Are pilots over obsessed with safety?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Alexb2000, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    I started thinking about this the other day when I was helping a friend fill a portable oxygen bottle. Another pilot came along and asked if we'd washed our hands, degreased the wrenches, etc. When I laughed he walked about 200' away to observe the impending fireball. I laughed because I have welded most of my life. I got started working in a huge aerospace factory as a weldor. In that plant there were literally thousands of bottles of industrial gases. All of which were changed on a constant basis by guys with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth. Tools were greasy, people were greasy, AND no one blew sky high.

    I had some time yesterday so I'm reading Aviation Safety. There on the front cover is an article about the DANGERS of refueling. Lots of warnings in the article about how an avgas fire can spread faster than you can run, how dangerous refueling is, etc. I was thinking about how many millions of cars, tractors, aircraft, etc. are refueled on a daily basis with seldom a problem. Only a pilots magazine could run such an article. Put that on the cover of Hot Rod and watch your subscriptions fall to zero.

    Last of course we have these forums where the second post of almost every topic is... "you are a dangerous fool and will surely kill yourself". This also seems unique to pilots. Post a video of you driving your car 150 MPH on some car forum and everyone will love it.

    Question is, while being safety minded is a great quality in a pilot, do we as a group take all of this too far?
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  2. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Yup. Worse actually pilots are safety obsessive over the wrong things. Worrying about mechanical failure while believing they are immune from making dumb piloting decisions. tune in for some fun hamster spinning denial 3, 2, 1...
     
  3. Jim_R

    Jim_R Cleared for Takeoff

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    There is no doubt that societal norms in the US have moved toward increased safety consistently since, well, just about forever.

    Cars didn't used to have seat belts...and nobody used 'em in the ones that did. Kids routinely rode on laps, or the shelf under the rear window. Folks rode in open pickup beds.

    Today? Car companies brag about how many side-impact airbags they have. New parents obsess over which car set to get their baby. Everyone buckles up.

    There are similar examples everywhere you look.

    At my work, we're constantly hammered with safety-related training, posters, emails, etc. We've lost people through industrial mishaps, and the names of those people are well-known through the organization. From critical operations procedures down to slips, trips, and falls, safety is something that's constantly emphasized where I work.

    To me, a constant focus on safety feels normal, not unusual.
     
  4. Dead Stick

    Dead Stick Line Up and Wait

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    I've seen the results of a couple of aircraft O2 fires. It gets your attention. I would imagine that you'd take it a little more seriously as well if you ever saw one. But what's the old saying... Familiarity breeds contempt.
     
  5. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You're confusing an unlikely event with an impossible one.

    Industrial accidents involving fuels and oxygen are mercifully rare, but when they happen, they tend to be catastrophic.

    The problem with being lax about the rules is that it works until it doesn't. It may work for years, until it doesn't.
     
  6. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    Under what circumstances? I'm not doubting you, but compressed oxygen is the same regardless of application and it is being used daily the world over by people with absolutely no training or education.
     
  7. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    I'm curious about that too. What provided the fuel for the fire, and how did it start?
     
  8. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I believe your post is a clear statement that we are not sufficiently safety conscious. Safety is a mindset that each individual must embrace and the group must support it.

    That said, do people go overboard? Yes they do and I think that hurts the individual who is trying but isn't there yet and it can also hinder the group support. Keep a steady strain and do your best to follow the rules/operate in a safe manner.
     
  9. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    im a VERY laid back guy. but when i get in the airplane i put on my "pilot hat" and only focus on the tasks at hand and the safety of me and my passengers if i take any. during cruise flight i get more relaxed but during critical phases of flight i dont do anything else but fly. ive had to tell my friends to stop talking to me while flying an ILS or landing. that being sid, i always have fun when ifly and know when to get serious about safety and when to just chill out
     
  10. Dead Stick

    Dead Stick Line Up and Wait

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    Here are some generic photos of aircraft O2 fires...

    https://www.google.com/search?q=air...N4r72QXZxYDoAw&ved=0CIYBELAE&biw=1366&bih=639

    (You'll need to peruse the photos to see the ones that are actually O2 fires.)

    Now I'm not talking about the overheating O2 generators that catch fire (like the one that brought down that DC-9 in the Florida everglades several years back, but O2 fed fires as a result of mishandling/leaks. The two that I actually saw were a Beechjet 400 and a Westwind. Pressurized oxygen is something that needs to be respected.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  11. Palamedes

    Palamedes Pre-Flight

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    I personally believe the "safety first" mantra that is always spouted is actually bad because it breeds acts that are in fact just the illusion of safety. (TSA?)

    To be truly safe in any activity you have to carefully consider every aspect of whatever activity you're doing. Focus on one thing too much and you will miss other things and now you're making your own environment unsafe.
     
  12. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    ...but it is called Aviation Safety, after all. I'm sure if there were a "Hot Rod Safety" magazine, it would run the very same article (probably with some really cool graphics).

