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Air Canada safety culture sincerely worries me

Air Canada safety culture sincerely worries me

Old May 5, 18, 6:39 pm
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Air Canada safety culture sincerely worries me

Another FTer brought up this NTSB report as part of the incident in SFO. https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/h...docketID=61112

There are multiple interviews that are documented and while I would just copy and paste relevant sections, unfortunately it would appear that it would be far too lengthy. What concerns me the most is that while AC is more profitable and healthy as ever, there are some serious safety concerns that are being raised by pilots.

This is taken from page 31, and is one of several interviews and several pilots who have voiced serious concerns about safety. It seems Calin's hyper obsession with maximizing profit (not that there is anything wrong with that) is pushing AC closer and closer to the edge of a fatality.

"Working for Air Canada was the best aviation job in the country. When asked about the safety culture, he stated the following. He was the fleet manager for the Embraer and in the last 10 years he feels that the company has a huge overemphasis on money and cost control. He had told management he needed help in his department but it didn’t really matter. The preoccupation with money has caused the flight ops staff to shrink significantly. There were known problems that were ignored because of money. When asked to provide a specific example, he recounted that in standards in 2000 there were 8 pilots and now there are 3 and there are more aircraft now. The flight operations management and support staff now don’t necessarily have a clear aviation background. Certain positions are being filled by first officers because they can be paid less. Also, technical programs were stifled because of money. They were either delayed or not implemented well. For example, the A320 GPS project has been ongoing for 10 years."

Here is another in regards to GPS on the A320:

"When asked if there are differences among Air Canada’s fleet of A320s, he thought that there was a fleet “mish mash” of Airbus airframes and there were SOP concerns across the board. He thought it was a real issue in terms of training. Training was done in specific type of Airbus aircraft, but there are lots of different types of equipment in the same type aircraft. He doesn’t feel that the company gives this issue its due. There are 3 different training manuals. The company training doesn’t adequately address or train these differences. The newer aircraft have GPS, this year they started putting GPS in older aircraft.
When asked if having no GPS increases workload for pilots, he said yes. The airline has all sorts of restrictions for non-precision approaches because some aircraft don’t have GPS. Now they can’t fly some of these approaches anymore unless you have another way (e.g., DME) to measure position. But in day to day operations, there not much difference, other than doing GPS NAV accuracy checks in older aircraft. In newer aircraft, these systems are integrated.
The non-GPS aircraft are restricted to non-precision approaches. They also have to do accuracy checks. These take 15-30 seconds each. They’re not a big deal. They do these during takeoff, climbing through 1,000 feet, during cruise, prior to approach, or if nav accuracy is low.
DCA17IA148 – Air Canada Personnel Interview Summaries Page 31 of 72
When asked, he has seen minor map shifts that were not significant. Anecdote: when flying ILS into Victoria BC on non-GPS aircraft, and into Edmonton, when go by FAF, all of a sudden, it would say that you are left of course and out of fuel. The FMCG manufacturer said that “your FMCG’S are so old, that we’re not even going to try to fix it”. So now there is a note in their Jeppesen chart advising of this phenomenon."

(bolding is mine)

I'm not so sure I want to fly Air Canada anymore, or at least not so sure I should feel as safe as I used to.
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Old May 5, 18, 7:55 pm
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Fascinating reading, thank you for the link. I'm just going through a part where check airmen describe their experiences with examinees who are clearly not up for the task. Makes you really appreciate that AC isn't putting 250-hour wonders in their cockpits as certainly the issues are certainly a lot more horrifying at the airlines that do.

The early 1990s Airbii should be mostly gone in the next 5 years, and many of those issues gone.
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Old May 5, 18, 10:29 pm
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OP, you worry to much.
What's your alternative?
Cost have been cut at all airlines for all kinds of reasons.

It's unfortunate that the gene pool has become so shallow that non-precision approaches can't be flown without a GPS.
Back in the days when pilots had skills, non-precision approaches without GPS were routine.
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Old May 6, 18, 1:44 am
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Originally Posted by tracon View Post
OP, you worry to much.
What's your alternative?
Cost have been cut at all airlines for all kinds of reasons.

It's unfortunate that the gene pool has become so shallow that non-precision approaches can't be flown without a GPS.
Back in the days when pilots had skills, non-precision approaches without GPS were routine.
Am I not mistaken fatalities were higher back then 'too'? Alternative is to not fly and make others fly to you.
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Old May 6, 18, 1:50 am
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Originally Posted by DrunkCargo View Post
Am I not mistaken fatalities were higher back then 'too'?
Of course they were. But I suspect that's by and large not the reason. Biggest contribution is probably more reliable planes and engines.

Just look at the Asiana SFO crash. Most airlines/crews routinely would fly visual at SFO for generations with no issue. I seem to recll the Asiana crew even included a check pilot, and having to do a visual approach stressed them out to no end.

