an extent cabin crew, had stuck together, without making demands for ever greater pay and terms, and had actually stuck up and maintained something sensible instead of being "the big I am" perhaps things would be a bit more favourable today and the industry would have a true camaradere.....

Just a thought
I'll go back under this stone now
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Old 9th May 2011, 13:19
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RogerClarence, yes, 200 hour pilots are not 'dropping out of the sky' on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. And yes, pilots are sometimes their own worse enemies. But the issue is reduction in safety & most importantly, latent failures.

I'm sure no one would argue that low hours, poor training, fatigue & poor T & C's doesn't lead to a less safe situation. Fortunately the industry is very safe to start with. However, this high level of safety becomes part of the problem. Poor management decisions are rewarded with economic benefits & no penalties in the short term, as the built in safety takes up the slack. This reinforces to the decision maker that his actions were correct, leading to more of the same. Even if management do recognise that a particular decision makes the operation less safe, the problem then becomes indentifying just where the line is, where less safe becomes downright dangerous. And modern management, with little or no aviation experience, are poorly equipped to do this. In an ideal world they would rely on expert advice from flight ops middle mangement, but it is no longer an ideal world. Modern management believe that their skills readily translate from industry to industry & are blissfully unaware of what they don't know about this particular industry.

That being said, I believe that management in general are aware that there is a line they shouldn't cross but, driven by competition & the public's insatiable appetite for a 'bargin' (the public are so driven by this that they have lost all concept of the cost/quality equation), they are actually endeavouring to find just where that line is, so they can run the operation just above it. The problem is that it is in a different place for each operator depending on the equipment, environment, people & culture. And it is so subtle that you generally don't know that you have crossed it until well after the fact, when you have a very serious incident or accident.

The latest issue is that when the above happens, modern 'ostrich' management often don't learn the lesson & neatly shift the blame to the pilots, generally for failing to follow procedures. Procedures that have become so numerous, complex & widely spread among numerous manuals, that very few, if any, pilots would remember or even know all of them. A big thank you to all the company lawyers out there. And if the lesson is not learned, the latent failure/s continue to populate the operation, waiting to strike again.

Back to the point. Generally 200 hour pilots are not the problem. It is the lack of adequate formal training & development, coupled with pushing pilots out asap into a high pressure, high workload & time constrained operating environment, that is the problem. Cost control is the new mantra. As far as mangement is concerned, the regulatory authority has set the minimum & so the minimum has to be safe. And so they don't see the need to spend the money required to have their operation operating above the minimum.

There are still some very talented people coming through, with a high innate sense of airmanship & natural flying ability, who are able to learn fast. They will still do very well over time, despite the difficulties. But the average person often struggles & then gets pushed out into the real world to learn the rest on the job. They then develop coping mechanisims that may not be ideal, such as over reliance on automation, & this can lead to the sort of latent failures that can bite, sometimes years into the future.
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Old 9th May 2011, 15:58
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A pilot allowed to fly in an airliner with just 200 hours should be a talented person, quality controlled and with a good training.

A pilot allowerd to fly in an airliner with just 200 hours should not be just the first who came with the money in the hand.

The firs case is a perfectly safe pilot, if the airline has proper training captains and the ratio of low houred/ high houred pilots is within reason. The best captains I know were 200 hour pilots when they first seat in a 737. The second case is a safety problem which, as Oakape says, is masked by the otherwise very safe nature of air transport.

With such pilot-customers substituting pilot-assets, one of the most important cheese slices is getting filled with holes. This fact will not be apparent until one day the light beam happens to pass all the other slices.
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Old 9th May 2011, 16:34
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Back to the question of the trained monkey factory which breeds the future captains: in those airlines which take primarily cadets, and assess upgrades after 3000hrs, what is the usual failure rate of command courses? I'me aware that most airlines have dropped the 'trapper' attitude and adopted coaching and grooming techniques. However, I still hear that much of the failures are due to lack of situational awareness when multi-tasking; slow decision making to cope with slightly unusual scenarios. We all know that most accidents have had contributions from non QRH items. They need handling with good old fashioned commonsense and understanding. SOP's and following the book will generally get you through a standard day. On command courses those should be a given; but what the course is really trying to find out is how you think outside the box. What are your problem solving skills like as the world wizzes pat at high speed. Can you manage the problem and lead the crew and survive. For me the % failure rate is too high considering the selection process. I am of course assuming that common sense says you only select those you expect to pass. If so, why the number of failures.
Back to the question; what is the average % failure rate?
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Old 9th May 2011, 16:55
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This old chestnut. Talk to me when an incident is caused solely by the fact that the FO has 200 hours.
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Old 9th May 2011, 19:11
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I guess it all depends on the definition of a "good Captain". Superb aircraft handling abilities are one thing, but ability to manage the rest of the flightcrew effectively (which should - importantly - include being able to make corrections to junior pilots without giving them the bum's-rush!) must be paramount.

Originally Posted by blind pew
Britain's worst aviation disaster killed 118, my best friend was in the RHS.
BEA548 happened 6 years before I was born, but nevertheless, I'm sorry to hear that. That accident appalls and fascinates me in equal measure.

Experienced captains! yes certainly had experience on Lancs but some couldn't fly the Trident themselves.
I wasn't there, but I imagine it must have been a different time entirely. The deference shown by all of British society to war veterans must have clashed terribly with the attempts to get a more sustainable personnel situation going, because when you know you're flying with someone who was facing flak over Germany when you weren't even a gleam in your father's eye - how the hell do you contradict them if they're doing something wrong or dangerous?

