Arguing? You’re Kidding, Right?

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Sometime later today or early next week, we should learn of the results of what has to be the biggest slam dunk investigation in the history of aviation: Whether the crew of Northwest Flight 188—which sailed 150 miles past its destination Wednesday night-- was snoozing or “discussing airline policy.” Either way, both of these guys are in a pile of trouble.

In some ways, I hope the CVR reveals a chorus of snoring rather than the discussion the crew says they were having. Falling asleep I can understand, but losing the bubble because you’re talking to your crewmate? Please. The last thing the industry needs is smearing the piloting profession with that kind of incompetence, in my view. We’ve all missed the occasional radio call or flubbed a descent clearance, but 78 minutes worth of no comm as the destination airport scrolls off the moving map is a bit much. I’m having a hard time seeing why these guys—or at least the skipper—shouldn’t be permanently beached. I’m just able to maintain a sliver of open mindedness to see what the investigation reveals. I can’t come up with anything that mitigates this poor performance.

But there’s a positive aspect to this and that’s this: Whether they were sleeping or not, the incident focuses attention on something the pilot unions have hammering for years—crew fatigue and flight and duty times. Regulations exist to address this, but these are widely seen as inadequate, especially at the regional level, where fatigue has been cited in accidents and incidents. Fatigue keeps coming up and the FAA continues to resist a meaningful regulatory solution. It may take another smoking hole for the agency to take this seriously.

You can easily see how a crew snooze could turn fatal. If fuel is a little tight due to winds and weather and the crew is checking their eyelids for light leaks, running the airplane dry is a real possibility. The flying public should expect better than that. We can only hope that it doesn’t require the locomotive solution, where the operator has to press an idiot button every two minutes or the train comes to a halt. A few more of these incidents, and it could come to that.

FRIDAY P.M. UPDATE: Northwest and the FAA revealed Friday that the A320 was equipped with an older CVR that retains only 30 minutes of data, not the two hours newer recorders store. That means the initial loss of comm and, likely, the cockpit discussion won't be on the recording.

Comments (45)

Paul, I have to agree with everything in this article. These guys, in my opinion, fell asleep. but either way, like you said, they will be in a heap of trouble. I just hope the industry takes this as a serious learning lesson. At least no one was hurt.

Posted by: Scott Meischen | October 23, 2009 9:16 AM    Report this comment

We have been hearing about these issues for several years and nothing has been done. GA has the same issues as well as all modes of transportation. We, as pilots, need to WAKE-UP to the fact that we need rest.

Posted by: Ian Green | October 23, 2009 10:54 AM    Report this comment

C'mon, Paul. "Fatigue keeps coming up and the FAA continues to resist a meaningful regulatory solution."

I'm no FAA apologist, but what the heck was their "call to action" on new flight- and duty-time regs (with an NPRM to be published around the end of the year) if not "tak[ing] this seriously" and the *opposite* of "resist[ing] a meaningful regulatory solution"?

Don't bash the FAA for not doing anything when they're making an obvious, public, and good-faith effort to work with the industry to fix it. Five years ago, you'd have had a sympathetic ear, but this complaint just smacks of outright ignorance.

Posted by: Chris Lawson | October 23, 2009 12:17 PM    Report this comment

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the CVR was an older model, which only holds the last 30 minutes of conversation. It took a little over half an hour from the time they woke up until they landed. Nothing to hear there.

Posted by: Roger Parish | October 23, 2009 3:17 PM    Report this comment

Just thinking here. But

This airplane was out of communication (NORDO) for almost an hour and the only talked about scrambling an intercept. Isn’t this the same exact way the 9-11 terrorist started their attacks with NORDO aircraft… HMM what a similarity.

So what is our defense plan… it seams that they have no problem scrambling F16’s for errant Cessna 150’s that penetrate a TFR...

I think more than the pilots of that plane goofed up...

