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Flybe pilots fired after flight deck row

Old 23rd Apr 2012, 11:04
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Definitely with Rabski on this. The Buck does stop with the LHS. CRM has been interesting and has great value but the promoters have to realise that the Regulatory Authorities & the Law will site the Captain as being ultimately responsible. Command decisions made by committee have no place in a heavy, fast moving, transport aircraft. If so, let the Regulators & Law makers change everything to give the "committee" full responsibility. A softening of command attitude by the CRM pundits is causing many events like this. Not all reported.

No -one would wish a return to the "Papa India" incident at LHR. In my FO days, I would have instant respect for who-ever was in the LHS; operationally. I might have disliked many, personally, but it never spilled into the flight deck. Many times, I would return home and think "well, that's exactly what I do not want to be like", but, uniforms on, back to having to understand the chain of command concept.

During Command Training, I needed to have the "FO kicked out of me". A neighbour, happened to be a TRE/IRE pulled me up over the fence and told me I was likely to fail as I was "not assertive enough". "Needs to take hold of the ship, more". I took his advice , went to the RADA for acting lessons, became an absolute tyrant to my kids & passed.

CRM tried to kick the Captain out of me. I resisted. So far, no incidents. One very near, when a FO who I thought was a personal friend suddenly went bonkers. Something I had done to help flipped him completely as he accused me of undermining him, interfering with "his" duties and being patronising at all times. Good grief. Was it something I said ??? (!). A firm calming down of the incident was given by me. I offered to have him replaced but suggested that it would not be good for him. We got back in one piece, very professional, actually, but have not renewed our friendship for some 5 years.

Firm leadership by this Captain (referred to in the thread) encouraged by strong Company back up and not this mamby pamby CRM world would have stamped out the awful atmosphere.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 13:39
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Landflap, I'm just wondering, did this outburst lead you to examine your own style of leadership? I mean that's what we're talking about here - leadership. And if so, what did you learn? I'm genuinely interested btw - this isn't a dig at you.
Every Captain has the right to stamp his own style on the flight deck and as far as I can tell there is nothing in the CRM principles that bypasses the Captain's right to Command.
I'm not for one second saying this is you, but there are a lot of people who bash CRM because they don't understand what it is trying to achieve. As far as I am concerned it is about the Captain using what he has available to him to achieve the best outcome. You get the best out of people by motivating them to do well for you. That is good leadership and that is what CRM is about.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 13:53
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Originally Posted by korrol
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?
korrol - the CVR is only used in accident investigation. It doesn't matter if it were over-recorded or not, it wouldn't be available for this incident.

You get the best out of people by motivating them to do well for you. That is good leadership and that is what CRM is about.
True - but some are easy to motivate, and some difficult. Most FO's are a delight - however a very very few act like surly teenagers, requiring to be personally convinced of every decision rather than trusting to the experience of the Captain making that decision. Liable to argue every 50:50 bet on weather avoidance with their own decision. Borderline insubordinate.

A day with a guy like that can be extremely tiring and very trying, regardless of the good humour and CRM skills you bring to the position.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 14:08
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This is true, but I think a lot of people allow this situation to develop to a point where an outburst or an argument is the only remaining option. Firmly nipping this kind of behaviour in the bud at the earliest option is the only effective solution. Then you can get on with the day.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 14:15
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Checkboard,

With you 100% on the last paragraph.

It is possibly a generation thing, and definitely a "nationality" thing (thinking of a very flat country here)

Sometimes we have to remind our colleague that the old joke
"Crew Resource Management" =

We are "The Crew"
You are "The Resource"
I am "The Management"

Is in fact not a joke, but a statement of legal fact.

Oh BTW, I am only a cantankerous old sod when someone takes the p1ss, I do usually try (& hopefully succeed) in keeping that in reserve for when it is needed ,as a last resort.

As Al has said, the best option is to identify/eradicate it early in the day, lest it rear its ugly head even higher later, to everyones disadvantage.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 14:16
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[QUOTE]The Buck does stop with the LHS. CRM has been interesting and has great value but the promoters have to realise that the Regulatory Authorities & the Law will site the Captain as being ultimately responsible. Command decisions made by committee have no place in a heavy, fast moving, transport aircraft. If so, let the Regulators & Law makers change everything to give the "committee" full responsibility. /QUOTE]

You are absolutely correct that the flight deck is not a level playing field nor a democracy. The Captain has the final authority, always.

It is also beneficial from a teamwork perspective for a Captain to demonstrate an awareness that he/she does not carry the responsibility alone and that poor decisions or actions leading to incidents/accidents reflect heavily on all crew members tasked with operating the aircraft. In practice it isn't just the Commander who will be held responsible. The Cargo 737 (DHL?) incident at EMA/BHX resulted in both crew members being dismissed, as did the Emirates tail scrape in Melbourne. The ATR that ran out of fuel and ditched in the Med saw both pilots given prison sentences by an Italian court(I don't think either actually ended up in the clink).

