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Flybe pilots fired after flight deck row

Old 21st Apr 2012, 12:23
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The problem is not ex-military pilots per se, as there are many very fine and capable ex-mil pilots both at Flybe and elsewhere (and yes, some of them even flew fast jets back when the RAF actually had cash to go flying). The problem is people who have an inflated sense of their own worth, can't handle advice or criticism and little or no ability to manage relationships with others. This problem is not exclusive to aviation either.

Unfortunately pilots, and more particularly the a/c commander, are effectively operating as managers, yet most have absolutely no training or experience in this area. It often leads to problems with inter-crew relationships on both sides of the door as this is one area the pilots can't resort to a checklist and some fail miserably in attempting to manage the issue. I doubt there is a single airline pilot who hasn't witnessed one of their colleagues make a complete fist of managing a crew issue, or even done so themselves. I know I have.
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 12:33
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What happened to the culture of open safety reporting? File an air safety report...and we'll make it your dismissal letter!! Doesn't make me want to travel with flybe!
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 13:06
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Of note I Think is that this chap was not an RAF trained pilot. Not sure if ex nav, eng, or admin but that alone brings a wealth of possible issues. Even the most arsy FJJs could understand CRM issues and had at least some experience in that area.
Agreed it would be an interesting case study. We all have had those on the FD we would rather not have had, but egos are fragile things and there seems very little mechanism within the industry to deal with issues like this. This fellow seems to have had CRM problems before but has he been made aware of them. If he has & not modified his behaviour then he deserves his lot.
Furthermore and as a counter; with an FO generally the flow of info / criticism / advice is from left to right, however, once you move to the left feedback all but dries up and the loop becomes terminated, hence as a skipper you need to develop a higher awareness of your own crew interaction and strategies to deal with awkward situations.
At the end of the the day the FD is no place for conflict - fly within each others box, bottle any antagonism and sort it out on the ground after!
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 13:51
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There is a picture of these blokes in the Daily Rag…. They are not young blokes and I presume would have had some life experience behind them…
Both clearly immature and the company just needed an excuse to bid them farewell …..CRM is not hard for most people. On a difficult day flying with a ****, I just do my job. Its like having sex with an ugly girl. There will be an ending.
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 14:44
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I guess the whole ex military pilot thing is a double edged sword. Sure, some (small minority) self ordained ex military sky god may feel that he/she is better trained and better able than a civilian Captain who has generally come to that seat another hard way but then there are those military. types who will acquiesce to seniority out of habit and that is just as bad in terms of CRM (e.g. this may have been part of the issue in this case)

Air Florida Flight 90 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ultimately it comes down to attitude, professionalism and a sense of humour and the ability to get on and fly in the way expected in the civilian market and I suggest that the ability to adapt and get over the differences in training and background from both a civilian and a military sense is the key to what a safety conscious and commercially astute outfit is looking for. In other words if you want to get on, don't do whatever it was these guys did!
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 16:01
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Let's not forget British European Airways Flight 548.
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 16:04
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Or KLM/Pan Am's contretemps at TFN. (Capt Jacob van Zandten).
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 16:44
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Caulfield - I should not worry too much about Ryanair or easyJet offering you a job as it is not going to happen any time soon. Regarding Political Correctness, I cannot speak for Ryanair, but easyJet employs pilots from every background known to man and employs numerous non-PC pilots. In the overwhelming majority of cases, they all get along just great. Regarding adherence to SOPs, yes that is one of our failings - we like pilots to adhere to them. And yes, we actively would not employ pilots for whom that is an issue. Strange, but there you have it.

Regarding the case in point, my understanding is that the FO was a late-arrival career FO who never flew in the RAF. All this stuff about employing ex-mil pilots is completely irrelevant here as he wasn't one. The Captain was faced with a nightmare FO, and I have considerable sympathy for him. There is no doubt he could have handled the situation better, but in his defence it was not an easy one to deal well with.