Posted by: Todd Covey | October 23, 2009 5:10 PM    Report this comment

>>outright ignorance...etc.<<

Let me give you some perspective on this. This year marks the 15th year Avweb has been delivering aviation news. I was its first news editor and I was writing the same stories about pilot fatigue and duty time limits then as now. The key is "no meaningful regulation." Not much has changed.

And if you think federal agencies making "good faith efforts" really moves things along much, you're more gullible than I am able to make myself. Agencies always say what will mollify an agitated congress, only to have significant reform die a slow death at the staff level.

Will this time be any different, just because of a "call to action?" Maybe. So far, nothing. We continue to receive e-mail and complaints on this subject from professional pilots. And they are the ones who have to deal with it.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 23, 2009 7:02 PM    Report this comment

Paul, hiding behind 15 years of "same ol same ol" doesn't mean things aren't different now. I *am* a professional pilot, and for the first time in *my* career -- and for the first time in yours -- there is actually movement on this issue. Perhaps you've seen the ALPA news releases?

The difference this time is 50 people died in a high-profile accident that can be directly attributed to fatigue. The FAA doesn't have an option *but* to change things now, and that change is coming.

Just because you continue to receive complaints doesn't mean change won't happen, and just because nothing happened in the last 15 years doesn't mean it won't happen now. The problem is a lot older than 15 years. It's more like 50 years, and in that 50 years, we've never been closer to a fix than we are right now.

Posted by: Chris Lawson | October 23, 2009 10:54 PM    Report this comment

"snoozing or “discussing airline policy.” Either way, both of these guys are in a pile of trouble."

If they were snoozing, then it's a clear case of human factors (fatigue). And that's the best possible excuse these guys could ever have for this.

And if that was what really happened, then these guys were pretty dumb to try and cover that up by making up some other story about arguing... Unfortunately, due to the lack of CVR, we'll never know. Heck, maybe they knew about the CVR limitation and flew another 15 min in the wrong direction, to give the tape time to overwrite the bad bits? Maybe something else (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) was going on in the cockpit? Creepy - I know, but truth is stranger than fiction. Again, we'll never know.

Posted by: Darren Edwards | October 24, 2009 10:48 PM    Report this comment

Arguing? Please! If there is one thing that will get through to a conscious pilot, it is the call sign. I've never seen pilot's not respond to at least the second call. Nope. I think these guys nodded off and when they awoke they knew one thing -- "We gotta keep this bus in the air for at least 30 more minutes." That's why they overflew the airport. I believe by that time they were awake and planning how to best protect themselves. Neither excuse is adequate because in both cases NOBODY was flying the airplane.

I flew Beech 18's in the middle of the night in the middle of the midwest winters and the only thing that kept me from nodding off sometimes was the lack of an autopilot. The slight change in noise levels if the plane moved would always get through to me.

Pilots have to look to themselves, also. They know their schedule a month in advance. They shouldn't be out playing touch football or late night poker games the day before a flight series.

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | October 26, 2009 8:20 AM    Report this comment

This is a crucial issue, and is not going to be solved overnight. The actual rules as laid down by the FAA and DOT are far too lax, and in total favor of the airline or operator. The proposed/actual bunking arrangements for pilot nap times on long haul flights are a solid step forward in this regard, as are the current practices, as I understand, of switching off one pilot to the other allowing some power napping to bring the tired party back up to scratch. Not approved, but effective.

The train solution sounds like a bandaid fix but if it's effective and the operators buy into it there may be some similar short term option there for pilots. When flying alone when fatigued I would keep my finger pressed on the intercom on the helicopter control stick. The first thing to happen when nodding off is the extremities lose muscle control, and the release of the button would send a loud audio click and keep me from nodding off. Again a silly solution for a greater problem, but the experts have their work cut out for them on this one.

Posted by: Paul Swift | October 26, 2009 10:05 AM    Report this comment

I'm told the the Boeing 777 has the auto alert feature built into it. If a switch or control hasn't been moved in a certain time, the airplane system emit an alarm of escalating volume. Haven't confirmed this, but read it in another blog somewhere.

