Real Answers from Real Pilots

It's not just about checking boxes and getting hired

Thank you for sharing this article Adam, good reminder how critical it is to understand problem solving during emergencies and how important communication is in the cockpit.

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After reading this article I must first say that I feel so bad for the Mesa captain that was jumpseating on that flight. While reading this article, as I began to read all of his failures and discrepancies during training my first thought was, “How did this guy even get a job?” Then I further read about how he lied to cover it up. It seemed like the captain of that flight also had some difficulties as well. After reading this article, some questions came to me. First, when you fail a checkride or washout of training does it not get recorded, do companies not check IACRA for any failures during the hiring process, or are companies just relying on a person’s integrity when the question of any checkride failures come up? I also didn’t realize that airline pilots could ride jumpseat on cargo flights as well. So based on the article you guys could ride jumpseat on a FedEx flight that is going to your desired destination?

Al,

Frankly I’m surprised as well. The airlines have access to PRIA (Pilot Record Improvement Act) from the FAA and based on my understanding of it, the pilot’s failures should have been picked up? That said there is this whole pilot shortage everyone is so excited about. While many have benefitted salary and hiring wise as a result, it has also resulted in the lowering of standards. Even after being hired this pilot required a fair amount of additional training. In the past the pilot would’ve washed out, now the airlines need to be more lenient.

The reason I posted this article was as I stated at the top. While I understand and appreciate everyone’s desire to get through training, build hours and get to an airline ASAP, the point of all the training is not just the means to the end. The fundamentals are critical and not having good basic flying skills can literally make the difference between life and death. The same lack of basic skills killed over 200 people on Air France 443. As pilots we have a personal and professional responsibility to be as skilled, proficient and knowledgeable as possible. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the primary focus of many and that’s alarming.

Adam

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Oh ok I got it now. Yes its pretty scary for myself and I am still in flight training. I know you are probably not going to be surprised when you hear this story I am about to tell you…

So I was on the phone with an acquaintance yesterday. We are on spring break so I am back home but he decided to stay at school and finish his instrument rating over break. Well, during our conversation I asked how his progress is going on getting his instrument rating and he told me that he took his checkride on Friday. After I asked him how did he do, he casually told me that he failed it. Now keep in mind this guy also failed his private the first go around as well. Now I’m not an airline pilot as you guys are so hopefully I wasn’t being to big for my britches but I kinda gave a small soliloquy about how he needs to take his training a little more serious. And he responded to me with this line, “It doesn’t matter because there is a pilot shortage and airlines are hiring anyone and everyone with the rating and hours.” And as you know and mentioned above, he is not the only one that I ran across with that attitude. I always seem to hear " AIRLINES NEED ME" somewhere in a conversation. As a matter of fact, during orientation the presenter is always saying "This is the perfect time to be a pilot, there’s a massive shortage and hundreds of thousands of pilots are going to be needed in the next X amount of years and so on. And he/she isn’t wrong but I think that people are going through flight training and wanting to be a pilot literally ONLY because there is a shortage. Not trying to beat a dead horse but again its pretty scary and I do feel bad for captains like y’all that have to do 4 day trips with people of this mentality. Not only is it probably annoying but as I’ve read, it can also be a safety risk.

Question for you, does this article make you a little more hesitant to ride in the jumpseat? Also, are you allowed to say anything while riding the jumpseat concerning the flight? Why did the Mesa captain wait until it was too late to say something?

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Al,

As I said it’s alarming. Many seem to only be concerned about busts as to how it might affect their getting hired vs maybe there’s some skills I probably should have and maybe I need to step it up. Very unfortunate.

As for the JS question not at all. First I generally JS on my own metal and know most of the pilots sitting up there. Second as a JSer you are an additional crewmember. While that doesn’t give you the right (nor is it good etiquette) to critique or make a whole lot of helpful “suggestions”, by all means if you see something potentially hazardous, not only are you allowed, it’s your responsibility (and most good CAs will include that in their brief).

As to why the JSer didn’t say or do something I have a hard rule of not “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” any pilot (particularly if they’re no longer here to defend their actions). I wasn’t there but there’s probably a lesson in there as well.

Adam

Also on the majority of cargo carriers I have JS’ed on, there is typically a large seating area just behind the cockpit. The door stays open but from the transcript, I’d guess he wasn’t actually in the cockpit during this phase of flight until he heard the bells and felt the pushover and decided to go up and check it out. I have no idea if that was the case, just wanted to point out that it’s a possibility.

I am absolutely speechless after having read this article. Wow, sounds like this FO should not have ever been allowed near an airplane.

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What happened is very unfortunate and unbelievable, but at the same time this article reminds me to study hard and learn the materials not just by brain but also by heart. I wonder how the FO was when he was a flight student. He got his licenses so obviously he passed the checkrides, but multiple failures along the way? Cruised through flight school, but hit the walls when he got to the airlines?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but on a 767 wouldn’t there be multiple indicators of an impending stall than just the attitude indicator? The article makes it seem like the nose began to rise from the additional thrust and the FO couldn’t put two and two together.

Anderson,

There are multiple indications. Again none of us were there and they’re not here to tell us what they were thinking.

What I can tell you is if it were as simple as putting “two and two” together they wouldn’t be dead.

Adam

Yes, there would be a pitch limit indicator, a stick shaker and of course the buffeting of the airplane.

I don’t like to Monday morning quarter back, but it does sound like there were some deficiencies in this pilot’s skills.

I have been interested in the GTI3591 incident and Juan Brown I think does a good job of explaining the technical side of things. It’s a bit long but, I think he does a good job summing things up.

Link to the video is below:

Thank you for sharing that.