Air Transport World

Complacency - a most dangerous state. (Heino Caesar addresses Flight Safety Foundation's 42nd annual international congress)(Commuter/Regional World) (column)

Complacency--a most dangerous state How many of you old-timers out there remember of World War 11, when pilots would hitch "George the Autopilot" to the controls and settle back for a short nap?

I remember one occasion, while kibitzing a GI poker game in the cabin of a Lockheed Ventura en route to Dallas when the pilot and co-pilot came back to join in, leaving the cockpit entirely to George. Being a compulsive back-seat pilot, I elected to watch George until the captain returned to the left seat.

Also, there was a sad ordeal of investigating an accident in which a B-24 on a crystal-clear-night round-robin training flight slammed into a North Carolina mountain just 200 ft. below the summit. All nine crewmen were killed. Our search team determined that the captain had put George to work while he and the crew took a short snooze, one that ended the lives of the nine, who were ready and scheduled for combat duty.

Nearly every person coming into the U.S. airline-pilot-training system today hears about the Eastern L-1011 that crashed in a Florida swamp on a brilliantly clear night, while the cockpit crew was occupied with the replacement of a landing-gear-warning light bulb. …

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