I agree that the FAA hasn't moved quickly enough on this and that current rules favor the operators. One reason for this is that the airlines have proven more persuasive than have the pilot unions.

And by the way Chris, I am not hiding behind anything, merely observing many years of slow, ineffective action. I am not naive enough to believe that this time, it's different.

Show me. I'm willing to be open minded.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 26, 2009 10:22 AM    Report this comment

No defense here - these guys were not on a fatigue-inducing schedule. We've all made the same type of mistake, just not for an hour or more. The whole incident was embarrassing, but unlikely to prove fatal.

On the other hand, on the same day a B-767 landed on a taxiway at the world's busiest airport - a mistake that could potentially have resulted in hundreds of fatalities (In their defense, it was dark, there were no approach lights, and no localizer. However, these are the conditions that make a visual approach in a widebody something close to an emergency procedure, and being a redeye flight, fatigue probably WAS a factor.). The conservative move, of course, would have been to ask for a different runway.

In any case, what I find most interesting is that we and the media are completely focused on the far less serious (but, of course, far more interesting) of these two incidents. Pathetic, but pretty human.

Posted by: Raymond Nickels | October 26, 2009 10:33 AM    Report this comment

I agree with some and disagree with some. I have worked as a mechanic for 135 companies and watched the pilots come in and fly all night and then come in and do it all over again abiding by the bare minimums of the regulations for rest and duty times. Getting paid next to nothing and flying their behinds off with no autopilot. So fatigue definitely becomes an issue. However, I believe that some personal responsibility comes to play. The regulations could give the pilots 2 weeks off in between flights and there would still be pilots coming to work tired because for some reason they had to stay up late the night before the flight. Others have to commute half way across the country to get to the place they are flying out of. Do we need a regulation for that also? I can see it now "If you fly for 1234 Airlines you must have a place of residence within 1 hour travel time". Do I think that duty and rest times need to be adjusted "Yes". Do I think that the pilots have some responsibility on how they currently use that rest time "Yes". I do realize that my status as a mechanic may seem that I do not understand the issue. However, mechanics must become personally responsible when it comes to fatigue as there is no regulation for duty and rest time for them.

Posted by: Dan Frandson | October 26, 2009 10:34 AM    Report this comment

It would appear that many observers are missing a very significant issue here. Why is it that there was a significant delay from the time the ATC folks knew there was a significant problem and the time the FAA even NOTIFIED air defense?? Not talking with someone in RVSM airspace is not a good idea.

The current world affairs and political atmosphere being what it is, the military should have been advised of the situation much sooner than they were, and the intercept aircraft should have been 'gear up' and on their way versus rolling around on the ground.

It is certainly more prudent to launch the intercept aircraft ASAP so that they can do what they are trained to do...INTERCEPT. Once they are on scene they can easily develop a plan. Keep in mind that literally every second counts. If someone on board the A-320 had evil intentions, they would have literally had unimpeded operations because the intercepts were still holding!

As for what the crew was doing....I think I would rather face the consequences of falling asleep than deal with some of the alternative reasons that have been discussed. The formal responses from the crew should make for some interesting topical discussions during the next crew training classes!!

Posted by: Gary Readio | October 26, 2009 12:24 PM    Report this comment

Here is what puzzles me. There were probably 100 plus passengers aboard that plane and maybe 5 or 6 flight attendants. Among those passengers and flight attendant there should have been at least 3 or 4 people, maybe more, who checked their watch at actual take off time in San Diego with the expectation that they would be landing at the planned and stated elapsed fight time later at MSP.

When that time, plus another 15 minutes had elapsed and the airplane had made no attempt to descend or enter a holding pattern why did not one of those people insist that someone bang on the cockpit door to find out what was going on. After another 15 minutes elapsed that banging on the cockpit door would be with something very heavy like a fire extinguisher.

The passengers and the flight attendants had a right to know what was going on -- why did not one of them exercise that right? Thanks.

