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Thread: A Kinda Sorta Interesting News Article

  1. #1
    stewartb's Avatar
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    A Kinda Sorta Interesting News Article

    I agree with parts and disagree with parts but it. Worth a read.

    https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/avia...y-air-crashes/

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    mvivion's Avatar
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    Interesting article. But the heart of the issue is this statement: “Alaska is bigger in area than Texas, California and Montana combined, but it is the nation’s most sparsely populated state. More than 80% of communities cannot be accessed by the road system. Planes are essential to everyday life.”

    In most of the lower 48, commercial travel in small airplanes is pretty limited. Over the distances that type of plane might cover, in the Lower 48, many people are going to drive. But, in Alaska, there are few to no roads. And, it’s not just personal transportation……a LOT of freight and virtually all mail and small parcels are moved by air.

    So, first thing I’d do is stop trying to compare Alaska with the Lower 48 accident rates…..that is a pointless comparison, and has been for decades.

    SMS MAY be useful in a very large organization. At one point, our operation implemented something like this, but in most cases, it was one pilot evaluating and conducting the flights. So, fill out a checklist, then go fly…….kind of pointless, but gave some bureaucrat a warm fuzzy.

    More weather information is always a positive, but as noted in the article, doing everything via IFR is likely the best way to be much safer. And that requires many more weather stations and instrument approaches. GPS based approaches helps, no doubt.

    But then the other factor, due to the prevalence of icing in cloud is that you’d also need to move everything to larger, probably turbine equipment….read: Lots more $$$$.

    But then there are still the hunters and fishermen to move around……

    Simple answer is, there are no simple answers.

    MTV
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    akavidflyer's Avatar
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    A written safety assessment before each flight? When they made those mandatory at work for every job we do, they were usefully for about the first 3 days. After that, I would say with confidence that over 90% of them now are being pencil whipped. Job cards filled out in the shop without every having laid eyes on the actual job in the field, yet signed off on by every member of the crew. Of course, when the program was rolled out it was strictly to raise awareness and would not be used for disciplinary action. Very quickly that turned on the hands and if you didn't have the job card filled out and have every hazard imaginable listed and a mitigation for said hazard, you were looking at time off at the very least, but more than likely the scape goat would be fired.

    I think its pretty simple, if you don't want to crash into a giant mountain, don't fly in weather that you can't see said mountain. Nothing is so important that you need to push weather.

  4. #4
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akavidflyer View Post
    I think its pretty simple, if you don't want to crash into a giant mountain, don't fly in weather that you can't see said mountain. Nothing is so important that you need to push weather.
    Yes, it sounds pretty simple when you put it that way. Problem is, the weather here may be "okay", the weather at destination may be "okay", but who knows what the pass looks like, or???? I spent a few hours dancing with weather, smoke, cold, etc. It's NOT a simple problem.

    Pilots by their very nature are goal oriented individuals, or they don't last very long in air taxi type work. So, you give a pilot the keys to a plane, and a load to haul to PAxx, and he or she is going to try really hard to get it done. There are companies who push their pilots pretty hard....I've witnessed same. But, frankly, as Pogo said famously:

    "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

    Pilots are motivated to get the work done. I was, and occasionally got myself somewhere I'd rather not have been, and shouldn't have been. I was fortunate that all those situations ended well. They certainly could have ended badly. Was I lucky? More than likely.

    I've known commercial pilots in Alaska who flew in absolute **** weather, and seemed to get away with it for years. Part of that is really, REALLY knowing the country, the weather, etc, etc.

    Problem is when the "new guy" shows up, and thinks he or she can do the same, with a limited archive of information. May get away with it. May get scared shitless and find different work, may love it and keep pushing.

    Bottom line, however, is that flying commercially in Alaska can be dangerous work. And, the work doesn't get done by sitting on the beach or in the pilot room.

    MTV

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    stewartb's Avatar
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    A couple of points I'll add from my flying and that the article doesn't address.

    Holes in ADS-B ground station coverage affect TIS-B weather but not much else. If all the planes flying have ADS-B out they can see each other without ground stations. The second point? If they see somebody out there they should be able to ask for a weather observation, right? Pick the best route by comparing notes? But no commercial pilot I know is going to tell the truth on the radio when weather is below minimums, and they experience it fairly frequently.

    The second point almost killed me one low, gray, rainy day when I asked a pilot passing overhead how the weather was as I was deciding go-no go. 1000 and three was the answer. No problem. I launched into solid IFR just a few feet above the treetops. When I told an old instructor friend, the then FSDO Safety Manager, he asked me what I expected that pilot to say? He wasn't going to tell me the truth. And with that said? The FAA is part of the problem.
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    "SMS MAY be useful in a very large organization. At one point, our operation implemented something like this, but in most cases, it was one pilot evaluating and conducting the flights. So, fill out a checklist, then go fly…….kind of pointless, but gave some bureaucrat a warm fuzzy."

