Brazil’s Air Tragedy: ‘We’re Gonna Make It,’ Says US Pilot After Collision

    After weeks far from the limelight, the deadliest air accident in Brazilian history, which left 154 dead last September 28 over the Amazon jungle, is back in the news. It all restarted with a story by weekly newsmagazine Veja, which published this weekend, a transcript of a dialogue between the two American pilots who were in the Legacy jet that collided with the Boeing 737.

    According to Veja, the dialogues, which were captured by the Legacy's black box, show that Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino lied in an interview they gave Folha de S. Paulo. When asked by a Folha reporter why the control tower was not getting the signal from the transponder, Paladino answered:

    "We don't know why the signal was not getting there. Where were the controllers, who haven't noticed that?" The new transcript, however, prove, according to the magazine, that the pilots already knew at 4:59 pm, two minutes after the collision with the Boeing, that the TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) was off.

    The TCAS is a device connected to the transponder, which in turn is an instrument that detects the proximity of other aircraft. In the Veja account one of the pilots say, "Man, are you with the TCAS on?" To which the other pilot responds: "The TCAS is off."

    Neither Brazil's Defense Ministry nor the Air Force brass are willing to comment on the Veja's revelations. At the Defense, a spokesperson said that they would wait till the end of the investigations (which may take one year of more) that are been conducted by the Air Force and the Federal Police.

    The Air Force, on the other hand, adopting a more cautious approach, also kept mum on the magazine's story, but made it clear that the investigations taking place are not trying to uncover any criminal action but only attempting to identify possible errors so that they can be avoided in the future.

    The commission investigating the accident intend to interview the American pilots once again. They want to know what might have caused the unplugging of the anticollision device. They seem to be convinced that the device was not turned off on purpose as it was believed at the start of the probe:

    "The investigation wants to ask the pilots what they may have done that caused this. They might have touched something that provoked the device being turned off even though they didn't have the intention to do this," someone close to the investigations told reporters asking that he remain anonymous. It hasn't been set a date for a new inquiry though.

    The Brazilian Federal Police have already denounced Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino charging them with negligence during the flight. The Federal Police's reasoning is that the American pilots should have total control over their devices since they were flying by instruments.

    Both have been charged based on the Penal Code's article 261, which define as crime to expose to danger a vessel or aircraft. The air controllers in charge at Brasí­lia's control tower when the accident occurred are also being investigated.

    Here's the dialogue reproduced by Veja. Note that the original was translated into Portuguese and that the version below is a translation from the magazine account back into English:

    – What the hell was that?
    – It's all right. Just pilot the plane, man.

    – Have we lost the winglet?
    – Have we?

    – We have.
    – Where this shit came from?

    – All right. We are going down. Declaring an emergency. Sit down.
    – (…) Just let me pilot this thing, man, because I think..

    – Where this shit came from?
    – Did we hit anybody?

    – Have you seen that?
    – Have you seen anything?

    – I thought I saw…
    – I looked up.

    – What is this?
    – Do we still have the wing's tip?

    – No.
    – What's the damage to the wing?

    – It was big… It was big. I am feeling it now…

    – Man, do you have the TCAS on?
    – Yeah, the TCAS is off.

    – It's OK. Just pay attention to the traffic. We are gonna make it, we are gonna make it, we are gonna make it… I know that.

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    • Show Comments (27)

    • Jairzino

      Here we go again
      Jlop can’t seem to grasp the whole picture here. So if the American pilots go to jail, the Air Traffic controllers should too? And Pires? And the pilot of the Gol plane that crashed be villified because that transponder was off too? Its amazing that people only see what they want to see. Anti American? Its the American Pilots fault. Angry with Brazil, its all their fault.

      Its obvious that there were many factors at play here. Air Traffic Control is an obvious mess in Brazil. If The Brazilian Military can’t see this, the next time this happens its going to be a little harder to spin, and it will happen again if problems with ATC and equipment are not addressed. The American Pilots made an error by not having the Transponder on if this report is correct….but coming from Veja, and taking into account their first report on this tragic accident, and the egg they had on their face after it, I have to question thier accuracy. I would be more likely to believe it if it came from Folha who seem to be better at investigative reporting and not afraid to speak the truth even if its unpopular with the Brazilian general public.