OCB

Posted by: Owen C Baker | October 26, 2009 5:33 PM    Report this comment

To be sure, I've not flown on an airliner in a very long time, but the last 4-5 times I flew, it was very unpleasant. I was actually asked to put my VFR sectionals away. I was asked to not use my GPS. UAL pilots almost always turned "OFF" the audio "from the cockpit". The Flight Attendants clearly did not want me to know where I was. I think if they had been allowed to use blindfolds and handcuffs, I would have experienced that as well. Thus, it is no surprise to me that nobody outside the cockpit of NWA Flight 188 knew that anything was wrong, until after they landed.

Passengers ought to have rights, at least regarding situational awareness, but apparently they do not. Exercising a right (that a flight attendant thinks you do not have) can suddenly cause you to have a criminal record, and surely some flight attendants seem to be fond of threatening arrest for absurdly trivial reasons. I guess it makes them feel very powerful. The whole airline community today rather reminds me of the stereotypical redneck motor vehicle with the sign that says "Sit down, shut up, and hang on!".

Posted by: Bruce Liddel | October 27, 2009 2:52 PM    Report this comment

Yes, sounds a bit suspicious to me. Slam dunk is pretty apt. I know that most serious incidents or accidents have a bunch of causes but these guys are in big trouble.

Posted by: john hogan | October 28, 2009 5:15 AM    Report this comment

Now we are told that they were working with their laptops with their HEADSETS off. Are you kidding me? I've raised two sons. I'm not that gullible.

Posted by: James Sanford | October 28, 2009 5:48 AM    Report this comment

Rather than appearing fatigued (and somewhat sympathetic) they now appear irresponsible and cavalier about their duties. Perhaps a shock collar connected to the FMS that is activated when the aircraft wanders off course would help.

Posted by: Richard Jenkins | October 28, 2009 8:42 AM    Report this comment

The comment, posted by Raymond Nickels on October 26, 2009, "... . In any case, what I find most interesting is that we and the media are completely focused on the far less serious (but, of course, far more interesting) of these two incidents. Pathetic, but pretty human." is one of the most important in this thread. Although there is no excuse for the crew being lost, an A320 at cruise on autopilot under radar observation, off profile for + :30, is not nearly as serious an incident as putting a 76 on a taxiway. What happened to those guys, anyway.

Posted by: Clifford Haby | October 28, 2009 9:11 AM    Report this comment

I'd like to use last week's two incidents to address how the media reports aviation occurrences as news or non-news. Certainly the irresponsible actions of the NWA pilots warrants a suspension or perhaps a loss of licenses, but fact is, these guys were still safely toddling along 35,000 feet from any objects or terrain.

Meanwhile, on October 19, Delta flight 60, a fully loaded 767 from Rio, landed on a taxiway at ATL, which could have easily caused a Tenerife-type catastrophe -- or worse. How can a story like this be virtually ignored, beyond a 30-second mention on local news and a two-inch story in the local newspaper. So far I’ve seen almost nothing on an investigation or any other aspects of follow-up.

Is this because the peabrains in the media can understand how a distracted driver can miss an exit, but they can't understand what's the big deal when an airplane experiences what to them seems like a perfectly safe landing – so what if it was the “next runway over.” Even passengers on TV seemed oblivious. No story here, I guess.

Or perhaps we should be grateful that America’s mainstream Hollywood media hasn’t decided to help decide on their own how to prevent this from happening again. Case in point: This morning I heard NBC Today Show anchor Matt Lauer suggest that one solution would be cockpit cameras, since in NBC’s mind, passengers have the right to see what a pilot is doing at all times. Can you imagine that fiasco?

