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Inexperienced Pilots of LX 3597

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Inexperienced Pilots of LX 3597

Old 27th Nov 2001, 23:58
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Angry Inexperienced Pilots of LX 3597

The captain of Crossair plane that crashed in Zurich had 19'305 flight hours but only 300 on ARJ.
'til tere nothing unusual. But the copilot had only 300 total flight hours !!! You need 150 hours to begin your ATPL in Switzerland and about 50 for training. That means the copilot had less than 100 hours with Crossair.

It's clear that interactions between two experienced pilots or between one experienced and one beginner are not the same.

Perhaps the problem is there instead of the standard VORDME approach common in many airports throughout the world.
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 00:13
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I think that when you look at the captain and try to decide on his experience you surely cannot regard him as inexperienced even if this was his first flight on the aircraft. With 19 000 hours plus ( and I would assume quite a whack flying heavy aircraft)this guy must have been thru all types off approaches numerous times on various types of aircraft??
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 00:42
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The question begs itself though that how much help was the co-pilot to the Captain when things started to get hairy? I think it's in circumstances like this that you can see why insurance companies are very reluctant to allow people with less than 1,000 hrs TT into the right seat of an airliner.
Old 28th Nov 2001, 01:26
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HOLD EVERYTHING!!! Are we, supposedly professionals, going to start pre-judging this case? So, the F.O. was low-houred, so what? It's not the hours that count, it's the training, the attitude and the ability. The aviation community has lost two of its members, the last thing we need is for people to be fighting over their bones already.
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 02:31
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Not now Guv.
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 03:12
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Well its interesting that the insurance companies have no problem whatsoever insuring the BA shorthaul fleet even though most new P2s have just 200 hours. Incidentally, with the growth of the Airbus fleet it used to be commonplace to have co-pilots with less than 300 hours total time and Captains with less than 100 hours on type.
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 03:45
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Hand Solo,
You are very right when saying that a single inexperienced (but qualified) crew member on a cockpit crew is perfectly ok these days, however the problem here is that Crossair teamed up 2 inexperienced pilots!
I can assure you I have never heard of anything like that at any other company!
As a F/O I have flown with captains fresh on the plane too, but I can assure you they would not have been teamed up with an equally junior co-pilot (less then 500hrs on type)!

Besides, if the F/O was indeed very new to the company (less then 100hrs) how come he is alredy fully released? Surely they must have something like line training after you have finished your simulator check?
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 03:55
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Couldn't agree more!

In the past I have flown with 250 hour FO's who I would have described as some of the most professional in the business, attitude, ability, airmanship - they had the lot. At the same time we had 5000-10000 hour guys who I wouldn't trust to make the tea.

Certainly experience is important but it is overall ability that counts.
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 04:00
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BA do indeed crew both low hours FOs and low hours on type Captains. your average BA cadet will join the company with about 180 hours, do approx 44 hours in the sim then base training. After that its 40ish sectors with a training Captain before being signed off. In a busy shorthaul fleet this could quite feasibly be just 60 hours. After that you are considered to be on a 'Consolidation line' for a further 40ish hours. Net result is you can be signed off your consolidation line with less than 300 hours total (albeit 100 hours in type and about 80-90 sectors under your belt). Not sure how long Captains are on consolidation for but I'm confident they would be clear by 100 hours. BA do not permit crew members on consolidation lines to fly together, but its quite feasible for the scenario I mentioned above to take place. By and large it seems to work well with a highly experienced Captain managing the operation and a technically proficient FO ensuring he doesn't get confused by the new computers.
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 04:08
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I agree with Herod.
Let's see what caused this before we start going on about crew experience. Flying an instrument approach is far from rocket science. I'm sure there were other factors involved.
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 04:29
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Thumbs down

ATR,Guvnor and tolipanebas could I request that you communicate your nonsense on less tragic topics.

ATR I find your postscript highly distasteful in the circumstances.

[ 28 November 2001: Message edited by: westman ]
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 05:15
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Your comments are spot on.

While hard to accept by some, they are none the less realistic.

Training is of vital importance. Experience is not a word to be used or wasted on those with less than a senible amount of 'time' in the air. Experience is priceless and 200-300 hours doesn't cut it. Anyone with less than 1000 hours of REAL ME/IMC EXPERIENCE has no business operating an aircraft like this. Full stop! If indeed the people involved have the level of experience mentioned in these posts.

While this comment is surely to draw guffaws and negativity from some on this forum. It doesn't change a thing.

No one nationality has a monopoly on licencing and licencing standards. Or intellect. The industry is rife with minimum standards. Whoever allowed this level of experience on the flight deck of this aircraft needs to immediately re-evaluate his flight deck resources.