      Realgivpilot is really the only poster here that knows what he is talking about, is seeing the whole picture and doesn’t have an ax to grind. Ch.c does. Now why he has it in for Brazil would really make for some interesting reading wouldn’t it? And no, its not too hard to undersatnd Realgivpilot, seems simple enough to me.

    • Norman Kemble

      There he goes again……….
      This is why I donˢ۪t communicate with this individual rick (ric). He is forever trying to put words in my mouth and put forth his own personal agenda. I believe he works for Embraer (a question that I have asked him numerous times that he has never answered) and that his clients are Excelaire or he knows them by way of work (again another question that he has never answered although I have asked him repeatedly).

      Anyone who has ACTUALLY read my postings will know that at no time, at no point have I ever asked for or crusaded for criminal punishment for the legacy pilots. If they are found guilty of negligence then the FAA will be quick to take appropriate action. The civil remedy will take care of the rest. This was an accident, one that could easily have been avoided. My concern all along has been Excelaire and the lack of adequate training. That is where the criminal action should be aimed.

      That ric refuses to accept that shows to me that his agenda is his employer, Embraer and their client, Excelaire. As I have posted I was told that they had at least two more legacyˢ۪s on order that they are going to be flying on their certificate. The owner of the legacy involved in the accident has had a legacy flying in the US for a number of months until his was delivered. Iˢ۪m not sure at this point what the story is with that aircraft.

      Ric in this latest posting is showing his agenda (employment) and age. Pilots do not band together under all circumstances like negligence. Are there any pilots out there who are standing behind the KLM pilot at Tenerife?? The Comair pilots in Kentucky?? The Gulfstream III pilot in Aspen?? The list goes on and on. Barnstorming went out of vogue over 70 years ago.

      My feeling is ric needs to retire, take his memantine and read the High and the Mighty. Or if his attention span has shortened the movie is out on DVD. IÀ¢€™ll send him the money.

    • Ric

      Hi Andy, IÀ‚´m back from a small town in the Amazon.

      The reason I am nonplussed about RealGulfstream FourPilot is that pilots are supposed to be a Band of Brothers. The desire to incarcerate and villify is nonstandard and presupposes some kind of agenda. Whatever will be, will be with the two Legacy pilots, but non-pilots may not understand that in a free world context, criminally indicting air crews is something new. And where will it stop? Not the kind of milestone for which the Brazil aviation community would, as a whole, want this country to be remembered.

      For those of you not in Brazil let me mention that the allegations by some that the Brazilian judiciary is corrupt is not true. There are some bad apples in any group, but in my experience it is no more subject to corruption than anywhere else. Especially as one moves up the appeals process.

      But whereas in the states much is made about the right to a speedy trial, in this system defense properly does its job by delaying, rescheduling, stalling and balking. Whatever you think you know about what happens next in this case is probably wrong.

      And for you, GIV, it never occurred to me that you might be a member of Orville EwingÀ‚´s team. If so, I owe you an apology…..

    • jony

      TO REALGIVPILOT
      That is right, you stressed the fact that blind spots are common all over the world and that is why real pilots should adjust for these conditions… but they have to be real pilots, not Mickey Mouse ones.
      Keep up the good work realgivpilot À¢€¦ remember that you are in a total different class when dealing with these remote controlled pilots around here. Keep your head up and be proud of the essence and accuracy of everything you wrote here!

    • realgivpilot

      DUH
      For the thousandth time……………For TCAS to work BOTH airplane transponders must be on and working and “talking” to each other…….IS THAT TOO HARD TO UNDERSTAND!!!!!

      And ch.c if you bothered to read my posts you would have seen that I have RAISED the same questions about blind spots, ATC, etc.

      But, I guess it’s easier to grind your own ax and not bother to have an open mind right?

