9 Skydivers Miraculous Escape Midair Collision – Video

The two aircraft were flying at approximately 12,000 feet when the trailing one hits the leader (flying slightly lower than it).  Footage clearly shows the second plane, with skydivers already in position to jump, fly right on top of the first one.

Source:  NBC News

Photo Credits:  NBC News

FAA Issues Final Rule to enhance Pilot Training

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today issued a final rule that will significantly advance the way commercial air carrier pilots are trained.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta stated: “Today’s rule is a significant advancement for aviation safety and U.S. pilot training,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “One of my first meetings as Transportation Secretary was with the Colgan Flight 3407 families, and today, I am proud to announce that with their help, the FAA has now added improved pilot training to its many other efforts to strengthen aviation safety.”

The final rule stems in part from the tragic crash of Colgan Air 3407 in February 2009, and addresses a Congressional mandate in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 to ensure enhanced pilot training. Today’s rule is one of several rulemakings required by the Act, including the requirements to prevent pilot fatigue that were finalized in December 2011, and the increased qualification requirements for first officers who fly U.S. passenger and cargo planes that were issued  in July 2013.

The final rule requires: 

  • Ground and flight training that enables pilots to prevent and recover from aircraft stalls and upsets.  These new training standards will impact future simulator standards as well;
  • Air carriers to use data to track remedial training for pilots with performance deficiencies, such as failing a proficiency check or unsatisfactory performance during flight training;
  • Training for more effective pilot monitoring;
  • Enhanced runway safety procedures; and
  • Expanded crosswind training, including training for wind gusts.

The FAA is focusing on pilot training for events that, although rare, are often catastrophic.  Focusing on these events will provide the greatest safety benefit to the flying public. The recent rule to boost pilot qualifications for first officers has raised the baseline knowledge and skill set of pilots entering air carrier operations. Many air carriers have also voluntarily begun developing safety management systems (SMS), which will help air carriers identify and mitigate risks unique to their own operating environments.

The FAA proposed to revise the training rules for pilots in 2009, one month prior to the Colgan Flight 3407 accident. The FAA issued a supplemental proposal on May 20, 2011, to address many of the NTSB’s recommendations resulting from the accident, and incorporate congressional mandates for stick pusher, stall recovery and remedial training.  A stick pusher is a safety system that applies downward elevator pressure to prevent an airplane from exceeding a predetermined angle of attack in order to avoid, identify, or assist in the recovery of a stall.

On Aug. 6, 2012, the FAA issued Advisory Circular (AC) Stall and Stick Pusher Training to provide best practices and guidance for training, testing, and checking for pilots to ensure correct and consistent responses to unexpected stall events and stick pusher activations.  A copy of the AC is available at online.

Air carriers will have five years to comply with the rule’s new pilot training provisions, which will allow time for the necessary software updates to be made in flight simulation technology. The cost of the rule to the aviation industry is estimated to be $274.1 to $353.7 million. The estimated benefit is nearly double the cost at $689.2 million.  The final rule is available.

Source:  FAA Press Release


8 Tips that will help you to become a better pilot

Days ago, I was talking with a friend who asked me:  If you were to give advice to others on how to become a better pilot, what would you say?

Well, the list maybe long, but I selected 8 of them, there it goes:

  • Be receptive and versatile on your way of thinking; don’t get stuck on an idea. Be willing to learn from others, even younger people has innovative suggestions that can helps us improve ourselves. Remember the old saying that in an airplane we always going to be an student.
  • Be safe, a safe flight begins at least 8 hours before we go to the airport, with adequate rest and following restrictions to alcohol usage.  Once at the airport proper planning will give you a mental picture of what to expect and how to proceed, never get into a situation where your exit is only one, that door may get closed and then you have no way out.
  • Improve your flying skills, hand fly your aircraft when conditions permit, if you have autopilot, fly manually your aircraft either after takeoff until a certain altitude or on approach to land.  Force yourself to maintain precise altitudes and speeds within small margins.  If you are a general aviation pilot, take a simulator ride and practice all those maneuvers that cannot be done on the real aircraft.
  • Read and study the causes on the accidents reports, remember the old saying “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself”.  Normally accident causes go well backward in time, study those causes and keep them in your experience backpack to avoid committing those same mistakes. 
  • Know your aircraft limitations, doesn’t matter if you don’t remember your nose wheel tire pressure, but it is important that you know by heart your aircraft limitations to avoid going beyond them. Passing your annual or six months proficiency check doesn’t mean that you are really “proficient” on your aircraft, so pay enough attention to strengthen those areas you feel you need to reinforce.
  • Improve your radio communications skills, when talking on the frequency, be precise, short and concise, use standard phraseology and state clearly your intentions, “who you are, where are you, at what time, at what altitude and where you go”.  And remember, you are not alone on the radio, so don’t make your radio communications longer than enough.  Be helpful with others, if you hear another pilot being unable to contact ATC, help him relaying his messages.
  • Improve your communications with others and accept suggestions, CRM is not just another tick in your proficiency box, is a daily exercise, a life style.  Make others clear what your intentions are and also consider their suggestions.  You don’t need to take all the credit for everything you do, give credit to others and you will feel good about yourself.

