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Does your company stand behind you?

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#1 Medic40

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 22:24

"Being safe is integral to providing our patients with the quality medical care they deserve and, equally important, a safe work environment for our pilots, nurses and paramedics." -Air Evac Lifeteam

"From the very highest level of management on down, commitment and accountability drive safety performance. We remain proactive in strengthening our safety culture by continuing to educate employees, monitor and measure results, and recognize safe work practices." -Petroleum Helicopter inc. 

"...Papillon abides by flight safety rules and regulations that substantially exceed the regulations required by the Federal Aviation Administration. Additionally, the program infuses the safety mindset into the very culture of our company." Papillon Helicopters

Three different helicopter operators, three different missions, one ultimate goal- to perform the mission safely. Performing the mission safely is not just an integral part of the helicopter industry, almost every work place that you go to has standards and guidelines that they abide by to keep their customers and employees safe. 

However, many helicopter operators are operating under demands that are not typical of most other industries. Accepting a medical evacuation flight at 2am or landing MD 500 on a live electrical wire could hardly be considered a normal part of the automotive or retail industries.  According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, aircraft pilots and engineers had the third highest rate of workplace fatalities in 2011, 57.0 per 100,000. 

The drive to perform the mission safely has driven operators to use things like  Crew Resource Management(CRM) as a model process for enhanced decision making.  By improving interpersonal communication, teamwork and leadership, CRM aims to reduce the incidence and severity of accidents by drawing on the skills and personality traits of everyone involved in the flight. But does your companies leaders consider themselves just as much an integral part of CRM by supporting you when deciding if you can safely accomplish the mission?

With lives, contracts or the repeat business of a customer on the line, what sort of outside pressures have you encountered when deciding if accepting or continuing a flight can be done safely?

NASA had developed a simulator study for 747 pilots that concentrated on the interplay between flight crew position and communication. "Once underway the, research pilot introduced a variety of errors into the mission, ...creating a potentially "threatening" confrontation between the captain and the first officer. As a result, the lowest error-detection rate (~35%) occurred when first officers faced high-challenging threats while in high risk to flight safety situations. This suggests that because of a fear of the social ramifications associated with challenging a captains skill or judgement a first officer may not challenge a captain even when the safety of the flight is at risk." -Aircraft Safety- Accident Investigations, Analyses and Applications.

I suspect that we could change the situation around a little and we might find ourselves in this same sort of circumstance while performing helicopter missions. We could imagine a similar scenario playing out like this- You are a B407 pilot new working at Air Care Medical Evacuation and are touring several different hospital helipads around the area with your flight instructor. One hospital requires a very steep approach because of tall trees and wires surrounding the area near the helipad. You voice your concerns to your instructor who tells you that the helipad has been in use for several years and besides, the small hospital really can't afford to fix the problem even though it has been brought up to them in the past. The issue does not come up again until you working on your own and get called to this particular hospital early on a warm humid morning for a patient with an IABP. Considering all of the various factors you decide to turn down the flight.

We could come up with a million different scenarios like this one from a cherry farmer who is getting agitated and insists that you do the entire field like he paid you to do, to the disappointed look on a group of tourists face when weather is pushing the minimums. 

Does your company support your final decision to accept a flight? What resources do they make available to you to help you make the right decision? How do you honestly feel you would react to your supervisor insisting that you accept or continue a flight that your felt was or had the potential to become unsafe? Are any of us immune to this form of outside pressure when it arises? Most importantly, what are some of your ideas for making aviation a safer industry? 

I have no doubt that every company has safety policies and procedures in place to support the pilots and crew. The question is, are employers really supporting the pilots decision and final authority? 

#2 Wally

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 13:06

"Being safe is integral to providing our patients with the quality medical care they deserve and, equally important, a safe work environment for our pilots, nurses and paramedics." -Air Evac Lifeteam

"From the very highest level of management on down, commitment and accountability drive safety performance. We remain proactive in strengthening our safety culture by continuing to educate employees, monitor and measure results, and recognize safe work practices." -Petroleum Helicopter inc. 

"...Papillon abides by flight safety rules and regulations that substantially exceed the regulations required by the Federal Aviation Administration. Additionally, the program infuses the safety mindset into the very culture of our company." Papillon Helicopters

Three different helicopter operators, three different missions, one ultimate goal- to perform the mission safely. Performing the mission safely is not just an integral part of the helicopter industry, almost every work place that you go to has standards and guidelines that they abide by to keep their customers and employees safe. 