I mean, I'm sure the Captains had to put up with their fair share of borderline pilots, but the picture I get of that time was that a significant percentage of the "old guard" tended to assume that all the new recruits were seriously lacking and treated them as such. How were they (I guess - you, pew?) supposed to learn in that kind of environment?

Not that I'd suggest all of the "old guard" were like that, I'm sure there were many who were everything a good Captain should be even in this day and age - but I get the impression that there was a significant clash of cultures at that time, and that one's perspective was wholly dependent on the era in which you were born.

Originally Posted by cosmo kramer
"engage the autopilot! autopilot! autop.." End of recording.
In fact, in the case of BEA548 it was the experienced war veteran Captain who tended to engage the autopilot early (see AAIB report).
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Old 9th May 2011, 22:10
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There were some very good ex lancaster pilots but sadly very few in management and in training that I came across in my early days.

The ones that trusted me before the Hamsters got Trident commands were generally post war national service pilots.

One of the first guys to let me land unassisted away from Heathrow (incase I bent the aircraft) was Pete Middleton who was ex Mosquitoes.

One of the first landings I attempted at LHR after my initial training I bounced twice and then got the oxygen masks out and various lights including the control stuck valves. The training captain just laughed and went home. It was an ex Meteor normal line captain - Stan Romaine who patiently spent the next week teaching me how to land.

What I was trusted with was instrument flying and playing with the automatics -although comparatively basic - these tasks were beyond some of the skippers.

We ALWAYS asked the captain if we could take the autopilot out or start the descent - six years I did with that lot of B******ks.
You get less for killing someone in the UK.

Biggest laugh was on my first line trip on The Duck and asked if I could start the descent and three pairs of eyes looked at me as though I was mad.

If you read some of the Papa India report you will find some discrepancies in the testimony and none from the ARB test pilot (Davies)
- whatever some of the guys who were in the training department say I was not properly trained,
I had been told that the ARB would not endorse the 1179,
I knew about configuration stall but we didn't have a written stick push procedure - we had a memory one - dump the system!
We operated the aircraft contrary to the design philosophy - Cunningham.
And not least several captains had tried to off load some of my group - including me - as they believed that we were a dangerous liability.

In perspective Hamble was graduating around 140 cadets per year when the military were graduating ten times that number.
Min entry was A levels against O levels (two years extra high school).
Hamble training was far more comprehensive than RAF and Fleet Air Arm (two of my course mates had thrown in commissions).

So I got to fly passengers around on a THREE crew aircraft with around 250 hours after the best civil aviation school (now disbanded) and I was B*****y dangerous.
We lost at least three aircraft in a couple of years with low time FOs - given two were training - 707 and T2 and I can list loads more accidents with similar factors - Crossair, Buffalo and Cork are recent ones.

And what do the European authorities do?
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Old 10th May 2011, 07:56
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Some people have a professional attitude & are always looking to learn -from anybody. Right through to retirement.
Absolutely. I like to think I am one of them. Mind you, I had a LTC whose reaction to a hard landing with a quartering crosswind on a tricky humpback runway was to launch a tirade while still on the runway that appalled me. My stunned silence was met with a 'You don't take criticism well, do you?!'. Sometimes pilots in training positions really haven't the faintest idea of how to pass on knowledge. I've learned the most from regular line Captains who explain their actions with enthusiasm and good humour.

A pilot allowed to fly in an airliner with just 200 hours should be a talented person, quality controlled and with a good training.
True, but it's clear that most regular posters on pprune believe that very few, if any, of the pilots who fly for the low-co airlines tick these boxes. This snobish view pervades notwithstanding the fact that recruitment into the 'legacy' carriers stalled at precisely the time that the low-co cadet bonanza began. Moreover, there's an assumption that anyone with money is disqualified from having the 'right stuff'. Think about the logic behind that, please!

Then there are others, who seem to think that every flight is a competition & that points will be awarded for every time you manage to show the other fellow up.
This is sometimes a cultural issue and other times a default position for people who need to top-up their own egos for fear of failure. Just my humble opinion, of course. I've flown with some Captains who seem to take satisfaction from stepping on the PF's toes, who try to 'fly the plane through the handling pilot' - even where the handling pilot is more spatially or situationally aware (or dare I say it, more able). Sitting on the jumpseat, I've seen FOs berating Captains (a consequence of a shallow cockpit gradient in the west) and FOs sulking and disengaging from the job at hand when the commander decides he's 'the man'. Ah, CRM...a huge can of wriggly things.
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Old 10th May 2011, 08:09
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In fact, in the case of BEA548 it was the experienced war veteran Captain who tended to engage the autopilot early (see AAIB report).
You took my comment out of context. It was a reply to:
p.s if you think 200hr first officers are a worry, i've come across pilots with thousands of hours who cant do the job properly. They're the ones i really worry about!
Like I wrote myself:
You will be in for a surprise and your beliefs will be shattered when you find out that many 10.000+ hour captain doesn't have the first clue what they are doing.
I am arguing that the skill of experienced pilots is being eroded by automation to the point that some captains don't fly better than a 200 hrs newbie.

A crash from 1972 may not carry much relevance today. But to take 2 more recent examples Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 - stall on approach, didn't monitor the autopilot. Flash Air Flight 604 - loss of control after takeoff due to spatial disorientation (the crash from where the "autopilot!" quote comes). In this case the F/O was actually aware of what the captain was doing, but didn't interfere due to culture.

So I am not bashing the 200 hrs co-pilots. I am actually bashing the thousands of experienced automation monkey captains out there, that only take the aircraft in their hands with the Flight Director on and safely established on the ILS.
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