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Air Transat Pilots get "Superior Airmanship Awards"

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Air Transat Pilots get "Superior Airmanship Awards"

Old 27th Aug 2002, 02:31
  #41 (permalink)  

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The strip at Gimli was being used as a dragstrip, If I remember correctly. Suddenly a view in the rear view mirror became earth shattering.

Kind of like the Dc-9's used to do in winter with the snowmobilers at Ancienne Lorette (?) with the landing lights and selective throttle applications.
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Old 27th Aug 2002, 07:08
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It is the captains responsibility to ensure that his aircraft is fit to fly pigboat, nothing to do with management. What Flight International think is of little significance to most of us.
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Old 27th Aug 2002, 07:30
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Seriph

Rather an arrogant reply wouldn't you say? Were you not a wannabe and a Biggles once?
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Old 27th Aug 2002, 09:02
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Thumbs up Pilot awarded for "dead-stick" landing

Here's a bit more info on the subject of "stagger's" post (sorry, I didn't check the forum before I posted this :o)...

MONTREAL (Reuters) - A Canadian pilot who astounded the aviation world by gliding his stricken jetliner, with 304 people on board, to a safe landing on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, has been given a special flying award.

The Air Line Pilots Association, the union representing some 66,000 pilots from Canada and the United States, gave its Superior Airmanship award to Air Transat pilot Robert Piche and his first officer Dirk De Jager at its annual banquet in Washington on Thursday.

"The spirit of airmanship that is involved here is the amazing feat of taking of airplane that lost both its engines at 35,000 feet and piloting it... 70 miles and making a precision pinpoint landing on a tiny speckled island," the association's spokesman, John Mazor, told Reuters.

Piche, a married father of three, became a national hero in Canada and made headlines around the world on August 24, 2001, when he brought a Lisbon-bound Airbus 330 to a safe, "dead-stick" landing on the Azores after a fuel leak left the jetliner's engines dead over the Atlantic.

Diverting to a military airstrip, Piche and De Jager brought the heavy aircraft through a harrowing 18-minute gliding descent and wrestled it to a grinding halt on the tarmac, blowing eight of its 12 tires.

Less than a dozen of the 291 passengers were treated for minor injuries, most inflicted as they evacuated the plane.

"The good news is that because of the superior airmanship of the crew they all landed safely," Mazor said.

But not all has been good news.

Portuguese authorities are scheduled to produce a final report on their inquiry into the incident before the end of the year. A preliminary report found a fuel line on the right engine had failed, possibly after rubbing or banging against another pipe.

Air Transat was fined C$250,000 (105,000 pounds) by Canadian transport authorities for the faulty installation of a hydraulic pump in the right engine. The airline disputes any link between the hydraulic pump problem and the fuel leak.

Passengers aboard Flight 236 have launched a class action lawsuit against Air Transat.

Piche, who has said he was just doing his job bringing the airplane down safely, has been on personal leave from the charter airline since March. He plans to get back in the cockpit in coming weeks.

"I became more aware of the changes in my life after this incident," he said in an interview with a local newspaper.

"I needed (the break) to fully live through all this," he said.

The award marks a reversal of fortune for 50 year-old Piche. The former bush pilot spent nearly two years in a U.S. jail in the 1980s after he was busted with 53 bags of marijuana after landing a small Piper Aztec on a Georgia airstrip.

Last edited by Haul By Cable; 27th Aug 2002 at 09:34.
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Old 27th Aug 2002, 21:26
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Maybe we can nominate the CAL A340 crew for their "superb airmanship" in getting the aircraft airborne after taking off on the taxiway at Anchorage

Pigboat, Scud Runner, Noctivaga...hear, hear.
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Old 27th Aug 2002, 23:28
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Kalium, yes that thought about the CAL A340 crew had been running through my mind as well. But if the CAL crew should be honoured for the superior feat of wrestling their aircraft into the air in significantly less distance than the wimps at Toulouse believe possible, there should also be an award for superior design to Airbus. The flight control system refused to allow the rotation at less than Vr, thereby giving them those few extra knots when they hit the snow berm at the end of runway Kilo. And I'll wager that no Toulouse number-cruncher had anticipated that benefit.
Every time I go to Anchorage, the mental image is of one of those old WW2 movies and the aircraft staggering off the end of the carrier deck, dipping so perilously low over the water..... what SUPERIOR airmanship it would have taken to do that with a relatively heavy A340!!! In the spirit of this year's choice; obviously next year's honorees have to be the CAL crew.
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Old 28th Aug 2002, 00:06
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"The flight control system refused to allow the rotation at less than Vr" , thereby giving them those few extra knots when they hit the snow berm at the end of runway Kilo.

