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PRE-TAKEOFF CHECKS. With the Spanair MD-82 debacle in mind.

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Published Mon, Jun 28 2010 2:58 AM

Back during my flight instructing years, I recall reinforcing to students that, when considering, then selecting, a particular flap setting, that it is a rather sensible idea to, not only note the selector position and the flap position indicator, but to take a look at both wings to see if the extension looked 'sensible' and that both flaps were the same. Pretty basic really! I'll warrant that several of the seasoned, but doomed passengers towards the rear of the cabin noted that the flaps were not extended; maybe even a cabin crew member. Pity there was no effective method of warning the pilots. And it is a bizarre irony that a simple CCTV camera was not mounted up on the fin so that pilots can take a glance at their aircraft's configuration....cost and weight saving perhaps? Strange though that car makers can easily fit them!!!!!!

Shortly after the Spanair horror, I sent an email to all my chums who are flying airline aircraft all over the globe. It was pretty simple and detailed a no-cost fix. I suggested that they use a piece of cardboard, a rubber band and a red felt-tip marker pen. So I offer it again to the world's Chief Pilots and CAAs. On the cardboard, print "FLAPS"...are they extended? Why not take a look? The card is simply hung on the power levers in such a manner that it has to be removed prior to advancing the levers...anyway troops; just a thought from an ex.airline pilot, airline Safety Manager and air accident investigator. Call me old-fashioned if you dare...I don't care. All I can imagine is those passengers dying in a most horrible way. And why oh why did the pilots not lower the nose and accelerate at low alpha to a zero-flap airspeed...to hell with what the book might have said about rotate attitude...back to basic AIRMANSHIP!