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

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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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Taking crew qualifications seriously

Sorry to go on about what Flybe has been doing recently, but actually it’s important to the UK airline industry, and other European carriers could learn a trick or two as well. Europe’s largest regional carrier has just finished training 21 cabin crew, and the airline has won recognition under the UK’s national vocational qualifications system […]

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Airport security: why it makes grown men cry

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It was at Heathrow Airport that I had a screwdriver confiscated. Okay, you might reasonably say. Unless you knew it was one of those minute devices for tightening the tiny hinge screws in a pair of reading spectacles. It was exactly an inch (24mm) long, plastic-handled, and the metal part measured about a quarter of an inch. […]

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PIOs explained: what makes a test pilot nervous


I have just learned how to force a test pilot into that dreaded syndrome known as PIOs (pilot induced oscillations). In simple parlance, the results of persistent overcontrolling when flying. Apparently helicopters are just as – if not more – prone to PIOs than fixed wing aircraft, and it happened to be at a rotary wing forum […]

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Will FlyBe breathe life into the struggling MPL?


FlyBe’s brilliant. For the un-initiated it’s a UK based regional airline that is now Europe’s largest. It breaks all the rules and makes money doing it when no-one else seems to be able to. It’s increasing its profits when everyone else is seeing reductions or actual losses. Which rules does it break? Well, it flies lots of […]

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Stealth tax stalks UK airspace users

Mine is not intended to be a party-political blog but it’s sure going to sound that way this time. When a specific government decides on a course of action that is a fundamentally bad idea, and the proposed policy is also part of an established behaviour pattern that everyone associates with it, I suppose any opinion against the proposal is going to sound party-political. Here […]

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777 crash at Heathrow: what chance of another such accident?


From the start, the British Airways Boeing 777 crash at London Heathrow felt like a rare event – perhaps a one-off. But is it actually likely to happen again?       After all, like most big jets of its generation, the 777 has had a pretty trouble-free history since service entry in 1995, and aviation is […]

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