Blame it on the Pilot!

The CIS Interstate Aviation Committee has released the final report on the crash of the Polish TU-154. This Russian built aircraft, piloted by Polish Air Force pilots, crashed while attempting to land in poor visibility conditions at Smolensk North Airport in Russia  on 10 Apr 2010. The report found that ‘pilot error’ was the cause of this crash, which led to  unfortunate loss of the Polish President Lech Kaczynski and several top rung civil and military functionaries.

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The Naysayers and LCA

It is indeed a proud moment for the Indian aerospace community when the Light Combat Aircraft – Tejas (LCA) attained its Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) on 10 January 2011. The Indian Defence Minister formally handed over the ‘Certificate of Release to Service’ to the Indian Chief of Air Staff, thus setting the stage for the formal induction of LCA in the Indian Air Force.
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Reality Check – CRM in Single Cockpit

Human Error in combat flying continues to the greatest cause of accidents [1], with the trends remaining, more or less, stagnant. Commonest causes for aircraft mishap are [2]:- (a) Loss of situational awareness (LOSA): LOSA leads to disorientation, mid-air collision, flight into terrain, getting lost and running out of fuel, wheels up landing, flight into bad weather; (b) Poor Decision Making and Judgement: Poor judgement and decision making compromises the situational awareness; and (c) Hazardous attitudes: Some pilots display poor or irrational judgement due to their perceived self-image. This makes some of them to violate SOPs and regulations, risk the margins of safe performance, and operate aircraft beyond his own or aircraft’s capabilities.

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The inevitable is here – Medical Informatics

Considering that the practice of Aviation Medicine is focussed at the pilots, use of emerging technology in healthcare is inevitable for those who fly technologically the most advanced systems. One such development shall be the personal health record (PHR). PHR is the medical information in possession of an individual about (her-)himself. Presently it is mostly a document on paper, but ideally should be a digital storage devise. Digital PHR may not only store health information, copies of reports from physicians, hospitals and labs, but so also legal documents such as the health and other insurance data. PHR may also include a minefield of information that the treating physician may not have an easy access under normal circumstances, including exercise schedule, dietary habits, herbal or non-prescription medications, or results of domiciliary tests such as blood pressure or sugar recordings. Continue reading

Teamwork – The essence of Safe Operations

Aviation is no more the domain of an ‘individual’ pilot. The commercial sector has multiple crew – both flight and cabin. The military operates in formations (and twin-cockpits too), where the pilots are physically separated, yet coordinate their flight to attain a common objective. The errors and accidents here result from individuals failing to perform in the team; whereas the teamwork is essential in reducing, trapping and mitigating or treating errors. In an endeavour to achieve safe mission accomplishment, it is expected that the complete group involved in the mission, whether in air or on ground, works together effectively. This remains the essence of teamwork [1]. Continue reading