Thursday, April 21, 2011

Never rush. Ever.

I have some important advice that I think can help any pilot reading this, whether they are waiting to solo or have 20,000 hours. You remember learning about "get there itis?" and telling yourself you'd never risk your license and life to get somewhere if the weather was bad? Or having a scary "never again" experience? Great! Get there itis is the cause of a lot of head scratching accidents.

But how many times have you rushed through preflight prep? Maybe you haven't yet. But you will, at some point, be in such a flustered hurry that you'll mess something up. 

Maybe you're a calm person by nature and you never rush. But if your environment changes you may find yourself being forced into a hurry up role. 

Unfortunately when you fly for an airline, on time performance is king. And you'll be given planes that have issues, or get your paperwork late, or find something wrong with the aircraft on your preflight. And inevitably, you'll be told "we don't have time for that." 

YES YOU DO.

So here's some sage advice from someone who hasn't been in this industry long, but has been in it long enough to recognize a few things.

The ground personnel don't have pilot's licenses. That gate agent angry about a maintenance delay isn't about to fly on that airplane. The mechanic may NOT have done the whole procedure and you'll be the party pooper who delays the flight to make sure everything's legal. Just do it. Don't worry about being popular. And don't do it just when you think the FAA is watching. Have personal integrity. 

Take the same amount of time on your walk around. Do the same cockpit prep you always do. Always double check your flight plan against the release (or the charts). Always check your NOTAMs, MELs and CDLs. You (and the other pilot, if there is one), are the FINAL authority on whether or not that aircraft is safe and ready to depart. It's your life and your ticket on the line.

3 comments:

Wayne Conrad said...

That's why I call the pilots our (the passengers') "safety hostages." You're the only people on the plane having the safety trifecta: a personal stake in the flight's safety, the experience to know what's safe, and the authority to say "no."

If they ever automate you out of the cockpit, I ain't flying. I want my safety hostages.

pilotian said...

hello my name is Ian of www.pilotian.com
Couldnt find your email to contact you anywere so please contact me if you could. I am wondering if you would be interested in being a Airline mentor pilot on my forums. Thanks.

My email is in my contact page on my site

Mikel said...

Wayne - thank you! Barely a flight goes by where we don't have to make a decision that a computer may not be able to make. Weather is a great example. I don't think they'll ever be able to create a computer that can navigate around thunderstorms the way that people can.

I'm going to giggle about the term "safety hostages" for a while now.

Ian - email sent!!