Decisions

CAT File No. O-1640-60
MoT File No. 098074

CIVIL AVIATION TRIBUNAL

BETWEEN:

Harold George Leslie, Applicant

- and -

Minister of Transport, Respondent

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

Quick Reference Handbook, QRH, PPC, Pilot Proficiency Check, Electronic Central Aircraft Monitoring System, Failure, Duty of Pilot, Agreed Statement of Facts, 550 Manual


Review Determination
Philip D. Jardim


Decision: October 4, 1999

That the Minister's decision to issue Captain Leslie an unsatisfactory assessment regarding his Pilot Proficiency Check on May 28th, 1998 be upheld.

A Review Hearing on the above matter was held by teleconference on Tuesday, September 28, 1999. As no witnesses were being called and the only evidence being submitted was the "Agreed Statement of Facts" with attachments, the parties requested that the Hearing be held by teleconference. The hearing was therefore conducted using the "Agreed Statement of Facts" signed and agreed to by both parties in advance of the teleconference. Oral arguments were presented by the two parties in support of their respective positions.

BACKGROUND

Captain Harold Leslie is an Air Canada pilot. On May 28, 1998, he submitted himself to a pilot proficiency check (PPC) in an Airbus A320 flight simulator conducted by Captain David R. Glazier, Company Check Pilot for Air Canada.

Captain Glazier assessed the PPC as a failure, due to the fact that Captain Leslie had used the autopilot in an emergency situation, "Slats jammed for landing" below 500 feet. The Airbus A320 Technical Bulletin # 368 dated January 9, 1997 specifically prohibits the use of the autopilot below 500 feet.

Captain Leslie is appealing this failure of his PPC to the Tribunal.

THE LAW

Paragraph 7.1(1)(b) of the Aeronautics Act states:

7.1 (1) Where the Minister decides

(...)

(b) to suspend or cancel a Canadian aviation document on the grounds that the holder of the document is incompetent or the holder or any aircraft, airport or other facility in respect of which the document was issued ceases to have the qualifications necessary for the issuance of the document or to meet or comply with the conditions subject to which the document was issued, or

(...)

the Minister shall, by personal service or by registered or certified mail sent to the holder or to the owner or operator of the aircraft, airport or facility, as the case may be, at the latest known address of the holder, owner or operator, notify the holder, owner or operator of the Minister's decision.

EVIDENCE AND ORAL ARGUMENTS

AGREED STATEMENT of FACTS

G. Leslie 20.9.99

1. A Pilot Proficiency Checkride (PPC) was conducted in an A320 Airbus simulator on May 28, 1998.

2. The Pilot-in-Command of the checkflight and PPC candidate was Harold George LESLIE, licence # AA 098074.

3. Captain LESLIE was and is employed by Air Canada.

4. The Company Check Pilot was Captain David R. GLAZIER, licence # AA 086623.

5. Captain GLAZIER was monitored by Transport Canada Inspector G.H. SCOTT, licence # AA225451.

6.  The checkride was assessed as a "failure" for the following reasons:

i) An A319/320 Aircraft Technical Bulletin # 368 dated 09 Jan 97 was published by the aircraft manufacturer and this Bulletin prohibited the use of the autopilot below 500 feet above ground level when operating with an abnormal flap/slat configuration. This Bulletin and prohibition was in effect on May 28, 1998.

vi) Captain LESLIE indicated that he remembered the restriction.

ii) Air Canada's Flight Operations Manual (known as the "550 Manual") obligates all Air Canada pilots to review and be thoroughly conversant with all Technical Bulletins before flight.

v) The candidates were informed by the checkpilot that the ride was terminated with a failure.

iii) The checkpilot was using an Air Canada simulator script # D2 and in accordance with the script a "SLAT LOCK" problem was introduced into the cockpit.

iv) The approach was flown and the autopilot was disconnected at 120 feet above ground prior to an uneventful landing.

7. The Air Canada QRH did not contain a reference to Technical Bulletin # 368 at the time of the checkride in question.

8. The Airbus A320 Flight Crew Operation Manual had not yet been amended to make reference to Technical Bulletin # 368 at the time of the checkride.

9. A "SLAT LOCK" problem is an abnormal flap/slat configuration.

10. The checkpilot completed the required 0249 Form – Pilot Check Report and debriefed Captain LESLIE as to the reason for the failure.

A.D. PRATT Harold

for the Minister of Transport

Attached to the "Agreed Statement of Facts" are Exhibits D-1 and D-2, which are extracts from the Airbus A320 Flight Manual/Technical Bulletin, provided by the document holder, Captain Leslie, and agreed to by Mr. Pratt.

