Pilot judgement!!!


#1

"The pilot did not hold an instrument rating, and the aircraft itself was not equipped for instrument flight, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Brian Rayner said. The pilot held a commercial license for operating a rotorcraft helicopter and was certified as a rotorcraft instructor.

Rayner would not comment on the pilot’s decision to take off in foggy conditions at night. “That’s really not a call for me to make,” he said.

Rayner also said it did not appear she was in contact with air traffic controllers at the time of the crash."

tinyurl.com/ylk5c9

NTSB preliminary report at
ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_i … 1838&key=1

it begs the question of why dispatch a pilot not qualified to complete the mission, and also why did the pilot attempt the flight under conditions she was not capable of carrying out? :frowning:


#2

I can’t speak for the situation, but in general, passengers of this caliber can exert enormous pressure on pilots to do things that they would normally not do all in the name of “getting to an important meeting”.


#3

What I don’t understand is how the decision was made by the charter outfit who supplied the pilot and aircraft to even send them out. The pilot could have refused, but as has been stated, the pressure is enormous. What I don’t get is how the company was even is the position to make that decision. With the ridiculous costs involved with insuring helicopters, how could they even be able to send this pilot out the door? Is there not some modicum of an ORM matrix for these folks imposed by the insurance company??? How is a non-instrument rated pilot flying this high-power individual at all, regardless of the helo’s equipment. Perhaps this is common in corporate helos…anyone here who can shed some light on this? I feel awful for that poor girl…how she must have felt when she realized she was in over her head. It is always hard to hear about the loss of a fellow aviator, but it is stinging when it is so stupid and preventable. I think the company who ran this flight displayed blatant criminal behavior. What a senseless loss.


#4

This type of flight is not unusual for helicopters.


#5

passengers of this caliber can exert enormous pressure on pilots

I wonder, do paxs ever ask the question of the PIC, “Are you qualified, or comfortable with the conditions facing us”.

many years ago I did ask if the conditions were worth the risk, and did not like the body language of the helo crew; thus I’m here to report others were not so lucky.


#6

I was in a similar situation recently where we departed in a VFR helo/VRF pilot with about 1 mile vis flying up a winding mountain canyon. As we followed the winding river, you could only see to the next bend through the low clouds and fog. I asked the pilot several times if he was comfortable with the situation and said that we were fine either turning back or landing at an intermediate point. Each time, his reply was the same: This is ok, we’ll just go a little further and see how it looks. We made it to our destination no problem. On landing, I told the pilot that we would pay for him to overnight if he wasn’t comfortable flying back in that weather (plus late hour). He said it was fine and flew back safely. I spoke to the chief pilot when we got back and he said that kind of flying weather was not unusual for helo pilots and they would routinely dispatch and fly the mission in that weather. He also said that few civilian helos were IFR equipped.

The weather in the accident cited in the beginning of this thread was said to be 1 1/4 miles in fog, so they were flying in better conditions than the chief pilot said that they used. Depending on the airspace, 1 mile visibility and clear of clouds is even legal VFR for a fixed wing aircraft. The darkness may have been more of a factor than the fog alone.


#7

I think the company who ran this flight displayed blatant criminal behavior.

A conclusion derived from a clear lack of data!

For all we know, she all we know she may have been Freeman’s regular pilot, may have been specifically requested, and may have handled similar situation several times in the past. We have NO information about this.

I think the part of tweetdrivr’s comment that caused me to respond is the word ‘blatant’. There’s a world of possibly faulty assumptions behind that word.


