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AIN's Tales from the Flight Deck

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Furthering aviation safety awareness by exploring first-person experiences.

Furthering aviation safety awareness by exploring first-person experiences.
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Midland Park, NJ


Furthering aviation safety awareness by exploring first-person experiences.








When it all Goes Sideways

Having reached their 43,000-foot cruise altitude, the crew of a corporate Citation XLS had their world almost literally turned upside down. Like a rogue wave far out at sea, clear air turbulence can come from nowhere, and a routine flight can instantly become a heart-stopping roller coaster ride. Like many before them, this crew battled not only a gut-wrenching upset and aerodynamic stall, but even more significantly, they experienced the paralyzing effects of shock. In this episode, we’ll...


Familiar Departure, Busted Altitude

After an unanticipated en route stop-over throws a curve to an experienced crew, they fall victim to an error of omission that could have been disastrous. Leaving Denver International Airport for their homeward leg, they trip up on what has become an alarmingly common problem: pilots not briefing for altitude restrictions on standard instrument departures, or SIDs. Fortunately, an alert controller catches the error in time to avoid an imminent traffic conflict. The Gulfstream pilot in this...


One Turn of the Wrench Exposes SMS Flaws

While safety management systems (SMS) are powerful tools that are now seeing widespread adoption throughout the aviation industry, if not fully utilized and embraced from the top to bottom of an organization, and without proper reporting, any “near-misses” can go unchecked until disaster strikes. A U.S. Navy aircraft mechanic, who was seriously injured in a maintenance accident, went on a crusade to find out how the root-cause of such a situation, which previously harmed four others, had...


Familiarity Breeds Complacency

Pilot complacency during preflight inspection nearly led to disaster on a brisk October day in 2008. As an experienced flight crew readying for a short repositioning hop on that crystal clear morning neglected one simple, but crucial task, it soon placed them and their aircraft in danger. What would lead veteran pilots to make such a novice mistake, and how can such similar errors be prevented?


Takeoff and Landing Assessments, Part 2

On January 19, 2011, a Citation X flying from Providence, Rhode Island, to Waukegan National Airport in Illinois slid off the runway. This was six years before TALPA, the Takeoff and Landing Performance Assessment initiative, was created. According to the National Business Aviation Association, TALPA incorporates the runway condition matrix that airport operators use to assign runway condition codes between zero and six for each third of the runway. However, TALPA is just the...


Human Factor Extra: Top-of-Descent Landing Assessment

Listen to a two-member flight crew make a top-of-decent assessment in this bonus episode of AIN’s The Human Factor.


Takeoff And Landing Assessments, Part 1

On Dec. 8, 2005, Southwest Airlines 1248 was completing its trip from Baltimore when it plowed through a runway barrier and skidded onto the streets of Chicago. The Boeing 737 collided with two cars, killing 6-year-old Joshua Woods. The aircraft had been operating in near blizzard conditions and dealt with a stiff tailwind, a short runway, and some technical issues. Ultimately, the pilot did not have the appropriate landing data for Midway International Airport. In the summer of 2006, the...


Flying Under The Influence, Part 2

The second installment of AIN’s The Human Factor, Flying Under the Influence, continues the discussion about pilots who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction. Dr. Quay C. Snyder, the president, CEO, and cofounder of Aviation Medicine Advisory Service, explains the recovery process for pilots. Meanwhile pilot Corey Slone, who now serves as the national chairman of the Human Intervention Motivation Study (HIMS) Program, shares his own story of addiction and how he became a part of the...


Flying Under The Influence, Part 1

Passengers put their lives in the hands of their flight crews when they step onto an airplane. But what if pilots violate the trust passengers bestow? In 1990, Lyle Prouse was the first pilot arrested for being drunk in the cockpit when he attempted to fly Northwest Airlines Flight 650 from Fargo, North Dakota, to Minneapolis. Today, a pilot is pulled from a flight for being too intoxicated to fly about once a month, according to experts. In this episode of AIN’s The Human Factor, multiple...


Fly - By - Wire Failure, Part 2

While flying an Airbus A330 at FL370 over the Indian Ocean from Singapore to Perth in 2008, pilot Kevin Sullivan found himself dealing with malfunctioning primary flight control computers. The aircraft began to pitch down over the water, which injured some of the 303 passengers on board. Fortunately, Sullivan’s past experience as a Navy pilot helped him navigate to safety. In this second part of this AIN's The Human Factor episode, Sullivan continues his tale of Qantas Flight 72 and how he...


Fly - By - Wire Failure, Part 1

On Oct. 7, 2008, Qantas Flight 72 was flying over the Indian Ocean from Singapore to Perth, Australia. Kevin Sullivan, pilot-in-command of the Airbus A330, was flying on autopilot at 37,000 feet when suddenly warnings started sounding throughout the cockpit; the primary flight control computers were malfunctioning. The aircraft began to pitch up, and Sullivan realized he was just another passenger, for a short time unable to control the errant Airbus. After regaining control of the A330,...


The Perils Of Hypoxia

Pilot George Braly recalls a flight in which his portable oxygen line becomes kinked and he ultimately loses conciousness. George is awakened by ATC and is able to increase the oxygen flow and safely descend from the high-altitude flight. In this episode AIN delves into the issue of hypoxia by examining both portable and built-in oxygen systems. Additionally we discuss the FAA regulations that require one pilot when flying in a pressurized aircraft above 41,000 to use an oxygen mask at all...


Engine Fire Forces Water Landing, Part 2

After Dennis Murphy delivered five charter passengers to Havana, Cuba, on February 20, 2003, during the return trip one of the engines on his Cessna 402B burst into flames while he was flying over the ocean, far from land over the Straits of Florida, forcing him to make an emergency water landing. In this second part of his recounting of the harrowing flight in AIN's The Human Factor podcast, we return to the tale as Dennis Murphy ditches his airplane in the ocean and follow along with what...


Engine Fire Forces Water Landing, Part 1

After dropping five charter passengers in Havana, Cuba, on February 20, 2003, one of the engines on Dennis Murphy's Cessna 402B developed a catastrophic engine fire over the Straights of Florida, forcing him to make an emergency water landing. In the first part of AIN's The Human Factor, Murphy recounts how the emergency developed and then delves into the issue of the extreme fear that he faced and how best to prepare for when the unexpected occurs.


Fuel Emergency—Flying on Empty

How could an instrument-rating student and a flight instructor run out of fuel on a training flight? High-time flight instructor Brian Lloyd recalls his instrument training and an incident that taught him some of his most important aviation lessons. In this episode, AIN's The Human Factor delves into how assumptions and a lack of communication become links in the chain of events that could cause an accident. Whether you are a high-time professional pilot or student pilot, this episode is a...


Flying into a Thunderstorm, Part 2

In the second episode of AIN's The Human Factor, we pick up with Tim Valentine just after flying his SR22 into the back of a thunderstorm. This is part 2 of Tim's story. If you have not yet listened to part 1, please do so before continuing. Dealing with radio and flight instrument failures and violent turbulence, we follow along as Tim relives the decisions he made that got him safely back on the ground.


Flying into a Thunderstorm, Part 1

In the inaugural episode of AIN's The Human Factor, we explore the factors that led up-to Tim Valentine flying his Cirrus SR22 into a thunderstorm. On May 16th, 2013 Tim Valentine departed from Addison, Texas en route to Independence, Kansas confident that most storms in the area had passed to the east after delaying his departure by over an hour. But when Tim took off under overcast conditions at 1,000 feet, his IFR flight plan vectored him directly into the back end of the thunderstorms he...