Ditching as an informed choice

This week’s Comment page in Flight International – When water is the best option – muses on whether the US National Transportation Safety Board’s inquiry into the Hudson River ditching could provide simulator manufacturers with enough hard information to enable them to simulate ditchings for pilot training purposes. If that were possible, it might add […]

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Prima donna passengers versus punctuality

Yesterday I boarded an EasyJet flight out of Cologne for London Gatwick. We pushed back 17min early and arrived 40min early. Pushback as early as that is a record for me. I was left to reflect on how this was achievable. Clearly the airline had all its operational ducks in a row, but the final decider […]

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How ditching should be done


Ditching is always a high risk option, but this US Airways A320 crew made the right decision under the prevailing circumstances. They then showed the world how ditching should really be done. They reminded us that this exercise can be completely survivable, given piloting skill and the right weather and visibility conditions. Pilots are informed […]

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Piloting is going blue-collar

At a time when being an airline pilot is as demanding as it has ever been, the image of the job is going down the tubes. Among the biggest culprits are a number of the world’s most influential pilot associations, including the British BALPA, America’s ALPA, and France’s SNPL, but pilot mass wingeing on global flightcrew forums doesn’t […]

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‘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

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    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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