The Art of Flying

IMG_1564 2Asiana 214, Air France 447, and Emirates 521. What do these incidents have in common? I have read the accident reports and the recurring theme is that the pilots either did not know how to deal with the situations thew were facing, or put too much trust in their aeroplanes. The pilots of Asiana 214 misunderstood the 777’s autothrust modes and let the speed fall to 103 knots, 34 knots below VAPP. The pilots of Air France 447 did not know how to handle a high-altitude upset. The Emirates captain, on a go around, assumed that the 777’s computers would maintain go around power after he set it. They did not, and the thrust levers retarded to idle. The triple slammed onto the runway the moment the Captain realised that the “infallible” computers had failed him.

Why do I mention this? I did so because I believe we, as general aviation pilots, can learn from these accidents. The above cases show that aircraft do fail, and complacent pilots who are not prepared for this will go down. As pilots we are expected to be on top of our aeroplane and not fall victim to its failures by putting too much trust in it. It is, after all, just a machine.

Practically, there are many ways we can achieve this in the Cessna. Learn the emergency procedures and why they are ordered in the way they are. Inflight, never stop scanning for a landing zone should the engine quit. Constantly check the oil temperature and pressure. Know your landmarks and how they look like from the air should your nav equipment fail. Know the best glide speeds. Don’t skimp on the walk around. The list goes on. You, and your family will be thankful for your vigilance.

Signing off, consider the following. Captain Sully did not even go through the ditching checklist when he landed his A320 on the Hudson river because he was still on the “Engine Failure Relight” checklist. He didn’t need it. Can you imagine if he did?


 – produced by Albert Tee aka adventure 361, August 17, 2017 –