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Keep at least two pilots on the flight deck

AIPA 2 mins read

The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) has called on airlines and regulators to keep at least two pilots on commercial flight decks at all times.

AIPA President Captain Tony Lucas has warned that reduced-crew and single-pilot operations being considered by some airlines and manufacturers would reduce safety.

“The only safe way to fly is with at least two well-trained and well-rested pilots at the controls at all times,” said Captain Lucas.

“This World Pilots’ Day, we remind everyone of the flight emergencies where the professionalism, skill and cooperation of multiple pilots working together avoided catastrophe and saved lives.”

Examples include:

QF781 (Perth), 25 March 2024 : Pilots managed to safely land an Airbus A330-200 after hearing a loud bang and experiencing an engine failure just before descent to Perth from Melbourne.

QF144 (Auckland), 18 January 2023: Pilots expertly handled an issue with one of the engines on a Boeing 737-800. About 20 minutes after take-off from Auckland, the aircraft experienced a problem with the right engine. The pilots shut down the engine and returned safely to Auckland.

QF32 (Singapore), 4 November 2010: An Airbus A380 suffered an uncontained engine failure shortly after taking off from Singapore. Despite severe damage to the aircraft, the pilots managed to return and land safely in Singapore.

QF72 (Learmonth), 7 October 2008: An Airbus A330-300 experienced uncommanded pitch oscillations while flying from Singapore to Perth, causing serious injuries to some passengers and crew. The pilots made a safe emergency landing at Learmonth Airport, near Exmouth, Western Australia.

QF30 (Manila), 25 July 2008: During a flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne, a Boeing 747-400 experienced a sudden loss of cabin pressure due to a ruptured fuselage. The pilots made a safe emergency landing in Manila, Philippines.

“In all these incidents, multiple pilots worked together to enact their world-class training and safely land the aeroplane,” said Captain Lucas.

“Those promoting single-pilot operations do not spend their lives flying aeroplanes. When things go wrong at 35,000 ft and 950 km/h, they go wrong very quickly.

“Autopilot technology is there to assist pilots but we should never entrust our lives to a computer in the sky.

“Airlines and manufacturers should put passenger safety first and abandon the push for reduced crew and single pilot operations.”

Commercial airline flights are currently required to have at least two pilots, but some airlines, manufacturers, and regulators are exploring reduced-crew and single-pilot operations in order to cut costs.

A Redbridge Group poll of 1,022 Australian adults found last year a total of 89 per cent of Australians would feel less safe boarding a flight with one pilot at the controls instead of two or more.

Eighty-eight per cent believe airlines should rule out single pilot operations for commercial flights.


Contact details:

To arrange interview contact Charlie Moore: 0452 606 171

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