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Cockpit Resource Management Is Critical!

by John M. White |

On June 4, 2007 an acquaintance of mine by the name of Dennis Hoyes died in an aircraft accident while departing Billy Mitchell Field in Milwaukee, WI. He was the First Officer on a Cessna Citation 550 aircraft carrying 4 doctors and a transplant organ to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. Cessna Citation 550 The NTSB concluded that the pilots of this medical flight botched the handling of an onboard problem and crashed into Lake Michigan killing all 6 persons on board, including the crew. According to the NTSB's findings of fact they concluded that a trim runaway problem shortly after takeoff was not handled properly resulting from inadequate cockpit resource management (CRM). The pilots incorrectly engaged the autopilot and erroneously let the aircraft's airspeed to increase while troubleshooting the problem shortly after takeoff, allowing an abnormal situation to escalate into an emergency and fatal crash. Here you have two highly qualified pilots flying an aircraft with known trim runaway problems and who are trained to know which circuit breaker to pull should this event occur. Why they even had to "troubleshoot the problem" leads one to question the adequacy of their training in the aircraft. More importantly, the golden rule is "fly the aircraft first and solve the problem later". It appears, reading between the lines, that both pilots became engaged in solving this mundane problem while allowing the aircraft to take its own course of action. The lesson here is two fold: fly the airplane FIRST, and next let one pilot troubleshoot the problem while the other pilot is following rule #1 - "Fly the airplane FIRST". It is sad so many had to die needlessly that day, and that I lost an acquaintance who should have known better. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 Most accidents originate in actions committed by reasonable, rational individuals who were acting to achieve an assigned task in what they perceived to be a responsible and professional manner. — Peter Harle, Director of Accident Prevention,Transportation Safety Board of Canada and former RCAF pilot, 'Investigation of human factors: The link to accident prevention.' In Johnston, N., McDonald, N., & Fuller, R. (Eds.), 'Aviation Psychology in Practice,' 1994.

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