Good Morning—-today I want to reach back to an article I wrote in 2009. Aviator’s Mindset is the topic and hopefully you will find food for thought in my comments.
I have arrived and I am one—or are you? Did you ever hear the old saying that a Private Pilot’s Certificate was just a license to learn? Well, guess what—that Commercial Pilot Certificate is not any different and remember you are an aviator first and a master of automation second. If you cannot master an aircraft without using the automation can you be the master, or are you the slave who depends on the master?
Now that I have your attention rest assure that I am not telling you that you should fly a 747 at flight level 410 by hand—not intended to be done that way and you would have to be masochistic to try and do so. What I am talking about is being the Pilot-In-Command and not a passenger.
I know that the trend today is automation, and they teach automation from take off to touch down; however, should this be the professional standard expected of an aviator or should we as aviators expect more from ourselves? Should we demand more from those who are providing the training? Maybe we need to examine the system that allows inexperienced aviators to believe that they are ready when they are not—what say you?
Now, let us consider the mathematical consequences of the statement:
I am the Pilot in Command
and I am responsible for your safety.
What does this statement really mean to you, or your family should you not survive, and the lives of others? There was a fatal crash this year involving a fifty passenger aircraft and everyone perished. Consider for a moment just how many people were affected by this. Let us assume, for the purpose of this illustration, that there were no children on board and that each passenger and crewmember was married and traveling without their spouse, and now let’s do a little math.
Passengers and crew…53—spouses…53—parents and grandparents…424—children of each based on an average of 2 per family…106—extended family based on an average of 5….265—close friends of each passenger and crewmember based on an average of 5 per member…265. As you would suspect we could continue this with almost an infinite number of possibilities but we will stop here and use the figure 1166. This number represents persons whose lives will forever be changed as a result of this event and if you consider all the other people who could possibly be affected the final number could balloon to well over five-thousand for just one generation.
The issue of making life and death decisions is present in almost all professions but why do we allow others to make this decision for us. You as an Aviator/Gatekeeper are responsible to yourself to maintain a standard that is no different than that which you expect from the surgeon who is performing surgery on a member of your family. There is no such thing as a routine surgical procedure—there is no such thing as a routine flight.
As the Pilot in Command you make the decision to dispatch and go maybe five times a day/ thirty times a week, and based on your line schedule, maybe three-hundred sixty times a year. Your decisions will effect almost one half million people a year—Are you ready, and are you truly prepared for that responsibility?
In closing I would like to say that the crew on the flight mentioned did in fact try to meet the challenge and responded to the event with their best efforts—they were not successful. God bless them and each and every passenger who lost their lives. It is my hope that each person touched by this can find peace and comfort with the coming New Year.
Next week I will continue to move forward with the series on the “Mindset of an Aviator”, and again I do not claim to be the Dr. Phil of aviation; however, I would like to see if we can identify a course of action that will begin to allow each of us to focus on what we need to do to affect change and begin again to build a solid foundation for job security in aviation. So, until then take some time to look back, connect with your past and remember as an aviator you are a “Gatekeeper of the Third Dimension?”
Protect your profession, your future and the future of your fellow aviators.
October 6, 2014