Saturday, 3 October 2009


There are very few circumstances in flying where it is necessary or desirable for the pilot to react*.
In the vast majority of cases the Captain's actions should be considered, measured and deliberate.
There is no intended connection between these words and the image above. We should, however, be reminded that should things go wrong the first thing to do is FLY THE PLANE. Power Attitude Trim maintaining the aircraft in balance. Move Flaps and Gear UP as required.
Think - Delay (pause for just a second or two) - Act. DO NOT RUSH vital actions like moving Thrust Levers, Pitch Levers, Fuel Levers, Fire Switches, Flap Levers or the Gear Lever. Be cool and make any changes in a considered, measured and deliberate manner. Hands flashing around the cockpit are definitely not a good idea. In the May 2011 Edition of Aerospace International ( magazine there is an article Command lessons from QF32. There may be lessons for us from the medical sector, especially from surgeons. Embedded in this article it was stated that a surgeon had once been given the advice "Don't just do something, stand there", indicating that slowing down rather than rushing into action may contribute to better decision making in medical operations.
*Of course a pilot needs to know the RECALL actions for emergencies and non-normals. The only circumstances where it may be desirable to react are possibly:
An RTO (Rejected Take-off).
An EGPWS or GPWS command.
Go-Around at DH or baulked landing.
Oxygen Mask ON in Rapid Depressurisation.
Let me know of any others. I'm getting rusty.

The order of priorities is always AVIATE - NAVIGATE - COMMUNICATE.

By the way, THINK - DELAY - SPEAK also works with your R/T and using the PA. A colleague of mine once said that this maxim had not only helped him in the air, but had also saved his marriage!! (See 26th August 2008 - Correct R/T Phraseology? Any Feedback?)


Peter said...

The only thing I could possibly think of adding to the "reaction" would be a sudden traffic avoidance maneuver or "pop up" TCAS RA

Blog Archive said...

You may well be correct. The only reason that I did not include TCAS (TA or RA) was that even an RA should possibly not be "reacted to", but expeditiously acted upon based on the VS command. But, of course, I would not rule out correct reaction to an imminent conflict or collision situation.

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Blog Archive said...

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I originally set up the blog when I retired as an airline pilot and was then instructing for a local flying club. But due to a difference of opinion I quit doing that and now I only ride motorcycles.
Therefore my flying contributions are getting thin.
Thank you again. Anyone else out there?

Flying Alaska said...

Great thoughts and good advice. I tell every young pilot I talk to that instant action to an aviation situation is rarely necessary, and that taking a moment to size up what's happening is the best way to avoid bending metal or getting hurt.

jetadventure said...

Flying Alaska - Thanks for your comments. Feedback is always appreciated.
Your profile and interests sound quite similar to mine.
I'm off on a South African motorcycle adventure soon.
All the best.

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