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FO Incapacitated. Captain Diverts 200mi.  
User currently onlineAR385 From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 6360 posts, RR: 31
Posted (1 year 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 5163 times:
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I have really no idea of the operational requirements for a diversion in these cases. However, according to this:

http://avherald.com/h?article=4698b0ea&opt=0

I would like to ask the question and have someone educate me on why if on top of CDG (albeit at FL370) the Captain chose to divert all the way to AMS.

I am not criticizing the Captain at all, not playing armchair pilot, but I am real curious why they did not descend in circles, for example, and landed at CDG, but chose to do a 180 and divert all the way to AMS.

What criteria do crews consider in these type of situations to pick the diversion point?

17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinerwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2368 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (1 year 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 5145 times:
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If nothing else, staying with relatively normal descent rates, and a fairly normal approach, you'd cover most of that distance from 37kft anyway.

User currently offlineDufo From Slovenia, joined May 1999, 802 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (1 year 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 5072 times:

I don't think any of us is in position to judge or question such actions.


I seriously think I just creamed my pants without any influence from any outside variables.
User currently offlineLimaFoxTango From Antigua and Barbuda, joined Jun 2004, 792 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (1 year 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 4969 times:

You know, people always assume that incapacitated means on the verge of death. It simply means he could not continue his duties for whatever reason. Perhaps he just had a bad case of diarrhea. Emergency, yes. Life threatening, no. Not saying his was the case here, but something like that could explain what occurred here.


You are said to be a good pilot when your take-off's equal your landings.
User currently offlineEGGD From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2001, 12443 posts, RR: 35
Reply 4, posted (1 year 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4907 times:

There are plenty of factors that would have to be taken into consideration with a situation like this. I would suggest that unless the incapacitation was life threatening then potentially a Commander may choose to continue the flight if he deems it safe to do so, so to me the implication here is that the First Officer was seriously unwell. Had it been the Commander who had been incapicated the situation would be more critical due to the experience level of the remaining pilot. Certainly the key regardless of the severity of the illness would be not to rush any diversion, as the safety of everybody on board takes precedence over the speed of the arrival. No point in getting to an airport 3 minutes earlier but arrive in a ball of flames and the airframe in several pieces.

In my mind if this situation had happened to me I would be looking at how severe the incapication is, can we continue to destination or return to base, how much care can be provided on board for the sick crew member, how is the weather at any potential diversion airfields, am I familiar with any of the nearby airfields, are there facilities more suited to the situation at a particular airfield, is there an airfield nearby that the company has nominated as potential diversion option, do I have the approach plates for that airfield. Other considerations may be whether we can easily disembark the sick passenger (does the airfield have steps that will reach the entry doors), will there be suitable ground handling for the aircraft once the ill crew member has left the aircraft, will I need to refuel and can I do so etc etc etc etc.

So without knowing all the causal factors on the day it would be impossible to say what the best course of action would be given that set of circumstances. I cannot see any reason on the face of it why CDG would be the best option for the crew on board, Amsterdam generally has a better reputation in my mind at least as being a potential medical divert, the airfield is better equipped to cope with a medical emergency (I have never done it though, feel free to beg to differ!), it is also closer to the departure airfield whether presumably the crew is based, this means that it would be easier to source a replacement crew member if the existing crew were within hours to continue the flight and also the ill crew member would be closer to home. The Captain may be familiar with Amsterdam or could even be Dutch. From FL370 in a normal descent an airliner would need around 120nm for a normal idle power descent to an airport, factoring in collecting approach plates for the given airport (and the fact that they may have to be sourced by a cabin crew member as the incapacitated crew member would be unlikey be in a fit state to find them) and prepare for the approach which could take 5 or so minutes, (5x8nm/min = 40nm) then Amsterdam is just about the perfect distance away to choose as a diversion airfield.

Reasons for not going to CDG? To make the descent the aircraft would continually need to be turning to maintain proximity to the airfield which would add a workload to the pilot, ATC would probably be extremely expedient in offering solutions to get in which greatens the potentially for rushing to meet the clearances received. I've never done it but I expect they'd give you descent pretty quickly and give radar vectors to commence an approach immediately. Obviously a competent pilot on a good day would ask to hold until they had set up the aircraft for an approach and landing but the added temptation is there and that is not particularly helpful. As far as I am aware CDG is a complicated airfield to get round and is it further from a hospital than AMS? Maybe.. The Captain may never have been there or he had been there and had one or more bad experiences that may put him off choosing it. The weather may not have been as useful (Thunderstorms in the area, strong winds and crosswinds).

