Decisions

TATC File No. A-3311-60
MoT File No. 5802-389870

TRANSPORTATION APPEAL TRIBUNAL OF CANADA

BETWEEN:

Philippe Olivier Doucet, Applicant

- and -

Minister of Transport, Respondent

LEGISLATION:
Aeronautics Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. A-2, s. 7.1(1)(b)

Suspension, Pilot not flying (PNF), Pilot proficiency check (PPC


Review Determination
Jean-Marc Fortier


Decision: June 7, 2007

Citation: Doucet v. Canada (Minister of Transport), 2007 TATCE 14 (review)

Heard in Montréal, Quebec, on March 8, 2007

Held: The Minister's decision to suspend the proficiency check of First Officer Philippe Olivier Doucet is confirmed.

I.          BACKGROUND

[1]               On October 24, 2006, Philippe Olivier Doucet, a first officer with Air Canada Jazz, underwent a pilot proficiency check (PPC) on a CL-65 RJ aircraft simulator. His performance was deemed unsatisfactory, and on November 2, 2006, the Minister of Transport issued a notice of suspension of the PPC of First Officer Doucet. He is requesting a review of that decision.

II.        FACTS

[2]               The PPC on a simulator was conducted according to a predetermined sequence (exhibit M‑2) by Thomas Edward Matiushyk, the approved company check pilot (CCP) duly authorized by the Minister of Transport. The CCP gave First Officer Doucet a failing PPC mark, as indicated in his report of October 24, 2006, filed by the Minister of Transport (exhibit M‑1).

[3]               The alleged incident involving pilot Doucet took place during execution of an emergency procedure involving a thrust reverser that became unlocked in flight, as provided for in the predetermined sequence. The procedure to be followed in response to this emergency is described in the reference handbook for the CL-65 RJ aircraft (Quick Reference Handbook), from which two excerpts have been filed (exhibits M‑3 and M‑4).

[4]               According to this procedure, the pilot not flying (PNF) must first identify the thrust reverser that has come unlocked and close it. The pilot must then follow the required procedure for shutting down the engine during flight.

[5]               While acting as PNF during the execution of an emergency procedure when the right thrust reverser came unlocked, First Officer Doucet shut off the right engine thrust control, instead of cancelling that engine's thrust reverser, which had become unlocked.

[6]               According to the CCP, pilot Doucet did not notice that he had shut off the right engine thrust control, thereby causing the engine to shut down, before cancelling that engine's thrust reverser, which had become unlocked. This is contrary to the procedure set out in the reference handbook of Air Canada Jazz for the CL-65 RJ aircraft entitled "EMER 1‑10 -- L (R) REV UNLOCKED Msg" (exhibit M‑3).

[7]               The CCP then stopped the PPC examination on the simulator when he noticed that First Officer Doucet had not realized his mistake of reversing the order in which the procedures to rectify the emergency situation are to be followed, by shutting down in flight the right engine before the right thrust reverser, which had become unlocked.

III.       EVIDENCE OE THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT

[8]               The evidence of the Minister of Transport is based on the testimony of the CCP. The latter explained that on October 24, 2006, he went to the simulator training centre in Montréal to conduct the proficiency check of the flight crew consisting of Daniel Dénommé, as pilot‑in‑command, and Mr. Doucet, as first officer.

[9]               The CCP explained that he had replaced the francophone check pilot who was initially to conduct the flight crew's PPC. The CCP who conducted the flight crew's PPC does not speak French.

[10]           The CCP explained to the crew the purpose of the PPC and followed the directives of the Approved Check Pilot Manual (8th edition, Transport Canada) (exhibit M-7). He described the purpose of the test he would be administering to the crew.

[11]           In his testimony, the CCP explained that he had established a fairly relaxed atmosphere in the cockpit of the simulator to make sure the crew were at ease. He confirmed that he had followed the preliminary inspection procedures set out in the Approved Check Pilot Manual (exhibit M-7).

[12]           The flight crew's PPC was then conducted according to the predetermined sequence (exhibit M‑2) prepared by the CCP. The crew conducted take-offs and category 2 instrument landings and other in-flight drills according to the predetermined sequence. The CCP said he was satisfied with the crew's performance during the first part of the PPC.

[13]           The alleged incident involving pilot Doucet occurred during the simulation of an emergency caused by the right engine thrust reverser coming unlocked during flight and the steps the PNF must take to handle this emergency, according to the Air Canada Jazz reference handbook (exhibit M‑3).

[14]           The CCP stated that when the indicator control indicates that a thrust reverser has come unlocked during flight, the crew is to closely follow the procedure "EMER 1‑10 -- L (R) REV UNLOCKED Msg" prescribed in the Air Canada Jazz reference handbook (exhibit M‑3). It is the responsibility of the PNF to make sure the steps are carried out in the order indicated in the reference handbook.