While clearly a good F/O knows when, if and how to assist the Captain, with assist being the clear emphasis, the few guys i have noticed gain a reputation with others as "difficult" during my career are those who operate under the "Buck stops with me and me alone" theory. I am not suggesting this is at all your outlook Landflap but it can be a common theme amongst the very few Captains I have encountered who seem intent on regarding everyone but themselves as the enemy. They are usually the ones who have ultimately forgotten that the responsibility does lie to a certain degree with the "team", even if the higher percentage of responsibility will always wrest in the LHS. A co-pilot who forgets their place in the chain of command or who does not understand the remit of a First Officer is I'm sure just as much of a problem.

In the FlyBe case neither pilot has dealt with the situation particularly well but as Kingfisher mentioned, would the situation have escalated to the level it did if the Captain had simply decided to avoid the weather? As always, easy to judge from a distance. I do have some sympathy for both pilots.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 14:19
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Playstation - I am a 100% CRM advocate and even though you may feel your explanation of CRM is cynical, I think it's spot on!

Last edited by Al Murdoch; 23rd Apr 2012 at 20:13. Reason: Punctuation.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 14:24
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I would not be very impressed as a trainer if I saw a captain going through bad weather simply because they were running late.

A very dubious command decision?
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 14:31
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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".

With respect, I didn't say I am a PITA to fly with, I said I can be a PITA. And by that, I meant mostly with management, though even there it's only if I feel something constitutes a potential risk. I try to keep generally friendy and encouraging to anyone sitting on my right. As I said, they're there for a good reason and one day, one might save me from an almighty one. By the grace of good luck, I've only ever had a few near ones, but who knows? Tomorrow might be my bad luck day and if it is, I want assistance, not the blind following the blind, or worse, resentment.

That said, and having discussed with a few in other companies, I think that in some places the training of CRM needs to be looked at. In some cases, I feel it weakens the position of ultimate responsibility too much and could potentially lead to a 'who the hell is in charge here' situation. There are just a few occasions where you do have to make it clear who calls the shots, though there are ways to do so without causing friction. God forbid, but if I ever have to say 'my aircraft', I don't want to have to explain the decision if the hounds of hell have just broken loose.

Yes, the buck does stop here and there have been one or two cases when I've had to make it clear that there is just one captain. However, I must say that with one or two years experience, it has been extremely rare and when I've had to do it, I've always tried to take the time to explain my decision afterwards. FOs are captains in training. To treat them as inferior in any way whatsoever is going to cause resentment and that's the last thing anyone wants.

I have to put up with enough insubordination and sulks from the damned electronics I'm stuck with so I certainly don't want it in human form as well.

And slightly off-topic, I encourage FOs to hand fly as much as my SOPs allow. In my experience it's a confidence builder and a trust builder. Not to mention a good way to stop standards slipping.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 15:49
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In 36 years of flying ( gulp ) I can only remember a couple of occasions when things went a little astray.

Firstly, when flying as an FO on a 1/11 and teamed up with a very under-confident albeit technically experienced Captain ( funny how I always flew the thing in bad weather ). A little too quick for him one morning whilst still on the ground - his teddy went out of the window and a subdued day followed !

Secondly, years later, when flying with another Captain ( run out of co-pilots again ) - swapped seats after first leg and it all went a bit astray. Sorted out with a handshake in the cruise - he was a mate before the 'incident' and has remained so ever since.

Forget about all this civ/mil debate - there are clowns from both backgrounds but fortunately these events as reported in the tabloids are few and far between - at least I hope they are !
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 16:13
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Of course we should remember NOT to tar all ex-RAF types with the same brush as some previous posters have done. I remember an ex-RAF Sqn Ldr Herc jockey who joined Flybe on the Q400 fleet as an F/O, and he was an absolute pleasure to fly with; he was fully aware of his duties and position in the flightdeck chain of command. He did occasionally look like a Sqn CO as he went about his pre and post-flight tasks in the crewroom, but never (that I saw) used his former position to bully, initimidate or apply undue influence over his colleagues.

Come to think of it, exactly the same can be said of a former Engineering Sqn Ldr who I also flew with on the Q400.

In this particular case I know the Captain and flew with him when he was an F/O, but I don't know the F/O so can't really comment.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 16:26
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It is almost 20 years ago at the company I used to work for where there was an altercation on a 19 seat turbine aircraft(no autopilot) descending in IMC to a fairly extreme airport in terms of terrain. The pilots were stupid enough to write each other up with the new captain losing his captaincy.The F/O was the type that pissed off many and the captain was a bit of a jerk as well.

