What Qantas did for Australia

It’s a funny old world. A week ago the average Australian probably didn’t even know what Fair Work Australia was, let alone how it impacted on them. Since Alan Joyce staged his company ‘stop work meeting’, most Australians are now experts on our Industrial Relations laws.

Over the last three days I’ve had animated (and informed) discussions about FWA with taxi-drivers, limousine drivers, a gardener, a doorman, hotel reception staff, accommodation managers, retirees, dog-walkers, teachers, check-in staff, passengers, refuellers, baggage handlers, fellow pilots, cabin crew, operations staff, security guards and writers. I haven’t sought many of those discussions out, but a pilot’s uniform seems to prompt people to strike up a conversation and I do love a good chat!

It’s been fascinating and illuminating. The ‘airline that stopped the nation’ (and that’s something of a misnomer since Jetstar and Virgin simply worked a whole lot harder…) has raised the awareness of Industrial Relations in a way that hasn’t happened since the water front stoush over at Patricks. Opinions are polarised (as they were then and in the earlier ’89 Pilots dispute). There are those who will never see the other point of view, but what’s great to see is that level of debate still continuing even after the Melbourne Cup! (I thought for sure, once the Nation stopped again, Mr Joyce and the unions would be forgotten..)

How wonderful to live in a country where disparate opinions are not only tolerated but expected. How fantastic to find myself discussing the state of Australia’s IR laws at 6 am on the beach surrounded by rowdy neighbours and acquaintances, with a collection of bored dogs trying to round us up so they could have their walk. (At that time of the day it’s ALL about them…)

Thanks, Mr Joyce, you may just have engaged a lot more of the population in IR debate and being informed is vital to a robust democracy.

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11 thoughts on “What Qantas did for Australia

  1. Oops, my mistake…

    Sounds like many errors leading to the crash which is invariably the case. One pilot was trying to abort and the other was trying to continue??

    I seem to remember an aircraft parked on a golf course for similar reasons albeit that was after a long landing in poor conditions. Makes all the hours of stress in a simulator so very relevant.

  2. The plane was airborne for only a few moments before crashing about 500 yards from the runway at an airport near Yaroslavl, 160 miles northeast of Moscow. Among the 43 people killed instantly were many hockey stars, including several veterans of the National Hockey League. One badly burned player, Aleksandr Galimov, 26, staggered from the wreckage, approached the police and said, “Brothers, I am Galimov.” He died five days later, leaving one crew member as the sole survivor of the crash.

    The crash devastated Russian hockey fans, thousands of whom poured onto the streets in tears, piling flowers outside the Yaroslavl ice arena until they reached shoulder height. Some expressed anger at the government because President Dmitri A. Medvedev was holding a political forum in the team’s arena that day, disrupting the normal life of the city.

    The commission’s findings on Wednesday placed blame squarely on the crew and rejected the notion that the pilots faced constraints that day because of the president’s forum. Relatives of the two pilots responded angrily to the conclusions, telling Russian television that they will order their own investigation.

    “This makes it seem like two taxi drivers just sat in the plane, drew straws to see who would sit where, then one caught his heel on something and the other one started pumping the pedals,” said Svetlana Levdik, the pilot’s widow. “If this had been written by a novelist, I would believe it, but I knew these guys well and they were professionals. It is too simple and comfortable: blame the crew and the case is closed.”

    The report describes a lack of coordination on the flight deck, citing cockpit voice recordings. After someone — presumably the commander of the flight — pushed the control stick forward, as if preparing to abort the takeoff, the co-pilot can be heard asking, “What are you doing?” The stick was then pulled back with great force, most likely by both pilots, in preparation for takeoff.

    At that moment, the flight engineer set the engines to idle, as if to abort the takeoff. A pilot cursed and shouted “Takeoff power!” but the engines did not resume takeoff power for six seconds, and the aircraft slowed down in the meanwhile. The report also found that, as the two pilots pulled with all their strength on the control column, one of them had braced his feet on the brake pedal, meaning that the brakes were applied to the wheels at the same time that the crew was trying to reach takeoff speed. If the crew had identified the problem, they had time to abort the takeoff and save the aircraft, Mr. Morozov said.

    The report was sharply critical of training practices at Yak-Servis, the private company operating the flight, noting that “in such an organization, scheduled preparation was practically impossible to organize.” Investigators found that the captain, co-pilot and flight engineer had never trained together in a flight simulator, and that the pilots were being trained in Yak-40s and Yak-42s at the same time, a practice discouraged in the industry.

    Russia’s federal transport agency revoked Yak-Servis’s licenses in September and last month grounded 10 more Yak-42s being operated by other companies. Mr. Medvedev has called for a sharp reduction in the number of small regional airlines operating in Rus

  3. Not the park brake, bloody toe brakes, there is also some suggestion that the Captai was pushing foward on the yoke hwile the copilot was pulling back! I will see if I can post the rest

  4. Hmm, I’d missed seeing this story, Cathy. Thanks for posting it. It’s a sad reminder that ‘common type ratings’ can be full of pitfalls. I know many experienced pilots on the Dash 8s who don’t want to see cross crewing between the 300 and the 400 for this very reason.

    Interesting that the first officer had phenobarbital in his system. Was there a good reason he was taking the medication? I guess the investigators may never follow that line.

    Presumably it will remain to be deemed as pilot error rather than a systemic failure that lead to incorrect application of the park brake. Swiss cheese…

  5. A Bit OT, but are’nt you glad QANTAS is not like this?

    MOSCOW — Russian air safety officials said Wednesday that a September plane crash that killed an elite hockey team was caused by an extraordinarily basic human error: one of the pilots accidentally pressed the brakes on the landing gear, so that the aircraft was moving too slowly when it tried to take off.
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    Aleksei Morozov, who led a team investigating the crash for Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee, said it was not clear whether the error was committed by the pilot or co-pilot of the plane, a Russian-made, three-engine Yak-42 chartered to carry the team, Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, to a game. Investigators noted that both men had more experience flying Yak-40 aircraft than Yak-42s. The Yak-40’s pedals are laid out differently, and “a negative transfer of Yak-40 skills” may have led to the error, they said. An autopsy also found that the co-pilot had phenobarbital — a depressant that can slow reaction times — in his system.

    “Test pilots established in a flight experiment that an erroneous pushing of the brake pedals during takeoff is possible only if the pilot’s feet are placed by mistake on the braking floor,” Mr. Morozov said in televised remarks. “Even a slight pressure on the pedals may have been overlooked by the pilot.”

  6. Something had to be done. People tend to forget that Emirates, Gulf and Etihad are backed by oil money. QANTAS cannot survive if workers still expect to behave like it’s pre deregulation

  7. I think 24 hrs notice would have been much less painful, Cathy… It’s been very interesting talking to people though as more than I expected seem to support the action. Strange times indeed…

  8. I wonder though, how much harm he may have done to the QANTAS brand? It might have been better if he had given 24 hours notice of his actions.

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