Below Minimums?

Today I had to live a situation in which all professional pilots have passed one or several times, so it’s nothing new. But I want to share details of it here for those who have not yet lived it.
We arrived at the airport with my first officer from the hotel an hour before departure of the flight and headed to the office of company operations, there the flight dispatcher informed us that the destination airport was with visibility below minimums for all operations – a minimum quite high (5 kms) because this airport is enclosed by a chain of mountains. Obviously the flight was delayed waiting for an improvement in the weather conditions. The wait lasted four hours and when this type of situation happens, everyone starts looking to the captain, who has the decisive word on the initiation of the flight, read here I say “initiation ” and not “cancellation”.   The cancellation of a flight due to weather is always attribution of the commercial or operational department of the Company.  The Captain and his crew can only wait until they fulfill their FDP’s – Flight Duty Periods – and go home or if before reaching this limit if the intended destination airport is operative perform the flight.
I have seen on many occasions Captains get nervous because the flight is delayed due to weather, time passes and the pressure on them goes “in-crescendo”.   As an old retired Captain once told me – actually when things get more difficult the solution is simpler – You can not fight with the elements and risking an entire operation does not do any favor to none.

Author:  Ivan Paredes

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