Airlink to step up cockpit emergency training


Former South African Airways (SAA) Chief Training Captain and aerobatics veteran Scully Levin says South African Airlink pilots would benefit from enhanced training in managing cockpit resources as it will improve their decision-making and problem-solving capabilities, particularly in emergencies.

Meanwhile, the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has re-certified as airworthy the second of the 13 Airlink-owned BAE Systems Jetstream 41 (pictured) grounded on December 23 late on Wednesday after giving it a clean bill of health. SACAA revoked their airworthiness after a series of incidents late last year, including a crash in Durban on September 24.

Airlink CEO Rodger Foster says the airline will take Levin’s recommendations to heart, Business Day reported this morning.

Levin’s advice follows the recent release of an interim report into the crash of the Jetstream that suggests one of the main causes of the accident was human error in the form of the crew inadvertently shutting down the remaining good engine when one of the engines failed after take-off.

Airlink last month appointed Levin to identify possible shortcomings in the airline’s flight operations after a series of accidents and incidents that led nearly led to the grounding of the airline.
“If implemented, the recommendations will go a long way to restoring Airlink’s reputation as a safe airline, which has been dented by a series of accidents and incidents in recent months,” Business Day said.

Levin has recommended the airline focus more on practical resource -management training; called for the appointment of a head of flight operations and other changes in the management of the department; recommended setting up a process that ensures that pilot weaknesses are quickly identified and addressed; and that crews improve their radio communication skills to adhere to international standards.
“What I have seen at Airlink is no different from any other airline, both the good and the bad. I am not unduly concerned by what I have observed so far. Would I let my kids fly Airlink? Absolutely,” said Levin.

In the past month Levin has flown with Airlink crews across the airline’s fleet and network to identify problem areas. “In all I have undertaken 10 flights. I did not get involved in the flights and was merely a fly on the wall.”

Apart from his many years’ experience as an airline pilot, Levin is a member of the CAA’s general aviation safety initiative, which is striving to improve safety in the non-commercial environment.

Levin said while many airlines in SA had resource management training , the focus was more on the theory and not the practical. He has suggested Airlink follow the SAA example where crews spend two four-hour sessions in the simulator every six months covering the various aspects of that type of training. He said such practical training would help management to identify the pilot’s ability to handle an emergency situation as well as assist crews in the event of the a real-life crisis.

Levin said while Airlink did carry out some training on actual aircraft, there were limitations to the scenarios that could be re-enacted and crews did not receive the same benefit from the training as in the simulator, Business Day added.