And at last, remember that owning your pilot’s license or wearing that nice airline pilot uniform also makes you gentleman, so behave accordingly.

Capt. Ivan




I started my airline career in a small Company, in the cold, distant Patagonia, a reduced group of pilots flying a bunch of turboprops; work and the weather were hard, but union was strong, for some reason still today the pilots that belonged to this defunct airline keep up an especial brotherhood.  I still remember a cold night when we were watching the world football cup, the living room of our crash pad was so cold that we gathered all together in a sofa and covered ourselves with a blanket, no distinctions, not three or four stripes.

Attracted by bigger jets and making my path on an aviation career, I moved to a bigger Company, operating several B737’s, 757’s and 767’s.  At the beginning many times I regretted my decision.  I was just another number on the seniority list, and mine was right at the bottom. Relationships with people was not easy, pilots were coming from different sources, Air Force, Navy, retired from major airlines, etc. and each one had its own way of understanding how to treat a low time Copilot.  There was a constant fight for showing who was best among military pilots coming from different origins.  Ex-Air Force Captains were good to show how fly by the seat of its pants, ex-Navy skippers were good explaining the scientific part of flight and calculations and old retired Capts were excellent showing tricks of how to get the most of our aircraft. 

It took me more than a year to fly with all the Company Captains, until that moment every flight was an appointment with a pilot I never met before.  But even having flown with some of them, when I was walking with my Captain to the Ops office and on the way we met another Captain, he completely ignored me and only talk to the other Captain.   A big Company, it was a hard way up from being a junior copilot until become a senior one.

Moving from a small, family type, airline to a major one is never easy.  People on big Companies forms reduced groups of relationships and the rest is just another work partner.  Among all these people, you may find pilots with whom you feel comfortable working with themand someothers withwhich it is noteasy to work; the challenge is to work with the not so easy ones.

Some pilots have an attitude whose sole purpose seems to be ruins Copilot’s life, many times I asked myself why some guys decided to be pilots.  But you have to work with them, keep professional and never argue with a Captain except that your own safety is in danger.  If de Captain does not do so, sometimes relax the work environment runs on your own, a good trick to deal with tough guys that worked for me a couple of times is to find what is his/her favorite topic of conversation, everyone likes to talk about something, sports, politics, family, achievements, etc.   Without being that copilot that always says “I take the fat one” you can enjoy a good time with your fellow Captain.

Being a Captain today, I can tell you that there are guys with whom I tune better at work, not because we are having fun on the cockpit, simply because together we can achieve the balance of having an enjoyable moment on that tight space that is an aircraft’s flight deck and at same time do a professional job.

We arrive here to the point where some you of will start wondering what a Captain expects from a First Officer?  Well, this is not a personal answer but once a colleague and I agree with him:  “a smile, a touch of good humor, commonsense and someone I can rely when the chips are down”.

Capt. Ivan


Southwest Dismisses Captain Nose Gear First Landing

Southwest Airlines said it fired the captain who was at the controls of a plane that landed nose first at New York’s LaGuardia Airport in July, injuring nine people and snarling air traffic for hours.

The action came as Dallas-based Southwest completed its probe of the accident, Linda Rutherford, an airline spokeswoman, said. Southwest ordered the first officer to undergo more training, Rutherford said.

Cockpit procedure has been a focus of the US inquiry into the July 22 incident. Flight 345’s captain, a 13-year Southwest pilot, took control from the first officer just before the Boeing Co. 737 hit the runway, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, whose investigation continues.

“The question is why the captain took control,” Bill Waldock, who teaches accident investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, said in an interview. “Normally, unless something major is wrong, the flying pilot is going to maintain control. The flying pilot can feel what the airplane is doing. When the captain takes control, it takes him a few seconds to understand what’s happening.”

The captain, with six years in that post, had more than 12,000 flight hours, the NTSB has said. The co-pilot had been with Southwest about 18 months at the time of the accident and had 5200 flight hours. The pilots had been on administrative leave during Southwest’s inquiry.

“As a matter of policy we have not identified the pilots and we are not discussing the specifics,” Rutherford said. “We are also still in an active investigation with the NTSB.”

