Flight Plan

My flight plan....to encourage, mentor, guide those pining for the sky. I'm also here to virtually open the flight deck door for those who want to take a peek at the many aspects of aviation.....enjoy!

...and welcome aboard!...


The latest "Readbacks"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why fly-bys in an airliner is not good for job security....

Three posts ago, I included some low fly-bys in fighter jets. Now here's one in an airliner. It must have been noisy in the flight deck. No...not the shrills of excitement...but with the airplane yelling something like..."Too low Gear!" "Too Low Flaps!" "Too low Gear" "Too low Flaps!" ......

Apparently the skipper of this Cathay Pacific 777 got the "pink slip."

For me, I'll stick to the script...thank you. :)


Anonymous said...

Hello Captain Doug,

I thought you'd enjoy that one! Pretty risky with a brand new jet.....

CAT III Approach

From the Flight Deck said...

A fan of your blog from Portugal!

You might find this interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43P3cBPFx4U

It's a low pass from a TAP A310 on 2007 Évora Airshow (i think it was the last flight of a A310 on TAP)

Best Regard

P.S. - An Air Canada Lisbon route would be awesome :-)

Maybe this one is better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIrVOV3v4kc&NR=1

From the Flight Deck said...


Pretty risky indeed. A reader sent me a couple of links of TAP doing a low fly-by. Take a look at how close his left wing was to the ground.


Hello Captain Doug,

Thanks...I'll have a look!

Just a quick question sir.....

When travelling, I notice that some pilots set the flaps just after starting engines prior to taxiing, and some don't set them till just seconds before asking the flight attendants to be seated. Is there a procedure/rule as to when they should be set, or is it ok, just as long as they are set before the take off roll? What, if any, would be the reason to leave it till the last minute?

Thanks again Captain!

CAT III Approach

Christer said...

I remember hearing about that Cathay incident back when it happened- glad you found the video! What was the captain's reason for doing this, anyone remember?

While these aren't videos of low fly-bys, I've always thought these were interesting to see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfB4xyM7tMw


While interesting to watch, I'm glad I wasn't on either aircraft, although I imagine the pilots did not get any pink slips for these aborted landings:)

How common is it to have to land in crosswinds like these? Do these conditions seem unusually treacherous to you? I believe the first video is in Hamburg, Germany while the second in Lisbon, Portugal.

The roughest weather wind-wise I've repeatedly encountered has been in northern Europe, Japan or around the Great Lakes (like Buffalo) during certain times of the year. However, it's never felt as bad as either of those videos look, and any attempted landings in strong winds haven't ended in a go-around for me yet....

CanuckFlyer said...

I seem to remember a vague story about the Cathay Pacific flyby as well. If I rmember corrrectly, the CEO of the airline was onboard in the cockpit and told the captain to do a flyby for kicks, but apparently the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Board also happened to have a representative onsite. They took a dim view of the stunt and pulled the Captains ticket. Apparently the airline could do nothing about it, even though it was the CEO's idea in the first place.

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III approach. The procedure on the Airbus (big and small) is to set the flaps during the "after start" checklist. I can't really speak for the others.
The only time we don't is during significant snow conditions. A rare event.

Hope this suffices. :)

From the Flight Deck said...

Christer. Thanks for the links. I've seen both and more like these. You made a good comment, "it never felt as bad as either of those videos look."
Cross wind landings are part of flying although these videos demonstrate the outer envelope. I've been on a few "interesting" approaches but if the
crosswind component is within limits of the aircraft then it shouldn't be a problem. But it also depends on experience and comfort factor. Again, crosswind limits are always depicted as "demonstrated." In other words, by the manufacturer's test pilot. One could push the envelope and more...but you better be ready to explain things to the lawyers. :)

And no, a pilot would never get a "pink slip" for an aborted landing.

Safety is number one!

Thanks for all your in-depth comments.

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Canuckflyer. Thanks for the info. I too vaguely remember the story.

It just goes to show you, they go after the captain no matter what.

That's why Captain Doug sticks to the script. Deviation raises eyebrows and more!

Heck, even my posts, pictures and responses lately have been generic. I must really practice what I preach!!!! :) :) :)

WILLO2D said...

Good morning Doug,

Interesting vid of the B773 - aircraft was on the delivery flight with most of the company Top Neddies on board. I can't remember if the top Top Neddy was on the flightdeck(!). Was the guy in the RHS also shown the door?

Christer's first link was indeed a LHA A320 at Hamburg - we discussed elements of the incident by e-mail. I've found the FlightGlobal link: Hamburg A320

It makes interesting reading - again, what price CRM? Also, the page provides links to other elements of the investigation - right side.