[15]           The incident occurred when First Officer Doucet, while acting as PNF, failed to follow the procedure set out in the Air Canada Jazz reference handbook, according to which the thrust reverser that has come unlocked must be shut off during flight before shutting off the engine during flight. According to the CCP, First Officer Doucet erred in shutting off the right engine thrust control, which shut down that engine during flight, instead of shutting down the right thrust reverser that had come unlocked, according to the predetermined sequence.

[16]           The PPC continued and the crew began the procedure prescribed in the Air Canada Jazz reference handbook (exhibit M‑4) for shutting off an engine during flight, which is the usual procedure after shutting off the thrust reverser. The CCP then concluded the PPC and explained to the crew that the PNF had not noticed he had reversed the order in which the procedures set out in the reference handbook were to be followed, by shutting down the right engine before shutting off its thrust reverser, which had come unlocked. The checklist described in the reference handbook (exhibit M‑3) does not state that the engine is to be shut down in response to the emergency arising from a thrust reverser coming unlocked during flight.

[17]           The CCP testified that he had given a lower mark (1) than basic standard (2) after noticing that the PNF had deviated from procedure in ways that had adversely affected the overall emergency procedure, deviations for which recognition and correction were excessively slow or nonexistent, pursuant to section 10.3.5(b)(i) of the Approved Check Pilot Manual (exhibit M-7).

[18]           Furthermore, the CCP noted that in reversing the order of the procedures on the checklist, the PNF had demonstrated unacceptable levels of technical proficiency and/or depth of knowledge by failing to distinguish between the thrust reverser and the engine thrust control (section 10.3.5(b)(iii) of the Approved Check Pilot Manual (exhibit M-7)).

[19]           The CCP testified that in an emergency, errors related to lack of awareness of the situation while reviewing the checklist or executing the procedures, as in the case of the PNF, affect the assessment of the sequence and warrant being rated below standard (1).

IV.       EVIDENCE OF FIRST OFFICER DOUCET

[20]           In his testimony, First Officer Doucet acknowledged he had erred in reversing the order of the procedures to be followed to rectify the emergency situation as they are set out in the Air Canada Jazz reference handbook, but claims he knew what he was doing in shutting off the right engine. According to him, this error had no effect on safety of flight and did not merit the failure the CCP gave him since it was not a serious error.

[21]           He therefore questions the CCP's decision and wonders why the pilot-in-command Dénommé did not also fail his PPC.

[22]           The witness Doucet filed two documents in support of his testimony. The first is, according to him, a two-page excerpt from Canadair's training manual for CL-65 RJ maintenance specialists (exhibit R‑1). The second is a letter signed by Captain Dénommé (exhibit R‑2) and reads as follows:

[translation]

To whom it may concern:

I, Captain Daniel Dénommé, certify that Mr. Olivier Doucet and I confirmed the thrust lever together before the engine was shut off during our PPC test on October 24, 2006.

[23]           According to Mr. Doucet's testimony, the excerpt from Canadair's maintenance manual (exhibit R‑1) shows that pushing on the control of the unlocked thrust reverser transmits an electric current to the thrust reverser in question that is strong enough to relock it.

[24]           Mr. Doucet also maintains that the letter signed by Mr. Dénommé clearly states that both pilots confirmed having checked the condition of the right engine thrust control lever during the test on October 24, 2006.

[25]           In support of his position, Mr. Doucet also referred to section 10.3.5 of the Approved Check Pilot Manual (exhibit M-7) which, according to him, applies only to major or excessive errors that are unacceptable and that compromise safety of flight (sections 10.3.5(b)(i) and (vi)).

[26]           Mr. Doucet also referred to section 10.4.7 of the Approved Check Pilot Manual (exhibit M‑7), arguing that safety of flight was not compromised, since he respected the published procedures as well as the limits and did not commit any error that could have serious consequences on safety of flight.

V.        ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION OF THE EVIDENCE

[27]           During his testimony, the CCP explained very clearly how the test on the simulator would be carried out and the procedure the crew was to follow to respond to emergency situations as they arose.

[28]           When the crew had to respond to the emergency arising from the thrust reverser coming unlocked during flight, the CCP clearly explained the procedure set out in the Air Canada Jazz reference handbook (exhibit M‑3) and the responsibilities of the pilot-in-command, who must keep the airplane airborne, and the PNF, who must run through the emergency checklist and follow it closely.

[29]           The CCP confirmed that, at the time of the incident, First Officer Doucet had followed the checklist for responding to the emergency arising from a thrust reverser coming unlocked during flight. He noticed, however, that First Officer Doucet reversed the order of the procedures to be followed by first shutting down the right engine thrust control during flight, causing that same engine to shut down, rather than shutting down the unlocked thrust reverser.

