"Thu, Oct 23, 2008 New Straits Times Games in the sky led to crash
PUTRAJAYA, MALAYSIA: Three trainee commercial pilots are under investigation for negligence which allegedly caused the death of their colleague whose light aircraft crashed in the jungles of Terengganu in August.
Investigations conducted by the Department of Civil Aviation also revealed attempts by the trainee pilots to cover up events leading to the crash which claimed the life of 20-year-old Muhammad Ariff Ahmad Fuad.
It was revealed that Ariff and his pilot, who were in one aircraft, were involved in a game with a second aircraft which broke all training rules. Both aircraft were Diamond Star DA40 light aircraft. The training required both aircraft to cruise at a high altitude but this was allegedly not adhered to.
What was more shocking was that soon after the crash, the second aircraft returned to base and the trainee pilots went missing for three days.
The four trainee pilots are believed to be students of a Langkawi-based flying school. Ariff's plane went off the radar shortly after taking off at 4.40pm on Aug 20.
The wreckage was found about 8km from Bukit Bidong Darat, near Setiu.
Ariff, who was pinned to his seat, was believed to have been killed on impact. The pilot Mohd Farid Abdullah, 21, who suffered serious injuries, survived 14 hours of agony before being found near the wreckage the next morning. He had managed to crawl eight metres away from the wreckage.
The principal of the flying school refused to comment when asked if the trainee pilots had been suspended."
This is another sad news to learn. A trainee-pilot is dead. 1 survived after14 agonizing hours. The other 2, probably traumatized to the point of 'losing all ability to think rationally' or 'they simply just shown their true colors of being totally irresponsible and cowardice' of committing a great mistake by trying to cover the earlier mistake! Pilots used to be a profession that people look up to in the past. Glamorized if you like. But we know how boring it can be just to be in the sky flying alone and along certain pre-set routes without much fun! Well, guessed what? It was NOT supposed to be fun. It is a damn serious job that decide the life and death of passengers and fellow air crews! It is a very responsible job indeed.
Lessons for me:
1. young and reckless is natural. However when we engage in some responsible tasks, we just have to grow up quickly. Discipline is paramount. Good values to anchor our attitude towards such tasks are critical. We must learn to make good judgement of putting safety above all else in certain jobs. There is no compromise;
2. when we make a mistake, honest mistake, we must face up to it. We must remember we can fool someone sometime but we cannot fool everyone all the time. The faster we own up to our mistake and take corrective actions immediately, we can minimize the undesirable consequences faster. This is much better than letting it rolled down the hill and becoming a bigger trouble! We must not waver. We must not hesitate. Having the sense of right and wrong will help us speed up making the right decision when we face such a situation!;
3. the Principal of the concerned Flying School obviously has not attended 'crisis management' training. In any such situation, the worst comment to give is: "No comments!" The basic response must cover the 5W1H: what happened, when did it happened, where did it happened, who were involved, why did it happened and how did it happened? In most cases, the WHY and HOW will be something like: we are still investigating.
Well, the 2 trainee pilots must now face up to their responsibilities of leaving 1 to die and 1 to suffer agony alone before help came. As for the same surviving trainee pilot, I am sure he will not required anyone to remind him that 'playing game' is not desirable when the principal responsibility of a qualified pilot is to ensure safety at all time!!
If you don't like it, get out of the kitchen!!