In any cases, an immediate diversion I would want to know the following pieces of information immediately: Is this airport open, is the runway long enough, is the weather good enough. If those are satisfied, we can use it if need be. If we are not completely committed to diverting to that particular airfield either because there are others available or the situation is not absolutely critical then all those other factors come in to play.


User currently offlineCitationJet From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 2445 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (1 year 2 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 4827 times:

Quoting AR385 (Thread starter):
What criteria do crews consider in these type of situations to pick the diversion point?

The nature of the medical emergency. Is the crew incapacitated such that he cannot perform his/her functions (diarrhea), or is it life threatening (heart attack)?
The weather at the nearest alternate airports. The closest may not have the best weather for a single pilot approach workload.
The closest airport may not be the easiet to get to. You need time to descend from cruise altitude. An airport in front of you 150 miles away may be easier to get to than the one you are directly above.



Boeing Flown: 701,702,703;717;720;721,722;731,732,733,734,735,737,738,739;741,742,743,744,747SP;752,753;762,763;772,773.
User currently offlineclydenairways From Ireland, joined Jan 2007, 1249 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (1 year 2 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 4821 times:

Quoting AR385 (Thread starter):
I would like to ask the question and have someone educate me on why if on top of CDG (albeit at FL370) the Captain chose to divert all the way to AMS.

Well considering the level they were at, and also the time to prepare everything for the landing it sounds very reasonable to me. You hardly need to rush something like this.


User currently offlineMSJYOP28Apilot From United States of America, joined Jul 2009, 229 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (1 year 2 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 4753 times:

In the United States at least, some airlines subscribe to either contracted or have their own surgeons on call. The procedure is for the flight crew to contact dispatch and dispatch runs a phone or radio patch to the surgeon on call. The surgeon gives the pilot and dispatcher his recommendation based on the symptoms given by the flight crew.

Often, if it is not life threatening the dispatcher will usually recommend to the captain a diversion point that is the best for the company in terms of facilities and the capacity to either replace the crew member or handle the passengers in case the crew member couldnt be replaced. If the situation is not life threatening, it could be they diverted to a point where other flights were available so customers wouldnt be inconvenienced by being stuck at the nearest suitable airport which may or may not have suitable customer service.

Remember, once the plane diverts with a sick crewmember that plane is basically grounded until they get a replacement crew member. At outstation that is either rarely served or not usually served by the airline, it can take a long time to get a replacement pilot in to take the flight.

I am not sure how common having a physician on call is in Europe or how much influence the company had in where the captain diverted. In the USA, PIC and dispatcher have a joint responsibility and if there is no immediate emergency all diversions must be jointly approved by PIC/dispatcher. At some airlines, the FAA administrator requires even an emergency diversion be jointly approved.

For life threatening situations, a landing at the nearest suitable airport is the policy at almost all US and foreign airlines.


User currently offlineEGGD From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2001, 12443 posts, RR: 35
Reply 8, posted (1 year 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 4699 times:

Some airlines in the UK use the same service, although my current airline are very cautious about using it. If a pilot is incapacitated I would be extremely hesitant about using it given the massive increase in workload trying to contact the medical service and then entering lengthy communication with them on the matter. As a single pilot crew this would take up nearly all of your capacity.

User currently offlineatct From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 2311 posts, RR: 38
Reply 9, posted (1 year 2 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 4458 times:

Quoting EGGD (Reply 4):
Had it been the Commander who had been incapicated the situation would be more critical due to the experience level of the remaining pilot.

It is not uncommon for the "Commander" to have far less experience than the "First Officer."



"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." - Walt Disney
User currently offlineEGGD From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2001, 12443 posts, RR: 35
Reply 10, posted (1 year 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 3886 times:

Quoting atct (Reply 9):
It is not uncommon for the "Commander" to have far less experience than the "First Officer."

Very true, but it is less common for the First Officer to have more 'Command' time than the Commander, and I would say in these situations that experience is much more relevant than purely hours flying alone.


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25653 posts, RR: 22
Reply 11, posted (1 year 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 3835 times:

Quoting LimaFoxTango (Reply 3):
You know, people always assume that incapacitated means on the verge of death. It simply means he could not continue his duties for whatever reason. Perhaps he just had a bad case of diarrhea. Emergency, yes. Life threatening, no. Not saying his was the case here, but something like that could explain what occurred here.

