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Easyjet FO anxiety attack

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Easyjet FO anxiety attack

Old 13th Sep 2019, 13:39
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Interesting comment about restricting training with W/V >10kts as I have witnessed this myself, although usually only for solo flight. I have been aware of instructors who insist on landing the aircraft themselves when x-wind component or anything other than flat calm conditions prevail though as well. A lot of basic training (well, up to 150 hours on an integrated course these days) is conducted far from home in fairly benign conditions, which is after all, the reason the training was sent there in the first place, and as a consequence, trainees get very little by way of experience or decision making due to weather. Although missed approach procedures are still taught, again in my experience the opportunity to practice - say, at the end of a sortie on very short-final leading to a circuit to land, is not taken often. The demands on making each sortie fit the prescribed lesson length, ATC expectations and busy circuit environments often make it restrictive to do so.

I know of a student who was chopped pre-solo due to suffering panic attacks during the stall entry, every time; parents threatened legal action and was readmitted on condition that training continued with an instructor with a better appreciation of phycological considerations...i.e. don't go near the stall as it upsets the student. Another was found to be taking Diazepam...but only before solo exercises...because they were the 'most stressful'. These are integrated ATPL students on EASA approved courses at big ATO's, no doubt like the F/O in the AAIB report.
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 15:36
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G
Originally Posted by Banana Joe
If the person involved is confirmed to be a MPL graduate, I am curious to know the actual amount of hours he had on SEP before progressing his training in the simulator. And it would be also interesting to know what wind limits were imposed for his training on during the initial phase. I heard of schools that would not let you fly with wind reported more than 10 kts.

Simulators, as good as they might be, are not good at replicating variable wind conditions.
According to the AAIB the Co-pilot’s flying experience was 686 hours (of which 512 were on type).
Assuming ‘flying experience’ means airborne time then 174 hours accrue?

Reversebucket makes a very valid point about the lack of exposure to less than benign conditions.

Banana Joe makes comment about simulators. I would suggest that some extremely challenging conditions (pre programmed nasties) can be created in the simulator. Next time you are in the box for a LPC/OPC ask the TRE to “spice up your life” for 10 minutes. Watch the smile in response to your request.

There has been some speculation, as the AAIB narrative is a fairly sanitised report. There is no clue as to the characteristics of the two pilots. Psychometric testing such as ‘16PF’ would reveal detail information.
What is for certain is that the departure of the FO from the flightdeck would have come as a surprise, if not a shock to the Captain. I cannot recall such an event in the recent past?

It most certainly will have concentrated the minds of management, and those who deliver CRM.

An additional item to be considered in the Threat & Error Management process.

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Old 13th Sep 2019, 15:50
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Mr Guest v Flybe Ltd

Not recorded whether he left the flightdeck but interesting related reading.
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 16:48
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What is the approach to sim training landing in adverse weather conditions? On a scale from 0 ( until the student is able to successfully pass one or two challenges) to 10 (not only can the student do it in their sleep, they are doing it in their sleep because everybody involved is so bored with the exercise) where is the cut off?
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 17:00
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This incident should be a wake up call to the industry regarding its setting of standards and screening.

In the AAIB report the pilot said that the unexpected go-around from a low height he found frightening and that he had never experienced a go-around in the aeroplane before.

That statement I found most disturbing on two levels. Had he really never done a go-around even during his basic training and why did he find a normal all engine go-around frightening? Likewise, if an unexpected event is likely to trigger a "panic attack" event then perhaps this individual is not suited to this job? I say this because the whole point of training is to enable the individual to function under a certain amount of stress.

Before I am attacked for not understanding mental issues perhaps the industry needs to rethink whether or not this career should be pursued by anyone regardless of aptitude or temperament.
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 17:21
  #26 (permalink)  

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Originally Posted by Reverserbucket
Mr Guest v Flybe Ltd

Not recorded whether he left the flightdeck but interesting related reading.
I have now read all thirty pages. Family pressures, young family played its part. You just wonder if ‘PF16’ (psychometric test) or something similar, had been conducted prior to employment whether any area of concern would have been revealed??

Shortened version concerning employment dismissal ~ Start at paragraph 123 regarding the unfairness for dismissal section / judgement.

