Responsibility and Patience

Yesterday my airline (Hawaiian) made national and worldwide news after one of our flights experienced severe turbulence and 36 passengers and cabin crew were injured, 11 severely. This was a bad day at work for the entire crew as ALL the people on the other side of the cockpit door are their responsibility. While I wasn’t there I know the flight crew. Both are very experienced and professional and I have no doubt they handled the situation as well as it could be handled.

I was actually answering some posts on this forum when I first heard the report and something struck me. Most of the questions we get these days are regarding how much can I make and how fast can I get there? (Because EVERYBODY wanted to be a widebody Capt ASAP). Thing about that is along with that $40k a month paycheck comes a huge responsibility for the safety of the 300 people sitting behind you. Passing checkrides is one thing but when you’re looking at a line of weather that spans miles and is capable of tearing the wings off your plane that is a whole other story.

Back when I was flying for the Regionals I experienced one of these “bad days”. LOTS of severe weather, and LOTS of planes trying to sort their way through it. After a while fuel starts to become a factor, particularly when the weather at your alternates starts declining one after another. I was a mid seniority FO at the time flying with a new Capt. As the concerns started to mount and the pressure began to build, as pilot monitoring I began to ask the Capt questions, as they really weren’t saying anything. At some point decisions needed to be made and I realized the Capt had checked out (they were literally just staring out the window and were non-responsive). Fortunately I had flown with some great Capts and paid attention in similar situations in training so I took over. The flight landed safely with no incident. The Capt resigned the next day and to my knowledge never flew again.

If I sound boastful or arrogant telling this story I assure I’m not. As I said I was very fortunate in that I’d had some great experience flying with VERY experienced Capts and simply used the wisdom they imparted. I also am fortunate in that I do well when pressure builds as my personality causes me to become very analytical.

When I think back to the story I told above I do not think about how awesome I was or what a great job I did (in truth I don’t even know that I did as there was no one to give me any feedback?). What haunts me is what happens when that Capt is paired with FO with a similar disposition? Now I understand many people don’t feel comfortable with these type of questions, but I do wonder in as much as we all want to reach the top quickly and make the big bucks do these questions/concerns ever cross their minds? If not maybe they should.



Hey Adam, just a point, everyone references the 1500hrs but the bigger takeaway is No Green on Green as evidenced by your experience. Sometimes the FAA gets it right. Ed