Posted by: David Thompson | October 28, 2009 9:50 AM    Report this comment

Like most I feel the actions were inexcusable regardless of what they were doing. This type of argument may lean credence to the Air Bus engineers argument that all the cockpit crew needs to consist of is one pilot and a dog. For those that don't know, the dog is to bite the pilot if he touches anything and the pilot is there to feed the dog. Maybe a cat to keep everyone alert. Over an hour without hearing from ATC on a domestic flight? That is a hard thing to accept being the crossing of areas of responsibilty every few minutes and that is in a piston single...

Posted by: Chuck West | October 28, 2009 10:20 AM    Report this comment

Cats tend to sleep too much. How about a parrot who is trained to say 'wake up!' whenever he hears the radio...

Personally I find it disgusting that these top-o-the-line pilots are squirreling, dodging and avoiding the truth as if they hit a pedestrian who got stuck in their windsheild and drove home to come up with a cowardly solution. Their lack of integrity and truthfulness is pathetic - a black eye for aviation and the 'loftiness' of Professional pilots. Reminds me of kids breaking a neighbor's window and running away as fast as they can. 20,000 flight hours and no backbone.

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 28, 2009 11:11 AM    Report this comment

It is unclear to me how these guys are "avoiding the truth." It would appear that they have admitted to getting into an intense, distracting discussion involving the use of laptops in the cockpit. That's a pretty serious admission, and they are paying a heavy price. Yes, they screwed-up. Had they been smart enough to avoid talking to the airport police upon arrival and the media in their driveway, however, this story would have died in a couple of days, they would have received some serious time off without pay, re-training, and would have kept their jobs. Having learned a tough lesson the hard way, they probably would have been fine going forward. If I may bring it up again, this is likely what will happen to the crew that landed on the taxiway in Atlanta - again, a far more serious event which has received no media attention precisely because the embarrassed crew spoke to no one until they were hauled into a room with representatives of the company, the FAA, and the union. The media had nothing to latch onto, so the story died. All of these folks made serious errors, but they are all probably reasonably good, professional pilots. I in no way mean to minimize the seriousness of their actions, but firing them or revoking certificates really does not accomplish much.

Posted by: Raymond Nickels | October 28, 2009 12:16 PM    Report this comment

Ray makes excellent points, and I agree about talking to the police, the media, etc., after the event.

But I also believe the media can only "latch on" to what their 26-year-old Nintendo-playing producers can understand. I've seen withmy own eyes too many anchors who were interviewing pilots get cut-off mid-sentence by a producer yelling in their ear, "Okay, this is boring! Bail out of it!" All because they know exactly zero about actual flight. Oh, let's not forget that the 767 story was accompanied by vintage footage of a 727 from around 1974. But I digress.

Posted by: David Thompson | October 28, 2009 12:36 PM    Report this comment

With all due respect, I tend to disagree with Mr. Nickels on the benefit of revoking certificates. I have no idea how widespread the practice of “playing” on laptops in the cockpit might be, but suspect that there will be very few cases of it after this. I realize that would be the likely outcome regardless of the decision to revoke those pilot’s certificates, but the potential loss of your career provides an extra deterrent to irresponsible behavior.

Posted by: Al Sheldon | October 28, 2009 12:46 PM    Report this comment

Mr. Sheldon may be correct, but my real point is that two pilots had their certificates revoked and two did not. The difference was the media attention, and that does not seem fair. I don't really think laptop use in the cockpit is a major issue in general. The only time I can remember seeing this was a few times when one was pulled out to show a few family pictures. Yeah, that's probably a violation, but really no worse than an envelope full of 5x7's. Mr. Thompson is right, but it really is the nature of television and the audience's short attention span. Most reporters do make an honest effort to get things right, but with the wide range of subjects they have to cover and the time pressure they are under it should not be surprising that mistakes are made.

Posted by: Raymond Nickels | October 28, 2009 1:01 PM    Report this comment

Mr. Nickels is correct that most reporters try to do a fair job. Especially print. It's the producers that are helping to shorten attention spans and prevent any valuable reporting and understanding. Some stories just can't be accurately told in 90 seconds. Those are the ones that get tossed. ("Taxiway? Runway? What's the difference?? Pass!") I work in that biz, and I see it daily.