    • jony

      Ch.c once an idiot always an idiot…
      ARTICLE-III
      Feeding the poor in richest Swiss region

      This is in Switzerlandˢ۪s most affluent region, based on per capita income, but still there are pockets of poverty.
      The people in the queue watch millionairesˢ۪ yachts bobbing in the nearby lake, as they
      wait for their numbers to be called every Tuesday morning,
      This is in Switzerlandˢ۪s most affluent region, based on per capita income, but still there are pockets of poverty.
      The people in the queue watch millionairesˢ۪ yachts bobbing in the nearby lake, as they wait for their numbers to be called.

      Itˢ۪s like a lottery. They never know what they will be taking home with them. This week, there are fresh vegetables, lemons, eggs, yoghurts, sugar, tea and chocolate. For a nominal fee of SFr1 ($0.80), they can fill up their paper shopping bags.

      Each of these people has been referred by social services À¢€“ they have the identity cards to prove it.

      The food is provided by the Zurich-based charity, Tischlein deck dich (Table Be Set). The name is based on a fairy tale by the Grimm brothers.

      Britta Kiefer, who runs the diner, Podium 41, told swissinfo: “We give them the amount of food they need to suit the size of their household.

      “For single mothers with one child, it helps a lot. But for larger families, itÀ¢€™s just a drop in the ocean.”

      The beneficiaries
      The outward appearance of the people standing in line in this central Swiss town provides no clues as to their desperate economic state. They are mostly well groomed and neatly dressed.

      According to the charity, Swiss Workersˢ۪ Aid, most poor people are ashamed of their financial situation and try to hide it.

      People are considered to be poor as soon as they earn less than 50 per cent of the average net salary for the country they live in. The charity estimates that 850,000 people live below the poverty line, despite having a range of social benefits at their disposal.

      The beneficiaries at Podium 41 vary from drug users and alcoholics to working people, who just cannot seem to make ends meet.

      Anj Iten, a former bookkeeper with a management school diploma, has been out of work for three years.

      “When I look for work in my field, all the adverts are targeted at 25-35 year-olds. I am 40 and a single mother. TheyÀ¢€™re not looking for people like me.”

      Swallow your pride

      She finds it very difficult to manage on welfare benefits alone, and says the food rations help her save SFr25-35 ($20.2-28.3) a week. “It takes some courage to come here, but you get used to it. ItÀ¢€™s so helpful that you really have to swallow your pride,” she told swissinfo.

      Suzi Rosenberger has three children, aged three, eight and 11, and works part time as a manicurist, but does not make enough to feed her family.

      “The food we receive here saves us four to five hundred francs per month,” she said.

      Montemurro Salvatore, who now works for Tischlein deck dich, has experienced his own riches to rags story. He used to own two restaurants, but the business collapsed, leaving him with nothing.

      He now helps with the food distributions. He believes that there are many more poor people in Zug and elsewhere who would benefit from food handouts.

      “In my opinion the food distributions are poorly advertised, and many people who could do with the help donÀ¢€™t dare to ask for it.”

      Food mountain

      About 250 million kilograms of edible food are destroyed in Switzerland every year. If this could be passed on instead to those living below the bread line, each of them would receive one kilo of food per day.

      Tischlein deck dich tries to save as much of the condemned food as possible for the people who need it most.

      Last year 84,000 bags of food, each weighing 5kg, were shared out among the poor.

      The goods come from large distributors and major supermarket chains. Non-perishable products are stored in a warehouse. The rest is dispersed on the same day.

      Three hundred volunteers hand out the goods at 23 distribution centres around the country. The warehouse staff and truck drivers are also volunteers.

      The charity, which is financed by donations from the public, from foundations and private companies, is on track to help more people in the near future.

      Up to five new distribution centres are being set up and the amount of food on offer will increase by 300 metric tons over the next two years.

      swissinfo, Julie Hunt in Zug

    • jony

      Ch.c once an idiot always an idiot…
      ARTICLE-II

      One in 11 Swiss lives below poverty line
      Brigitte Steimen says poverty has been a taboo subject for decades (Keystone)
      A growing number of Swiss do not earn enough money to pay their monthly bills, a new investigation into the state of poverty in Switzerland shows.
      The Swiss Labour Association (SAH), an independent charity with its roots in the trade unions, says one in every eleven Swiss is forced to live below the poverty line. The charity warns that the number is likely to rise still further in the future.

