Spectators Balcony (Spotters Corner) If you're not a professional pilot but want to discuss issues about the job, this is the best place to loiter. You won't be moved on by 'security' and there'll be plenty of experts to answer any questions.

Commander incapacity

Old 14th Dec 2011, 12:03
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: London
Posts: 125
Commander incapacity

Apologies if this is matter is discussed and archived somewhere.

I should be grateful to know the circumstance wherein a Second in Command may assume command if the Captain is physically or mentally incapacitated If the commander assents to hand over presumably no problem. If the Commander refuses and the SIC is convimced it is necessary what is the legal position? Is the subordiinate required to seek permission from base ( assuming there is time)?.If there is more than one subordinate does this make a difference if they concur? Is there a fine line here with mutiny etc. you get the drift? Are the rules in the public domain?

Many thanks
KLOS is offline  
Old 14th Dec 2011, 12:48
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 1,914
As you've asked a question, I'll ask you why you ask this? Are you imagining a Captain Queeg-type situation? You're certainly full of questions, so why this one? This is a scenario that has occurred countless times. As far as I am aware, always resolved the obvious safe way, with no personality issues like you are burrowing for. What's the relevance?

FYI, I am a 40+ year (industry) UK airline pilot.
Notso Fantastic is offline  
Old 14th Dec 2011, 13:12
  #3 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: London
Posts: 125
Captain,

Thanks for taking the trouble to reply. I just assumed that there would be a procedure to follow. I have no agenda ( can't see what an agenda would be). If you say there is no set out procedure and ergo it will never occur fair enough.

Sincerely
KLOS is offline  
Old 14th Dec 2011, 15:10
  #4 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 1,914
No I did not say that, it does occur, and quite frequently, and it gets resolved easily and quickly with the co-operation of all on board with none of the drama of The Caine Mutiny. We have had it in the last month. At 450 mph, there is no time for drama.
Notso Fantastic is offline  
Old 14th Dec 2011, 17:13
  #5 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: London
Posts: 125
Thank you for your further response. I think you misunderstood me. I took you as meaning that there had never been ( by extension never would be) an instance of an impaired Commander refusimg to accede as it would be certain to br resolved amicably. I remember the BEA Trident deep stall accident at Staines ( happened just up the road from where I lived) . There was much speculation after that Captain Stanley Key had become incapacitated and was in conflict with the two junior FOs. Some of my relatives knew the BEA captain travelling as passenger and they tell me that that was the word within the pilot community. I cannot verify this, I do remember the chief investigator saying that they knew what had happened ( premature retraction of the lead edges? ) but not why a 3 man crew had not heeded the stall warning.

So just to confirm, are you saying that pilots have not and have never had instruction on how to act in a scenario where a pilot who is deemed by the subordinate to be incapacitated and refuses to accede and the reason for no such instruction is the reason you adduce i.e it will always be resolved without conflict,

Many thanks
KLOS is offline  
Old 14th Dec 2011, 17:35
  #6 (permalink)  
Per Ardua ad Astraeus
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 18,581
Physical incapacity is the easy one - you just take over there and then, no questions.

The mental one (sometimes hard to tell............) is far more difficult and quite often would require some form of restraint used (or a piece of heavy metal) since logic often departs at the same time. I'm not sure there ever has been a case like that, but I'm sure someone will have a tale to tell.
BOAC is offline  
Old 14th Dec 2011, 18:29
  #7 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: London
Posts: 125
BOAC

Thanks so there is a policy- de facto?- sauve qui peut.

I just re-visited the P.I Inquiry Report and low and behold it does cite, inter alia, lack of CRM in relation to incapacitation.
KLOS is offline  
Old 14th Dec 2011, 20:20
  #8 (permalink)  
Per Ardua ad Astraeus
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 18,581
Traditionally the industry has worked on a 3 challenge system to alleviate incapacitation, after which control is normally transferred. That I suppose is a 'policy'.
BOAC is offline  
Old 15th Dec 2011, 06:52
  #9 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: London
Posts: 125
BOAC

Thanks

If I were an FO and convinced that the commander was not in a fit state to command, he/she would not accede and that not acting would likely result in loss of control , I would take command and if challenged subsequently in law, invoke common law defence of necessity and public interest.

Above Captain NF intimated that he was confident that such scenarios would always be resolved amicably. I once read a story about two ( Turkish ?) pilots fighting in the cockpit and spillig out into the cabin- is that one for the 'apochryphal ' file?

Anyway grateful as ever to you ( and Cpt. NF) for taking the time to raply.
KLOS is offline  
Old 15th Dec 2011, 08:15
  #10 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: London
Posts: 516
I would take command and if challenged subsequently in law, invoke common law defence of necessity and public interest.
KLOS: I really don't know where to begin with that comment! Suffice to say you may like to take some proper legal advice first.
Nicholas49 is offline  
Old 15th Dec 2011, 09:20
  #11 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: London
Posts: 125
Nicholas,

Thanks for your reply.

If I were an FO I think I would make sure I knew from my employer what the legal position was before I started out. I would want to know what I would be legally permitted to do in the scenario I paint. I would want to know that I would not be prosecuted for taking command from the designated commander In the event of my being without employer guidance in advance and facing prosecution I would not know what else to argue in defence ( any ideas?- are you a pilot?) Notwithstanding any legal advice after the event , I would have acted at the time with the public interest defence in mind

In another sphere say,facing discosure of sensitive information for which there is no statutory gateway but with a belief that it was necessary to disclose to prevent a ( for example) crime, I would invoke the same defence. Indeed, the advent of the Public Interest Immunity Act arose subsequent to the Clive Ponting ( MOD) prosection wherein the Judge instructed the Jury that there was no public interest defence in disclosing sensitive information. The Jury very properly ( imho) ignored the ruling and acquitted Ponting etc.

