On a Wing and a Prayer or Fly now Pray Later

The majority of pilots experience an engine failure during their flying career. It has always happened, but as engine design improves it happens less. In addition modern aircraft can fly easily on one engine if they are a twin engine aircraft. Pilots are supposed to be well trained to handle such events. This recent Air Asia incident has highlighted a pilot that should lose his job, due to failing his course on passenger psychology and leadership. This editor, a light aircraft hobby pilot, is fussy about who he flies with and has severe reservations about the level of training of some airline flightdeck crews!

Following AirAsia’s emergency landing in Perth due to an engine failure that saw the plane shake like “a washing machine”, one aviation expert has shared his thoughts on budget airlines. According to the ABC, Strategic Aviation Solutions chairman and aviation expert Neil Hansford said people need to ask if it’s really worth the cost savings of flying with budget airlines. “Australians regrettably think with their pocket and not their head,” Hansford told ABC. He suggested it’s the traveller’s responsibility to think about their safety when flying, and to research airlines on ratings websites before booking. “Because if you go to the trouble of working out whether a carrier’s got a record or not you would look at AirAsia and you would say ‘well why would I fly with that carrier who can’t get seven stars?’” Hansford said.

Per the ABC, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed it was investigating “an engine malfunction” which caused “moderate airframe vibration”. AirAsia defended its safety protocols after the recent incident, which saw the pilot himself apparently urging passengers to “say a prayer”, according to those onboard.

In an AirAsia X Berhad statement provided to Travel Weekly, they said, “The safety of our guests and crew is of utmost importance to us. “We are conducting an investigation into the cause of the incident together with our engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce. We are also cooperating fully with the local aviation authorities. “We would like to stress that AirAsia Group has always strictly followed the maintenance programme prescribed by our manufacturers. We have also complied with all regulations and requirements as set forth by every country where the airline operates, including Australia. “In Australia, AirAsia Group has regularly passed safety and security audits conducted by the local aviation authorities. “AirAsia Group has also initiated the process of undergoing voluntary IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) auditing for all airlines within the group, including AirAsia X Malaysia, AirAsia X Indonesia and AirAsia Indonesia, with AirAsia X Malaysia receiving two IOSA audit certificates in 2015 and 2016. “AirAsia remains committed to meeting all safety and security requirements in all the countries that we operate in.”

But Hansford has other ideas, asking, “If the difference in the fare was $200, is my life worth $200?” Hansford also told the ABC he didn’t think the pilot’s response was professional, and certainly didn’t put travellers at ease. “The pilot’s responsibility is to make all of the passengers feel comfortable and let them know that he’s in command,” he told the publication. “Now in asking people to pray, that’s almost saying that he’s passing the responsibility to some other person that’s not on the plane.” In Hansford’s opinion, the pilot should have considered making an emergency landing at WA’s Learmonth airbase instead of making a U-turn to head back to Perth.

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