However, many helicopter operators are operating under demands that are not typical of most other industries. Accepting a medical evacuation flight at 2am or landing MD 500 on a live electrical wire could hardly be considered a normal part of the automotive or retail industries.  According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, aircraft pilots and engineers had the third highest rate of workplace fatalities in 2011, 57.0 per 100,000. 

The drive to perform the mission safely has driven operators to use things like  Crew Resource Management(CRM) as a model process for enhanced decision making.  By improving interpersonal communication, teamwork and leadership, CRM aims to reduce the incidence and severity of accidents by drawing on the skills and personality traits of everyone involved in the flight. But does your companies leaders consider themselves just as much an integral part of CRM by supporting you when deciding if you can safely accomplish the mission?

With lives, contracts or the repeat business of a customer on the line, what sort of outside pressures have you encountered when deciding if accepting or continuing a flight can be done safely?

NASA had developed a simulator study for 747 pilots that concentrated on the interplay between flight crew position and communication. "Once underway the, research pilot introduced a variety of errors into the mission, ...creating a potentially "threatening" confrontation between the captain and the first officer. As a result, the lowest error-detection rate (~35%) occurred when first officers faced high-challenging threats while in high risk to flight safety situations. This suggests that because of a fear of the social ramifications associated with challenging a captains skill or judgement a first officer may not challenge a captain even when the safety of the flight is at risk." -Aircraft Safety- Accident Investigations, Analyses and Applications.

I suspect that we could change the situation around a little and we might find ourselves in this same sort of circumstance while performing helicopter missions. We could imagine a similar scenario playing out like this- You are a B407 pilot new working at Air Care Medical Evacuation and are touring several different hospital helipads around the area with your flight instructor. One hospital requires a very steep approach because of tall trees and wires surrounding the area near the helipad. You voice your concerns to your instructor who tells you that the helipad has been in use for several years and besides, the small hospital really can't afford to fix the problem even though it has been brought up to them in the past. The issue does not come up again until you working on your own and get called to this particular hospital early on a warm humid morning for a patient with an IABP. Considering all of the various factors you decide to turn down the flight.

We could come up with a million different scenarios like this one from a cherry farmer who is getting agitated and insists that you do the entire field like he paid you to do, to the disappointed look on a group of tourists face when weather is pushing the minimums. 

Does your company support your final decision to accept a flight? What resources do they make available to you to help you make the right decision? How do you honestly feel you would react to your supervisor insisting that you accept or continue a flight that your felt was or had the potential to become unsafe? Are any of us immune to this form of outside pressure when it arises? Most importantly, what are some of your ideas for making aviation a safer industry? 

I have no doubt that every company has safety policies and procedures in place to support the pilots and crew. The question is, are employers really supporting the pilots decision and final authority? 

 

"Air Care Medical Evacuation" = ACME. Very good.

 

"Does your company support your final decision to accept a flight?"

At one time, I could have said that I had never had a decision to decline or discontinue a flight questioned by management.

Now, I'm less optimistic/sanguine: risk assessment matrices, flight releases, flight tracking, operational control centers monitoring your flights with historic weather data- online Nexrad images are 5-15 minutes old, indicate what was happening, not what the PIC is facing right now, and soon, cockpit videos. That's a long string of self incrimination if you mess up. It adds nothing to immediate safety. The NSA argument "If you're Inncocent (doing your job)..." I know enough managers/cops/judges to know that all it takes is somebody having a bad day, or a spiteful jerk with a little power...

 

"How do you honestly feel you would react to your supervisor insisting that you accept or continue a flight that your felt was or had the potential to become unsafe?"

I would quit, then and there. The first time I did so, "the keys are in it, do it yourself." I can get another job. another license is harder, but this s my one and only life...


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Just a pilot (retired, so I have a LOT of time)...


#3 Gomer Pylot

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 15:38

The FAA keeps requiring lots of things, and they are mostly eyewash, just something they can point to and say they're doing their job.  They do little, IMO, to actually enhance safety.  The FAA has never done much that actually did any good in that area.

 

That said, and back to the OP's question - yes, I think they back me.  I've never been questioned, and I don't know of anyone else who has.  If I say no, then the flight doesn't go, period.  If I say yes, then the flight might go, or it might not.  I've had the operational control center cancel flights that I thought were completely safe, because of outdated radar depictions.  The med crew can also turn down a flight, but that rarely happens.  Through the years, I've shown them that I'm not suicidal, and normally if I accept a flight, they don't object.  And if I turn one down, they don't question that, either.  For new guys, it may take some time to be completely accepted, but eventually everyone gets a reputation, good or bad.  