Or the AF crash where the crew never figured out they were stalled.

Overreliance on computers, often mandated by the bean counters, has become a major issue.
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Old May 6, 18, 6:20 am
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Children of Magenta coming to roost
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Old May 6, 18, 8:33 am
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Is SFO that challenging an airport for landings ?
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Old May 6, 18, 8:42 am
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Originally Posted by airbus320 View Post
Is SFO that challenging an airport for landings ?
It was referenced multiples times in the NTSB report as a more challenging airport than the average.
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Old May 6, 18, 8:46 am
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Originally Posted by longtimeflyin View Post
It was referenced multiples times in the NTSB report as a more challenging airport than the average.
Being as how "the average", in this case, would be somewhere near the middle, would that statement not be true for roughly half of the airports?
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Old May 6, 18, 8:50 am
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I dont think the true scope of AC's safety culture (or lack of) will be understood/revealed until something catastrophic happens.
Like the Colgan flight in BUF. Only after that did the issues regarding the main cause of that crash came to light publicly.

It simply costs AC less to worry about an accident/incident after the fact than on a daily basis.
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Old May 6, 18, 8:51 am
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Originally Posted by YEG_SE4Life View Post
Being as how "the average", in this case, would be somewhere near the middle, would that statement not be true for roughly half of the airports?
Depends on the skewness of the distribution
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Old May 6, 18, 9:02 am
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With all of the above being said, you still have a far greater chance of dieing in a motor vehicle accident on the way to the airport than in any type of aircraft accident.
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Old May 6, 18, 9:09 am
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Air Canada's safety practices deserve scrutiny, especially after multiple recent incidents such as trying to land on a taxiway at SFO, landing at SFO in spite of being told six times to go around by ATC, and writing off an A320 after missing the runway entirely at YHZ. And that's just in the past three years.

By comparison even United, operating a fleet three times the size of AC's and handling nearly four times the passenger volume, has had zero such incidents over the same period. Why is AC's safety record so much worse?

AC's safety culture must be questioned - in particular after practices like taking two days to report the first SFO incident to the TSB, and thus allowing the cockpit voice recorder to be over-written multiple times so critical evidence was destroyed. That's beyond "cover your backside" territory, that's downright criminal. The OP has every right to be concerned about AC's safety culture. We all do.
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Old May 6, 18, 9:56 am
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SFO is difficult because of the approach that is most commonly used is called a "slam dunk approach" which is considered to be challenging. ATC is not very well rated there either (believe there was only 1 controller in the tower when the AC incident happened).

https://www.pprune.org/spectators-ba...ml#post7927099

Basically it's where ATC keep you high until very close in to the runway ( well above the ideal 300 feet per mile rule of thumb), and then release you for the approach..usually then involves you throwing the gear and landing flap out, idle power, some /all speedbrake and hoping you can get back down onto the ideal profile before you need to have the power spooled up (normally 1000' agl)..think of how a basketball slam dunk looks and you'll get the idea.
https://www.theatlantic.com/national...-crash/277563/

SFO and their notorious ATC instructed 'slam dunk' visual approaches [in which the planes are kept high, then ordered to descend quickly before landing] from downwind have resulted in so many incidents at our airline that it is a regular item in recurent simulator training.

Throw in the lack of visual or electronic glideslope guidance and the holes are lined up. True, you can set up an LNAV/VNAV profile but this requires a bit of heads down time in the box at a busy phase, not easy unless you are expecting the manouvre.
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Old May 6, 18, 9:56 am
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Originally Posted by Symmetre View Post
Air Canada's safety practices deserve scrutiny, especially after multiple recent incidents such as trying to land on a taxiway at SFO, landing at SFO in spite of being told six times to go around by ATC, and writing off an A320 after missing the runway entirely at YHZ. And that's just in the past three years.

By comparison even United, operating a fleet three times the size of AC's and handling nearly four times the passenger volume, has had zero such incidents over the same period. Why is AC's safety record so much worse? ....
I would take these interview summaries with a grain of salt. They exercise is intended to be retrospective and it should cause staff to second-guess what happened in the past to find ways of improving going forward. I suspect if the same things were done at united your would have similar results. It is also an airline with a pretty big mix of older and newer aircraft some from multiple mergers. AC has its A320 legacy fleet, United has its 757 fleet.

As far as safety, United has its problem. Despite being responsible for the safety of its passengers, one of them was dragged off the aircraft all injured recently by security guards that airline called in. Even today, there is some story about a "out of control" stewardess. Sept, 20 there some near miss with a glider on a YVR-ORD flight. In February, they had an engine cover fall off one of their aircraft. In April there was some type of emergency landing at Dover airbase.

Being on the outside it is hard to tell how much of this stuff is safety protocols and culture and how much of it is luck. Either way I would be happier if the people involved could openly discuss it and improve the process without concern for what the public reads into it.
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