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QANTAS: Returning pilots making rookie errors

QANTAS: Returning pilots making rookie errors

Mat Sullivan over at the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Qantas pilots are making errors, like the equivalent of not taking the hand brake off in a car, before taxiing towards the runway. More alarmingly is the mistaken reading of the altimeter as airspeed.

These reports come from an internal memo that outlines a bunch of problems caused by the lack of routine flying over the last 2 years of coronavirus, caused by travel restrictions and lockdowns. If that’s the case, then this would particularly apply to pilots of aircraft that fly overseas like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and both the Airbus A380 and A330.

The story quotes a memo that refers to pilots lack of ‘recency’ and reduced ‘cognitive capacity’ both as a result of lack of recent flying experience. It illustrates a range of problems, including ‘commencing take-off with park brake set’.

The solution

More practice! Yep, simples.

More time in the simulator to sharpen those skills and procedures before returning to the air is the prescription to avoid these errors.

Qantas pilot on a Cottesloe Beach in WA from as promotional campaign

2PAXfly Takeout

In an industry that depends on safety to stop aircraft literally falling from the sky, and an airline that prides itself on its safety record, I find that this issue is not being foreseen as surprising. While I’m no safety expert, and unfamiliar with the research in this area, it seems fairly obvious that lack of practice, and getting stale with your skills while furloughed for 2 years would lead to at least some inefficiency, if not actual errors.

I’m surprised that Qantas did not have in place a simulator regime that would have headed this off at the pass. Maybe it’s just a lack of capacity in the simulators to meet the demand of returning so many pilots in such a short time.

The whole article is worth a read if you are an avgeek!

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