      The charity claims the number of working poor – employed people who live below the breadline – has risen to around 530,000 over the past twelve months.

      According to federal statistics published in March of last year, those worst affected by the threat of poverty are large families, single parents, workers with only primary education and the self-employed.

      A separate study carried out in Zurich last year also revealed that a third of the total population in Switzerland risks joining the ranks of the working poor.

      Invisible poverty
      Brigitte Steimen, director of the SAH, says the biggest obstacle to tackling poverty in Switzerland is its invisibility.

      À¢€œYou donÀ¢€™t really see poverty when you walk the streets and you donÀ¢€™t see many beggars, and since being poor is considered shameful, people hide and are very reluctant to ask the state for money,À¢€Â Steimen told swissinfo.

      À¢€œSwitzerland is not a paradise or some exotic country where there is no poverty,À¢€Â she added.

      Regina Aeppli, a Swiss parliamentarian who has campaigned for legislation to combat poverty, says Switzerlandˢ۪s international reputation as a wealthy country is at the same time both accurate and misleading.

      À¢€œSwitzerland is of course a very rich country, but the problem is that three per cent of the inhabitants have 90 per cent of the wealth, while the remaining 97 per cent have to share the rest,À¢€Â she said.

      À¢€œSo we have a layer of people who are not able to run their lives on their salaries and who are in need of help from the state,À¢€Â she added.

      Taboo subject
      Steimen says poverty has been a taboo subject in Switzerland for decades, and people have only recently become aware of the extent of the problem.

      À¢€œUntil about two years ago it was like a taboo, and nobody really talked about it, but people are now more conscious of this problem,À¢€Â explained Steimen. À¢€œIt has certainly been a challenge to get the message across.À¢€Â

      The SAH says 18 per cent of Swiss women – many of whom are single mothers looking after two or more children – currently live beneath the poverty line, earning a monthly salary of less than SFr3,000 ($1,800).

      À¢€œWomen are proportionally more in danger of falling into the poverty trap, so we really want to focus on this issue,À¢€Â added Steimen.

      À¢€œWe put millions and millions of Swiss francs into supporting agriculture, for instance,À¢€Â said Steimen, À¢€œbut we donÀ¢€™t invest enough money in education, and I think there definitely needs to be a change.À¢€Â

      Steimen admits it is unlikely poverty will ever be fully eradicated, but she is confident that the vicious cycle of low income and debt can be kept under control.

      À¢€œI think the recent international focus on poverty has really put the issue on the domestic political agenda, and I am optimistic that things will hopefully change for the better in the future.À¢€Â

    • jony

      Ch.c once an idiot…always an idiot
      Chc…once an idiot always an idiot!!!
      Here is an article you should be very familiar with…it’s about your country Switzerland the one you so proudly uses it as the measuring stick to the rest of the inferior world!!!
      I would ask for the fellow commentators to take five minutes of their time to read the 3 articles belowÀ¢€¦and tell me why doesnÀ¢€™t Mr.Ch.c puts his incredibly superior mind capable of, single handedly, recognizing and solving all the Brazilian economic problemsÀ¢€¦ to solve his own country disastrous path of self destruction!!!???
      As the article states:
      À¢€œSwitzerland is of course a very rich country, but the problem is that three per cent of the inhabitants have 90 per cent of the wealth, while the remaining 97 per cent have to share the restÀ¢€Â.
      How can a country with only 7 million people to have 850,000 people living below the poverty line??? That to me, tantamount to a third world economy??? But its ok because they all have nice blond hair and sparkling baby blue eyes and they starve in style??? Preposterous!!!
      And this asshole is here every night for the past 4 years teaching Brazilians how to succeed and how to think??? Laughable but indefensible!!!
      Get a gun Ch.cÀ¢€¦ go for a long walk and do what you need to doÀ¢€¦

      ARTICLE-I

      Poverty alarm sounds in Swiss cities

      One in ten Swiss children is living below the poverty line (Keystone Archive)

      Related story
      À‚·Poor education blamed for poverty gap
      One in ten children in Swiss towns and cities is living below the poverty line, according to a report published on Tuesday.
      The study of nine urban areas in northern Switzerland showed an À¢€œalarmingÀ¢€Â ten per cent rise in welfare cases in 2003.

