Well, yes

The ‘hero’ pilot who safely landed a stricken Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet after its landing gear dramatically failed while carrying more than 400 passengers has spoken out about the terrifying ordeal, saying: ‘I was just doing my job’.

Best of British, stiff upper lip and all that.

But do recall that he was also on that plane trying to get down without a bump……..

29 thoughts on “Well, yes”

  1. That’s a rather ungenerous observation and I imagine his sense of responsibility overrode his instinct for self-preservation.

  2. The Meisson Bison:

    Indeed. There are numerous instances of pilots of stricken planes (usually military) remaining in the plane in order to steer it away from homes or populated areas, usually sacrificing themselves rather than eject or attempt a landing.

    I’m sure that commercial pilots have a similar ethos, at least those working for the more reputable airlines.

  3. @GlenDorran,
    “at least those working for the more reputable airlines”

    How does their choice of employer affect their ethos? Would a Ryanair pilot aim straight for the nearest nursery school?

  4. “Would a Ryanair pilot aim straight for the nearest nursery school?”

    Only if they’d all paid for a boarding card.

  5. It’s not just the Brits, you know. Chesley Cheeseburger did a hell of a job putting his plane down in the Hudson. Has that ever been bettered in civil aviation?

  6. “How does their choice of employer affect their ethos? Would a Ryanair pilot aim straight for the nearest nursery school?”

    Just referring to some of the more, ahem, “developing” airlines in the likes of Africa or the Far East. I’ve heard tales of lax training. Although you are right, I am probably just being a bit cynical.

  7. Just referring to some of the more, ahem, “developing” airlines in the likes of Africa or the Far East.

    Some of the stories from colleagues of domestic Nigerian and Angolan airlines were pretty harrowing. Their crash statistics support the stories, too.

  8. bloke (not) in spain

    Be interesting to know ‘how’ he landed the aircraft.
    My guess is there’s a “land aircraft with portion of landing gear u/s” routine programed into the 747 autopilot. So maybe the ‘hero’ bit is having the sense to let the aircraft get on with it.
    Takes us back to the “driverless car” thread. There are some things automated systems are very good at.

  9. You have a trained pilot to get the plane down safely in any circumstance possible. Its going to come down (gravity has a crush on it) the trick is to land safely.
    So he was indeed only doing his job.

    Now if one of the passengers had done it, that would have been someone doing something that wasn’t their job. And would indeed be a hero.
    But doing the job you are paid to do, that you have training and experience in doing?

  10. In a real sense he was just doing his job. Any untrained monkey could sit in the cockpit when all is going well; all that expensive training for the job and annual training to maintain the license is for those time it does go wrong. As planes become more automated the need to maintain a high skill standard gets harder all the time.

  11. I’d rate him a hero. Modern planes spend over 90% of their time on autopilot & when something goes wrong the flight crew switches on zero notice from relaxed oversight to time-critical intervention. B(n)IS: I doubt anyone would trust the Autolander for this.
    See AF 447 for an example of how to cock things up.

  12. A number of years ago, and just after my Virgin Atlantic flight had landed, an announcement was made that it was the first ever VA computer landing with passengers. I found it rather unnerving.

    A few weeks ago, coming into land at EWR, and watching the wings wobble about, I thought, “sh-t, this is being landed by a human”. I found that unnerving as well.

  13. @BWAB

    “Any untrained monkey could sit in the cockpit when all is going well”

    My chum the Emirates captain says (and as far as I know he’s quite serious about this) that he could easily talk me or any half sentient person down from 38,000ft to terminal building in his plane from the comfort of the bar at the Black Horse, as long as he’d had no more than three or four pints of Bass.

    As long as nowt goes wrong.

  14. bloke (not) in spain

    “See AF 447 for an example of how to cock things up.”

    Just did & from what I can see it’s a crew flying a perfectly good aircraft into the sea because they trusted to human judgement. It has all the classics. It did a 3 1/2 minute descent from 38 thousand feet in a nose up stall, despite the warning systems’ alarms. Autopilot disengaged throughout.

  15. There’s a perverse logic here though. A soon as any pilot puts a plane down safely like this, it goes on their record and no one will insure them as a pilot again. Career over

  16. Dare I point out that it was a bit of an “arrival” (watch the videos). He didn’t really round out, just flew it on and then bounced, when a “greaser” was what was actually required. Still, he got away with it – no injuries and aircraft intact so that counts as a successful landing 🙂

  17. The 747 would have been heavily loaded for a transatlantic trip. It would have been a heavy take off, too heavy to land.

    So when the plane circled the outer Bristol Channel, was it dumping fuel before crossing England to land?

  18. Just did & from what I can see it’s a crew flying a perfectly good aircraft into the sea because they trusted to human judgement. It has all the classics. It did a 3 1/2 minute descent from 38 thousand feet in a nose up stall, despite the warning systems’ alarms. Autopilot disengaged throughout.

    That’s the French professional classes for you. Fuck the procedure, manual, contract, precedent, ethics, or the bloke over there who knows what he’s talking about: I know best and I’ll do what I want. The attitude that brought down AF 447 can be seen on a daily basis in my outfit. I bet the management come from the same Grande Ecoles, too.

  19. bloke (not) in spain

    I’m fascinated Mr N
    Are you hoping there are widely read economists in l’industrie pétrolière française & attempting a remunerative wrongful dismissal procedure?

  20. N(n)Is
    The plane wasn’t perfectly good, its pitot tubes were iced up (they measure airspeed) & so the crew had to take over from the autopilot, as did the crew of the Virgin flight.
    Happy New Year.

  21. b(n)is,

    It’s a combination of being confident nobody important (in the context) will be reading this blog and not particularly giving a fuck even if they are. They kicked me out of one position because of what I wrote online already, in full breach of the corporate ethics policies. I could have sued, and almost certainly won, but chose not to. If anybody so much as hints at what I may or may not have written online my first, preemptive step will be to hire the most vicious lawyer I can find to defend my interests – before I’ve even discussed it with my manager. They’ve made it very clear to me I have no career here, and never did (only a select few do, the rest are drones who are kept compliant by virtue of their mortgage repayments), and made it fairly clear I am not even welcome. Why they employed me in the first place is anyone’s guess, mine is that they need people with my profile and CV to make their organisation charts look as though the company isn’t made up solely of carbon-copy Frenchmen of the sort who have driven The French economy into it’s current state – and AF 447 into the sea.

  22. bloke (not) in spain

    @TimN
    I’d imagine your pretty safe. Although there are undoubtedly French who read languages other than their own*, few of them would accept there’s anything to be learned by doing so.

    *Having, I vaguely remember, married one of them, I’m pretty confident on this point. Not saying she ever deigned to speak french. It being the language she shared with her mother. But she still stuck with the french principle that no-one else’s opinion was worth troubling herself with.

  23. I love the French, and France, but then I don’t have to work for them and I only go there to ski/loll about.

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