Slightly bizarrely, I notice that the two pilots involved are now fighting FlyBe TOGETHER in their battle against unfair dismissal - CRM appears to have prevailed after all!

Last edited by Alexander de Meerkat; 21st Apr 2012 at 23:46. Reason: typo
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 00:34
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Does anyone else agree that..

...taking your grievance to a tribunal..and as a consequence having your name and photos splashed all over the media... is not exactly career-enhancing?

Speaking personally, as a recruiter, I could not and would not, consider either of these two gents.

I nevertheless wish them both well.
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 05:58
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There's a short story written by James Thurber (1939) which I find most relevant here .....
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 08:54
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Tribunal "Reserves" its decision.

...So it looks as though we will all have to wait a while before we hear the outcome of the case because the employment tribunal has "reserved" its decision - which means that, rather than announcing the result in the tribunal chamber at the end of the proceedings, it's to be published in written form at a future date.

Under cross-examination Captain Bird had been asked ask whether the argument had potentially put his passengers in danger, as his whole attention was not on flying the plane. According to the Daily Mirror he replied: “Of course it did. It was a distraction.”

Flybe's Chief Pilot Ian Bastow is reported as telling the tribunal he did not want them to fly again. In an abnormal situation, he said, if the crew did not work together, “it is quite likely the end result will not be desirable”.
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 12:23
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Honestly... Pair of pigs a***s.

We all sometimes fly with people we would not engage with socially, but that's no different to any real-life situation.

That's reality. To allow the cockpit situation to descend into that state takes real skill on both sides.

Fire the pair of them? Absolutely right.

I can be a real pain to fly with, because I like things done right, but I'm still socially adept enough to realise what's appropriate and what isn't.

If your people-management skills are so poor as to allow that sort of situation to develop, then I wouldn't be that happy with your other skills either.

Pathetic frankly. Both of them.
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 12:46
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Spent 6 years at flybe a while back .One of the biggest problems it had was that it allowed this sort of thing to go on un-checked.

I should have had a kick up the a**se myself a few times and there were a few downright loonies in the place , most of whom knew that they would never get a job anywhere else.....they are probably still there.

It was a source of considerable concern to me that any complaint about the catastrophically poor behaviour was met with a shrug of the shoulders .

As it happens I knew the skipper in this incident and the fleet manager .I remember them both as reasonable guys .

Now working for a major airline which does not allow "no-fly" lists .
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 17:33
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Mmm Rabski, I wonder what your colleagues might say.
When CRM 1st came into our world some Airlines conducted an anonymous questionnaire. Some Captains were so shocked at the perception of themselves by others, they went sick for a while.
As for these two. Well these things happen, but they should have not flown back.
It will be interesting to see how the tribunal reacts as they are not aviation professionals.
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 17:59
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Trying to Avoid CRM problems

I remember Maximum Pete's event very well, I was involved on the edge

He saw a CRM problem and tried to avoid it by keeping away from the FO till the dust settled

The Company were frightened of the potential for the FO to cause trouble and manipulated mp out

They lost a great deal of front on the issue and it was the cause of many thinking again about where they wanted to work
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 18:11
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"Mmm Rabski, I wonder what your colleagues might say.
When CRM 1st came into our world some Airlines conducted an anonymous questionnaire. Some Captains were so shocked at the perception of themselves by others, they went sick for a while.
As for these two. Well these things happen, but they should have not flown back.
It will be interesting to see how the tribunal reacts as they are not aviation professionals."


I hope (and I'm pleased to say that experience suggests) that my colleagues would say that I can be a disruptive, ornery, foot-stamping git at times, but that's because ultimately the buck stops here. If I see something that I think compromises my safety and that of those around me, I'll damned well say so. I always have done. It hasn't cost me a job yet (though it's come close a couple of times) and in only a very few years I'll be sitting in my rocking chair dribbling gently into a nice claret. And the way things are going, I'll be bloody glad to, to be honest, but that's another matter.