      The report, compiled by
      À‚·Poor education blamed for poverty gap
      One in ten children in Swiss towns and cities is living below the poverty line, according to a report published on Tuesday.
      The study of nine urban areas in northern Switzerland showed an À¢€œalarmingÀ¢€Â ten per cent rise in welfare cases in 2003.

      The report, compiled by Urban Initiative, noted that welfare cases rose by 15 per cent in Zurich and Basel.

      The organisation, which represents 50 Swiss towns and cities, called for an end to cutbacks, saying the time had come À¢€œto invest rather than economiseÀ¢€Â.
      It said more staff were needed to help people come off social security and rejoin the workforce.

      Child poverty

      The biggest concern is the number of children classed as living in poverty. Statistically, 87 of every 1,000 children in Switzerland fall into this category.

      In Basel last year, 12.5 per cent of children and young people under 18 were on welfare À¢€“ almost three times the average for adults.

      À¢€œThe highest social welfare assistance ratios involved children and young people under 18,À¢€Â revealed Michael Hohn, director of social affairs for the city of Bern.

      The report called on businesses to step up training and recruitment initiatives, adding that more than half of all new cases were related to unemployment.

      Hohn said children in cash-strapped families had limited access to education and training schemes, and faced a greater prospect of poverty in adulthood.

    • ch.c.

      to : ALL… the Junkies…..
      Why dont you read the latest comments by the Official BRAZILIAN Spokeswoman on that subject…but only a doubtful article…..as The Guy said?

      http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/01/22/brazil.crash.ap/index.html

      I told you……it stinks ! And in my view it will stink far more in the not too distant future !

    • andy murphy

      To Ric

      Have a great week.You are right,they can sort it out without y(o)ur,presence. Are you visiting the South of Brazil. If so, give my best to all the brasileiros and brasileiras in that region

    • jiop

      Hmmmmmm….. looks like Lepore &Paladino will spend time in prison… 😉

    • ch.c.

      sorry….junkies !
      Supporting each other arguments….doesnt make law, doesnt make you right !

      Just think about it : why your governments officials after having accused openly the US pilots BEFORE the end of the investigations….are suddenly NOT commenting anymore and are keeping quiet ?
      And as someone said : what about the TCAS of the OTHER plane ?????????

      What about the ATCs…..either under stress due to the workload, the inept ATC involved…as per his instructor (Brazilian…not American or whatever ), the error and/or contradictory instructions given to the US pilots….at the time of the take off ?

      What about the blindspots…..known and acknowledged by everyone…but vehemently denied by your Wearing Pampers Air Defense Minister Pires ?
      Quite strange that the tragedy happened right where there is a blindspot !

      I tell you…..it stinks !!!!!!

      In my opinion, for whatever it is worth, The Guy….is right with his…Hmmmmmmm !!!!

      The Brazilian Authorities have already demonstrated how they have MANIPULATED , CHEATED AND LIED……FROM DAY 1…THE TRUTH !
      If the above article is right, your Authorities had a perfect reason to justify their original
      accusations and if they did not, they have a perfect reason too ! Again….Hmmmmm….just think about it !

    • The Guy

      Poor English??????
      This transcript is strange. This is NOT how people who speak English talk. But this is exactly how Brazilian speak poor english. Hmmmm…..

    • realgivpilot

      jony and smoked salmon
      Thank you both for your open minds and support.

    • realgivpilot

      TCAS is off means À¢€œLoss of Situational AwarenessÀ¢€Â!!!!

      Did you see anything means À¢€œLoss of Situational AwarenessÀ¢€Â!!! Not looking out the window. Not paying attention to detail(s). In the back being a celebrity with the world famous Joe Sharkey.