I think the difference between the two instances is that the 767 jocks may have their licenses pulled later -- AFTER a proper investigation. The NWA guys were tried and convicted in less than a week by the media. Sad indeed.

Posted by: David Thompson | October 28, 2009 1:08 PM    Report this comment

This is tne actual times, with all AUTO, the pilots are and behave like passengers, watching the plane to fly by itself: auto take off, auto fly, auto land and tahs why they can leave a plane unattended 90 minutes.

Posted by: Fernando Russek | October 28, 2009 1:09 PM    Report this comment

Not getting hung up on negative and/or positive discipline would better suit the pilots. The fact is that if this aircraft had run out of fuel and left a crater somewhere, the discussion would concern negative retention, training and lack of discipline of the airlines to enforce their rules. These gentleman have won the right on being made the example of letting personal agendas to have precident over their "job" of flying 140+ paying passengers...

Posted by: Chuck West | October 28, 2009 1:18 PM    Report this comment

Ironically, Flight 188 could have ended in tragedy precisely BECAUSE of precautions long taken to protect pilots from hijackers, terrorists and emotionally disturbed passengers.

Back in the days of the Lockheed Constellation, Douglas DC-7 and into the early days of the jet age, you could walk up the aisle of an airliner, peek into the cockpit and watch flight crews at work. Had a flight crew fallen asleep years ago, a flight attendant could have simply walked into the cockpit and yelled, WAKE UP YOU GUYS!

But especially since September 11 2001, flight crews are protected against hijackers, terrorists, emotionally disturbed passengers and ...... flight attendants who might otherwise wake them up or tell them they've missed the exit ramp of the highway in the sky where they were supposed to exit and begin the landing procedure.

What's the solution then? Frankly, I don't know. If you make it possible for a flight attendant to enter the cockpit to wake up a sleeping (or grossly distracted) flight crew, terrorists could take advantage of that. So I'll leave it to others to suggest what to do.

Posted by: Alex Kovnat | October 28, 2009 2:23 PM    Report this comment

Alex, Mercedes has that as an option in their autos and detect sleep induced eye movements. Connect to an air horn and wal-la, a need for TP. As automated as cockpits are becoming, what the heck. Now for a rule against against the use of unauthorized electronic...nevermind

Posted by: Chuck West | October 28, 2009 2:37 PM    Report this comment

The media's place in this stunning blunder is merely a sideshow, powered by the fact that we simply don't know what happened for over an hour on that flight. Someone said if they hadn't talked to the media this would have quietly gone away with light punishment. Kind of like if we hadn't found out about the military's use of torture we wouldn't be so bothered by it?

Arguing, enthusiastic laptop use, singing - only the pilots know what really happened and no one I know believes any of their reasons. Something up there had more power, more persuasion, more influence on these men than their jobs, their passengers, their crew, their families, and their company did and we should be very concerned about it. It's one thing to be distracted by a cell phone and kill yourself running into a pole, it's quite another to risk hundreds of lives and more for who knows what. With understanding of their plight, I think they should be required to look for a different line of work.

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 28, 2009 3:17 PM    Report this comment

What a couple of buffoons! -- They're damn lucky they didn't run out of fuel as close as many airlines calculate and cut it these days.

Posted by: Chris Thompson | October 28, 2009 3:27 PM    Report this comment

Mr. Miller: Don't forget that two pilot's have lost their licenses without so much as a formal hearing. Not suspended, mind you. Revoked. That's not due process where I come from.

By all means throw them to the wolves if it's all true, but to let media pressure replace the rule of law? Come on. That's not a "sideshow."

