Are Your Pilot’s Safe?

03 Dec Are Your Pilot’s Safe?

So you have arrived at a point in your life that you need and/or want your own jet. You spend $40M to buy yourself a nice Gulfstream and now need pilots to fly it. Most owners go out and look for pilots experienced on type and this I believe is a major mistake.
Every owner is different, some have moving schedules that can be quite hectic, while others plan way in advance. I personally have worked for both types. At Tyrus Wings we don’t stop at just selling our clients a nice private jet, we want to make sure they have a great aircraft experience. This is where the pilots play a key role. Understanding the personality of the owner and how they run their schedules is a great help in finding the right men or women to fly their jet. I always say we need to find the right man first and then train him to fly the specific aircraft. Hiring a pilot with 5,000 hrs in the Gulfstream G450 is often not the best solution. However, training pilots does cost money and a type rating on some of the high-end biz jets can cost in the region of $60-70K…
Crew training is one of the major cost centres in private aviation – yet one where most operators seem the least concerned about ROI. The training you as owner select for your crew is important – but make sure it is tailored to your operation, your procedures and your operating environment. Without a risk analysis and consistent mitigation through training, your crew going to the sim once or twice a year is mostly a ‘tick-in-the-box’ exercise.
I have come across a number of High Network Individuals (HNWIs) that can afford to travel and/or buy a private jet but will not because they think the planes are not safe enough or the pilots are not trained properly. The biz jets, in many cases are safer than airliners because:
They weigh less, therefore require smaller runways, opening up more landing options.
The technology in the biz jets is far superior to that in the airliners (see previous article in Linkedin Pulse:Linkedin Pulse
Airliners fly on average 3000-4000 hrs per year, compared to the 250 hrs a year flown by the average private jet. The average airline pilot is flying around 800-1000 hrs a year compared to 200 hrs a year flown by the biz jet pilot. So obviously the airline pilot gets more practice. Number of hours flown however does not determine if one is safer or not.
The type of initial type training and recurrent training is really the key.
Every year, per law, pilots have to undergo recurrent training, which is often 4 x sessions in a flight simulator coupled with some ground school.

What is actually done during these simulator sessions? It is often a tick the box exercise, where a pilot gets a pass or a fail. As my Chief Pilot at Excel Airways, the late Jerry Crumbie, used to say: “A big T on training, a small T on Testing”. A flight simulator is defined as an STD= Synthetic Training Device, not a testing device. sadly many examiners are focused on testing. What a simulator training session needs to do for a pilot is train him/her, teach them, build confidence and as a result make them a safer pilot. The real test comes in the aircraft when something unexpected happens and the crew deal with it in a confident, timely, safe and professional manner.
Many private jet operators do not even use simulators but do all the training in the aircraft. While this is fun for the pilots, it is not as instructive as the simulator. The reason they go down this route is that it is cheaper. you don’t have to fly your crew from London out to Dallas for a week’s training. just take your aircraft for a spin with an examiner, tick the boxes and your good for another year…Not a safe option in my books.
Are we interested in how much the crew has been able to ‘take away’ form a given training session, or are we content with a ‘pass’? Have the threats that you operate under been addressed? What were they tested on? Finally – it’s worth remembering that the companies you pay top (some may say ‘over-the-top’) dollar for training your crew are in the business of revalidating crew licenses. They are staffed by excellent instructors and conscientious examiners – but will they have any interest in your crew being pushed to learn new things – or does that carry too much implicit risk of failure? The owner cannot be expected to be a repeat customer if his pilots have somehow failed the exercise, or if you run the risk of poor crew feed-back, so better to thread softly and not push the training envelope too hard…

Cutting corners on your pilots training is not safe. I recommend you budget to spend more than the so called minimum required training to tick the boxes. Get your Chief Pilot to develop some scenarios based on recent incidents and/or accidents and also build those scenarios around the airports you habitually fly into. Basically get a customised training programme developed for your pilots.
On Feb. 12, 2009, 50 people lost their lives as Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed while on an instrument approach into Buffalo Niagara International Airport. As is the case with many accidents, several causes contributed to the crash, including icing conditions and fatigue. However, what may have saved the lives of the people on board that airplane and on the ground can be summed up in three simple words: “unload for control.”
According to the accident report, the captain added power but applied back pressure on the control column when the stick shaker in the Bombardier DHC-8-400 he was flying alerted him that the airplane was about to stall. According to Bombardier, once the excessive angle of attack activated the stick pusher, the captain would have had to pull with a force equivalent to 80 pounds to override the command to reduce the angle of attack, yet he kept pulling back.

