From an opening session highlighting common errors that pilots make in jet cockpits, to a detailed and eye-opening discussion about the effects from hypoxia, safety was in focus throughout at the 2014 CJP Convention.
Master CFI and jet mentor Neil Singer kicked off the event’s opening day with a rousing presentation about the “10 Biggest Mistakes in the Cockpit,” utilizing real-world examples of all-too common procedural errors made by pilots during proficiency checkrides.
“We’re going to try to – proverbially – rewire your brain,” Singer quipped. “I guarantee that you’ve made one of these errors at one time or another. I’ve made all ten.”
Throughout his presentation, Singer emphasized the importance of profile discipline, and utilizing checklists not to ‘check off’ required steps for a given procedure, but to instead confirm required actions that the pilot has already performed.
“We wouldn’t have checklists if our memory were a safe thing to rely on,” he added. “Every time you do something in the airplane, that has the potential to cause you serious harm if you don’t undo it, don’t rely on your memory! Do something that’s going to trigger you.”
Next, NASA astronaut and four-time space shuttle crew member Charlie Precourt (left) offered attendees his perspectives about “Safety, NASA Style – Lessons from the Space Shuttle.” Precourt pointed to his experiences during the Shuttle/Mir program as commander and pilot on three space shuttle missions to the Russian Mir space station in the 90s in providing CJP members with tips on managing the flight environment, and interfacing with both the machine as well as other crewmembers, which are common to both Citation flight decks and flying a complex machine as the shuttle.
“Things you don’t ever want to have happen to you, actually happened to an organization as large as NASA with as much experience as we had,” he added. “Things like loss of cabin pressure – in a vacuum! Collision with another vehicle. Smoke and fire in the cockpit. Toxic spills. Computer failures. Loss of control. You name it; it goes on and on.”
Precourt also recalled the 2002 loss of the shuttle Columbia, and the harsh lessons that came about following the investigation. “We didn’t get them back,” he said quietly. “That’s what we’re all here to try to avoid.”
Techniques and Tools in Recognizing and Avoiding Slow-Onset HypoxiaA topic on the minds of everyone attending CJP 2014 concerned the recent, fatal crashes of a Cirrus SR22T and TBM-900 turboprop, both believed to have resulted from the effects of slow-onset hypoxia. In response to member concerns about such events, CJP added acclaimed neurologist Dr. Paul Buza to the roster of presenters during the Convention.
One of the foremost experts in the aviation community on the effects from hypoxia, Dr. Buza has developed the Scenario Based Physiological Training program at the Southern AeroMedical Institute (SAMI) in Melbourne, FL. Dr. Buza noted that the TBM accident has “resonated with so many pilots” because it involved a high-time and highly-regarded pilot, which demonstrates the “insidiousness” of slow-onset hypoxia.
In fact, of all the fatal aviation accidents since 1999 that are either known or suspected to have involved hypoxia, Dr. Buza noted that each involved a gradual loss of pressurization in the climb out phase after takeoff, rather than sudden cabin decompression. “That is the nature of the beast,” he added. “When things happen to you quickly, the brain kind of wakes up. But when things come on slowly, the very best of us [are susceptible].”
In addition to Dr. Buza’s presentation, CJP also provided each member attending the Convention with a complimentary pulse oximeter for use in the cockpit as another step in helping to identify low blood-oxygen levels and the potential onset of hypoxia.