Sunday, September 26, 2010

Aspen Arrival

There were several contributing factors to the Aspen Arrival accident.  The weather, of course, was a major contributing factor. The overbearing boss, who said that the crew should "keep their comments to themselves" and got very upset upon learning that there was a good possibility that they would end up at an alternate, was the largest contributing factor. This put a lot of pressure on the crew to get into Aspen. The high pressure put them in a difficult situation because they wanted to make their clients happy. Because of this, they put themselves in a dangerous situation, one in which they probably knew they were making a mistake. Another contribuing factor was the pilots configuring the aircraft in such a way that produced a very high sink rate. They were in a hurry to get down, out of the clouds and snow, to where they could see the airport and land. Again, going back to the boss, I don't think this would have happened if he hadn't put so much pressure on the pilots to get to Aspen. But then again, the pilots need to be firm in their decisions and not let an angry passenger (who doesn't understand the severity of the situation) tell them where they will and will not go.

The one thing that the pilots should have done differently, that for sure would have saved everyone, was not shoot the approach. They knew that they were taking a big risk when they started. And, after hearing the other challengers go missed, they should have definitely known that they were putting themselves into a bad situation. They should have been more confident in their decision making and not let someone else impact their decisions-- especially someone who doesn't understand exactly what is going on. Another thing they could have done, if they had to shoot the approach, was not configure the aircraft in a way that produced a sink rate over 2,000 fmp-- especially since the flight manual does not allow it.

I would like to think that if I had a passenger that was like the boss in this situation that I would be able to stand my ground and not let them make me make stupid decisions. I can see that it would be hard though, when your job is on the line. I would hope that I could explain the severity of the situation and that they would understand the extreme consequences of putting yourself in a situation like this. I think that if I didn't feel comfortable and confident with my ability to do something, then I wouldn't do it-- I could find another job if it resulted in me losing my job. I would rather find another job than be dead.

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