For the moment, I'll keep saying, nice and loud, if something isn't right. Equally though, I try to always keep my right ear open. I try never to be overbearing to anyone sitting on that side of me, because like it or not, we all make mistakes sometimes and that seat is usually the place where those mistakes are picked up before they turn into a real problem. If I've missed something, or God forbid, screwed something, I want someone next to me to feel they can tell me so, quickly and without fear, before it all goes pear shaped.

Naturally, I never set anything incorrectly, never miss a decimal place and generally am perfect. However, one day I might not be.

The people sitting to your right aren't idiots by a very long stretch and any left-seater who treats them that way is heading for major problems sooner or later. There's a reason for having two seats, and mostly it's because we need assistance and two pairs of ears and eyes. Sometimes, we need help. Big time. If it's ever my day for all the holes to line up, then I'd much rather the guy or girl to my right is happy to work with me, rather than in the middle of a massive sulk.

It's not just CRM, it's basic human interaction and decent manners. Banter is fine, but I would never call someone 'my bitch' unless I knew them extremely well. To do so otherwise seems to me to be asking for exactly the situation that developed in this instance. Quite possibly the FO was a stick of dynamite waiting to go off, nevertheless, in this instance the captain lit the fuse.

Not only poor people management skills, but basic bad manners.
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 18:13
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Interestingly the F/O has on his LinkedIn profile that he is a member of the Pilot Recruitment International group and Professional Pilot Employment Search group, but there's no mention of his departure from FlyBe
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 22:12
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I will throw some petrol on the fire -

Of the ex-airforce crew that I flew with (maybe I had a bad run or it could just be me,) the worst of characters were the ex trash hauler 'white glove' brigade, closely followed by the ex-RAF non flyers (one ex eng gives me nightmares) who got out and then started flying.

Generally insecure with big chips, big egos, and piss poor handling skills and matching PQs.

Taught me a lot about what not to try and emulate.

With the occasional exception.

The ex-fj and even the navy guys always seemed to be relaxed because they had nothing to prove and their CRM skills were better because it was new to them and they had to try harder....
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 08:59
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Divorce, anti-depressants and no CVR?

A few more facts have emerged overnight on the updated Daily Mail website which I don't believe were published in last week's tribunal coverage:- (Flybe pilots sacked after one called the other 'his bitch' before mid-flight bust-up | Mail Online)

The Mail says the reason CVR evidence was not used was because the recording of the row on the way to Spain was apparently wiped automatically on the return flight to Devon.(Was there no way to preserve this - assuming either pilot had wished to?....And should not a recording have been preserved anyway if - as alleged - both pilots were "yelling at each other" and, as was later stated, there was a potential safety issue?

The Mail says:- "Captain Bird had been on sick leave for seven months and on anti-depressants after a messy divorce, said Mr Akers." (It isn't clear from that quote whether Mr Akers was alleging the Captain Bird was on anti-depressants at the time of the flight - but if he was, could there be parallels with the case of Captain Clayton Osbon - the JetBlue pilot who was forcibly excluded from his flight deck after bizarre behaviour back in March this year? JetBlue described that incident as a "medical situation".)
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 09:30
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Rabski - if you are by your own admission 'a pain to fly with' because you 'like things done right', you can surely identify with the Captain's dilemma. You do not strike me as someone who woluld be tolerant of a stroppy FO. When I read your discussions here, I am not filled with excitement at the thought of being your FO - I do fully accept, however, that the written word can be misleading and you may be a great guy. What I would say here is that there are no perfect Captains out there, and most of us have mishandled situations at one time or other. Indeed, were you to delve into Chief Pilot Ian Baston's past you will find some significant errors on his part. The point I am making is that none of us can stand up perfectly to examination and there is a place for grace here. It may be these were 2 nightmare guys and FlyBe were given an opportunity that was too good to miss. My gut feeling is the Captain was unlucky and should still have a job, but others with more knowledge may have a different, and indeed more insightful, view of this situation.
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