Best wishes and Season's greetings
KLOS is offline  
Old 15th Dec 2011, 10:02
  #12 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 1,914
KLOS, you referred to the Staines Trident accident. I knew one of the copilots involved having trained at roundabout the same time. It involved a very steep cockpit gradient (such as is happening more and more now). CRM was introduced to prevent just such incidents in more enlightened regions. It may be a factor in certain parts of the world even now, but it is not a problem in most 'normal' airlines. The experience is sensible behaviour now (for those regions that have taken on board the lessons of CRM). The example we experienced recently was someone recognising they were severely impaired (blood clot) and arranging excellent transfer of authority and control. There is no time for legal shennanigans at 450mph.

Your questions may be needed in other areas and expanded to include Queegish behaviour, but they should be addressed to specific regions where there is still a long way to go. Incidents in the Far East, Indian subcontinent, Gulf, S America and Africa are included, but for the rest of the world, I think we have it sorted, and we call it 'CRM'.
Notso Fantastic is offline  
Old 15th Dec 2011, 10:26
  #13 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: London
Posts: 125
Many thanks for your response.

Season's Greetings

KLOS is offline  
Old 15th Dec 2011, 20:10
  #14 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: home
Posts: 22
Well talking about the legal ramifications of all this is part of the problem.

For the most part aviation is a very pragmatic industry and that to be honest is the building blocks of modern CRM. Crew Resource Management if not in the know.

When you are in the air and an abnormal occurrence happens such as a capt. incapacitation a pragmatic look at it is needed, as said before at 400 mile an hour we don't have time to play lawyers. A simple unconscious incap is easy to deal with no questions there. An insidious or even worst an aggressive incap is harder to deal with.

As for legal responsibility that where it could get difficult but to be honest only if something goes wrong and you need to prove it was either the correct or wrong decision. Frankly its sad that you would even have to consider this as I can pretty much guarantee any aviator would only ever do what they thought was the safest and most appropriate action. (its our lives as well remember) I honest don't believe any company would have the slightest problem with you if you said I'm sorry but in my honest opinion the capt was unable to perform their duty in an acceptable manner.

Every FO flying should be perfectly capable of performing as a capt. and company training should ensure this and therefore place the trust in their decision making ability just as they do in the day to day operation of a metal tube with unknown numbers of passengers onboard.

Communication and the ability to be humble are very important qualities on the flight deck.

Hope this made sense but i can't be bothered reading it back.
theshed is offline  
Old 15th Dec 2011, 22:56
  #15 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Wor Yerm
Age: 64
Posts: 0
pilots fighting in the cockpit and spillig out into the cabin- is that one for the 'apochryphal ' file?
Unfortunately not! Different country but the same deal.
Piltdown Man is offline  
Old 16th Dec 2011, 08:13
  #16 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: London
Posts: 125
Super post , Sir

Thanks for taking the trouble-

KLOS is offline  
Old 16th Dec 2011, 08:20
  #17 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: London
Posts: 125
Thabks also to Piltdown ( and apologies) for typo on 'Apocryphal'
KLOS is offline  
Old 16th Dec 2011, 09:53
  #18 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: London
Posts: 516
KLOS

I am not a pilot. I am a lawyer. Let me try to straighten out a few points:

1. As stated above, the situation you describe has little practical application. If an F/O takes command because he believes the commander is incapacitated, he will certainly have to justify his actions to his employer., but that's where it ends. There will be no prosecution for a criminal offence / involvement of the police / Crown Prosecution Service. Why? Because there is no criminal offence of taking command in case of incapacitation!

2. the defence of necessity that you mention is a criminal law defence. It applies only to certain crimes (e.g. murder). It's not relevant here because of point 1 above.

3. the 'public interest' defence you raise is also irrelevant. That's for public/civil law matters (e.g. newspapers printing stories about celebrities). Again, I doubt the airline will sue the F/O for taking charge, given that this is exactly what he is supposed to do in that situation!

The hypothetical situation you describe is covered by an airline's operating manuals and SOPs. That's the end of it.
Nicholas49 is offline  
Old 16th Dec 2011, 13:40
  #19 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: London
Posts: 125
Nicholas ,

Thanks for your reply .

The scenario I had in mind is where an FO deemed his commander to be incapacitated ( say mentally) , the commander disagrees and the FO insists on wresting control and the commander maybe physically is unable to resist . Subsequently, the Commander maintains his view and the compamy is required to adjudicate. I am not sure how the company would decide bur suppose the company were minded to believe the commander. Initially there is a company disciplinary matter? (unless the company will always accept that an FO will always act in good faith) but is there then not an offence of potentially endangering an aircraft ( the FO's skilis not in doubt) by cauisng potentially damaging conflict in the cockpit? it would not only be a matter for the company, a third party, cabin crew/pasenger who were aware could contact the CPS

Fot examole there has always been speculation that the FO and Pilot of the EGYPTAIR 767 were fighting the controls. Had the aircraft survived . would not the FO have been criminally liable? I accept that the latter may have had crminal intent unlike the FO in my scenario but the connection is that both FO's are acting contary to the order of a superior who claims to be compos mentis and is legally responsible.

Kind regards
KLOS is offline  
Old 20th Dec 2011, 23:02
  #20 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 187
If in doubt, (and time allows) I would ask the opinion of the No. 1 Cabin member (and as many of the crew as possible). Same as if you suspect the pilot might be under the effects of alcohol. If time does not allow, you would do whatever you need to do to ensure the safety of the flight.
window-seat is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.