2H4 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 8957 posts, RR: 58 Posted (10 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 4517 times:
This question is directed toward pilots and maintenance technicians who have been in the industry for a number of years.
Earlier this evening, I ran across a photo in the database of a Delta 747, taken back in the 1970's. Studying it, I wondered what it would be like to be in that cockpit...on that date...armed with the knowledge we have today from lessons we've learned over the years.
For example, things like CRM, strict adherence to proper phraesology, and challenge-response checklist procedures come to mind. I simply can't imagine airline ops without these things.
What I'm wondering is, if you were to travel back in time to the flight decks and hangars of the past, what SOPs and procedures from that time would you find most alarming from today's perspective?
Pilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3164 posts, RR: 10
Reply 1, posted (10 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 4504 times:
I look back at the stupid wrecks they had back then. IE running out of gas while jacking with landing gear indicators, knocking the autopilot offline while jacking with gear indicators, running into each other over the Grand Canyon, Captain wants to go home and doesn't care that the FO doesn't like the buildup of snow on the wing which results in going for a swim in the Potomac, I could go on and on...
I had a class in the history of CRM a few years back. I'm so happy that FOs have become more than "gear jockeys". I think that alone has made a huge contribution to the safety of aviation here in the US. The captain isn't always right.
Not so much a CRM issue, but also thankful for developments like TCAS, EGPWS, and other systems that have kept us safe. I just wish there was a lower price paid for their development. Unfortunateliy this industry doesn't seem to do anything until it's forced to. It's usually not forced to until people die.
2H4 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 8957 posts, RR: 58
Reply 2, posted (10 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 4501 times:
Quoting Pilotpip (Reply 1): I just wish there was a lower price paid for their development. Unfortunateliy this industry doesn't seem to do anything until it's forced to. It's usually not forced to until people die.
Yeah, it makes one wonder what simple lessons we have yet to learn.
Buzz From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 697 posts, RR: 19
Reply 3, posted (10 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 4472 times:
Hi 2H4, Buzz here. Dad used to fly for a living, was also flying Naval Reserve helicopters as well as airliners. He'd tell the other guys that if he said "takeoff power" he wanted the power all the way forward for takeoff. I guess it was hard to let go of the Navy phrases.
411A From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 1826 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (10 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 4438 times:
Younger guys seem to like to throw stones at the way airline ops were accomplished in the past.
A strange idea, to say the least.
Having been flying in airline ops for nearly forty years, the last thirty five in command, and the last thirty of those in command of heavy jet transport aircraft, I have always followed the respective companies standard operating procedures, and found them at the time to be quite reasonable, well researched, and practical for the type of operation that was conducted.
No aircraft that I have been a crew member on has ever had an incident or accident, nor even close to having one.
Gosh, I guess the 'bad old days' where someone now simply cannot imagine just how we all avoided crashing, and going up in flames, simply because we didn't have...modern procedures, weren't so bad after all.
Oh yes, still flying now in Command of a heavy jet transport, and oddly enough, still experiencing no particular problem.
Now, lets have a more critical look at airline ops today.
Crosswind landings (just one example) have always been quite common with swept wing jet transport aircraft, and certainly a certain technique is required to avoid problems, yet these same crosswind landings seem to cause trouble more so today, than in the more distant past.
Case in point...the problems encountered by the Airbus transport at YMML recently.
Could it be that these modern aircraft, flown by crews that surely know how to make all the 'automatics' work to perfection, could still be having problems with rather basic crosswind landing techniques, simply because the very basic flying skills required in the 'bad old days', are not present in the airliner flight deck today?
Jwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 17
Reply 5, posted (10 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 4435 times:
Quoting 411A (Reply 4): Could it be that these modern aircraft, flown by crews that surely know how to make all the 'automatics' work to perfection, could still be having problems with rather basic crosswind landing techniques, simply because the very basic flying skills required in the 'bad old days', are not present in the airliner flight deck today?
Excellent rebuke. As pilots more and more become little more than overpaid passengers who know how to program an MCDU they're becoming less capable of using their aircraft without those automated systems.
Maybe not all of them, maybe not even most of them, but ever more of them simply lack the experience to handfly their machines in anything but perfect conditions (which are of course the conditions you'd least expect to handfly in).
