Risk Management

Water or Trees?

When faced with a controlled forced landing, water offers little danger. Surprisingly, the same is true of heading for the trees.

Get Down Right Now

[IMGCAP(1)]Aviation training is often bashed for having a tombstone mentality. We tend to ignore certain shortcomings until an accident or incident instills new religion. Emergency descent training is a prime example of this.

Throughout my private, commercial and ATP courses, I dont remember getting instruction in emergency descents. Yet after the ValuJet, Swiss Air and FedEx accidents-each of which involved fire in flight-every checkride Ive had has included an emergency descent.

Whats the big deal with emergency descents? And is this skill worth your attention? Take one look at the burned wreckage of the FedEx DC-10 at Newburgh, New York in 1996 for your answer. That crew had...

Airspace Blunders

[IMGCAP(1)]It was a typical pre-9/11 afternoon as we approached White Plains. New York Tracon handed us off to White Plains Tower and the controllers were issuing their usual rapid-fire instructions to the arriving mass of airline, regional, business and general aviation aircraft.

The frequency was so congested that most of the arriving aircraft were unable to read back the instructions. We had the TCAS turned down to a six-mile range and our heads were on swivels since the airspace was so busy. The TCAS screen was full of targets.

We were watching the business jet ahead of us turn onto final when suddenly it made an abrupt nose-up maneuver. The pilot cried over the frequency, What...

Fire in Flight

Even a subtle sign of flame or smoke in the cockpit is a bona fide emergency. It demands immediate action.