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Second in Command - Not just a seat warmer

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Second in Command - Not just a seat warmer

Old 22nd Sep 2008, 11:03
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Second in Command - Not just a seat warmer

Flight International 16-22 September letter to The Editor:
"Following the fatal crash of the Garuda Boeing 737 in Indonesia last year, the company announced several changes to its basic operating procedures. It now specifies the first officer must seize control from the captain if he believes the aircraft is not being flown correctly.

One can imagine the resulting chaos as the copilot attempts to wrest control from the captain on final approach. Realistically, no captain will meekly hand over control without a fight.

One solution is for the copilot to demand the captain go around while he (the copilot) simultaneously selects the landing gear up. It is doubtful any captain would then ignore the copilot's advice and deliberately land wheels up just to make a point. The captain can then blame the copilot for the go around and thus save face."

First officers should always remember they are second in command and not just an occupant in the copilot's seat. As second in command you have certain responsibilities for the safety of the flight. If the captain is engaged in an unstable approach with a good likelihood of landing fast and long, especially on a wet runway, or landing short with high sink rate and idle thrust, then if the captain is intent on pressing on regardless of the consequences and risk of a crash, you as second in command must act quickly and decisively and ask questions later. Don't just sit there transfixed and wondering what to do.

The suggestion in Flight International that in dire circumstances the copilot should demand the captain go-around and to force the go-around by reaching over and selecting the gear lever to up, is one that should be considered. It may be the only option left to prevent a crash.

The CVR will record your actions and prove that you acted decisively and correctly. The old saying of " sometimes you have to cause a crisis to fix a crisis" is very true.
A37575 is offline  
Old 22nd Sep 2008, 11:23
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Its always been a tough call and is very different from culture to culture as well . The most assertive F/O I have ever heard of was a few years ago in Dallas , all waiting to go at the hold with a huge CB over the airport. An AA MD82 lined up , assesed the weather on his radar having recieved a take off clearance. A voice came over the radio and said , " tower this is the First Officer of American --- , I am not happy with the Captains decision to take off in this weather but he is electing to go "

This was followed by an uneventfull take off .
But it may have been different I guess.
fourgolds is offline  
Old 22nd Sep 2008, 15:30
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Touchy subject. FO's job involves being both a pilot and a psycologist. It's a tough job.

As an FO I remember being scared by my Captain's decisions once, and it only turned out to be an approach with a "bank angle" and "terrain" GPWS aurals and an interesting landing. All I did was keep an eye on the terrain, airspeed, and configured the AC as he was too focused on his bomb run to ask for checklists.

I did take the controls once when my Captain was looking for the runway leveled at the MDA on a VOR approach to minimums with decreasing airspeed (below Vref) and a very long decelerating trend vector on the PFD. He appologized, took the controls again and there were no hard feelings. Another Captain could've been more emotional about that.

As a Captain I'm sure I have scared new FOs with visual approaches with 3 mile finals and also approaches and takeoffs in bad weather, but most things are new to them at that point.

I really doubt retracting the gear is a safe thing to avoid crazy landings. Just sitting there isn't good either. I think I would try the old "Captain I don't think we are going to make it, wouldn't it be better to go around?", or maybe just recruit better Captains.

rcl
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Old 23rd Sep 2008, 06:38
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Incorporate CRM into your training syllabus,basechecks,line checks etc.
CAT IIIB is offline  
Old 10th Oct 2008, 21:46
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Thats a bad place to be. In some parts of the world the captin is like god where FO can't say anything. Remeber the Korean Air B747 crush is Guam. The captin flew glide slope that was officially inop. FO asked the captin please lets not fly it down. Than when the GPWS went off the FO said again please go around.

Dumb ass captin flew the whole airplane into trees. But yea if I'm FO I won't say anything as long as my captin won't kill me. If I see he will fly me into a mountain or something I'm punching him on the face if I have.

So my opinion captin must be stopped with no hesitation in situations like flying below DH or MDA with no vis or flying a non operative approach, or flying a vector toward a mountin.
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