Welcome to my Blog

I am starting this blog just as I am starting my airline career. Feel free to ask any questions, or if you are in need of any help related to seeking employment with an airline then just let me know. I really enjoy helping others in any way that I can.

This is my blog with a name that stems from a long standing joke. Damnit Bobby was a term thrown out during a fun family sports match. Damnit Bobby Airlines was destined to be a loving name given to any flight I conduct which has passengers on board

I was a flight instructor and a part 91 (private carriage) pilot prior to becoming employed with an airline. Please enjoy the blog, and feel free to comment about anything and everything.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pitfalls to avoid

As I like to do before every flight, I consider all of the little things that can become big "gotcha's" if left unnoticed. These are the things that seem to get a lot of pilots who are emotionally motivated for whatever reason. Emotions do play a large part of the human factors element to flying, but there are even solutions to avoid the dangers associated with those. Flying in a two person crews, as I do, there is even the potential danger that the person you are flying with is in some way emotionally compromised. All of the human emotions to the side for the moment, I thought I might share some things that I do to try and avoid potential pitfalls during the approach to landing phase of flying (which still remains the highest incident rate phase).

Starting off with the transition to visual. I have the saying "If it's all white, don't bite". Meaning, if your VASI/PAPI lights are all white, don't bite on the urge to pitch down to capture the "on path" indication. This is important at night and at unfamiliar airports. Pilots often have a tendency to want to excessively lower the pitch in an attempt to establish or regain the correct glidepath as quickly as possible. That technique can put your airplane in a condition that could lead to a CFIT (Controlled Flight into Terrain) incident should there be any obstacles in the visual segment of the approach. Some approaches make specific note that the VGSI (Visual Glide Slope Indicator; ie. VASI, PAPI ect...) is not coincident with the glidepath. Yet, pilots will still try to over control the plane and intercept the VGSI as quickly as possible. That leads me to another pitfall that I always try to be sure I am thinking of. Never rush yourself to the scene of the accident. Just because an approach occurs closer to the ground, there are very few reasons or conditions that would require a pilot to act immediately and as quickly as possible. My Dad shared with me what his Air Force instructors told him when he was going though his Air Commando training..... Fast is slow, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. The more quickly you try to do things inside of the cockpit the more mistakes you will make. As the mistakes pile up you eventually reach a point where you MUST go back and correct those mistakes, otherwise you may find your back against the wall. So from what his instructors told him, you can see that the faster you do things the more mistakes are made, the more mistakes that are made the more corrections you must make. At the end of that vicious cycle you have just caused much more time to go by than if you had just taken your time and acted calmly and purposefully and accomplished everything correctly the first time. When things go smoothly, less time has expired. So, smooth is fast! This holds true for everything from aircraft control to executing missed approach procedures. I have a name for pilots who try to do things as quickly as possible, I call them the "ninja hands". Pilot's with Ninja hands often have problems controlling airspeed on the missed approach, often have the wrong missed approach course selected, and often have the wrong VOR frequency tuned in. All common mistakes from someone who does things as quickly as they can.

Again, that leads us to the next pitfall I wanted to just hit upon. During the missed approach, pilots often feel rushed to get things done. No doubt it is one of the higher workload times that we may face, yet pilots often forget that we are already prepared for this moment. We always look over the missed approach procedure prior to commencing the approach. After all, if you are shooting an approach why would you try to get in if you couldn't get out? Nothing that takes place during the missed approach procedure should be a surprise. Take your time, advance the throttle smoothly, pitch up smoothly to transition to a climb, and then after a positive rate of climb has been established clean the plane up. Always focus on flying the plane first, never let a configuration change lead you into the side of a mountain. To that note, I have seen some pilots who are adamant about cleaning the plane up as quickly as possible. Here is some food for though: During our terrain escape procedure on the Saab we do not change configuration until the terrain warning stops OR we are positive we are clear of the terrain. Why? During the transition from having the flaps down to retraction your climb angle actually shallows out as the lift is lost. For MAXIMUM climb rate, a configuration change is the last thing you want. So, why race to retract the flaps? The longer you delay flap retraction and pitch for Vy the better your climb will be. If terrain is an issue, retracting the flaps late is a good thing. You will still clean the airplane up, but again flying is a race to see how fast things can get done.

I will add more to this later, but for now I wanted to leave you with the above for now. Time for a break and then I'll finish this later :-D.

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