      Does any of this or my posting about judgment ring any bells?? Or is the rush to judgment really in defense of these two and Excelaire no matter what. Are the closed minds really those of the Legacy pilots and Excelaire defenders??

      No, donˢ۪t bother to answer as the postings have shown the true answers. rick thanks for the heads up that youˢ۪ll be gone for a week or so. Iˢ۪ll know when to check back and look for your spirited defense of your employer, Embraer and your customer Excelaire.

    • Joseph

      The TCAS is off does not mean they turned it off. Plus, why wasnt the Gol plane’s on too? I dont buy that story that the Gol pilots couldnt have seen anything because the TCAS in the other plane was turned off.
      Many people are desperate to assign blame but unfortunately, crashes usually happen because of many faults. In this specific one, there could be fault with ATC, and the pilots of both planes as well as the government knowing there are radar holes over the amazon but not doing anything about it….

    • smokedsalmon

      Realgivpilot… you are SMOKIN’!
      Good to see you are still around realgivpilot and that you didn’t let the big, bad bullies scare you away… although, somehow, I just don’t see you as being the type to turn tail and run… or slink off into the night. I have to agree with jony and commend you for your tireless efforts to DO THE RIGHT THING, even though your point of view has obviously been unpopular. Unpopular, but factually hard-hitting and correct. It takes a strong person to stand up against the crush of public or corporate opinion and state the facts in a clear, concise manner. Like jony, I’ve followed your writings right from the start and have been absolutely apalled at how viciously you’ve been attacked for staying calm and sticking with the facts. I haven’t agreed with every single thing that you’ve said, but I’ve never waivered, and will never waiver, from my belief that you have been right all along. My issue is still with that slimy 135 charter outfit, Excelaire. To me, they personify all of the negative stereotypes typically assigned to New Yorkers – no one else in the world matters but them… and their wallets. That 154 innocent people are dead doesn’t sem to bother them in the least. That they can’t get their plane back, however, seems to bother them a great deal. The slime that emanates from their thinly-veiled postings here on this board, coupled with the visciousness of their attacks against you, makes me sick.

      So I say GREAT JOB REALGIV… more of us support you than you think.

    • Ric

      And now weÀ‚´ll be out of town for a week. But IÀ‚´m sure youÀ‚´ll be able to sort it out without me……….

    • Ric

      Correction, “would”.

    • Ric

      Point well taken, but as Real Gee Four wold have noticed, it was almost three a.m. As for my wife, thanks for asking, sheÀ‚´s from Montana.

    • jony

      to Ric baby
      To you Mickey Mouse Ricky baby À¢€¦I would say stick with monosyllable words RickyÀ¢€¦ or have your educated Brazilian wife do the writing for you À¢€¦you misspelled inadvertently and judgmentÀ¢€¦he heÀ¢€¦ À¢€œlike you would say À¢€ÂYesterday I couldnÀ¢€™t spell PILOT, today I IS ONE!!!

    • jony

      to realgivpilot
      Realgivpilot, I have been following your writings from day one my friend. You are the only one that presented solid technical knowledge stating numerous facts referring to codes and guidelines that these two pilots should have taken into consideration if they were experienced cautious pilots capable of exercising good À¢€œjudgmentÀ¢€Â À¢€¦ and what you realgivpilot get in return??? Just more stupid comments like the one from Ric and IÀ¢€™m sure ch.c to follow, interesting how they all became experts pilots overnight, at the time when the two pilots were detained in Brazil.

    • Ric

      And before I slink off into the night, greetings to your wife. You should listen to her more.

    • Ric

      ItÀ‚´s a glass cockpit. “The TCAS is off” doesnÀ‚´t necessarily mean it was purposely or inadvertantly, manually turned off. Spur of the moment it probably only meant that it wasnÀ‚´t coming up on the screen…… Rush to judgement.