#8

I think the part of tweetdrivr’s comment that caused me to respond is the word ‘blatant’. There’s a world of possibly faulty assumptions behind that word

I think what prompted me to use that word is that this flight ended in a heap of destroyed helicopter and two dead people. I don’t care how regularly this pilot flew him around, how often she flew in “marginal” conditions, or if the president of the United States requested her as his pilot…the idea that becuase it’s gone smoothly 1,000 or 1,000,000 times before does not relieve those involved in the aviation decision making process from taking a good look at each flight. Several people looked at this, including the pilot, and said “yes”, this will be safe. As I said, I am not a helicopter pilot, corporate or otherwise. To me night and poor weather is a recipe for disaster for a non-instrument rated pilot. To me that is so obviously (ne blatantly) a bad idea, it’s ridiculous. Now, you have a point in that we don’t know if perhaps the machine failed, but the prelim report certainly dosen’t sound that way. Maybe that is what you are getting at. I’ll be watching to see what the accident report concludes.


#9

I think you could make a good case for “blatantly ‘negligent’”, but is that “blatantly ‘criminal’”? There’s a world of difference.


#10

I think you could make a good case for “blatantly ‘negligent’”, but is that “blatantly ‘criminal’”? There’s a world of difference.

You make an excellent point. I just felt negilgent implied an error of incompetence, not an error where the decision was made (by a person of some experience in these matters) in the face of what, to me, was a wealth of information pointing to an unsafe situaiton…where they were swayed by the pressure and money involved - thus criminal. Perhaps that was over the top.


#11

“swayed by the pressure and money involved” isn’t usually a criminal offense unless you’re dealing with a governmental agency, i.e., bribery.

In most corporations you could determine whether it’s a violation of a Code of Ethics and thereby leading to a disciplinary action, but these aren’t prosecuted criminally unless there’s something much bigger going on.


#12

If what has been written and discussed to this point is true then this should fall under involuntary manslaughter.

Also see: http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief2.asp?ev_id=20040519X00615&ntsbno=ATL04TA116&akey=1

          [http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/155240/](http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/155240/)

Just off the top of my head I can think of a few regs not followed.

  1. 91.13 Careless or reckless operation.

  2. 61.133 Commercial pilot privileges and limitations. (b) Limitations. (1) A person who applies for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane category or powered-lift category rating and does not hold an instrument rating in the same category and class will be issued a commercial pilot certificate that contains the limitation, **The carriage of passengers for hire in (airplanes) (powered-lifts) on cross-country flights in excess of 50 nautical miles or at night is prohibited. **The limitation may be removed when the person satisfactorily accomplishes the requirements listed in 61.65 of this part for an instrument rating in the same category and class of aircraft listed on the person’s commercial pilot certificate.

The golf course to Dulles is over 100nm. So not only the night issue but also was planned to be over 50nm.

  1. 135.163 Equipment requirements: Aircraft carrying passengers under IFR Too much to list.

  2. 135.243 Pilot in command qualifications.
    © Except as provided in paragraph (a) of this section, no certificate holder may use a person, nor may any person serve, as pilot in command of an aircraft under IFR unless that person

  1. For a helicopter, holds a helicopter instrument rating, or an airline transport pilot certificate with a category and class rating for that aircraft, not limited to VFR

This situation never had to or should have happened. Regardless of the reason(s) why it did both the pilot and company are liable. This is not a matter of ethics but of pure negligence. Ask family members of the passenger if they feel ethically violated.

swayed by the pressure and money involved" isn’t usually a criminal offense unless you’re dealing with a governmental agency, i.e., bribery

I disagree. I think they may be some of the leading factors of crime.


#13

Nicely done. Being a military flyer, my command of the commercial flying FARs is not up to speed. Thanks for that info.


#14

I’m sure family members feel violated – in some combination of ethically, negligently, and criminally.

The situation may be one of negligence that is not criminal negligence (perhaps). The difference is whether there would be a civil trial or a criminal trial. I’m sure there are plenty of tort lawyers beating a trail to the family’s door and telling them of their “rights” — all for a big percentage of the take.

I think it’s not up to me or anyone else posting to make a determination on the basis of hearsay that this is a criminal situation. That’s what District Attorneys are for. Are any of them pursing this?


#15

That’s what District Attorneys are for. Are any of them pursing this?

I sure hope so.