The F/O's report was along the lines of...

During conversation with another aircraft, the captain made a slanderous comment about the copilots mental capabilities on the radio. This prompted a physical reaction from the copilot in the form of a blow, to the captain's right shoulder. Further reaction from the captain took the form of a blow to the co-pilots head.

Meanwhile the captain wrote along the lines of.....

There had been casual banter on the company frequency. A comment was made by myself, which the F/O took offense to, even though there had been some good natured "ribbing' earlier in the flight. The F/O then punched me in the shoulder with enough force to disrupt my profile of descent while in a cloud layer with no visual references. I took the time to stabilize my descent and then I returned the shove with equal force and explained that considering the aircraft situation that this type of behaviour would not be tolerated in the cockpit, fun or not. This occurrence was witnessed by the passengers.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 17:12
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korrol - the CVR is only used in accident investigation. It doesn't matter if it were over-recorded or not, it wouldn't be available for this incident.
In the U.S., this was pretty much true in the past. However, lately the trend over here has been to harvest conversation on the CVR as part of an 'incident' investigation. I'd almost guess the CVR recording could be used in the U.S. if the argument was made that the CRM problems affected the safe conduct of the flight.

If you have an event that is reportable to the FAA, they and the company safety folks can listen to the CVR recording from what we have been told. If an antiskid controller fails and you blow tires on landing, the whole CVR recording becomes fair game from an incident I've seen.

Many aircraft manuals still have the old boilerplate text that says that only the last 30 minutes are recorded. The new CVR's have solid state memory recording, most retain at least two hours and the 'erase' button mandated decades ago by law sorta works but the recording can be easily recovered from what I've been told by our safety people. I'm sure when the cockpit cameras are installed we will be given every assurance that they will only ever be used for safety, not discipline. And, I'm sure over time things will change.

An example of conversation not directly related to operation of the aircraft being exploited for analysis is in the Colgan 3407 crash in Buffalo. The crew members discussed commuting to work and sleeping in the crew lounge. The posthumous CVR testimony of the Colgan crew was cited in congressional hearings, in my opinion somewhat out of the scope of the original CVR mandate.

There are inevitably a few CVR CRM urban legends that seem to float around. Many seem to involve crews of mixed gender (uh, by that I mean one male, one female). A comment, act or accusation that is inappropriate occurs and someone's job is saved by pulling the CVR circuit breaker to preserve evidence of what actually happened. I know these stories are true because they always start 'Now, this is no s**t!'
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 19:11
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Airbubba,

"An example of conversation not directly related to operation of the aircraft being exploited for analysis is in the Colgan 3407 crash in Buffalo. The crew members discussed commuting to work and sleeping in the crew lounge. The posthumous CVR testimony of the Colgan crew was cited in congressional hearings, in my opinion somewhat out of the scope of the original CVR mandate."

I have to disagree old chap. This was DIRECTLY attributable to the accident; they were fatigued. That fatigue resulted in an eqivalent alchohol intake, it is suggested, that would have put them at least twice over the UK drink drive limit in terms of mental capacity.

We'll leave the Q400's design features alone for this argument as its about CVR's, and indeed this thread isnt really about CVR's or Colgan! However, the CVR in that case proved that, along with company IT material, both pilots were not fit to fly.

From my experience those with something to hide tend to be the only people afriad of CVR's...

Yes, the CVR is a very valid and useful tool. If you follow your SOP's you have nothing to worry about.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 20:00
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Al Murdoch wrote:

You get the best out of people by motivating them to do well for you. That is good leadership and that is what CRM is about.
A good leader is only as good as the people he leads.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 20:16
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I'm not sure I necessarily agree with that.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 20:19
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Was involved in introducing CRM to a certain airline. Nearly all our difficulties were with Captains who felt that CRM was an intrusion into their command prerogatives.
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 22:11
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The personal disputes discussed here extend far beyond the flight deck. Imagine the same conflict in an operating theatre?

However there are other issues in places like the Far East where it is not acceptable to question a senior person.