Avioniker From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 1109 posts, RR: 10
Reply 7, posted (10 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 4405 times:
Back "in the day" we attended long detailed courses that seemed to focus more on trivia than actual maintenance. We had to learn things like: loss of rate feedback in an autopilot results in an abrupt or hardover flight control movement while loss of position feedback gave you a hunting or flagging output. (I know there are still a few schools that go into detail but they're getting very rare. I teach one.)
In 1985 the USAF radically shortened their avionics training. Cut it in half or more. What did they leave out? The intent was for the new recruit to get the absolute basics and into the field as quickly as possible. Then give him the "advanced specific airframe" training needed to be useful at the base level.
I know from personal experience that getting sent to a formal training course is often like pulling teeth. I can't count the classes I've had to stop for remedial training in mid week because of the "deer in the headlights" looks I'm getting because the students don't understand what should be fundamental information.
Now you change the FCC and then The ADIRU then the servo and if that doesn't do it you call the graybeard with his feet on the desk (if you have one).
Now to my point;
Human factors training is simply compensation for not giving the technicians the needed basic tools in the first place.
Now let's get that argument going again gang.................
One may educate the ignorance from the unknowing but stupid is forever. Boswell; ca: 1533
So much misinformation about this one. There was no ATC radar in those days. In fact there was pretty much no ATC system at all, except AT the airports. They were NOT "sightseeing" as is often reported, even testified to before Congress. There was a solid undercast. If they were looking at anything it was just cloud tops. It was just an unfortunate collision.
Now the one over New York City a few years later, same two airlines, that was again, deviation from procedure by an individual that was the initiating cause.
* * *
Quoting 2H4 (Reply 2): Yeah, it makes one wonder what simple lessons we have yet to learn.
And we have learned nothing from this. It was done again just a month or so later. It will be done again.
Human failings are really unpredictable. Big problem is, that with all the errors humans make we are still a thousand years away from a machine that can think, extrapolate and invent, the way a human does.
Microsoft is, arguably the premiere creator of software, but I sure wouldn't want to ride in an airplane that crashes as often as Windows does. So what do we do? The best we can with the knowledge and the hardware we have at this time.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
Dc8friendship From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 243 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (10 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 4328 times:
Maybe just a little common sense. Common sense says that if one guy is jacking with the gear indicator, the other guy fly the plane. It says if the plane needs to be deiced again, go back and deice again. It also says if there is a heavy storm at the arrival airport, go to your alternate. Use the resources available (within limits, of course) and get it done safely and correctly. again, common sense.
Pilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3164 posts, RR: 10
Reply 11, posted (10 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 4255 times:
I agree totally with the fact that stick and rudder flying is a dying art. There needs to be a happy medium. It sounds really dumb, but I take pride in the fact that I keep the ball centered as much as possible. I've had examiners notice it and compliment me. Apparently, a number of students aren't taught the finer points of airmanship these days because the GPS will get you there. Flying an airplane isn't just hitting buttons. Remember, when things go wrong you're still supposed to FLY THE AIRPLANE FIRST! Lessons learned, advancement and systems, and advancements in training have all contributed to making our jobs safer than they were even as recently as 10 years ago.
As far as SOPs, most of my examples were showing how much the cockpit environment has changed. Read any of Bob Buck's books. I'm amazed at his recount of his early days as a co-pilot at TWA. His sole purpose in life was to put the gear up and down and get the captain's coffee. Many of you were a part of this time, but for me it's hard to imagine. Hell, the last 727 came off the line when I was 3 and the DC-3 is ancient (but I love hearing those things). I find it wild to read about those days. I couldn't imagine flying an airplane by the stars, or flying without radios and a transponder. I find pilotage and dead rec to be a challenge just because I know the GPS could do the same thing.
The reason that Air Florida is such a great CRM example is the fact that there was no CRM involved. The FO knew that they were in violation, and even told the captain this. However, he didn't go far enough to stop for fear of retaliation. In that era, it's much more likley that he could have lost his job for second-guessing or going as far as putting his hands on the throttles, or standing on the brakes but we know the outcome.
