Report: Inexperienced Singapore Airlines captain causes near B77 disasterBack to Forum
On the 25th October 2022 a 31 year old inexperienced SIA captain’s chaotic decision making and serious errors look to have almost caused the loss of a full B777-300 aircraft operating a flight from LHR to Changi Airport.
The Singapore Transport Safety Investigation Bureau issued the following report last week.
I don’t normally have interest or access to this sort of report but my neighbour a pilot mentioned it and sent the link. It seems that nothing had ever ever been reported in the media about this near disaster and possibly it should have been.
On reading the report it seems clear to me that the pilots not only made bad decisions but panicked on the 3rd and forth attempts to land the aircraft when with proper management the aircraft could seemingly have landed on its first attempt.
Frankly I am concerned and never want to fly long haul with such an inexperienced flight crew – but would I ever know ?
I have asked the same friends re Cathay pilots and anecdotally it seems they have no Captains under late thirties. My eldest son who is 33 has classmates who have been 1st officers for a couple of years now but don’t expect to make Captain for another 4 years or so.
Clearly senior pilots are younger than 10 years ago but is this of concern ?4 Oct 2023
Interesting, and any such incident is concerning. The FO was 31, the captain was 55. The FO could have been flying for 10 years, a little ageist to intimate that had anything to do with the errors. I personally know a a350 captain at CX who is 36, and I would feel perfectly safe flying under his command.4 Oct 2023
I stand corrected re the captain – the FO was the ‘pilot flying’. I did skim the very long report and relied on the accompanying posts on a pilots network – I should have been more thorough prior posting.
We also know a just promoted 36 year old captain but not at CX.
1 user thanked author for this post.4 Oct 2023
Pilot age is not an issue, good flying skill training could be the issue. And I can’t imagine SQ is lacking in training regime.
Last 5-6 years (although limited during Covid) I am flying a lot in USA, India and China domestically and saw most of the pilots are very young, some of them looks like 20-25 years old.
IMO, risk is more in short haul flights from pilot fatigue plus more numbers of takeoffs and landing per day. In long haul, most of the time the plane is on auto-pilot.
In this particular case, senior pilot could have taken full control when the situation was not ideal.4 Oct 2023
‘Pilot age is not an issue,’ I believe that most would not agree with that statement.
Age is very clearly a significant factor as with age comes the vital experience needed.
This is very clearly illustrated as being absolutely necessary by all major airlines who require pilots to be trained for a very minimum of about 10 years prior to becoming a captain.5 Oct 2023
I think the state of world affairs demonstrates, that one’s advancing years do not always translate into good decision-making or leadership. With age comes wisdom, but also entrenched beliefs, rigidity, as well as declining cognitive ability and reaction times. I wonder in a poll, if asked, would you prefer to be on a flight with a captain of 65 years old, or one who was 35 years old, what the result would be?6 Oct 2023
Experience definitely matters, however modern day aircraft has a lot of computer driven safeguards that a younger person with good training and skill could be more conversant.
There are several airplane disasters cases where root cause were pilot errors and many of those are experienced pilots. The accident with highest fatalities for airlines happened due to overconfidence (or stupidity) of a very senior pilot where two jumbo collided at runway.
In this particular incident, there were still reserve fuel land there are 3-4 nearby airports where the flight could have landed. Aircraft running very low in fuel after landing is not unusual, it happened before where aircraft has to be towed to gate – I believe there was an incident at Heathrow as well. In this case the relevant authorities did a good investigation and I am sure the training regime will be tightened from lessons learnt.6 Oct 2023
To perhaps answer the broader question that you post asks.
Yes I would be very comfortable with a captain of 30-60 y.o.a. and also a captain of 65 but not a captain one of 25.
The rationale for this being that health checks for pilots including and particularly older pilots are yearly and rigerious. There are no statistics that point up that pilots over 60 are any less able and anecdotally they are regarded as being extremely good pilots. The much increased life expectancy of fit able health checked pilots is also a factor with now some airlines increasing the age to 70 for experienced pilots. Fitness to fly has very little to do with the necessary experience required
There is much evidence however that inexperienced pilots are far less able and (this has been demonstrated with serious and sometimes disastrous consequences over many years) are very clearly not experienced enough to be a captain in total charge of a large passenger aircraft. That is why of course the worlds better airlines would never consider appointing a 25 year old as captain of a large passenger aircraft. They do not spend millions over perhaps 15 years training a pilot to be a captain for any other reason than they believe this to be necessary.
The old adage that ‘Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play’ (Immanuel Kant). Is I feel particularly apt as it relates to airline pilots.
The indisputable fact is that both considerable experience and training are vital and promotion progressive over a number of years- normally at least 15 to captain . For conformation of this ask any experienced airline pilot or any qualified airline manager.
Not a woke response perhaps ?6 Oct 2023