United Airlines Flight 173 was the watershed event that launched the establishment of Crew Resource Management (CRM) throughout the airline industry. That accident occurred thirty years ago. With the widespread acceptance of CRM in airline operations, one would surmise that crew communication issues would be a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, that’s not the way it has worked out. We have no way to determine how many times a Captain has disregarded a First Officer’s suggestions or comments and there is no adverse effect, but we do numerous accidents where this has been a causal factor.
Take, for example, the case of Air Florida Flight 90, three years after Flight 173. During the takeoff roll, the First Officer expressed concern about the airplane’s performance. Three times the former F-15 pilot First Officer expressed concern. “That don't seem right, does it? Ah, that's not right.” The Captain answered, “Yes it is, there's eighty.”. Then, twelve seconds later, the First Officer said “Naw, I don't think that's right. Ah, maybe it is.”. Twelve more seconds and the First Officer said: “I don't know.”.
So was this simply a case of the pre-CRM philosophy that “the Captain is God”, early in the use of CRM? After all, in the old days, the Captain WAS God! Consider Ernest Gann’s book Fate Is The Hunter, in which he recounts his Captain holding lit matches in front of his face as he flew a challenging instrument approach to minimums - with passengers aboard! But that was then, this is now, right?
I wish that were true, but I believe there are still far too many of “Captain-God’s” out there. When I was flying for a major airline in Asia, on several occasions I made errors (thankfully, all minor) and never heard a word from my First Officers. During our post-flight debriefing, I inquired why they had not advised me of a potential problem, especially since I had specifically briefed them to do so. (“I’d rather be embarrassed in the cockpit than on the evening news”). In EVERY case the response was, roughly, “Captain, I did not want to disagree with you”! I suspect there is a cultural aspect to this, wherein First Officers are used to being disregarded.
In 2007 Garuda Indonesia Airways Flight 200 crashed following an unstable approach in which the First Officer repeatedly advised the Captain that the approach was unstabilized and to go around. The Captain ignored him, attempting to salvage a landing by descending at 4000 feet per minute, and crashed. In 2010 India Air Express Flight 812 also crashed on landing. The Captain was the pilot flying, and the first Officer had said “Go around” three times, the first being on two-mile final. Of the 160 passengers and crew, only 8 passengers survived.
And, it apears to be a problem world-wide. First Air Flight 6560 crashed in 2011 attempting an ILS in Canada. The First Officer specifically advised the Captain that the GPS showed them off course to the right, and that the localizer was showing full-scale deflection. He also said “Go around”. Altogether, the First Offficer expressed clear concern THIRTEEN TIMES. Yet the Captain continued the approach. Everyone onboard died.
Psychologists will tell us there are valid reasons for the pilot flying not wanting to go around when another crew member who has less professional image at stake has no problem abandoning the approach. Let me posit a concept that should appeal to EVERY pilot - money. When you go around, the flight lasts longer, and you get more flight pay! Depending on your operation, you may be required to submit some sort of report. So be it. Here’s a suggestion for First Officers: if you EVER experience a Captain ignoring your suggestion to go around, visit your chief pilot or Professional Standards Committee immediately!
Let’s not lose sight of the requirement that common carriers, such as scheduled airlines, are REQUIRED to exercise the HIGHEST degree of safety in performing their duties. Unless you are operating in an emergency fuel situation, continuing an unstabilized approach does not satisfy that requirement.
Bottom line: it’s not WHO is right, it’s WHAT is right!
Dr. Davidson grew up in a Navy family in California and Virginia and was commissioned as an Air Force second lieutenant in 1988. She flew combat support, airdrop, and humanitarian air mobility missions in the Pacific, Europe and the Middle East in both the Lockheed C-130 Hercules and the Boeing C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft, and also served as an instructor pilot at the United States Air Force Academy. She was a Distinguished Graduate of Air Force Squadron Officers’ School and was the first woman to fly the Air Force’s tactical C-130.
Dr. Davidson became president of Metropolitan State University of Denver on July 24, 2017. Her primary focus is on student retention and graduation – better serving the nearly 20,000 current students that call the University home and preparing them to launch into the workforce. While MSU Denver is a leader in educating Coloradans through programs relevant to the state’s economy, Davidson aims to build the institution’s reputation both nationally and internationally. She served as Under Secretary of the United States Navy from 2016 to 2017. She is the author of Lifting the Fog of Peace: How Americans Learned to Fight Modern War, a study of organizational learning and institutional change within the U.S. military.