Don't believe the flight control system "refuses" to allow rotation below V1.

Sorry, pls correct typo, V1 should read Vr.
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Old 28th Aug 2002, 03:40
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Sure we are not talking Darwin Awards here!!

If so the CAL guys win but perhaps Piche deserves an honourable mention.

Like others have said a good recovery made possible by skill, spiced with more than a modicum of luck.

Is Capt Piche strapping on another 330 or going back to his Piper Aztec with the royalties from his version of 'Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines'??
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Old 28th Aug 2002, 04:34
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Seriph, I do not deny that it's the Captain's responsibility to ensure that his aircraft is fit to fly. The Gimli glider was dispatched with the fuel quantity guages inoperative. Do you think he should have refused to accept the aircraft even though it had been signed off as airworthy?

At the time, this aircraft was the only type in the company fleet that had the fuel quantity guages calibrated in metric. That may be neither here nor there - the guages were inop anyway - but at the same time this country had not yet completed the changeover from Imperial to metric measurement. The possibility therefore existed for the aircraft to be refuelled in gallons, liters, pounds or kilos. It is my understanding that the fuel boarded in YOW was in pounds, instead of kilograms. That was the first error, but with no fuel guages the error wasn't caught. The tanks were then dripsticked, and the results were read in pounds instead of kilos. That blew the second and last chance to catch the error.

The point Flight International was trying to make in its article, was that as long as the possibility of an error or confusion in measurement existed, the aircraft should not have been dispatched with the fuel guages inoperative. If the first line of defence against running out of fuel is operative fuel guages, then company management chose to deliberately ignore that line. When the last two chances to catch the error were missed, the results became inevitable.
In both this case and the Transat one, after being handed lemons, the crews did a helluva good job making lemonade.
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Old 28th Aug 2002, 04:40
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I truly hope that some of you never have to put your SUPERIOR skills to the test...
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Old 28th Aug 2002, 07:58
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It is really quite amazing how much the ancient Greeks knew about command and control. In their still-topical theater, the critical principle underlying tragedy is often the reluctance of proud commanders to accept the reality of their own inherent imperfection. Hence:

Hubris......exaggerated pride or confidence often resulting in (divine) retribution.
You lot who so roundly condemn these fellows - for less than perfect execution - are candidates for the hubris prize. Hark the muse!

And give'em a break. A bit of charity would not hurt. It is not as if they will go out and do it again if you fail to discourage them.

They had a bad airplane. One could tell that when the port fan stopped on its own initiative. So they tried to work the problem. Most important, they providently changed course toward Lajes some 13 precious minutes before things went really quiet. And then they held themselves (and the cabin) together and focussed and stayed fairly sharp all the way down to a 'good' landing. In doing so, they taught us something and pretty well guaranteed that instruction in fuel crossover mgmt will be top-rate henceforth.



As for Seriph...one can pity the poor sods in his thrall.

Last edited by arcniz; 28th Aug 2002 at 08:09.
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Old 28th Aug 2002, 12:53
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I think you will find that the Gimli Glider was not dispatched with fuel guages that were not working. The two fuel quantity indicating systems are supposed to be completely independent of each other. However a soldering problem in one of the indicating systems somehow was affecting the other making both useless unless the CB was pulled for the faulty system which had been done on previous flights. A mechanic in YUL not believing that one system could affect the other pushed that breaker in and then went to the electrical bay to have a look. He couldn't figure out the problem and when he went back to the cockpit, it was busy with flight crew and perhaps others and he never did get around to pushing that CB back in.
The captain found both fuel guages unserviceable. The MEL said he could NOT fly(Is this common sense?). He called on the radio to say he couldn't go. Company said he could go believing he still had a serviceable fuel indicator. Obviously a miscommunication on exactly the nature of the problem that the captain was dealing with. The captain did go against what the MEL said after doing the famous dripsticking in YUL and YOW.
Has anybody ever found on their preflight of a signed out aircraft that something is unserviceable(such as a tumbled gyro) and realized that they must get it fixed before they leave?
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Old 28th Aug 2002, 19:42
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Ultimately the captain is responsible, regardless of what ops, management or engineers say it is up to him to ensure the safety of the aircraft and those on board he cannot shift that responsibility. The buck stops with him or her that is why we are paid the big bucks. Arcniz, stick to what you know, the most precious comodity in professional aircrew is the understanding that they are responsible and you don't seek scapegoats ( or awards) if you screw up. Charity is not relevant, this situation should not have occured, they were extremely lucky to get out of it.
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Old 29th Aug 2002, 04:15
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Three Screwups before pilots did their part

It has been reported that AirBus has amended their checklist procedures for Fuel Imbalance -- this may be screwup # 1, especially if the checklist procedures failed to account for a fuel line breakage where it happened.