As mentioned, "incapacitated" can mean many things. The first officer on an AC 763 YYZ-LHR had some type of mental breakdown in 2008. He had to be forcibly removed from the cockpit. The captain diverted to SNN.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/20/world/americas/20canada.html?_r=0
http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2008/jan/30/transport.world


User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31684 posts, RR: 56
Reply 12, posted (1 year 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 3701 times:

Since we do not know all the details, it would be tough to accurate state why.....however considering the Airlines SOP in such situations or reduced workload [depending on the path] could be a factor.


Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineatct From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 2311 posts, RR: 38
Reply 13, posted (1 year 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3591 times:

Quoting EGGD (Reply 10):
Very true, but it is less common for the First Officer to have more 'Command' time than the Commander, and I would say in these situations that experience is much more relevant than purely hours flying alone.

So an A320 "Commander" has 500 hours PIC on type, 2500tt. The F/O has no "Command" time but has 10,000tt with 4,000 on type? I'm sorry, but your logic does not hold up. "Command" time means nothing when the "commander" has no experience to build upon. That first officer may have been through 4 or 5 legit emergencies while the "commander" has done nothing but push buttons their whole career. Nothing pisses me off more than chair warmers here on a.net discounting a pilot in the right seat just because he has three stripes.



"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." - Walt Disney
User currently offlineEGGD From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2001, 12443 posts, RR: 35
Reply 14, posted (1 year 1 week 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3477 times:

Well that is an interesting ethos, there is probably a cockpit dynamic out there with that experience gradient and indeed that is a situation at my own airline. I agree that that experience in the right hand seat counts for a lot but my personal perception (being an inhabitant of that particular half of the cockpit, albeit with two stripes) that whilst you can encounter all manner of situations as a First Officer, you are never fully exposed to the consequences of your decisions unless you are a Captain. This was reinforced to me recently with a conversation with a relatively new Captain in my airline, although one who was well respected and had plenty of hours and experience to go with those hours. He had described the worst moments of his career as being those where an emergency or abnormal situation occurred and as a new Commander being wholly responsible for making the decisions or judgement calls to deal with that situation. That is a feeling that I as a First Officer have never been privy to as whilst I have made 'decisions' in abnormal situations it has been under the protection of having the Captain with me. Even if a Captain has low hours by comparison, he will still have gone through a (generally rigorous) Command course and also Command line training and line checks.

User currently offlinelonghauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 5057 posts, RR: 43
Reply 15, posted (1 year 1 week 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3450 times:

It doesn't matter how many hours a Captain has on type with repsect to the F/O, he is still the Captain, and there is only one final say in the cockpit ... and it's in the left seat.

That being said though, it would be poor CRM and simple folly not to use the incredible resource that it sitting in the right seat. When a Captain makes a command decision, it is normally the result of weighing all options and garnering information from many sources. One of which is the F/O.

Looking at the normal progression though one's career, it would be unusual to find a Captain with less hours on type than an F/O. They may not be recent hours on type, but odds are he flew that type in the past when he was an F/O. The only exception being a replacement of that size of aircraft. For example in AC .... he may have been a B727 F/O, then B767, then B747 F/O, then when it became time for the left seat, the B727 had been replaced with the A320. His Command Course may well be on an aircraft he had never flown in the past.

However, looking at the this message thread .... I can see many many reasons why the choice was made to divert 200 miles, and I am certain the Captain stands by his decision.

Last summer, with an ill passenger, we diverted into YQT while almost overhead. It took about 11 minutes from FL370 to the gate! But ... it was an extremely high work load for TWO pilots. A single pilot alone would require far more time and distance to perform the diversion safely.



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineLittleFokker From United States of America, joined Sep 2013, 329 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (1 year 1 week 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 3350 times:

I'm not terribly familiar with Norweigian Air Shuttle's operational scope, so I have a few questions. I can certainly understand not wanting to go to CDG because of the excessive vectoring/circling that would be involved, as mentioned by others above. Would there be a reason the Captain chose AMS over say, BRU? And what about other French airports that would have been closer to the destination that wouldn't involve vectoring, say NCE, LYN, or TLS? What would be the nearest crew base for Norweigian, if we're going under the assumption that the medical threat did not require the most immediate of assistance?


"Toughest wind I ever played in....straight down!" - W. C. Fields
User currently offlinestealthz From Australia, joined Feb 2005, 5715 posts, RR: 44
Reply 17, posted (1 year 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 2613 times:
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Quoting LittleFokker (Reply 16):
say NCE, LYN, or TLS?

Considering their very likely less available resources or capability compared to AMS at 200NM
NCE at 375NM
TLS at 326NM
LYN at 220NM (and less than 6000" runway)
Would be pretty much a no brainer

BRU a bit closer at 136NM might have been a bit too close and fallen in the same decision process as avoiding CDG



If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!
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