As aircraft have become more reliable, the proportion of crashes caused by pilot error has increased and now stands at around 50%. Aircraft are complex machines that require a lot of management. Because pilots actively engage with the aircraft at every stage of a flight, there are numerous opportunities for this to go wrong, from failing to programme the vital flight-management computer (FMC) correctly to miscalculating the required fuel uplift.
While such errors are regrettable, it is important to remember that the pilot is the last line of defense when things go catastrophically wrong. In January 2009 an Airbus A320 hit a flock of geese over New York City. With no power, the captain, Chesley Sullenberger, had to weigh up a number of options and act quickly. Using his extensive flying experience and knowledge of the plane’s handling qualities he elected to ditch the aircraft in the Hudson River. The 150 passengers were not saved by computers or any other automated system. They were saved by the two pilots – the very components that techno-enthusiasts claim can be replaced by computers and ground controllers.
Equipment failures still account for around 20% of aircraft losses, despite improvements in design and manufacturing quality. While engines are significantly more reliable today than they were half a century ago, they still occasionally suffer catastrophic failures.
In 1989, a disintegrating fan blade caused the number one (left-hand) engine of a Belfast-bound British Midland Boeing 737-400 to lose power. Hard-to-read instrumentation contributed to the pilots’ misreading of which engine was losing power. Confused, the pilots shut off the number two (right-hand) engine. With no power, the aircraft crashed short of East Midlands Airport’s Runway 27, killing 47 and injuring many, including the captain and first officer.
More recently, a Qantas A380 carrying 459 passengers and crew suffered an uncontained engine failure over Batam Island, Indonesia. Thanks to the skill of the pilots, the stricken aircraft landed safely.
Sometimes, new technologies introduce new types of failure. In the 1950s, for example, the introduction of high-flying, pressurized jet aircraft introduced an entirely new hazard – metal fatigue brought on by the hull’s pressurization cycle. Several high-profile disasters caused by this problem led to the withdrawal of the de Havilland Comet aircraft model, pending design changes.
Bad weather accounts for around 10% of aircraft losses. Despite a plethora of electronic aids like gyroscopic compasses, satellite navigation and weather data uplinks, aircraft still founder in storms, snow and fog. In December 2005, Southwest Airlines Flight 1248, flying from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Chicago Midway International Airport, attempted to land in a snowstorm. It skidded off the runway and crashed into a line of cars, killing a toddler.
One of the most notorious bad-weather incidents occurred in February 1958 when a British European Airways twin-engine passenger aircraft crashed while attempting to take off from Munich-Riem Airport. Many of the 23 killed on the aircraft played for Manchester United Football Club. Investigators established that the aircraft had been slowed to such a degree by slush (known to pilots as “runway contamination”), that it failed to achieve take-off speed. Surprisingly, perhaps, lightning is not the threat that many passengers believe (or fear) it to be
About 10% of aircraft losses are caused by sabotage. As with lightning strikes, the risk posed by sabotage is much less than many people seem to believe. Nevertheless, there have been numerous spectacular and shocking attacks by saboteurs. The September 1970 hijacking of three passenger jet aircraft to Dawson’s Field in Jordan was a watershed moment in aviation history that prompted a review of security. Hijacked by devotees of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the three aircraft were blown up in full view of the world’s press.
Despite improvements, malcontents still penetrate the security veil, as with the 2001 “shoe-bomber”, Richard Reid. Fortunately, Reid’s attempt to bring down an aircraft mid-flight proved unsuccessful
A preliminary investigation by safety officials has found that poor pilot training was at fault in the recent Lion Air crash in Indonesia, raising concerns about human error and the role it plays in air crashes.
On 13 April, two pilots operating a Lion Air Boeing 737 undershot a runway at Nagurah Rai Airport and crashed into the waters off Bali. Preliminary findings from the investigation found that a 24-year-old captain could not see the runway upon descent and was forced to hand over control of the plane to a co-captain at 46m – below the minimum altitude considered safe. While a full investigation is not yet complete, the preliminary findings have ruled out any fault with the aircraft.
Pilot error refers to any action or decision – or lack of proper action – made by a pilot that plays a role in an accident. This may include a simple mistake, a lapse in judgment or failure to exercise due diligence. There are two types of pilot error, according to Aviation Safety Magazine: tactical errors, which are related to a pilot’s poor actions or decisions, often caused by fatigue, inebriation or lack of experience; and operational errors, related to problems with flight instruction and training. In the case of the Lion Air incident, it appears both lack of experience and poor training may have played a part.
The airplane is a Boeing 720 testing a form of jet fuel, known as “ant misting kerosene”, which formed a difficult-to-ignite gel when agitated violently, as in a crash.
Human factors, including pilot error, are another potential set of factors, and currently the factor most commonly found in aviation accidents. Much progress in applying human factors analysis to improving aviation safety was made around the time of World War II by such pioneers as Paul Fitts and Alphonse Chapanis. However, there has been progress in safety throughout the history of aviation, such as the development of the pilot’s checklist in 1937. CRM, or Crew Resource Management, is a technique that makes use of the experience and knowledge of the complete flight crew to avoid dependence on just one crew member.
