About David Learmount

Author Archive | David Learmount

VIDEO: Pilot error (or anybody else’s error for that matter)

I’ve just been in Geneva attending the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition, and Bombardier’s amazing learning experience for aviators – the Safety Standdown – is now an embedded part of what’s on offer there: a learning experience par excellence among the gleaming, glamorous hardware that EBACE presents. When the study of human factors began in […]

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Volcanic ash: who says flying’s not safe?

The problems with decisionmaking about whether to fly – or not – in the volcanic-ash-affected skies over Europe is that so little is known about these circumstances. The situation is unique in that this ash cloud is affecting a large area of intense aviation activity.   The Met Office weather research Dornier 228 at work Vocanoes somewhere on the planet […]

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Volcanic ash: the day we learned what it can do

It was on 24 June 1982 that the world learned, in dramatic fashion for the first time, precisely what kind of damage tropopausal volcanic ash can do to an aircraft. Since then a network of volcanic ash advisory centres – nine of them worldwide – have been set up to monitor occurrences and track their […]

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The Polish accident: circumstances

As more information emerges about the accident flight, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand the justification for its planning and execution in the marginal weather that prevailed. On 10 April the Polish air force Tupolev Tu154M operating the presidential flight took off from Warsaw for the 800km journey to Smolensk Severny (Smolensk North). The latter is a former air […]

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Behind the toxic smokescreen

Following the world’s first court verdict establishing the previously missing legal acceptance that there is a connection between contaminated cabin air and crew/passenger health, it’s a good time to examine the law and politics behind the courtroom arguments. We’ll start with a comparable set of legal circumstances in another industry: tobacco. This comparison is useful only as a study of the way […]

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The really big market for professional pilots

Airlines may not be hiring pilots at the moment, but the market will recover. Won’t it? Yes it will. Definitely. One of the first sectors to get moving when the economy revives – always – is air transport. But will new airline pilots get a lifetime career out of flying? Maybe not quite in the way they first thought. Especially […]

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The toxic subject that won’t die 5

Filtering out – or neutralising – neurotoxic organophosphates in engine bleed air used to ventilate and pressurise aircraft cabins is a great idea, although eliminating them at source would be better. Hopes were raised in September when BAE Systems launched a cabin air treatment system that shows great promise. Called AirManager, and manufactured by UK-based Quest, […]

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The ATC changes the pilots never noticed

Pilots using UK airspace would not have realised this at the time, but during the last seven years the oh-so-cool air traffic controllers they have been talking to at “London”, “Scottish”, and “Shanwick” have all moved their workplaces - and many of them their homes. The UK’s main air navigation service provider NATS, formerly National Air Traffic Services, had the task of […]

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IATA admits pilot training isn’t working

“Pilot handling was a contributory factor in 30% of airline accidents globally in 2009, according to the International Air Transport Association analysis of accident rates for the period. “IATA has never delivered a verdict like this before, previously citing more all-embracing human factor descriptions such as ‘pilot error’, which includes judgement and procedures.” That’s what […]

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G-YMMM: could the crew have done any more?

After an accident, pilots always discuss whether a crew could have done more even if they appear to have done a good job. It’s not usually vicious or critical, it normally feels more like pilots experimenting with ideas about how they might handle a situation like it if they were to meet one themselves.   The crew of flight […]

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