With its nose pointed three degrees downward, the 737-700 struck the runway first with the landing gear at the front of the plane instead of settling onto the main wheels located beneath the wings, the NTSB said in a July 25 release.

The forward gear broke, snapping rearward and damaging an electronics bay. Flight 345 was arriving from Nashville, Tennessee, and carried 150 people.

Source:  Bloomberg

Microsoft Surface 2 Takes Off with Delta Pilots

Delta Air Lines plans to buy 11,000 Microsoft Surface 2 tablets for its pilots to replace the heavy bundles of books and maps they haul around now.

Other airlines, including American and United, have been buying Apple’s iPad for that purpose.

Delta says the Surface tablets will save it $13 million per year in fuel and other costs. Right now, each pilot carries a 38-pound flight bag with manuals and maps.

Delta plans to test the tablets on its Boeing 757s and 767s, which are flown by the same group of pilots. The airline is hoping for Federal Aviation Administration approval next year to use the tablets throughout a flight, and it hopes to be using the devices on all of its other planes by the end of next year.

One reason Delta picked a Microsoft device was that it’s easier to give pilots separate sections for company and personal use, said Steve Dickson, Delta’s senior vice president for flight operations.

Pilots will be able to install personal software and keep their own items such as photos on the personal section of the devices, while another portion will be dedicated to Delta’s software, Dickson said.

“We trust them to manage that side of the device,” Dickson said.

Another reason for picking the Surface tablet is that Delta’s training software also runs on the same Windows operating system as the tablets, reducing the need to redo that software for another device, Dickson said.

Delta has already done a test program where pilots could bring their own devices, including iPads.

In August, Delta said its flight attendants will get Windows phones to process in-flight sales of food, better seats, and other items.

Microsoft announced last week that it is updating its tablet line, which includes the Surface 2s that Delta is buying. The Surface 2 is the cheaper of the two versions sold by Microsoft, retailing for $449 each. Dickson declined to say how much Delta is paying.

Source:  Joshua Freed – AP

Sad: Our Colleague Died……

Airline pilot dies after heart attack on flight to Seattle.

The captain of a United Airlines jet who suffered an in-flight heart attack, forcing the aircraft to make an emergency landing in Boise, Idaho, has died, an airline spokeswoman said on Friday.

Seattle-bound United flight 1603, which took off from Houston with 161 passengers on board, landed safely and the pilot was rushed to a local hospital, Boise Airport spokeswoman Patti Miller said.

The pilot, whose name was not released, died as a result of the medical emergency, United Airlines spokeswoman Christen David said on Friday.

“I am sad to confirm that our co-worker passed away last night,” she said. “Our thoughts are with his family at this time.”

The Boeing 737 aircraft later continued on to Seattle, landing just after midnight local time, David said.

Source:  Reuters

Related Articles:  http://www.cockpitchatter.com/airline-pilot-suffers-heart-attack-in-mid-air/

Air Malta pilot given €573,000 golden handshake

An Air Malta pilot who opted for the early retirement scheme offered to the airline’s employees last year, was granted €4,777 a month up to 2023.

The pilot will be paid a monthly sum up to his retirement age in 2023.  Over a span of 10 years, starting from 2013, this adds up to a grand total of €573,240.

Tourism minister Karmenu Vella said that in total, 12 pilots opted for the early retirement scheme, which was offered to the airline’s employees as part of its restructuring program.

The payments issued to these 12 pilots sums up to around €4.3 million. In his reply to a Parliamentary question, Vella explained that eight pilots received €2,730,698, while another three pilots are in the process of taking the retirement scheme by the end of the year.

These three pilots will be receiving around €988,076, the minister said.

In 2012, Air Malta posted a loss of €30 million, after having received the European Commission’s green light for a restructuring plan in which the airline must become profitable after receiving €130 million in state aid.

Air Malta’s net loss for the financial year ended March 2013 is expected to total €28 million, however up to €10 million is attributable to one-time restructuring costs, such as termination payments to its employees.

The global figure includes operational costs of around €15 million as well as non-operational costs, including the restructuring costs.

The latter was part of the restructuring agreement reached last year with the European Commission, which was harshly criticised by the pilots’ union, ALPA.

In October 2012, following protracted negotiations between the airline and the pilots, a collective agreement was signed, which saw the pilots receive a €4.5 million raise.

The collective agreement for 2012-2015 will see pilots get a raise of over 3% every year, cost-of-living allowance increase, for a total of €17,000 annually.

The revised scale system will see pilots and first officers’ salaries capped at €90,800 for pilots and €58,200 for first officers. The capped salaries is hoped to produce a natural wastage of older and higher-earning pilots taking early retirement, and bring down the staff complement of 130 pilots.

Source:  MaltaToday News


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