About David Learmount

Author Archive | David Learmount

Just an ordinary accident?

I never thought I’d be relieved to hear that an airline accident was probably an “ordinary” one. But after the trauma (no, it is not too strong a word) of Malaysia Airlines’ double misfortune, early information about the Air Algerie/Swiftair Boeing MD-83 indicates its crash cause is likely to be related to bad weather at […]

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Lessons from MH17

UPDATED: 25 July 2014 at 16:41 GMT   The loss of flight MH17 is not about Malaysia ­Airlines. It’s a particularly cruel irony that this carrier has lost a second Boeing 777 with everybody on board – again apparently through no fault of its own. If this disaster is confirmed as the unintentional shoot-down it […]

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Volcanic ash? No longer a problem…

It looks as if pilots will soon be able to weave between patches of atmospheric volcanic ash as they can weave around ordinary visible clouds. Israel-based Elbit Systems and Norwegian company Nicarnica Aviation  have agreed to integrate sensor data from a volcanic ash cloud detector system into a cockpit enhanced vision display. Engineering director of […]

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Where’s the safety incentive when accidents don’t happen?

Global airline accident statistics for the first six months of this year are staggeringly good – if you don’t include MH370. And for the purposes of this argument I am not including it. MH370 is missing, no trace of the aircraft or the 239 people on board has been found so far, and the official […]

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Lateral thinking for simulators

Professional pilots know well that full flight simulators are excellent places to learn procedures, systems, crew resource management, and how to make the best use of your flight management system/autopilot/autothrottle. But you can’t learn to fly manually  in them, no matter how good the visual systems and how faithful the cockpit model. They just don’t […]

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VIDEO: Between displays – the Red Arrows

In the RAF Aerobatic Team (RAFAT), the Red Arrows pilots may be the stars the public recognises, but they didn’t join the RAF as stars. Neither did the RAFAT engineers on whom the pilots depend for keeping their ageing Hawk T1s in fit shape for sharp flying. Nor the admin and logistics team that keeps […]

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The MH370 mirage

Existence for the relatives of passengers and crew lost with Flight MH370 continues like a nightmare. Every time information is released about the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 they comb it for something – anything – to provide either hope or closure, but they receive neither. And thus it has been this time. Within a […]

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Problems that start in the cruise

My colleague Max Kingsley Jones has been raiding our archives for historic data on airliners that get a terminal problem in the cruise phase of the flight. Cruise is normally the peaceful part, and this is born out by the fact that, among all accidents, only 10% are caused by something that happens in that […]

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Why MH370 probably won’t be found

The least unlikely cause for the disappearance of MH370, based on what little we know about the final flight, is that a person with a sharp mind and a plan, but who was emotionally unbalanced, took control of the aeroplane. It could have been one of the pilots, or someone else on board who had […]

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What the airlines say about their MPL pilots

The airlines, approved training organisations (ATO) and regulators have agreed that the MPL (multi-crew pilot licence) has potential, but it is a work-in-progress. We have discussed MPL before in this blog – vigorously - but since then the ICAO has held an MPL Symposium that reviewed data on nearly 600 human products of the MPL system. These […]

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