Comment: Virtual airline, actual risk

By:  
-
Source:
This story is sourced from Flight International
Subscribe today »

Now the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit has published its initial factual report on the fatal Manx2 commuter crash at Cork, the emerging details reinforce the argument that "virtual airlines" should be made illegal in the European Union.

At times in this brief preliminary report, it sounds as if the investigators were shaking their heads in disbelief as they wrote their findings. For example: "The experience of both flightcrew members is being examined, as the commander was newly promoted and the first officer had recently joined the operation." Scheduling two inexperienced pilots together is not against the law, but it is against responsible codes of practice and European Aviation Safety Agency recommendations - and has been criticised in countless accident investigations including the Air Inter Airbus A320 Mont St Odile crash.

This crew was flying without autopilot, autothrottle or flight director. All licensed pilots should be able to handle that, but not many are required to. That is an airline choice. Because of the basic level of equipage, the decision height on final approach is high at 200ft (60m), but at that height the captain told the co-pilot to continue. Too late, he called for a go-around just below 100ft.

The carelessness and low standards that led to this accident are more likely to thrive unnoticed in a "virtual airline". The AAIU must decide whether this type of structure was a contributory factor, or even causal.