 

I've flown aircraft that had CVR and FDR installed, and they have saved my job.  After any incident, the first thing that happens is that the recorder data is pulled and sent to HQ for review.  In a couple of cases, the recordings proved that I was following the checklist and that was the end of the questions.  But they can nail you if you've been goofing around.  They're definitely a double-edged sword, so you have to try to keep it in the scabbard.

 

I don't know much else to do to make the industry safer.  Most fatal accidents seem to be caused by the pilot/crew doing things they shouldn't, and which were already prohibited by company policy and/or FARs.  It's not possible to dictate good judgement.  


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Best Regards,

Gomer

#4 Wally

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 09:18

Gomer Pylot said:

"I don't know much else to do to make the industry safer.  Most fatal accidents seem to be caused by the pilot/crew doing things they shouldn't, and which were already prohibited by company policy and/or FARs.  It's not possible to dictate good judgement."

 

I have STRONG (and, I think - rational) opinions on that but I don't want to highjack the thread.


Just a pilot (retired, so I have a LOT of time)...


#5 Spike

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 14:47

Does your company support your final decision to accept a flight? What resources do they make available to you to help you make the right decision? How do you honestly feel you would react to your supervisor insisting that you accept or continue a flight that your felt was or had the potential to become unsafe? Are any of us immune to this form of outside pressure when it arises? Most importantly, what are some of your ideas for making aviation a safer industry? 

I have no doubt that every company has safety policies and procedures in place to support the pilots and crew. The question is, are employers really supporting the pilots decision and final authority? 

 

Please correct me if I’m wrong but, you’re not a pilot (yet) so why ask such questions? Are you worried that, someday in the far future; you’ll be forced to make a life or death decision and if you refuse you’ll be fired?  Are you fearful of such responsibility?

 

IMO, you’re putting the cart before the horse, -big time. Concentrate on getting your ratings. And, as already stated, in this business, your reputation is everything. With that said, you’ll need to understand, building your reputation started yesterday, so attempting to understand what it takes to survive in this business as a pro is way beyond what you need to focus on today.  Simply put, become a good student and get your education. Once you’ve become qualified, you can become a good CFII. After building time and experience, you’ll develop your level of judgment.   Years from now, you’ll use that judgment to make the appropriate decisions you ask about here in this thread…. Fail to heed the advice and its doom on you and you’ll only have yourself to blame…. 

 

Mind you, there was once upon a time when ignorant instructors would tell their students; as a pro-pilot, if they refuse to do what the employer/customer asks, that you would be fired on the spot because “pilots are a dime a dozen” and you can be replaced in a nanosecond by a pilot who will do the task.  I can attest, over my career, this has never been the case. However, I have witnessed pilots be terminated but in those particular cases, those pilots deserved it (read knuckleheads with poor reputations). This is why you’ll need to fully grasp the “reputation” concept. Grow as a pilot with a good reputation and those questions you ask should never be a problem…… 
 


Edited by Spike, 16 August 2013 - 14:54.

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#6 Spike

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 15:00

Gomer Pylot said:

"I don't know much else to do to make the industry safer.  Most fatal accidents seem to be caused by the pilot/crew doing things they shouldn't, and which were already prohibited by company policy and/or FARs.  It's not possible to dictate good judgement."

 

I have STRONG (and, I think - rational) opinions on that but I don't want to highjack the thread.

 

Frankly, I like (and appreciate) what you both said……  Furthermore, I’d like to hear your opinions… Spark up another thread and let it ride……. 



#7 ridethisbike

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 16:24

Spike,

 

Curiosity is different than being afraid. I think it was a pretty well thought out post with some valid questions at the end. You said you've never been fired for making a decision. That isn't always the case though.

 

I'm curious to hear some example of turned down flights. What was the reason? What was the weather like (if it was weather related)? Low ceilings or just crap visibility? Maybe it was high winds or frequent lightning?

 

What about flights that were accepted but got turned around? What led to that decision? What about flights you regretted taking once in the air, but flew on and pulled it off? The close calls, so to speak...



#8 Spike

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 18:28

Spike,

 

Curiosity is different than being afraid. I think it was a pretty well thought out post with some valid questions at the end. You said you've never been fired for making a decision. That isn't always the case though.

 

I'm curious to hear some example of turned down flights. What was the reason? What was the weather like (if it was weather related)? Low ceilings or just crap visibility? Maybe it was high winds or frequent lightning?

 

What about flights that were accepted but got turned around? What led to that decision? What about flights you regretted taking once in the air, but flew on and pulled it off? The close calls, so to speak...