The Colgan Air pilot is far from alone in losing control of his airplane. In statistics published by Boeing in 2013 that covered fatal accidents for commercial flights from 2003 through 2012 and annual statistics published by the Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association in its Joseph T. Nall Report for general aviation accidents, stalls and loss of control in flight are by far the most common causes of airplane accidents, accounting for thousands of fatalities over a 10-year period. Many of these accidents could have been prevented had the pilots received upset prevention and recovery training, also called UPRT.
Consistently, over the past 50 years of statistically analyzed accident history in commercial aviation, Loss of Control In-Flight (LOC-I) is indisputably one of the leading causes of airplane crashes and crash-related fatalities worldwide. Rivaled only by Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) in magnitude and persistence, LOC-I presents a unique challenge to professional aviation, as it highlights a serious deficiency in the pilot’s ability to deal with a variety of unusual flight attitudes and flight envelope excursions. Regrettably, current pilot training curricula, standards and certification requirements perpetuate this pilot-skill deficiency.
In a report issued by Boeing in August 2013, LOC-I represents the most severe cause factor in commercial aviation over the past 10 years, resulting in the most crash-related fatalities from 2003 through 2012 – even more than CFIT. According to the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), there has been recent aviation-industry emphasis on fatalities being a more accurate representation of the severity of an accident than hull-losses, which has historically been used as an indicator of crash severity. Aviation safety organizations and legislating agencies continue to accurately identify the lethality and severity of LOC-I.
Unfortunately, without any demonstrated ability to implement an effective solution, commercial aviation will continue to be plagued by high rates of LOC-I fatalities until a solution is found. Where CFIT can be economically addressed through the integration of ground proximity warning systems and synthetic vision instrumentation augmentation, technology does not currently offer a “quick fix” to LOC-I. Short of re-equipping commercial aircraft around the world with Fly-By-Wire flight control systems with all-attitude all-envelope flight control laws, an industry-wide technological solution to LOC-I is unlikely in the foreseeable future.
Upset Prevention & Recovery Training (UPRT) is used to increase the pilot’s ability to recognize and avoid situations that can lead to airplane upsets and improve the pilot’s ability to recover control of an airplane that has exceeded the normal flight regime. This can be accomplished by increasing awareness of potential upset situations and knowledge of flight dynamics and by the application of this knowledge during simulator training scenarios. to help pilots recognise and get out of an unusual attitude. A situation like this would be when an airplane in flight unintentionally exceeds the parameters normally experienced in line operations or training:
Pitch attitude greater than 25 deg, nose up.
Pitch attitude greater than 10 deg, nose down
Bank angle greater than 45 deg.
Within the above parameters, but flying at air-speeds inappropriate for the conditions.
UPRT services have been uniquely optimized to specifically serve the pilots and operators of corporate and business aviation.
Bombardier offers its Leading Edge Program, where UPRT is included in the purchase of new Learjet, Global and Challenger airplanes. Bombardier selected Aviation Performance Solutions LLC (APS), dba APS Emergency Maneuver Training, based at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona USA, has successfully trained over 4,500 professional pilots in fully comprehensive upset recovery skill development. For more than a decade, APS has been committed to giving professional pilots of all skill levels the highest quality upset recovery training available. APS offers comprehensive LOC-I solutions via industry-leading computer-based, on-aircraft, and advanced full-flight simulator upset recovery and prevention training programs. In addition to all flight training being in full compliance with the internationally-recognized Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid – Revision 2, APS is the only Part 141 Flight School currently certified in the delivery of all of upset recovery, stall/spin and instrument recovery training courses worldwide. 
Another school offering this type of training is William Korner’s California based Flight Research.What sets Flight Research apart from other UPRT training programs is that it uses an actual business jet. “We think it is critical that pilots get in airplanes that react and feel like the airplanes they are going to fly, be subject to the same physiological and environmental impact that they are going to feel in an airplane when it gets into an unexpected upset and then be taught how to recover,” Korner says.The flights are designed to make sense of the technical data and strategies presented in the ground school. Flight Research’s chief instructor pilot Rick Searfoss briefed me on the first flight scenario. Searfoss has an impressive background as a military pilot flying F-4s and F-111s and as an astronaut and space shuttle commander. He helped me get comfortable in the Sabreliner, which has a panel and headliner full of gauges and switches. While its panel is complex and outdated compared to that of modern bizjets, the Sabreliner is a terrific platform for upset recovery training since it, according to Korner, behaves much like the bizjets his corporate customers fly. In addition, the Sabreliner’s robust design has a similar swept-wing and tail design to the transonic F-86 Sabre fighter jet.
The full training course at Flight Research includes three days of ground and flight training in the Sabreliner 60 and Impala for a cost of $17,500. A two-day refresher course is also available for $12,500. Korner says some insurance companies are starting to recognize the importance of UPRT and are offering incentives to encourage corporate flight departments and bizjet operators to put their pilots through this type of training on a regular basis.

Investing time on your pilots training could save your life one day. So get customised simulator training tied into both simulator and aircraft based Upset Prevention & Recovery Training.
Fabrizio Poli
Aviation Analyst & Managing Partner
Tyrus Wings 

Tyrus Wings, Inc (USA) is an independently owned company.
Registered address:
Spruce Creek Airport, Port Orange, FL 32128-6756 USA.
Tyrus Wings, Inc. is a company registered in the State of Florida, USA. Number P13000041074


Membership logos