    Of course, you'll never see a "Hot Rod Safety" magazine, because there aren't legions of guys out there trying to convince their wives to load up the Hot Rod with the kids and dog and head out to Grandma's for thanksgiving. He subscribes to "Aviation Safety"...he must be a safe pilot, right?
     
  13. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I'd say that the overall pilot population is under-obsessed with safety, given the statistics. But I think more likely pilots tend to obsess in the wrong areas. So for example they make sure all their nav lights are working and fly night VFR around mountainous terrain. Lots more CFIT crashes than mid-airs at night.

    So if you look at the most common cause of crashes, I make sure I won't run out of fuel, and make sure I won't run out of oil. I fly IFR most of the time, especially around mountains at night.
     
  14. Palamedes

    Palamedes Pre-Flight

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    ^ THAT!

    It's one of the reasons my wife wants me to look very hard at the Cirrus airframe because she is convinced that a parachute makes it safe! (Well done Cirrus marketing..)

    I have tried to tell her that if you get to the point where the parachute is your last option, you're already in a lot of trouble.. but her immediate "what if -- just in case" response is a tough one to counter.
     
  15. Dead Stick

    Dead Stick Line Up and Wait

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    ^^ This ^^
     
  16. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    Let me throw this out with a little twist. How many pilots would walk up and question someone leaving for a night VFR flight in the mountains? Or say something when they watch someone put 85 gallons in a bird with 87 useable? Or watch someone depart VFR with 500' ceilings? Yet many seem to revel in pointing out the most trivial of things.
     
  17. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Depends on the attitude of the pilot. Usually I don't pay enough attention to what others are doing to know if they did any of those things. But in PA I have provided "local knowledge" to out of town pilots (sometimes requested, sometimes not), mostly about weather and the like. I've probably convinced one or two to make a no-go. More often probably helped them make a better plan.

    My general finding is that the people who most need an intervention are least likely to accept it.
     
  18. Palamedes

    Palamedes Pre-Flight

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    Which is kind of a self correcting problem if you think about it..
     
  19. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Evidence seems to have shown it does not self-correct.
     
  20. jhinman

    jhinman Pre-Flight

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    This is what the Air Safety Institute has been saying for years. They can do all the fancy seminars they want (and they do!) but they just preach to the choir. The unsafe pilots who really need to hear the message don't show up.
     
  21. Dead Stick

    Dead Stick Line Up and Wait

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    Over the long term yes, but there always seems to be a steady supply of new guys willing to take their place. But I guess that's why they invented the annual Darwin Awards. The problem is all the the innocents that are involved. With the invention of onboard video and youtube at least there's now a way to document the actions of the bozos among us. Somehow, someway those clips always manage to surface on YouTube. It's a lot like looking at those "People of Wal-Mart" photos.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  22. MachFly

    MachFly En-Route

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    That's a damn good point.

    This is a trait I see in a fairly large amount of pilots these day. A lot of pilots do realize that flying isn't safe and therefore try to improve their overall safety. This is where decision making comes into play. It is easy to make declensions based on a text book, if one light does not work do not fly, if one rivet is smoking do not fly, if the prop has a few extra nicks do not fly, ect... Proper decision making while flying requires a brain, there are always a lot of variables to consider, you can't always follow the textbook as such things depend on your skill level.

    Based on what I see such traits are mostly common in pilots that are associated with large companies, specifically 141 school and airlines. A large organization will typically want all their pilots following the same exact decisions making process, which at first makes perfect sense. The Chief Pilot approves something, puts it in the book, everyone reads it and follows it. So that makes sense until you think deeper into it, decision making is not black and white, you can't have a procedure on your checklist for every scenario. But because of the way you are taught every every time there is an unexpected situation you end up looking in the checklist and not thinking at all. To be a safe pilot you need to be able to think, and a lot of pilots these days arean't taught to think at all.
     
  23. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Is it usually necessary to say something? Isn't the usual progression of events that the blood drains from the pilot's face as the total gallons climb towards the useable fuel amount?

    Yeah, I'd be worried about guy that doesn't seem to notice that he almost ran out of gas.

    otoh - that's an easy conversation starter.... something like: "HOLY S***, you almost ran out of gas!!!"
     
  24. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    That said, I've learned a lot by these safety things, so I hope they keep doing it. Will it keep me out of a crash? Uncertain. But it definitely has helped on decision making and generally safer decisions, which should help.

    I'd say there's a lot of truth to that. It can go into the 135 world as well.

    I remember when I took my CFI ride, the director of the FSDO was kind enough to take a few minutes to explain a 4 square graphic to me. Safe/legal, unsafe/legal, safe/illegal, unsafe/illegal and pointed out we all want to be safe/legal, but usually are either safe/illegal or unsafe/legal, and he admitted that they were just as guilty for that. I think he did a good job of explaining the truth of flying. I try to be safe and legal, but if I'm going to be in the two normally operating squares, opt for safe/illegal vs unsafe/legal. Seems that most FAA folks agree that's the right way to do it.