Human Factors safety research will also confirm this fact and anyone studying the subject will agree with either of our statements.

These accidents are tragic. Our sentiments and condolences surely and unanimously go out to all of those involved or affected.

The picture in aviation right now is desperate and getting worse by the day.
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 05:34
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"Certainly experience is important but it is overrall ability that counts."(nightmale)

Couldnt disagree with you more.Survival on the flightdeck is 10% ability and 90% judgement(which can only come from experience).Suggest you re-read Fate is the Hunter.Its a great cure for anyone who has absolutely no idea what commercial flying is all about.Its old but its tenets are as true today as when they were written.Failing that,ask any accident investigator which factor crops up again and again in pilot-error accidents?I can assure you it wont be loss of motor skills.
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 05:53
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Sorry gang.

As an addendum to my previous note...

I would not rush prejudge this crew and it's abilities. We simply don't know what happened and out of respect, I wouldn't pretend, even for an instant, to know what happened. Having, I'm certain, to have been tested by regulatory authority, both were certainly 'qualified' to operate this aircraft.
I simply wish to make the point that Experience at 200-300 hours has no business on the flight deck of this aeroplane.

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Old 28th Nov 2001, 09:48
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Red face

Had the opportunity to fly with the FO on my second last flight with LX. He just came off line training. Spent two days on a rotation, a fine aviator. How he operated in an emergency I would not know. The fact is we lost a young aviator. All of us have to start some where, lets leave this to the board to determine what effect experience/inexperience had in this tragedy.

Just a thought, what’s best, flying with a youngster with 300 hours that’s as keen as mustard or a 2000 hour know it all jog. (There is enough of those at LX – Must add, not all, so don’t take it personal)
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 11:29
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There are some pretty sad comments by some pretty sad folks on this thread. Some of us here knew the crew of flight 3597 and can attest to the ambition and drive throughout the f/os' training, company training, and ability of line ops..

Out of respect to all of our colleagues we loose, on flights anywhere let's concentrate on the events leading up to the accident rather than tarnishing their memories.
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 13:18
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Willy Everlearn,

It is your type of guys that's a danger to a CRM environment. In-experienced FO's flying with will have more trouble speaking up to you when you ****-up something. Type's like you will have more trouble accepting inputs from your co-worker on the other side of the pedestal. And it is exactly this guy that is going to save yours arsch one-day.

So please grow over your frustration of 5000 hours of banner-towing which were needed to qualify you for your first job.
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 14:23
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Some of the comments on here are total bo***x! I was an F/O with the UKs second largest scheduled carrier with 250hrs. I was flying a turboprop. Now flying a B757 into some of the worst airports in Europe. When I got that job I had 900hrs! If I did not have the ability, I would not be in the job! Some of the worst flying I have EVER seen in my life, has been from guys with 10,000+ hours. So wisen up!

You know NOTHING about what went on, on this flight deck, so SHUT UP 'TILL YOU DO!!!! How dare you say that all 200hrs pilots have "no place being on a flightdeck!" How many accidents have there been in the past with 200hr pilots in airliners??? It is people like you who that brings out all the bad points in this industry. All the ego bashing, jealousy, and "I'm better than you" CR@P! Quite frankly, I find it APPALING to post such nonsense when people are grieving over losing former collegues and friends!

Eff Oh
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 14:38
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A lot of emotional, over the top comments here. Fact is,

1) We don't know who was at controls.

2) We don't know why the aeroplane crashed.

3) We don't know what effect anybody's type experience had or could have had.

In short, we certainly don't know enough to start a slanging match.

Even now it seems that the pilots of the Swiss scene are at each other's throats, when they need each others'good will more than ever. This will not help, gentlemen.

As others have mentioned it is also unethical and callous to criticise a colleague at this time.
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Old 28th Nov 2001, 15:42
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In the absence of any data from the accident itself, many find that speculation is unwelcome. In this incident, there are points however that I would like to address in the most general sense. I find particularly disturbing, the attitude of some, that instrument flying is somehow easy and doesn’t deserve careful and meticulous planning, proper briefing, and accurate flying backed up by close monitoring. Those protagonists are quite simply wrong.

There is nothing intrinsically dangerous about Zurich/Kloten or its many instrument approaches and their variations. There are however a number of local factors which cannot be ignored by the professional pilot. Not the least of these is the surrounding terrain. The obvious proximity of mountainous areas presents its own problems, which manifest themselves as katabatic, and valley winds that give notorious tail components onto the main southerly runways. This is often exacerbated by the entertaining speed requirements of Zurich ATC.