Mr. Pratt's argument was simple: The Minister's decision to assess a failure was based on information contained in the Agreed Statement of Facts, inter alia, facts numbered 6i) through vi), above. Captain Leslie accepts that he was aware of the restriction prohibiting use of the autopilot below 500 feet in a "Slats jammed" emergency. Captain Leslie had forgotten this restriction at the time of the check ride. Captain Glazier had no option but to terminate the ride with a failure.

Captain Leslie admitted that he forgot the restriction on May 28, 1998, but contends that the restriction should have been in the Quick Reference Handbook (QRH), and presented on the Electronic Central Aircraft Monitoring (ECAM), which is an electronic presentation of emergency procedures on the flight panel of the A320. It was not, but was subsequently incorporated in the QRH, after his PPC. This is critical information which should be presented to pilots who cannot refer to it in flight libraries during emergencies — time is critical, he contends.

Captain Leslie further admits that Bulletin # 368 does indeed prohibit use of the autopilot below 500 feet above ground level. He says that he had known about it but that it escaped his mind in the "heat of the moment" on the day of his PPC. Air Canada's Flight Operations Manual, (known as the "550 Manual") does require all pilots to review and be thoroughly conversant with all Technical Bulletins before flight. Captain Leslie does acknowledge this.

Captain Leslie contends that if this omission was that critical, and constituted a serious and egregious error, it should have been shown on the ECAM and contained in the QRH. He contends that it is not, and that he was not endangering the aircraft by this omission. The flight proceeded to a normal landing and roll out. There was a 16-month lapse between his PPC and Bulletin # 368, and it had still not been included in the QRH. This only took place some six weeks after his check ride.

Captain Leslie contends that this information should have been available to pilots in the "appropriate place" namely the QRH and the ECAM.

Captain Leslie had been flying the A320 for twelve months prior to his PPC. He does remember the restriction, but it evaded his memory during the failed PPC. He further contends that the limitation should be presented to the pilot on the ECAM. He had never had an actual case of this emergency in an actual aircraft, but he may have experienced it during simulator sessions, and probably during his training on the A320.

Captain Leslie feels that because of the omission of this limitation from readily available media, (the QRH and the ECAM), and because the flight proceeded to an "uneventful" landing, that he should be given the benefit of the doubt.

DETERMINATION

An agreement, such as took place in this case beforehand, is a very powerful document, and one which is difficult to go against, notwithstanding any subsequent arguments. The parties have actually agreed as to what took place. On reviewing the arguments presented to me and the "Agreed Statement of Facts" between the parties, I find as follows:

Pilots are required to be knowledgeable on the critical limitations of their aircraft. Notwithstanding that modern aircraft often do assist pilots in making them aware electronically by ECAMs etc., Airbus Industrie clearly decided that the use of the autopilot in the subject emergency is critical, because it prohibits its use in marginal weather — Category 2 and 3 situations — and it says that: The autopilot is not tuned for abnormal configurations, its behaviour can be less than optimum and must be monitored. (See Exhibit D-1). Captain Leslie should have been critically aware of this limitation, as Captain of the aircraft.

It is evident that pilots of these modern aircraft may have become somewhat expectant that the aircraft systems should alert them to every conceivable limitation and procedure. Notwithstanding that this is often the case, it does not relieve pilots from knowing their aircraft's limitations and observing them. This is why pilots undergo extensive training and familiarisation on these aircraft, before they are allowed to fly them in command. Further, pilot proficiency checks have been instituted to ensure that pilots are current.

Because of this expectation (i.e. that the aircraft's electronic system briefs them in all emergencies), airlines should be aware and cause critical limitations to be appropriately placarded in a timely manner in the shortest possible time after they are issued by the aircraft manufacturer. This should not however remove from pilots their responsibility to know these vital limitations.

In the circumstances, I find that Captain Leslie was justly failed on May 28, 1998. He must accept responsibility for his omission. PPCs are there for a purpose — to ensure that pilots are current and demonstrate their continued ability to operate the aircraft they are licensed to fly safely and competently. The "Agreed Statement of Facts" is clear, and there is no doubt that a lapse occurred during his PPC on May 28, 1998.

The Minister's decision to issue Captain Leslie an unsatisfactory assessment regarding his Pilot Proficiency Check on May 28th, 1998 is upheld.

Philip D Jardim
Member
Civil Aviation Tribunal