Archive for the ‘Pilots’ Category

On March 2 2010, a Corendon Airlines flight (Boeing 737) was getting ready at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport to take off for Ankara, Turkey with 101 passengers on board. Little did any passenger on the flight knew that the 41-year pilot Thomas Salme who was about to fly the plane didn’t have a license to fly. He was apprehended minutes before take off.

A Boeing 737 from the airline Corendon. The Swedish pilot was preparing to take off with a similar plane when he was arrested


 Dutch police said they were able to arrest the 41-year-old on suspicion of holding a fake pilot licence thanks to a tip-off from the Swedish authorities.

The Swede, resident in Milan, had once possessed a Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL) but this had long since expired, Dutch police said. He subsequently forged an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), the highest level of aircraft pilot licence and one which enabled him to fly large passenger planes.Source: www.thelocal.se


Interestingly, he had flown for 13 years with a forged license for companies in the UK, Belgium and Italy, spending a total of 10,000 unlicensed hours in the air. All he had was an expired commercial pilot licence for an airplane much smaller than a a Boeing 737.

Despite the seriousness of the forgery that would jeopardize the lives of passengers and crew, Salme was just fined for 2000 euros and banned for flying for 12 months.

Makes you wonder, shouldn’t the airline (Corendon Airlines) should also be punished for not making sure that Salme had a legitimate license?



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United Airlines pilot, Erwin Washington, (51 years old from Lakewood, Colorado) was charged and arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport as he was about to fly a a Boeing 767 with 124 passengers and 11 crew to Chicago.

From Mizozo.com

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “At 12.30pm on 9 November we attended a flight at Heathrow Airport and arrested a 51-year-old man.

“He was arrested on suspicion of being aviation staff performing an aviation function while exceeding the prescribed alcohol limit.”

Police are awaiting the outcome of further tests on the man.

“He was reported to police by United Airlines staff, said a BAA Heathrow spokesman.

A United Airlines spokeswoman said: “Safety is our highest priority and the pilot has been removed from service while we are cooperating with authorities and conducting a full investigation.

“United Airlines’ alcohol policy is amongst the strictest in the industry and we have no tolerance for violation of this well-established policy.”

Pilots legal limit is 0.02 percent and that is equivalent to half a glass of beer. Erwin Vermont Washington, 51, is the third U.S. pilot in 13 months to be arrested for being over the strict alcohol limits imposed on airline staff.

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Northwest Airlines flight 188 went “no radio contact” for sometime. Military planes were ready to intercept the flight as a possible hijacking was assumed as the flight missed the airport by 150 miles. It is reported that “the pilots were arguing over airline policy” and hence the distraction. The argument could sound ridiculous but given the state of pilot contracts between Northwest and Delta at the new Delta, I would imagine, it is possible.

But I personally think that the pilots might be napping and covering for it? There are other possibilities for distractions – they were playing each other on their iPhone, gossiping about co-workers, trying to go for another round, wanted to fly over their favorite spot, wanted the plane to be late, wanted the passengers to miss all their connections, wanted to look over their house roofs for damage, checking out on ex-wife or wife, etc. I wonder!

From www.mizozo.com –

Northwest Airlines flight 188 flew 150 miles off course when the crew got into a heated argument over airline policy. The flight was carrying 147 passengers and was supposed to land at Minneapolis-St Paul International/Wold-Chamberlain Airport.


When the pilots got their “situational awareness” back they turned the Airbus A320 around and landed it safely on Wednesday evening, apparently without any of the 144 passengers realising they had taken a roundabout route.

Ground controllers lost contact with the pilots just before 7pm and radio contact was not re-established for more than an hour. The Federal Aviation Administration notified the military, which put fighter jets on alert at two locations.

The flight was scheduled to land at 8.01pm local time but eventually arrived at 9.15pm, according to Ed Stewart, a spokesman for Delta Air Lines, which owns Northwest. Delta has suspended the pilots while it carries out an internal investigation, and the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder were being sent to Washington for analysis.

Federal officials are investigating whether pilot fatigue might have played a role, but an NTSB spokesman, Keith Holloway, said the idea that the crew may have fallen asleep was “speculative”.

Source: Guardian


There was “no radio contact” as it travelled at 37,000 feet (11,300 meters) from San Diego, California, prompting fears it had been hijacked. Four military fighter jets were readied to chase down the plane before contact was reestablished.

