Air Transport World

No time for complacency: carriers in the Asia/Pacific region have achieved admirable safety improvements, primarily through renewed focus on training and CRM, but more can be done.(Training)

With terrorism fears, SARS and now avian flu stealing headlines across the Asia/Pacific, it is easy to overlook the significant strides made by some of the region's more accident-prone airlines in improving their safety performance. There have been hiccups--and worse--but the trend line is moving in the correct direction.

Nevertheless, avoiding complacency is crucial to preventing disaster and this is no time for resting on laurels. Within the past 12 months there have been calls by local pilots to sack expatriate pilots--a sure sign of cockpit disharmony at odds with a culture of safety--as well as a severe rail strike in Auckland and reports from human factors experts that significant challenges remain in the cultural areas of implementing crew resource management, particularly as it pertains to Asia/Pacific carriers.

A breakdown in CRM and a lack of crew experience were factors in Singapore Airlines' 747-400 tail strike on March 12, 2003. The New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission report found that there was a transcription error between the captain, who had only 54 hr. in the 747-400, and the first officer with 223 hr. The FO wrote down and computed the takeoff speed for 247.4t instead of 347.4t. The "excessively slow takeoff speed" was not queried by the captain, who had just transitioned from the A340-300, a much lighter aircraft. An additional FO on the flight deck with 3,400 hr. of experience in the 747 did not check the data as he was involved in a discussion with the airline station manager about a center fuel tank load problem that had delayed the flight by 13 min. …

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