October 23, 2009

This morning I arrived to work to have our chief pilot come up to me and say "Did you hear about that airliner that overflew its destination by 150 miles?" I had to reply "no". Although I did turn on the news this morning, this story was (maybe rightfully) absent from the major networks.

This story serves to remind us that the most vicious enemies in the sky may not be an engine out or fire, but a loss of situational awareness. In this case, it was due to an arguement that had little to do with the flight itself. It should also be noted that the article cites another reason why the airliner overflew its destination; crew fatigue.

Both are extremely important in conducting a safe flight, and both contribute to a loss in situational awareness. Arguing over corporate policy means your thinking about proving your side and not whether the VOR indicator changed from "to" to "from". Struggling to keep your eyes open means you aren't scanning your instrument panel.

In this case, it was a simple screw up and nothing bad happened. It could've been a lot worse. The article mentions that USAF fighters were scrambled to intercept the aircraft. Fortunately they were called off, but you can see how badly this could've ended.

This incident serves as a healthy reminder that if the big boys can make this kind of mistake, so can we. Our missions are 1000' AGL over what is often difficult terrain. There are reasons we have sterile cockpit rules, and follow them.

October 11, 2009

Wing Conference

Yes, its that time again. I will be attending the Maryland Wing Conference this year (again) and as always I will be doing my usual report after-the-fact.

For those of you going to that conference, I'll see you there. I'll be the one in the blue uniform. ;)