Further to low flying large aircraft, I've found a couple of vids of the French Air Force in Chad/Djibouti. I'll put a couple on my blog later today/tomorrow...

Kind regards,


From the Flight Deck said...


Just read your linked report. Looks like the F/O was a "low timer" hence the side stick transfer.
I've never used, or seen it used, in the nearly 10,000 hours of my Airbus time.
As like most incidents, there's more to it than what meets the eye.

Statistically speaking (and only statistically) things go astray on flights like Cathay's . I'll bite my tongue so I won't say anything more. :)

Captain Doug

Christer said...

Thanks for the link to that report IanH- very interesting read. The last line indicates that both pilots were still employed by the airline two months after the incident, but I wonder what the repercussions were. Would the captain get reprimanded? You'd think that flying into known significant challenges with weather that the pilot with much more experience (in this case exponentially more!) would just take charge to make the best of it.

Is there any standard operating procedure at AC in regards to this, or can the captain allow the FO to handle any situation while under his watch? I've heard of "captain only" landing procedures at airports like the old Kai Tak and St. Thomas (I think), but does this ever apply to certain weather conditions?

Edwin said...


The Pilot In Command is always responsible for the flight, no matter what the Chairman* tells him to do. The PIC is always the guy who is ultimatley responsible for the operation and safety during flight.
(at least that's how I understood it, please correct me if I'm wrong)

I read not to long ago that the British Captain on that flight was Cathays 777 Chief Pilot and had recieved clearence from the tower for the flyby, but not recieved any clearance from the company. I don't get how the chairman* could ask the pilot to do a flyby and it's not considered a company approval.

* I remember reading that it was the chairman and not the CEO that was on board, not sure though.

Very interesting report, thank you.

I was wondering about something, how can it be, that AC places a few new hires on the E190 as FOs while there are cruise pilots on other types more senior than them? Will for example a 777 cruise pilot move on to be a FO on the 777 instead of starting at the E190s as an FO? Hope you'll be able to understand my question as it makes absolutley no sense to me :-P.


Anonymous said...

Captain Doug and IanH,

Very interesting link to the A320 wing strike....even more interesting to think that that the Captain didn't "call" or "take" full control at the point where both were making control inputs. I wouldn't want dual inputs to my car being averaged during accident avoidance let alone on an aircraft! CRM? Critical Resourse Managemet? or Cockpit?
WOW....it looks by plain luck that the TAM flight didn't plant the wing in the ground! Seems like they realized the angle was a bit much, as the bank angle "twitches" back to the right just before the wing strikes. Wonder if the Captains stomach got a little upset when he/she saw the video themselves for the first time :P Last flight of the A310 indeed...lucky it wasn't their's period.

Thanks for the great read!

CAT III Approach

Anonymous said...

Again....I shouldn't post after a 12 hour night shift.....I see I wrote 320 when it should have been A310. ugh...

Thanks for the answer to the flap question Doug. It does suffice but opens up another for me.....do airlines set the procedures ( at least the common ones across the board such as when to set flaps prior to take off, or is in manufacturer set for all with regards to aircraft operation?

Thanks again.

CAT III Approach

WILLO2D said...

"Statistically speaking (and only statistically) things go astray on flights like Cathay's . I'll bite my tongue so I won't say anything more. :)"

Doug, you know, I believe, my thoughts on these sort of things - I understand.

Christer, for clarification, there was no mention in any of "Hamburg" reports of the concept of the pilot taking control of the aircraft stating, "I have control", nor of the pilot relinquishing control stating, "You have control". When the aircraft had yet to make first contact with the runway, the report indicates that at one point the Captain was moving his sidestick controller in one direction; the FO, who was technically flying the aircraft at the time, was moving her sidestick controller in the opposite direction. That's all from me on this;)

I've put up some links to some more low flying vids on my own blog - including one especially for you Doug - enjoy.

Kind regards,


WILLO2D said...
This post has been removed by the author.
WILLO2D said...

CAT III and Edwin - you posted your comments re "I have control/You have control", etc., as I was compiling my clarification comment!! When I got to fly as P2 in JP5's there was always a very clear "You have control/I have control" when I got to use the control column, and vice versa when I handed control back to the a/c Captain - that was in the very early days of CRM, before it became known as CRM!

"CRM" - Crew Resource Management.



From the Flight Deck said...

Christer. Nothing concrete as far as crosswinds although eyebrows would be raised if the F/O was low time.

I remember about twelve years ago the captain looked over at me and ask during a gusty day, "how are your crosswind landings?"
I came back, "we'll soon find out!"
He laughed at the answer, but I was serious. :)

We do have restrictions (captain only) imposed when visibility typically goes below 1/2 mile.
As well, only captains fly the CAT II and CAT III approaches.

From the Flight Deck said...