Pilot error and improper communication are often factors in the collision of aircraft. This can take place in the air (1978 Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182) (TCAS) or on the ground (1977 Tenerife disaster) (RAAS). The barriers to have an effective communication have internal and external factors. The ability of the flight crew to maintain situation awareness is a critical human factor in air safety. Human factors training is available to general aviation pilots and called single pilot resource management training.
Case Study 01 – Brain Tumour (Leamington Spa – Warwickshire).
Man with a brain tumour awaiting treatment. This case was part of a blind-test, where I was called upon to investigate a house without being given any information as to any problem related to the occupants. During the course of checking all the rooms I found two different types of radiation crossing in the area of a pillow on a double bed and was able to state based on my experience that this was a potential brain tumour site. It transpired that the man sleeping in the radiation zone had been diagnosed as having a brain tumour, about one third of my investigations are undertaken in a blind test situation
Case Study 02 – Brain Tumour (Putney Bridge – London). Two year old girl suffering from a stem cell brain tumour. The magnetic field anomaly measured over a few centimetres in the centre of the pillow was 32,600nT, this field was generated from the springs in the mattress. The girl did not respond to medical treatment until the mattress was replaced with a non-spring mattress, following which, the area was measured again and found to be normal.
Case Study 03– Breast Cancer (Ipswitch – Suffolk). Woman with cancer of the breast. Hospital claims to have spent in the region of £100,000 on treatment over a two year period, and at one stage it was said to be cured but returned after a short remission. It is important to understand that it is necessary to remove the patient away from the radiation site before any treatment begins, since it has been my experience to find that no therapy works to its full potential when those being treated are left to sleep on the radiation site that caused the problem in the first place. The combination of a subterranean water course intersected by a two banded Hartmann line is often found crossing the sleeping site of females with breast cancer
Case Study 04– Breast Cancer (East Grinstead – Sussex). Woman died from cancer of the breast after spending two years on this sleeping site. Male suffering from Parkinson’s disease, their cat slept on the floor near the bed and died from cancer after some 18 months on that site. The problem resulted from two subterranean water courses crossing the sleeping zone and from my observations over the years this represents one of the most lethal combinations.
Case Study 05 – Prostate Cancer (Mill Hill – London). Man with Prostate Cancer, not responding to medical treatment until I changed the chair that he sat on at his desk where he worked as CEO for some nine years, often for 10 hours a day. The chair he sat on had an anomaly measuring 47,000nT across the base of the seat. I made a through investigation of his residential and company premises, there were no other problems detected at either premises. There were many other chairs at his office not being used, after measuring the emissions with a Geo-Magnetometer, I selected the best one for his use. He went on to make a complete recovery.
Case Study 06 – Throat Cancer (Hamlyn – Germany). Man with cancer of the throat. His first wife died from cancer of the throat when sleeping on the same side of the bed. When he married again, his second wife choose to sleep on the side of the bed that was free of earth radiation relegating her husband to the side formerly occupied byhis first wife
Case Study 07 – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Dundee – Scotland).
Man suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for the last four years having slept on this site for a period of five years. Symptoms: A severe energy depleted state, insomnia, depression, headaches, short-term memory loss, muscle and joint pains, candidiasis and food intolerance, not responding to any form of medical treatment.
Case Study 08 – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Playa de Las Americas – Tenerife). Woman suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for the last two years having slept in that zone for just over three years. Symptoms: A severe energy depleted state, insomnia and candidiasis leading to an intolerance to a range of foods, the only type of hazard found to be a problem was the subterranean water course marked in blue on the chart.
Case Study 09 –Miscarriages (Cambridge – Cambridgeshire). Woman suffered three miscarriages during a three and a half year occupation of this sleeping site. The subterranean water course recorded on the chart represents the type of radiation that is commonly found in such cases, and again it is my contention that the miscarriage results are due to altered states within the bio-electric messages transmitted at cell level that are essential for a healthy progressive development. Her daughter who slept in the next room was sleeping on the outside edge line of the same
Case Study 10 – Multiple Sclerosis (West Hampstead – London). Woman suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. This represents a typical MS site with a combination of three specific types of radiation found to be present within the sleeping zone. The outside edge line of a subterranean water course, a two banded Hartmann line plus a highly disturbed magnetic field generated from the springs in the mattress.
Case study 11 – Child with Cancer. Two-year old girl with germ cell cancer of the brain not responding to medical treatment. An anomaly in the earth’s natural geomagnetic DC field of some 32,600 nT produced by the springs in the mattress was measured over a distance of nine centimetres in the area of the girls head. (Remember that metallic ore causes changes in the Earth’s natural magnetic field. This ore has been refined to its purest form to make the springs of our mattresses). After changing the mattress for one which had no springs she responded to treatment with a successful outcome.