Posted by: David Thompson | October 28, 2009 3:27 PM    Report this comment

As a Canadian pilot and law student, I'm not familiar with the FAA's powers or how administrative law or judicial review work in the US. However, I assume that, in general terms at least, people are as entitled to procedural fairness in the US as they are here in Canada. Given that, it does seem pretty shocking that there would be a revokation so quickly. One might well wonder if that allowed enough time for full investigation, a hearing if required (even if only a written hearing), etc. I expect these men will appeal, and the decision may well be found wanting, not on substantive grounds (they may well deserve to lose their certificates), but on procedural grounds (inadequate process). If that's the case, I assume the remedy there would be similar to what it is here: The decision would be quashed and the FAA would have to start all over again, but with better process.

Posted by: Chad Conrad | October 28, 2009 5:45 PM    Report this comment

Oh Chad, if only that were true, i.e. that procedural fairness always occurs.

Read about how one of our nation’s best and friendliest pilots was railroaded by bureaucrats looking to prove how powerful they are. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Hoover

To this day, the FAA still denies any wrongdoing, but poll 100 pilots who’ve ever met Bob Hoover in person, and I think 99 of them would say Bob was obviously railroaded. Here is one bureaucrat with the FAA side of the story: http://www.faa.gov/library/reports/medical/fasmb/editorials_jj/bobhoover/

Posted by: Bruce Liddel | October 28, 2009 7:10 PM    Report this comment

Can't say the FAA isn't fast to respond and you can bet they were looking over the shoulder of NTSB during interviews. Being Union, they should have had some representation per-say...hopefully these experienced pilots will find themselves back in a cockpit, but "time-out" is the order of the day, for now.

Posted by: Chuck West | October 28, 2009 7:34 PM    Report this comment

I just meant the media comment from our perspective - if they had their licenses revoked from the Feds hearing news stories and not their own study we have even bigger problems. I would never support that. Sorry 'bout the misunderstanding. I just want to keep the blame where it belongs, not go off on the media, gov't. etc. which is always so easy to do.

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 28, 2009 7:40 PM    Report this comment

Several airline pilots come through my flight school, and it amazes me how defensive some are. You know "... why is it that doctors can drink a martini, get called in for emergency surgery, and not get busted?"

And my response is "... because they've got a better union?!?".

I learned way back in 8-3-81, that if you're gonna screw around with your job, don't do it during a bad economy, with a crappy union.

Posted by: Phil Derosier | October 30, 2009 4:03 AM    Report this comment

>"... why is it that doctors can drink a martini, >get called in for emergency surgery, and not get >busted?"

Good question. Here's what I hope that captain would also consider a good question: If you're flying a Beechcraft 200 or 350 (let alone a Boeing 767 or anything like that!) into a busy airport where visibility is such that you need to do a Category I, if not Category II instrument approach, what is YOUR limit regarding blood alcohol content? 0.01%? 0.02%? Maybe 0.03? And if you have to have an emergency appendectomy, what should your surgeon's maximum allowable blood alcohol level be?

Perhaps that airline pilot has a point. Maybe the question is not to drink or not, but what blood alcohol level you would consider the maximum level, beyond which your reflexes and judgement are blurred.

Posted by: Alex Kovnat | November 2, 2009 12:48 PM    Report this comment

Alex, I do not thimk the question of how much is too much is up to the party...the answer is up to the slick attorney and the expert witness

Posted by: Chuck West | November 2, 2009 6:35 PM    Report this comment

Swell. Now the Aviation Subcommittee wants to restrict the operation of laptops in airline cockpits. We'll be next. Those guys' lies are going to have far reaching and negative consequences for all of us.

Linda

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | November 3, 2009 7:40 AM    Report this comment

Are you kidding me, all we need is for Capital Hill to get involved into a system that will and has taken care of this. Some of the Commitee members are squared away and I hope common sense prevail and "spank the class" mentality doesn't arise...

Posted by: Chuck West | November 3, 2009 10:24 AM    Report this comment

Are you kidding me, all we need is for Capital Hill to get involved into a system that will and has taken care of this. Some of the Commitee members are squared away and I hope common sense prevail and "spank the class" mentality doesn't arise...

Posted by: Chuck West | November 3, 2009 10:25 AM    Report this comment

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