By Rob Finfrock
The opportunity to learn and discuss methods for improving the safety of Citation operations is always a key subject at CJP events, and CJP 2016 offered several informative presentations that provided new perspectives on some of the challenges Citation operators face during every flight.
Making his first appearance at a CJP convention, former NTSB investigator Greg Feith discussed his experiences with the Board, as well as his ongoing investigative work into aircraft accidents – including several involving Citations – as well as the growing importance of effective single-pilot crew resource management (CRM) techniques in operating technologically-advanced aircraft.
Among the incidents Feith covered was the May 2014 Gulfstream G-IV a rejected takeoff and runway excursion accident in Bedford, MA that was determined to be caused by the crew’s failure to perform control checks prior to takeoff. Rather than following the checklist and verifying the elevator gust lock had been disengaged, the crew “tried to salvage a bad situation while they motored down the runway,” Feith noted. “That (seven fatalities) was the result.
“It’s like driving a car; you’re expected to do the right thing every time,” he continued. “However, we deviate, stray, push the edges of the boundary. Unfortunately, if you get outside the box, then I get involved. Because I need to find out why you went outside that box.”
In a separate presentation, TRU Simulation’s Chuck Hosmer detailed methods to improve preflight preparation, using the example of a June 2016 flight to the South Pole to retrieve ill team members with the National Science Foundation (NSF) that required Kenn Borek Air chief pilot Wallace Dobchuk to throw out his company’s usual flight profiles for ferrying scientists during the months long “summertime” daylight period in the southern hemisphere.
“Every daylight period, Wallace and his team fly scientists around in their Twin Otters. He goes to a meeting to discuss what we did last year, and what we’re going to do differently the next year,” he said. “He walked in ready for questions about planning for next year, and instead he was asked, “how soon can you leave for the South Pole? This was June. It’s dark down there, and it’s cold.”
Ultimately, a flight of two Twin Otters departed south from Calgary. They arrived in Punte Arreas two days later, 12,500 km distant, before needing to wait two days before continuing to Rothera, 1,500 miles from Amundsen-Scott research base. “There was about a 30-hour window to get down there, take a crew break, and get out of there,” Hosmer said. “It’s only minus 35 degrees centigrade at altitude; when you get down to the South Pole there’s a temperature inversion, and it’s really cold – minus 60 C.”
FlightSafety’s Dann Runik offered his thoughts about the inherent risks from failing to comply with the best available operating standards – each time, every time. “This will be a baring of our souls,” Runik began, “because this talk stems from a project we started between FlightSafety Foundation and Gulfstream. Our companies worked together to standardize the way we operated the airplane, the way we trained in the airplane.
Among the most significant headaches in determining “standardization” stemmed from determining a mutually agreeable definition for the term, ultimately arriving at the following: “performing to a consistent and agreed-upon manner that is understandable to other people besides yourself.
“Why is that important?” he asked. “The point of this is activating that second set of eyes – a copilot, your companion, or even you when managing the autopilot, and you’ve become the pilot monitoring.”
As an example of what can happen when there’s a disconnect in understanding between flight crew, Runik cited a landing incident involving a Gulfstream jet in Appleton, WI following an indicated loss of hydraulic pressure. After experiencing braking failure on touchdown, with 1,700 feet of runway remaining, the left-seat pilot commanded the engines to full thrust for a go-around.
“There’s no communication between these two; [the left-seat pilot] didn’t know what [the right-seat pilot] thoughts were, the right seater had no idea what his plan even was. It takes about eight seconds to spoil up from idle, and the right seat pilot testified that as the end of the runway was coming up, with literally zero feet remaining, he didn’t feel the engines come up at all. So, as the left seater felt them coming up and started to rotate the airplane, the right-seat pilot – not feeling anything – grabbed the throttles and yanked them back.
“They went off the runway at 107 knots; the only thing that saved their lives was very forgiving terrain,” Runik added. “That brings us to the overriding question: no matter how awesome your plan might be, will the other pilot with you continue with that plan, even if they think they’re about to die?”