2H4 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 8957 posts, RR: 58
Reply 12, posted (10 years 3 months 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 4164 times:
Quoting 411A (Reply 4): Gosh, I guess the 'bad old days' where someone now simply cannot imagine just how we all avoided crashing, and going up in flames, simply because we didn't have...modern procedures, weren't so bad after all.
The "bad old days" weren't so bad after all? Well, you certainly have the real-world experience, but this data from Boeing and Flightsafety sure suggest otherwise:
...And the higher accident rates back then aren't isolated to mechanical failures, either. Jurek G. Grabowski and George W. Rebok, researchers at Johns Hopkins University, conducted a study that found that pilot error accounted for 34 percent of major airline crashes between 1990 and 1996, compared with 43 percent from 1983 to 1989. This continues a downward trend that began in the 1960s, when pilot error was a factor in an estimated 45 to 67 percent of airline crashes.
So 411A, if accident rates were higher back then, and pilot error occured more frequently back then, I respectfully ask....how can the "bad old days" possibly be considered to have been "not so bad after all"?
Pihero From France, joined Jan 2005, 5088 posts, RR: 78
Reply 13, posted (10 years 3 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 4119 times:
That post is a bit unfair.
One has to restore into perspective the progresses brought to the flight deck since the sixties.A lot of the statistical "pilot errors" come from bad/inaccurate/difficult to exploit instruments, lighting conditions , windscreens and outside view....
Just imagine the number of people killed by the three-pointer altimeter.
See by yourself what I mean,
The environment has been changed,too, from the use of radar, accurate charts and runway equipment, we now have TCAS,EGPWS,WS predictors, accurate and constantly updated position...boy! it's altogether another world,another trade.
This emphasis on CRM certainly does not mean all flight deck crews were a bunch of egomaniacal,suicidal,tyranical social misfits as I certainly have flown with a number of gentlemen of such human calibre that I wouldn't have minded co-piloting for them for the rest of my life.
Do you really believe these people did not know how to keep a team spirit when a flight deck was crowded by one commander,one co-pilot, one or two navigators, one radio operator and one flight engineer ? and that these people never erxchanged the secrets of each trade ? For me, it's just sufficient to suffer un-synchronised rpms during a manually flown approach to fondly remember that guy sitting in the middle who never would have let that happen on "his" airplane.
They taught me all I know and the saddest part of my professional activity is that I can't any more pass on that experience to the younger generation in a set training program...Not enough time because most of it is taken by sops...
Which means I fully adhere to 411A's comments :Yes, a great deal of nowadays pilots find it challenging to land in a 30kt crosswind, and that's probably why both A and B now advocate NOT decrabbing in such conditions, maneuver that would have grounded me not very long ago.
To answer the initial question, I can't see what the airmen of the past had wrong, considering the tools and the systems they had in hand, and from personal experience and study of the aviation world in the past 35 years the main difference is that complacency and a lower level of SA are now more common in the modern flight deck.
Sorry, that's a long text for my original two cents (which shows how much I value myself !
Lincoln From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3887 posts, RR: 7
Reply 14, posted (10 years 3 months 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 4098 times:
I have to say that I look back to the day (before my time) when piloting an aircraft was more involved, but wrt using crash statistics to where "Pilot Error" was blamed, I would suggest that the vast majority of situations where pilot error was blamed could be avoided by engineering changes -- the altimiter referenced above as an example -- to eliminate the risk of errors.
And that's what's happened over the years. (Human Factors is a wonderful science )
I'd also like to remind everyone of a quote I stumbled across years ago (paraphrased, appologies to the original author):
"A giant casam could suddenly open in the middle of the runway and swallow an aircraft and the NTSB would find a way to blame it on 'pilot error'"
CO Is My Airline of Choice || Baggage Claim is an airline's last chance to disappoint a customer || Next flts in profile
DC8FriendShip From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 243 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3673 times:
2H4, notice the spikes in your graphs, significantly in the years after new jet introdution. Pilots were used to pistons, how they flew, how they reacted. as with all new things, there were teething problems, pilots who didn't realize 727s descend more rapidly, pilots who assumed and lost. we've learned a lot in 50 years of jet aviation, and planes continue to get better. But the basics are still required. as mentioned above, pilot skills are important, and when we lose that, God help us all who fly.