Furthermore, radar vectoring, particularly at busy times can lead the unwary into close proximity with the terrain if followed for extended periods. You should always ask yourself ‘How long am I prepared to accept this heading?’, ‘If I lose radio, how shall I manoeuvre to avoid the hills?’. You might also consider the fact that holding for up to 45 minutes is not uncommon last thing at night as the noise ban takes effect. Take the fuel rather than wish you had it later. The last thing you want is a low fuel state distracting you from the careful planning required.

More importantly, there are a number of little ‘hillocks’ surrounding the airport that need to be considered in your briefings and planning for all approaches and departures from Zurich. Staring with the southerly approaches, there are two outcrops, which come close to the approach surface. One is at about 8d and for an on-slope aircraft gives only about 1400’ safe clearance, and the other at 4d which comes even closer. ILS approaches to these runways need to be conducted in such a way as to avoid infringing the GPWS envelopes for mode 4 & 5 warnings. Remember also that EGPWS will give alerts 40 – 60 secs before projected impact with solid reds. Early configuration and careful attention to energy profile management will alleviate these potential pitfalls, and in my opinion are best avoided by a continuous descent profile, remaining on the 300 ft/nm slope from as soon as possible after leaving the holding fix. These are important criteria that require careful briefing, especially with new or inexperienced colleagues.

The procedural and non-precision approaches are even more exacting than the ILS because of the lack of radio slope guidance and wider statistical scatter of ‘on-track’ approaches. A non-precision approach is a means of securing a stabilised visual approach from an IFR transition. The VOR onto RWY 28 strikes me particularly as having one or two points that require specific attention. Three or four minutes extra in the planning and briefing would not be wasted in my opinion before commencing this approach. Firstly, the approach path is very short, scarcely 20nm from the ZUE beacon to touch down. Adherence to track and vertical profile is essential to ensure safe separation from the surrounding high terrain and ‘hillocks’, and in my opinion the aircraft should be configured at least with gear down and approach flap setting from the ZUE beacon. Configuration changes and attendant trim changes will not assist accurate flying after this point. The final turn onto the inbound course is particularly challenging, since it is just 7nm from touchdown, less than 1500’ above the local terrain, and requires the aircraft to be on track and in the final landing configuration as you roll out. With the strong westerlies that sometimes predicate this approach, such parameters are not easy to achieve. Remember also that this is a VOR approach, the beam bar is not as sensitive as an ILS localiser, and will not receive the enhancement that many modern flight systems apply to localiser deviation. The rate of closure may be slower than you might expect, and an early or rapid turn onto FAC would leave the aircraft North of track and outside the parameters to commence the final descent. Turning any earlier than the lead radial would put you dangerously close to the local terrain and in no circumstances should the approach be continued.

It is important to consider also that during the winter months, altimeter temperature error correction MUST BE APPLIED to the heights given on the plate. The barometric altimeter will overread by 40ft/1000’ above the airfield reference (HAT for most purposes) for every 10° below ISA. On the night in question, with a temperature of 0° at Kloten, this would have meant adding 4.8% to all of the heights on the approach. Remember there is no radio slope guidance, and therefore the barometric altimeter is the only source of vertical profile indication.

The missed approach presents its own problems for terrain clearance and for that matter departures too off RWY 28. Without going into too much detail, an aircraft in the engine out case is likely to have a genuine GPWS warning even at scheduled performance if even slightly off the advertised path, the KLO 255R. See what your aircraft would do in this case.

This accident is especially tragic since it happened to a local operator probably well used to this approach. You must ask yourself how you might perform the approach in your aircraft with your SOP’s. What would be the effect of icing? On some aeroplanes, engine antice requires increased engine power, affecting your ability to control energy. Some companies require a hand over of control during the final phase of the approach, some companies advocate an immediate descent to MDA at the final step down fix. For my part I would fly it fully configured and as a 3.7°/370 nm profile so as to be at the MDA of 2390’, 3.25 miles from touchdown. That way the aircraft is in a stable landing configuration at you enter the visual segment.

End of rant. If you take anything away from this, all I ask is that you talk about this over a pint in the pub, or in the crew bus, but whatever you do don’t leave it ‘til your just leaving the hold.

God rest the victims of this accident. Safe flying.

PS: I get the impression that some people think I'm having a pop at the Crossair crew. Nothing could be further from the truth. You have a duty to your passengers though to examine the issues raised to see if there's any of your skills that you might think about improving in the light of these tragic events. If you, like me, try to learn something new every day then I hope my post has helped you to think. If you know everything already, perhaps you might post your details so that I can avoid flying with you in the future.

[ 28 November 2001: Message edited by: Capt H Peacock ]
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