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March 24, 2005

Aviation Obfuscation...

It ain’t easy being a pilot. The actual stick-wiggling is a piece of cake compared with complying with the myriad rules, regulations, administrative directives, pilotage procedures, ad infinitum. You don't have to take my word for it--ask Neffi. Sometimes the publications are crystal clear (“No smoking within fifty feet of the aircraft”) and sometimes they’re--ummmm--see for yourself. I think you’ll get a whole new perspective on flying the friendly skies.

And on why, in general, some of us are nuts.

Reprinted below is the notice that British Airways sent to its pilots explaining the cockpit crew duties during the conduct of what we in the US refer to as a "monitored approach"--on an instrument approach to an airfield under conditions of low ceiling and visibility, one pilot flies the approach and the other pilot divides his scan between the instruments and the view outside. As the aircraft nears that point in space where the runway should be visible, the non-flying pilot concentrates on the outside view, and when he sees the runway, takes the controls and performs the landing; this eliminates the problem of the pilot flying the approach having to make a sudden, sometimes disorienting, transition from flying instruments to looking “outside” at the last minute to try to acquire the runway. If the non-flying pilot announces that he sees nothing by the time the aircraft reaches minimums, the pilot on the controls, who is still on the instruments, simply initiates the Missed Approach procedure and the non-flying pilot handles the radio calls and other assorted details.

Simple, right? Geez, even *I* understood that.

Now try the explanation of this procedure from the British Airways Pilot’s Manual.

*** British Airways Flight Operations Department Notice ***

There appears to be some confusion over the new pilot role titles. This notice will hopefully clear up any misunderstandings.

The titles P1, P2 and Co-Pilot will now cease to have any meaning within the BA operations manuals. They are to be replaced by Handling Pilot, Non-handling Pilot, Handling Landing Pilot, Non-Handling Landing Pilot, Handling Non-Landing Pilot, and Non-Handling Non-Landing Pilot. The Landing Pilot is initially the Handling Pilot and will handle the take-off and landing except in role reversal when he is the Non-Handling Pilot for taxi until the Handling Non-Landing Pilot hands the handling to the Landing Pilot at eighty knots. The Non-Landing (Non-Handling, since the Landing Pilot is handling) Pilot reads the checklist to the Handling Pilot until after Before Descent Checklist completion, when the Handling Landing Pilot hands the handling to the Non-Handling Non-Landing Pilot who then becomes the Handling Non-Landing Pilot. The Landing Pilot is the Non-Handling Pilot until the decision altitude call, when the Handling Non-Landing Pilot hands the handling to the Non-Handling Landing Pilot, unless the latter calls "go-around", in which case the Handling Non-Landing Pilot, continues handling and the Non-Handling Landing Pilot continues non-handling until the next call of "land" or "go-around", as appropriate.

Ow. Somebody rub my head.