Delta Airlines merged with Northwest Airlines last year and the company is going through changes with regards to pilot unions contracts, etc. Seniority is always a big deal for the pilots of a merged union since the number in the list decides on which trip they can pick and which aircraft they can fly.

Makes you wonder what happened to Auto pilot, radars, etc.

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Following are the CCTV videos for the flight number 1549’s crash landing that have been released to public –

This is an interesting video with simulations and edits from other videos –

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Jessica Cox (25 year old from Tucson, Az) was born without arms but that did not stop her from flying an aircraft. She recently became the first pilot licensed to fly with only her feet. She used one foot to man the controls and the other to guide the steering column. She got her Sport Pilot Certificate that qualifies her to fly a light-sport aircraft to altitudes of 10,000 feet.

Her flight instructor is Parrish Traweek (from San Manuel’s Ray Blair Airport).

From Fox News

“When she came up here driving a car,” Traweek recalled, “I knew she’d have no problem flying a plane.”
Finding a plane that was
compatible with her abilities was a task within itself. She found it in
the Ercoupe, a plane manufactured in the mid-1940s. Locating one took
her to Florida and California, although she finally find one less than
70 miles away in San Manuel.

“Once you’re with Jessica for
about 20 minutes, you don’t even notice she doesn’t have arms,” Traweek
said from the one of the airport’s hangars.

Cox, unwrapping a piece of
chewing gum with her toes nearby, was clad in a yellow T-shirt sporting
a stick figure with truncated arms beneath the phrase: “Look Ma, No

“Jessica’s showing people there are no limits,” he said. “Jessica’s incredible. She really is.”

That slate is now covered with achievements from a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Arizona to two black belts in tae kwon do. She’s also seeking a publisher for her life story. She keeps even more active with swimming and walking.

Bravo Jessica! All of us need to be a little inspired from her. It does remind me of Jim Carrey’s new movie Yes Man 🙂

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Allied Pilots Association (American Airlines’ Pilots Association) has been vocal about their opposition to the proposed American Airlines and British Airways alliance. Recently, they have put on billboards around the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Airport to display their opposition.

The application is – “BA and AA have applied to regulators in the United States and Europe for
antitrust immunity that would permit them to combine their route networks,
pricing, sales, marketing and purchasing power
. Iberia, the Spanish airline;
Finnair and Royal Jordanian are included in the submission but are secondary

From “Aviation Blog at Dallas News” –

One says:
AA’s Joint Venture? Higher Fares, Lost Jobs.

Good for Executives, Bad for America.

The other says:
AA’s multinational joint venture:

Is it good for America?

The billboards also include a web address to get more information, www.AmericanJobsAtRisk.com.

I do understand the big concern for other airlines at London’s Heathrow Airport like Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic. Richard Branson believes that the alliance will make a monopoly at London’s Heathrow airport and will drive smaller airlines out of the market. The biggest concern for Branson is that together the airlines can get even more market share.

But I don’t understand the American Airlines’ pilots, unless –

  • They beleive that some of flights to London will be removed, but then I don’t think there is enough overlap between BA and AA in those markets.
  • AA might not fly some of the potential future markets like middle east, asia, etc. This might be a legitimate concern.

Since this will be an alliance, none of the pilots can fly other airlines’ planes.

There is a big issue with old companies in US with unionized labor. It seems like the Unions and managment seem to have new philosophy  – “a company within a company safeguarding their own interests” rather than the original concept of “disallowing any labor exploitation”.

Maybe I am missing something?

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Air France went through severe disruptions (2/5 of long haul flights and half of the rest getting canceled) after the pilots began their four-day strike in protest to the change of the legal age for retirement. The change in retirement age from 60 to 65 was passed in the French parliament earlier.

European passengers are already going through woes due to strikes by employees at Alitalia.

“Passengers should contact Air France on +33 1 5702 1055 or visit www.airfrance.com
for the latest flight information

From BBC article

Disruption to flights operated by partner airlines, including Brit Air
and CityJet, will not be as great, chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta said.
He said the strike would cost the airline 100m euros ($127m; £86.1m).
Mr Spinetta also said the strike was “unnecessary” because the
postponement of the retirement age from 60 to 65 was beyond the firm’s
control, having been passed in parliament. In addition, pilots will still be able to decide whether they want to
retire at the age of 60 while paying the same pension contributions.

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