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December 19, 2008


Cassandra Grant explained: "Twenty minutes outside Paris, the captain said, 'Unfortunately I'm not qualified to land the plane in Paris.

"'They are asking for a level two qualification and I only have a level five. We'll have to fly back.'"

(Thanks to Siouxie and Steve "The Amazing Steve"™  Pietrowicz)


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The whole thing beggars belief. If I had not been on the plane, I would not have believed it.

Beggars, or b*gg*rs?

Good thing this airplane story was from Sky news.

I hope it wasn't foggy back in Cardiff.

Did the French surrender anyways??

He flies across the English Channel, but he's not allowed to fly in fog? Whaaaaat!?

Guess the autopilot was uh...busy.

As a subscriber to Flying magazine, and therefore an expert on all things aviation, I have to defend the pilot here. There are very strict regulations for pilots and he was correct to follow them. The issue isn't flying in fog. It's landing in fog, especially dense fog. If he had tried to land and there was an accident, he would have been held personally liable because he didn't have the proper certifications, even if he were perfectly capable of landing the plane. This should have been non-news.
Sorry for being serious.

I hate to ruin a good story ;) but as an Official Professional Airline Pilot™, this sounds perfectly plausible (though, at my airline, it would be rare). The basic outline of what happens is this:

Captains are restricted as to the minimum visibility (and ceiling) requirements until they have a certain amount of time in the aircraft. Certain types of low-weather approaches also require specific training. This is not normally a problem, but sometimes it is. Usually, if the forecast indicates that weather may be poor enough so as to prevent that captain from legally landing at the destination airport, the airline will pull him off the flight and put a reserve captain on the flight.

However, as anyone who's ever scoffed at a weather forecast knows, they're not always accurate. Sometimes -- and I know this is a real shocker -- they're totally wrong.

I'm betting what happened here is the airline knew the captain wasn't qualified for a super-low-visibility approach but sent him anyway, since it wasn't forecast to be that bad. They gambled a little and lost. Of course, the captain did exactly what he should have: diverted the airplane to an alternate airport (not always the departure airport, though that's how it happened in this case) where they *could* make a safe and legal landing.

This kind of thing happens a lot more than you might think, but it's usually not followed by this candid of an explanation. People are so unaccustomed to getting the truth (or a half-truth, which might, in retrospect, have made for a complete non-story) from airlines that they're shocked by things like this ;)


Party poopers ;-P

The truth? We can't HANDLE the truth!

*puts Chris and Braniff in a one quart resealable zip lock bag*

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