What this demonstrates is the need for the employer to play it with an absolute straight bat. (Watching just now the Ashes test match from the Oval ! ). Any chinks in the armour will open up a claim of “unfair dismissal” as it did in this case.
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 17:25
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Originally Posted by Meikleour
Before I am attacked for not understanding mental issues perhaps the industry needs to rethink whether or not this career should be pursued by anyone regardless of aptitude or temperament.
Very good points, especially this very last one. Basic flight training and subsequently airline training must ensure that a candidate is suitable for the aviation environment by using all the available training methods not only to transfer the knowledge to the trainee but also to test his capability to cope with stress and unexpected changes, in short term his resilience.
For a pilot, resilience is one of the most important if not the most important trait of personality as each and every time we close the doors and start the engines we have no idea what is going to happen as in real life there is unfortunately no script like in the sim.
Exposing the trainee to a variable level of stress during his progression till reaching the "breaking point" is beneficial for everybody, as it is the best possible "snapshot" You can take of somebody aside from any psychometrical and psycho aptitude tests. The idea of seeing the trainee like a newborn baby that needs to be spoon-fed till he gets to the cockpit of an airliner is probably beneficial to the training organisation that aims to train as many pilots as possible but not to the trainee himself that has no idea of how and when he is going to raise his white flag and give up.
In my airline we have been training pilots in house for the past 50 years from 0 and we have always tried to build confidence in our trainees by showing them where, according to their stage of progression, they would reach their point of no return. Normally 90% of them would take it as a challenge to set the bar higher and think "I'll show You next time You &*^@#" and the remaining part would take it personally and stop progressing, despite all the efforts from the instructors to reassure them. Unfortunately this is how You keep screening.
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 17:31
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Originally Posted by parkfell


Banana Joe makes comment about simulators. I would suggest that some extremely challenging conditions (pre programmed nasties) can be created in the simulator. Next time you are in the box for a LPC/OPC ask the TRE to “spice up your life” for 10 minutes. Watch the smile in response to your request.

Will try next month.
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 17:43
  #29 (permalink)  
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Are new applicants given a psychological test prior to employment as someone asked earlier, it could have sent up a potential red flag.

Or is it against the law to make distinctions as to whether someone is psychologically fit or not ?
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 17:53
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And what if on his next flight the captain gets incapacitated?
I wouldn't want to be on that plane.
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 18:03
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Bluntly do you want him beside you in an emergency? Remember this wasn't even an emergency just a go around. Not routine but a little stressful. Yet he broke.

What would happen if he found himself in a real emergency?

What clinches it for me is that he left the flight deck. Unforgivable IMHO.

A career change is needed.
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 18:08
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Who hasn’t gotten rattled in a cockpit? Yeah fine, but removing oneself from the cockpit?

That dog don’t hunt.

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Old 13th Sep 2019, 18:11
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I think I would ask the guy to leave the flight deck if it was a full on anxiety attack, and was proving worse than useless - even potentially dangerous. He may not have had a choice in the matter. I hope he gains confidence.
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 18:33
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I’ve known very experienced middle aged pilots (plural) who have developed anxiety. It’s not uncommon after an accumulation of stressful life events such as divorce etc and the trigger is unpredictable. Chances are one of your colleagues has experienced it. The timing of this case was unfortunate but it is treatable.
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 18:53
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Having ready the AAIB report:

https://assets.publishing.service.go...EZGR_09-19.pdf

This flags up concerns about some of the current training practices and selection in the airline industry.

Anxiety is not new even among experienced pilots both in military and the civilian world. I can think of a highly experienced and respected RAF C130 who after thousands of hours flying and many years of good service had to give up flying. a midair between two RAF Tornados in Scotland, one of the crew had after a long military flying career been suffering from anxiety. Likewise in the civilian world, I recall in the mid eiighties a flight out of BHX, where the copilot completely lost it somewhere over Lyon. I dont think he flew again. The point here is that I think there is a difference between anxiety in a very experienced pilot, who is likely to have managed stress throughout his/her career through flying experience. I myself never really knew how I was going to react to a highly stressful in the early stages of my career. After a few near misses, pan calls and mayday calls, I know how I react under abnormal situations and stress.

This situation in my mind flags up concerns over the so called 'children of magenta', twenty years ago, a co-pilot mostly likely had over 1500 hrs including coping will stress whether that was in the military, or single crew air taxi work in very poor weather. What the report fails to mention is the breakdown of the co-pilots flying experience including hand flying experience. Was the pilot capable at flying for example a C172 in a 17 knot crosswind, could he even fly a light aircraft?. I think we know the pilots going through training now, take very well to flight automation, but there is still a nagging question as to their ability to cope with a situation like Souix City or the A320 into the Hudson River.

I am very dubious about if peer support would have made any difference, and how odd the co-pilot was not aware of it anyway. Then there was the AAIB comments about the communication, why did the captain comment on turbulence, probably because it was forecast or part of the airfield arrival brief. As for the AME signing him off, was this the 'trick cyclist' at Gatwick or a specialist in anxiety, or the local AME, who knows.

