Topic Author
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Jun 25, 1999 7:52 am

A Solution To Avoid Crash In Bad Weather

Tue Aug 24, 1999 7:48 am

After the missed landing of an American MD80, the crash of the China Airlines MD-11 is the second due to bad weather in 1999.

I think that the crew should not be alone to take the decision to land or not in bad weather. Every airport should have a person in charge who would decide if the weather conditions are ok to land.
Most pilots are very proud and if they don't land on the forecast airport it's like a defeat for them. If the airport doesn't allow landings due to bad weather, crews will accept to land on an other airport because they are not responsible and they have no choice.

What do you think ??

RE: A Solution To Avoid Crash In Bad Weather

Tue Aug 24, 1999 7:56 am

What if they are running out of fuel and can not go to a different airport? They sometimes need to land... I think the situation becomes much worse when you run out of fuel while circling the airport! (ie UAL DC8?)


RE: A Solution To Avoid Crash In Bad Weather

Tue Aug 24, 1999 8:01 am

The decision is not based on whether the pilot thinks he can make it or not. There are very strict minimums set for approaches; aircraft have their own limitations; airlines set limits for weather conditions, and the pilots have limits based on their experience. These guidelines are well adhered to, however, occasionally unexpected things will happen. Someone (or a device) on the ground cannot make the go/no-go decision for a pilot. Ground equipment/personnel can only give the pilot as accurate information as possible to help make the right decision. This is why wind-shear detection technology is so important. It is simply difficult to predict when & where it will occur. But taking the decision out of the pilot's hands is a bad idea--only he knows precisely what kind of conditions (weather and other) that he is facing. If it was mandated on the ground, pilot's would then have more pressure to meet other's expectations.
Posts: 1962
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 8:32 am

The Right Idea

Tue Aug 24, 1999 12:54 pm

I think Bill has a point. Because the flight is the responsiblity of the captain, he is under an intrinsic pressure to get his load to its intended destination on time. So his mandate for a safe landing is counterbalanced by his mandate for punctuality, especially punctuality at the appointed city. Every decision he makes before the final decision to land will always be subject to his perception of any risks juxtaposed against the reality of his daily grind, namely that he is expected to get his boss' customers from A to B, since that is what they paid for and what they invariably expect. In that light, it is only normal that a captain might decide it's worth the risk. All of us make that kind of decision every time we choose to run a yellow light. It might never be smart, but if we win, there's a payoff waiting for us on the other side of the intersection. Airline captains run yellow lights too. They do not operate in a vacuum divorced form the economic realities of their profession. They are not astronauts working for NASA. They are employees trying to do their job, get paid for it, and go home at the end of the day. And getting home at the end of the day, sooner, is always better than getting home at the end of the day, later, even if getting home later might entail less risk. As such, the captain is given rules more than laws, guidelines more than rules, and even the rules can be bent, and the ones that shouldn't be bent are ultimately subject to his discretion. So it's a judgement call, in the end. A judgement call made by someone under the pressure of serving two masters at once. If a captain decides not to land, then no one should be able to say otherwise. But if a captain wants to land, the judgement of a second opinion, an economically-neutral second opinion, a second opinion untainted by the captain's other concerns nor his perception of risk, should be part of that decision. How you would work that is another question. But the notion is valid.
An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised

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