Stupidly Careless Airline Pilots Kind Of Becoming A Thing

2009-11-09 StupidPilots
© Denniss

We’re not usually ones to complain about airplane safety. You don’t need to be able to cite all those statistics about how flying is safer than driving – though it’s true – to realize that we live in the safest period of commercial air travel ever. At the beginning of this year there had been exactly zero fatal crashes in the US in 2.5 years. You were more likely to land in the Hudson and escape unscathed than you were to die in a crash. That’s how weirdly safe flying had become.

But the last few months have been a little… concerning. It’s not that airplanes are decaying or anything like that (although they are). It’s more that there appears to be a rash of carelessness going around. And if there’s any topic that’s closer to fundamental Vagabondish concerns – boozing and whoring obviously excepted – it’s the relationship between your desire to travel and the stupid people who get in your way. In this case, those people happen to be flying your planes.

Everyone knows about the Northwest pilots who forgot what they were doing for a full hour. Bad but, since the plane was on autopilot, not actively dangerous. The same unfortunately can’t be said about there two Qantas employees, who tried to take their plane down without the landing gear lowered:

A Qantas Boeing 767, was on approach at Sydney Airport on October 26th, when the pilots received a “gear too low” warning at about 700 feet. They had forgotten to put their landing gear down. They reacted quickly, aborted the landing and flew around again. Normally the aircraft should lower its gear between 2000 and 1500 feet. It appears there was a communication breakdown between who was lowering the gear. Both pilots have stepped down during the investigation.

Really? A “communication breakdown”? The two pilots are sitting next to each other and no one thought to ask “hey, I don’t remember hearing of the landing gear locking, which is something I usually listen for absentmindedly as we descend toward that giant strip of very hard concrete – are you sure you put it down?” Because that’s the kind of thing we’d like pilots to be in the habit of asking. If that’s OK.

About The Author

Omri Ceren enjoys: solitary travel, magnificent ruins, ancient abodes, zoos, museums, urban photography, nature photography, plentiful wifi, vodka. He dislikes: people who talk on airplanes, people who are friendly in bars, people who strike up conversations at bus stops, people who stand too close in lines, people, people's children. He lives in downtown Los Angeles.

4 Responses

  1. Ross

    I think flying a plane has gotten too easy for many of the pilots at the top. I say this as I pilot at the bottom. The amount of automation that is in cockpits now prevents a lot of accidents but it also encourages recklessness because the crew starts to think the airplane will do everything on it’s own.

    Side note, gear up landings are painfully common. It’s about the most stupid thing you can do in an airplane except run out of gas but they are the two most common aircraft accidents.

    Without going too much further there is a large difference between pilots that want to be the best and pilots that have the most hours. Granted flying more hours give you a better chance at being a good pilot but is no guaranty of a good pilot

    A Superior pilot may be defined as one who stays out of trouble by using his Superior
    judgment to avoid situations which might require the use of his Superior skill.

    Reply
  2. Travel News and Stories for 11/12/2009 : Kathika Travel Website

    […] Stupidly Careless Airline Pilots Kind Of Becoming A Thing We’re not usually ones to complain about airplane safety. You don’t need to be able to cite all those statistics about how flying is safer than driving – though it’s true – to realize that we live in the safest period of commercial air travel ever. At the beginning of this year there had been exactly zero fatal crashes in the US in 2.5 years. You were more likely to land in the Hudson and escape unscathed than you were to die in a crash. That’s how weirdly safe flying had become. http://www.vagabondish.com […]

    Reply

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