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BALPA response to AAIB report in to an incident on approach to Aberdeen earlier this year

The  British Airline Pilots Association has responded to an AAIB report by urging people to respect the independence and objectivity of the UK AAIB and to avoid speculation before they complete their work. In order to understand and learn from incidents like this, it is vital the AAIB is able to carry out its work unhindered.

BALPA notes the reason for the publication of this special bulletin is that the AAIB wants to alert the industry to the decreased operational and safety resilience resulting from widespread industry shutdown during the pandemic. The report states that ‘Although the investigation has not established a link between this serious incident and a lack of recent line flying, it is clearly a possibility.’

BALPA has already called for both the Government and airlines to recognise that the minimum return to work training and experience regulations were designed to return individuals who had been grounded for extended periods of time to the well-oiled machine which is the normal civil aviation system. No-one anticipated a situation where large parts of the system would have been effectively shut down for 18 months or more and therefore system resilience would be eroded. Consequently, many individual pilots and their airlines have been trying to afford themselves more time and practice to develop higher levels of resilience.

BALPA General Secretary, Captain Martin Chalk said;

“Just like riding a bike, if you climb back on after a period away, it only takes a short practice to be able to manipulate the bike – set off, turn and stop – just as well as you had before. However, your roadcraft – the anticipation of what others are going to do, for example – takes time and practice to reacquire. Although many of our airlines have recognised this and provided extra practice and simulator time, there have also been commercial pressures which act in the opposite direction. This is why BALPA has been calling on the Government to make available a Winter Resilience Fund to allow our cash strapped airlines the ability to provide extra training and experience to avoid any degradation of aviation’s enviable safety standards.”