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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Not so green on the airfield at Farnborough

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If you’re on foot, airfields are big spaces. The township on one side of the old Farnborough aerodrome that springs up to support the air show every two years is pretty extensive in its own right, and during the trade days its one-way traffic grid system is permanently logjammed with powerful, expensive cars going nowhere with air conditioned people […]

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Europe prepares to shoot itself in the head, the USA in the foot

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 European FTOs: threatened    If you think you’ve heard it all having read “European pilot training industry heads for paralysis”, actually you don’t know the half of it yet. Nobody does. Europe is putting a significant proportion of its home-produced pilot training industry at risk by changing the rules about flight crew licensing (FCL), and also what […]

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Accident investigation beats divorce for lawyers


 The Ivy: in vino veritas?    It was over a glass of champagne at The Ivy restaurant in London I learned the real reason why the judiciary and police in most of the world rush to prepare prosecutions against pilots and air traffic controllers following a fatal airline accident. Apparently judges and the police are […]

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