Click on a label to read posts from that part of the world.
Feb 8th 2010 12:32PM Kent,
While I do not currently have a DHC-8 400Q POH to make specific reference to a page number, this excerpt from NTSB alludes to the aforementioned reference about autopilot usage in icing conditions: "Steve Chealander of the National Transportation Safety Board says Colgan Air recommends pilots fly manually in icy conditions. Pilots are required to do so in severe ice. The pilot of doomed plane reported "significant" ice on his wings and windshield just before crashing Thursday night." Reference http://www.vidi.us/tag/Q400
Additionally, I have never delved into the NTSB investigation details until now. Again, upon viewing the NTSB animation, it becomes readily apparent that lack of experience is a huge contributing factor. The "boots" are never utilized manually prior to a configuration change, after the configuration change the throttles remain unchanged even with the weight increase associated with icing conditions and the extension of the gear. With the increased drag associated with a contaminated wing and subsequent gear extension, obviously, the power must be adjusted to maintain airspeed. And, it never happens. With the onset of the stall, a unilateral decision is made to raise the flaps further exacerbating the air foils stalled condition, and perhaps, making any recovery attempt beyond the realm of possibilities. Automation does not absolve the flight crew from its responsibility to monitor adverse meteorological conditions, such as icing, monitoring flight path and airspeed, and compliance with aircraft limitations. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxywEE1kK6I
Moreover, the individual flight crewmember is responsible for determining his/her fitness for flight. When the captain signs the release, he acknowledges he and his crew are medically fit for flight under FAR part 67. And, Chuck is correct, the most important asset available on the flight deck is a good First Officer. It is one of the most underappreciated positions in the business, and one of the most difficult. I have had the honor to fly with FO's, many of whom were senior to me, that were simply indispensible on the flight deck. Kudos to those unsung heroes in aviation.
Pilot pushing has been a problem as long as there has been flying to be done. When I was a commuter pilot for USAir Express, the company decided that Saturday's flight schedule would be a single flight crew starting at 5:00 AM with 13 legs, no more than 25 minutes between segments, and a 14 hour duty day. The response from the pilots was that this schedule would be problematic. It was. It became standard practice to call dispatch, advise them that the crew was not medically fit to fly and taking a break. We would advise them when we were ready to depart. Any complaints or discussion on the company's part further delayed any departure. And, then there was the line "Are you asking me to intentionally violate FAR 67, medical fitness for flight?" interrogative. The schedule was changed to accommodate a break for the flight crew.
There are times in one's aviation career assessments must be made that are contrary to the company's demands. Just because a flight is "legal" doesn't mean its undertaking is good judgment. Good intentions do not make bad ideas any better. This is where the "old school" pilots exhibit leadership and take a stand and say to Hell with the company's threats and intimidation. But, always document these occurrances and report them to the FAA safety hotline, which, incidentally, always requires an investigation. But, I have found that before any safety of flight issues make it to the point of becoming something that needs to be reported, most issues are resolved to the mutual benefit of the passengers, the company, and the crew.
Tailwinds and happy flying
Feb 7th 2010 10:19PM Moreover, the individual flight crewmember is responsible for determining his/her fitness for flight. When the captain signs the release, he acknowledges the his and crew's medical fitness for flight. And, Chuck is right, the most important asset available on the flight deck is a good First Officer. It is one of the most under appreciated positions in the business, and one of the most difficult. I have had the honor to fly with many FO's of whom were senior to me that were simply indispensible on the flight deck. Kudos to those unsung heroes in aviation.
Feb 7th 2010 5:38PM Aviation is inherently unforgiving... it doesn't matter if you are a physician or if your last name is Kennedy or how much or little wealth you have accrued. The fact remains that the crew of this aircraft crashed a perfectly airworthy airplane certfied and capable of continued flight. The airplane did not crash itself. The notion of a "reasonably experience" Captain is utter hogwash. The anecdotal evidence that the crew was actually quite terrified of the hazardous conditions they encountered is indicated by CVR comments and overuse of the autopilot during the approach phase in icing conditions contrary to the Q400 POH and company policy, which recommends hand flying the airplane in icing conditions. Good, old fashioned stick skills. Moreover, the inexperienced FO, by her own admission, had never seen hard IFR in icing conditions according to the CVR. The outcome is tragic and completely unacceptable. Unfortunately,the buck stops with the Captain's seat, even with any credible extenuating circumstances. At the end of the day, there is never any excuse worthy of the aftermath and human tragedy that follows an event like this accident. As a career veteran aviator myself, it a tough nut to swallow, but, nonetheless, it is still ours to stomach.