    • realgivpilot

      Where is everyone???
      Looks like I know what I’ve been talking about afterall. IÀ¢€™m certainly not happy about it and in fact really saddened by the whole sordid mess, especially being attacked by self proclaimed know it alls, xenophobes, Excelaire employees, family and friends, Embraer employees and certain journalists. Now that the actual facts are coming out where are the defenders of Excelaie?? Can anyone go back and look at everything I have posted and found any of it wrong or misstated? HavenÀ¢€™t I been right about everything that I posted?? How about it ch.c, me, Norm the Pilot, StorminÀ¢€™ Norman, smelt, smoked salmon, rick?? Have you anything to say or now that the facts are coming out are you going to go slink off into the night??

      What I am most upset and saddened at is that 154 people are no longer here because of what is becoming more and more clearer as negligence and cutting corners to squeeze the last penny out at the expense of safety and training.

    • Norman Kemble

      Judgement????
      An anonymous quote found in AETC’s Handbook 11-1, “Road to Wings,” summarizes judgment pretty well: “We should all bear one thing in mind when we talk about a troop who rode one in. He called upon the sum of all his knowledge and made a judgment. He believed in it so strongly that he knowingly bet his life on it. That he was mistaken in that judgment is a tragedy, not stupidity. Every supervisor and contemporary who ever spoke to him had an opportunity to influence his judgment, so a little bit of all of us goes in with every troop we lose.”
      When you think about it, that’s a pretty sobering comment to an audience whose jobs are inherently dangerous and require mass quantities of instantaneous judgment. But “human factors” have accounted for an average of about 69% of aircraft-related mishaps across the past ten years, with approximately 54% of the human factors aircraft-related mishaps involving errors in judgment. With this one item (judgment) identified as one of the most frequent causes of aviation mishaps, can we regulate it to decrease the number of incidents?
      Webster’s defines judgment as “The ability to make a decision or form an opinion by discerning and evaluating … The capacity to make sound and reasonable decisions: good sense.” I especially like the part about “good sense” because it seems to be lacking in people at times. But what this definition doesn’t explain is how one goes about acquiring good sense or judgment. This is because judgment isn’t something that can be taught through a definition, textbook or even a cookbook!
      Judgment is a cognitive skill, learned during the on-going process of education and experiences throughout one’s life. The Air Force mentors us by providing technical training courses to advance our knowledge and establishing upgrade programs to advance our skills. This, combined with experience developed over time, is designed to improve your judgment ability.
      However, experience alone is not the sole qualifier for judgment. Everyone has seen an example of a highly experienced person making a poor judgment call. Numerous mishap reports and “There I Was” stories talk about pilots with “thousands of hours” or “doing it a hundred times before,” making a bad decision. Or, on the other hand, a young second lieutenant making an input to the crew during a critical situation and saving the aircraft.
      So this brings us back to the original question: Can judgment be regulated? The Air Force makes a valiant attempt to regulate judgment through written restrictions, operating instructions, and technical manuals, but does this really regulate judgement? Can it?
      Taking a consensus of experienced pilots, it can be said that judgment Can’t be regulated. So why do we have all those written restrictions and operating instructions? The best way to look at it is to view regulatory guidance as parameters, established to limit our choices that directly influence our judgment. In other words, until you acquire that breadth of experience over time that is helpful in developing judgment, the regulations and instructions are there to aid you and give you guidance. Even after you have developed a wealth of experience, the regulatory guidance is still there when you need it.
      It’s like a flow diagram kept in your head that you review each time a decision is made. By knowing what is legal, what the capabilities of your aircraft are, and what your personal limits are, you can more effectively make a good judgment decision when presented with a situation. Over time, the decision process becomes more intuitive as your experience builds, until one day you graduate from the “school of hard knocks” and are awarded a degree in “judgment.”
      After you acquire what you think is judgment, keep this quote by Mark Twain in your hip pocket for those times when you’re just not sure which way to go: “It is better to be careful a hundred times than to be killed once.” In other words, taking the safer course of action most likely will keep you out of trouble during those times when things just aren’t going your way. So continue to build your judgment, work on your knowledge and fly safe!
      COPYRIGHT 2001 U.S. Air Force, Safety Agency
      COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

    • jiop

      Yeah, looks like Lepore and Paladino will spend time in prison after all.

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