Airline pilots say “Don’t push us!” about volcano eruption flight operations

“The final and most important part of the plan is that the final “go-no go” decision must, as always, rest with the pilot in command.”

… from a shouldn’t-be-necessary-at-all press release by the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA)

Zero Tolerance call by International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA)

It is a sign of the times that the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) feel they have to issue a press release to remind everyone that the “Pilot in Command” really means “IN COMMAND”. We’ve recently seen in Russia exactly what happened when a Polish pilot forgot that he was IN COMMAND and allowed himself to be bullied by his employer and/or his ego.

In case you’ve forgotten what happens when a pilot forgets about IN COMMAND, here’s few photos to remind you…

“Gotta-get-there-itis” is the name of the disease and there is only one cure for it: People in the left seat have to remember that they are IN COMMAND.

Pilots in Command have to learn to say…

“No Sir: you can’t fire me in the middle of flight. You can fire me after the flight, but I can’t be relieved while I’m sitting in the left seat and if you try my co-pilot will bash you over the head or worse. Now sit down and shut up and if you come into the cockpit again you’ll be sorry.”

Memo to all my friends still sitting P.I.C. – If you yield to the pressure and something goes wrong, you’re the only one who made the decision to fly. Been there. Done that.

And that is what I have to say about an IFALPA press release that shouldn’t be necessary at all.



Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Disaster

4 responses to “Airline pilots say “Don’t push us!” about volcano eruption flight operations

  1. Bajan George

    The assault on the Pilot in Command tradition has been going on for over half a century. Early astronauts resisted being called “flight managers” and insisted on installation of human controls in the cockpit. Fully coupled flight directors and hands-off landing systems are becoming the norm. Alarms are being integrated into “fail-safe” operational overrides that preclude pilot input.

    And there are going to be further assaults on the tradition, not just in the cockpit but in the design and construction of aircraft.

    Sullenberger’s human insight knew the APU had to be started. The Airbus system didn’t tell him. He knew the minimum sink speed. That speed isn’t on the Airbus airspeed tape. Did they initially turn the wrong way to the Hudson? Did they bust the sterile cockpit rule? Was the 18 second decision process too long making LGA a non-option? I dunno. I’m just glad there were humans up front.

    And then there’s the job. One day after I obtained my pilot certificate many years ago I was flying with a friend 50 miles offshore in a Bell helicopter and he mumbled something about the pop floats not being tested, because the owner of the flight service didn’t want to spend the money. I asked him, “Aren’t you the PIC, and aren’t you going to insist on the test?” His answer was that he’d be out of a job if he pushed it.

    Reality, experience, vector-headed designers, and the law collide all the time.

  2. There were ashes every where, I am still expecting to see some down here. Barbados may be miles away but with all that is already happening throughout Europe, thousands of miles away from Iceland where Eyjafjällajökull erupted, anything can be expected. The international news has been boisterous about this volcano which has such a difficult name to pronounce and translates roughly into three names Island Mountain Glacier but little has been told of my friends in Europe, walking around with industrial style masks and the number of asthma attacks. And what of the weddings, funerals and other important family get togethers.

    Ash Wednesday

    A volcano erupted in Iceland on Wednesday
    Spewing Ash up 5 miles that drifted far away
    Had all the airports temporarily closed down

    We saw business people and tourists stuck all around
    Eyja -Fjälla-Jökull pronounced AY-yah-FYEL-lah-YER-kuhl
    Didn’t caused any known deaths but undoubtedly cruel
    Nations were covered in its falling dust
    Exacerbating peoples’ asthma and now others must
    Spoil their travel plans what ever the seriousness
    Days of overstays, weddings and funerals to miss
    Ash, Wednesday last still falls from the skies
    Yes, no deaths recorded but for many a cruel demise

  3. Observation

    Imagine what would have happened if a plane had gone down as a result of the volcanic ash. All hell would have broken loose! It is crazy for the airlines to want compensation from the governments for the safely precautions taken. If they had been allowed to fly and something went wrong, they would have been blaming the authorities for allowing them to fly. Safetly first .. and listen to the pilots whose lives are on the line as well as their passengers.

  4. BadBob

    I note that a good number of “fliers,” ie., passengers that have been interviewed about the flight interruptions, are grossly obese slobs, probably foul smelling, who can hardly wait to get back to Piddle-on-the-Twain, flop in front of the telly and open 10 bags of shrimp & barby crisps.
    Those passengers who realize that there is little that can be done about VOLCANOS! appear to just shrug it off, sigh & hope that things get back to normal ASAP.
    There was a time, many years ago, when the only way you’d have to put up with slobs was to ride the long haul bus (no offense to Bajan bus-riders. I’m going on about airline passengers).