Posted by: harrisonjones | May 12, 2011

I Will Not Stall…I Will Not Stall…

The Friendly Aviation Administration has proposed new training rules for air crews. As with most new rules, the proposal is in reaction to a fatal accident. A Regional flight crashed on approach to Buffalo, New York two years ago, after a stall/spin event. Crew fatigue was cited as a factor as well as a load of ice on the wings for whatever reason. Fifty people died as a result. 

The proposal to prevent this from ever happening again will require pilots, flight attendants and dispatchers to train together as a team. I can see advantages to this type of training; however I will be willing to wager that when the team is assembled and opinions are solicited, every flight attendant and every dispatcher will vote not to do a stall/spin on approach. They will probably be opposed to carrying ice on the airframe as well. In my simple mind, the solution doesn’t seem to solve the problem. 

Flight attendants and dispatchers are essential to the safety and success of every airline flight, but their role in preventing stall/spin accidents escapes me. I mean, sure the experienced flight attendant knows that when the Martini’s slosh out of the glass, the pilot is using too much rudder, but I’m not sure she can help him. The dispatcher always provides the latest weather and icing reports, but the windshield, the ram air temp indicator and the static air temp indicator provides much more current information.  

The five years that I enjoyed as a pilot ground school instructor for a major air carrier tells me that this proposed training will be time consuming and a logistical fur ball. I like the concept, but as far as stall/spin accident prevention, I just don’t see it. As much as I hated steep turns and stall series in the simulator every six months, I never doubted the benefits of practicing them.  

Is it possible that we don’t emphasize the value of a good primary flight instructor enough? Aerodynamics are finite, humans are a work in progress.

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