Sunday, July 25, 2010

An Open Letter to Pilots and Airline Management

On Monday, August 2, it will be 25 years since the horrific crash of Delta Flight 191 at Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport. I tell the story of the crash and its importance to future aviation safety in Warnings. Dr. Ted Fujita investigated the Delta crash and found that a microburst had downed the aircraft after the flight crew blithely flew into a thunderstorm. This type of wind shear plane crash or major incident occurred at 16-month intervals from 1972 to 1985.

Pilots of that era were “scared safe” by the once-frequent thunderstorm-related crashes. Once those pilots had the training to avoid microbursts and the tools to assist  then to stay out of danger(the Low-Level Wind Shear Alert Systems and Terminal Doppler Weather Radar), the latter a direct result of the Delta crash, we have been crash-free for 16 years. That is an amazing scientific accomplishment.

But, there are two recent studies plus anecdotal evidence that pilots are starting to take thunderstorms for granted. My concern has been heighted by three recent examples of airline pilots flying into turbulence.  You can read more here, here and here. And, that is just one airline. 

We don’t want to go back to those dark days. I urge pilots and airline management to redouble their efforts to give pilots state-of-the-art training on the danger of thunderstorms and turbulence.  

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