Edwin. New hires are assigned to vacancies at the time. Sometimes even A320 F/O positions are offered. But the glitch is, you'll sit in that position
for a long time and watch pilots "parachute" ahead of you. The only way a 777 cruise pilot could hold F/O on the 777 is for him/her to number one or two in that position.
For the rest, they would go to smaller equipment. As you can appreciate, when there is an equipment bid there are tons of courses because of pilots moving from airplane to airplane and also positions. That's a seniority based system. Hopefully this makes sense.

And your right, the PIC is ultimately responsible.

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Cat III approach. I agree with you wholeheartedly as far as what the TAP captain was thinking.

I'm thinking a whole bunch of expletives were heard in the flight deck. :)

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III Approach. It's the manufacturer that sets the tone as far as SOPs but a company will tweak things to add commonality amongst the fleet.
I won't go any further with this one. :)

From the Flight Deck said...

IanH. We too use the "I have control/you have control" procedure.

So if I was PF (pilot flying) and captain Doug needed to use the washroom, I must say, "you have control" whereby the F/O (also PNF) responds, "I have control."

Then when I return and get strapped back into the seat, I will say, "I have control" and he/she responds "you have control."

What a work out just to use the washroom! But it works!

Maybe I should try this at home? I probably won't get the same responses. lol

And speaking of responses, thanks IanH for all yours!!! You keep this up and I'll need a convener.
lol :) :) :)

WILLO2D said...

Hi Doug,

Thanks for that. re using I have control, etc., at home - in my experience it never works. The lady of the house ALWAYS has control!!;))

Convener? Is that like "quarter-backing"? As long as the SOPs meets the concept of an Integrated Reciprocal Evaluation process we should be OK :)

Cheers again,


From the Flight Deck said...

IanH Looks like you added another acronym to aviation...IRE (Integrated Reciprocal Evaluation).


I'm here in London for my son's hockey tournament. But not your London (EGLL) but London, Ontario (CYXU). :)

Mark said...

Ahhhh come on Doug, you wouldn’t want to do that over the folks in River Oaks. Would get some coverage in the Oakville Beaver!!! lol


Hello Captain Doug and IanH....

Thanks for the responses! I just realized ( again at 04:25 hrs.) that I was right the first time when I said A320 refering to the Hamburg incident, and the TAM was infact the A310.....I'll get it one of these times:)

I know what you mean about the SOP's.....I'm sure they are massaged, and the less critical ones massaged further. Nuf said:)

IanH, I guess I can say it seeing as I'm not an airline pilot....looks like CRM failed in Hamburg due to the opposite inputs at a critical landing phase....maybe an over ambitious "trainer" allowing his newer F/O to take the reigns..great experience for the F/O if all goes well, and I suppose to some extent great experience anyway given the outcome of the strike( if the event didn't scare the heck out of the F/O and a career change is in order )....i.e. a safe landing on the second attempt:) I'm quite certain that experience will only further cement proper CRM into their brains :)

Very interesting comment about the junior cruise pilot on the heavy jet. What is the difference exactly between a cruise and an F/O? Do you just hang out until you get to watch/take control leveled off at altitude? Also, it seems odd a company would invest time in a heavy jet, no matter where you were on the flight deck, only to move to smaller equipment, and like you say Doug, equipment you have to effectively re-learn. ( I'm probably saying too much here...I'm sure lots of politics, history play into this one so I'll stop while I'm ahead:) )

Thanks again to you both!

CAT III Approach

From the Flight Deck said...

Mark, it would indeed get some great coverage, but it wouldn't help pay my mortgage when I'm on the street looking for a new job. :) :) :

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III Approach

Fifteen years ago, I started as a cruise pilot on the A340 when the concept was at its infancy. At one time we received a full endorsement.

Now, most cruise pilots get a "cruise pilot" (relief pilot) check out.

Basically, above 10,000 feet is when they can occupy either seat. They do not land or take off. It takes some getting used to for a pilot coming
from the outside and watching others have all the fun. But for others, they absolutely love the position.

As far as moving around on various equipment, it's all factored in on the bottom line. Although, I agree, for the outsider, this is certainly
intriguing. :)

Anonymous said...

Good morning Captain!

Thanks.....very intriguing indeed. I'm sure they love it though....pre 9/11 I was invited up to the flight deck of a KLM 747 to Amsterdam...WOW....and have been up in the jumpseat for a landing on a Dash. Wish we passengers still had that luxury.

CAT III Approach

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III Approach.

The good ole days! :)

Joe said...

I'll admit to more than a little discomfort watching that video. Seems the opportunity for bad outcomes far outweighs the positive in this case.

From the Flight Deck said...

Joe. I agree. You are talking to "straight and level" Captain Doug.