    FRATs have done a good job of helping to evaluate the safe part. It seems like most decision making flow charts are focusing on the legal side.
     
  25. Jim_R

    Jim_R Cleared for Takeoff

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    TSA is not a good example for this discussion. That's a security organization, not a safety organization.

    The safety mantra that is present where I work is intended to genuinely instill a culture of safety. I don't know if any metrics exist to characterize how successful it is, but I will say this: I have caught myself more than once identifying and correcting an unsafe situation (spill on the floor, loose sheet of paper on the floor, unsecured stacks of whatzits that could fall over if bumped, etc.) whereas 15 years ago I'd have never given those conditions a second thought.
     
  26. e.pie

    e.pie Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This is what I see a lot, textbook safe pilots unable to use any judgement on their part.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  27. ChitDisturber

    ChitDisturber Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Well blame it on the generation that was raised by women and/or feminine men.

    Many of the folks who had parents where dad could change his own oil and fix things and maybe, god forbid, build something...

    It's like asking, when you were younger did you fix your own car, drink out of a hose and were not afraid of a scraped knee, OR did you take you car in, drink bottled water and go to the doc for a runny nose
    Just diffrent demographics I guess.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  28. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Two of those items I would likely never know. I don't typically know where anyone is going nor how much gas they can carry or just pumped.

    I *have* walked up to people and said, "You really going up in this?" Usually followed by showing them the weather on the iPad that convinced me NOT to. I'm not exactly shy, though.

    If they persist, it's also not my problem after having a friendly chat. All I can hope is if they're an idiot that I made their passenger nervous enough to question them a little further, if they had a pax. I can sleep at night if I said something and they still choose to kill themselves, even if it means my insurance rates go up.
     
  29. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    ROFL. That one almost made me spew my Diet Coke. ;)
     
  30. N747JB

    N747JB Final Approach

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    As they say times have changed, but if you interview 1000 male high school seniors, I bet not 50 have changed the oil in their car. And less than 20 have touched the engine other than oil changes, cars have changed, but so have the people. :dunno:

     
  31. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    better sell the 182 and buy a G1000 172 :D
     
  32. oldShar

    oldShar Cleared for Takeoff

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    Fukushima
     
  33. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    gesundheit!
     
  34. ChitDisturber

    ChitDisturber Ejection Handle Pulled

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    And there is your answer
     
  35. oldShar

    oldShar Cleared for Takeoff

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    Yup, yup, and yup
    and still do, decades later
    (and drink out of the brook or river, even. Also use the 15 second rule if I drop a piece of food -- especially meat before it's grilled) (wash it off with ice tea, usually. Then cook it)


    (but, I no longer allow my kids, or grandkids to stand up in the front seat of the car while tooling down the middle of the town's main thoroughfare)
     
  36. ActiveAir

    ActiveAir Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Most pilots I've met and pilots I've watched, aren't obsessed enough with safety. I've seen and read about an amazing amount of dumb pilot tricks, cavalier attitudes and lax maintenance.

    But then, I am also still amazed at how many knuckleheads still smoke cigs. even when there's a big label on the box for a reason, or when I watch guys riding street bikes without a helmet. :rolleyes:

    I'm an adrenalin junky, but I always wear a helmet when I ride my dirt bikes, street bike, snowmobiles, when I snowboard, etc. I wear parachute when flying acro, etc. I have a flagger in the boat when I wakeboard, etc. It's just common sense to most, but evidently, not everyone. For those that are just "inconvenienced", I leave it up to Darwin's theory. Just don't ask me to pay your medical/rehab bill when you have cancer or get brain damage from an accident you would've walked away from if you'd had a brain bucket on.......oh, too late. Nevermind.

    COMMON SENSE, people! Sheesh! :mad2:
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  37. LJS1993

    LJS1993 Line Up and Wait

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    When accident rates are right up there with motorcycle vehicular accidents safety should definitely be a priority.
     
  38. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    That right there. Like the school that outlawed playing tag a couple of weeks ago. Snowball fights and schoolground horseplay and wrestling were banned long ago. Now the kids get to stand around and talk nice to each other so that nobody's feelings get hurt and nobody gets bumped. Is it any wonder boys are being fed Ritalin to keep them sitting still in class? They're full of energy that should have been blown off at recess and lunch.

    When I was teaching aircraft systems I ran into college kids that had never played with a garden hose. They either grew up in apartments, or they stayed inside and played safe stuff so that mommy didn't have to worry about them getting hurt or kidnapped.

    What a mollycoddled society.

    Dan
     
  39. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Watched a new pilot fly the other day and it was odd. Fancy college educated guy. He wasn't incompetent or unsafe. But there was something about him that was off. I figured it out he behaved as someone would who was never allowed to crash their bicycle. Sad. Also weird.
     
  40. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Ha. So Diet Coke is effeminate? I never knew. I was always pretty sure it was an equal opportunity addiction. ;)