    Many years ago, I worked for a very large, multi-national organization: They had approximately 50 different manuals and XXX processes to develop and implement an SMS: every job had to have a Job Safety Analysis and List of Hazards. So, a load of tools and pipe is being slung from vessel to vessel, rigging fails, people are injured, possible fatality (the guy pulled through): The ensuing investigation determines that: a) the JSA was indeed conducted; b) the Hazards were listed; and c) a Job Plan was laid out....the SMS was followed, so what could go wrong? The various documents simply failed to state "Don't walk under the load." A perfect example of pencil-whipping documents that did indeed give a bunch of folks a warm and fuzzy.

    ..and a perfect example of a guy that should have known better still took a chance despite the reams of paper and millions of electrons spent trying to eliminate the chance of something going wrong. From my low-time private pilot view, what are the two take-aways?

    - Somehow, someway, the "Mission must be completed" state of mind (whether actually stated or simply background) needs to be tamped down....and that would be a joint effort by Owners and Pilots; it would take an exceptionally strong personality for a Pilot to resist the owner saying the load must go. It would take an exceptionally strong personality for an Owner to resist the customer saying "we have to have that load in ______ village"...but something has to be changed. If a draconian solution is imposed by the FAA (and I'm concerned that such a solution is headed to Part 135 operators), that solution, while perhaps resulting in fewer fatalities, will have a hugely detrimental impact on the industry; I'd like to think that something could be done short of a massive government intervention.
    - What additional efforts, tools, or processes can be used to codify / document / identify the "old guys" knowledge in such a way to transmit it to the "new guys"?

    Hopefully the foregoing is relatively thoughtful, now for my personal rant: With the caveat that good pilots exist everywhere, why do so many 135 operators hire pilots with little or no Alaska time? The area around Los Anchorage probably has a few unique challenges, but taking a 2,500 hour pilot from Topeka or Destin and asking him or her to deal with all the challenges of SE or the Artic in a 135 operation with revenue, time, weather, schedule, williwaw, and all the other pressure is a bit of a stretch, IMO.
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    mvivion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    A couple of points I'll add from my flying and that the article doesn't address.

    Holes in ADS-B ground station coverage affect TIS-B weather but not much else. If all the planes flying have ADS-B out they can see each other without ground stations. The second point? If they see somebody out there they should be able to ask for a weather observation, right? Pick the best route by comparing notes? But no commercial pilot I know is going to tell the truth on the radio when weather is below minimums, and they experience it fairly frequently.

    The second point almost killed me one low, gray, rainy day when I asked a pilot passing overhead how the weather was as I was deciding go-no go. 1000 and three was the answer. No problem. I launched into solid IFR just a few feet above the treetops. When I told an old instructor friend, the then FSDO Safety Manager, he asked me what I expected that pilot to say? He wasn't going to tell me the truth. And with that said? The FAA is part of the problem.
    Many years ago, on an island far away, pilots expressed weather that wasn’t quite “legal” with terminology such as: Welll, it’s a scant 1000 and 3”.

    One of the worst things the FAA has done in the last twenty years (and they’ve done some doozies) was making the ADS-B system a ground based system. Many of us told the FAA back then that this system MUST be a satellite based system. Many times. And we were assured that this was a “prototype system”. Then, “satellite time costs too much”.

    Turns out, virtually every other country in the world that adopts ADS-B is using a space based system…..including Canada.

    But, they are VERY concerned about general aviation safety. Right!

    MTV

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    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Here's the document mentioned in the news article regarding FAA's plans for Alaska: https://s3.documentcloud.org/documen...rim-report.pdf

    I haven't read it all yet. But lurking in the background the usual dark shadow of Alaskan distrust of Government overreach (not limited to Alaska) versus the urgent call for "fix it" when tragic accidents occur. And even if WX reporting is improved it's the enroute part that can remain uncertain. PIREPS help but weather changes. Anyhow have a read and see if it makes sense.

    Gary

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    How about a campaign to educate people that flying in Alaska in inherently riskier and as such people should not expect the same level of safety as they would in the lower 48.
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  10. #10
    nanook's Avatar
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    People need to realize that the FAA doesnít have the resources to make flying safer in Alaska. They talk the talk but donít walk the walk...They want everyone to fly IFR for safety reasons, but wonít install the WX, Coms or approach needed. It has been a painfully slow process, then once something is installed, it takes months to repair when it goes TU. The excuse is they donít have the budget...Iíll be long retired before the FAA gets fixed...

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    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvivion View Post
    Many years ago, on an island far away, pilots expressed weather that wasn’t quite “legal” with terminology such as: Welll, it’s a scant 1000 and 3”.
    MTV
    Back in the days of flying reciprocating engine airliners into uncontrolled airports that was called "Chamber of Commerce Weather". I recall one incident of getting down to minimums at an island airport (ACK) and still being "on top" in the clear!
    N1PA

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    Quote Originally Posted by skywagon8a View Post
    Back in the days of flying reciprocating engine airliners into uncontrolled airports that was called "Chamber of Commerce Weather". I recall one incident of getting down to minimums at an island airport (ACK) and still being "on top" in the clear!
    Could you see the airport looking straight down?
    Regards, Charlie
    Super Coupe E-AB build in process

  13. #13
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieN View Post
    Could you see the airport looking straight down?
    Yes through the layer of fog.
    N1PA

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