About David Learmount

Author Archive | David Learmount

Need to know at Madrid Barajas

Accident investigators have two tasks: one immediate, the other longer term. The immediate task, following an accident, is to determine whether there is – or even might be – useful advice that should be disseminated to the operators of the type of aircraft that crashed. It’s not necessary to be absolutely certain of facts before advising […]

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Air scares

So Qantas had a sudden decompression a few weeks ago, and now a Ryanair Boeing 737-800 has just suffered one. Sudden decompression is one of the two types of event that can occur on any passenger flight that are certain to scare the hell out of almost anybody on board, even though they normally contain little or […]

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TCAS can get confused and confusing

If TCAS (traffic collision avoidance system) resolution advisories (RA) should be followed slavishly by pilots – and that is the official advice – some people have argued that the RA manoeuvre should be automated. It seems their opinion – however logical it may seem – was premature. It has been known for some time that certain combinations […]

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What can you say about an accident like this?

Not a lot. It’s a tragedy on a scale Western Europe hasn’t seen for years. It was the sort of accident we thought we’d seen the last of in this part of the world. But Boeing MD-80 series aircraft crashed fatally twice last year: once in September at Phuket killing 90 people, and the other […]

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Eurocontrol’s plans for converting the world to a Just Culture

Few people understand the concept of a ‘just culture’ as it refers to aviation safety reporting. Or in any other industry for that matter. Most people don’t know what it is or what it’s for. I’m not sure why Eurocontrol should be the first agency to carry out an analysis of why this ignorance exists, and of […]

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Pilots as commodities

Earlier this year, still under the heady influence of the sustained boom in global commercial air transport, the chief executive of Swiss Aviation Training Manfred Brennwald said he was worried about the prospect of a general acceptance that pilot quality would inevitably suffer as a result of the demand for sheer quantity. The industry, he […]

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Don’t marry an airline pilot

In fact, don’t become one. Unless… Anyone who wants to become a commercial pilot needs good health, certain aptitudes, considerable determination, and access to a lot of money for training. But it’s by no means all he/she needs. Pilots must have a gypsy soul to survive. That may not be new, but it’s particularly true […]

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So the Irish suddenly love rules?

It seems that the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit’s answer to aviation people who break rules is to make more rules. Doesn’t that just create more opportunities for habitual rulebreakers to break more rules?   The Irish never struck me as a race who are in love with rules. In fact my many Irish friends […]

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Boeing pushing boundaries

Boeing always pushes boundaries. It’s a way of life.  The “can do” spirit, and the preparedness to take the risk that the company might not be able to deliver on a new and ambitious objective is impressive. The company frequently succeeds. The latest example of this characteristic I have in mind is Boeing’s plans for 787 pilot training. The manufacturer says […]

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Qantas 747′s sudden decompression: it could have been worse

Qantas’ Boeing 747-400 is not, by any means the first aircraft to survive damage to its pressure hull. The damage, in this case, however, is minor compared with what others have suffered and still landed safely. In 1989 a United Airlines 747-100 climbing out of Honolulu bound for en route for Auckland suffered the dramatic […]

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