Following the conclusion of her Air Force career in 1998, Davidson pursued doctoral studies in international affairs at the University of South Carolina. From 2006 to 2008, she served as Director of Stability Operations Capabilities within the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict). She was founding director of the Consortium for Complex Operations, later renamed the Center for Complex Operations (CCO), a research center within the National Defense University that studies military and civilian coordination in stability operations.
From 2009 to 2012, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Plans, where she oversaw the formulation and review of military war plans and global force posture policy. She was recognized with the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.
Following her service in the Pentagon, Dr. Davidson became an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Public Policy at George Mason University, where she taught courses on national security policy and civil-military relations.
On January 17, 2014, Dr. Davidson accepted the position of Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. During this time, Davidson also served as a presidentially appointed member of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, which recommended changes to service structure and management policies, as well as a member of the Reserve Forces Policy Board.
On September 18, 2015, it was announced that she had been nominated by President Barack Obama to become Under Secretary of the United States Navy.She was confirmed by the United States Congress and assumed her post on March 17, 2016.
On February 14, 2017, Metropolitan State University of Denver announced that Dr. Davidson would become the next president of the university.
The choice of material used to construct the runway depends on the use and the local ground conditions. For a major airport, where the ground conditions permit, the most satisfactory type of pavement for long-term minimum maintenance is concrete. Although certain airports have used reinforcement in concrete pavements, this is generally found to be unnecessary, with the exception of expansion joints across the runway where a dowel assembly, which permits relative movement of the concrete slabs, is placed in the concrete. Where it can be anticipated that major settlements of the runway will occur over the years because of unstable ground conditions, it is preferable to install asphaltic concrete surface, as it is easier to patch on a periodic basis. For fields with very low traffic of light planes, it is possible to use a sod surface. Some runways also make use of salt flat runways.
For pavement designs, borings are taken to determine the subgrade condition, and based on the relative bearing capacity of the subgrade, the specifications are established. For heavy-duty commercial aircraft, the pavement thickness, no matter what the top surface, varies from 10 in (250 mm) to 4 ft (1 m), including subgrade.
Airport pavements have been designed by two methods. The first, Westergaard, is based on the assumption that the pavement is an elastic plate supported on a heavy fluid base with a uniform reaction coefficient known as the K value. Experience has shown that the K values on which the formula was developed are not applicable for newer aircraft with very large footprint pressures.
The second method is called the California bearing ratio and was developed in the late 1940s. It is an extrapolation of the original test results, which are not applicable to modern aircraft pavements or to modern aircraft landing gear. Some designs were made by a mixture of these two design theories. A more recent method is an analytical system based on the introduction of vehicle response as an important design parameter. Essentially it takes into account all factors, including the traffic conditions, service life, materials used in the construction, and, especially important, the dynamic response of the vehicles using the landing area.
Because airport pavement construction is so expensive, manufacturers aim to minimize aircraft stresses on the pavement. Manufacturers of the larger planes design landing gear so that the weight of the plane is supported on larger and more numerous tires. Attention is also paid to the characteristics of the landing gear itself, so that adverse effects on the pavement are minimized. Sometimes it is possible to reinforce a pavement for higher loading by applying an overlay of asphaltic concrete or portland cement concrete that is bonded to the original slab. Post-tensioning concrete has been developed for the runway surface. This permits the use of thinner pavements and should result in longer concrete pavement life. Because of the susceptibility of thinner pavements to frost heave, this process is generally applicable only where there is no appreciable frost action.
Macadam is a type of road construction, pioneered by Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam around 1820, in which single-sized crushed stone layers of small angular stones are placed in shallow lifts and compacted thoroughly. A binding layer of stone dust (crushed stone from the original material) may form; it may also, after rolling, be covered with a binder to keep dust and stones together. The method simplified what had been considered state of the art at that point. Tarmac is tar on top of macadam, initially called tarmacadam, patented in 1902. Tarmac is now used as a generic term.
Vincent Aiello (aka "Jell-O") took his first airplane flight when he was 11 years old, and was smitten. He attended UCLA, majoring in Mathematics, and then entered the Navy. He was initially assigned as a life guard while waiting for flight training, then finally started his flying. He flew the T-34, the T-2 and the TA-4 while in training.
After his initial training, he flew the FA-18 at El Toro, then flew at Cecil Field. His first deployment was on the USS George Washington. He later attended TOPGUN and remained on staff as an instructor.
Following 25 years of service, he retired from the Navy and, somewhat reluctantly, became n airline pilot.
Jell-O is the host of the Fighter Pilot Podcast, where he interviews fighter pilots from all branches of the service in captivating episodes.