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Author Archive | David Learmount

‘Women pilots are best for modern airlines’

Airlines are looking for the right personality in their trainee pilots, and women are more likely to have it than men. Don’t take it from me. This is from Europe’s largest pilot training organisation, the Oxford Aviation Academy. OAA’s group managing director for ab-initio training, Anthony Petteford, says: “Many of the skills needed now are things […]

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Ryanair’s route via Rome to Damascus

Strange and wonderful things are happening.   Ryanair is saying nice things about its pilots (some of). Has the company’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, been walking the road to Damascus recently?   Thinking back to O’Leary quotations about his pilot workforce only about three years ago, adjectives like “overpaid” were juxtaposed with words like “wingeing” and “workshy”. […]

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Nigel learns to fly

At last Europe is waking up to the fact that recurrent training designed for the age of Stratocruisers and Super Connies has precious little relevance for today’s airline pilot. Remember engine runups before take-off?…relying on the curvature of the earth to get airborne?…and having four engines to cross the pond because you normally arrived with only three still […]

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Ultimate CRM

If you want an example of the ultimate in crew resource management, try this summary of a short report from the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit. The Air Canada Boeing 767 skipper turns up on time, but his first officer’s positioning flight delivers him late and acting nervously. In the interests of setting up a […]

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Heathrow operators can’t plan for the future

    When I originally compiled this blog on 12 November, the government announcement about a third Heathrow runway was officially due within the week. That decision, announced today (15 January), to approve the third runway and sixth terminal, was delayed for reasons that were made to sound environmentally serious, but actually the real reason was that the […]

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Ryanair’s Ciampino birdstrike

Within about an hour of the Monday 10 November overrun at Rome Ciampino, the airline put out a statement that the Boeing 737-800 had suffered a multiple birdstrike on approach. It certainly did. The gory evidence that the aircraft hit a flock of birds is all over the nose cone and wing leading edges. Birdstrike alone is not an explanation of  the […]

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Civvy rookie outperforms hoary military fliers

“Thousands of hours of flying doesn’t necessarily make a good pilot. It’s just proof of survival – a relatively easy thing to achieve in today’s reliable aircraft.” I argued that in a previous blog about pilot training standards. Boeing has provided one little boost for that theory (I would argue it’s a fact), having carried […]

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Hobnobbing with aviation legends at the Flight Safety Foundation

The Hawaiian Islands might be very beautiful, but this offshore US state’s biggest city – Honolulu –  is the kind of tacky joint they’d choose to make an Austin Powers movie in. It was still just about cool when Elvis first sang Rock-a-Hula Baby, but not for long after that. But it was worth being there […]

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Set up for it

The UK coroner’s report on the deaths of ten RAF servicemen in a Lockheed Martin C-130K Hercules XV179 over Iraq in January 2005 has confirmed that they died as a result of “serious systemic failures” by the Ministry of Defence. Ground fire, including small arms fire, caused a fuel tank explosion that blew off the outboard 7m of […]

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Helicopters need help

That headline may sound patronising, but it’s not intended to be. Flying helicopters is difficult. The tasks they are asked to perform are those which no other transport mode could carry out. Helicopters are so expensive to operate they are only called out when nothing else can do the job. The Morecambe Bay report is one of the […]

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