One-Two-GO Airlines Flight 269 is a good example.
On the day of the crash, the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 [9] departed Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport, Thailand at 14:31 local time en route to Phuket International Airport as flight number OG269.[2] The flight crew consisted of captain Arief Mulyadi, an Indonesian national and the Chief Pilot of One-Two-Go Airlines, and a former Indonesian Air Force pilot, first officer Montri Kamolrattanachai, a Thai national who had recently completed his flight training with One-Two-GO’s ab initio program. The aircraft was carrying 123 passengers and 7 crew members. OG269 was the fourth of six flights between Bangkok and Phuket that Arief and Montri were scheduled to fly that day.[2]
On approach to Phuket, captain Arief made several radio communications errors including read-back/hear-back communications and misstating their flight number. First officer Montri was the flying pilot.[2]
Another aircraft landed immediately prior to flight 269 and experienced wind shear. That aircraft's captain contacted the tower and reported wind shear on final and cumulonimbus over the airport, a report audible to all incoming aircraft. Air Traffic Control requested flight 269 acknowledge the weather information provided and re-state intentions. Captain Arief acknowledged the transmission and stated his intention to land.[2]
OG269 conducted an ILS approach just north of the centerline on runway 27. As the landing proceeded, ATC reported increasing winds at 240 degrees from 15–30 knots (28–56 km/h; 17–35 mph), then to 40 knots (74 km/h; 46 mph). Captain Arief acknowledged the reports. ATC requested intentions again. Captain Arief said, “Landing”.[2]
As the aircraft descended to 115 feet (35 m) above ATL, its airspeed dropped. Captain Arief repeatedly called for more power as First Officer Monti attempted the landing. The aircraft continued to descend and fell below 50 feet (15 m) above ATL, causing the auto-throttle to reduce engine thrust to idle. One second later, First Officer Montri called “Go Around”. This was acknowledged by the captain. The first officer then attempted to transfer control of the aircraft to captain Arief. There was no verbal acknowledgement of this from captain Arief.[2]
The pilots retracted the landing gear and set flaps for go-around. The aircraft pitch changed from 2 degrees to 12 degrees as the aircraft climbed, its engines still at idle. Airspeed fell and the aircraft climbed to a maximum altitude of 262 feet (80 m) ATL before beginning to descend. For 13 seconds the engines remained at idle. The aircraft pitch angle decreased to near 0 and then the throttle was manually increased two seconds before impact with an embankment along the runway at 15:40. The aircraft was severely damaged by a post crash fire.[2]
And the NTSB concluded
The cause of the crash was found to be due to a combination of human performance and operational issues, including: Human Performance:[1]
CRM issues, including attempted transfer of control of the aircraft at a critical moment
Failure of either pilot to apply power while attempting to regain altitude
Fatigue issues as both pilots had worked illegally excessive hours for the week and the month
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Old 23rd Apr 2012, 23:57
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Surely Folks, any Flight deck is a place for tact, consideration & respect, yes & also including the odd bit of humor & light heartedness at times too. I was rather lucky that the great majority of Flight decks I was ever on, were just like this.
We will always get I suppose, the very odd, total beakdown of relations & respect between any Crew Members, that's life, however outside the aircraft is obviously the place to sort this out, hopefully having all parties having cooled down first.
Great pity this particular event & there may well be more to it than meets the eye, but going on details as so far reported, to me the Company had little option, in the action it took.
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Old 24th Apr 2012, 08:37
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Swearing at a captain "not acceptable" - says Flybe boss

More has emerged in local newspapers from the proceedings of the employment tribunal which has been hearing the appeals of former Flybe employees Captain Stephen Bird and First Officer Stephen Akers against their dismissal after their now-famous flight deck contretemps .It now transpires the tribunal heard that FO Akers had threatened to take Captain Bird out for a fight after they landed at Malaga.

Their line manager Captain Stan Wood, who led the investigation into the conduct of the two pilots, told the tribunal that FO Akers had "reacted inappropriately" when he swore at Captain Bird . Capt Wood told an Exeter employment tribunal hearing: "Swearing at your captain during the flight is completely unacceptable."

Captain Wood said FO Akers should have requested another pilot take over for the return trip to Exeter because of the "massive" fall-out between the pair and that "He chose to put the safety of innocent passengers and crew members at risk by operating the return flight.".

Captain Wood also said "In my view, Stephen Bird did not act as a captain should have and had no appreciation whatsoever for the potential consequences of his actions. As the captain, and therefore commander, of the aircraft he had ultimate control of the aircraft." He said "Stephen Bird should have taken control of the aircraft on approach to landing. He chose to engage in the argument with Mr Akers, which exacerbated the situation.We could not guarantee that they would have been able to cope with a serious incident that may have arisen on the return flight given the atmosphere and ill-feeling towards each other." Captain Wood said it was "completely inappropriate" for the two pilots to fly back to England after such a heated argument.

Captain Robert Horton, general manager of jets at Flybe, told the tribunal that his first concern was Capt Bird's reference to Mr Akers as "his bitch".Capt Horton said: "As an experienced pilot I would never refer to someone who I was about to spend the next six to eight hours with in those terms, particularly in safety- critical conditions such as flying". "To me" , he said "this is a form of bullying. It is not tolerated at Flybe." He concluded both pilots were "equally culpable for a very serious breach of safety procedure".
The full version is on Pilot 'threatened to fight' Flybe captain | This is Exeter
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