Back in Time … a Pilot from the 80s

Creation of this website has been a great challenge for me. I wondered many times how to start this blog, many histories to tell, but the point was, what to write about first? How to write that is on my mind in a way that can be understandable and enjoyable to the reader?  I am not a writer, not a professional blogger, just a pilot.

And I thought that a good way to start could be taking a look back in time, more than 25 years ago, when I became a professional pilot.

Twenty five years ago we were just beginning to hear about CRM – Cockpit Resource Management – for most of us was a completely new discipline.  The arrival of this new doctrine was resisted at first by certain Captains used to think that the First Officer was just another aircraft´s element, often used to place the gear down and do the communications. This way of thinking led to not few incidents and accidents with devastating effects.  CRM was primarily used to improve Air Safety, by highlighting interpersonal communication and consulted decision making.  The first airline to apply CRM training was United Airlines, back in 1981.  With time, CRM became – Complete Resource Management – involving all Company areas.

Earlier in the 1980s we begin to see the first Aviation GPS Receivers – Global Positioning System – a satellite based navigation system.  The GPS was at first designed only for military use.  The first satellite was launched in 1978.   The tragedy of Korean Airlines 007, a Boeing 747 passenger airliner shoot down by the U.S.S.R., after entering prohibited airspace due to a navigational error, prompted President Reagan in 1983 to make GPS also available for civilian use.  GPS system currently consist of 31 satellites in orbit.

In 1979 made its appearance the first aircraft equipped with Glass Cockpit, the MD-80.  At the end of 1980s, EFIS – Electronic Flight Instrument System – was available as standard equipment in all Airbus and Boeing aircraft.  On the first generation of EFIS, presentations were a mere copy of earlier traditional instruments. The LCD – Liquid Crystal Displays later replaced the earlier cathode ray tubes with a complete new design of integrated flight instruments in a single display.
Research from NASA of a device that detects air proximity to other aircraft and provides collision avoidance dates back to mid 1950s.  But was not until mid 80s that appears the TCAS – Traffic Collision Avoidance System – As with most major aviation improvements the final decision mandating its use in all large aircraft came in 1986, after a mid-air collision over Cerritos,  California between an Aeromexico DC9 and a Piper Archer.  There are four versions of TCAS – I, II, III & IV.

TCAS I  is the most basic, provides TA – Traffic Advisories – with relative bearing and distance to the intruder.  TCAS II, provides TA and RA – Resolution Advisories – this added feature gives verbal instructions to the pilot to avoid the danger in a vertical plane, announcing “climb, climb”, “descent, descent”, etc.  TCAS III & IV are abandoned projects.

Among other things this was going on more than 25 years ago … seems yesterday.

Step into an airline career has never been easy, but the way to it was longer during the 1980s, a  civilian pilot had to win experience flying several kinds of piston singles and twins before sitting on the right seat of a turboprop, the previous step to flying a jet.  Of course you find lucky guys in all times, but most of us were not included on that selected group.

Mali, Western Africa. Flying live goats during the Ramadan.

Mali, Western Africa. Flying live goats during the Ramadan.










“if we professional pilots share our experiences, we are making a safer aviation”

  •   GDL 39