Screwup # 2 was lack of ECAM logic to monitor fuel burn against remaining quantity -- or remaining vs. required fuel. It looks to me that the computers are doing 95% of the job. No problem about the missing 5% -- provided you know just what that missing piece is so that you know to stay on top of it.

Screwup # 3 was installling incorrect parts resulting in complete fuel line breakage.

If the mandated procedures at the time were followed, the crew went down the garden path.

If there was a deviation from the checklist procedures, then they screwed up.

I prefer to leave the question open until the report comes out.
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Old 30th Aug 2002, 07:30
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quote Seriph:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ultimately the captain is responsible, regardless of what ops, management or engineers say it is up to him to ensure the safety of the aircraft and those on board he cannot shift that responsibility. The buck stops with him or her that is why we are paid the big bucks. Arcniz, stick to what you know, the most precious comodity in professional aircrew is the understanding that they are responsible and you don't seek scapegoats ( or awards) if you screw up. Charity is not relevant, this situation should not have occured, they were extremely lucky to get out of it.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Seriph - I totally agree with your recent post regarding the responsibility attending command - with one small exception.

Not only that, I sincerely apologize for pulling your tail. Your recent post suggests you are a serious and dedicated person with a strong sense of mission. My reasoning previously was that you probably do not encounter much vocal opposition in your position of obvious authority, so it might be productive to provide some. I have the luxury of immunity from your very aggressive style of control, but not from your well-argued logic.

Clearly, it is not my place to undermine your methods. I was wrong in that regard and now I am genuinely sorry for that.

I would suggest, however, that a less Cromwellian style on your part might have a more positive net effect - perhaps enough to convert your 'good' efforts into 'great' ones.

Circumstances limit my the extent of my comment now, but I would mention a few other minor items in context:

a) In 40 years as PIC I have seen most of the devils out there, eye to eye, and have thought considerably about what the responsibility of command means. No, it's not the same as your sandbox, but most of the consequences are.

b) There's no actual harm in charity.... much difference exists between 'then' and 'now'. I believe the guys who did this thing are likely to suffer more as 'heros' than as nobodys; they likely did not have much of a choice.

c) The whole aviation industry is in a shadow now - from circumstances outside our control. This was a dramatic incident that caught much public attention and clearly needed some positive resolution. I doubt the pilots volunteered themselves. One could see them as victims of the process, rather than profiteers.

d) My own portfolio in this is to make aviation work better. This provides some standing to intrude into your space, but obviously that can be done best with mutual respect, candor, and fairness.

e) The 'systems' approach to this incident - based on some very preliminary information - says that the pilots had limited training in regard to the issues critical to this incident, had poor inflight information and had little useful guidance from the aircraft systems they were trying to manage.

And the aircraft had a basic mechanical flaw due to poor maintenance which largely predestined it to fail.

Notwithstanding that, they delivered it to a runway and all passengers reached their destination of choice. (including the ones who swore to never fly again)

The underlying causes for this incident seem fixable. Some of it already in the works. We all try to ratchet the process forward toward perfection. A hundred years from now this will seem very basic, indeed.

f) Life is clearly not fair. There are some heros who have done little more than stop a bullet, and some who have achieved incredible feats of unselfish courage. These pilots put out when it really mattered, and they made lemonade from some really bad lemons. I understand why you do not agree, but once again I say, 'give them a break'.

Last edited by arcniz; 30th Aug 2002 at 17:22.
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Old 30th Aug 2002, 18:48
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Re GIMLI, I clearly remember those pilots also were given awards for something ?brilliant flying? or something similar. History repeats itself.

I also heard, cannot remember where at this distance, that the whole incident/accident derived from the Canadian government political requirement for metrication (Vive La Quebec Francaise). The bowser driver was the only person who had not been sent on a metrication course, perhaps he should have been #1 for the course.

Yet another mightily complicated accident I guess.
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Old 31st Aug 2002, 03:19
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The company wanted to fire the guy, but public opinion changed their minds. From an above post, it would appear that the simple expedient of a ty-wrap around the offending CB so that it couldn't be reset may have prevented the whole incident.
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Old 31st Aug 2002, 18:05
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Yes Arcniz as your profile suggests you are indeed an amateur. The problem with these forums is that every wanabee thinks he knows what he is talking anout
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Old 31st Aug 2002, 19:00
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How True!
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Old 1st Sep 2002, 08:38
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Cool

The name of the awards might be contentious, the recipients probably full aware of the irony. In reading the thread however I am moved to say how very re-assuring it has been to know that I share the sky with the undoubted persuit of perfection in an aviator such as Seriph, and the generosity of spirit of such as Arcniz. To each his own and may each be given that which he deserves.
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