[30]           According to the CCP, this incident was serious and warranted the failing mark. The procedure set out in the checklist was not correctly followed, as stipulated in the Air Canada Jazz reference handbook (exhibits M‑3 and M‑4), and the duties of the PNF set out in that same handbook were not carried out satisfactorily, as stipulated in section 10.54.1 of the Approved Check Pilot Manual (exhibit M-7).

[31]           For his part, First Officer Doucet admitted in his testimony that during a test during flight, he was entitled to the mistake, but added that, in his opinion, the mistake he had made did not necessarily result in a failure.

[32]           According to his arguments, the error resulted from his overall vision of the test; it was a minor one that did not jeopardize the safety of the aircraft. He claims that the failure to shut off the thrust reverser that had come unlocked did not affect his airmanship.

[33]           He maintains that he deserved at least a basic standard (2) mark because he knew what he was doing in shutting off the right engine and he had a good knowledge of the aircraft in question. Moreover, he claims that safety of flight was never compromised.

[34]           The Tribunal has assessed the testimony of the CCP and that of Mr. Doucet. Both these witnesses testified credibly and demonstrated considerable professionalism in explaining the events that occurred during the PPC on October 24, 2006. The Tribunal does not doubt that both witnesses have in-depth knowledge of the in-flight procedures of the CL-65 RJ aircraft and that the sequence chosen by the CCP was performed satisfactorily until the incident involving the thrust reverser arose.

[35]           The Tribunal accepts that it is the responsibility of the PNF, in this emergency situation, to handle the checklist and make sure all the procedures it indicates are closely followed. He is also to communicate with his pilot-in-command in a clear manner to ensure follow-up of each of the actions necessary to respond to the emergency and to respect the order in which each element is to be handled, as set out in the Air Canada Jazz reference handbook (exhibits M‑3 and M‑4).

[36]           The Tribunal is of the view that First Officer Doucet cannot use the argument that the error he admits to having committed had no major impact on safety of flight as an excuse for not following the emergency procedures set out in the company's reference handbook.

[37]           The Tribunal is also of the view that the excerpt from Canadair's training manual for maintenance specialists (exhibit R‑1), which describes the electrical circuitry for the unlocking of the thrust reverser and the method used to relock it, cannot be used to justify his error. This document merely explains the electrical circuit mechanisms one needs to know for maintenance of the CL-65 RJ aircraft.

[38]           Furthermore, this document (exhibit R‑1) cannot take priority over the Air Canada Jazz reference handbook, whose excerpts (exhibits M‑3 and M‑4) set out the procedures the crew is to follow in the event of an emergency arising from a thrust reverser coming unlocked during flight.

[39]           As for the letter signed by Mr. Dénommé (exhibit R‑2), the Tribunal cannot accord it all the desired credibility since the signatory, namely, Captain Dénommé, who was present during the PPC on October 24, 2006, has not appeared before the Tribunal to prove his statement and explain to the Tribunal the context in which the flight crew's PPC took place.

VI.       ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

[40]           The Tribunal has also taken note of certain comments made by Mr. Doucet that the crew was not allowed to use a CCP who could speak French. The Tribunal has determined that this argument cannot be accepted since the crew could have chosen to postpone its PPC to another date had it insisted that the PPC be conducted by a CCP who knew both French and English.

[41]           The Tribunal further notes that the presence of a CCP who speaks French and English would not have affected the conduct of the PPC nor how the crew, and specifically Mr. Doucet as PNF, was to follow the procedures.

[42]           Moreover, Mr. Doucet also mentioned that the report of the PPC of October 24, 2006 (exhibit M‑1) contained no assessment of him with regard to a number of other elements it sets out and that concern him. The report mentions only the failing mark (1) at item 21 "PNF Duties" and the CCP's comments about the incident involving Mr. Doucet under the heading "Comments - General Assessment".

[43]           Here, the Tribunal is of the opinion that any PPC report concerning either the pilot‑in‑command or the first officer, as either PF or PNF, must be carefully completed by the CCP so as to reflect a complete and objective assessment of the qualifications of the pilot concerned. The Minister of Transport also has the responsibility to ensure that any PPC report that is incomplete (as was the report filed in this case, and which the CCP admitted in his testimony was incomplete) be verified and completed correctly, stating all elements of the assessment covered by the PPC and noting the appropriate mark according to the CCP's assessment.

VII.     DETERMINATION

[44]           For the foregoing reasons, I confirm the Minister's decision to suspend the PPC of First Officer Philippe Olivier Doucet.

June 7, 2007

Jean-Marc Fortier
Member