 

In my opinion, Mr. Medic40 should focus on his short term/immediate goals so he can get the chance to experience the situations he describes. Otherwise, if he fails to attain this short term/immediate goal, his curiosity becomes moot………

 

In short, my concern/suggestion was for Medic40……
 



#9 ridethisbike

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 01:17

 

In my opinion, Mr. Medic40 should focus on his short term/immediate goals so he can get the chance to experience the situations he describes. Otherwise, if he fails to attain this short term/immediate goal, his curiosity becomes moot………

 

In short, my concern/suggestion was for Medic40……
 

 

 

True, as was your first post regarding the matter. I understand your position on the matter, although I think we'll need to agree to disagree. Understanding what the long term goals might entail can help forge the short term/immediate goals. The collective answer to those questions may make him rethink or re-enforce his long term goals.



#10 Wally

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 08:26

 

Frankly, I like (and appreciate) what you both said……  Furthermore, I’d like to hear your opinions… Spark up another thread and let it ride……. 

 

That thread already exists, Randy Mains started the most recent discussion.


Just a pilot (retired, so I have a LOT of time)...


#11 Spike

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 09:48

 

 

True, as was your first post regarding the matter. I understand your position on the matter, although I think we'll need to agree to disagree. Understanding what the long term goals might entail can help forge the short term/immediate goals. The collective answer to those questions may make him rethink or re-enforce his long term goals.

 

Okay then……

 

No, companies will not back your pilot decisions. If you turn down a flight, for any reason, you will be terminated.

 

Still wanna be a helicopter pilot?
 


Edited by Spike, 17 August 2013 - 09:49.


#12 500F

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 18:26

The level of support seems to vary a lot from one industry to the next. EMS and news are some of the worst, many tour companies not far behind. In the powerline industry its a little different. Granted we don't have the low time guys to worry about, but if a pilot says no the answer is no. As a member of middle management I've had plenty of calls from customers wanting us to fly in questionable weather. My answer ( and the answer from other members of management) is "the pilot has the final say. If he is not comfortable with it, it isn't going to happen". If I call the pilot after such a call its usually to say thank you for knowing when to call it.
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#13 nightsta1ker

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 19:25

 

Okay then……

 

No, companies will not back your pilot decisions. If you turn down a flight, for any reason, you will be terminated.

 

Still wanna be a helicopter pilot?
 

Yep.  



#14 eagle5

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 22:17

Yep.  

 

Nope for me,...not commercially anyway!



#15 Hobie

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 08:35

... As a member of middle management I've had plenty of calls from customers wanting us to fly in questionable weather. My answer ( and the answer from other members of management) is "the pilot has the final say. If he is not comfortable with it, it isn't going to happen". If I call the pilot after such a call its usually to say thank you for knowing when to call it.

 

Nice.  Class act.

Perfect example of a professional organization at all levels. 



#16 he_monkey

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 17:22

Nope, had a member of middle management telling me to fly in horrible weather with a student and then accused me of flying with an expired medical because he didn't know that it was good for 5 years (The one year commercial use clause confused him, I guess he though that a part 61 school was commercial). I went to the CP and told him that the manager was an idiot and going to get someone killed, the CP told the manager to "handle it" and the manager fired me....

 

Haven't been able to get a job in the industry since with these guys giving me a bad reference and no other work history leaving me no options to work my resume around it...



#17 phrogfella

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 14:25

"...NASA had developed a simulator study for 747 pilots that concentrated on the interplay between flight crew position and communication. "Once underway the, research pilot introduced a variety of errors into the mission, ...creating a potentially "threatening" confrontation between the captain and the first officer. As a result, the lowest error-detection rate (~35%) occurred when first officers faced high-challenging threats while in high risk to flight safety situations. This suggests that because of a fear of the social ramifications associated with challenging a captains skill or judgement a first officer may not challenge a captain even when the safety of the flight is at risk." -Aircraft Safety- Accident Investigations, Analyses and Applications..."

 

This is fantastic empirical evidence to support the opinion that the PIC's place during an emergency is to command rather than wiggle the sticks. What is the citation for the study that you quoted? I don't have the book that you mentioned so I can't reference the bibliography and I would like to look up the specific study in a library database. Malcolm Gladwell alluded to this study in the book Outliers but didn't give a reference and I've been trying to track it down for years now.

 

Thanks,

phrogfella



#18 r22butters

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Posted 23 June 2016 - 22:31

Does your company support your final decision to accept a flight?

no

How do you honestly feel you would react to your supervisor insisting that you accept or continue a flight that your felt was or had the potential to become unsafe?

I quit

,...still a tad bitter it seems, but damn I hate that f*cking a**hole!
Side boob is just so awesome,...yes it is!





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