While there are many sympathetic comments, I have reservations. On this occasion, the co-pilot was anxious about landing and removed from the flight deck. So what would have happened if the fifty year old captain had been incapicitated coupled with a cross wind?
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 19:41
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Originally Posted by Chazlington
Cue the debate about whether Cadets flying Airbuses straight out of flight school is good/safe.
Yup.
This.
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Old 13th Sep 2019, 20:02
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Originally Posted by anchorhold
. . . but there is still a nagging question as to their ability to cope with a situation like Souix City or the A320 into the Hudson River.
With respect, I think questions about pilots' readiness to cope with situations like those apply to, well, to pilots in general. Fortunately, we don't have to learn the answers to real-world tests very often.
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Old 14th Sep 2019, 07:23
  #38 (permalink)  

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Originally Posted by Reverserbucket

I know of a student who was chopped pre-solo due to suffering panic attacks during the stall entry, every time; parents threatened legal action and was readmitted on condition that training continued with an instructor with a better appreciation of phycological considerations...i.e. don't go near the stall as it upsets the student. Another was found to be taking Diazepam...but only before solo exercises...because they were the 'most stressful'. These are integrated ATPL students on EASA approved courses at big ATO's, no doubt like the F/O in the AAIB report.
It would appear these parents simply didn’t understand just what training was about, and the ATO simply folded under the prospect of m’learned friends being involved. It would have been interesting if this case ever ended up in court as to what arguments the plaintiffs would have made. The prospect of expensive legal action is never appealing.

I however find it remarkable that this ‘little darling’ might have been issued a CPL/IR, and possibly employment in the RHS?

As for the little darling on diazepam...........Class One issue ?

Good news is on the near horizon. Upset recovery training is being introduced later this year by EASA as a mandatory item for all little darlings. A mild sorting out of the ‘sheep from the goats’. That would clearly have made the ATOs training so much easier to explain to the parents.


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Old 14th Sep 2019, 09:31
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We all know that the key to this is to have very rigorous aptitude and selection programs .We have dumbed down education standards. The only really important consideration from Flight schools is how the student will pay. Licencing Authorities do not screen.When Bank of Mum &Dad get little snowflake into the flight deck of a pay-to-fly scheme, it is too late.Even the professionals charged with "training" the unlikely cadets are not acting swiftly enough with the clear no-hopers.

Recalling Officer & Aircrew Selection for the UK military,a five-day selection process was in place aimed, mainly, to predict the likelihood of success or failure on the training course. But the MOD was paying. Civil selection for a place at the BOAC/BEA College of Air Training was a similar affair involving three separate visits to the Selection Board. Very tough aptitude and personality screening was involved. But, the corporation were paying.

One of the best, in my experience, was the initial screening interview for a sponsored course with British United Airways.Interviewer got me very relaxed about one of my fave subjects and then turned a bit nasty, interrupting with ; "ok, enough of that. Tell me, if I covered 60 miles in 18 minutes , what sort of speed would I be doing ?". He was not interested in the answer at all but took careful note of the candidates behaviour in reply. But, BUA were paying.

These sort of incidents will continue until we get back to selecting the right stuff. That will not happen while Mum & Dad pay all fees for dumbed down snowflakes and flightschools seek, only,full classrooms.
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Old 14th Sep 2019, 09:35
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Originally Posted by slowjet
We all know that the key to this is to have very rigorous aptitude and selection programs .We have dumbed down education standards. The only really important consideration from Flight schools is how the student will pay. Licencing Authorities do not screen.When Bank of Mum &Dad get little snowflake into the flight deck of a pay-to-fly scheme, it is too late.Even the professionals charged with "training" the unlikely cadets are not acting swiftly enough with the clear no-hopers.

Recalling Officer & Aircrew Selection for the UK military,a five-day selection process was in place aimed, mainly, to predict the likelihood of success or failure on the training course. But the MOD was paying. Civil selection for a place at the BOAC/BEA College of Air Training was a similar affair involving three separate visits to the Selection Board. Very tough aptitude and personality screening was involved. But, the corporation were paying.

One of the best, in my experience, was the initial screening interview for a sponsored course with British United Airways.Interviewer got me very relaxed about one of my fave subjects and then turned a bit nasty, interrupting with ; "ok, enough of that. Tell me, if I covered 60 miles in 18 minutes , what sort of speed would I be doing ?". He was not interested in the answer at all but took careful note of the candidates behaviour in reply. But, BUA were paying.

These sort of incidents will continue until we get back to selecting the right stuff. That will not happen while Mum & Dad pay all fees for dumbed down snowflakes and flightschools seek, only,full classrooms.
Cobblers.

Panic attacks are a form of mental illness that may be triggered by life events. They are not necessarily inherent and could affect anybody.
It's time you and your cohort wised up to mental health.
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